|THE LOMBORG STORY
During the spring of 1998, several people suggested to Politiken that they should print a coordinated criticism of Lomborg´s postulates, e.g. by contacting experts in various fields and gathering their contributions on a few whole newspaper pages. However, the editor-in-chief stopped all such plans.
Instead, the Danish "Ecological Council" became the organ that gathered the criticism. The Ecological Council is an independent organ which issues recommendations on environmental matters, e.g. by publishing books and booklets. At that time it received support from the government. (This support was ended in 2002. The Council has survived up to now on project money supplemented with earnings from book sales and voluntary contributions. However, its continued existence is now threatened by lack of finance.).
At a meeting in June 1998, the Ecological Council decided in principle to take up the task, but concrete action was not taken until Lomborg´s book appeared in September. When the book came out, the need for a counter-publication became obvious. An editorial board of four was formed. I (Kåre Fog) had no previous affiliation with the Ecological Council, but I had urged them to take up the task, and as a result of this I was appointed to the editorial board.
The editorial board contacted various experts and asked them if they would write chapters in a Lomborg-correcting book. Persons who could not be considered neutral in relation to Lomborg (e.g. persons affiliated with WWF) were not contacted. Most contributors were scientists holding positions at universities. The idea was that the contributions should not be anti-Lomborg, but as neutral as possible, i.e. they should state what was wrong and what was right within the fields covered by Lomborg. However, in practice little could be said to support Lomborg, and all chapters became very critical of him.
No funding was available to publish the book, but a humanitarian organisation (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke) agreed to pay for the publishing.
The book came out at the beginning of May 1999. The Danish title (Fremtidens Pris) means "The Price of the Future". It ran to 329 pages, with contributions from 18 authors from a wide range of fields. 6 of the contributors were from the social sciences - mainly economists - and their contributions document that Lomborg´s claims are not only at variance with what is believed within the environmental movements and the natural sciences, but also within the social sciences. Other topics covered were a range of biological issues (biodiversity, deforestation, acid rain, fisheries, and agriculture). There were also contributions on mineral resources, poverty, population growth, and chemical pollution.
Finally there were chapters on Lomborg´s methods (the way he uses his sources and his journalistic methods) and on his role in the public debate. As to the latter topic, many experts had been contacted by the editorial board, and all those that had tried to oppose Lomborg in the public debate reported unfair treatment by Lomborg and by the media. The extent of unfair treatment could therefore be documented.
In view of the fact that Lomborg himself had completely omitted evaluation by peers, we wanted the book to function as a sort of peer review. In cooperation with the newspaper "Information", public meetings were arranged at the start of May 1999 at the two largest Danish universities. At each of these meetings, four experts advanced their criticisms, whereupon Lomborg advanced his defense. Although the criticism of Lomborg was extremely severe, he refused to admit any errors at all, except for just two letters in a single word in his book. These meetings thus demonstrated that an approach towards clarification and mutual understanding was impossible.
In addition Lomborg and one of his students produced a defence text within only 3 weeks. This was formulated as a book, but only published on the internet. Its title (Godhedens Pris) means "The Price of Goodness" and refers to Lomborg´s claim that people who try to be "good" persons are very costly to society. The book has many long quotes and contains practically no new argumentation. It shows what points of criticism Lomborg has focused on, but he does not admit a single error, and it has not become part of a meaningful dialogue between Lomborg and his critics.