Arnold Kling

Economics and the Environment

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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The Skeptical Environmentalist is a controversial book by Bjorn Lomborg. He conducts a factual survey about the state of the environment, and he finds many signs of improvement and little support for the view that we need to curtail economic growth or risk environmental catastrophe.

Recently, Scientific American devoted an issue to attacking Lomborg. This has frustrated Lomborg's supporters, as Philip Stott illustrates.

not only did the magazine run an editorial criticizing Dr. Lomborg, it gave space to four known environmentalists to write separate articles attacking him with no balancing articles whatsoever from senior scientists who are likely to support Dr. Lomborg's critique. Again, I have never heard the like. In a so-called scientific journal, such a course of action beggars belief. I would always give my worst enemy the right of reply.

Lomborg points out that economic growth and technological progress are instruments for reducing pollution. It is that position which irks environmentalists. I am afraid that as I read the environmentalists, their view is that economic growth must be stopped at any cost. I suspect that if their policies were enacted, the environment will be more damaged than if progress is allowed to continue.

Discussion Question. Why are environmentalists so upset by an analysis that is grounded in statistics and economics?

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