|When Lomborg refers to personal
|How Lomborg cheats General issues The Lomborg Story, page 12|
If two persons communicate orally, e.g. by telephone, only the two of them know what was actually said. Lomborg has sometimes utilized this fact. That is, he speaks with somebody in a private communication, and afterwards he tells the general public what the other person said to him. When this other person then protests and claims that he did not say what Lomborg claims he said, then Lomborg turns the situation around and says that the other person is dishonest. It goes like this: "To me, in private, he admitted that so and so, but apparently in public he does not admit that this is what he really means." By using this tactics, Lomborg may obtain that
- people think his version is supported by specialists in the field
- the specialist whom people have trusted up to then, is exposed as being probably dishonest and therefore not trustworthy
- or both.
Jon Fjeldså is an ornithologist and an internationally respected expert in biodiversity. He works at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.
When Lomborg´s articles first appeared in the Danish Newspaper Politiken in January 1998, Fjeldså had an article in another Newspaper, Information, in which he criticized Lomborg´s figures. Ten days later, Lomborg was interviewed in Danish radio, and here he declared that his figure about extinction - that 0.7 % of all species go extinct in 50 years - was backed up by the leading expert in the field, Fjeldså. Asked about the source for this, he referred to Fjeldså´s article in Information. Fjeldså was of course strongly provoqued by this, because he said in the article just the opposite, viz. that Lomborg´s figures were based on an erroneous method of calculation. Fjeldså managed to have a large reader´s letter published a few days later in Politiken. Here, he wrote authoritatively that Lomborg´s figures on the rate of species extinction are not realistic. However, two weeks later, Lomborg had a response to that in Politiken. Here he wrote that although Fjeldså in public criticizes his figure, in a private telephone talk he has said otherwise. He writes than when asked directly, Fjeldså has admitted that that the 0.7 % is `calculated correctly´ and now only states that the data basis is uncertain. Fjeldså became very angry about this, but was given no opportunity to reply. On the contrary, Lomborg continued to repeat his claims. Even in a newspaper article ten months later, he still slated Fjeldså for not having check on the sources and just making pitiful vague statements that the 0.7 % figure cannot be falsified. Fjeldså was given no opportunity to reply.
I once had an opportunity to talk with Fjeldså at his office in the Zoological Museum. As soon as I mentioned the word `Lomborg´, his whole body began to tremble in rage. He declared with great emphasis that he would never any more in his life have anything to do with that scoundrel. I understand why. But the sad thing is the proof that Lomborg was successful in his tactics: The objective was most likely to eliminate the leading Danish expert on biodiversity loss, in order to break down opposition against Lomborg´s claims. This goal was reached, as Fjeldså declared that he would never anymore deal with that person ( it would have been dangerous to his health if he did).
is senior scientist
at the Max Planck Society for Chemistry, Biogeochemistry Department,
specializing in forest research, director of the Global
Center, and the leader of the UN-FAO/ECE/ILO Team
of Specialists on Forest Fire. When Lomborg wrote his first
book in 1998, he wanted to give the impression that forest fires in
Indonesia were not especially large. To back this up, he writes: "The
independent fire expert Johann Goldammer said that `there is no
indication at all that 1997 was an extraordinary fire year for
Indonesia og the world at large´ " . As a source for
this, he refers to personal communication 1998.
and was in 2000 research
Denmark´s Climate Center .
Research scientist Ian Stirling is a member of the Polar Bear Specialist Group under IUCN.
He was contaced via email by Lomborg in January 2007 when Lomborg was preparing his text on polar bears for the book `Cool it!`. Lomborg´s agenda was that he wanted to oppose the general picture given by the media that polar bears are on the decline. He had received a paper from Stirling on population trends in polar bears in the West Hudson Bay area. He then wrote once more and asked: " You have the long-term development of the WHB polar bear population from 1981 till
1997. I was wondering if you have the data set till today."
Stirling discussed his request with a colleague, and wrote to the colleague: "I think our data etc are strong but I certainly don't feel like handing anything out to anyone else before we are finished doing our own ongoing
analyses. . . For guys like Lomborg, at the moment I think I will stick to giving him things we have
already published." Lomborg got a copy of this correspondence and wrote in return: "Of course I understand about concerns if you still haven't published the data." Furthermore, Lomborg asked him if he could explain the large difference in two different overlapping data sets for the year 1985 (one data set had 1500 bears, the other 800 bears).
In response, Stirling tried to give an explanation of methodological problems and also had another specialist send Lomborg a short reply stating that the discrepancy between the data sets is due to various methodological artifacts, which are commonplace. He added that this type of phenomenon is explained in a manuscript that he hopes will be published shortly, and he adds: "I will be glad to send you (Bjorn) a .pdf at that time."
When `Cool it!´ was published, it contained on its pages 3 to 4 the story of the polar bear population in West Hudson Bay. Here, Lomborg presents a graph, combined by him from two other graphs, and writes in the text that the population had soared from just 500 in 1981 to 1500 in 1985. Actually, this would have been impossible, because polar bear populations can grow maximally 3 to 4 % per year. Furthermore, with the data given to Lomborg, including uncertainty intervals, a statistician like Lomborg should have concluded that the difference between the two data points for 1981 and 1985 is not significant. Lomborg knew that, but concealed it. In a note in the British edition (but not included in the American edition) he refers to the explanation given to him by Stirling ; it is formulated in a cryptic way, however, which probably no reader will understand fully (". . . maybe why population is seen as initially increasing"). In the same note, however, Lomborg, as so often, makes a hint that the experts were not cooperative: "Stirling et al. are coming out with a new data set, but they would not share it before it was published."
So what was the result of Stirling and colleagues´ responses to Lomborg´s emails? First, Lomborg chose to cherrypick those figures which gave the largest rise from 1981 to 1985, even though he knew that there were differing estimates for that year and that the rise was not real. And secondly, whereas he wrote to Stirling that of course he understands why scientists will not give him unpublished data, he managed to insinuate to the general public that Stirling had something he wanted to conceal.
More details are given on Lomborg-errors here.
of the world´s most prominent climate
change researchers. He also was a prominent critic of Bjørn
Lomborg, contributing to the January 2002 issue of Scientific American
in which `The Skeptical Environmentalist´ was torn to pieces. He
died in July 2010.
leader of the opposition in the Danish
parliament until October 2011. From then onwards, she is the Danish