|THE LOMBORG STORY
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|The functioning of the
The new National Environmental Assessment Institute (in Danish: IMV = Institut for MiljøVurdering) was due to start functioning during the spring of 2002. The number of members of the board of governors was to be raised to 7, and the staff increased to 10. By June 1st 2002, this had been accomplished.
Lomborg was not content with a staff of only 10, and in the late autumn of 2002 he tried to have the government increase the appropriations for 2003. According to newspaper articles, the Minister of the Environment was not at first willing to do this, but Lomborg contacted the prime minister, who overruled this decision and demanded that Lomborg have his way. This seems to demonstrate the close connection between Lomborg and the prime minister. By 2004, the staff at the Institute comprised the director (Lomborg), plus 15 graduates, 3 non-graduates, and 7 student assistants.
The Institute published its first reports in August 2002, and since then a series of reports have appeared.
After UVVU issued its verdict on 7th Jan. 2003, the Board of Governors had a crisis meeting on 13th Jan. They decided to continue their support for Lomborg. Next day, 14th Jan., a Danish newspaper had an interview with Lomborg, in which he declared that he had no intention of fulfilling his 5-year contract with the Institute. "I have been shocked at how much time I spend on staff development, salaries and on deciding the colour of the door in the Institute. Actually, I would rather read reports and think clever thoughts. The job of director is too much about other things than the substance." So Lomborg said that he intended to return to his job at Aarhus University. However, he wanted to stay at the Institute for about a year in order to carry out a secret project.
These statements were too much for one member of the board, Poul Harremoës. Harremoës (who died later in 2003) was an internationally acknowledged expert in pollution control technology, and probably the most respected member of the board. When he announced on 15th Jan. that he had decided to leave the board in protest, this made a considerable impression on the public. Another scientist was appointed to replace him.
In the autumn of 2003 the public learned what Lomborg´s "secret project" was. This was an international conference, to be held in Copenhagen in May 2004, with the title "The Copenhagen Consensus". Here a series of "leading economists" (all but two from USA) would discuss "the 10 greatest problems facing humanity today" and give them an order of priority. Only one of these problems (climate change) can be considered an environmental issue, and so most of the members of the board of the Institute felt that the project was outside their field of knowledge. They would not be able to guarantee the quality of the conference. There was also a suspicion that the true purpose of the conference would be to have Nobel Prize winners declare that protection of the environment is relatively unimportant and should be downgraded. On 27th Nov. five out of seven members therefore announced that they would leave the board. This means that, from that date, only 2 board members remained. Surprisingly, Ole P. Kristensen, the chairman who originally appointed Lomborg, also left the board, which means that after this, the board had no chairman.
However, Lomborg and the Danish prime minister denied that there was a problem. A new board would be appointed. Nevertheless, the three resigning scientific board members were forced to meet the prime minister and explain their motives. The prime minister demanded that three new scientific members be appointed at once, and that relevant persons be forced to sit on the board, if necessary against their will. However the institution charged with this task has refused to do so before a new chairman was found. By the end of February 2004, a new board of 7 members had been appointed, none of whom were now scientists.
There are also problems concerning the output of the Institute. Some Institute reports have been criticised, and, to pre-empt such criticism, it was decided that reports be reviewed by external experts before publication. This did not reduce the unrest, however. A report from December 2002 made a cost-benefit analysis of whether the poorest qualities of wastepaper should be burned or should continue to be returned for recycling. Out of two reviewers, one accepted the report, whereas the other pointed out a large number of flaws. This report was then published, including the statements of the positive reviewer but totally ignoring the points made by the negative reviewer. This was brought to the attention of the public.
A report from October 2002 made an economic cost-benefit analysis of deposits on disposable bottles and cans. It concluded that it would be better to abandon the deposit system and to let the bottles and cans be burned together with other household garbage. However, it turned out afterwards that many of the Danish incineration plants operate at temperatures at which aluminium cans will not burn, but only melt, and that the cans would pose a great economic problem for them.
As a consequence of such criticism, a committee was formed in March 2003 to evaluate the reports issued by the Environmental Assessment Institute during the second half of 2002. The chairman was a Danish professor of economics, and the other four members were experts from Sweden and Norway. Their evaluation was published on 26th Aug. 2003. They stated that they did not want to evaluate the first 3 reports that had already been published in August 2002, because these reports were superficial attempts to focus public attention on the Institute. As to the other 5 reports, the evaluation of their public appeal was positive. Their scores regarding political relevance were mixed; and with regard to scientific value they concluded that none of the reports presented new scientific evidence. The committee was "not confident in the conclusions" of two of the reports, and in general, there were critical remarks about the cost-benefit analyses.
This evaluation could thus be used by both parties. Lomborg´s supporters, including the prime minister, stressed the positive evaluation of their readability and relevance to the public, whereas his critics stressed that the scientific and economic aspects were unsound.
The evaluation did not lead to any consequences for the Institute. Problems with referees have continued. An expert reviewing a report on extreme climate events in the autumn of 2003, felt he was badly treated by Lomborg and his staff, which once again made some stir in the Danish media.
Lomborg had previously announced that he would leave his position as the director of the IMV institute prematurely. After the successful conclusion of the "Copenhagen Consensus" conference, time had come for this. In mid June of 2004, there was some stir in the Danish printed media because it was revealed that criticism of Lomborg´s book from Danish climate experts had been repressed for years by the head of the Danish Meteorological Institute. This stir may have contributed to Lomborg´s sudden announcement on 22nd June that he would resign as director and return to his former position at Aarhus Universtiy by August 1st 2004.
However, Lomborg continued to work as a consultant for the IMV institute 20 hours per month, his task being the follow-up on the Copenhagen Consensus conference. This lasted until the end of November 2005, when the contract between Lomborg and IMV was terminated. The reason for this, according to Danish media, was that the follow-up had been completed, and that the preparation of a new Copenhagen Consensus conference was outside the scope of the IMV.
Lomborg´s successor as the director of the IMV institute took up his position on Nov. 4th 2004. This was Peter Calow, born 1947, coming from a position as a professor of zoology at Sheffield University in England. His main interest has been the ecotoxicology of invertebrates. In addition to his position as professor, he was for the period 1991 - 1995 director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology, and for the period 1996 - 2003 he was director of Environmental Business Network. He has served as adviser for EU and the British government in environmental and ecotoxicological matters. In 2000, he was given The order of the British Empire for his efforts in the environmental field. He is a member of the EU scientific commitee on health and the environment.
Calow had the intent to increase the scientific quality of the reports from the institute. However, it soon appeared that he did not have Lomborg´s ability to get media attention. The right-wing politicians expressed disappointment that statements from the IMV were no longer provocative and unusual, and political support to the institute dwindled. In September 2006, Calow chose to leave his position, and from July 1st 2007, IMV was changed into a department of the Danish Economic Council, and thus no longer exists as a separate institute.