Bjørn Lomborg is a curious fellow as many dissenters are. He’s part of the priesthood of influential environmentalists, but also expends a great deal of energy attacking green folly. There’s more to the mention of “expends energy” than alliteration. Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, isn’t signing on to Earth Hour that just passed on March 23.
Earth Hour, not to be confused with close-sounding Earth Day or the near-scheduled World Water Day (on March 22!) asks everyone to turn off all non-essential lights. Events like these are smart as far as raising awareness goes. And the token act of going dark for one hour makes people feel like they’re doing something even though we all know that the power saved is insignificant. If that were the end of it, then this would be just some innocent ecopopulism.
This is when the statistician comes in handy. Lomborg is good with numbers, but he’s no establishment scientist. So that makes him more than an outsider; he’s a target. Still, the Nate Silvers of the world have shown us that statistics are powerful weapons. Twinned with the infographic they are maybe the major shapers of public opinion on the internet. And the world’s Thomas Nagels prove that the dissenter can stand alone against a sea of scientific catcalling.
Bjørn Lomborg’s money quote: “If everyone in the entire world cut all residential lighting, and this translated entirely into CO2 reduction, it would be the equivalent of China pausing its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes.” File under unintended consequences.
Earth Hour teaches us that good people can get caught up in glossy causes. But course correction is now more possible than ever before. And lone voices of integrity can be heard and evaluated with minimal static interference from groupthink.