Bjørn Lomborg – No scientist, no scientific credibility, mostly propaganda

1. Professor Stefan Rahmstorf

1.1 Credentials

Stefan Rahmstorf is a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at the University of Potsdam, Germany, and Head of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany. Rahmstorf published the largest number of studies which ranked amongst the most-cited in the scientific literature during the years 1994–2013 among all climate scientists from Germany. Rahmstorf was from 2004 till 2013 a member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). [1] Prof. Rahmstorf was ranked #72 on the “Reuters list of the world’s top climate scientists” in 2021 [5].

1.1 Assessment of Bjørn Lomborg’s work

“… I do not think Lomborg is a scientist who just happens to have a different opinion from the majority. First of all, there is very little indication that he is actually working as a scientist, given his near-zero scientific track record since his PhD work according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Second, the arguments he presents to the wider public on sea-level rise can hardly be seen as  made in good faith – rather, they appear to me carefully crafted (and admittedly rather eloquent) distortions, aimed to deceive his lay audience about the seriousness of the threat. In short, I would consider much of Lomborg’s writing propaganda.

Ever since his “Skeptical Environmentalist” book Lomborg has a simple, single message: don’t worry about reducing fossil emissions. Whether he denies or plays down the seriousness of global warming, sings the praises of adaptation, advocates to prioritize other problems or pushes geoengineering, the message is always the same: anything is better than phasing out fossil fuels.

As seen by the lack of citations, this message has zero credibility or impact in the scientific community. After all, scientists can judge the merits of the arguments. Unfortunately, Lomborg’s propaganda message is not only popular with fossil fuel interests, but continues to get ample space in the media.”

(Rahmstorf, 2015, [2])

2. Professor Michael Mann

2.1 Credentials

Michael E. Mann is a Distinguished Professor at Pennsylvania State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Mann has contributed to the scientific understanding of historic climate change based on the temperature record of the past thousand years. He has pioneered techniques to find patterns in past climate change and to isolate climate signals from noisy data.[11]. Prof. Mann was ranked #37 on the “Reuters list of the world’s top climate scientists” in 2021 [5].

2.2 Assessment of Bjørn Lomborg’s work

“Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center has been funded by the Randolph Foundation, whose main trustee , Heather Higgins, is also the president of the Koch-funded International Women’s Forum. The center is in fact a virtual entity, with an official address at a Lowell , Massachusetts, parcel service. …

Lomborg frequently pens commentaries in leading newspapers, icnluding the Wall Street Journal, the New York times, and USA Today, downplaying the impacts of climate change, criticizing renewable energy, and promoting fossil fuels. With a smile and a professed concern for the environment and the poor, he scolds those who would misguidedly wean us off fossil fuels and promote clean energy. …

In an op-ed he warned that “a 20-foot rise in sea levels.. would inundate about 16,000 square miles of coastline, where more than 400 million people currently live. .. That’s a lot of people, to be sure, but hardly all of mankind. In fact, it amounts to less than 6% of the world’s  population – which is to say that 94% of the population would not be inundated.”

(Mann, 2021, p. 132-134, [3])

3. Other relevant publications

Petersen et al.(2019), Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians, Nature Communication, 10, 3502 [4]:

Here we show via direct comparison that contrarians are featured in 49% more media articles than scientists. Yet when comparing visibility in mainstream media sources only, we observe just a 1% excess visibility, which objectively demonstrates the crowding out of professional mainstream sources by the proliferation of new media sources, many of which contribute to the production and consumption of climate change disinformation at scale. These results demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.




[3] Mann, M. (2021). The New Climate Wars. New York, USA: Public Affairs. p. 132-134)

[4] Petersen, A.M., Vincent, E.M. & Westerling, A.L. Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians. Nat Commun 10, 3502 (2019).


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