Book and film reviews

Apocalypse no!

(Published in GralsWelt 34/2004)

By Bjorn Lomborgzu Klampen Verlag, Hamburg, 2002.

Since the publication of "Limits to Growth" in 1972 (3), a growing public has gradually become more aware that this earth is not only spatially limited. Its resources are finite, its life support systems can be overtaxed, and our planet accordingly cannot support an endlessly large number of people with exponentially increasing demands.

These undeniable insights have led to a broad change in people's consciousness, the founding of ecological movements, and even reorientations in business and politics.
In innumerable publications this problem was and is constantly pointed out, and the impression arises that we today already overtax nature, exceed natural borders, and accordingly must fear perhaps already in few decades a crash into chaos. A view, which also the author of this book review has represented in essays, lectures and lectures at a technical college on the basis of scientific publications.

Much ideology - few hard facts ?
Now a scientist, even more an "old left Greenpeace member" (2) comes to the public with the thesis that the catastrophe scenarios of the environmentalists consist of much ideology and few facts. Not only activists suspected of ideology, such as the environmental organization Greenpeace, but also respected scientists and recognized research institutes, such as WCMC, WWF, WWI , interpret the measured facts in a biased way, and they allegedly do not even shy away from data manipulation to support their apocalyptic visions.

Everything half as bad ?
The author of "Apocalypse No", Bjorn Lomborg, teaches statistics, so he is undoubtedly qualified for data evaluation. In his book, he brings an impressive collection of numbers, facts, diagrams on just about every topic relevant to the environment and the future of humanity. The reader of the book of 556 pages, including 146 pages of notes and bibliography, will find data and charts on almost all major environmental issues, from species extinction to water pollution, and for the future of humanity from food to welfare.
According to Lomborg everything became and becomes always better! Although the number of people is still increasing for the time being, the nutritional situation has continuously improved, life expectancy is increasing on all continents, and prosperity is growing worldwide!

The conclusion of the book reads:
"The world we leave behind is in a better state than the world we found, and that's what's really fantastic about the real state of the world: that the fortunes of humanity have improved in every area that can be concretely quantified, and that's likely to continue.
That's something to keep in mind. When would you have preferred to come into the world? Many are still fixated on the litany and have the image in their minds of children who don't have enough to eat and drink and grow up with pollution, acid rain and greenhouse warming. But the image is a mixture of their own prejudices and lack of analysis.
And that is exactly the message of this book: children born today - both in developed and developing countries - live longer and healthier lives, have more to eat, a better education, a higher standard of living, more leisure time and many more opportunities - without destroying the environment.
And this is a wonderful world" (2, S. 410).
Environmentalists - above all Klaus Töpfer, once Minister of the Environment of the Federal Republic of Germany and today head of the UN Environment Program - strongly disagree (1), and one may be curious about the results of the discussions about Lomborg's book.

(1) Kyoto and the costs of do-gooding, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 23. 6. 2004
(2) Lomborg, Bjorn, Apocalypse no!: wie sich die menschlichen Lebensgrundlagen wirklich entwickeln, zu Klampen Verlag, 21309 Lüneburg, 2002.
(3) Meadows, Dennis, L., The Limits to Growth, DVA, Stuttgart, 1972.