Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Tue Dec 11 16:11:21 EST 2001


I read the biodiversity chapter in the bookstore and glanced at the rest of the
book. The biodiversity effort is superficial and it avoids the recent professional

All predictions are extrapolations. But one should extrapolate from the best
information. Lomborg doesn't. His work on biodiversity is propaganda not science.
Please read it for yourself. Then read the May and Lawton 1995 volume. Then decide
which is science.

It is standard to have papers reviewed by experts in the field, as I assume you
know. My first paper on extinction was in fact handled by Robert May. It would not
have been hard for a book published by Cambridge University Press to get checked
out by an Oxford professor. If anyone thought it a scientific effort.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu

James Kruse wrote:

> on 12/10/01 2:11 PM, Patrick Foley at patfoley at csus.edu wrote:
> > The evidence for elevated extinction risks is hardly overstated by most
> > ecologists. While one could argue about the exact rate of added extinction
> > risk due to human management, the fundamentals are firmly in place for the
> > loss of between one fourth and one half of the species on earth.
> Yes, but the point was that extrapolations from 50 years worth of data to
> 1000 years and certainly 6000 years, and assuming that nothing changes
> during that time, are bound to be inaccurate.
> > And if Lomborg is writing as a scientist, not as a propagandist,
> > why did he not have his chapter on biodiversity reviewed by Robert May, E. O.
> > Wilson, Peter Raven or some other scientist who is a published scientific
> > authority on the subject?  (snip)
> > In short, if Lomborg is writing as a scientist, he is poorly trained in the
> > fields he critiques and failed to get proper review. If he is merely a
> > propagandist, then what he is pushing is not what the world needs.
> I don't think it is fair or reasonable to require that all publications
> involving biodiversity be filtered through these particular individuals to
> qualify as getting a "proper review". 70 pages of bibliography does sound
> pretty well researched, more than your average propagandist I suspect. I
> have not read the book yet (recently ordered because of all the buzz about
> it), and I don't think you have read it either. Here is a clip from an
> internet article about the author and the book for those interested:
> ---------
> "In 1997, a young Danish statistician named Bjorn Lomborg read an interview
> with Julian Simon, an American economist who argued that much of our
> knowledge about the environment was based on preconceptions and poor
> statistics," wrote sociologist the Rev. Andrew Greeley in the Chicago
> Sun-Times. "According to Simon the doomsday conventional wisdom about the
> environment was wrong."
> A leftist, vegetarian environmentalist and a onetime Greenpeace member,
> Lomberg was determined to prove that Simon was dead wrong. Putting together
> a team of the best statistical students at his university, he launched a
> massive study designed to disprove Simon's claims and was amazed after
> intensive research to discover that he was, for the most part, right on.
> In a new 500-page book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," boasting 70 pages
> of bibliography and nearly 3,000 notes, Lomberg and his team "trashes the
> conventional wisdom," Greeley wrote.
> ---------
> And another:
> "Its importance lies partly in its relentless statistics. With 173 charts,
> nine tables and a staggering 2,930 footnotes, The Skeptical Environmentalist
> will be a source of reference for years to come. But it is also a readable,
> accessible and simple account of the state of the world, told as much in the
> illuminating charts as in the text itself. And it is a fascinating polemic,
> too. Lomborg exposes the fibs, half-truths and sleights of hand that have
> been used to sustain the ultra-pessimism that so effectively gets us all
> reaching for our cheque books."
> ---------
> And a long, but even-handed review reminding us that statistics can go both
> ways:
> http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/scienceandnature/0,6121,544861,00.html
> I'm anxious to read it for myself.
> James J. Kruse, Ph.D.
> Curator of Entomology
> University of Alaska Museum
> 907 Yukon Drive
> Fairbanks, AK, USA 99775-6960
> tel 907.474.5579
> fax 907.474.1987
> http://www.uaf.edu/museum/ento
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