Some Realism About Environmental Skepticism: Bjorn Lomborg's 'the Skeptical Environmentalist'

58 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2002

Date Written: August 13, 2002


In the short time following its release, Bjorn Lomborg's book, 'The Skeptical Environmentalist', has proven to be a lightning rod for controversy and polarized reaction. The work has attracted downright fawning reviews in The Economist, The New York Times, and The Washington Post while simultaneously garnering absolute scorn from such ordinarily staid publications as Science, Nature, and Scientific American. To this author's knowledge, however, no academic journal yet has published a sustained analysis of the work and its implications for environmental science, law, and policy. This review essay attempts to fill that niche by undertaking a thorough assessment of Lomborg's argument, his evidence, and his significance to the environment-development discussion. Part I provides a critical review of Lomborg's claim that available scientific research undermines the 'Litany' of fears and concerns espoused by advocates of environmental protection. Part II examines Lomborg's argument that environmental policy, risk regulation, and other subjects of social decision making are best addressed through an exclusive and narrowly defined use of cost-benefit analysis. Some thoughts on less technocratic forms of cost-benefit analysis conclude the essay.

Keywords: Environmental law, environmental science, cost-benefit analysis, risk regulation, climate change, global warming

Suggested Citation

Kysar, Douglas A., Some Realism About Environmental Skepticism: Bjorn Lomborg's 'the Skeptical Environmentalist' (August 13, 2002). Available at SSRN: or

Douglas A. Kysar (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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