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Lies, damn lies and environment statistics

Dear Editor,

I was disappointed to see Bjorn Lomborg's climate scepticism in the Post December 15. He deftly uses "facts" to belittle concern over global warming.

He is correct that the inundation of New Orleans had primarily to do with government negligence and incompetence but fails to note that 2005 saw the most named storms in history and the most Category-5 storms. Katrina itself was a huge storm covering a very large area. Moreover, its 10-metre storm surge caused extensive damage without even including New Orleans.

He points out that storm intensity has receded since 2005 as if that proves anything. Did he expect every year to be a record? That would be nonsense: All natural systems are cyclical. What is important is long-term trends. The 10 hottest years on record have happened since 1996.

The year 2007 was somewhat cooler but would have been the all-time record if it had happened only 16 years ago in 1992.

He points to an annual increase in Bangladesh's land area of 20 square kilometres through sedimentation but seems unconcerned that a thousand times that area is likely to be inundated by rising seas. Some small Pacific island states are making plans to abandon their nations because rising seas are already beginning to engulf their low-lying lands, and everything I've heard points to an acceleration of rising sea levels.

Furthermore, the increased melting of Himalayan glaciers that feed the great rivers of South Asia is exacerbating annual flooding in Bangladesh and the wider area and, worse yet, when they have melted away, dry season flows will go down to a trickle, causing calamity for the hundreds of millions of people dependent on that water.

Some of his claims are almost too absurd to respond to: World food production doubling by 2080? When most of that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels that will certainly be gone in half that time? The mere idea that food production could double any time in the future - let alone in 75 years - and that global warming would have almost no effect seems like pure fantasy. What hat did he pluck those numbers from?

When one considers that there are 1,000 climate scientists warning of the dire, earth-wrenching impacts of climate change for every sceptic like Lomborg, I would suggest that, to achieve balance, the Post owes its readers 1,000 articles covering the awful consequences of not tackling this greatest of all human challenges.

Stan Kahn

Phnom Penh

Send letters to: or P.O. Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.



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