Serial Mistake-Makers on Climate Change (2)
On Bjorn Lomborg and Matt Ridley
Howard Friel is author most recently of The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight on Global Warming (Yale University Press, 2010), and with Richard Falk of The Record of the Paper: How The New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy (Verso, 2004) and Israel-Palestine on Record: How The New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East (Verso, 2007).
Question: What does an article about Miami Beach architecture in a defunct travel magazine have to do with the issue of sea-level rise due to global warming?
Answer: Absolutely nothing.
Why then did Bjorn Lomborg footnote a key sea-level claim in his 2007 book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, to an article about Miami Beach architecture in a travel magazine?
Why also did Lomborg footnote another aspect of the same claim about sea-level projections to “fig. 10.6.1,” “fig. 10.6.3,” and “fig. 10.6.4” from chapter 10, Working Group I, of the 2007 IPCC Assessment report, when no such figures can be found there or anywhere else in the 2007 IPCC report?
And with regard to Lomborg’s same claim about sea-levels, why also did Lomborg (with sarcasm) hold Al Gore’s sea-level estimates in An Inconvenient Truth—the film and book, both of which were issued in 2006—to sea-level projections from the 2007 IPCC assessment report, which was published a year after Gore’s movie and book?
Presumably, a respected author such as Matt Ridley would have thought to read my book, prior to criticizing it and me, and therefore would have been familiar with such details as I wrote about them in The Lomborg Deception (2010) before allowing himself to be bamboozled by Lomborg into misrepresenting what I wrote. Apparently referring to chapter 6 in my book, “On Greenland and the Missing Figures,” wherein the “missing figures” (as identified above) are discussed, Lomborg claimed (without elaboration) that I had accused him of “missing endnotes.” Lomborg thus wrote: “[Friel] claimed that endnotes were missing when they clearly exist.” This is a clever diversion. It is analogous to Lomborg writing, after being accused of stealing a Rembrandt: “Friel accused me of stealing a painting, and here it is.” This is Lomborg 101 and Ridley flunks, on this count and all others, while extensively quoting Lomborg as his tutor for his criticism of my book.
For the record: In a May 31 column in the Guardian, George Monbiot was highly critical of Ridley’s new book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. At one point, Monbiot criticized Ridley for referencing Lomborg favorably; Monbiot then invoked my book as evidence that Lomborg’s work is seriously flawed. Ridley responded on his Web site by reproducing verbatim comments by Lomborg about me and my book, whereupon Ridley concluded: “Friel’s book is itself packed with significant errors and is easily answered in Lomborg’s rebuttal,” to which Ridley provides a link.
Although I had already responded to many of these charges in my rebuttal to Lomborg, which was posted on the Web site of Yale University Press on February 26, Ridley ignored both the content and existence of my rebuttal, and instead quoted only from the statement that Lomborg had posted on his Web site on February 23 that is critical of my book.
I provide below a response to Lomborg’s comments, presented vicariously by Ridley as his criticism of my book (about which he apparently knows nothing), which Ridley reproduced on his Web site as his full indictment.
(Lomborg): In his longest chapter, Friel attempted to argue that my arguments were not supported by my source material. He claimed that endnotes were “missing” when they clearly exist, misread source figures and tables, relied on a misrepresentation of both my text and source material, and tried to shift the argument by claiming that I should have written about topics that he personally found more salient.
Re Lomborg’s Claim That I Accused Him of “Missing Endnotes”
I responded to this claim in my February 26 statement, which Ridley ignored.
In The Lomborg Deception, I wrote about no such “missing” endnotes. However, chapter six is titled, “On Greenland and the Missing Figures,” where I document how Lomborg itemized an important but misleading claim?that the 2007 IPCC assessment had projected a “standard” 12-inch sea-level increase by year 2100?by footnoting the entire itemization of that misleading claim to numbered figures in the IPCC report that do not exist. (See, The Lomborg Deception, pp. 117–119).
In a key paragraph in Cool It (see the paragraph that begins at the bottom of p. 62 and ends at the top of p. 63), Lomborg footnoted this itemization to figures 10.6.1, 10.6.3, and 10.6.4 that, as his footnotes indicate, are supposed to be located in Chapter 10 of Working Group I of the 2007 IPCC assessment report. However, no such figures exist there or anywhere else in the 2007 assessment. Nor did Lomborg mistakenly write “figure 10.6.1” etc., for “section 10.6.1” etc., since those sections also do not support his itemization of a 12-inch sea-level increase by year 2100. In other words, Lomborg detailed a key tenet of his case that global warming is disaster—that sea-level rise due to global warming poses no serious threat—by footnoting non-existent sources in the IPCC assessment.
Furthermore, in this same section in Cool It on “Rising Sea Levels,” and while referencing the 2007 IPCC assessment report, which, according to Lomborg, “estimates that sea levels will rise by about a foot over the rest of this century” (p. 60), Lomborg asked, regarding Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth: “How is it possible that one of today’s strongest voices on climate change can say something so dramatically removed from the best science? The IPCC estimates a foot, Gore tops them twenty times” (pp. 60–62). However, as noted, the 2007 IPCC assessment report, to which Lomborg here refers, was issued a year after Gore’s 2006 film and book, An Inconvenient Truth.
Also, in the same section in Cool It on “Rising Sea Levels,” Lomborg wrote: “Yet sea-level increase by 2050 will be about five inches—no more than the change we have experienced since 1940 and less than the change those Art Deco hotels have already stood through” (p. 61). Lomborg footnotes this statement to one source: an article by travel writer Neal Matthews titled “The Attack of the Killer Architects” in a now defunct travel magazine titled Travel Holiday. The article by Matthews says nothing whatsoever about a five-inch sea-level increase by year 2050—the key factual claim in Lomborg’s sentence. Nor does the article by Matthews say anything about sea levels or about the Art Deco hotels in Miami Beach in any context related to sea levels.
To top things off, the 2007 IPCC assessment report issued no single projection of a 12-inch sea-level increase by year 2050. Lomborg greatly oversimplified the IPCC’s 2007 assessment of the issue of sea-level rise to the point of misrepresentation, which might explain why he footnoted IPCC figures that do not exist in the IPCC report, an article in a travel magazine, and why he criticized Gore for not conforming his 2006 film and book to the 2007 IPCC assessment report. (For more details on Lomborg’s claims in Cool It about sea-level rise due to global warming, see The Lomborg Deception, chapter 5, “On Melting Glaciers and Rising Sea Levels,” pp. 90–116; and chapter 6, “On Greenland and the Missing Figures,” 117-132).
In short, I did not accuse Lomborg of “missing endnotes.” I did, however, in my February 26 statement (pp. 4–6), comment about Lomborg’s endnotes as follows:
Lomborg then wrote that “Friel claims that my ‘modus operandi’ is to cheat with my footnotes,” though I [Friel] never used the word “cheat” in my book. Here is what I wrote about Lomborg’s difficult tripartite documentation system by which he catalogues nearly 3,000 endnotes in The Skeptical Environmentalist:
Given the essence of Lomborg’s scientific dissent—that he uniquely holds and presents the facts [about the real state of the world’s environment, per his claim]—one might have thought that he would have sought to make the validation of his facts as simple and transparent as possible. Instead, Lomborg presented his documentation system in The Skeptical Environmentalist as the scholarly equivalent of an obstacle course, seemingly designed to test the limits of an inquisitive reader’s perseverance and sanity. (The Lomborg Deception, pp. 47–48)
And about Cool It:
The documentation system in Cool It is even more challenging, as Lomborg eliminated numbered citations in the text, thus challenging the reader to muster an additional level of resolve by having to identify which sentences or assertions in the text were sourced in the first place. (The Lomborg Deception, p. 48)
Thus, my complaint about Lomborg’s endnotes is about the lack of functional transparency that present a significant obstacle to accessing the sources that Lomborg uses. It seems likely that had Lomborg simplified his baroque documentation system for the reader and researcher, someone would have looked up as many of his endnotes as I did much earlier than I did, in which case the Lomborg phenomenon might not have gotten this far. Rather than address the issue of transparency, Lomborg merely noted that his documentation system “is entirely consistent with the protocols of major academic research,” which I also noted. But by merely noting with some expediency that his documentation system is merely acceptable does not adequately respond to the charge that his system maximizes the difficulty of accessing and organizing (a) his substantive claims in the text, (b) the author/date citations in the endnotes, and (c) the fuller endnote reference in the bibliography—all of which must be in hand as the necessary condition for finding a footnoted reference. Multiply this process by almost 3,000 endnotes and the problem is apparent.
Though a shorter book, this process is more complicated in Cool It, given the additional step of having to determine which factual assertions in the text are sourced in the first place. To accommodate Lomborg’s documentation system in this instance, I had to copy the “Notes” section to Cool It, place it next to the main text of Cool It, and proceed line-by-line through both the text and the Notes in order to ascertain which portions of the text were sourced by the Notes, given that Lomborg’s Notes are cued to the first words of the sourced assertions in the text. Only then could I commence with the juggling act required in traversing three sections of the book to identify each sourced assertion and reference.
Nor does this account for the “mirage in the desert” and “wild goose chase” phenomena that I commonly confronted upon searching for Lomborg’s sources, including the additional amount of research required to look for missing sources that ultimately were never found. The missing figures in chapter six of The Lomborg Deception (“On Greenland and the Missing Figures”), which concern Lomborg’s phony itemization of his shady claim of a precise 12-inch sea-level increase, is a noteworthy example of exactly this process.
Re Lomborg’s Claim That I Cannot Read Source Tables
I also had already responded in my February 26 statement to Lomborg’s claim that I don’t know how to read source figures and tables. In order to make sense of my response, one would need to have copies of both The Skeptical Environmentalist and The Lomborg Deception in hand as directed (see pp. 6–7 in my February 26 response to Lomborg).
While I misrepresented no source figures or tables, Lomborg himself misrepresented source figures and tables in Cool It while arguing that “it seems reasonable to conclude from the data that global warming might actually result in lower deaths rates” due to fewer cold-related deaths (Cool It, p. 15). The “data” that he cites in this claim, however, cannot be found as such in his footnoted sources, though Lomborg puts on an elaborate show while feigning to present such data.
Immediately after writing in his February 23 comments that “Friel seems unwilling to entertain the idea that global warming will also lead to fewer cold deaths,” Lomborg continued (reference to the Bosello study in parentheses is in the original):
The only peer-reviewed study to calculate all extra heat deaths and avoided cold deaths globally shows that the number of avoided cold deaths strongly outweigh the extra heat deaths. This study, (Bosello, Roson, & Tol, 2006), shows that although we are likely to see about 400,000 more heat deaths because of global warming by 2050, we will likely see about 1.8 million fewer cold deaths. (p. 11) (Emphasis to all added.)
Although Lomborg claims here that the Bosello study calculates all extra heat deaths and avoided cold deaths due to global warming, the Bosello study was actually limited to only six diseases, as the authors themselves report:
The health effects assessed in this paper include cardiovascular diseases (heat and cold stress), respiratory diseases (heat stress), diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever, and schistosomiasis. The first four diseases are major killers without climate change, and may therefore be important in the total health burden of climate change as well. For the last two diseases, climate change impacts happen to have been estimated at a global scale. For other diseases probably affected by climate change, no global estimates are available. Our selection of diseases is therefore one of convenience, rather than comprehensiveness.
Though Lomborg wrote that this study represented “all extra heat deaths and avoided cold deaths” globally due to global warming, the authors themselves never made that claim. And with respect to an inability to read charts, while Lomborg claimed that the Bosello study showed “that we are likely to see about 400,000 more heat deaths because of global warming by 2050” in overall human mortality, the study actually reported that there would be 915,000 more heat deaths due to the combined mortality from malaria, dengue, respiratory illness, and diarrhea. (Bosello, Roson, and Tol, 2006, Table 1, p. 582)
In Cool It, Lomborg likewise treated the Bosello study as if it pertained to “all extra heat deaths and avoided cold deaths.” Despite the circumscribed scope of the Bosello study as the authors themselves pointed out, Lomborg referred to it in Cool It as “the first complete survey for the world” about heat- and cold-related deaths due to global warming. (Cool It, p. 38) Immediately following this misrepresentation of the scope of the Bosello study, Lomborg wrote that it “shows us very clearly” that “climate change will not cause massive disruptions or huge death tolls.” (Cool It, p. 38) Here is the complete context in Cool It, with the bold-type portion indicating that Lomborg sourced this key claim to the Bosello study:
The first complete survey for the world was published in 2006, and what it shows us very clearly is that climate change will not cause massive disruptions or huge death tolls. Actually, the direct impact of climate change in 2050 will mean fewer dead, and not by a small amount. (Cool It, p. 38) (Emphasis in original.)
Here in its entirety is how Lomborg sourced this claim in his endnotes:
38 The first complete survey for: (Bosello, Roson, & Tol, 2006:582). (Cool It, p. 175)
It is thus clear that Lomborg issued a definitive and broad claim about the impacts of global warming on heat- and cold-related deaths that he footnoted to the Bosello study, though no such data or assertion is given in that study. Nor did Lomborg note that the scope of the Bosello study was limited to the impact of global warming on human mortality from six diseases. These are clear examples of Lomborg misrepresenting the scope of the Bosello study and figures in its key charts.
Incredibly, in Cool It Lomborg also inaccurately cited the findings from another chart (table) in the Bosello study. For example, the table shows that 850,000 people “will be saved each year” due to global warming (using Lomborg’s vernacular), not the 1.4 million figure that Lomborg gives in Cool It. (Bosello, et al., Table 1: Health Impacts of Climate Change, p. 582; Cool It, p. 38;)
For two additional examples of how, in Cool It, Lomborg misrepresented key figures and charts—from the “the Keatinge study” and the statistical annex of a World Health Organization report—see my February 26 statement (pp. 9–13; 10–12).
Regarding Lomborg’s Claim That I Tried “To Shift the Argument”
With respect to Lomborg’s claim, as repeated by Ridley, that I tried “to shift the argument by claiming that [Lomborg] should have written about topics that he [Friel] personally found more salient,” I refer again to my February 26 statement for my full response, excerpts from which appear below:
For this one [that I shift the argument] we have to start from scratch. On February 24, 1995, the journal Science published a research paper by David Pimentel and his colleagues titled, “Environmental and Economic Costs of Soil Erosion and Conservation Benefits.” The abstract of the paper reads in full:
Soil erosion is a major environmental threat to the sustainability and productive capacity of agriculture. During the last 40 years, nearly one-third of the world’s arable land has been lost by erosion and continues to be lost at a rate of more than 10 million hectares per year. With the addition of a quarter of a million people each day, the world population’s food demand is increasing at a time when per capita food productivity is beginning to decline.
Such a study could have gone a long way in upsetting Lomborg’s apple cart in The Skeptical Environmentalist that the real state of the world’s environment is in good shape. Furthermore, Pimentel and his colleagues also reported:
To adequately feed people a diverse diet, about 0.5 hectares of arable land per capita is needed, yet only 0.27 hectares per capita is available. In 40 years, only 0.14 hectares per capita will be available both because of loss of land and rapid population growth…. With the world population increasing at a quarter of a million per day and continued land degradation by erosion, food shortages and malnutrition have the potential to intensify.
It is thus quickly apparent that Pimentel’s paper was not consistent with Lomborg’s thesis in The Skeptical Environmentalist [that the state of world’s environment, including its ability to feed the world’s people, is improving]. Accordingly, in a key reference to the Pimentel paper, Lomborg alleged that Pimentel had inappropriately cited a paper about Belgium farmland to misleadingly or sloppily claim that European soil erodes at an estimated rate of 17 tons per hectare per year. The part that is italicized below is the extent of Lomborg’s references to Pimentel’s paper:
In many ways this [a reference to Lomborg’s claim in the previous paragraph that a U.N. report, Global Environmental Outlook Report 2000, had exaggerated the extent of soil erosion in Africa] is reminiscent of one of the most cited European soil erosion estimates of 17 tons per hectare. This estimate turned out—through a string of articles, each slightly inaccurately referring to its predecessor—to stem from a single study of a 0.11 hectare sloping plot of Belgian farmland, from which the author himself warns against generalization. In both examples [that is, in GEO 2000 and Pimentel’s paper], sweeping statements are made with just a single example. Unfortunately, such problematic argumentation is pervasive, and we will see more examples below. The problem arises because in today’s global environment, with massive amounts of information at our fingertips, an infinite number of good stories can be told, good ones and bad. (The Skeptical Environmentalist, p. 7)
Note that Lomborg is talking about a research paper published in one of the world’s most prestigious science journals (Science) and authored by a prominent scientist at arguably the best college of agriculture in the United States (the college of agriculture at Cornell University). Also note that Lomborg never referred to the contents of Pimentel’s paper, including the abstract and the excerpt from it above, which reported a serious global problem with soil erosion, and implications about the diminishing capacity of the Earth’s soil to feed a growing population.
It seems to me that the best thing one can say about Lomborg’s treatment of Pimentel’s paper is that he “missed or at least ignored the point,” which is what Lomborg accuses me of doing in my book, The Lomborg Deception, including on the issue of my treatment of the Pimentel paper.
In his comments about my book, Lomborg wrote: “A similar problem arises with Friel’s critique of my assessment of a well-cited soil erosion estimate. My point is that it is dangerous to make sweeping estimates of continent-wide erosion based on a single, small-scale study.” He then writes:
Friel takes issue with me for not noting that “the United States and Europe had the lowest rates of soil erosion in the world.” This is certainly true, but has nothing to do with whether the 17 tons per hectare figure is accurate. He then spends a page summarizing the problems that Pimentel found soil erosion would engender. Again, this is interesting but not at all relevant to the question of whether the 17 tons per hectare figure is right. (Emphasis added) (Lomborg’s comments, p. 7)
The italicized portion here refers to the fact that I described the contents of Pimentel’s paper in my book, including reproduction of the key passage that I already noted:
To adequately feed people a diverse diet, about 0.5 hectares of arable land per capita is needed, yet only 0.27 hectares per capita is available. In 40 years, only 0.14 hectares per capita will be available both because of loss of land and rapid population growth. (See, The Lomborg Deception, p. 64)
An honest assessment of Pimentel’s paper would have noted that it potentially undermines Lomborg-like “optimism” about the ability of the Earth to feed a rapidly growing human population, as I noted in The Lomborg Deception. (p. 63) However, in his section titled, “Friel’s tendency to miss (or at least ignore) the point,” Lomborg accused me of missing the point of the Pimentel paper. To assess this claim, I reproduce below what I wrote in The Lomborg Deception about Pimentel’s paper:
Here is the context, including the comparative context, in which Pimentel presented the 17 tons of soil erosion estimate: “Soil erosion rates are highest in Asia, Africa, and South America, averaging 30 to 40 tons [per hectare per] year, and lowest in the United States and Europe, averaging about 17 tons [per hectare per] year.” Without mentioning that Pimentel and his colleagues had reported that the United States and Europe had the lowest rates of soil erosion in the world, Lomborg implied that Pimentel had exaggerated estimates of soil erosion in Europe. Even so, and more importantly, in the next sentence of the study in Science, Pimentel wrote: “The relatively low rates of soil erosion in the United States and Europe, however, greatly exceed the average rate of soil formation of about 1 ton [per hectare per year].” This means that even if Pimentel had exaggerated soil erosion rates in Europe, say, by doubling the actual erosion rate, this would still leave an undesirable eight-to-one ratio of soil erosion to soil formation. Thus one might ask why Lomborg would leave these key portions of Pimentel’s paper out of The Skeptical Environmentalist, even as he accused Pimentel of exaggerating soil erosion rates in Europe. (The Lomborg Deception, p. 63)
I reproduced this passage from my book to help show how (to put it as generously as possible) Lomborg somehow “misses or at least ignores the point” when he accuses environmentalists and scientists of bad scholarship when they detail serious environmental problems that run contrary to Lomborg’s claims. (See my February 26 statement, pp. 13–16.)
Ridley also reproduced the following passage from Lomborg’s February 23 comments about my book as follows:
(Lomborg): Next, Friel attempted to engage with my arguments on climate change. He did not participate in the relevant, constructive discussion about the economic arguments central to Cool It, but instead made a series of confused and confusing arguments. I was disturbed by his reliance on cut-and-pasted source material that often did not even match the topic that he was responding to. It was troubling to find that he was unable to differentiate between different sources of information. This was why he placed such great stock in news reports rather than peer-reviewed pieces, and is also why he placed credence in arguments such as the now debunked claim that the Himalayan glaciers would entirely disappear before 2035. I was alarmed to find that Friel was unfamiliar with economic basics such as the discount rate, but was more alarmed that his demonstration of this lack of knowledge could make it to print.
Why I did not write about the economic aspects of Lomborg’s Cool It.
As I noted in my February 26 statement and in the Author’s Note in The Lomborg Deception, the focus of my book was on what I refer to as “Lomborg’s Theorem,” which refers to Lomborg’s claim—arguing on grounds pertaining to the physical science basis of climate change—that global warming is no catastrophe. There was no attempt on my part to write about the economic arguments in Cool It, which I refer to as Lomborg’s Corollary.” Knowing this to be the case, Lomborg has repeatedly invoked the straw man that I didn’t write about and thus don’t know anything about the economics of climate change. Following Lomborg’s logic, I could have written a cookbook about vegetarian cuisine, whereupon Lomborg would have responded by arguing that my book was not credible because I showed no evidence that I know how to barbecue a steak. (See “Author’s Note” to The Lomborg Deception (p. ix); see also pp. 1-2 and the top of p. 3 in my Feb 26 statement.)
Did I place too much stock in news reports rather than peer-reviewed pieces.
Anyone reading my book and endnotes would see that I relied primarily on the 2001 and 2007 IPCC assessment reports, reports by science-oriented UN and other agencies (e.g., WHO, IUCN, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment), and dozens of peer-reviewed papers and studies published in science journals. There are a few places when I cited and quoted news reports, which in most cases summarized or quoted from scientists or published peer-reviewed reports. In the last chapter of my book (“How Wrong Was Lomborg”) I did rely (but not exclusively) on reliable news reports to summarize the current state of many of the issues that had been discussed earlier in the book. This was to maintain the narrative flow, given that the news reports are more reader friendly than the science papers and studies themselves. Also, by this time, that is, by the last chapter in the book, my arguments directly relating to Lomborg’s work in his books had already been presented. Knowing it to be the case that I relied somewhat disproportionately (compared to all other chapters in my book) in the last chapter on news reports, Lomborg has opportunistically claimed that I did so throughout my entire book.
The now-debunked claim that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by year 2035.
Citing news reports and non–peer reviewed pieces had nothing to do with my citing the 2035 date with respect to the melting of Himalayan glaciers. There are 82 endnotes in my chapter titled, “On Melting Glaciers and Rising Sea Levels,” eight of which reference news sources (the Guardian, the Independent, the San Francisco Chronicle, and U.S. News and World Report), and I only mentioned U.S. News because Lomborg misrepresented what that news magazine had reported in 2001 in its coverage of the 2001 IPCC assessment report.
Furthermore, as most everyone at this point knows, I quoted the 2035 date from Working Group II of the 2007 IPCC assessment report, and not from a news report. I would also note that that date—2035—is the only mistake in my chapter on melting glaciers (at least that I am aware of, or that has been brought to my attention to date). In Cool It, Lomborg hypothesized that glaciers were melting worldwide due to the Earth’s emergence from the Little Ice Age, an argument for which there is very little scientific support. In my chapter on melting glaciers, I detailed how the melting of the Earth’s cryosphere—its frozen parts, including glaciers and permafrost—is one of the clearest indications of man-made global warming. (See The Lomborg Deception, pp. 90–104)
On Lomborg being alarmed to find that I was unfamiliar with economic basics such as the discount rate and was even more alarmed that my demonstration of this lack of knowledge could make it to print.
As I have already noted, there is almost nothing in The Lomborg Deception about the economics of global warming; my focus was on how Lomborg grossly misrepresented the science of global warming.
Lomborg’s reference to “discount rates” is an interesting point. In Cool It, Lomborg wrote: “We could bring basic water and sanitation to all of these people [1 billion without access to water and approximately 2.5 billion without access to sanitation] within a decade for about $4 billion annually.” (Cool It, p. 111)
Lomborg footnoted this statement in full as follows (parentheses in original):
About $10 billion per year from 2007 to 2015 (Toubkiss, 2006:7); compare this to about $100 billion over the period in (Rijsberman, 2004:521). Four billion dollars per year forever is the equivalent to $10 billion from 2007 to 2015 at a 5 percent discount rate. (Cool It, p. 192)
Lomborg’s footnoted source for his figure of $4 billion annually within a decade is the World Water Council report, “Costing MDG Target 10 on Water Supply and Sanitation” (Toubkiss, 2006), which provided a range of estimates beginning with the present-value figure of $10 billion per year within a decade, which went as high as $15 to 20 billion dollars per year—not the $4 billion per year within a decade that Lomborg reported in the text of his book and footnoted to this source. Here is what the World Water Council report said on the page that Lomborg footnoted:
At first, the range of the global estimates seems broad?between 9 billion USD (WHO 2004) and 30 billion USD per year (GWP 2000 and World Bank 2003). After closer examination however, a different picture emerges. Indeed, if the results are analysed on comparable bases, they appear quite similar: approximately 10 billion USD per year would be required to supply low-cost water and sanitation services to people who are not currently supplied (WSSCC 2000, WHO 2004), a further 15 to 20 billion USD a year to provide them with a higher level of service and to maintain current levels of service to people who are already supplied (Water Academy 2004). A much larger figure, up to 80 billion USD, is projected solely for collecting and treating household wastewater and for preserving the global environment through integrated water resources management (IWRM) and ecological methods (GWP 2000 and SEI 2004).
Total current investment in WSS (excluding wastewater treatment) in the developing
world is estimated at between 14 and 16 billion USD annually 7. Therefore, if the reviewed reports are considered reliable, the rough estimate of needing to double current investment in order to reach MDG Target 10 would be realistic. (World Water Council, “Costing MDG Target 10 on Water Supply and Sanitation,” Toubkiss, p. 7)
Thus, Lomborg footnoted his claim that it would cost $4 billion per year within a decade to provide basic access to water and sanitation for two to three billion people to a source that estimated a present-value cost of a minimum of $10 billion per year within a decade to $28–32 billion per year.
Again, this is classic Lomborg. He quotes in the text of his book that it would cost $4 billion a year within a decade to provide rudimentary access to water and sanitation for the people in the world who have no such access, then writes a tangled and incoherent footnote to support his inaccurate figure of $4 billion. It is then left to us “masochistic” persons (as I have been described) to take pains to look up Lomborg’s sources to find yet again that he has misquoted and misrepresented his own footnoted source. (See The Lomborg Deception, pp. 177-179.)
I have nothing more to say (I hope) about Matt Ridley’s assessment of my book on his Web site, or his opportunistic faith in Lomborg to provide him with an accurate and honest assessment.
 “Response by Howard Friel to Bjorn Lomborg’s Comments about The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight about Global Warming,” February 26, 2010, at http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/HFResponseToLomborgFeb262010.pdf. See pp. 4–6.
 “Florida: The Attack of the Killer Architects: It’s Not Real. It’s Surreal. So, What Is this Fantastical Place? It Can Only Be Miami,” September 1, 2000, at http://nealmatthews.com/Documents/Miami%20architecture.mht.
 Bosello, Roson, and Tol, “Economy-wide Estimates of the Implications of Climate Change: Human Health,” Ecological Economics, 58 (2006), p. 580.
 See “Monbiot’s Errors,” at http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/monbiots-errors.