Lomborg, the tree-huggers' mugger
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HE IS the “sceptical environmentalist” whose claim that the planet is in far healthier shape than most greens maintain has brought him worldwide obloquy from them. Now Bjorn Lomborg has a new post: he is to run Denmark's new Institute for Environmental Assessment, the country's new prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a free-marketeer, announced this week. Local greens are spitting with fury.
Mr Lomborg's job will include watching state agencies to ensure that cash for cutting pollution goes where the return is greatest. The best man for the job, said the prime minister. There's more to it than that, say left-wing politicians, pointing out that Mr Lomborg's academic background is not in environmental science. Academic critics have denounced him to Denmark's committee on scientific dishonesty.
The government's aim in setting up the new institute is to help it trim heavy public spending. Greens spot an ideological crusade to roll back a decade of environmental advances under social-democratic rule. The government, elected in November, has already made some big changes. Denmark's ban on beer cans, a pet notion of the previous environment minister, has been lifted. The new minister intends to let local authorities build houses in state forests, previously protected by a blanket ban. Plans for three offshore windpower parks have been dropped. The ministry's $300m annual budget has been cut by a third; one job in ten there will vanish, and one in five at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Critics say Denmark's reputation as a pioneer in environmental protection will be devastated. The withdrawal of some $60m earmarked for cleaning up Eastern Europe could be especially awkward. Denmark will take its turn as the EU's president in the second half of this year, so is due to chair a world environment summit in Johannesburg in September. A hot seat?
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