In the Munk Debates 2009 on Climate Change, Bjorn Lomborg made a claim that I immediately found contestable, a claim that probably seemed to be convincing to the audience and yet was without foundation.
He claimed that there would be more people suffering water stress in the world without Climate Change, than there would be if Climate Change were allowed to continue.
He cited somebody’s research and I thought he said “Nicholls”. There are two Nicholls’s I think who might be likely : who write research papers about Environmental research. One Nicholls N. writes about Australian rainfall futures, and the other is Nicholls R. J., who is cited by the Stern Review, so I guess that’s the one Bjorn is making reference to. Except Nicholls R. J. writes about coastal flooding and sea level rise, not water stress directly :-
I think Bjorn must have really meant “Arnell”. I have been able to establish from a PowerPoint presentation that Bjorn Lomborg gave which is online, that he considers Arnell to be useful as regards discussions on water stress. Before you “anglophones” panic, the first slide is in Danish, but the rest is in English :-
See Slide 25 where Bjorn presents a simple graph : by 2085, nearly 3 billion people will be suffering water stress without Global Warming : with Global Warming, only just over 1.5 billion people will be suffering water stress. He cites “Arnell (2004)”.
Well, I looked up the reference, and it doesn’t say what Bjorn Lomborg is claiming, exactly. In fact, it says something almost completely dissimilar to what Bjorn Lomborg is claiming :-
“Climate change and global water resources: SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios” Nigel W. Arnell, School of Geography, University of Southampton : published in Global Environmental Change 14 (2004) 31–52
Reading the conclusions, I find that Bjorn has possibly misrepresented and mis-summarised.
So, Bjorn Lomborg makes a throwaway line to win a debating argument, but he seems to have got his facts wrong.
He continues to maintain a contentious and entirely unfounded line of argument that Global Warming won’t amount to very much by the year 2100, and so there’s no justification for spending our way out of Climate Change. Thousands of scientists around the world beg to differ :-