Letter to the Editor: Flak Means You’re Closer To the Target

This letter appeared in the Financial Times, January 14, 2003.
In his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001), Bjorn Lomborg argues—and supports with a blizzard of evidence—that environmental policy is often supported by shaky science, at best, and that most of the scary predictions made by the prophets of doom have been off by a country mile.

Shortly after the book’s release, the bishops and church fathers of environmental science the world over formed a brigade and began what has been a withering condemnation of the heretic. (“Environmental sceptic runs up against the prophets of doom,” FT, Jan. 9) If nothing else, this illustrates what any fighter pilot knows: When you start receiving flak, you know you’re over the target. More importantly, the venomous ad hominem character of most of the flak thrown up at Mr. Lomborg suggests that many of his assailants lack the arguments and evidence to counter his work.

All this has, of course, done wonders for Mr. Lomborg’s reputation and book sales, proving once again that it’s better to be denounced than ignored.

Prof. Steve H. Hanke
Senior Fellow
The Cato Institute
Washington, DC 20001

Senior Fellow Steve H. Hanke is a professor of Applied Economics at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.