Author: Christian Berggren

Population and Policy—A Rejoinder to Szurmak and Desrochers

I cannot imagine an event that could cause a ship to founder. Modern ship building has gone beyond that. ~E.J. Smith, captain of Titanic In a recent essay in Quillette, I criticized the one-sided view of global development in the Roslings´ Factfulness. In their response, Joanna Szurmak and Pierre Desrochers (hereafter S&D) whose new book Population Bombed! is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s most high-profile climate denier group, disparage my critique by branding me an “eco-pessimist,” and present themselves as clear-eyed optimists. This dichotomy is a poor guide to analysis. Captain Smith of Titanic was obviously also an “optimist.” Were his critics mere “pessimists”? Three aspects of the S&D-paper require particular scrutiny: 1. The Contradictory View of Technological Development S&D argue that market economies will fix all negative side-effects of technological development spontaneously because of the commercial value of the effluents. This claim ignores all the research and policy-making related to external economics, where the cost of emitting hazardous substances is negligible for the producer but dire for society.1 If the LA or …

The One-Sided Worldview of Hans Rosling

A review of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund. Flatiron Books (April 2018) 352 pages.  Charisma and upbeat messages about global trends made the late Hans Rosling (1948–2017), professor at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, an international TEDTalk-star, listed among TIME Magazine´s “The World´s 100 Most Influential People” already in 2012. The posthumous book, Factfulness written with his son and daughter-in-law is now becoming a global bestseller. Bill Gates promises to hand it out to all US university graduates. Nature is full of praise: “This magnificent book ends with a plea for a factual world view. …Like his famous presentations, it throws down a gauntlet to doom-and-gloomers in global health by challenging preconceptions and misconceptions.” In Sweden, The Nobel Prize Foundation has teamed up with the Rosling family, announcing that it will “light up Stockholm every spring, in connection with the arrival of the light, with a new public education day in memory of Hans Rosling.”1 Unfortunately, Factfulness …