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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 12:28 GMT
Lomborg celebrates ministry ruling
The scientist who wrote a best-selling book that set out to show the world was not heading for environmental meltdown is celebrating a victory.

Book, CUP
The book caused a furore when published in 2001
The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has repudiated the findings by one of its own committees that Bjorn Lomborg's book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice".

Dr Lomborg's 2001 publication purported to expose the Green movement's exaggerated and doom-laden view of the state of the planet.

He put forward an alternative vision, quoting the scientific "facts" to show the environment was actually doing much better and, in many instances, had improved markedly in recent years.

The book has been translated into a dozen languages and made its author an international star - he is a frequent contributor to TV and radio broadcasts around the globe.

Factual errors

The publication infuriated radical Greens and earlier this year the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) effectively accused him of bending the facts to suit his arguments.

Although its ruling carried no penalty, Lomborg's opponents tried to use the judgement to get him removed from his post as director of Denmark's Environmental Assessment Institute.

They failed and now the committee, which operates under the aegis of the country's national academy of sciences, has itself come in for criticism over the way it handled the issue.

The ministry said the DCSD's treatment of the case was "dissatisfactory", "deserving criticism" and "emotional" and contained a number of significant errors.

Data interpretation

Dr Lomborg said: "It has been almost two years since the beginning of the DCSD case against my book.

Lomborg, Lomborg
"It has been hard, but I am happy that we now have confirmation that freedom of speech extends to environmental debate.

"Now that this distraction is behind us, we can concentrate our efforts on matters of importance - namely, how to prioritise our efforts for the environment."

The DCSD considered the case after complaints from four scientists, including Jeff Harvey, a former editor of the scientific journal Nature and a senior scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

The complainants said he had misinterpreted and abused scientific data to support his line.

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