In this contribution to the discussion of the writings of Bjørn Lomborg, André Lebeau looks again at the book that brought notoriety to its Danish author: The Skeptical Environmentalist. The book was originally published in Denmark in 1998 and caused quite a rumpus when the English translation appeared in 2001; it has just been translated into French (2004). Lomborg challenges most of the analyses warning us about the state of our planet and the urgent need to modify human activities in order to minimize their impact on the environment. Invoking an alternative "scientific" assessment of the available data, he derives far more optimistic conclusions: the world is doing well, indeed is getting better and better, and market forces can only enhance these improvements, including their effect on the natural environment.
André Lebeau examines and decodes this view for Futuribles. In particular he demonstrates how the scientific arguments are badly handled, abridged and sometimes distorted in order to strengthen Lomborg's position which, in Lebeau's view, has more to do with politics than science. As to the book's success as a bestseller, he puts its arguments into critical perspective and tries to understand why there has been such enthusiasm for the book among supporters of the free market.