Having written some 1,800 of these columns since 2014, we are certainly sympathetic to the urge to reduce one's workload by reusing past drafts to recycle content. But that’s lazy, disrespectful to our readers, can often be a copyright violation for the original publisher, and in most contexts, is just plain unethical, which is probably why it’s known by the ugly name of self-plagiarism.
So while we may, like everyone, be occasionally tempted by the sin of self-plagiarism, we abstain. It’s actually not all that difficult to write something new about climate change every day. But that’s only because we’re lucky enough to have all of reality to choose from.
For deniers, it’s a bit harder, because they have their standard disinformation talking points, which must be repeated ad nausea in order to become part of the background noise of the political debate. (Emphasis on “noise.”)
But since their whole job is to think up new ways to say the wrong things, you’d think they’d be good at it. Alas, they are not!
Case in point is Bjorn Lomborg, who seems to publish a new op-ed every couple of weeks in some mid-tier publication. Not total blog spam stuff, but less than the WSJ pages he (dis)graced last fall. Apparently it’s gotten way too hard to find new ways to pretend to care about climate change while enabling fossil fuel consumption, because last week UK outlet CityAM published what it headlined an “exclusive” oped from Lomborg about “50 years of misguided climate panic” that was actually just a lightly edited version of a New York Post op-ed Lomborg got published last November, about “50 years of spurious scaremongering”!
One text-compare website showed an 97.3% match between the two pieces. They're not identical, but the editing is certainly minimal, especially given that CityAM’s preface read that Lomborg was “writing exclusively for City A.M. today.”
[We reached out to CityAM, and they confirmed it was offered to them as an exclusive by Lomborg’s team. — Ed.]
Billing itself as “London’s Business Newspaper,” City A.M. apparently thought Lomborg had something worthwhile for their audience, but apparently he just couldn’t be bothered to write anything new. But why didn’t City A.M. catch it? Clearly their fact checking leaves something to be desired, and it’s not like Lomborg’s the sort of author you’d be wise to take at his word.
After all, Lomborg has a long history of making false claims that have been critically fact checked. And this list is no different, essentially a mix of bad reporting from the past with misinterpretations, cherry-picking and other context-defying disinformation meant to make past warnings that often went heeded look like predictions that never came true (even though many parts warned about in the past 50 years, from hunger to heat waves and extreme weather, already have happened, with deadly results, as warned).
What’s worse? This disinfo narrative that Lomborg is self-plagiarizing isn’t even his own! He lifted the idea and examples from perhaps the only people more cravenly dishonest- industry-funded CEI’s Myron Ebell and tobacco-turned-fossil-fuel lawyer Steve Milloy, who themselves pulled most of the examples from Tony Heller, back in 2019!
Heller, as you may recall from his regular appearances here, is full of climate disinfo, but is also multifaceted, and has been banned from twitter for spreading COVID disinfo, while in the past he’s also spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting and Barack Obama's birthplace.
He's not exactly a particularly credible source, so it’s not surprising that Lomborg failed to mention Heller and CEI as the inspiration for the op-ed he published with the NYPost and CityAM. What may be more surprising is that Lomborg apparently didn’t bother just citing himself to CityAM to make it clear the op-ed wasn’t exclusive to them- that’s all it would take for it to not have been committing the sin of self-plagiarism!
But apparently citing Bjorn Lomborg is too much of an embarrassment, even for Bjorn Lomborg!