If [writes Lomborg] you reduce your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables by just 0.03 grams a day (that’s the equivalent of half a grain of rice) when you opt for more expensive organic produce, the total risk of cancer goes up, not down. Omit buying just one apple every 20 years because you have gone organic, and your child is worse off.
Let’s unpack Lomborg’s claim. I don’t know anything about the science of pesticides and cancer, but can he really be so sure that the effects are so small as to be comparable to the health effects of eating “just one apple every 20 years”?
I can’t believe you could estimate effects to anything like that precision. I can’t believe anyone has such a precise estimate of the health effects of pesticides, and also I can’t believe anyone has such a precise effect of the health effect of eating an apple. Put it together and we seem to be in a zero-divided-by-zero situation.
Maybe you have to write in this sort of hyper-overconfident way in order to get press? To me it seems a bit tacky.
P.S. In any case, I doubt Lomborg is entirely serious in his column; he also writes that cutting CO2 emissions would save “less than one-tenth of a polar bear” yearly, which again seems to imply an implausible (to me) precision. Again, not something I like to see from a statistician.