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Open Thread on Lindzen Op-Ed in WSJ

Filed under: — group @ 12 April 2006

We’ve received a large number of requests to respond to this piece by MIT’s Richard Lindzen that appeared as an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal. We’ve had lots to say before about the Wall Street Journal (e.g. here and here), and we’ve had plenty to say about Lindzen as well. Specifically, we have previously pointed out that there is no evidence whatsoever that ‘alarmism’ improves anyone’s chances of getting funded – if anything it is continued uncertainty that propels funding decisions, and secondly, the idea that there is a conspiracy against contrarian scientists is laughable. There is indeed a conspiracy against poor science, but there is no need to apologise for that! But rather than repeat ourselves once again, we thought we’d just sit back this time and allow our readers to comment…


105 Responses to “Open Thread on Lindzen Op-Ed in WSJ”

  1. 51
    Simpson S says:

    There are lots of ad hom in this thread. Can anyone of you point to me where this professor is wrong in the things he has said. In other words refutation rather than personal attacks.
    The personal attacks won’t wash with lots of people because he is after all a professor at MIT. This accreditation does afford him some standing, even at this site.

    So I am all ears. Anyone care to refute what he has said? Point bt point.

    [Response: The noise level in this thread has indeed gotten too high, but if you sift through the postings I think you'll find that each of Lindzen's actual "points" has been responded to. I could summarize the points myself, but I believe the idea in starting this thread was to give our readers a chance to do some of the work for us, and hone their arguments. It wasn't meant to be a 'get Dick' free-for-all, nor was it meant to provide a platform for folks like Roscoe to insult all and sundry. So, I invite any interested readers to post a concise list of Lindzen's points with the irrelevant baggage stripped away, and say which have already been dealt with (by reference to comment number, ideally), and which have not. Then we can start talking about the substance. For example, one of Lindzen's "points" is the claim that scientists who dissent from the view that global warming is a serious problem get intimidated and lose their funding, and that only he and a small handful of others have the prominence and stature to be able to dissent. Another "point" is that scientists have been raising an alarm only to run up their funding, and that they are not motivated by curiosity about the behavior of climate. Some of the answers have already been provided elsewhere in RealClimate, but it would be useful to have a summary here. From my point of view, the only valid "point" in the whole piece is that one expects midlatitude baroclinic eddies to get weaker in a low-gradient world (measured by wind speed or kinetic energy), and that some of the vague talk about "increased storminess" did not take care to distinguish between midlatitude synoptic eddies of this type, and thunderstorms or hurricanes. That's primarily a fault of certain advocacy organizations, and not many of them, not a fault of the climate science community. --raypierre]

  2. 52
    Stephen Berg says:

    Re: #45, “The science is settled? What science? Nobody can ever demonstrate that CO2 is or can cause global warming. Climatology is an observational science, not an experimental one.”

    BS! This completely destroyed your whole argument! We might as well just ignore everything else in that post.

    Re: #47, “Everybody who dissents from the global warming-CO2 connection is called a knave or a fool.”

    That is because it is true.

    CO2 is a GREENHOUSE GAS, meaning CO2 traps HEAT in the ATMOSPHERE, which causes WARMING! INCREASED CO2 in said atmosphere (for example, 280 ppm to 380 ppm from 1850-2005) INCREASES the amount of HEAT which is TRAPPED in the atmosphere, thus INCREASING WARMING!

    “Scientists who find data which doesn’t support global warming and publish this data, are quick to say that in NO WAY does this data imply that global warming is not happening.”

    No scientist is able to “find data which doesn’t support global warming”, because global warming over the past 150 years is most definitely happening. Therefore, any data that said scientist publishes is either fabricated or cherry-picked, such as taking records of the very few stations which may show slight cooling trends and eliminating the thousands which show definitive warming trends.

    [response to ad hom deleted]

  3. 53
    Stephen Balbach says:

    > Domain Name:REALCLIMATE.ORG
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    > Expiration Date:19-Nov-2007 16:39:03 UTC
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    [irrelevant political deleted]

    This does not help Real Climates credibility as a neutral purveyor of science and truth. In particular when linking to real climates site to friends and family. In particular in threads like this that tear down others views based on who and what they are connected with. Please consider updating your whois data, or your “About” page to signify your funding sources.

    [Response: Please read our disclaimer. We recieve no funding from anyone and are not affiliated with anyone's political agenda. - gavin]

  4. 54
    Nikki Chau says:

    Hello, has anybody here read the Profile of Richard Lindzen in the November 2001 issue of Scientific American?

    There is a short teaser on their web site for free, but then to read the rest of the article you have to have a subscription.

    If you have read the whole article, could you summarize it for us?

    I’ve pasted the opening paragraphs below:

    Dissent in the Maelstrom
    Maverick meteorologist Richard S. Lindzen keeps right on arguing that human-induced global warming isn’t a problem
    By Daniel Grossman
    Adviser to senators, think tanks and at least some of the president’s men, Richard S. Lindzen holds a special place in today’s heated debate about global warming. An award-winning scientist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, he holds an endowed chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the nation’s most prominent and vocal scientist in doubting whether human activities pose any threat at all to the climate. Blunt and acerbic, Lindzen ill-tolerates naivete. So it was with considerable trepidation recently that I parked in the driveway of his suburban home.

    A portly man with a bushy beard and a receding hairline, Lindzen ushered me into his living room. Using a succession of cigarettes for emphasis, he explains that he never intended to be outspoken on climate change. It all began in the searing summer of 1988. At a high-profile congressional hearing, physicist James E. Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies went public with his view: that scientists knew, “with a high degree of confidence,” that human activities such as burning fossil fuel were warming the world. Lindzen was shocked by the media accounts that followed. “I thought it was important,” he recalls, “to make it clear that the science was at an early and primitive stage and that there was little basis for consensus and much reason for skepticism.” What he thought would be a couple of months in the public eye has turned into more than a decade of climate skepticism. “I did feel a moral obligation,” he remarks of the early days, “although now it is more a matter of being stuck with a role.”

    This is from SCIAM’s site: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00095B0D-C331-1C6E-84A9809EC588EF21

  5. 55
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #40: Corinna, in addition to Raypierre’s discussion and link, you might have a look at http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/04/a_picture_is_worth_a_thousand.php . It’s not flame-free by any means, but at least it has some added substance unlike the link “Roscoe” provided. Deltoid has other material on Bob Carter’s past efforts, BTW.

    Re #45: Joel, probably the most famous experiment proving GW on the large scale is Jim Hansen’s successful prediction of the cooling effect of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. You should look it up.

    Re #47: Global warming is a bit like evolution in that there are plenty of reasons for disagreeing with the scientific consensus, but none are based on the science. They’re somewhat impolite terms, but I would agree that anyone who claims to have a scientific basis for denying the “global warming-CO2 connection” is very much a knave or a fool. Note that Lindzen does not deny the connection, although it’s probably fair to say that by so openly providing aid and support to those who do his reputation in the scientific community suffers greatly. Speaking of Lindzen, I wonder if part of his snark is that his supply of slave labor, er, I mean grad students, has been much reduced or even eliminated by these outbursts.

    Re #50: There you go again, “Roscoe.” I suspect part of the reason Raypierre deleted your remarks was because the way several of them were phrased made it seem likely that, contrary to your claim, you lack an advanced climate-related degree.

  6. 56
    Roscoe Shaw says:

    [pointless back and forth deleted - moderator]

    First, I’m not a GW skeptic. I firmly believe in GW theory, I’m just skeptical of the wild speculations about the consequences. My Google inbox is full of new ones every day. Sound science is being generated only to be extrapolated into wild disaster scenarios. While many scientists are not guilty of this, they stand idly by watching it happen…much like “peace loving Muslims” who say and do nothing while suicide bombers kill innocents.

    Second…don’t tell me to grow up. This is my first extensive visit to this site and it is clearly run by people with an agenda. Climate alarmism must be defended! Lindzen writes a resonable piece and gets shredded here. A few weeks ago, bizarre and implausible alarmist stories with no opposing viewpoints were run in the Washington Post and on 60 Minutes and the writers here ignored or defended the stories.

    My comments about “earth-worshippers” who burn fossil fuels were quickly deleted yet many inflamatory insults remain.

    As long as you insult the right people and ideas, you are welcome here.

    Have fun on your cozy little site.

    [Response: You are mistaken. We have criticised over-the-top stories and made it clear when we think the media has got it wrong. However we also point out when people use scientific arguments in inappropriate ways and deal with scientific issues point by point. We try and keep people focussed in order to avoid the boring bickering that seems to occur elsewhere. Keep to the science and your comments will be welcome. - gavin]

  7. 57
    Almuth Ernsting says:

    This week, I went to a talk about the potential for reducing emissions from the domestic sector. One piece of information particularly depressed me: It talked about Sweden having used ground-heat pumps in 95% of houses built in the last 25 years, which cut the use of energy and thus emissions by 75% in each of those houses. And is no more expensive or difficult to instal than our central heating systems. Yet because of the low energy prices so far, nobody in the UK (and I presume in most parts of the world) has bothered with them. It depresses me because of all the millions of tons of CO2 that we have added to the atmosphere simply because our government and building firms weren’t bothered with energy efficiency. And now any talk about such sensible measures (which, incidentally keep people’s houses at a more comfortable and steady temperature, keep energy bills low and reduce winter mortality rates) is stil drowned out by all those arguments that we mustn’t impose strict targets, we might harm the economy, we have to find out more about how bad GW will be first.

    Now – this is the type of alarmism which alarms me! Stopping even the most sensible win-win policies which really all of us should love – because we can’t be sure that wasting energy and CO2 will kill more than the few hundred thousand people who are already dying from GW every according to the World Health Organisation every year (150,000 a year and rising). Pretending that our welfare and economy will somehow be harmed if we get high building standards (which don’t harm the German building industry), use microrenewables, insist on using ground heat pumps in all new builds and yes, ensure that the cars people use are fuel-efficient. Meantime, as an individual, I can’t even do my own thing and buy a root-top wind turbine even though I live in the north of Scotland which is ideal for wind. The ‘cautious’ approach to climate change means that even today nobody instals them for householders in Scotland.

    I know that the really drastic emission cuts that may be needed (particularly if we don’t do the sensible easy things now) will not all be that easy – but this economic ‘alarmism’ is stopping us from doing all the easy and potentially popular things now!

    [Response: Ground heat pumps are an interesting idea. They are almost unknown in the UK, though I've seen a couple of stories recently. However... is it clear that they are a good idea? If you measure energy input, I've seen comments that they bring back 4x as much energy as you need for the pumping. But, the energy for pumping is costly electricity, whereas you could be using cheap gas for the heating. Also there is a substantial capital investment required? Re roof-top turbines - I thought small ones were exempt from planning permission - whats the problem? - William]

  8. 58
    ocean says:

    Re #57 by Almuth Ernsting: Wow, that’s an excellent post. Thanks for the information and insight.

  9. 59
    Walter Pearce says:

    Paul G — When you refer to “paranoid musings” you make it clear that you really know nothing about PR, and how it’s used to direct public perception. That’s ok, you’re entitled to your own opinion but, as Daniel Moynihan famously said, you’re not entitled to your own facts. And included among the facts is that more journalism grads go into PR than into journalism. What are they doing? You’d be amazed how much of the “news” Americans read or watch on television is actually written and produced by PR firms. A nice little book you can read on the subject, is Toxic Sludge is Good for You. Assuming your mind is open to new facts.

    To the scientists who run and contribute to this site, thank you. It’s nice for this lay person to find a place informed by intellectual honesty.

  10. 60
    Leonard Evens says:

    The fact is that any scientist who goes against the established consensus may find it difficult to get funding. Almost always that is because the variant idea doesn’t square with the evidence, and peer reviewers will be sensitive to what appears to them as bad science. Rarely, the consensus is wrong, and eventually this becomes clear. On the other hand, from my limited experience, peer reviewers are likely to respond to well thought out, interesting ideas, even if they disagree with their scientific validity or likelihood of success. They will also give some latitiude to established figures who present less than convincing arguments. For example, in my own field, mathematics, anyone who claims to be able to prove the Riemann Hypothesis apparently using established methods known not to work will be met with great skepticism to say the least, but an established figure with previous successes in solving difficult problems will be given some deference, at least for a while.

    The problem is when social, economic, or political factors play a role. Then, it is easy for contrarians to believe that consensus is conspiratorial and consensus scientists have ulterior motives. This usually won’t get you very far, even if you have a distinguished record, unless that position brings you to the attention of powerful non-scientists who like your idea for non-scientific reasons. Consider for example the idea that AIDS is not caused by a virus, promulgated by contrarians, some with impressive qualifications. This idea hasn’t had much impact in the US, but its effect in South Africa has been unfortunate.

    It has already been noted by Raypierre in passing, but let me emphasize again that on the basis of well established physics, the default position should be that a significant perturbation of greenhouse gas concentration in a relatively short time should have a significant effect. It is incumbent on anyone who, like Lindzen, believes otherwise, to explain convincingly why that is not the case. As best I can tell, Lindzen’s original skepticism seemed based on the fact that the response so far did not seem appropriate given the perturbation so far. But after another 10 or 15 years of evidence, that seems increasingly hard to maintain. His proposed mechanisms for why the climate repsonse should be very small don’t seem to be borne out by the evidence. If he still thinks he is right and most everyone else is wrong, he should be trying to convince them about that, not the readers of the Wall Street Journal. Claims that this is due to bias in funding don’t carry much weight with those who have experience with scientific funding. Of course, there may be such bias, but most likely it is justified. Occasionally a valuable idea is not pursued because of short sightedness in the relevant field, but the truth will out. These days, given the large number of international researchers and diverse funding agencies, the time required for that seems to be getting shorter and shorter. One would guess that had Lindzen been right for the past 15 years or so, it would have become clear by now.

  11. 61
    pete best says:

    I am more concerned about the 20 year argument (might be down to 10 years now) before we are in so called real irreversible climate change trouble.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2017322.html

    Tony Blair wrote the forward to the report.

    Here is another one of climate scepticism.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-2123647.html

    It would seem to me that the argument is not yet won, but the balance has tipped in climate scientists favour for the time being.

  12. 62
    raypierre says:

    This thread isn’t really doing us credit. It’s turned into a general brawl, with plenty of blame to go around on all sides. Over in the corner of the barroom there, over the sound of breaking glass and hurled furniture, you can see a few people huddled around the blackboard trying to make sense of things, but they’re having a little trouble being heard. Let’s take a deep breath and start over, beginning with a point-by-point listing of Lindzen’s claims, in concise form, followed by arguments for or against. Over to you.

  13. 63
    Roscoe Shaw says:

    [Response: You are mistaken. We have criticised over-the-top stories and made it clear when we think the media has got it wrong. However we also point out when people use scientific arguments in inappropriate ways and deal with scientific issues point by point. We try and keep people focussed in order to avoid the boring bickering that seems to occur elsewhere. Keep to the science and your comments will be welcome. - gavin]

    Somehow, you failed to criticize the recent 60 Minutes and Time Magazine pieces. Both were highly sensationalized and in very prominent media publications. Neither hinted that there is even a trace of dissent among scientitsts (such as Lindzen’s viewpoint).

    RealClimate simply ignored these stories while going out of their way to immediately attack Lindzen for what I thought was a very legitimate critique of the GW mentality.

    Until RealClimate begins policing the hacks who make outrageous GW claims, then you yourselves will just be political hacks hiding behind a “science” front.

    For some criticisms of the 60 Minutes piece and the Time Magazine piece, I guess you’ll have to look elsewhere since RealClimate turned a blind eye.

    Some debate can be found here.
    http://www.easternuswx.com/bb/index.php?showtopic=89861

  14. 64

    I find most of the comments so far on this thread unsatisfactory.

    The denial camp is alarmed because the press is finally beginning to see the light. The light is not that there are two camps arguing over deeply uncertain theories, nor that there is plenty of time to hash it out before inflicting certain economic calamity. The facts are that there is a cohesive body of evidence that is now sufficiently clear as to indicate the nature and magnitude of the impacts of our behavior, that there are no sufficient models of economic systems to guide the choices we must consequently make, and that our decisions in the next ten or twenty years will have consequences for centuries and possibly millenia.

    That the press should paint this picture accurately is a matter of the greatest imaginable consequence. Obviously there are economic interests that are threatened by effective communication of this picture. It is not a sign of the triumph of the democratic method that such people have been successful in perpetuating a debate on well-established results.

    Consider how they may achieve this unsavory goal. Lacking a coherent alternative theory, lacking coherent alternative evidence, they must simply make the pretense that there is a well-founded alternative point of view. This they may do in two ways.

    The preferable way is by recruiting or retaining a few scientists to stubbornly insist on opposing a few points in the coherent theory. This worked for a while, but presently, everything remotely sensible (the iris effect, the middle troposphere record, the signal to noise in the instrumental record, the urban heat effect) was effectively refuted. This is as it should be, after all, because the idea of science is that the truth lies somewhere, and that it is approached by rooting out untruths.

    The second way to proceed, once the first reached its inevitable limits, is to vaguely claim that there are significant contrary results are being suppressed, at least by the peer review process. These days it is not hard to drum up mistrust among the general public. Failures in corporate and public sector governance have left people cynical and mistrustful. It is not hard to redirect this resentment of authority to the scientific community, which on the whole does not deserve it. Such an ad hominem strategy is increasingly easier than developing a coherent alternative theory, especially as the consensus position is increasingly ratified by new observations. However, it is (I am sorry, I don’t know how to put this in purely scientific terms) morally bankrupt, evil, contemptible.

    If this attack is too successful, history may yet judge it the most destructive behavior ever indulged in. One would have hoped that no one would make much headway with this profoundly malign approach. I say this with both sadness and trepidation in the case of Dr Lindzen, being his direct intellectual descendant. He is my PhD thesis adviser’s adviser’s adviser. However, I cannot imagine any way to justify this approach. I hope he may be prevailed upon to reverse it.

    That said, it is the (sadly unpaid and unrewarded) job of realclimate.org and, alas, of nobody else, to come up with a quick and an effective rebuttal to these calumnies!

    To do so, one must put oneself in the shoes of a member of the public who has difficulty foolwoing the sometimes abstruse arguments here. They may be forgiven for wondering if these arguments are sense or nonsense, especially given that respected and once respectable sources like the Wall Street Journal are insisting that they are the latter.

    The short answer, of course, is that there is indeed a sort of a conspiracy in science to stop publishing things once they are proven untrue or infertile. The process by which this happens, however, is very opaque to the public. It is, apparently, not difficult for many members of the public to believe that the scientific press is in the grips of a conspiracy to suppress alternative opinions, rather than a conspiracy to avoid recycling incorrect arguments. The prominence of legal and political argument, and the traditional pseudo-balance of the journalistic style, lead the public to believe that “there are two sides to every story” more often than that there are two sides, but one of them is verging on completely wrong.

    How we convince people that this is the case is very much at issue. “Open threads” and flamefests will not do the job. We must show people that the case being presented by the denialists is simply inconsistent with any sane model of reality, while the motivation and resources for an organized campaign of misinformation do exist.

    The primary approach, of pointing out that there is no coherent alternative theory, carries weight with people who understand something about how science works, but it best adresses the first phase of the skeptics’ campaign, when there really was some significant uncertainty in the core issues to address, though the way in which it was expected to be addressed was illogical. (Notably, by treating economics as a more mature and rigorous field than climate physics.)

    The immediate problem we’ve been presented with by the abrupt retreat to an attack that verges on libelous is very different. We cannot allow ourselves to be labeled in this way. This is not just a matter of self-preservation here. Both nature and civilization are at stake. If the best-intentioned, and indeed overly mild-mannered science can be cast as some sort of Stalinist resurgence strikes those of us in the trenches as so ludicrous that we are tongue-tied in finding a response. Nevertheless, not only is this what the public is being asked to believe, but also many of them in fact are eager to believe it.

    The best answer I have come up with so far is to point to the near unanimity within science at large. One hates to appeal to authority, but it seems to me that it is helpful here. To suggest that the scientific community is indulging in irresponsible self-interest, one must define the relevant community to be small enough (and well-organized enough!) to maintain this vast conspiracy. Yet, almost every relevant scientific body is on record as being in support of the IPCC position. Those who think this is the result of some sort of science-fascism need to explain how such a thing could be enforced to include the leading earth science, atmospheric science, and general science bodies in the world.

    Silence, head-shaking, tut-tutting, and leaving the floor open for ill-advised flame wars will not do the trick. I find this discussion so far disconcerting and discouraging.

    It seems to me that we must object in the strongest of terms to what is no longer a reasoned debate but is now simply a reckless attack on the entire field and by extension on science itself. Much as the task is distasteful a vigorous response is necessary, not only from ourselves but from the entire scientific community. Letting this pass as an occasion for tired partisan squabbles is insufficient. Like it or not we are forced into playing a political game here. We are at a disadvantage, being amateurs against professionals, but we have truth as an ally.

    We can’t let it look to the casual observer that there is anything to these implausible allegations. This approach from the skeptics puts a great deal more than our own science at risk. It’s not only bad for ourselves, it’s bad for science and thence bad for the whole world even if we are completely mistaken about AGW, for us to merely shake our heads in bemused astonishment and distaste. This is an absurdly trivial attack in scientific terms, but it is a deadly serious attack in political terms, and the baby (science) is at risk as much as the supposed bathwater (climatology).

  15. 65
    Alfredo says:

    Paul G. (#26), if you live in Canada and think that the oil and gas industry are not doing anything against Kyoto, you’re not paying attention. The new Conservative government is hell-bent on shredding Kyoto, as the new Environment Minister, of all people, explicitly stated recently. Harper has campaigned on the notion that CO2 is just one more “pollutant” among many. And I have heard my local MP, Diane Ablonczy, here in Calgary, rant against global warming for years, even proudly introducing in Parliament a letter signed by such luminaries as Tim Ball and Sallie Baliunas.

  16. 66
    Lawrence McLean says:

    It seems to me that the term: “The Mask of Sanity”; is a very apt description for Lindzen. He has no conscience. Based on their behavior, this description also very well applies to the people in control of the WSJ. These people cannot be reasoned with, what is important is that Climate Scientists be aware of what they are saying and repeat the reasons why they are wrong.

    A summary in point form of all the things Lindzen says with matching explanations of his points by Climate scientist would be nice to be published on this site. You guys could create such a summary much faster than me.

    References:
    The Mask of Sanity: http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/sanity_1.PdF
    Without Conscience: http://www.hare.org/links/saturday.html

  17. 67
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    The funding issue is a stumper. Lindzen essentially is saying that the people who DON’T toe the line won’t get funded, but that would mean that the Federal Gov’t, the largest source of academic and scientific research funds, is a promoter of AGW and that’s just not so.

    Lindzen’s position strikes me (pardon the insult) as akin to Major Strasser questioning Rick about running guns in Ethiopia and Spain. As Strasser said, the other side would have paid far better. If the only issue is the cupidity of scientists, there are groups with wads of cash who would love to have climatologists producing contrarian studies.

  18. 68
    Bryson Brown says:

    The comments from Paul G. seem a little naive. Does he believe that Ralph Klein (premier of Alberta) is a climate-change denialist because he’s looked carefully at the evidence? (Americans might have to do a little background on Mr. Klein to see how implausible this really is.) Or would Mr. G be willing to concede that it might have something to do with the influence of the energy industry in Alberta? Does he really think Canadians are so economically sophisticated that they ‘know’ what the economic consequences of a serious program to reduce GHG emissions would be– or could they just be sensitive to the immediate and obvious costs of (for example) carbon taxes, without seriously considering the environmental, health, and efficiency benefits?

    Canadian emissions, by the way, are rising more rapidly than US emissions chiefly because of energy exports to the US and the related expansion of oil-sands production: The energy equivalent of two barrels of oil is needed to produce three barrels of oil there. Alberta’s emissions are now 1/3 of total Canadian emissions, despite our population being about 1/10 of the total.

    Over the last 30 years, the cheapest barrel of oil has been a barrel of oil saved by investment in increased efficiency. Yet governments in North America have heavily subsidized exploration and production from new sources of oil and gas with tax breaks and royalty holidays, while simultaneously refusing to invest in alternative energy and efficiency measures. This isn’t economically smart. In my view, it reflects the power of money and vested interests. At the very least, Paul G’s confidence that this isn’t the case is unjustified.

  19. 69
    Mark A. York says:

    Boy things really went to hell overnight. And for once I wasn’t taking a pounding or dishing it out. I’ve spent a great deal of time on this in writing an answer novel to Crichton in which naysayers like Lindzen play a role. My goal is to get the science right as best we know. These guys here at RC are invaluable to this effort since I’m a fish biologist/journalist not an atmospheric scientist, although I have a great deal of ecological training that encompases the natural cycles. It seems to me the naysayers are entirely politically motivated and can’t actually believe the misrepresentations they pass off in the conservative op-eds. If you continue to claim that Hansen is 300 percent off in 1988 that isn’t a scientific question. It’s deliberate disinformation. It makes for a good story but the villain is clear, and not Greenpeace or NERF or the NRDC as Crichton/Lindzen would have the world believe. I mean either the 1 degree increase coupled with the 34 percent in CO2 is significant or not. It seems to me you’d have to have some solid evidence that it’s meaningless or defer to the consensus group that it is instead of claiming conspiracy against “your side.”

  20. 70
    pete best says:

    Climate science is not deeply uncertain at all just somewhat uncertain. Climate models are more right than wrong. Climate scientists are not making things up as they go along but are using scientific knowledge from many different well understood disciplines and areas of science.

    Maybe bringing it all together under the hood of climate change is the issue as it becomes a cross disciplinary science and a complex one at that. I personally think though that AGW is an issue for the long term.

  21. 71
    Mark A. York says:

    “We must show people that the case being presented by the denialists is simply inconsistent with any sane model of reality…”

    Well said Michael Tobis. I certainly agree the RC group needs to address this particular op-ed at some publication possibly the NY Times but better the WSJ. Send it to Tunku Varadarijan. If he turns it down, then you’ll know something is really afoul in medialand. Only they have the stature, appeal to authority, to do it. If the truth can’t compete in the marketplace of ideas we’re in big trouble. Don’t lose like this.

  22. 72
    Julian Williams says:

    Re Stefan’s response to comment #31: “the annual 150,000 death from global warming estimated by the World Health Organisation). You feel good about that? -stefan”

    Is this a net global increase in mortality, or the number of deaths in regions adversely affected by increased temperatures that can be attributed to the impact of these increases (directly or indirectly)? This sees to be what is indicated by the title. For temperate regions cold weather mortality is far worse in winter than summer (e.g. in the UK), so couldn’t slightly higher temperatures (slightly in the sense of being much lower than current seasonal variations) improve mortality in some regions?

  23. 73
    Coby says:

    Re Michael Tobis’ comment:

    He is my PhD thesis adviser’s adviser’s adviser

    Hehe, not quite the “Luke, I am your father” moment I was expecting!

    Some very good points in there, particularily about the more general and widespread (and therefore serious) nature of the whole attack. The conflation of “scientific specialist” with “political special interest” is damaging, dangerous and already succeeding. Look at the media’s treatment of civil rights groups as a “special interest”. The battle against this media war being fought by RC is necessary but not sufficient, the real war is a war against democracy in the US, already non-functioning though not yet completely gone. The coming decades are critical on so many fronts.

    I agree that this thread has not turned out to be very constructive, but there are still things to learn from it.

  24. 74
    Klaus Flemloese, Denmark says:

    In order to put high credibility to the Global Warning-theory, it is important to have very good scientists working on falsifying the GW-theory. If they are good and work hard and canâ??t falsify, the GW-theory will gain high credibility.

    If I had a lot of money, I would be willing to pay qualified scientist to work on falsifying the GW-theory.

    The first step will be to identify qualified candidates, next will be to find the money and finally to set up a unit to do the job.

    If ExxonMobile or other oil companies are going to fund it, it is important to keep them in arms length distance from the scientists. I do not have any credibility to the â??Think Tankâ?? â?? industry.

    I do not think, it is a problem to get the funding and according to Ricard Lindzen, it is not a problem to find qualified scientists.

    The question is therefore to Richards Lindzen:

    Why have such as an independent unit not been set up a long time ago?

    The scientific community must – to my understanding – also indicate what is needed in order to falsify the GW-theory. It is possible that this has been done in the past, but I am not aware of links to such an analysis.

    The work in respect of verifying that the GW-theory comply with theory and observations have already been done.

    In summary:
    1.The GW-theory must be shown to comply with existing knowledge and observations.
    2.The GWâ??theory must be shown that it is possible in theory to falsify it.

  25. 75
    Paul G. says:

    =======================================================
    Post #65
    Paul G. (#26), if you live in Canada and think that the oil and gas industry are not doing anything against Kyoto, you’re not paying attention. The new Conservative government is hell-bent on shredding Kyoto, as the new Environment Minister, of all people, explicitly stated recently. Harper has campaigned on the notion that CO2 is just one more “pollutant” among many. And I have heard my local MP, Diane Ablonczy, here in Calgary, rant against global warming for years, even proudly introducing in Parliament a letter signed by such luminaries as Tim Ball and Sallie Baliunas.

    Comment by Alfredo â?? 13 Apr 2006 @ 11:31 am
    =======================================================

    Alfredo, you ignore that the Liberals brought Kyoto into effect legally several years ago in Canada. Now you attempt to foist the blame for the failure to implement Kyoto in any meaningful way on the Conservatives. Conservatives aren’t “shredding” Kyoto, they are simply carrying on doing what the Liberals did….nothing of consequence.

    When polled Canadians strongly support Kyoto, but this is a very shallow support as there is little will to truly enact Kyoto. Do I blame oil companies? Not really, I blame the inertia on average Canadians.

    [Response: I agree that it's unfair to blame the Conservatives in Canada (yet) for the lack of progress towards Kyoto. Lack of leadership no doubt continues to be part of the problem. Inertia of the average Canadian is no doubt part of the problem (not that we have anything to crow about here in the US). There is plenty of blame to go around. Identifying where blame should go is certainly part of removing the problem, but I'm more interested in how to fix the problem than fix the blame, as the saying goes. Tar sands ought to be an issue Albertans can get together and agree on, since (as even the WSJ article on them notes) tar sands development wreaks environmental havoc in many ways. I am an unabashed and unapologetic Francophile, and while France has done well with its own CO2 emissions, I have to point out that French oil companies have been very heavy investors in Alberta tar sands. --raypierre]

  26. 76
    Paul G. says:

    ========================================================
    Post #59
    Paul G — When you refer to “paranoid musings” you make it clear that you really know nothing about PR, and how it’s used to direct public perception. That’s ok, you’re entitled to your own opinion but, as Daniel Moynihan famously said, you’re not entitled to your own facts. And included among the facts is that more journalism grads go into PR than into journalism. What are they doing? You’d be amazed how much of the “news” Americans read or watch on television is actually written and produced by PR firms. A nice little book you can read on the subject, is Toxic Sludge is Good for You. Assuming your mind is open to new facts.

    To the scientists who run and contribute to this site, thank you. It’s nice for this lay person to find a place informed by intellectual honesty.

    Comment by Walter Pearce â?? 13 Apr 2006 @ 7:47 am
    ===============================================================
    So now it’s not Big Oil duping us but PR firms instead? Please. In a society saturated with advertising and spin, most of us learned years ago to filter out the bogus from the credible.

    The inertia against action on GW stems from the general public and wasting energy blaming secondary soucrces is futile. My question remains; how can the public be truly brought onside with this issue?

  27. 77

    Here’s an effort at a point by point rebuttal. I would say that the central flaw in the op-ed is a logical one: if you’re trying to stifle dissent, then you want less funding for climate research, not more. If you’re trying to stop global warming, then you want more money for carbon sequestration research, and you don’t care how much is spent on climate research. On the other hand if you just love climate research as a really interesting intellectual persuit, that’s when you’ve got an interest in shedding doubt on the reigning view that CO2-induced climate change is a serious policy program, requiring action. Twenty-five years ago, when global warming wasn’t a big public worry, one might expect climate change researchers to hype the problem. In 2006, when public opinion mostly accepts that there’s a problem, scientists who want research money should be emphasizing uncertainty.

    In the opening paragraph, Lindzen states that others have claimed that there are connections between recent rare weather events and global warming, and asks where they would possibly get such an idea. It’s not clear where his astonishment comes from though. Heat waves and increased lake effect snows seem like very reasonable expectations for a warmer world. Of course, attribution of any individual such event to presently observed global temperature change can only be fractional, but it’s completely reasonable to say that events like the heat wave of 2003 will be more likely when the mean annual temperature of Europe is a few degrees warmer- this assumes only that the scatter of summer time temperature under global warming won’t be much smaller than it is now.

    In his second paragraph, Lindzen makes the uncontroversial claim that society sometimes funds science to address phenomena that seem to offer a threat of harm. Using the passive voice, he asserts a feedback cycle between scientific funding and scientific alarm. This seems really odd: the publlc demand made by scientists who are most alarmed by global warming is precisely not that more money go into reasearch, but rather that money go into research to increase fuel efficiency to develope carbon-emission-free fuel sources. In fact Lindzen himself in his final paragraph seems to be calling for increased funding to address the question of climate sensitivity!

    The third paragraph about drying up of funding for dissenting science has been addressed by others. I agree that I just don’t see it. The particular anecdotes I have heard about political influence on the federal grant making process go in the other direction, where people are told that they should pubish findings supporting large climate sensitvity, at least until after some election.

    The fourth paragraph is another weird one. He starts by promissing an opportunity to grasp the “complex underlying scientific issues”, but never really discusses anything complex- I take this as an effort to flatter the WSJ readers on their grasp of these erudite points, bolstering their confidence when they take on the tree-huggers at the water cooler. His rhetorical tactic here is to severely shrink the list of agreed-upon truths to those that we’ve known since 1980, while neglecting the fact that human responsibility for the 20th century warming of global temperature is quite well-established, and that various causes for alarm (for example, substantially reduced water availability in places that depend on snow-pack for their dry-season water) are also very well established. Then he moves the discussion to “outlandish” claims that contradict the “models”. This is the first use of the word “models” in the article, and gets no explanation, which is a little odd for a discussion in a newspaper. He doesn’t explain what the outlandish claims are, so we’re left to wait for the next paragraph.

    Here we discover that the outlandish claims involve something about more “excitation” of extratropical storms. I’m not sure where he’s getting this- when I go to, for instance, Ross Gelbspan’s website, the only references to storms I see is to tropical storms, and to more intense rainfall generally. Both are well supported by empirical studies. The increase in rainfall intensity (shift in distribution of rain from more light events to fewer heavy events) as a consequence of global warming is a robust feature of GCMs.

    Okay, that’s all I’ve got time for. It’d be nice if Lindzen gave his reader some way of checking the claims he makes about persecution- was Tennekes dismissed because he questioned the scientific underpinnings of global warming, or just after? In what context did Bert Bolin “tar” Aksel Winn-Nielsen? I think Alfonso Sutera’s recent work on baroclinic neutralization is really interesting… is there some missing strand of his research that Lindzen thinks ought to be taken up again? It’s hard to guess.

    About the IRIS paper- I really can’t see what he’s complaining about. The paper was published, depite some rather “outlandish claims.” For instance, in the IRIS paper, Lindzen argues that tropical surface temperature and polar surface temperature should be assumed to vary in exactly the same way as CO2 concentrations increase. This is based on the idea that baroclinic neutralization maintains a particular critical temperature gradient, an idea that had a brief period of fashionability in 1978. In any case, there’s certainly been a lively debate about the paper, and if it’s widely viewed as “discredited”, then that’s the judgement of the climate dynamics community. If we’re a bunch of dummies, history will judge us harshly, but we can only do our best.

    I see a lot of science in our community that’s being driven by curiosity. At the recent European Geophysical Union conference, there were posters on banner clouds on the Zugspitze, the role of cubic ice crystals in high cirrus formation, and the role of global cooling in the fall of the Neanderthals. Some of this research is being driven by claims that it will address climate change. So maybe this helps to solve the riddle of what Lindzen is really concerned about. People who are really concerned about climate change don’t agitate for more funding for our field- they agitate for funding for fuel efficiency research and carbon sequestration. It’s the people who like curiosity-driven research in climate dynamics who have the real incentive to argue that there’s a lot of uncertainty, because uncertainty allows people with strong intellectual curiosity to make the case that there’s at least some tangential benefit of their work to the climate sensitivity problem.

    [Response: Thanks so much for this intelligent and comprehensive contribution, Daniel. Hope to see you at Spring AGU. --raypierre]

  28. 78
    pat neuman says:

    re 74 … how can the public be truly brought onside with this issue?

    A youth movement like the late 1960s is needed supported by strong leaders in government, universities, religious groups and the private sector.

  29. 79
    Grant says:

    Re #78:

    I agree that a youth movement a la the late 1960s, supported by strong leaders, would be a great stride toward the goal. But I don’t think it’s a realistic possibility.

    Even if we convince the vast majority of youth that AGW is a serious threat to future survival, we’ll only get a small minority to become activist on the issue. It seems to me that the high level of activism in the late 60′s was due to the *immediate, personal* threat of being drafted into the army and sent to die in Vietnam. THAT gets kids off the couch and into the streets.

  30. 80
    Roscoe Shaw says:

    “We must show people that the case being presented by the denialists is simply inconsistent with any sane model of reality…”

    I think Dr. Lindzen’s point was exactly the same…just replace “denialists” with “alarmists”.

    Afterall, it’s hard to get people truly convinced of an impending disaster when the temperature has gone up just a single degree in 150 years and the sea level is up less than a foot in that time.

    Like it or not, this is a serious PR problem for the GW disaster crowd. I stand on the beach and stare at the ocean and ponder how I’m going to escape the surging waters as they rise at the rate of an inch every 15 years.

    [Response: Yes, those who are only interested in perpetuating ignorance through sound-bites like this last bit will always have the upper hand over those who are doing the hard work of trying to understand the many and profound ways a doubled CO2 world would be different from the present one. Your apt example only shows how much harder the rest of us will have to work. --raypierre]

  31. 81

    “We must show people that the case being presented by the denialists is simply inconsistent with any sane model of reality…”

    Re # 80, of course you would not drown as a consequence of rising sea level, but your port cities and your coastal highways and your lowland farms and your small island nations would. The question as to whether the predicted sea level rise is seen as credible is a good one, as is the question as to whether it actually is credible on best evidence.

    The idea that such a prediction is a ruse to support a dishonest income among climate scientists, on the other hand, is bizarre and should have little credibility among journalists and politicians because it makes no sense.

    The case being made by the denialists is no longer about physics, chemistry or biology, it’s suddenly about sociology.

    Attribution of motive is pretty much all they have left. And it is this attribution of motive that makes very little sense when you scratch the surface. It is especially distrubing because most people indulging in this bizarre accusation are in a position to know better with modest effort.

    I think posting #77 does an excellent job of arguing against this attribution, better than I have seen (or done) before.

  32. 82

    I do not know to what extent the skeptics are funded by oil companies or to what extent they have been unfairly silenced. I do think it is worth keeping in mind that there are some unresolved issues here, and also that there is a spectrum of views as well, both among GW “advocates” and “skeptics.”

    Thus, Lindzen does accept many parts of the concensus, including that CO2 concentrations have risen and that global temperature has risen over the past century. There do remain a few skeptics regarding even this past point, with I suppose Fred Singer being the most prominent of the holdouts. However, some others who were agreeing with Singer have now moved more towards the Lindzen position, for example, Patrick Michaels, who now argues that indeed global warming is happening.

    I see at least two clear areas of disagreement, and for better or for worse, it seems to me that there are reasons for the disagreement, that things are not as clearcut as some commenting here think.

    1) What is the precise relationship between CO2 and GW? Clearly CO2 tends to lead to warming, but exactly how much remains not clear. There are natural oscillations of global temperature not related to fluctuations of CO2, and I do not see that those are so fully known or fully measured that we can be precise regarding the strength of the CO2 to warming effect. I do not see that Lindzen deserves scorn for noting this, even if he is wrong about some of his conspiracy theorizing about grants and so forth (regarding which, again, I do not know the facts).

    [Response: Remember, the consensus scientific view clearly states that we do not know the precise sensitivity of climate to doubling of CO2. Models with a sensitivity from about 1.5C to about 4C are all compatible with the 20/21st century records and with the record of the last ice age. If we are lucky, the low end is the right one, but right now the high end needs to be taken into consideration as well. What Lindzen deserves scorn for is his insistence that he knows that the climate sensitivity will be at the low end or lower, and that even at the low end the consequences will be unimportant. --raypierre]

    2) The nature of the nonlinearities involved in the system. This is especially important for anyone arguing that we are near a tipping point. I happen to think that there is a non-trivial probability that we are near such a tipping point, and such things as the positive feedback effect between albedo reduction and warming being an example. OTOH, I have seen it argued that the nonlinearity between CO2 and warming is of a logarithmic or square root variety, thus suggesting that a linear increase in CO2 concentrations will simply lead to more and more gradual increase in global temperature.

    [Response: Note that the logarithmic dependence of radiative forcing on CO2 concentration is already included in every climate model, and has been essentially since the time of Arrhenius. In some of his writings, Lindzen presents the logarithmic behavior almost as if it were "news." --raypierre]

    Anyway, it would seem that Lindzen was overdoing his whining. At the same time, he has pointed out some areas where things are not so definitely known and more research should be done, preferably funded by bodies less lacking in agendas of whatever sort.

  33. 83
    Roger Smith says:

    Global warming will never rise to the levels pointed out in #79 and #80 in time for us to do anything about it, and that’s okay. The globalization protests of the late 1990s is a much better model, showing how youth can lead movements against trends that are global, impersonal, and quite abstract. You also never need an activist majority to affect change- look at the civil rights movement or Vietnam. Re #78- this is already happening.

    The public’s not quite as stupid as you may think, and we are increasingly concerned about global warming and our overdependence on fossil fuels.

    [Response: And it's worth remembering that most of the actions needed to head off potentially dangerous climate change also have other benefits in areas people are very deeply concerned with. Those would include energy independence, the desire of the Chinese people for a cleaner environment, the desire of many US residents to be free of pollution from old coal fired power plants, the desire of many people to spend less time stuck in traffic jams and more time with their families, and so forth. --raypierre]

  34. 84
    Ike Solem says:

    Re #77 – The best post on this thread by far. Thank you very much for your insightful analysis.

    Regarding extratropical storms: the seasonal temperature variation in polar regions is going to continue, regardless of any polar amplification effects, due to the varying flux of incoming solar radiation – we can all agree on that, right?

    This means that there will be a seasonality to pole-to-equator temperature gradients, and if there is such a seasonality (but a continued trend of warming in equatorial regions) then there should also be a strong seasonality in intensity of mid-latitude storms – a direct extrapolation of “MIT Professor” Richard Lindzen’s argument, if you will. Obviously, we (the American public) might want to fund scientists to run massive parallel computing models (whatever happened to the Japanese Earth Simulator? or am I uninformed?) related to this issue. Without the actual research everything (including my post) is just so much hot air (pun intended).

    Another notion that I recall from a Science letter years ago is a statistical analysis of the timing of the seasons carried out by a renowned Bell Labs statistician; he stated that this should provide a clear signal of global warming. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the reference and can’t seem to find it. The seasonal timing is related to the mid-latitude storm season; how about a realclimate review of this topic?

    [Response: The paper was "The Seasons, Global Temperature, and Precession, D. J. Thomson, Science, 268 (April 1995), pp. 59-68.". We did a followup study on this in '96:
    Mann, M.E., Park, J., Greenhouse Warming and Changes in the Seasonal Cycle of Temperature: Model Versus Observations, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 1111-1114, 1996.
    Turns out, its a bit more complicated than at first blush. Tim Osborn of CRU/UEA in the UK has also done some work on this problem. -mike.]

    Finally, if you have a university link to publications, take a look at this article on the applications of a physical understanding of photosynthesis to solving this entire problem (you can at least read the abstract).

    Photosynthesis and energy generation

    Nice job, Princeton. And MIT – this is damaging your reputation, now, I fear… And if I hear much more about ‘carbon sequestration technology’, I’m going to vomit. Sorry about the ad hominen…

  35. 85
    Walter Pearce says:

    #76 — OK, Paul G., I see the problem now. You’re extrapolating your own perceived media savvy to that of the general public. I’m not going to waste this forum’s time any longer trying to convince you otherwise.

    I agree that the central political issue is how to move public opinion in the direction of doing something about the problem. I just think it’s vital to understand the salient facts about both the battlefield (public opinion) and the nature and capabilities of the adversary (AGW deniers).

  36. 86
    pat neuman says:

    re 79. 83.

    I think moral beliefs led the big demonstrations in the 60s, although many jumped on the bandwagon for other reasons. People need to start feeling guilt in excessive fuel use, like blowing second hand smoke in a health club.

    [Response: Constructive guilt is half the motivation. Attraction to the positive side-benefits of a less carbon-intensive life style has to be the other half, in my opinion. --raypierre]

  37. 87
    Tim Curtin says:

    Re #52, since CO2 has increased by 110 ppm over the last 250 years or so, non-CO2 in the atmosphere has decreased by the same 110 ppm over that period. But is it not the case that the non-CO2 are also greenhouse gases (mostly water vapour)? So what is the net percentage change in total GHG? Funny how overcast winter days in London and Paris etc (due to heightened water vapour relative to CO2)are warmer than clear sky days (less water vapour relative to CO2). Equally cloudy so humid days in the tropics are hotter than the rare cloudfree days. Casual empiricism, sure, but this tread does not offer any counterfactual citations.

    [Response: You are assuming that the mass of the atmosphere has to remain constant. This isn't the case. owing to the increase in CO2, the mass of the atmosphere has increased by the mass equivalent of the carbon in 110ppm of CO2 (the oxygen doesn't count, since that came from the air, for burning fossil fuels or forest). In addition, there's the additional mass of the extra water vapor that entered the air due to the warming climate --raypierre]

  38. 88
    Stephen Berg says:

    Re: #81, “Re # 80, of course you would not drown as a consequence of rising sea level, but your port cities and your coastal highways and your lowland farms and your small island nations would.”

    Though the extra water that would be available for storm surges from tropical cyclones would be a great concern. A hurricane would do more damage in the future than it would today as a result of higher sea levels, which add to the water supply for storm surges.

    Should a hurricane, maybe not even the strength of a Katrina, strike New Orleans or another city of its situation (sea level or below) 50 or 100 years from now with sea levels half a foot to a foot higher, and I’m certain it will happen again, the results may be even more catastrophic than Katrina was.

  39. 89

    Re #66 and “It seems to me that the term: “The Mask of Sanity”; is a very apt description for Lindzen. He has no conscience.”

    I doubt that’s literally true. I don’t know what the mentality of a denier is — if he really understands the issue and is deliberately lying about it for money, then of course he is an evil man. But I doubt that’s actually the case. Most likely he played around with a position he liked when the subject was just coming up, fought about it with other scientists, and is now just unwilling to give it up. It’s easy to get into a mentality where you only see the evidence for your own side of an argument. God knows I’ve been there myself. I have to make a strict effort not to neglect evidence on the other side of one of my issues.

  40. 90
    pat neuman says:

    re 86 … Attraction to the positive side-benefits of a less carbon-intensive life style has to be the other half in my opinion.

    I had another thought on the negative-guilt side half of the motivation to change one’s behavior. How does a person feel over the rest of their life after an accident which they caused that resulted in the death of their children? How would they feel if it wasn’t really an accident? Would thinking about this everyday help us diminish what we know we’re doing to the world’s climate and the future of humanity?

  41. 91
    Paul G. says:

    ====================================================
    Re: Post #85
    #76 — OK, Paul G., I see the problem now. You’re extrapolating your own perceived media savvy to that of the general public. I’m not going to waste this forum’s time any longer trying to convince you otherwise.

    I agree that the central political issue is how to move public opinion in the direction of doing something about the problem. I just think it’s vital to understand the salient facts about both the battlefield (public opinion) and the nature and capabilities of the adversary (AGW deniers).

    Comment by Walter Pearce â?? 13 Apr 2006 @ 5:50 pm
    ====================================================
    Walter, the majority of the public is relatively media savvy; it is no special skill.

    Secondly, I don’t believe we have to “move” public opinion, at least not in Canada. We strongly support Kyoto and at the same time continue to emit C02 at ever higher rates. And most Canadians appear relatively happy with that. How to explain this apparent dichotomy?

  42. 92
    Fernando Magyar says:

    However, a recent “Time” magazine survey (April 3, 06) shockingly states that almost two-thirds of all Americans think that scientists still dispute global warming as a fact…even though nothing corroborating this has been printed in scientific journals for at least four years now…

    I’m dismayed but certainly not shocked.

    Let me guess, it’s the same two thirds that thinks Intelligent design is valid science.

    Somewhere somehow in the last few decades this country seems to have missed the boat (pun intended) on teaching science and critical thinking skills to the population at large.

    I think we as a country will soon have to pay the piper as a result of that national lapse. Then again maybe we can get homeland security to build us a new Ark. I’m sure we can get a few billion to fund that plan.

  43. 93
    pat neuman says:

    re 90. 86.

    I had another thought, perhaps on the positive side. In Michner’s paperback called The Journey, on the run to the Klondike, the phrase TON of GOLD motivated many people brought to leave hard times in Europe for a chance to get rich. The right combination of words at the right time may help a lot in motivating people, and adding a chance at big money might get bandwagon to move.

  44. 94
    llewelly says:

    Barton Paul:
    The Scientific American interview contains this statement:

    “although now it is more a matter of being stuck with a role.”

    When I saw that, I thought almost exactly along the lines you’ve described.

  45. 95
    Neal J. King says:

    Another strange polling result I saw recently (http://academic.kellogg.edu/mckayg/buad112/web/globalwarmingarticle4.doc)
    - A majority of Americans now believe that global warming is really occuring.

    - But only a fraction of these seem to feel really worried about it. Water pollution, toxic waste, and air pollution seem to be much greater matters of concern.

    Are we facing a disconnect from rationality?

  46. 96
    Gar Lipow says:

    If you are considering how to move public opinion towards doing something:

    I think you have to convince people that there is something to be done – that is that there are tons of things we know how to do that save money compared to fossil fuels, cost the same as fossil fuels ro are not that much more expensive.

    I also think we have to move past “guilting” people for not living a carbon free lifestyle – because of lot of what it takes to become carbon neutral requires social rathert than individual choices. A lot of the solutions are what we can do, not what you can do or I can do.

  47. 97
    Don Baccus says:

    #95: “Water pollution, toxic waste, and air pollution seem to be much greater matters of concern.

    Are we facing a disconnect from rationality? ”

    I’d say “no”. Those are of more immediate concern and have been well-documented for decades. Global warming is of less immediate concerns as far as consequences, and I would think that most laypeople don’t know that those less immediate concerns are being driven by what we’ve done over the past decades and will be made worse by our not taking immediate action.

    Also the oil/coal industries have huge amounts of money to spend to counter knowledge regarding AGW, while a lot of the other pollluters have pockets not quite as deep, and have been emptying them for a couple or three decades.

  48. 98
    CO2-Lord Of Creation says:

    “[Response: Note that the logarithmic dependence of radiative forcing on CO2 concentration is already included in every climate model, and has been essentially since the time of Arrhenius. In some of his writings, Lindzen presents the logarithmic behavior almost as if it were "news." --raypierre]”

    [Response: [...junk edited out --moderators]]

    Tell me this. If the CO2 level was not at 365 parts per million but instead at 5000 parts per million (that is to say 0.5%) then what would be the implied equilibrium temperature (or temperature range) of the planet and why?

    And show your reasoning.

    [Response: [...junk edited out --moderators]]

    Question 1:

    Tell me this. If the CO2 level was not at 365 parts per million but instead 5000 parts per million (that is to say 0.5%) then what would be the implied equilibrium temperature (or temperature range) of the planet and why?

    That’s the first question. And its only for starters.

    [Response: That's an easy one. It's basically the same kind of thing scientists think about with regard to the Cretaceous and Miocene climates all the time. From 365 0 5000ppm is log2(5000/365) = 3.775 doublings. Standard radiative physics (embodied in the NCAR or many other radiation models, using a typical vertical profile) gives you about 3.77*4 = 15.1 W/m**2 radiative forcing. (For a good explanation of radiative forcing, see, e.g. Held and Soden's water vapor review article in Ann. Rev. En. Env., or my Caltech water vapor paper on my web site, or Chapter 3 of my ClimateBook). Now, the partial derivative of OLR with regard to temperature at fixed CO2 is about 2.1 W/m**2 per degree K, assuming relative humidity fixed at 50% (research shows this approximately captures the behavior of water vapor in full GCM's). Thus, you have a 7.2K global mean warming. This is without any cloud feedbacks or ice-albedo feedback. Based on the range of such feedback factors seen in the IPCC models, the warming could go as high as about 14K, or be as low as about 5K. People have studied this in numerous GCM studies of the Cretaceous as well, and the numbers are in the ballpark of what happens in a full GCM. From the standpoint of anthropogenic global warming, it is worth noting that there is probably not enough carbon in the form of coal to get to a 5000ppm climate, allowing for uptake by the oceans. If land carbon does something unexpected or we start using carbon stored in clathrates, we could possibly go that high, but it's a long shot. A more plausible high range based on full and rapid coal utilization would be more like 1200-2400 ppm., with the high end of this rather improbable. --raypierre]

    [Response: By the way, it has not escaped our attention that you submitted this identical post about a half dozen times in a row, no doubt in the hope that at least one would slip by the moderators. This is not be looked on kindly, nor is the use of multiple pseudonyms. That makes life a little harder for the moderators, but basically nonsense is equally easy to spot no matter what name it appears under. Do try to behave yourself.]

  49. 99
    Fernando Magyar says:

    Re comment 96:

    Do people not want to save money? Isn’t that motivation enough?
    Are gasoline prices not high enough yet? Mass transit anyone? How about conservation? Is using energy efficient light bulbs such a huge lifestyle change? How about adjusting thermostats a few degrees up or down? There are lots off little things right now that can be done but there doesn’t seem to be any real perception that very small changes can make a significant difference. I won’t even mention ideas like putting a solar roof on as many buildings as possible. Two of my siblings currently live in Europe they already do most of the above. One of them participates in a town project whereby they invest in placing solar panels on commercial buildings which are tied into the local grid and they get paid for the surplus energy that is produced. I live in the Sunshine State and would be happy to see simple pasive solar hot water heaters become ubiquitous. Anybody have any ideas on how to change public opiniion?

  50. 100
    CO2-Lord Of Creation says:

    So what you are saying is that the maximum temperature increase is 14 degrees celsius max. The lowest 5 degrees Celsius. And the global mean average temperature increase 7.2 degrees.

    So what the hell is the fuss all about?

    We should allow it to go as far as diminishing returns on crop yields kicks in.

    But it strikes me that when you did your calculation you seem to have pretended, or at least made calculations on the basis that CO2 was the only Greenhouse gas. That cannot be right yes?

    [Response: Insult deleted --moderators]


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