Open Thread on Lindzen Op-Ed in WSJ

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 comments on this post.
  1. Tim Jones:

    Well, for those who didn’t see the article, here it is.

    Climate of Fear
    http://tinyurl.com/gapct
    By RICHARD LINDZEN
    April 12, 2006; Page A14

    There have been repeated claims that this past year’s hurricane
    activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything
    from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed
    on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural
    gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely
    discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean
    temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public
    acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can
    it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

    The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of
    climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle
    of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped
    by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political
    stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research
    to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who
    puts money into science — whether for AIDS, or space, or climate —
    where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of
    climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on
    climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7
    billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar,
    wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on
    other energy-investment decisions.

    But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists
    who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear,
    their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges,
    scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change
    gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that
    supposedly is their basis.

    To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science
    and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the
    complex underlying scientific issues. First, let’s start where there
    is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been
    repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support:
    Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th
    century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30%
    over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming.
    These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is
    that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish
    man’s responsibility for the small amount of warming that has
    occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm
    are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say
    supports them. It isn’t just that the alarmists are trumpeting model
    results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting
    catastrophes that couldn’t happen even if the models were right as
    justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

    If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature
    differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less
    difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical
    storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion.
    Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical
    storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.’s
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world
    would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy
    for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of
    evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature
    but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for
    starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity,
    not less — hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

    So how is it that we don’t have more scientists speaking up about
    this junk science? It’s my belief that many scientists have been
    cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year,
    Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael
    Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-
    funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade
    and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton’s
    concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr.
    Mann’s work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And
    they did so before his work could be replicated and tested — a task
    made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to
    release the details for analysis. The scientific community’s defense
    of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of
    the National Academy of Sciences — as well as the American
    Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union — formally
    protested, saying that Rep. Barton’s singling out of a scientist’s
    work smacked of intimidation.

    All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific
    community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al
    Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he
    tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing
    our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific
    community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist
    Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists — a
    request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were
    mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously
    labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the
    fossil-fuel industry.

    Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk
    Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch
    Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings
    of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.’s
    World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first
    head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning
    climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and
    Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently
    losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

    And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific
    journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about
    accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are
    commonly refused without review as being without interest. However,
    even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with
    some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave
    under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an “Iris
    Effect,” wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased
    temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback
    sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2.
    Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the
    journal to which the original authors can respond immediately.
    However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared
    papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses
    delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be
    commonly referred to as “discredited.” Indeed, there is a strange
    reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003,
    when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high
    priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the
    National Research Council instead urged support to look at the
    impacts of the warming — not whether it would actually happen.

    Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is
    essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists
    today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron
    triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

    Mr. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at
    MIT.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114480355145823597-search.html?
    KEYWORDS=climate+change&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month

    [Response: For an excellent summary response to the points Lindzen raises, I recommend readers take a look at Daniel Kirk-Davidoff’s comment #77 first, before plowing through the rest of these comments. –raypierre]

  2. Mark A. York:

    Yes you have but unless this is spelled out in a printed op-ed it will fall under the rails of the lying machine. My comment wasn’t published because editor James Taranto would toss aside any refutation that had any semblence of good sense. Especially on science which he knows nothing about. He doesn’t even have a journalism degree. A quick glance at the comments section will give anyone an idea of the clientele who reads these pieces. Unfortunately the comment wasn’t pinged back to me even though I requested it. So I don’t have it. I suppose that’s just a coincidence. It had links to here and Hansen.

  3. Hank Roberts:

    On the ‘Iris’ — has there been any new data from Aqua and other satellites? The discussion online (saying the next round of satellite data should inform the theorists on this issue) is still dated as of 2002, before Aqua went up. I hope to see it updated:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Iris/iris3.html

  4. Andrew Dessler:

    OK, I’ll go first. Let’s consider the statement:

    The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less–hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

    This clearly confuses relative humidity in the boundary layer (which determines evaporation) and specific humidity throughout the troposphere (which determines the strength of the water vapor feedback). With editorials like this, Lindzen has completely lost interest in maintaining even a shred of scientific credibility.

    I also think a few other things are interesting. First, this follows closely on the heels of the Will and Novak opeds. While you cannot rule out coincidence, I think it’s getting harder to beieve that there’s not some orchestration here.

    Finally, I’ve noticed that those opposed to mitigation are now using the term “alarmist” as a rhetorical device to paint opponents as extremists. I wonder if pollsters like Frank Luntz have learned in focus groups that this is an effective term. Hmmm.

  5. PHEaston:

    You seem to infer that the article by the well-respected Lindzen is less trustworthy because it is in the WSJ which you believe has a distorted or dishonest view of climate change. This to me is ‘ad hom’. Further, your claimed openess to legitimate skepticism contradicts your approach under “Getting the balance right..” in which you seem to believe that journalists – who are not scientists – are only right if they take your side and not another. Given that you (as a team) have established this site to put YOUR case demonstrates to me that you accept there is a debate to be argued. Debate is good for science, provided it is genuninely open. Lindzen’s article is a good part of the debate.

  6. Kenneth Blumenfeld:

    Following the funding >> climate-alarmism logic, then Lindzen must be an alarmist, for I believe he receives federal funding for his research.

    I think it is disingenuous for anyone to claim that a reduction in the annual hemispheric temperature range is tied importantly to the short-term baroclinity (note, I prefer Dr. Charles Doswell’s pruning of “baroclinicity”) that drives extratropical cyclones. For example, the NH is coming out of a very warm winter. Presumably, the seasonal pole-equator temperature range has been muted (anomalously small). Why then the persistent, anomalously strong lee-side extratropical cyclone pattern in which North America, particualrly the US, finds itself? Could it be that extratropical cyclones are not driven by “annual” conditions? Thus, it appears that Lindzen is relying on a temporal version of the ecological fallacy to advance his argument.

  7. Doug Percival:

    Given that Lindzen is quite clearly accusing the climate science community of deliberately and dishonestly fomenting “alarmism” in order to secure funding, it seems fair to ask who is funding Lindzen, and whether he is deliberately and dishonestly adopting a position of climate change denial and publishing op-eds in the WSJ in order to secure funding from those who have a financial interest in discouraging public measures to deal with climate change, such as reductions in fossil fuel use.

  8. ocean:

    So I guess Lindzen believes that AIDS is equally unimportant as global warming and people who are trying to find cures for it are alarmists.

    His sentence “In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming–not whether it would actually happen” is alarming to me because there is so much sound scientific evidence out there that the warming is actually happening, not would happen.

    Also, I think the increase in atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution is closer to 100%, not 30% as he states. Am I wrong about this? Also, an increase of this magnitude has no natural analog in the last 400,000 years of Earth’s histroy, at least.

    [Response: No, the increase is (375-280)/280 = 34% . Add in the effect of methane and other anthropogenic GHG’s and you can get the number up some. It still brings us to GHG forcing unprecendented over the past 400Kyr at least, and projected to get much higher within the next century–raypierre]

    Once again, I think it is important to point out that any concensus reached by scientists is mostly based on measurable and repeatable observations and not popular opinion.

  9. Brian Jackson:

    How valid is his argument for weaker extratropical storms due to decreased temperature differences between the poles and equator?

    [Response:There is a physical basis in terms of the so-called ‘baroclinicity’, i.e. conditions for instability where disturbances can grow rapidly. But, I believe that the case about mid-latitude storms is more complex, and it’s too simple to just look at how the temperature change poleward. A change in evaporation and atmospheric moisture and the vertical temperature profiles may also play a role… Nevertheless, modelling studies (based on regional climate models) so far do not to my knowledge give any clear indication on whether the mid-latitude storm activity will increase (that is, for the Northeastern part of the Atlantic). It is also important to keep in mind the difference between tropical cyclones (most active in late summer) and extra-tropical cyclones (usually most intense during winter), which may be subject to different instability mechanisms. -rasmus]

    [Response: In idealized simulations (cf. the paper by Caballero and Langen in GRL last year) it does appear that storms get weaker in terms of winds when you reduce the temperature gradient — even if you increase the water vapor content by increasing the overall temperature. The storms can nonetheless become more consequential, since they carry more water. This is an evolving subject, and IPCC never said otherwise. As Rasmus notes, what happens to midlatitude baroclinic storms is a completely separate issue from what happens to tropical storms, which live on latent heat and not horizontal temperature gradients. –raypierre]

    [Response: Surely Lindzen knows that the dynamics involved are considerably more complicated than is suggested by the simplistic argument he puts forth. If it is true, as some studies suggest for example, that El Nino events become more frequent and greater in magnitude due to anthropogenic forcing (this is not yet a settled issue), then, given the established relationship between the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the extratropical Pacific/North American atmospheric circulation, we might expect increased baroclinicity and greater storminess over a substantial region of the mid-latitude North Pacific ocean and neighboring western U.S. . Similarly, if as a number of recent studies suggest, anthropogenic climate forcing leads to a greater tendency for the positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) [or related "Arctic Oscillation" (AO)] pattern, we would expect increased baroclinicity and storminess over a substantial region of the mid-latitude North Atlantic ocean and neighboring western Europe.. In both cases, what would be predicted is precisely the opposite of what Lindzen’s argument would imply. –mike]

  10. Coby:

    Now John Stossel has thrown his mighty reputation into the fray:
    http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/JohnStossel/2006/04/12/193443.html

    This is definately a coordinated campaign.

    [Response: It’s ironic that the backers of an administration that has made its living terrifying people into giving up civil liberties and spending gazillions to line the pockets of “homeland security” and military contractors can’t find anything better to do than accuse scientists < /i> of trying to get rich by scaring people. If I were trying to get fear-based grants, I’d go into homeland security, where the really big dollars are –raypierre]

  11. pat neuman:

    Instead of reading Richard Lindzen’s Climate of Fear, I say better to read Fiona Harvey’s Climate of Fear (book review of THE WEATHER MAKERS: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change by Tim Flannery, March 11, 2006)

    Excerpt:

    Flannery explains why scientists think we are on the brink of destroying what has made the earth habitable, and makes clear the limits to our opportunity for preventing it: “When thinking about these potential catastrophes, it’s important to realise that, as when firing a gun, the possibility of human control is only there at the very beginning of the process – before we trip the trigger.” …

    http://news.ft.com/home/uk

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ClimateArchive/message/2961

  12. raypierre:

    I counted some form of the word “alarm” appearing 16 times in this 1260 word article, always used in association with scientists who think global warming is a serious problem. This seems to be the word of choice in many of the recent skeptics’ screeds that have appeared. It’s clearly an attempt to distract attention from the serious scientific issues by causing people think of wild-eyed fanatics whenever they hear a climate scientist speak of global warming. Very devious, and very insidious. Expect to hear more about “alarm” and “alarmism” from the skeptics’ corner in the coming weeks.

  13. Ben Coombes:

    Re #5,
    “Debate is good for science, provided it is genuninely open. Lindzen’s article is a good part of the debate.”
    The problem is that newspapers, as they stand, are not in any way geared towards a forum of open debate. Perhaps if the very next day, the Wall St Journal allowed a climate scientist from the other side of the debate to have the same coverage in the form of a reply (hell, why not go a whole week back and forth between the two views?) you could call it a debate. What’s more, such a lengthened exchange may even allow Joe Public to make his own mind up – no pressure.
    It does seem there’s a tidal wave of this kind of journalism at the moment – over here in the U.K we just had the Telegraph’s chipping in with “There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998″:
    It includes a lot of trashy accusations against climate science, such as
    # “the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco”.
    # “The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists”.

    I could go on but it’s here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml

    Do you think they’ll print anything which disagrees with this sentiment this week, for that honest, open debate that was mentioned? I’m not holding my breath…

    [Response: And the screed linked above managed to use the word “alarm” only 5 times. Yes, it does seem to be the word of the week here, doesn’t it. Bob Carter’s ludicrous claim that global warming “stopped” in 1998, and that this has any relevance to the mechanisms of global warming, has been amply discussed elsewhere. Why, Carter’s column is so bad it makes Lindzen’s seem almost like science. And yes, the debate is going on very vigorously in the peer reviewed scientific literature. It’s not a debate about confidence in the greenhouse effect or whether the Earth will warm as a result. It’s a debate about the nature, timing and severity of the problem. Take a look at the literature on glacier dynamics. People are arguing all the time about the relative importance of various arcane aspects of ice flow, and how they affect the response of glaciers to warming. No shortage of debate there. Anybody with a scientifically defensible argument to ante up can play. –raypierre]

  14. Walter Pearce:

    Who has more financial incentive for their point of view — the scientists who receive a few paltry research dollars, or petroleum companies, with literally trillions in future revenues on the line?

    I publish, among other things, financial publications and my instincts tell me that yes, orchestration is taking place.

  15. Richard Ordway:

    Lindzen was allowed to print his “Iris Theory” (stating that global warming might end because of a natural increase in cooling-type clouds and less water vapor-a heat-trapping greenhouse gas)in Geophysical Research Letters (Jun. 26, 2001-a legitimate peer-reviewed journal).

    His evidence, however, simply did not stand up when examined and tested for a year at least in part by NASA -as well as other “scientists” who have a stake in proving him right (funded by fossil fuel companies as evidenced by on-the-record Congressional cross-examination). Read about it in the hard-documented book “The Heat is On” by Pulitzer-prize winning Ross Gelbspan.

    If Lindzen had had legitimate proof and evidence, other scientists (from around the world including oil-producing Saudi-Arabia et al.) would have been able to prove his findings true and print the results in evidence-based journals (ie. not printed by fossil fuel companies or other big-buisness entities).

    Remember, some of the first real evidence/math relating to heat trapping greenhouse gases (by French scientist Joseph Fourier in 1827, (now part of the “Fourier series”) was initially rejected by a national peer-review society (Académie des Sciences)in the 1820s.

    He had to gather more proof until finally he had enough to prove his points. It works both ways…but eventually the truth comes out…and the results are printed if it can be proved.

    After a few years so much evidence builds up that it inevitably gets printed…it can’t be ignored anymore or the publication loses legitimacy…this is what happened to global warming over the years…there was too much evidence to ignore…and leading to eventually, today, no provable evidence it WASN’T occurring.

    Global warming had to be proved against the original belief that it could not happen. At first, with limited science tools, scientists believed that humans could not possibly cause the Earth to warm up.

    It has taken almost 100 years for global warming to be slowly proved, step, by step, in peer-reviewed journals (as techniques improved) to get to the level that it is now considered a scientifically PROVABLE concensus.

    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…

    No thanks to the big oil, big coal, big gas, big transportation funded non-evidenced-based disinformation campaign that the media ate up and presented as equal weight to real evidence(The Media’s code of ethics dictates that they must present both sides of every story equally even if it is not true and let the readers decide for themselves).

    Look in the Congressional record at Richard Lindzen’s funding sources…which he tried to hide even under oath (this is extremely unethical for a scientist)…one of his funding sources is a FOREIGN fossil fuels organization -OPEC(-Harpers Magazine- DEC. 1995.) In other words, Lindzen is unethical in the scientific community.

    In terms of his long-standing theories that the science community needs to drum up money by scaring people with the doom of global warming…

    Ask any publishing scientist what they think about this… I personally know scientists who willingly interrupt their careers, lose prominence, and lose grants (money) by agreeing to work on global warming (GW).

    They take three or more of their years to devote away from their area of expertise to work on the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s findings on GW that issues a comprehensive report every five or so years. Why? They care. They care about you personally and they care about the World- no matter where the evidence might lead them.

  16. Dano:

    One can look back in the past (well, I can’t today but someone can) and find similar coordinated campaigns. This one just happens to use ‘alarmist’, the last one ‘chicken littles’ (or was it the campaign before that…they all run together after a time), the next time it will be a similar marginalization term. At least they are consistent.

    And the same authors (read: usual suspects) of the same op-eds in the same places (Telegraph, Toronto G&M, WSJ, WashTimes, etc.) can, coincidentally, be found here.

    Lether, rinse, repeat.

    Best,

    D

  17. David B. Benson:

    There appears to be an organization called climatecrisis.net, which even has a scientific advisory board. This organization has produced a movie trailer which I have read about but have not viewed. I suggest that op-eds in the usual suspects are in reaction to climatecrisis.net.

  18. Paul G.:

    ====Post #14====

    Who has more financial incentive for their point of view — the scientists who receive a few paltry research dollars, or petroleum companies, with literally trillions in future revenues on the line?

    I publish, among other things, financial publications and my instincts tell me that yes, orchestration is taking place.
    ========================================================
    Blaming Big Oil must get tiring, no? It is the public which is holding back the implementation of serious measures against GW, not oil companies. And it is the public which is still not ready at this point, for reasons that may or may not be valid, to make the sacrifices that would have to be made.

    Foolish claims of “orchestration” aside, a better avenue to explore is why the general public is not yet firmly onside for large scales measures to combat GW.

  19. Doug Percival:

    Paul G in comment #18: Blaming Big Oil must get tiring, no? It is the public which is holding back the implementation of serious measures against GW, not oil companies. And it is the public which is still not ready at this point, for reasons that may or may not be valid, to make the sacrifices that would have to be made. Foolish claims of “orchestration” aside, a better avenue to explore is why the general public is not yet firmly onside for large scales measures to combat GW.

    The general public is not yet “firmly onside” in large part because they have been deliberately and systematically deceived about the reality and severity of the problem by an orchestrated campaign of disinformation funded by Big Oil. That there has been and continues to be such a campaign is beyond question. Good grief, the White House employs former oil industry lobbyists to edit out references to global warming from US government publications! Get real.

  20. ocean:

    Yes, the public is not ready because, unfortunately, the large majority of the general public is not educated enough to adequately understand the issues involved in the consequences of GW. My students tell me that I show graphs and Time magazine shows graphs, how can they know which is accurate or believable. They don’t have enough background. My job, as is true for many educators, is to make them competent and critical thinkers. But the majority lacks an even basic education in the sciences to understand the difference between observation-based real science and pseudo-science.

    Along those lines…Obesity has been shown very definitively to cause a whole suite of serious health problems. Yet the majority of the public eat junk foods and don’t exercise. Just because they don’t believe health professionals enough to change their lifestyles, doesn’t make obesity “healthy”.

  21. Stephen Berg:

    Re: #19,

    Amen!

  22. ocean:

    Raypierre, thanks for your response to #8. Because the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere about doubled since the industrial revolution, I thought of that as a 100% increase. Real bad math on my part. Thanks for correcting it.

  23. Ian Forrester:

    Lindzen and his ilk are just

    [ad hom deleted. -moderator]

    , selling themselves to the highest bidder. Didn’t he sign off on an IPCC document which agreed with AGW then turn round and tear it to pieces in the lay press?

    Disgusting.

    These people are as bad as the people who shout “FIRE” in a crowded theatre. Too bad there are no laws against it.

    Ian Forrester

  24. J.P.:

    The general public is not “firmly onside” because “It’s a debate about the nature, timing and severity of the problem.” Clearly global warming is occurring. But certainly global warming happened after every ice age so the questions, which are still being debated by scientist, is the main reason why the general public is sitting and waiting. It is naive and disingenuous to continuously blame oil, government, and con-environmentalist when clearly answers to the most important questions are still in the air

  25. Tom Fiddaman:

    Interesting piece. I keep hoping for more substance from Lindzen, but this ain’t it. He’s been saying that climate science is alarm-driven for years, but this opinion presents weak evidence of that, and even weaker for a conspiracy to suppress dissent. For example, he claims that Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza “disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently
    losing climate-research funding for raising questions”, but google indicates that they are still active in climate science, publishing in prestigious journals, and serving on the ICCL.

    Lindzen’s contention that alarmism has resulted in dramatically increased funding for climate science doesn’t really hold up either. The GAO reports that climate science funding increased only 9% in real terms from ’93 to ’04 – slower than GDP. As I understand it, some of the big increases have been in satellites and infrastructure, where the $ presumably benefit relatively few mainstream scientists. Similarly, there have been big jumps in climate technology (e.g. carbon sequestration) but those are basically energy technologies and don’t enrich climate scientists. Perhaps he’s looking at different data, or there really was a huge jump from pre’90 to ’93, but climate science doesn’t look like a juggernaut to me. Climate science and technology is small potatoes when you compare even the broadest budget definition (~$5Bn) to total US R&D (almost $300Bn) or the energy sector (about $700Bn expenditures in the US).

    Lindzen mentions Henk Tennekes who has a recent opinion here.

    [Response: The piece by Tennekes only shows that he is confused about the difference between predicting the future course of a chaotic system subject to constant forcing, and predicting the response to a substantial change in the forcing. He relies on vague suppositions hanging over from his experience with turbulence theory. If this is the substance of his criticism of IPCC, then it’s entirely reasonable that he lost his funding. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that this is the reason for his lack of grants and relative inactivity, though. Gee, the guy is retired, and most folks like to do other things than write grant proposals in their golden years. –raypierre]

  26. Paul G.:

    ======================================================
    Post #19
    The general public is not yet “firmly onside” in large part because they have been deliberately and systematically deceived about the reality and severity of the problem by an orchestrated campaign of disinformation funded by Big Oil. That there has been and continues to be such a campaign is beyond question. Good grief, the White House employs former oil industry lobbyists to edit out references to global warming from US government publications! Get real.

    Comment by Doug Percival – 12 Apr 2006 @ 7:26 pm
    ========================================================

    Sorry Doug, I’m not buying it. They myth about some big campaign orchestrated by Big Oil is just that…. a myth.

    I live in Canada and Big Oil hasn’t orchestrated anything here. In fact we legally ratified Kyoto several years ago. The end result? Our C02 emissions are increasing at twice the rate that they are in the US.

    Polls consistently show Canadians to be overwhelmingly in support of Kyoto, but the paradigm is that this support is widespread but very shallow at the same time.
    Public support is high until higher home heating costs or higher gas taxes are considered…then support largely evaporates.

    It is the inertia of the public, for reasons valid or not, that is preventing meaningful measures to address GW. Big Oil plays a minor role at most in this debate.

  27. Hank Roberts:

    Paul G. — That big campaign included the effort to convince you that it wasn’t happening, and stories about it were myths and it’s all a matter of individual personal choice. Many of the same people and PR firms followed the same program for the tobacco companies, and you can look them up now.
    Try http://www.google.com/search?q=glantz+tobacco+deceit&start=0

    Some of the results have footnotes and references; some have a great deal of vituperation. Compare the sources.

  28. Walter Pearce:

    RE: #18
    No, I never get tired of pointing out the connections among big money interests, their propaganda, and public opinion. A good starting point for you in this specific case would be http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/05/some_like_it_hot.html and it’s related link, http://www.motherjones.com/news/featurex/2005/05/exxon_chart.html. Feel free to debunk this nice piece of real journalism, if you can. Afterwards, we can discuss why Exxon spent these millions of dollars, if not to paralyze public thinking on the issue.

  29. Ian Forrester:

    Re: #23

    I think this this one of the reasons people like Lindzen get away with what the say. We scientists pussyfoot around and are afraid to call a spade a spade.

    The word which was deleted has the following as one of its meanings (according to the OED): “to surrender or put to an unworthy or infamous use; to sell for base gain or hire”. This is exactly what these people are doing. We must be more forceful in our denunciation of their misinterpretations, misrepresentations and cherry picking of data.

    Ian Forrester

  30. pat neuman:

    re 26. It is the inertia of the public, …

    People go to war based on what they’re told by their government leaders. Are government leaders (politicians and agency heads) telling people they must cut back drastically on CO2 emissions? No. Why not?

  31. Thomas Gatliff:

    I am not scientist, and I cannot say anything about the scientific side of whether climate change is occuring or not. From a US political standpoint, though, I find it troubling that for the US to “do” something about global warming, such as joining the Kyoto Protocol, would require potentially serious negative economic impacts on the US economy. Unfortunately, as long as this remains the case, no “proven science” or concentrated media coverage will ever result in any change occuring. This is not my opinion, but rather just an obvious fact that I think needs to be noted.

    [Response: This is (a) a question of weighing up highly likely negative consequences for the US economy from global warming damages, against your “serious negative economic impacts” of improving energy efficiency, reducing waste and developing renewable energy – the supposed negative consequences of which are not supported by evidence. It also is (b) a question of ethics. The US is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, per capita and in absolute terms, while much of the current damages from climate change occur in poor countries (e.g., the annual 150,000 death from global warming estimated by the World Health Organisation). You feel good about that? -stefan]

  32. Ike Solem:

    I only have time to address one Professor Richard Lindzen’s absurdities, so let’s consider this statement:

    “If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. ”

    Hey Richard – do you think that tropical hurricanes are driven by the pole-to-equator temperature gradient? Really? Well, in reality they are driven by the surface-to-tropopause temperature gradient. If we think of hurricanes as Stirling heat engines, then we realize that the two reservoirs are the mixed layer of the surface ocean (1) and the upper atmosphere (2); note that there is a general trend of stratospheric cooling as well. Hmmm.. what do you think this means? I don’t think that global warming models (which all of a sudden you seem so fond of) predict stratospheric warming, do they?

    Please excuse my sarcasm; my BS meter just blew a fuse.

    Oh – wait, I’m wrong, I just noticed you said ‘extratropical storms’. I guess that you are assuming that the axial tilt of the Earth’s rotation is inconsequential; the fact that the poles are tilted away from the sun for half the year obviously has nothing to do with the issue of mid-latitude storms…

  33. Jeffrey Davis:

    Since there are probably terrible consequences to prolonging this notion the AGW is not true, I think the skeptical scientists must be challenged to come up with criteria that if shown to be so, they’ll desist in their rhetorical barrages. Why do you doubt? What, if proved to be so, would erase your doubts.

    In honor of the season, Thomas, which wounds do you need to inspect?

  34. Grant:

    I’m puzzled by Lindzen’s criticism of Michael Mann. It’s especially curious that he states “… Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis.” I had no trouble getting all the details from the web.

    Anyone know the details of this?

  35. CapitalistImperialistPig:

    Sorry guys, but the part that interests me is the charge of a “sinister side” where dissenters (including Tennekes) have been systematically intimidated. True or false?

    [Response: False. Lindzen says you have to be very senior and prominent to be able to weather being a dissenter, but it’s just not true that Lindzen is the only one who’s that senior and that prominent. If that were the only thing holding back the dissenters, there ought to be a whole flood of them There are a hundred or so members of the National Academy in the US alone, tenured professors or the equivalent all, who do climate related things. Any of these would have a position secure enough to dissent without fear of retribution. Heck, Paul Crutzen has a Nobel Prize — there’s nobody who would stop him from dissenting if he wanted to. People who do bad science tend not to get funding, so I don’t see why Lindzen has any cause to whine about that. –raypierre]

  36. Paul G.:

    ======================================================
    Post #27
    Paul G. — That big campaign included the effort to convince you that it wasn’t happening, and stories about it were myths and it’s all a matter of individual personal choice. Many of the same people and PR firms followed the same program for the tobacco companies, and you can look them up now.
    Try http://www.google.com/search?q=glantz+tobacco+deceit&start=0

    Some of the results have footnotes and references; some have a great deal of vituperation. Compare the sources.

    Comment by Hank Roberts – 12 Apr 2006 @ 8:49 pm
    ========================================================

    Again, as with the previous poster, I don’t agree Hank.
    You too appear to believe in this mythical power of PR to dupe the masses. Frankly, I don’t. A few million dollars from Exxon or some other evil multinational isn’t enough to sway this debate in spite of the paranoid musings of some posters.

    The true resistance against combatting GW comes from the general public themselves, because the general public knows that going beyond the first Kyoto agreement will requires a huge sacrifice. At present, the public is not willing to make that sacrifice, for reasons that may or may not be valid. Truly bringing the public onside is the challenge faced by those advocating Kyoto and its successors.

  37. Joel Shore:

    Lindzen’s argument doesn’t even seem to really be internally consistent. On the one hand, he is claiming that climate scientists are being alarmist to gain funding. On the other hand, at the end he says: “Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming–not whether it would actually happen.”

    Now, if by impacts, he means the impacts to ecosystems, etc., it seems unlikely that climate scientists jockeying for funding would be trying to change the topic of interest from climate science to these other fields (which I guess gets back to your point that funding self-interest would dictate continuing to emphasize uncertainty). On the other hand, if by impacts, he means the impacts on the climate itself, then I don’t really see how that would be separated from looking into issues of climate sensitivity and the like. Sure, there might be a few papers that take climate sensitivity as a given and somehow try to draw conclusions about the impact on the climate from that…But, I hardly think that these are swamping the number of papers trying to determine what the climate sensitivity is, studying if the water vapor feedback is working as expected, etc., etc.

  38. ocean:

    Re:#36: So basically you are saying it is the climate scientists’ job to convince the public-at-large to make huge sacrifices in order to bring the public “onside?” Am I right? If so, I disagree. Scientists’ job is to provide sound, credible science to the general community and to educate people who are willing to be educated in how to understand that science. Scientists cannot be expected to be journalists, politicians, PR personnel for their cause. Because global warming and its consequences aren’t a cause or a belief system. It is a scientific fact. Plus, it is also the public’s responsibility to make informed choices and sacrifices where necessary. One may insist on smoking, but it’s still going to cause lung cancer and it isn’t the scientists’ fault that this person insisted on ignoring the blatantly obvious risk to his health. I think this is analogous to “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” So those journalists and politicians who are abusing scientific findings with pseudo-scientific twists to their public disseminations are truly disgusting. Just like tobacco companies who insisted that nicotine is not addictive. We will run out of oil. It is finite. Do we have to irreversibly damage the planet [like for the next 500,000 years or so] while we try to consume every last drop?

    You say some posters are paranoid about the power of PR. PR affects under-educated people the most. And most of the population is under-educated in science. So I don’t think they’re being paranoid.

    [Response: It’s not “the public” but Ford and General Motors who have consistently lobbied against improved mileage standards. In fact, a large part of the automotive industry is actively trying to suppress the will of “the public,” expressed in California, for state-level controls on automotive greenhouse gas emissions. It’s not “the public” but the coal industry that lobbied against including CO2 as a power plant pollutant to be regulated by the EPA. To be sure “the public” is being asked to do something difficult and a little scary, which will no doubt take some adjustments. It doesn’t help when large segments of the affected industries lobby against effective legislation. Facing a national (indeed global) crisis requires leadership from the people in government. We’re certainly not getting that. –raypierre]

  39. Roscoe Shaw:

    Both sides play the spin game. Let’s not kid ourselves. Both sides are vulnerable to financial motives. However, I feel that virtually all scientists from Jim Hansen to Pat Michaels are acting out of their genuine beliefs. Unfortunately, in this polarizing debate climate, people begin to choose sides and totally cut off any information that doesn’t fit into their way of thinking.

    There has been talk above about an orchestrated set of “talking points” from the GW skeptics. Perhaps that’s true. However, consider for a moment the “talking points” of the “climate alarmist crowd. They seem to all be on the same page, too.

    (1) “The science is settled”… I’ve heard this a million times lately.
    Lindzen, fortunately addresses this. The earth is warming and man is probably to blame…that is mostly settled… but the CONSEQUENCES of that is hardly settled. Huge and legitimate debate is raging over that and most climate scientists are not truely qualified to accurately forecast the consequences.

    (2) “If Greenland melts, sea level will rise 20 feet”… While this is true, I hate to break it to you…it ain’t gonna happen. Sadly, the scientists interviewed who say this know that Greenland isn’t going to melt. It’s cold up there. In fact, there is conflicting evidence as to whether Greenland is net melting at all.

    (3) “Polar bears are cute and they are becoming extinct.”… If a degree or two of temperature change is going to do in the bears, then they are headed for the evolutionary scrap heap anyway. Besides, they aren’t going extinct…that’s just wild speculation based on very limited data.

    (4) “We are reaching a tipping point”…. Whatever. Sounds scary but I read a lot about this and I still don’t know what it means.

    (5) “Bigger and stronger storms, flood, droughts, and hurricanes”… This has been repeated so often that it is now considered fact by many people. However, I’ve yet to see any reliable consensus evidence that it is true. Fortunately, Lindzen addressed this in his article. Although he kept the description basic considering the audience, the “reduction of baroclinicity” argument makes a lot more sense to me than some abstract and unsupported notion that bigger stronger storms will sweep the planet. As for hurricanes, any possible GW-induced strengthing would pale in comparison to the normal hurricane cycles and the threat posed by GW would pale in comparison to the threat posed by ever-increasing coastal populations and wealth concentration.

    Oh, BTW, I’m not funded by big oil or research grants and I don’t support George Bush or Kyoto. But I do have an advanced degree in climate related science and I’m highly skeptical of the climate alarmist scenarios I’m bombarded with daily. I happen to think that the planet and the humans are a lot more robust than what the alarmists want us to think. Mostly, however, I don’t think we have a clue what’s going to happen. The earth and it’s climate system are hopelessly complex.

    [Response: Gosh, if you really think the climate system is so hopelessly complex it defies understanding, you ought to be terrified at the thought of doubling CO2. After all, the 10,000 year relatively steady climate of the Holocene has been rather good for civilization, but we have no good analogues for what the system is going to do when hit it with a shock of the sort we are about to give it. What makes you so confident that you’re going to like the result? Do you feel confident making this decision for the next 100 generations of humanity that will have to live with the consequences? Economics is a pretty complex system, too. Why do you believe the “chicken-little” economics that claims that carbon abatement will ruin the world economy? I myself have a lot more faith in human ingenuity than that. –raypierre]

  40. Corinna:

    Speaking of responses, do you have or know where I could find a response to this piece:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/09/ixworld.html

    It is confusing one of my friends and I’m not sure what to say in response to it.
    It’s called “There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998″ by Bob Carter

    [Response: There’s so much wrong with this screed that it’s hard to know where to start. As noted by others, the theory does not predict an uninterrupted monotonic increase in temperature. Over short time periods, a single anomalously hot year can mean you have to wait a few years extra before the next really hot year comes along. (see also Coby’s discussion at http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/04/warming-stopped-in-1998.html ) Carter writes as if the only reason for suspecting that temperature is linked to CO2 is that temperature has been going up and CO2 has been going up. In fact, there is basic physics behind this expectation, and when the physics is embodied in a model, and all climate forcings (including solar and volcanoes) are taken into account, you find that there is no consistent explanation of the post-1970 warming without invoking a substantial CO2 effect. He writes about the mid-century interruption in warming as if no climate scientists had ever thought about it, whereas the role of aerosols in this feature was the main breakthrough of the IPCC Second Assessment Report. He describes the “bladder trembling” Mann hockey-stick curve as a “statistical construct,” whereas the basic conclusions have been borne out by many independent studies (amply discussed on RealClimate). And so forth. The whole column is, as Carter himself would put it, “Tosh.” –raypierre]

    [Response: Addendum: See also Joel Shore’s comment #25 in the Venus article –raypierre]

  41. Roscoe Shaw:

    “Ocean” …said…

    “Because global warming and its consequences aren’t a cause or a belief system. It is a scientific fact.”

    Wrong. The earth is warming. That is a fact. The consequences are unknown. The speculation on what a couple of degrees will do to the ecosystem and humans is mainly just that…speculation. I refuse to let it be pawned off as “settled” or “fact”.

    [Response: Deleted gratuitous insults]

    Ok…so that’s a bit over the top…but it’s mostly the case…LOL

    [Response: Indeed it was over the top. No more of that, please –raypierre]

  42. Hank Roberts:

    Corinna, type “Bob Carter” (with the quote marks) into a Google search and read the first ten hits — I’ll guarantee you’ll find at least one competent rebuttal.

  43. Roscoe Shaw:

    #

    Speaking of responses, do you have or know where I could find a response to this piece:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/09/ixworld.html

    It is confusing one of my friends and I’m not sure what to say in response to it.
    It’s called “There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998″ by Bob Carter

    Comment by Corinna – 12 Apr 2006 @ 11:08 pm

    ————————————-

    I haven’t read the article or the response, but the meteorologists have a big thread going on this. See link below.

    I didn’t bother to read the article because it’s title (or claim) is very lame. Yes, the earth has “cooled” since 1998 but not if you do any kind of legitimate statistical smoothing of the data.

    http://www.easternuswx.com/bb/index.php?showtopic=91690&hl=1998

    Keep in mind, some of the people on that board are very sharp but a lot of them are just 16 year old snow geeks.

  44. ocean:

    I agree that the consequences of GW aren’t quite settled yet but there is enormous evidence from Earth’s paleo record on how the planet responds to sudden warming, like the aftermath of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. So I don’t think the consequences are mere idle speculation as Roscoe Shaw suggests.

    For me a belief is something that is not founded on observation but simply faith; because if it were based on scientific evidence, then it would be theory or knowledge, not belief. Thus I am not convinced that GW is a belief system. There is simply too much evidence out there.

  45. joel Hammer:

    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.
    Here are some things that were settled science until they actually ran some experiments:

    1. Margarine good, butter bad.
    2. Gastric ulcers caused by stress.
    3. Testosterone bad for heart, estrogen good.
    4. Herpes infection caused cancer of the cervix.
    5. Polio virus has no bacteremic phase, therefore, a vaccine will not work if it only caused blood antibody levels to rise.

    This list could be lengthened. What caused these errors was primitive thinking, that is, an uncontrolled observation was made, and then causality or truth was inferred.

    In the cause of margarine, because it was from plants, it was assumed to be good, although trans fats were totally artificial.
    In the case of estrogen and the heart, the primitives thought that since women had lower heart disease rates, it had, therefore, to be due to estrogen.
    In the case of gastric ulcers, it was gospel that the stomach was sterile, and much evidence linking ulcers to infection was simply ignored.
    In the case of the spleen, since the function was unknown, and it got in the way of treating gastric ulcers by gastrectomy, it was declared unnecessary. The assumption was if it were important we would know its function.
    In the case of herpes, it simply was a fellow passenger with HPV, the other virus of the cervix.
    In the case of the polio vaccine, the bacteremic phase was short because of the strong immunogenicity of the polio virus, and since it preceded paralysis, nobody got cultured before the bacteremic phase was over. And, the then current animal model for polio had no bacteremic phase!

    SO PLEEZ. The world is far more complicated than your simple ideas. It really is. YOU DO NOT KNOW IT ALL, or even enough, actually. How many of you are getting rich predicting the weather and making a killing on the Chicago futures market? What, you can’t predict rainfall this coming summer in the Midwest? Then, you are no better that the oracle of Delphi or a preacher who claims to know the will of God.

    What is the experimental proof, therefore, that rising CO2 is causing global warming? Please don’t mention computer models. You may recall recently an animal rights activist suggested we use computer models instead of experimental animals to test new drugs. The absurdity of the suggestion was apparent to all but maybe he was inspired by modern climatology.

    [Response: Tosh. Global warming is an experimental science. All the basic physics upon which the CO2-climate conection rests is subject to laboratory experiment. Detailed predictions about individual effects in the energy budget can be tested against field observations. And so forth. I guess you’d say that since astrophysics is not an experimental science, we can never prove that stars make their energy by fusion. Can you make a star in the laboratory? –raypierre]

  46. Mark A. York:

    I think Roscoe tips his hat with that last one. It’s complex alright but that doesn’t mean we buy into a denier thesis or just sit in a circle holding hands and singing Kumbaya. We follow the data.

  47. joel Hammer:

    What intimidation?

    From what I have seen:

    Everybody who dissents from the global warming-CO2 connection is called a knave or a fool.

    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.

    Now, that’s intimidation.

    [Response:I suppose even legitimate resistance to new ideas may by some be felt as intimidation. That’s a natural course of scientific discourse, and is part of the success of science. I have myself been accused several times (in Norway) for intimidating older and more established professors from other fields when I try to set the record right and point out blundering faults in their arguments. The important point is that if you can back your arguements with solid evidence and logic, then over time you will convince the scientific community that you are right (for instance by making forecasts for the future). As far as I see, Lindzen does not offer any solid evidence for why an enhanced greenhouse effect should not lead to higher surface temperatures – just hand-waving arguments. I hope that the skeptics can bring on the facts and empirical data, and try to demonstrate that increased CO2 concentrations do not result in global warming, rather than trying to smear the whole community or single scientists. -rasmus]

  48. Lee A. Arnold:

    Underneath it all, Mr. Lindzen appears to be saying that his theories of climate are more valid than are given credit, and that he is being unfairly dealt with, and in a way that may hurt his future funding. He also runs a second, simultaneous argument using three false assertions: that the vast bulk of the scientists are alarmists, that this alarmism is unfounded, and that it is dangerous because mitigation must lead to certain economic damage. (Here again, in yet another article: although it is a bottom pivot, we are never given proof of this economic assertion.) Mr. Lindzen demonstrates his arguments by implication, indeed by allusive suggestion, using parallel anecdotes. We the readers are left to combine the two arguments and conclude that Mr. Lindzen, and the public interest, are being hurt by a bums’ rush to avoid a trumped-up phony catastrophe.

    I must report that his arguments have completely convinced me, and I am now inclined to agree, indeed I am persuaded to believe — and there can be no doubt of it! — that the rest of the climate scientists are a bunch of fetid little egomaniacs with evil dreams of destroying the U.S. economy while they hypocritically keep phoning-in their big gas-guzzling car payments, out to clobber anybody who gets in their fiendish way with highfalutin’ talk of baroclines and thermohalines, not to mention continuously deflecting any realization by the unsuspecting public of the obvious truth that Al Gore is in fact the Devil incarnate, and all the while exhibiting “a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves.” Fie upon it! I must report that I have finally seen the Light; I shall be misled nary more! There can be no doubt that Science should be conducted according to the principles of argumentation in the op-ed pages of that august rag-pulp, The Wall Street Journal!

  49. wayne davidson:

    The present climate trends don’t need an MIT professor for comment, it is warmer, all over the world warmer. The debate should be at the technical aspects of this warming, in particular, what is the rate of this warming???

    However professor Lindzen clearly enjoys the contrarian spotlight, with a particular vicious bent on demeaning most of his multi-Univerity peers as mere pan-handlers..

    As far as I can read, his science offers no clear vision of the future, proposing indirectly that the future is too chaotic, impossible to forecast. It is by this stance which he fails miserably. He essentially has thrown away the forecasting towel in the climate debate ring. Gave up on the main reason of his job, in favor of a spotlight showing his play acting.

    Mr Lindzen’s New England has had significant climate changes within the last few years, let alone the last few days. I remember once long ago, watching a grand meteorologist elderly professor giving daily briefings, revealing every minute details
    over North American weather maps, dwelling and exposing its complexities with most fascinating features. A day by day extensive prognosis was essential for a better understanding. In this WSJ article, Lindzen completely fails to mention anything about current weather, perhaps a preclusion of choice, for if he chose the ways of proper meteorology, he would be describing a changing ever so warming world wide climate trend.

  50. Roscoe Shaw:

    Response: Indeed it was over the top. No more of that, please –raypierre]

    I was just responding to the previous discussing of “belief system”.
    Must have hit too close to home, raypierre, so you deleted it. Afterall, you’re the one who supports using government force to dictate what kind of cars Ford and GM can sell. [ad hom deleted - moderator]

  51. Simpson S:

    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]

  52. Stephen Berg:

    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]

  53. Stephen Balbach:

    > 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]

  54. Nikki Chau:

    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

  55. Steve Bloom:

    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.

  56. Roscoe Shaw:

    [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]

  57. Almuth Ernsting:

    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]

  58. ocean:

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

  59. Walter Pearce:

    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.

  60. Leonard Evens:

    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.

  61. pete best:

    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.

  62. raypierre:

    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.

  63. Roscoe Shaw:

    [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

  64. Michael Tobis:

    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).

  65. Alfredo:

    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.

  66. Lawrence McLean:

    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

  67. Jeffrey Davis:

    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.

  68. Bryson Brown:

    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.

  69. Mark A. York:

    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.”

  70. pete best:

    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.

  71. Mark A. York:

    “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.

  72. Julian Williams:

    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?

  73. Coby:

    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.

  74. Klaus Flemloese, Denmark:

    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.

  75. Paul G.:

    =======================================================
    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]

  76. Paul G.:

    ========================================================
    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?

  77. Daniel Kirk-Davidoff:

    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]

  78. pat neuman:

    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.

  79. Grant:

    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.

  80. Roscoe Shaw:

    “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]

  81. Michael Tobis:

    “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.

  82. Barkley Rosser:

    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.

  83. Roger Smith:

    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]

  84. Ike Solem:

    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…

  85. Walter Pearce:

    #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).

  86. pat neuman:

    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]

  87. Tim Curtin:

    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]

  88. Stephen Berg:

    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.

  89. Barton Paul Levenson:

    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.

  90. pat neuman:

    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?

  91. Paul G.:

    ====================================================
    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?

  92. Fernando Magyar:

    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.

  93. pat neuman:

    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.

  94. llewelly:

    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.

  95. Neal J. King:

    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?

  96. Gar Lipow:

    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.

  97. Don Baccus:

    #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.

  98. CO2-Lord Of Creation:

    “[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.]

  99. Fernando Magyar:

    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?

  100. CO2-Lord Of Creation:

    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]

  101. CO2-Lord Of Creation:

    “365 0 5000ppm is log2(5000/365) = 3.775 doublings.”

    Yes now looking a bit closer I see this is NOT right. Because your calcuations deal with CO2 as a stand-alone. You aren’t dealing with its Logarithmic interaction with water vapour.

    And this must take into account the fact that when CO2 and much water vapour are in the same area the CO2 has almost no effect. So that the CO2 will have a very strong effect where the air is dry. Particularly where it is cold and dry. But we expect the CO2 to have almost no effect in areas of high humidity.

    Do you think you can square that circle?

    [Response: The calculation of the radiative forcing by CO2 takes water vapor opacity fully into account. One computes the change in OLR due to changing CO2 with a given water vapor profile fixed, based on observations. The CO2 absorption bands are somewhat complementary to water vapor bands, so it’s simply not true that CO2 has almost no effect where the air is very moist. Moreover, if one assumes a moister profile in the calculation, the slight reduction in CO2 radiative forcing is more than offset by the increase in amplification by water vapor feedback. This is all very well-known stuff. –raypierre]

  102. Walter Pearce:

    #91–Paul G, Public opinion is malleable. You pointed out earlier that as fuel prices increased, support for doing something about AGW decreased. But what would happen to public opinion if the public had a better picture of all the costs and benefits?

    That’s where the battle lines are joined and why big oil companies fund skeptic organizations. As long as the benefits of doing something about AGW can be portrayed as uncertain, the associated costs seem less worthwhile. Take a look at today’s “Free-for-All” section in my hometown paper, The Washington Post. You’ll see a letter from the President of the George C. Marshall Institute, an organization that has received heavy funding from Exxon (they recently stopped disclosing their sources of funding — hmm).

    For a highly successful PR campaign, look no further than the Bush administration’s efforts to link, in the public’s mind, Al Quaeda and Iraq. You and I may have seen through the spin, but polls show a majority of U.S. citizens completely fell for it. The truth was relatively easy to ascertain in that case; AGW is a comparatively complex story.

    What is needed, in the evident absence of courageous, forward-thinking politicians, is to ratchet up the perceived benefits of eliminating carbon-emmitting fuels. In addition to addressing AGW, doing so reduces our need to meddle in Middle East politics, thereby reducing the obscene sums spent on “defense” and “homeland security,” as well as reducing the more visible aspects of air, water and solid waste pollution.

    In other words, one could try to put the onus on the fossil fuels industry to justify the high cost of their use.

  103. Gar Lipow:

    Re: 99. Yes there are significant things people can do as individuals. And we should. (I’ve insulated my attic, use compact fl. bulbs, drive a reasonably efficienct car very few miles a week. Don’t get too much credit for this last though; I live close to my clients and am able to do most of my work from home.) But there is lots of stuff we cannot, for the most part, do as individuals that has to be done. One simple example would be plug-in hybrids. You can take a conventional hybrid, replace the battery with a slightly larger one, add a plug and some software, and essentially run between the first twenty and first ninety miles from the grid instead of your gas tank. If every new car in the U.S. was a plug-in hybrid, this would cut U.S. carbon emissions from automobiles in half. For you to do this as an individual, you have to buy an existing hybrid (aleady) expensive, and spend $5,000 on modifications. But if hybrid manufacturers were required to do this, it would add between $1,000 and $1,200 to the cost of making a hybrid. Among other things consumer reports recently calculated that hybrids won’t pay back their additional costs over their lifetime (assuming a $3.00 per gallon gas price.) However, increasing that cost by by $1,000 dollars and doubling your savings for that money probably would let hybrids pay back their costs in gas savings alone – not to mention the global warming advantages.

    And this is a really modest example. Electric cars are much closer than hydrogen; but it would take some social investment to make them a commercial reality.

    This gets us to a larger point. Even stuff we can do as individuals does not seem to respond well to price signals when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, most attics in the U.S. still could add additional attic insulation and pay back their cost in 4 years or fewer. But most people are not doing that. And the same thing happens in industry too. Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute have devoted a great deal of time to places where industry figuratively leaves $10,000 bills on the factory floor. If you will pardon a bit of economic jargon, energy demand shows low elasticity in response to price increases.

    This, BTW, explains the huge price many warming deniers assign to reducing carbon emissions. To reduce carbon emissions via price increases requires carbon taxes many times what people actually need to spend to reduce carbon use.

    So if you want to reduce global warming without making denier predicions of a depression come true, you will the support of at least three legs. You do need carbon taxes, but you also need regulation and public works. If you don’t want carbon taxes to be much higher than the actual cost of eliminating carbon then you need regulations to help draw attention to the $10,00o bills on the floor, and public works for thigns like public transit that have to be done socially rather than individually.

    I will add there is a very important economic point here too. Energy demand has elasticity in response to price increases. To translate that out of jargon, that means that people will not always do energy saving stuff that would save them money, even if it will increase their comfort. A classic example is that most people in the U.S. could add additional attic insulation that would pay back its cost in four years or less. If they did that they would be more comfortable, and save money besides.

    This by the way is where global warming deniers can absurdly high prices for solving global warming. Because of this low demand elasticity, if you use green taxes, taxes on carbon equivalent to lower carbon use, you end up having to collect many times in taxes what people need to spend to reach carbon neutrality.

  104. Gar Lipow:

    Re: 99. Yes there are significant things people can do as individuals. And we should. (I’ve insulated my attic, use compact fl. bulbs, drive a reasonably efficienct car very few miles a week. Don’t get too much credit for this last though; I live close to my clients and am able to do most of my work from home.) But there is lots of stuff we cannot, for the most part, do as individuals that has to be done. One simple example would be plug-in hybrids. You can take a conventional hybrid, replace the battery with a slightly larger one, add a plug and some software, and essentially run between the first twenty and first ninety miles from the grid instead of your gas tank. If every new car in the U.S. was a plug-in hybrid, this would cut U.S. carbon emissions from automobiles in half. For you to do this as an individual, you have to buy an existing hybrid (aleady) expensive, and spend $5,000 on modifications. But if hybrid manufacturers were required to do this, it would add between $1,000 and $1,200 to the cost of making a hybrid. Among other things consumer reports recently calculated that hybrids won’t pay back their additional costs over their lifetime (assuming a $3.00 per gallon gas price.) However, increasing that cost by by $1,000 dollars and doubling your savings for that money probably would let hybrids pay back their costs in gas savings alone – not to mention the global warming advantages.

    And this is a really modest example. Electric cars are much closer than hydrogen; but it would take some social investment to make them a commercial reality.

    This gets us to a larger point. Even stuff we can do as individuals does not seem to respond well to price signals when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, most attics in the U.S. still could add additional attic insulation and pay back their cost in 4 years or fewer. But most people are not doing that. And the same thing happens in industry too. Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute have devoted a great deal of time to places where industry figuratively leaves $10,000 bills on the factory floor. If you will pardon a bit of economic jargon, energy demand shows low elasticity in response to price increases.

    This, BTW, explains the huge price many warming deniers assign to reducing carbon emissions. To reduce carbon emissions via price increases requires carbon taxes many times what people actually need to spend to reduce carbon use.

    So if you want to reduce global warming without making denier predicions of a depression come true, you will need the support of at least three legs. You do need carbon taxes, but you also need regulation and public works. If you don’t want carbon taxes to be much higher than the actual cost of eliminating carbon then you need regulations to help draw attention to the $10,000 bills on the floor, and public works for things like public transit that have to be done socially rather than individually.

  105. Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger « Greenfyre’s:

    [...] DeSmogBlog,12 Oct 06 * Lindzen: Point by point Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, RealClimate, 13 April 2006 * Open Thread on Lindzen Op-Ed in WSJ Group, RealClimate, 12 April [...]