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Misrepresentation from Lindzen

Filed under: — gavin @ 6 March 2012

Richard Lindzen is a very special character in the climate debate – very smart, high profile, and with a solid background in atmospheric dynamics. He has, in times past, raised interesting critiques of the mainstream science. None of them, however, have stood the test of time – but exploring the issues was useful. More recently though, and especially in his more public outings, he spends most of his time misrepresenting the science and is a master at leading people to believe things that are not true without him ever saying them explicitly.

However, in his latest excursion at a briefing at the House of Lords Commons in the UK, among the standard Lindzen arguments was the following slide (which appears to be a new addition):

What Lindzen is purporting to do is to compare the NASA GISS temperature product from 2012 to the version in 2008 (i.e. the y-axis is the supposedly the difference between what GISS estimated the anomaly to be in 2012 relative to 2008). A rising trend would imply that temperatures in more recent years had been preferentially enhanced in the 2012 product. The claim being made is that NASA GISS has ‘manipulated’ (in a bad way) the data in order to produce an increasing trend of global mean temperature anomalies (to the tune of 0.14ºC/Century compared to the overall trend of 0.8ºC/Century) between the 2008 and 2012 versions of the data, which are apparently shown subtracted from each other in Lindzen’s figure. Apparently, this got ‘a big laugh’ at his presentation.

However, this is not in the least bit true: the data are not what he claims, the interpretation is wrong, and the insinuations are spurious.

The annotation indicates that Lindzen is using the GISTEMP Land-Ocean Temperature index (LOTI, i.e. the index that includes weather station data and sea surface temperature data to give a global anomaly index with wide spatial coverage) (“GLB.Ts+dSST.txt”). There is another GISTEMP index (the Met station index) which only uses weather station data (“GLB.Ts.txt”) which doesn’t have as much coverage and has a substantially larger trend reflecting the relative predominance of faster-warming continental data in the average.

Old versions of the data can be retrieved from the wayback machine quite readily, for instance, from February 2006, October 2008 or December 2007. The current version is here. I plot these four versions and their differences below:

As should be clear, the differences are tiny, and mostly reflect slightly more data in the earlier years in the latest data and the different homogenisation in GHCN v3 compared to GHCN v2 (which was used up to Dec 2011). This is however in clear contradiction with Lindzen – the biggest difference in trend (between 2006 and today), is a mere 0.05ºC/Century, and from 2008 to 2012 it is only 0.003ºC/Century – a factor of 40 smaller than Lindzen’s claim. What is going on?

The clue is that the transient behaviour of Lindzen’s points actually resembles the time evolution of temperature itself – not homogenisation issues, or instrumental or coverage changes. Indeed, if one plots the two GISTEMP indices and their difference (using current data), you get this:

Thus it looks very much like Lindzen has plotted the difference between the current Met Station index and an earlier version of the LOTI index. I plotted the Feb 2012 Met index data minus the Feb 2009 LOTI index, and I get something very close to Lindzen’s figure (though it isn’t exact):

This is sufficient to conclude that Lindzen did indeed make the mistake of confusing his temperature indices, though a more accurate replication would need some playing around since the exact data that Lindzen used is obscure.

Thus, instead of correctly attributing the difference to the different methods and source data, he has jumped to the conclusion that GISS is manipulating the data inappropriately. At the very minimum, this is extremely careless, and given the gravity of the insinuation, seriously irresponsible. There are indeed issues with producing climate data records going back in time, but nothing here is remotely relevant to the actual issues.

Such a cavalier attitude to analysing and presenting data probably has some lessons for how seriously one should take Lindzen’s comments. I anticipate with interest Lindzen’s corrections of this in future presentations and his apology for misleading his audience last month.

Update: Lindzen did indeed apologise (sort of) though see comments for more discussion.

539 Responses to “Misrepresentation from Lindzen”

  1. 101
    GSW says:

    @89 Martin lack

    “#83 GSW – Come now, don’t be shy, tell us all what you mean.”

    I mean life would probably be less disappointing for you if you were to occassionally make acquantance with a sense of perspective.

  2. 102
    Carrick says:

    Can you show us what the curve that Lindzen was trying to show would look like, if done correct?

    Same version to same version of code, just new versus older version of data?

    I think that would be the real slam dunk, right?

    [Response: shown in the second figure. – gavin]

  3. 103
    John Kosowski says:

    I have been discussing some of these issues with Lindzen over the past few days.

    1. The “missing slide” has been inserted into the current version of the pdf. It is available to anyone that wants it.
    2. CO2 has not quite “effectively doubled,” we are about 80% there.
    3. The GISS slide is a mistake and will be corrected.

    Martin, is there anything else you would like me to ask him?

  4. 104
    Tom Curtis says:

    Isotopious @92, the difference it makes to the temperature is approximately 25%. So how wide where Lindzen’s stated error bars, or do you just give out free passes to any denier crap that gets refuted?

  5. 105
    deconvoluter says:

    Even if this slide is corrected it will be repeated endlessly on the web. Harm has been done.

    On the other hand the pro-tobacco lobbyists had a setback yesterday.

    Significantly fewer premature births in Scotland

    The libertarian slogan that individuals should be allowed to do what they like has been shown to have its limitations.

  6. 106
  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a mistake
    Would getting that corrected over at Junkscience be something he’d help with?

  8. 108
    dbostrom says:

    John Kosowski says:
    7 Mar 2012 at 7:27 PM
    “I have been discussing some of these issues with Lindzen over the past few days.”

    Perhaps it would be best for you to reproduce that discussion here?

    “Martin, is there anything else you would like me to ask him?”

    Does Lindzen know you’re standing in here as his proxy? Why not ask him to make an appearance here and correct the record in his own words?

    Come to think of it, why doesn’t Lindzen just do that on his own? What’s with this passing messages via carrier pigeon?

  9. 109
    KeithWoollard says:

    If you have been through that 58 page presentation and that is the only point you dispute, then I think the sceptics have won

    recaptcha : disbelievers hasift

  10. 110
    MapleLeaf says:

    John Kosowski@103,

    “1. The “missing slide” has been inserted into the current version of the pdf. It is available to anyone that wants it.”

    Good. But, as others have noted, that slide is highly misleading. Will that outstanding issue by addressed by LIndzen?

    “2. CO2 has not quite “effectively doubled,” we are about 80% there.”

    That is still wrong. The value is 76% and SkepticalScience has demonstrated more than once (they did it here as well) why Lindzen is wrong on this issue.

    “3. The GISS slide is a mistake and will be corrected.”
    Good. One would hope that all who attended that talk will be informed of the error. One would also hope, that Lindzen being an honorable man, would offer his sincere apologies to NASA, specifically Dr. Hansen and his team who oversee the GISTEMP product.

    Maybe you can convince Lindzen to fix some of the other errors in his presentation as outlined by readers here and at SkepticalScience.

    For example, others here have also noted issues with Lindzen showing the DMI data (valid for north of 80 degrees, so not representative of the Arctic) to claim that CO@ is not a big major climate driver. Those data are from the ECMWF reanalysis (ERA-40), so they are not observations. Also, it is known that the ERA-40 data have issues with representing temperatures over the Arctic, especially prior to 1997 (e.g., Screen and Simonds 2011, J. Climate). Regardless, to use the summer temperature data to conclude that “Judging from the behavior of summer temperatures, CO2 is not obviously a major player” is simply wrong. Screen and Simmonds (2010) find (using the superior ERA-Interim data) that,

    In the Arctic, this greenhouse effect dominates during autumn, winter and spring (Fig. 3), in agreement with in situ observations. In summer, the shading effect dominates in the lower-latitude regions of the Arctic basin whereas north of 80 N the two competing effects approximately cancel out (Fig. 3c)

    Lindzen’s talk is just one error after the other and misrepresentations when reviewed critically and skeptically as any good scientists will do.

  11. 111
    MartinJB says:

    Here’s one of the things that frustrates me no end. The IPCC made a couple of minor mistakes in a document hundreds (thousands?) of pages long, and it’s a scandal of epic proportions. And people keep talking about them. Lindzen makes a significant error (to be kind) in a presentation and it’s the error that will persist, and not the fact that he made the error, in the minds of many. What fun!

  12. 112
    Craig Nazor says:

    Mike Schepper,

    For a really good explanation about why waiting is really, really stupid, try listening to this:

    This spells it out just about as simply and as clearly as it is possible to spell it out.

  13. 113
    John Kosowski says:


    “That is still wrong. The value is 76%”

    What year was it 76%?
    What year is it now?

    [Response: Not clear what point you are trying to make here, but Lindzen’s point is fundamentally flawed. Temperatures will respond to net forcing – not just CO2, or CO2-eq, and net forcing is around 1.7 W/m2 from the pre-industrial – that is under 50% of the forcing from 2xCO2, not 76%, nor 80% nor ‘almost’ a doubling. Claims that we should have reached equilibrium with that forcing are equally risible. Lindzen is effectively assuming zero heat capacity in the oceans and that aerosol forcing is 0 W/m2 with no uncertainty. The statements he makes on this have only rhetorical content – no science. – gavin]

  14. 114
    Hank Roberts says:

    > If … that is the only point you dispute

    Hey, I looked up the basis for his “data manipulation” accusation and found he was using someone else’s work, unattributed and unchecked.

    That was enough to make me stop reading.

    Others have checked other points and found other problems.

    There are different kinds of disasters.

    One is the train wreck type — where one point set wrong can cause a disaster, but fixing the one point can fix the problem.

    Another is the exploding whale type, where varied different things are going wrong and no single correction will save the situation.

    This smells more like the whale.

  15. 115
    MapleLeaf says:

    Keith @109,

    “If you have been through that 58 page presentation and that is the only point you dispute.”

    Really, that is what some people are honestly trying to take away form this? Had you been a true skeptic then you would have already identified the multiple errors, misrepresentations and distortions that Lindzen has repeatedly made as discussed multiple times here and elsewhere.

    The particular error identified here happens to be especially egregious as he is falsely accusing others NASA of fudging the data, when the very graph he presented to try and make that fallacious statement does just that.

  16. 116
    MapleLeaf says:

    Hi Gavin,

    “….and net forcing is around 1.7 W/m2 from the pre-industrial – that is under 50% of the forcing from 2xCO2, not 76%, nor 80% nor ‘almost’ a doubling”

    I agree with your inline comment. I just want to clarify my understanding of what SkepticalScience did. Above @ 110 I am referring to their calculation in the increase of of CO2 equivalent. Had Kosowski bothered to read the SkepticalScience post that I kinked to, he would have seen that that value was valid for 2010.

    As I understand it, SkepticalScience calculated the radiative forcing for all GHGs over 1750 values (using the AGGI) data to try and reproduce/replicate Lindzen’s alleged value for CO2 equivalent. But even when they did that, they found that he had inflated the proportions. But that is just the start of the problems with Lindzen’s argument.

    The slight of hand here is Lindzen trying to equate/conflate doubling of CO2 equivalent with doubling of CO2 that most people are familiar with (see his slide 4). The increase in radiative forcing from CO2 alone is only around 40% above preindustrial values the last time I looked.

    SkepticalScience then go on to make the same observations that you make in your inline comment regarding the system not being in equilibrium and the role of aerosols, before demonstrating that the observed warming is consistent with the net observed anthropogenic forcing. SkS estimate that the net anthropogenic forcing since 1950 to be ~1.2 Wm-2 using data from Skeie et al. (2011), and in another post SkepticalScience use Skeie et al. (2011) to estimate the net anthropogenic forcing in 2010 to be 1.4 W m-2 above preindustrial.

    So I agree with you that Lindzen’s argument is rich in rhetoric but void of science.

  17. 117
    Utahn says:

    Schepper @ 96 and Woollard @109. Yours are the 2nd and 3rd attempts at the same question in thia relatively short thread. It was asked and answered upthread. Where did you all get that stupid idea? I wonder…

  18. 118
    KeithWoollard says:

    Mapleleaf and Hank and all.
    You all need to take a step back and think about what is being said here. Yes, I am sceptical. I am sceptical of what you all say, and what Lindzen says, and what gets said on WUWT and what the governement says, and what the church says, even what my Mum says. I am sceptical (as a geophysicist) when someone publishes a graph that has the earths temperature flat for the last 2000 years when all of my working life I know this to be rubbish. I am sceptical of all of the “just about to” graphs that I have seen since primary school 40 years ago. We are just about to run out of oil, we are just about to get choked by pollution, we are just about to get a nuclear strike from (USSR, China, various former Russian states, Iraq, North Korea, Iran – tick the current bad guy) Or London is just about to get burried in horse dung (that one was a bit before my time). I am sceptical when we have BoM representatives talking about the “unprecendented” flooding that is almost as bad as 1974. I am sceptical when we have a palynologist who gets made Australian of the Year and then climate change commisioner and says drought is the new norm (looking like a bit of an idiot now)

    Here you have an MIT atmospheric professor basically saying the whole global warming industry is a farce and you are concerned about little issues around the edge. 76%, Vs 80% Vs 100%.
    Does the graph need to be corrected, absolutely.
    Have there been many other people who have mislead in a simikar way (either side, I don’t care) absolutely
    Do people care – absolutely not.
    No matter what you say, the vast majority of western people think that you have been banging on about global warming for 30 years and nothing has changed.
    – and please don’t come back at me about frequency of drought/floods/heatwaves/coldsnaps/snow/meteor showers/earthquakes/whatever, I am not an idiot

    [Response: What exactly does ‘banging on about global warming’ and ‘nothing has changed’ mean? Two things have certainly changed 1) the CO2 concentration has gone up 2) the temperature has gone up. As far as I’m aware, meteor shower frequencies have not increased. ;) –eric]

  19. 119
    Alex Harvey says:

    John Kosowski, #103:

    Thank you for following this up.

    If you are still in communication with Prof. Lindzen and he has no objection to answering questions I would like to ask:

    – Why does he ignore the distinction between transient and equilibrium sensitivity, as pointed out by Gavin and others above? From reading his papers, I know that he believes that climate sensitivity is low, and in the case of low climate sensitivity, the system takes only a few years to equilibrate (e.g. Lindzen and Giannitsis 1998; Lindzen and Choi 2009; 2011). Thus, in the case of low climate sensitivity only, it is reasonable to disregard the transient vs equilibrium distinction on the centennial time scale. Of course, this is circular reasoning if he is arguing that climate sensitivity must be low – at least as I understand it.

    – Having acknowledged the mistake re the GISS graphic, how does he intend to publicise the retraction? Simply updating the slide seems a bit inadequate.

    [Response:I don’t understand how the timescale for equilibrium has anything to do with the sensitivity. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t follow that argument. Is that an argument Lindzen has actually made?–eric]

  20. 120
    dana1981 says:

    As Gavin noted in response to comment #112, Lindzen’s worst error (in my opinion, as it’s the basis for his entire argument and presentation) is the claim that we’ve reached a forcing equivalent to doubled CO2, and that this proves climate sensitivity is around 1°C for 2xCO2. There are so many errors in this argument:

    1) Even only counting GHGs, we’re only 76% of the way to doubled CO2-eq, not 100%.
    2) While the aerosol forcing is highly uncertain, it’s not zero.
    3) The climate is not currently in equilibrium – there is an energy imbalance and thus unrealized warming.

    For Lindzen to argue that the aerosol forcing and ocean thermal inertia are zero, with zero uncertainty (which is the entire basis of his argument and presentation), is simply ludicrous. I find it impossible to take him seriously when he makes such basic and yet dramatic errors. Lindzen is a smart guy, and these errors have been pointed out to him many times over the decades. Yet he continues to make this same obviously wrong argument – what does that say about him?

  21. 121
    Hank Roberts says:

    > KeithWoolard: since you were in school decades ago, much has changed.
    And you haven’t noticed.

    That’s very human. That’s a big part of the problem.

    90% of The Big Fish Are Gone
    Dec 26, 2011 – Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950 (2003, Nature)

  22. 122
    dhogaza says:


    Have there been many other people who have mislead in a simikar way (either side, I don’t care) absolutely

    Either side, you don’t care? That pretty much sums up a dedication to your own opinion, rather than reality.

  23. 123
    dhogaza says:


    you have been banging on about global warming for 30 years and nothing has changed and please don’t come back at me about frequency of drought/floods/heatwaves/coldsnaps/snow/meteor showers/earthquakes/whatever, I am not an idiot

    Well, let’s see, given that high temperature records (“heatwaves”) have been outnumbering low temperature records (“cold snaps”) the last couple of decades, and hadn’t been doing so previously, “nothing has changed” is a false statement on your part. And the last clause I’ve quoted is therefore debatable …

    More evidence that you’re dedicated to your own opinion, not reality. You’re essentially saying that no amount of evidence will change your mind. Quite the geophysicist you must be … if you were educated before the later 1960s presumably you reject plate tectonics, too …

  24. 124
    dbostrom says:

    Alex Harvey says:
    8 Mar 2012 at 12:17 AM

    – Having acknowledged the mistake re the GISS graphic, how does he intend to publicise the retraction? Simply updating the slide seems a bit inadequate.

    Not to be unfair or harsh on John, but doesn’t it seem a wee bit peculiar to transmitting these inquiries through an intermediary? How did John end up being recruited as Lindzen’s factotum? And if Lindzen suddenly retreats into sphinx-like silence, where does that leave John? “I -swear- I was talking to Lindzen, fellas!”

    Where’s Lindzen? Crawl out from under your desk, wherever you are!

  25. 125
    Susan Anderson says:

    Caerbannog has it in a nutshell:

    “… finding out that NASA’s results do not depend on data manipulation, and that you could have figured out this for yourself years ago if you would have bothered to do a little work.”

    A population that is able to be misled on this point is a population that does not want to know, no matter how important it is to be well informed.

    captcha: failed loginoi

  26. 126
    Michael says:

    I think that Keith Woollard is saying in #116, “…banging on…”, that nothing catastrophic has happened or looked likely to happen soon. You only have to look at the dam levels in Australia to see evidence that supports his charge of “banging on” (google ‘Tim Flannery dam levels’). I don’t think he disputes Co2 concentrations have risen or the temperature has risen, I think he questions the catastrophic aspect (but please correct me if I am wrong).

    Kind Regards


  27. 127
    Tom Curtis says:

    The quality of Keith Woollard’s skepticism can easily checked by looking at rainfall data for Australia from the Bureau of Meteorology:

    There it can easily be observed that for Australia, 1974 is the wettest year on record, followed by 2011 and 2010 (in that order) and 2000. However, the BOM has not been commenting on wet conditions in Australia generally, but with respect explicitly to Queensland and Victoria, the locations (until now) of most of the flooding. Checking Eastern Australia (drop down menu at previously give site) shows 2010 to have been wetter than 1974 in Eastern Australia, and much wetter in both Victoria and Queensland.

    In short, Woollard’s “skepticism” does not extend to even the simplest of fact checks. I also believe he needs to be more skeptical about his concluding statement.

  28. 128
    dbostrom says:

    Over one hundred comments and so far it largely looks as though our atavistic primate circuitry is paying due deference to Lindzen the Silverback, forcing us to tacitly ignore what we’ve just recently finished loudly insisting is proper comportment for scientists to imitate in order to avoid public humiliation, let alone preserve precious credibility.

    Apparently the privilege of dung-flinging is reserved for upper caste members and avoiding les majeste trumps operational ethics considerations.

    What threshold of distinction must one achieve to attain a fully autonomous reputation?

  29. 129
    Alex Harvey says:

    Eric, #117:

    I think it is a well known fact that a system with low climate sensitivity is fast to equilibrate.

    Hansen et al. 1985 (Climate response times: Dependence on climate sensitivity and ocean mixing. Science, 229, 857-859, doi:10.1126/science.229.4716.857) showed that the equilibration delay depends on the rate at which oceans warm and the strength of the atmospheric feedbacks.

    If you are interested in the significance of this fact in Lindzen’s thinking, see Lindzen 1994 (Climate dynamics and global change, Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech., 26, 353-378; esp. section 5). There, Lindzen claims that “the fact that higher sensitivities are associated with longer delays leads to the disappointing result that the record of the past century (when effective CO2 increased by almost 50%) is broadly consistent with virtually any sensitivity” (recall again that this was nearly 20 years ago).

    Anyway, he seems to be making a much stonger claim in the UK House of Commons address and thus my interest in asking the above question.

  30. 130
    Martin Lack says:

    #96 Mike Schepper – “…your only objection to Lindzen’s presentation is a single slide…”

    Wrong. Just about every single slide (certainly every single graph) was either incompetently-drafted or intentionally-misleading. There are no other options. As James Hansen has said, in Storms of my Grandchildren, Lindzen appears to behave like a lawyer presenting only information and argument favourable to his client, appears not to be seeking the truth – only a win for his client, and, as such, policy inaction appears to be the aim of those (like him) that dispute global warming.

    (There is also the case of the missing slide @28:30 in the video)

    If my complaint does not work, does not all of the above appear to be good grounds for a complaint by someone connected with MIT? Please feel free to adapt my wording above (#75).

  31. 131
    Glenn Tamblyn says:

    “I anticipate with interest Lindzen’s corrections of this in future presentations and his apology for misleading his audience last month.”

    Good luck with that…

  32. 132
    Steve Milesworthy says:

    I’m just an amateur but when Joe D’Aleo brought the issue of DMI arctic temperatures to the blogosphere (on WUWT) in 2009 it only took me about half an hour to suspect that the data prior to 2004 was at the very least worthy of being questioned. If I can spot this, why should Lindzen get a pass from the sceptics for it?

  33. 133
    Steve Metzler says:

    This bickering over 76% vs. 80% of the CO2 forcing is ridiculous, because as Gavin pointed out earlier, we are in fact less than 50% of the way there! Remember, we didn’t have a standing start from 0. It was ~280ppm pre-industrial. So:

    394 – 280 = 114

    Since mankind has to contribute another 280ppm to go to get to a doubling of 560ppm CO2 from pre-industial, our percent ‘accomplishment’ of this lofty goal is:

    114/280 = 41%

    So according to me, Lindzen in not even wrong on this. He’s intentionally trying to make things look better than they really are by including the pre-industrial concentration in the calculation. And people are obviously taking the bait!

    [Response: Be careful here. All of this discussion is related to forcings, and 394 ppm is a forcing of 5.35*ln(394/280) = 1.8 W/m2, just under half 3.7W/m2 – the forcing from 2xCO2. – gavin]

  34. 134
    John Kosowski says:

    dana @ 119,

    “1) Even only counting GHGs, we’re only 76% of the way to doubled CO2-eq, not 100%.”

    As of what date was it 76%? What is it as of today?

  35. 135
    John Kosowski says:


    “Not to be unfair or harsh on John, but doesn’t it seem a wee bit peculiar to transmitting these inquiries through an intermediary?”

    No intermediary. I had questions, and I addressed them right to the source.

  36. 136
    Martin Lack says:

    Can all readers, even if you don’t look at any of my other posts on my blog, please read this one:
    Lindzengate – an update report (8 March 2012).
    It could change the course of human history (or at least your response to it could)!

  37. 137
    Steve Metzler says:

    Point taken, Gavin. OK, so we’re 49% of the way there. But that’s a *long way* from 80%!

  38. 138

    Regarding libel law, it applies solely to statements about individuals, not groups.

  39. 139
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael: ” I think he questions the catastrophic aspect…”

    Or as the man who fell of the 100th floor balcony said as he passed floor 50, “So far, so good.”

  40. 140
    John Kosowski says:


    I think you know what my point was. Lindzen made a comment in his presentation about GHG forcing saying that there was an “doubling of equivalent CO2” over the past 150 years. The response to this from the community was that people, including dana, could only come up with 76%. So I wanted to find out if he really meant a doubling or did he agree that it was 76ish. He agrees that as of the 3rd assessment report it was 76%, and now it is closer to 80%.

  41. 141
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Jeffrey Davis #137:

    Regarding libel law, it applies solely to statements about individuals, not groups.

    That would be good news for Peter Gleick then, Heartland being a group… I don’t think you really mean that.

  42. 142
    Radge Havers says:

    KeithWoollard @ 117


    Shorter KW: I’ve been fooled in the past so now I’m going to barf on what you say because I’m to lazy to do any actual analysis and I’ll call that being a sceptic… and a geophysicist… so there.

  43. 143
    SecularAnimist says:

    KeithWoolard wrote: “the vast majority of western people think that you have been banging on about global warming for 30 years and nothing has changed”

    I am skeptical about your assertion about what “the vast majority of western people think”.

    Please cite appropriate data to support that claim.

  44. 144

    #117 KeithWoollard

    “(either side, I don’t care)”

    Here is what I read in your post:

    – You don’t care about science.
    – You don’t care about reason.
    – You don’t care about logic.
    – You don’t care about being responsible.

    A couple points you might want to consider:

    – Lindzen and a few others are misleading people by presenting evidence out of context.

    – 1.66 W/m2 (IPCC AR4) represents 845 trillion watts of energy. 1.8 w/m2 represents an increased forcing of 917 trillion watts of forcing. Keep in mind watts are per second.

    All the things you are skeptical about are context issues. The media does get things wrong for various reasons, and they do love to make a scary headlines to sell ads.

    I have a couple questions for you:

    1. When you see the level of milk in the container in your refrigerator is getting low, are you skeptical that it is getting low?

    2. When you see water boiling in a pot on your stove, are you skeptical that it is boiling?

    In your last sentence you state “I am not an idiot”. Since you seem to indicate, and I agree, that we should all be skeptical about things until reasonably proven, do you also think I/we/everyone should be skeptical about your last statement?

    You see, just because you don’t see something as an important issue does not mean it it is not an important issue.

    Context is key.

  45. 145
    John Finn says:

    Steve Metzler says:
    8 Mar 2012 at 7:34 AM
    Point taken, Gavin. OK, so we’re 49% of the way there. But that’s a *long way* from 80%!

    I think you might find Lindzen is referring to the increase from ALL ghgs (e.g. including methane etc). He is is making the case that this increase is equivalent to 76% or 80% or whatever of a doubling of CO2. He is probably right.

    [Response: I know full well what Lindzen is trying to say (and the misleading impression he wants to leave). The fact remains that only using greenhouse gases in this context is wrong – expectations of temperature rise depend crucially on the *net forcing* (incl aerosols) and the heat capacity of the oceans. Pretending these things are zero in order to make a rhetorical point is just wrong. It’s like adding up just your salary for the last year and expecting that number to be your total savings. – gavin]

  46. 146
    Martin Lack says:

    #89 I am sorry to go on about this but, I am nothing if not fair. I have been criticised for inserting Lindzen’s email address (now removed), whereas you still have Lindzen’s CV viewable/downloadable here (with his home telephone number and address) how inconsistent is that? If you are not going to remove it, can you please explain to me why not?

    All readers of this blog should take note of the fact that JohnK appeared on my blog about 6 weeks ago – pretending to be as sweet as pie and flattering me into thnking I could help him. Over a 4 week period he posted 108 comments on my blog (including one that was 800-words long) and, when I finally lost my patience with him and blacklisted his user ID, eamil and IP addresses, he set up another account and returned to my site to continue asking me questions, the replies to which he quite clearly had no intention of listening. I would therefore suggest you ask Lindzen to contact you direct and ban JohnK immediately. He is a time-waster.

  47. 147
    MARodger says:

    I am never reassured when somebody feels the need to tell me that they are not an idiot as it is a very idiotic thing to say. Nonetheless KeothWoollard @117 does present some valid argument that is yet to be addressed here.
    We do debate what is trivial stuff as far as ‘Jo Public’ is concerned. Is it 76% or 80%? (If my arithmetic isn’t faulty, I can make it 86%! Then the number means nothing on its own.) What is actually important is Lindzen “…saying the whole global warming industry is a farce.” Here KeithWoollard is correct as that is exactly what the man’s message is conveying.
    But KeithWoollard then blots his copybook because he sees “either side” in the same light. This is wrong as the two ‘sides’ are not at all equivalent. A single grumpy old climatology professor saying (in fact banging on that) climate sensitivity is 0.5 deg C so there is nothing to worry about is in no way balanced by a similar grumpy old professor saying it is 7.5 deg C (allowing here for the fat tail) and that we have a great deal to worry about.
    As for our debate here, simply pointing out Lindzen’s poor scholarship will never make Lindzen look stupid enough such that those who want to believe him will begin to doubt his words. Or for his promoters to think his words too worrying for public consumption. But that does not mean he should be allowed to say what he likes. Putting the academic boot in is better than standing by and doing nothing even if it is not wholly efficacious.

    My own opinion is that there is a more promising approach to the matter. We should be questioning the man’s isolation, indeed his actual sanity. This is a man who believes a global conspiracy has engulfed climatology. Only by this means can he cope with the literature whose findings continually contradicts his own beliefs. He maybe has yet to mention the shape-shifting lizards but unless we are paying attention we may miss those precious occasions when he actually does.

  48. 148
    John Kosowski says:

    To be fair, Lindzen discussed other forcings as well. That you disagree with his conclusions doesn’t make them misleading.
    Further to your analogy, in determining one’s net savings, one could hardly exclude salary from the discussion.

    [Response: No one is suggesting that salary/GHGs be excluded, but it is salary minus spending that determines saving, and making claims that imply that spending/aerosols are non-existent are misleading. It’s not a difficult point to grasp. – gavin]

    Further it is very fair to explain that for the models to work, they must assume that something is present to cancel out/delay the warming that they would otherwise predict that is just not occurring.

    [Response: Nonsense. Models should include all significant effects that can be quantified – they do not ‘assume that something is cancelling out’ the greenhouse gases. The separation into GHGs and everything else is a completely arbitrary distinction. For instance, how about saying that all the additional GHGs and aerosols cancel each other out, leaving only the CO2? That is just as valid as Lindzen’s claim, yet the impression left is very different. – gavin]

    BTW, I just got “Cork” Hayden’s explanation/apology for the error he made on

  49. 149
    dbostrom says:

    Martin Lack says:
    8 Mar 2012 at 11:25 AM

    …you still have Lindzen’s CV viewable/downloadable here (with his home telephone number and address) how inconsistent is that? If you are not going to remove it, can you please explain to me why not?

    Not to speak for the proprietors of RC, but I believe I’m the one who referenced Linden’s CV. This was for the purpose of settling whether Lindzen is a Fellow of the AGU in a way that will not promote further misunderstanding of that curious fact, not for the purpose of inviting contact with Lindzen. Surely you can tell the difference?

    Badgering Lindzen in his own burrow would obviously be pointless and counterproductive, hence stupid. Don’t do it.

  50. 150
    Martin Lack says:

    #103 JohnK and/or Prof. Lindzen appear to have overlooked the fact that re-inserting the “missing” into the PDF will (presumably) still not change the fact that it was very misleading. The Keeling Curve and Temperature did not appear to correlate over the short term. Big Deal!

    If you stretched the temperature axis far enough, they would have correlated perfectly. Therefore, this (now not missing) graph neither proves not disproves anything. Lindzen must know that. If he doesn’t know that he should not be at MIT.

    People seem to keep forgetting that I was actually in the room and I quite literally could not believe what Lindzen was doing. I have never seen anything like it in my life before; it was absolutely disgraceful.