Lindzen Tries Again to Calm the Furore over CO2

‘For over 30 years, I have been giving talks on the science of climate change. When, however, I speak to a non-expert audience, and attempt to explain such matters as climate sensitivity, the relation of global mean temperature anomaly to extreme weather, that warming has decreased profoundly for the past 18 years, etc., it is obvious that the audience’s eyes are glazing over. Although I have presented evidence as to why the issue is not a catastrophe and may likely be beneficial, the response is puzzlement. I am typically asked how this is possible. After all, 97% of scientists agree, several of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past 18 years, all sorts of extremes have become more common, polar bears are disappearing, as is arctic ice, etc. In brief, there is overwhelming evidence of warming, etc. I tended to be surprised that anyone could get away with such sophistry or even downright dishonesty, but it is, unfortunately, the case that this was not evident to many of my listeners. I will try in this brief article to explain why such claims are, in fact, evidence of the dishonesty of the alarmist position.’

He goes on to deal with the following topics which are often exploited by the panic brigade to win our attention:  ‘the  97%’, ‘warmest years on record’, extreme weather , sea level rise, Arctic sea ice, polar bears, ocean acidification, coral reefs, and ‘global warming as the cause of everything’.

And of course, as any even slightly informed person in this area knows, none, not one, of these topics contains either evidence or prospect of anything remotely ‘alarming’ attributable to our CO2 emissions. Lindzen quietly and expertly exposes the core dishonesty of the alarmist position.

Here are his concluding remarks:

The accumulation of false and/or misleading claims is often referred to as the ‘overwhelming evidence’ for forthcoming catastrophe. Without these claims, one might legitimately ask whether there is any evidence at all.

Despite this, climate change has been the alleged motivation for numerous policies, which, for the most part, seem to have done more harm than the purported climate change, and have the obvious capacity to do much more. Perhaps the best that can be said for these efforts is that they are acknowledged to have little impact on either CO2 levels or temperatures despite their immense cost. This is relatively good news since there is ample evidence that both changes are likely to be beneficial although the immense waste of money is not.

I haven’t spent much time on the details of the science, but there is one thing that should spark skepticism in any intelligent reader. The system we are looking at consists in two turbulent fluids interacting with each other. They are on a rotating planet that is differentially heated by the sun. A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast energetic ramifications. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. In this complex multifactor system, what is the likelihood of the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables and not just globally averaged temperature anomaly) is controlled by this 2% perturbation in a single variable? Believing this is pretty close to believing in magic. Instead, you are told that it is believing in ‘science.’ Such a claim should be a tip-off that something is amiss. After all, science is a mode of inquiry rather than a belief structure.’

Read the whole presentation here:

{hat-tip Greenie Watch )

15 thoughts on “Lindzen Tries Again to Calm the Furore over CO2

  1. John,

    “Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common.”

    Yes, indeed. Clouds can have a major impact (positive or negative) on the amount of warming we see (or don’t) from increasing CO2, via GHG warming associated with their water vapour content, or reflection of short wave incident solar radiation from cloud tops. The IPCC admits that they are poorly modeled and there is a high degree of uncertainty associated with cloud feedbacks.

    But here’s where the alarmist dishonesty comes in. Climate scientist Kate Marvel recently gave a TED lecture on clouds. She thinks negative feedbacks would be a “miracle”:

    “Clouds are one of the great challenges for climate science: we don’t know how they’ll react as the planet heats up, and hidden in that uncertainty is the chance of a miracle. That is, it’s possible that clouds could resist global warming, or at least buy us some more time to fix things.”

    That’s bias. This next statement of hers is bad science:

    “Clouds are moving in other dimensions, too. On large scales, they seem to be moving from the tropics toward the poles. (It’s basically the opposite of what your grandparents are doing.) And if your job is to block sunlight, you’ll be more effective in the tropics, where the sun’s more intense, than in higher latitudes. This will also make global warming worse.”

    Because, you see, the greenhouse effect (warming) from tropical clouds more or less cancels out their reflective (cooling). Tropical clouds are in approximate radiative balance. In sub tropical storm systems however, thick low-lying clouds have a net cooling effect [Ramanathan, 1989, 2006]

    I pointed this out on Twitter to Ms. Marvel, but received no response.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. DPY6629:
    Fyfe, Gillet, and Zweirs, Overestimated Global Warming over the past 20 years, Nature Climate Change
    3: 767-769 (2013)
    I used the same figure in essay An Awkward Pause in my ebook Blowing Smoke. Just looked up the footnote for you.


  3. Jaime

    Kate Marvel seems to be another case of a scientist clearly enjoying the CO2 and Doom furore! And she hates the idea of clouds spoiling her fun – although it is nice of her to speak of that possibility as a miracle, something generally taken to be a very rare event indeed.

    Now I think, or presume perhaps, that cloud cover is seen either as an output of GCM machinations or a pre-figured parameter inserted to keep the show on the road. But cloud cover, or some of it, could credibly be a driver of some climate variation – and of course one solar influence hypothesis uses that, with incoming radiation affecting cloud formation prospects.

    I hope you manage to get into a dialogue with her, and maybe find out more about her work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Jaime will not have any fruitful exchanges…..

    “I wish we weren’t changing the climate by emitting greenhouse gases. I hate the second law of thermodynamics. But denying science doesn’t make these things any less true or real. And, more than that, by rejecting any semblance of shared reality, it alienates everyone else who has to live there.

    Her father is, I suspect, an “old middle class white guy”:

    “My Dad’s politics are somewhere rightward of Attila the Hun, but, despite the shame he feels at fathering a vegetarian, we are very close.”

    She is a GISS scientist, working with Gavin:

    They are the Guardians of the Galaxy:

    Liked by 2 people


    What Young Scientists say, read and weep! Then go back and read Dick Lindzen’s piece again and also check out this from him as well:

    Here are a few comments from the Young Scientists, (including Kate Marvel):

    Whether we like it or not, humans are performing an active experiment on the earth through the continued emission of greenhouse gases.

    …human carbon emissions are amplifying societal and environmental impacts signaling the call to act.

    I worry about the mess we’re leaving our kids, and it upsets me that the people most affected by climate change are the ones least responsible.

    I’m not going to lie, it’s a gritty place when you are staring down at data and probabilities for how your favorite places in the world will change during your kid’s life span.

    ..there is a big part of shouldering the knowledge of this global crisis that has been challenging for me. It’s caused me some grief and it’s really forced me to grow up.

    We know that changes in the Arctic are one of the key indicators of climate change, but the effects on the rest of the Earth system remain very uncertain. For instance, it is not only the fact that sea ice is melting, but the rate of change at which it is occurring.

    I think we’ll get better at understanding and projecting regional climate and talking to more people — not just policymakers, but ordinary people who are going to be affected by climate change. I do think we need to get even more serious about diversity.

    There are two avenues that seem especially promising to me at the moment. The first is the ever-increasing capacity and sophistication of global climate models.

    The second is the rapidly spreading recognition that climate science communication is a critically important endeavor.

    Actively connecting with decision makers, journalists, and the public will be key in building a resilient society in the face of rapid environmental change.

    Q. “Are you hopeful or does climate change get you down?”

    The answer to that question is yes. It is such a huge problem and I feel the gnawing pain of it in my day-to-day life.

    Recognition of basic factual information shouldn’t be a partisan issue and yet one of the two major political parties in the U.S. currently rejects the overwhelming factual evidence demonstrating that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think you’re right Dennis. By all accounts we should see eye to eye – she’s veggie and loves dogs (“Some people love dogs; other people are wrong”), we both have an educational background in physics and a strong interest in climate science. But she might as well be from a different planet. Obviously, something very fundamental indeed divides man-made catastrophic climate change sceptics from social justice scientists promoting AGW as an existential threat to humanity and the planet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m sure she is a really nice person, but she was “captured”: at an early stage in her career.

    Astronomy at Berkely, Physics PhD at Cambridge, then onto Stanford, (Chris Field, IPCC WGII) and the Carnegie Institute there, working with Ken Caldeira, who helped launch the Acid Oceans concept in 2003, (Caldeira and Wickett 2003). Spent time at Laurence Livermore, where resides Ben Santer, (discernible human infuence, IPCC 1997)

    …”at Livermore there’s this place called the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, which I don’t think is a word, but basically it’s a bit of a clearinghouse. So there are about thirty different independent climate modeling groups in the world, and in order to see the similarities and differences they all have to run the same set of experiments, so they all have to run like – “Okay, run your model with no external forcing whatsoever.

    Like no greenhouse gasses, no volcanoes, nothing. And then, okay, everybody run your model where you all of a sudden abruptly quadruple carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” And so everybody has to do these same sets of experiments, and then send all of their results to the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison at Livermore. And so it’s just kind of like being in a playground because you have all of these data to play with. And there are so many interesting questions you can ask. So yeah, that was great.”

    She just had a bad education!


  8. It seems she is a naive idealist (once organised a Pugwash group for example – see link given by Dennis at 5:15pm) and was looking for a bit more meaning in her life – ideal target for some silver-tongued (or unhinged, depending on your viewpoint) CO2 alarmist. Save the planet! Wowee! Super great! A bit like our own dear Tamsin Edwards, plucked from her career in real physics to become of all horrible things, another GCM worker. She was apparently inspired by this rather emotive (or ‘unhinged? – watch the video!’) fellow:

    Two victims of the CO2 scare. A waste of two young physicists? How many more like that out there? Dennis (first link at 12:10pm) gives more examples. Is it just a natural outcome for a generation potentially exposed in school from age 5 onwards to CO2 alarmism? Will we need specialist Pastoral Care Units for Physicists for them when the whole Potemkin Village of CO2 Alarmism finally falls over?


  9. It sounds to me like it was a combination of a genuine interest in earth science, idealism and, last but not least, the availability of funding and ease of transition into doing climate modeling which propelled Ms Marvel into full blown climate alarmist political science. Once you’re in, it seems, there’s no easy way out and there’s not much financial incentive to get out. There’s also the added attraction of becoming a ‘celebrity scientist’, being interviewed by the media and gaining kudos for being a Scientist Saviour of the Planet. Far too much money sloshing around in climate science; way, way too much faux credibility to be gained for doing ‘good’ by the planet. Who wouldn’t twists the facts a little, inject subtle warmist bias into their public speeches, ignore inconvenient science every now and then, in order to hang on to such a privileged academic position?


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