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Richard Lindzen Openly Claimed “There’s no consensus on global warming.”

Global Warming

Richard Lindzen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977 and is a professor at MIT.  He is rather well known for claiming that “There’s no consensus on global warming.” in the Wall Street Journal, in front of Congress, and many other places.  Other researchers like Dean Dr. Mark H. Thiemens say this “has nothing to do with reality”.1,2,3

How can Lindzen, a member of the National Academies be wrong about the consensus?
Well every major scientific society on the entire planet with relevant expertise disagrees with him.  Even the National Academy of Sciences, which he is a member of, disagrees with him.  Here is a press release released in 2005 which opens with the words “Climate Change is real”.   It’s conclusion begins with “We urge all nations, in the line with the UNFCCC principles, to take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change, adapt to its impacts and ensure that the issue is included in all relevant national and international strategies.”  It is signed by:

  • Academia Brasiliera de Ciências, Brazil
  • Royal Society of Canada, Canada
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Academié des Sciences, France
  • Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Germany
  • Indian National Science Academy, India
  • Accademia dei Lincei, Italy
  • Science Council of Japan, Japan
  • Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
  • Royal Society, United Kingdom
  • National Academy of Sciences, United States of America

For a complete analysis of the consensus which Lindzen says doesn’t exist please go here:
Does he have any conflict of interests?

Lindzen recieved $2500 a day from oil and coal interests for his services. His article “Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus,” was underwritten by OPEC.  Lindzen has lectured at numerous Cooler Heads Coalition meetings.  The Cooler Heads Coalition is funded by CEI which is in turn funded by Exxon Mobil.  He has also given talks for the George C. Marshall Institute which is also funded by Exxon Mobil.   His connections to the oil, coal, and even tobacco industry are apparently rather extensive.  Here is one listof many that is worth exploring.  Richard Lindzen claims he is currently not recieving any handouts from oil companies.

Lindzen also has a habit of disagreeing with other people.  According to SEED magazine: “His former graduate students describe him as fiercely intelligent, with a deep contrarian streak.”  One of Lindzens own MIT students, Kirk-Davidoff, has said “If you want to prove yourself a brilliant scientist, you don’t always agree with the consensus,” “You show you’re right and everyone else is wrong.  He certainly enjoys showing he’s right and everyone else is wrong,  If you have a ten minute conversation with him, you can tell that.”

Will he put his money where his mouth is?

He claimed to be willing to accept bets on the future climate during an interview with Reason magazine. Reason printed “Richard Lindzen says he’s willing to take bets that global average temperatures in 20 years will in fact be lower than they are now.”  When Annanapproached him and tried to accept the bet Lindzen seemed to carry a different tune.  The following is from James Annan’s personal website:

“Richard Lindzen will indeed accept a bet – but only if offered odds of 50:1 in his favour! He actually started out quoting 100:1 – but came down to 50:1 in what he described as a special favour to me. If the temperatures went down, I was to hand over $10,000, but in the event of a rise, I’d get a whopping $200. That’s worth around
$8 per year on my pension. Whoop-de-doo.” 1, 2, 3

Have his scientific theories ever been wrong before?

Yes, and more than once.  He was wrong about satellite data showing no global warming and his Iris effect.1, 2  Also, here is a quote from SEED magazine:

In 2001, Lindzen published a paper speculating that as the Earth warmed, water vapor would decrease in the upper atmosphere, allowing heat to escape back into space more efficiently, and thereby reducing overall temperature.  The paper met with vigorous criticism. Eventually, he disavowed the idea. “That was an old view,” Lindzen said about his five-year-old hypothesis. “I find it insane that I am still forced to explain this.”

Lindzen says we can’t explain the Greenland icesheet.

Lindzen has made the following argument to Boston News:  “the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average…. And, frankly, we don’t know why.”  This is a misleading and patently false statement.  The quick and dirty answer is that Greenland is melting faster.  However, the warmer ocean temperatures are changing the snow and rain patterns around the world.  Greenland has seen a significant increase in snow.  This extra snow is outpacing the increased melt.   If current trends continue, it is only a matter of time before this trend reverses and Greenland starts shrinking.   Still global ice mass is way down.  A more thorough analysis can be found here.

Lindzen says global warming will weaken the hurricanes, is this true?

Lindzen stated during NPR’s ‘Global Warming Is Not a Crisis’ debate that “hurricanes are powered by the temperature difference between the pole and the equator and global warming will reduce that difference.”

Micheal E. Mann claims this statement violates concepts taught in undergraduate courses.  The following is his full response to Lindzen’s statement:

The poleward temperature gradient in middle latitudes leads to the phenomenon of ‘baroclinic instability’, which governs the strength of mid-latitude cyclones (i.e. the winter storms that influence the extratropical regions of the world with their alternating cold fronts and warm fronts that come through every few days on the average). This is fundamentally different from the dynamical and thermodynamic factors which govern tropical cyclones (and Hurricanes, which are just strong versions therefore). In this case, the factors have a lot more to do with the vertical stability properties of the tropical atmosphere, and things such as atmospheric wind shear. We generally lecture on this key distinction in intermediate level undergraduate courses on weather and the atmosphere. It is possible that Richard Lindzen, who was in his day arguably one of the leading atmospheric dynamicists, simply doesn’t happen to know this. The other possibility is that he was intentionally misleading the audience to score some cheap rhetorical points. I’ll leave it to you to decide. -mike

For more information on hurricanes and how they relate to global warming please go here.

Has lindzen ever lied on TV?

On a Fox News interview Richard Lindzen said:

But there is no agreement that the warming we’ve seen is due to man. Moreover, the warming we’ve seen is much less than we would have expected on the basis of the models that produce alarm.
So I guess this list of people are in no agreement. It seems as if national academies of 18 total countries never signed these two press releases. And Lindzen says the models are wrong? It looks as if these graphs and predictions are fake then.

Has he ever lied to congress?

Realclimate.org has a nice little discussion on his testimony to the United Kingdom’s parliament.  He made numerous statements that are extremely misleading at best and flat out false at worst.  The material isn’t for beginners but it can be seen here.

Have any of Lindzen’s claims regarding the consensus been published in a peer review journal?
No.

Does Lindzen have a standing paper in any peer review journal that can provide a mechanism as to why current global warming isn’t something to worry about?
No.

Lindzen says there is a study that proves there is no consensus, is this true?

The real consensus is quoted and sourced here .  However, Lindzen will often cite Benny Peiser’s study which the peer review journals Science and Nature refused to publish.  Peiser then released a press release saying there was a conspiracy against his work..  The study claimed that there are 32 peer review journals that refute climate change.  However, when Tim Lambert and William M. Connolley reviewed the abstracts he found the following results:

Abstract # Analysis
8, 9, 14 These papers assumed existence of climate change as a given.  This directly contradicts Peiser’s conclusions.
2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 These journals do not refute climate change
15, 20 Probably does not refute climate change, borderline
27 Not a peer reviewed journal
1, 6 Very old paper, very old data
7 Possible doubting, Minor journal
10 Personal view, not science

 

 A quick look at Connolley’s results shows that Peiser’s study is seriouly flawed.  Only one of the papers disagreed with the consensus and it wasn’t even peer reviewed.    Therefore Benny found ZERO peer-reviewed papers that disagreed with the scientific concensus.  Several of the abstracts (#34) dealt with carbon sequestration.  Carbon sequestration has only one purpose which is to fight global warming.  So how Benny Peiser came to the conclusion that a paper on carbon sequestration refutes global warming is a bit of a mystery.  Benny Peiser’s work has been refuted on numerous other sites as well.,   William Connolley and many others debunked Peiser’s study on May 6th, 2005 and Peiser admitted his mistakes on March 19, 2006.  Despite his study being refuted by numerous people, Peiser continues to use his discredited study to say a scientific consensus regarding climate change doesn’t exist. A science blog called “Backseat driving” has spent a considerable amount of time documenting what they call his “dishonesty” and “disinformation”.  Backseat driving even has a detailed and time stamped summary of Peisers reaction to the widespread critique of his study.

Given the fact that Lindzen got Naomi Oreskes’s name wrong as well as several other errors, Dr. Tim Lambert concludes “It seems likely that he never checked what Oreskes actually wrote and relied on a second or third hand account.”  Lindzen had 4 months to learn about Peisers confession and 14 months to learn about Connolley’s debunking of Peisers study before writing his July 2, 2006 WSJ Opinion piece that erroneously claimed “There’s no consensus”.  His statement was also 13 months after the June 7th, 2005 National Academy of Science’s press release that urged prompt action to reduce climate change.  That press release was signed by 11 countries.  Since Lindzen is a member of the National Academy of Science, one might wonder how he could have missed it.

A peer review journal from Science disagrees with Lindzen regarding the consensus.  National academies from around the world including Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States of America, and every major American institution with relevant expertise disagree with Lindzen about the consensus.  The scientists at realclimate.org say “there are no grounds for debating whether such consensus actually exists.”  NASA’s Gavin Schmidt even throws out a challenge: “Regardless of these spats, the fact that the community overwhelmingly supports the consensus is evidenced by picking up any copy of Journal of Climate or similar, any scientific program at the AGU or EGU meetings, or simply going to talk to scientists (not the famous ones, the ones at your local university or federal lab). I challenge you, if you think there is some un-reported division, show me the hundreds of abstracts at the Fall meeting (the biggest confernce in the US on this topic) that support your view – you won’t be able to. You can argue whether the consensus is correct, or what it really implies, but you can’t credibly argue it doesn’t exist.”

  • He says scientists are creating a scare to get funding, is this true?

Lindzen has made this argument in his WSJ op-ed: Climate of Fear.  A common tactic of those that have no theory, no data, and no papers supporting their cause is to resort to ad hominem attacks.  The main problem with this argument is that climatologists don’t want anymore money.   They want you to fix the problem by funding alternative energy research which is a completely different field of work involving completely different people.  There are almost a dozen serious flaws with this argument that are listed here.

  • He issues reports on climate change and pontificates in front of Congress.  Therefore his testimony must be infallible right?

See the quote above from SEED and his House of Lords testimony.  Also, this video speaks for itself:

Tobacco execs denying addictiveness of nicotine under oath
For original source go here

This video shows Senator Ted Stevens refusing requests to make oil execs swear in when they testified during the November 9 Energy Price & Profits hearing.  Since that hearing documents have popped up showing those oil execs lied to congress.  Since they were not under oath the oil executives can not be prosecuted for committing a criminal act.  Oil and gas companies are Ted Stevens’s primary industry campaign contributors.  Oil and gas also give Lindzen large sums of money.  The oil funded Pat Michaels has fraudulently edited graphs published by NASA to discredit their scientists.  Meryl Streep, and actor with a degree in drama, testified before Congress on the dangers of Alar.  Due to her testimony, Alar was banned despite objections from Science, Nature, WHO, FAO, EPA, and British Parliament experts that claimed there was “no risk to health”.  Lawyers that are paid oil lobbyists have edited Whitehouse climate science reports with a heavy hand.  Just because it’s in front of Congress or the Whitehouse, doesn’t make it true.

  • Lindzen dismisses anthropogenic climate change as “religious belief”.  How much basis is there in this claim?

The skeptics with relevant expertise can all fit in a small room.  There are hundreds of thousands of scientists across the globe that disagree with him.  Polls show that 92% of Americans believe in god and only 40% of American scientists believe in god.  So if this is a cult movement, it is far more powerful than all the other religions combined.

  • He’s from MIT, surely that means he’s infallible does it?

Timothy Leary – LSD

Sir Fred Hoyle – steady-state theory

These people have made some claims that the vast majority of scientists have claimed as “nonsense”.  There are even physics professors such as Steven E. Jones from Brigham Young that think the WTC was brought down with planted explosives.  To take it even farther, a University of Colorado professor Ward LeRoy Churchill called the World Trade Center victims Nazi’s or more specifically “little Eichmanns”.  Whatever the topic, you will always have a few dissenters.  Because individual humans are susceptible to corruption, senility, bribery, relying on information that is 10 years out of date, and a whole host of other problems it is important to either listen to the majority of experts or learn enough about the topic to understand the material yourself.  The simplest way to get your facts right is to either find out what the scientific consensus is, or listen to the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Well what exactly is wrong with the science behind Lindzen’s testimony? 

Well for one thing Lindzen has no testable theory, no data, and no papers explaining the current temperature trend.  Despite this he still manages to get his opinions published in the mainstream media as well as testifying in from of Congress on the oil companies dime.  A collaboration of mainstream scientists around the world have banded together to create rebuttals to Lindzens claims.  Their efforts are distributed on the website http://www.realclimate.org.  The following are a select few of the rebuttals in circulation:

Richard Linzden’s HoL testomony

Open Thread on Lindzen Op-Ed in WSJ

Lindzen: point by point

Gray and Muddy Thinking about Global Warming (Lindzen changes his tone)

NASA’s James Hansen vs Lindzen (see table 1)

Lindzen claims global warming stopped in 1998

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