MIT

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Is Richard S. Lindzen deliberately lying, or just deluded?

Dr Richard Lindzen is a respected member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He has led a distinguished career since the 1960's, publishing hundreds of peer-reviewed articles studying and modeling Earth's atmosphere, receiving numerous awards and being selected for membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. As a professor of meteorology and particularly with the studies of radiative and dynamical atmospheric processes that he has conducted, he certainly qualifies as an eminent climate scientist. He is also well-known as being skeptical about climate "alarmism", arguing that feedback effects are much smaller than most other scientists have assessed. At #136 on Jim Prall's list of most cited authors on climate change he is the third-highest-rated of the "skeptics" (after Roger Pielke Sr. and Freeman Dyson).

All of that is fine. While 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are responsible for significant climate change, there are still those 3% who disagree. [UPDATE The exact survey wording on the question was "Has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures" - which is a slightly different emphasis than my paraphrase (but is it "significant"?), and I apologize for any confusion caused]. Their arguments to the extent they are logical and have any scientific merit should be heard. Lindzen continues to publish in scientific journals, and while some of his recent papers have been greatly flawed, at least he's continuing to actively try to put forth his position in a logical and scientific manner.

But he also has other ambitions. Lindzen's current publication list includes two 2006 Wall Street Journal opinion pieces - "Climate of Fear" from April 2006, and "There is no ‘consensus’ on global warming" from June of that year. This past December Lindzen returned to the Wall Street Journal with The Climate Science Isn't Settled, and now celebrating Earth Day, April 22, 2010 we find Climate Science in Denial (subscription required). Both of these opinion pieces are filled with egregious misrepresentations of the facts, statements I find shocking coming from such a respected scientist. From his latest piece one can only conclude that either Lindzen has descended into the epistemic closure of paranoia and conspiracy theories that has become far too prevalent among some Americans lately or, worse, that he is consciously participating in the malicious disinformation campaign on climate that has recently been extensively documented by Greenpeace and elsewhere.

Either way, given that Penn State was forced to investigate complaints about Michael Mann's scientific work, continued congressional attacks on climate scientists, and the several investigations in England over the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, I want to know when MIT will initiate an investigation of Richard Lindzen's recent output, and whether he is, inadvertently or deliberately, dragging the good name of that institution through the mud.

And I would also like to know when, for balance, the Wall Street Journal plans to run the over 100 op-ed pieces it owes to the 97% of climate scientists who understand the impact of humans on our planet, given these 4 pieces it has already run by Lindzen. I'm not going to hold my breath for Rupert Murdoch though.

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