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.

I recently commented on a proposed "commentary" from the American Physical Society on their climate change statement - what I didn't note there was that many of the worst confusions in the proposed commentary echo some of the claims by Lindzen - and Lindzen was one of the four or five respected scientists who APS asked to help come up with that commentary. The final version of the commentary is much improved - but it still includes the range "1 C to 3 C" for the sensitivity of climate to doubling of CO2, when the actual consensus range from the IPCC is 2 to 4.5 C. Chopping the lower bound in half (and also dramatically lowering the upper limit - but with at least a verbal caveat) is completely scientifically indefensible, and I can only conclude that Richard Lindzen continued to play a role in the re-drafting process. Given his extreme message in the Wall Street Journal articles, it looks like a major scientific society has (in perhaps a small but significant way) fallen prey to something between a crank and outright duplicity. [Update: note Steve Bloom's comment below - I may have misinterpreted the current version of the commentary - which shows that it is not exactly the clarifying document it claims to be, but at least perhaps it is not as egregiously wrong now as I had thought.]

Detailed commentary on Lindzen's Wall Street Journal claims, both scientific and otherwise, are provided below. As to motive, SourceWatch indicates Lindzen has received some money from fossil fuel interests in the past but his research has been government-funded. He is associated with a number of right-wing "think tanks", particularly the "Annapolis Center" and has been personally associated with many of the other skeptics one way or another. But suggesting he is doing this for money or associations likely has cause and effect reversed. His motivation is most likely simply from long ago intellectually committing to the "low-climate-sensitivity" position. At close to 70 years old now he's just resolved not to change, despite all contrary evidence. It's not an uncommon problem in science - Thomas Kuhn noted Max Planck's commentary on this:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grow up that is familiar with it.

While Planck's comment is heavily exaggerated (most scientists are quite persuadable given good evidence) it is a very common problem among the "older set", and I've indirectly run into it at least twice in my own scientific career. It's sad when one of the old guard does his darndest to stymie progress - but far worse when egged on by others for their own selfish reasons. The damage from this particular instance will be with us for thousands of years if action is too long delayed.

Lindzen's two recent WSJ opinion pieces came after the release of the "Climategate" emails; in the first he refers to them obliquely:

Several of the emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) that have caused such a public ruckus dealt with how to do this [nudge temperature data a few tenths of a degree] so as to maximize apparent changes. [...]
What does all this have to do with climate catastrophe? The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This is the grossest of "bait and switch" scams. It is only such a scam that lends importance to the machinations in the emails designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a degree.

I'll get back to the "greater scandal" in a minute. But there was no "destruction of raw data" and no "machinations in the emails" to nudge temperatures - and no evidence of any other offense in any degree other than a certain disorder in record-keeping and hostility to outsiders normal in a rather small research group, as the actual investigation found. That all of the over-hyped fuss about these emails was a damp squib with absolutely no underlying substance seems to have completely passed Lindzen by - so that in his latest piece he's calling the investigations a "whitewash", and greatly magnified his claims about what was to be found in the emails:

the emails [...] provided a view into the world of climate research that was revealing and even startling. In what has come to be known as "climategate," one could see unambiguous evidence of the unethical suppression of information and opposing viewpoints, and even data manipulation. [...] the emails showed ample collusion with other prominent researchers in the United States and elsewhere.
One might have thought the revelations would discredit the allegedly settled science underlying currently proposed global warming policy, and, indeed, the revelations may have played some role in the failure of last December's Copenhagen climate conference to agree on new carbon emissions limits. [...] investigations were brief, thoroughly lacking in depth, and conducted, for the most part, by individuals already publicly committed to the popular view of climate alarm. The results were whitewashes that are quite incredible given the actual data.

Note that his original accusation of "destruction of raw data" has disappeared; now it's "unethical suppression of information and opposing viewpoints". If information is being suppressed, show the evidence! He seems to fail to see the irony of his own continued success in publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals and that his complaint comes in this, his fourth op-ed in the Wall Street Journal! And "nudging" temperatures has become "data manipulation" - but there is absolutely no evidence in the emails or elsewhere that any published result was "nudged" or "manipulated" in a manner inconsistent with standard scientific analyses. Recent reanalyses of the raw data show the standard manipulations on the whole decrease recent warming, not increase it. Lindzen's standards for "unambiguous evidence" seem to be horrendously low, going by what he writes here.

And note the claim of "collusion". Yes the "climategate" emails show normal scientific collegial exchanges between many researchers over the 20 years of the purloined collection. But what does Lindzen mean by "collusion"? He is explicitly going into conspiracy theory territory here:

[...] with the political momentum behind policy proposals and billions in research funding at stake, the impact of the emails appears to have been small. The general approach of the official scientific community (at least in the United States and the United Kingdom) has been to see whether people will bother to look at the files in detail (for the most part they have not), and to wait until time diffuses the initial impressions in order to reassert the original message of a climate catastrophe that must be fought with a huge measure of carbon control. This reassertion, however, continues to be suffused by illogic, nastiness and outright dishonesty.

and in his previous piece he amplifies on the "greater scandal", also implying some vague conspiracy:

The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA, to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.
Our perceptions of nature are similarly dragged back centuries so that the normal occasional occurrences of open water in summer over the North Pole, droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level variations, etc. are all taken as omens, portending doom due to our sinful ways (as epitomized by our carbon footprint). All of these phenomena depend on the confluence of multiple factors as well.

Note the passive voice - I wonder who he thinks is making these "false claims", "taking as omens", etc? In the Earth day piece passive voice has been replaced by a mysterious "those":

[...] none of this matters any longer to those replacing reason with assertions of authority. [...] the proposed policies are likely to cause severe problems for the world economy [...] But it is unwise to assume that those who have carved out agendas to exploit the issue will simply let go without a battle. One can only hope that the climate alarmists will lose so that we can go back to dealing with real science and real environmental problems such as assuring clean air and water.

Are "those" of the conspiracy just "climate alarmists"? Lindzen specifically names the presidents of the U.S. National Academy of Science and the Royal Society (Ralph Cicerone and Martin Rees, respectively), and quotes the conclusion of a letter they wrote as evidence of conspiracy:

"Our academies will provide the scientific backdrop for the political and business leaders who must create effective policies to steer the world toward a low-carbon economy." In other words, the answer is settled even if the science is not.

Well. Just as with Solipsism, conspiracy theories can be self-consistent views of reality. On occasion perhaps the paranoid among us are even right. But consider what it would require for Lindzen's claims to be true:

  • the conspiracy is to "[assert] a climate catastrophe that must be fought with a huge measure of carbon control"
  • data has been destroyed, or "nudged", or "manipulated" in some fashion to pretend temperatures are rising faster than they really are, in order to match the predictions of warming made back in the 1980s (and actually starting in the 1950s when it was discovered CO2 was rising).
  • But somehow in the last decade all that manipulation stopped because temperatures have shown "no statistically significant warming" (despite it still being the warmest decade on record)
  • "normal occasional occurrences" of open water in summer over the North Pole, droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level variations, etc. (don't forget all those melting glaciers!) are normal, not extraordinary things that haven't happened in thousands of years; those publishing evidence to the contrary must be part of the conspiracy
  • The National Academy of Sciences in the US and the British Royal Society, two of the most highly respected scientific institutions in the world, are active participants in this plan
  • Essentially every other scientific society in the world is in on it
  • For every truth-telling Lindzen there are 30+ respected climate scientists who are in on the conspiracy or have been duped by it (remember, 97%)
  • The governments represented by the United Nations - including Saudi Arabia and other oil-dependent states - are part of the conspiracy to "control carbon" (Saudi Arabia signed off on the 2007 IPCC report)

What evidence does he have on his side? Oh yes, the "climategate" emails! They must show the scientists conspiring, or "colluding" as Lindzen put it, to greatly magnify this "catastrophe" to the public, corresponding with their thought leaders on how best to manipulate their data, expressing glee at how they have put over their falsifications to the public, planning how they will run their fiefdoms in the carbon-controlled economy, and so forth?

But there is no sign of any such collusion or talk of that sort at all in the emails (which were clearly selected from millions of originals for maximal damage). Nothing remotely close to the conspiracy Lindzen's claimed mode of thinking would require. The evidence is not there, by any stretch of the imagination at all.

The remainder of Lindzen's arguments in both pieces are somewhat based on the science - but they include egregious misrepresentations in themselves. Essentially all boil down to his claim that sensitivity is low, for example in the latest piece:

There are, however, some things left unmentioned about the IPCC claims. For example, the observations are consistent with models only if emissions include arbitrary amounts of reflecting aerosols particles (arising, for example, from industrial sulfates) which are used to cancel much of the warming predicted by the models. The observations themselves, without such adjustments, are consistent with there being sufficiently little warming as to not constitute a problem worth worrying very much about.

First of all, human-emitted aerosol particles such as industrial sulfates are not hypothetical entities that are added in "arbitrary" amounts, they are observed, and can be quantitatively measured by satellite to some degree. There is considerable uncertainty, but Lindzen's claim on warming "without such adjustments" applies only if he can be certain that the effect of the aerosols is exactly zero. Aerosols having zero effect on temperatures is highly unlikely - particularly to those who are proposing deliberate aerosol emissions as a geoengineering solution to climate change! In very rough measure, IPCC's estimates of radiative forcing showed the change in aerosols to this point roughly canceling the radiative effect of all the non-CO2 greenhouse gases, so comparing observed temperature to observed CO2 rise is a reasonably good modern-day measure of the sensitivity. Do that and you find a transient sensitivity of 2 C, exactly what the IPCC concludes, and much greater than Lindzen's "no worries" number.

Beyond that, though, our confidence in high climate sensitivity comes from far more than the recent observations and statistical fits of that sort. Physics-based climate models that look at the actual expected response of water vapor and other factors (clouds being a tricky one, but still they are modeled) show there are definite positive feedback effects. Knutti and Hegerl's recent review paper details those lines of evidence, as well as evidence from studies of ancient climate and some other sources to reach the consensus conclusion of reasonably high climate sensitivity, with a very low likelihood of sensitivity less than 1.5 C to doubling. Why does Lindzen ignore these major reviews of many different sources of evidence on the matter?

Perhaps he is simply not as well-versed in climate science as he claims? His previous op-ed contained some points that communicate real confusion about the field - does he share this confusion? For example, he starts by talking about:

the measurement used, the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA),

and the entire article focuses on global average temperature, but there are far more measures of climate change than that: the heat balance and particularly warming of the oceans, which can continue even while air surface temperatures cool for a bit; melting of glaciers and icesheets and sea ice; sea level rise; cooling of the stratosphere; earlier spring, etc. etc. Every one of these measures points in the same direction - toward a warmer planet thanks to greenhouse gas changes. His "GATA" is just one (convenient) metric among them.

All do show acceleration from the early 20th century to the last decade, while Lindzen states "Claims that climate change is accelerating are bizarre." What's bizarre is that he could get away with saying that in a major outlet like the Wall Street Journal! Of course recent acceleration would contradict his later statement implying the cause for warming is the end of the Little Ice Age of a few centuries ago. More bizarreness - I have never seen a real climate scientist try to claim that before; the temporal pattern of warming (the infamous "hockey stick", verified repeatedly) is completely backwards for that to work.

The main statement publicized after the last IPCC Scientific Assessment two years ago was that it was likely that most of the warming since 1957 (a point of anomalous cold) was due to man.

This is just an outright misrepresentation. What the IPCC stated precisely was:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

I don't see 1957 there, do you? And "very likely" is different from "likely", particularly with the precise likelihood terminology IPCC specified. He follows by making unfounded claims about the way the models were built and used. He explicitly, bizarrely, states that:

Thus even the basis for the weak IPCC argument for anthropogenic climate change was shown to be false.

because of "internal variability" - but all "internal variability" is "weather", i.e. short-term variation that averages out when you talk about climate. So if the late 20th century warming through 2005 or so included in the 2007 IPCC report was from internal variability as Lindzen implies, then in following years temperatures should have headed back to normal. But he is writing this near the end of 2009, once again one of the warmest years on record. Internal variability cannot explain this - but Lindzen is throwing stuff out to create confusion, not explanation.

Even more bizarrely, Lindzen goes into scientific details on feedback concerns in his December 2009 Wall Street Journal piece:

current climate models predict much higher sensitivities. They do so because in these models, the main greenhouse substances (water vapor and clouds) act to amplify anything that CO2 does. This is referred to as positive feedback. But as the IPCC notes, clouds continue to be a source of major uncertainty in current models. Since clouds and water vapor are intimately related, the IPCC claim that they are more confident about water vapor is quite implausible. [...] the question remains as to whether water vapor and clouds have positive or negative feedbacks.

"clouds and water vapor are intimately related"? The uncertainty in water vapor changes and forcing has to be tied to the uncertainty in clouds? This is rhetoric, not science. It's like saying because bunny rabbits and vegetation are intimately related (without vegetation there would be no bunnies) that variation in vegetation color must be related to variation in rabbit fur color, or something along those lines. There's no causal or logical link between the two uncertainties of feedback rates in the water/clouds case. Just completely disconnected. In reality the water vapor (plus negative lapse rate) feedback is very tightly constrained by modeling, and is strongly positive on the order of 20 sigmas from zero. Lindzen is either being deliberately confusing on the water vapor feedback issue here, or he simply does not understand the science himself. That he is making such claims in such a public place is really, truly, bizarre.

And even clouds, in models, generally show positive feedbacks, though only a couple of sigmas from zero. Lindzen has tried to put together his own models with negative cloud feedbacks, but they just don't make any physical sense.

But bizarrest of all is this statement, indicating Lindzen has a fundamental misunderstanding himself (or else is really deliberately being extremely obfuscatory):

The notion that the earth's climate is dominated by positive feedbacks is intuitively implausible,

Remember the quote from Max Planck up above? Earth's climate is and always has been dominated by the strong negative "Planck" feedback that increases radiative emissions greatly when temperature increases, quickly restoring energy balance on perturbation. Given that usually unacknowledged negative feedback (not mentioned at all by Lindzen), intuition on what other feedbacks do is hardly an issue for "plausibility" discussion. In fact, the rather disturbing pattern of temperatures for the past few million years is "intuitively" more suggestive of instability than stability!

Lindzen concludes this article with some claims about the climate of Earth billions of years ago - given his arguments about even recent data, that he can base any reasonable scientific argument on such a distant epoch for which our data on the sun, planet, and atmosphere is so obviously uncertain is, frankly, what else can I say, bizarre...

Summing up, the science in these two Wall Street Journal pieces is, in all material respects, badly wrong, skewed, or irrelevant to present climate matters. The opinion is not just verging on, but consists of outright conspiracy-mongering, accusing leaders of the world's most prestigious scientific bodies and thousands of other people of being involved in falsely promoting a "catastrophe" story so they can, for some other nefarious reason, "control carbon". And presumably get rich on their generous scientist salaries.

So, I ask again, when will MIT begin its investigation of Lindzen? I'd like to read some of his emails!


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Great article! Lindzen has

Great article! Lindzen has always been the foundation for the "skeptics", as he is the most credible and untainted genuine scientist. In my 20+ years in this field, I've been puzzled by Lindzen's stubborn insistence that the climate system is just fine and that we need not be concerned at all. If so many other scientists, just as credible and intelligent and educated as Lindzen, can look at the same information and come to the opposite conclusion, what is it about Lindzen that sets him so apart? I don't get it.

(As an aside - a gentle suggestion about the formatting of your posts. Links to other material aren't readily obvious in the text, unless the reader happens to pass over them and note that the text is actually a link; is there a way you can tweak your formatting so that links are a little more obvious? Thanks!)

I wanted to read this piece,

I wanted to read this piece, I stopped when you misquoted your first embedded reference. You claim that 97% of climate scientists believe humans have played a significant role in global warming, while your source states,

'The survey, conducted among researchers listed in the American Geological Institute's Directory of Geoscience Departments*, "found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role".'

Humans play a role. There are no qualifiers in this survey. You're adding them and if you're already skewing the conversation, I'm not going to waste my time reading the rest.


Hmm, good point - though I

Hmm, good point - though I haven't read the survey wording to see precisely how it was phrased, "significant" is hardly much of a qualifier. Now, can you apply that standard of accuracy to Lindzen's opinion pieces?

Lindzen is clearly in a 3% or less minority from Jim Prall's list, and the numbers are very consistent on that division in other surveys of this sort, no matter the exact wording.

The actual questions in the

The actual questions in the survey were:

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.

maxwell, you didn't even bother to investigate the actual questions before you sounded off... typical of people with Anti-Science Syndrome.

Arthur, I'm no English major,

Arthur, I'm no English major, but I think you're misreading this passage from the recent APS statement:

"The uncertainty in the estimates from various climate models for doubling CO2-equivalent concentration is in the range of 1°C to 3°C with the probability distributions having long tails out to much larger temperature changes."

It seems unambiguous that this refers to the uncertainty rather than to the temperature change itself, first since that's the literal meaning and second since the reference is to what the models say, although it is confusing to state the uncertainty without noting the change.


Hmm, could be. I was basing

Hmm, could be. I was basing my statement on my recollection of the original version - I have a copy of that and it said at that point:

The estimates from various climate scientists for doubling CO2-equivalent concentration range ...

so "estimates" was changed to "uncertainty in the estimates" and "climate scientists" was changed to "climate models". Odd.

But at least it did get

But at least it did get fixed, albeit in a way that could lead to confusion among less-informed readers. Actually the entire commentary is in desperate need of editing for clarity. OTOH as far as I can see it's reasonably uncontroversial, and so probably won't draw all that many eyeballs.

Thanks again for staying on top of this process.

Tim Lambert has linked to

Tim Lambert has linked to this and added his own comment on other problems - there was even more that Lindzen got wrong in these articles than what I've commented on above - Lambert also links to a political commentator's view of this latest WSJ piece, even he could see it was terribly skewed from reality.

Arthur, This is a very good


This is a very good summary of Lindzen's actions. He is notorious for "bait and switch" - being reasonable in the journal article and then going psycho in the press releases regarding the article. To those that believe Lindzen's public relations strategy there appear to be three possible conclusions:

1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenets of AGW and are honest.
2) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.
3) They have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly oil-funded and unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.

Common sense and a sense of probability should lead one to the likely correct choice above.

Scott A. Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences
Selden, NY
Global Warming: Man or Myth?
My Global Warming Blog
Twitter @AGW_Prof
"Global Warming Fact of the Day" Facebook Group

Is Lindzen lying ,or stupid?

Is Lindzen lying ,or stupid? Judging by the ultimate sentence of his 4th op-ed, he is both...and clearly doesn't care who notices.

I love this! It's getting

I love this! It's getting closer and closer to what I've requested for nearly 5 years; and that is debate!
Robust, healthy debate!
Your words prove that nothing in the area of man makes climate change vs. nature makes climate change is set in concrete, settled, proven or *consensus agreed upon.
And contraire to Mr. Gore's embracement of "the debate is over," reading you assures me it is not. Hallelujah!
Now that the debate is not over...I'll sure you'll agree that any policy already made that is connected in any way to climate change/global warming/CO2 theories must be rescinded. Any policy in the works that is connected in any way to climate change/global warming/CO2 theories must be aborted.
Please give me some dates of your availability, and I'll be honored to set up your debate with Mr. Richard Lindzen in Denver.
And if you have any connection with Mr. Gore, please invite him also. I'll rustle up a scientist from the claimed 3% nature makes climate change group to debate him.
This is great news!
Thank you Arthur!
Volunteer Editor
* consensus - In my arena, consensus is weightless. We insist on "vote" by actual count.

Huh? Robust healthy debate?

Huh? Robust healthy debate? Do you have any idea what epistemic closure means? Did you read my article? To believe what Lindzen claims in his writing, you would have to believe in the elements of a major conspiracy I listed. You can choose to believe it if you want, but that's not a matter of debate, it's a matter of your seceding from the world of ideas into a world of paranoia. It's not a matter of debate.

I doubt a verbal debate between myself and Lindzen would do much good - I'm not a distinguished climate scientist myself, and debating somebody with a paranoid worldview is a dubious prospect at best. If you really want me to do it I have several conditions that would have to be met; see the "Who" page for my LinkedIn contact form if you don't know another way to get hold of me.

Epistemic closure? There is

Epistemic closure? There is no such thing in science. If anyone is paranoid it is people like you. Lindzen is not advocating that we shut down the world's economies for some boogey man called "carbon dioxide".

On the contrary he has used empirical evidence to show that CO2 has very little to do with the climate system. Your "faith" in computer models is misguided. As a matter a fact...I find your belief that warming of the planet is somehow harmful very ignorant. History tells us that the warm periods were the thriving periods in our past. Oh...I forgot...we don't teach history in school anymore do we. We teach social studies.

You're right about not attempting to debate Dr. Lindzen. He is still the youngest person ever to be admitted in the National Academy of Sciences. He's smarter than all of your 97% of "climate" scientists put together.

I know what you want. You want Dr. Lindzen to be more of an "advocate" for your global warming/climate change nonsense or to shut up. Hmmm maybe he should. The he too can suck up government grants. Maybe he too could "win" $100K and $250K prizes like James Hansen. Maybe he could even ride around in a Gulfstream jet like Al Gore.

Naaaaaaa. Dr. Lindzen will keep being his same dull self. Lecturing from MIT and writing his delusional and paranoid ideas about how the sky is not falling.

Ironic that you highlight

Ironic that you highlight Lindzen's admission to the NAS to represent his authority on such matters, while in his piece Lindzen attacks the president of that body, of the UK Royal Society, by name several other societies and by implication dozens of other similar bodies. Lindzen against the world, is it? Smarter than all 97% put together? Well, as I said, there does exist a consistent world-view in which all those things could be true. It's not the one most people regard as reality, however.

The fact that Lindzen never addresses the many lines of evidence for the consensus numbers on climate sensitivity as illustrated for example in the Knutti-Hegerl review, or the strong evidence for positive water-vapor feedback from even the simplest physical models of what happens when surface temperature rises are evidence that he is either hiding from those basic scientific results, or has somehow shut his mind from them. That's what I mean by epistemic closure in his case. And either way, what he's doing in articles like this WSJ piece is most definitely not science!

Knutti-Hegerl's positive

Knutti-Hegerl's positive feedback only exists in their minds (computer models).

Again...models are not evidence. This paper was written for one thing...advocate CO2 emissions reductions...specifically 450 ppm. Why 450ppm? Why not 435 ppm? I'll tell you...because they made it up and it sounded good. I like 1000 ppm myself.

OH! And why shouldn't Lindzen attack the UK Royal Society? It's become a bastion of mediocrity. Lindzen is attacking these "societies" because of the poor quality of the science or lack of it all together that allows these people in.

Juan - that is completely

Juan - that is completely false. Have you even followed the link I gave and read their paper?

(A) The Knutti-Hegerl paper is a review, not original work; hardly the expression of a small number of people's minds. And it was peer-reviewed, published in Nature Geoscience

(B) "Computer models" of present climate represent only 1 (or 2) of 9 threads of evidence they use to quantify our uncertainty in sensitivity: the others are the direct evidence from the "instrumental period" (observations of temperature and all other parameters in recent decades), reconstructions of the last millenium and proxies from millions of years ago, response to volcanic eruptions, observational data and models of the last glacial maximum, and surveys of expert opinion on the subject.

(C) Yes, the paper has a section on policy implications - where they find that

450 p.p.m. CO2 equivalent forcing, [...] is a level that would avoid a long-term warming of 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures with a probability of rather less than 50%

That is hardly advocating for 450 ppm, if the probability of meeting the 2 degree target is "less than 50%". The paper's results argue far more for "350" than "450" as the long-term goal. You just completely made up the "450 ppm" that "this paper was written for". Pathetic evidence of a closed mind there.

"Poor quality of the science or lack of it all together that allows these people in" - like Lindzen himself you mean? I wasn't the one arguing from authority, "Anonymous" was the one who brought up Lindzen's early entry into NAS as some sort of evidence. Really, the contradictions couldn't be more stark here between reality-based thinking and what you folks, including Lindzen, are offering.

Ronita... From examining the

Ronita... From examining the facts, and especially scrutinizing the positions of the leading skeptics; Lindzen, Roger Pielke Sr. and Monckton (how did HE become the leading voice for climate scientists?), I find that their major positions have been thoroughly debunked. Monckton's "science" has been so thoroughly trashed he has become a joke- I doubt any responsible well-informed person can take him seriously without some other ulterior motivation.

Roger Pielke Sr. believes that Sea Level Rise has flattened since 2005, whereas the most recent SLR data from the University of Colorado shows sea level readings back above the long term trend and just about where you would expect them in an El Nino year: Recent sea level readings

And this article pretty much demolishes what is left of Lindzen's credibility. This leaves luke warmers Spencer and Christy, who are having a lot of difficulty right now fixing the errors in the UAH global temperature anomaly data (Take a good look at the major adjustments that are being made in this data since the start of 2010!!). Or a has-been weather news radio personality teamed with meteorologist who are now trying to fix their unreviewed paper alleging intentional doctoring of temperature readings; but this paper has been debunked by no fewer than six different scientists who checked the data behind Watts and D' Aleo's accusations, something the authors neglected to do. Watts thinks that science means make unfounded accusations first, then collect data! Clearly this an abominable method constructed by two very ignorant and stupid people, instead of using the scientific method.

There really are nothing these guys can bring to a debate... their theories have been either thoroughly debunked, or clearly conflict with observed data. Further, many of them now have so severely tarnished reputations anything they say should be viewed with suspicion.

Unless you can come up with a truly competent skeptic scientist, not these discredited guys, then truly, the DEBATE is OVER!!

OK. Here's what we can do.

OK. Here's what we can do. The "man makes climate change" believers choose one from their crew, and those whose findings claim "nature makes climate change" choose one from their crew, and I'll set up the debate at Casselman's in NoDo Denver.
Simple. Each side pick several dates, shoot them to me, and I'll work it out.
No worries. Nothing to hide on either side, so the debate will be pain free, easy to implement, and the public will finally have opportunity to see, listen, learn...then decide.
Send the dates to
All being sound of mind and reasonable folks, I look forward to this wonderful event.
Thank you.

Ronita, there is no "crew".

Ronita, there is no "crew". You will have to invite people individually, I don't have any authority to send somebody else. If you want me, I will let you know my conditions by email - you will have to pay expenses and lost work time, at the least - since I don't believe un-fact-checked verbal debates are a useful forum for discussions of this sort.

Ronita: (1) Frankly, arguing


(1) Frankly, arguing for the debate of science before the public is usually the last resort of people who have failed to make their case in the scientific realm and thus are trying to find a realm where it is easier for them to do well. In fact, creationists have often come off quite well in debates about evolution and creationism, but I hope that you would not conclude from this that the scientific validity of the theory of evolution is really in any serious doubt.

(2) The fact that debate exists on certain issues in popular realms like the internet does not necessary imply that there is any serious debate in the scientific realm. Again, evolution is a good example.

(3) The question of whether climate change science is "settled" is not an either-or issue. The fact is that there are things in climate science that are known essentially for certain, some things that are known with varying degrees of certainty, and some things that are quite uncertain. However, this does not mean that everything is uncertain and no conclusions can be drawn.

(4) Your implied notion that the only justification for making public policy is that there be complete certainty is ridiculous. Complete certainty never exists in science and demanding unreasonable amounts of certainty is the constant strategy of those who would prefer that no regulations be implemented. As the tobacco industry concluded, "Doubt is our product." And, applying your standard to everyday decisions, nobody should ever purchase fire insurance unless one's house is already on fire...Even if one's house is made of highly flammable materials and located right next to a source of sparks, there is no certainty that it will burn down.

Joel - good comments, thanks.

Joel - good comments, thanks. By the way, I've been occasionally reading the comment threads you're involved in at WUWT; I aspire to reach your seemingly infinite level of patience! Thanks for holding the fort so well over there...

Thanks, Arthur...although it

Thanks, Arthur...although it looks like I might now be "persona non grata" over there. (See Anthony's comment to Smokey on 4/25/2010 at ...and indeed it seems like my attempts at posting there have been censored over the past couple of days.)

So it wasn't the discussion

So it wasn't the discussion of religion, it was being insulting by putting "skeptics" in quotes!? Wow, Watts really isn't interested in hearing outside views, is he.

Ronita, name the

Ronita, name the debater!
Your central debate question is not framed very well, because AGW theory includes the position of "nature makes climate change'. The question should be "Can man's release of greenhouse gases cause climate change that disrupts Earth's natural balances and causes harmful effects to humanity?"

In your response, you have evaded the key question put to you: Who can espouse and defend the negative position to this central question?

I haven't found any credible scientist who has the theory supported by data who can represent the negative position, so I am very interested in who you think can? Don't tease us, Ronita, give us a name, so we can examine her(or his) theories.

[Removed - moderator - Lubos

[Removed - moderator - Lubos if you have a point to make about anything in this article, I suggest you calm down and write a coherent argument for it. Insults of that sort will not be tolerated here.]

Is there a consensus? Another

Is there a consensus?

Another recent survey of scientists found 99% of climate scientists and 90% of scientists in general agree with the IPCC on AGW.

I have two lists here.

Professional scientific societies who agree with the IPCC

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)


Woods Hole Resesarch Center

US Geological Survey (USGS)

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS)

American Association of State Climatologists

Federal Climate Change Science Program, 2006 (the study authorized and then censored by Bush)

American Chemical Society - (world's largest scientific organization with over 155,000 members)

Geological Society of America

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

American Association of State Climatologists

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

American Astronomical Society

American Institute of Physics

American Meteorological Society (AMS)

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Stratigraphy Commission - Geological Society of London - (The world's oldest and the United Kingdom's largest geoscience organization)

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Royal Society, United Kingdom

Russian Academy of Sciences

Royal Society of Canada

Science Council of Japan

Australian Academy of Sciences

Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts

Brazilian Academy of Sciences

Caribbean Academy of Sciences

French Academy of Sciences

German Academy of Natural Scientists

Indian National Science Academy

Indonesian Academy of Sciences

Royal Irish Academy

Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy)

Academy of Sciences Malaysia

Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Union of Concerned Scientists

The Institution of Engineers Australia

Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS)

National Research Council

Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospherice Sciences

World Meteorological Organization

State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC)

International Council on Science


Professional scientific societies that do not agree with the IPCC

American Association of Petroleum Geologists

Canadian Association of Petroleum Geologists

Deniers would have you believe that somehow all these organizations and the thousands of scientists from 120 countries, who have been doing the research for 20 years, and over 30 years for some, are all scamming you in some dark conspiracy. Wow, and they call the scientists alarmists!

Apsmith wrote: "So, I ask

Apsmith wrote:

"So, I ask again, when will MIT begin its investigation of Lindzen?"

Can you confirm that you have lodged your complaint of research misconduct with the appropriate officer of the university?

If so, have you received no confirmation that the appropriate procedures have been invoked.

Apsmith also wrote:

"I'd like to read some of his emails!"

Can you confirm that you have made an application under the Freedom of Information legislation of the State concerned?

Or, were these merely rhetorical flourishes and you have, in fact, no belief that that any investigateable conduct has occurred and no reason that a review of Prof Lindzen's emails are likely to reveal anything that could be used to impeach his probity.

To what extent is the article, as a whole, mere rhetorical flourish?

Bob, point me to the places

Bob, point me to the places to lodge a complaint, and I'll be happy to do it.

MIT complaints policy is

MIT complaints policy is here.

Complaint is to be made initially to the complainee’s supervisor who will refer it to the Vice President for Research if it’s considered to have merit:

The Vice President for Research id Claude Canizares whose particulars appear here:

I’d suggest you address your complaint to him, and ask him to refer it to Prof Lindzen’s supervisor, if appropriate.

And Maria Zuber is apparently

And Maria Zuber is apparently department head now - does that count as supervisor? I know some people who know her, but I'm not sure the connection is close enough to bank on that. I'll write to her and the VP; details later.

I find it amazingly ironic

I find it amazingly ironic (and amusing) that you would cite Thomas Kuhn in defense of your position. The question is: What is the dominant scientific paradigm in climate change these days, and which side is holding onto its viewpoint when contrary evidence shows up?

There's only one side holding

There's only one side holding onto its viewpoint against contrary evidence. It's no longer the "dominant paradigm", but it did dominate until the 1980s or so, and there are still a few stragglers with the old view.

Or you have some "contrary evidence" you'd care to tell us against the new paradigm of human-caused warming?

My point was this: If you

My point was this: If you read Kuhn's classic work "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", he makes the point that historically, scientific understanding doesn't slowly evolve along with the accumulation of new data. Instead, he maintained that the scientific community arrives at dominant paradigms (consensus?) that explain the world as understood at that time. As new data comes in that may challenge those paradigms, the data are interpreted in light of the paradigm, and are intepreted, made to fit in, until a new understanding emerges. He believes those shifts don't come about slowly, but rather in bursts, or revolutions, as the old paradigm eventually has to be discarded in light of the collective weight of the data that doesn't "fit" the picture.

In all of the debates over GW, I've seen many submit data that they believe don't match what the models have predicted. In response, the modeling community typically insists that the models do work, and can accomodate what others believe to be data that does not "fit" the picture. I think Peilke has written some on this subject. (Temperature goes flat or a bit down for an exteneded decade? NO problem, our models can handle that. Actual temperature trends aren't matched by the models? No matter, we can and have adjusted for that.)

I am not a climate scientist nor expert, but follow the debate with interest. I just find it amusing that when some dare challenge the supposed "consensus", they are castigated as stupid, morally bankrupt, or merely politically/economically motivated, and not "true", objective scientists. I hope the day never comes when scientitists are afraid to challenge the current orthodoxy.

Oh, I read Kuhn decades ago,

Oh, I read Kuhn decades ago, and I've written myself off and on on philosophy of science, including a bit on this blog.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that every scientific paradigm shift is not a "revolution" in the sense of human history, where all that was old is swept away. The old observations are still valid, the things that were explained and predicted by the old theory remain and have to be explained by the new one. New theories in science are always in one way or another extensions of the old - extensions in new directions that may bring surprising and counter-intuitive predictions for new observations, and explanations for discrepancies between theory and observation in the old - but they also have to explain everything the old one got right too.

Isaac Asimov wrote a wonderful essay on this, "The Relativity of Wrong", that I expounded on here. Every scientific theory is wrong to a degree - the Earth is not flat, but it's not a sphere either. But it's very clear that it's closer to a sphere than to being flat; one theory is quantitatively better than the other.

Same with global warming; no climate theory is completely right, no climate model can predict exactly Earth's future global or regional weather. They mostly don't try to - climate models are "boundary value" and not "initial value" problems, is one way to put it. But in general expectations of exactness in science are just not meaningful; there will always be errors and discrepancies. Yes, those discrepancies can often point the way toward better theories - and to the extent it's a useful thing to do, scientists flock to the discrepancies to try to improve models, theories, etc.

But what's important is the quantitative degree to which the predictions are right, or wrong. How big is the error. And every attempt to model Earth's 20th century climate without including human greenhouse-gas emissions fails to match the temperature record, by a significant amount. Climate theories are quantitatively significantly less wrong when they include "AGW" then when they leave it out. And that's the relevant paradigm shift that a few die-hards still just don't want to believe.

I'm curious: Has anyone

I'm curious: Has anyone attempted to model pre-industrial climatic patterns to determine what was driving the climate shifts of the past, before man kind had "evolved" sufficiently to possible play a role? I've not seen such attempts myself, although they may be out there. My thinking is, without understanding those dynamics, how can climate modelers know if they have accounted for all of the possible drivers of climatic change that may be in play in today's world?

Attempting to model

Attempting to model pre-industrial climatic patterns is an excellent idea - and like most excellent ideas in science, it's already been done many times! Paleoclimate modeling is a major topic covered in the IPCC reports - see in particular Chapter 6 of AR4 WG1. Also chapter 9, for example section 9.3 covers models compared with reality since the last glacial maximum. But in particular chapter 6, for example 6.2 "Paleoclimate methods" has subsections:

* 6.2.1 Methods – Observations of Forcing and Response
* How are Past Climate Forcings Known?
* How are Past Changes in Global Atmospheric Composition Known?
* How Precisely Can Palaeoclimatic Records of Forcing and Response be Dated?
* How Can Palaeoclimatic Proxy Methods Be Used to Reconstruct Past Climate Dynamics?
* 6.2.2 Methods – Palaeoclimate Modelling

And in general the matching up of these various observations via models is one of the major constraints on climate sensitivity discussed in the Knutti-Hegerl review. This is precisely the observational data that Richard Lindzen is ignoring - he never addresses this remarkable range of evidence that shows a roughly consistent climate sensitivity, much larger than his preferred number.

Also I strongly recommend this excellent report on a talk at the last AGU meeting, covering essentially the entirety of Earth's history, and the degree to which CO2 has been a controlling factor in surface temperatures.

Al, The problem with citing


The problem with citing Kuhn is that it is a little bit like citing Galileo...For everyone who really is a Galileo, there are about 10000 people who think they are. (That's probably an underestimate.) Likewise, for every true paradigm shift, there are probably 1000 cases where some people think that their ideas constitute a paradigm shift that hasn't quite happened yet...when in reality they are just wrong!

And, no, people don't get castigated just for challenging the consensus. They get castigated for doing it with poorly thought out, debunked, or deceitful arguments. When Richard Lindzen was creating scientific hypotheses that were at least tenable and interesting, like the iris hypothesis, I don't think he was castigated for doing so. And, in fact, it prompted a number of scientists to try to check if this hypothesis was likely correct. He may not have liked the conclusions that most of them reached in their investigations, but I hardly think that qualifies as being castigated.

Furthermore, the National Academy of Sciences bent over backwards to be inclusive by including Lindzen on the committee that produced their climate change report in response to questions from the Bush Administration circa 2001-2002. In return, he signed off on the report and then published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal basically disavowing the executive summary and then saying that the rest of the report had been misinterpreted and giving his own spin on the report (i.e., pretty much what the report would have read like if he had been the only one writing it). So, I hardly think that Lindzen can complain of unfair treatment at the hands of the scientific community. Rather, they have tried to reach out to him despite his penchant for using the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal to peddle stuff that he could not successfully sell to his fellow scientists.

Good Afternoon Comment

Good Afternoon Comment Presenters on Arthur Smith’s blog,

Finally had a second to read all your comments regarding my earlier writes. Being a farmer keeps me away from the computer. Apologies for the lateness.
Wish I could give each of you as thoughtful a response as you gave to my happiness over the prospect of a debate. It was a moment of joy you made sure you killed, leaving me to ponder while cleaning the barn, harrowing, pulling weeds, grading our woods trail, taking care of our livestock, baking for the Godfrey Bottom Boys, taking care of my sweet husband and trying to stay ahead of man-made rules, regs and taxes that tsunami changes far more inhumane than anything mother nature could possibly stir up.
Yes. I’ve heard about man-makes climate change and nature makes climate change products, but don’t know enough to decide which to buy. That’s why I was so happy that suddenly herein appeared opportunity to get this Dr. Richard Lindzen side by side with whomever believes their product is better. Opportunity for all of us to hunker down and do some good ol’ “comparative shopping.”
As you read this (And you may not. I’m not so conceited as to think you will.) I ask only that you keep in mind that I’m nothing but a homemaker/farmgirl who always asks a salesperson to demonstrate their product so I can make a wise decision.
For example: I'd never buy a horse sight unseen. My expectations from the seller is that they tell me everything they know about the horse: Who broke it; what age did it go under saddle; vet records; how it's been used; how many owners and its breeding.
Then I’d saddle up and ride it; check its conformation, soundness, eyes (are they soft and gentle, or have worry arches or too much white), and determine whether or not it will be able to pay its own board (Unless I deliberately want a lawn ornament.).
If it passes all that muster, then the discussion of price begins.
Not once in my lifetime (and I'm an old broad), have I ever had to "pay" a salesman to show me his or her product. This is why I find it odd when people pay someone to do so; like they do Al Gore (as an example).
Most non-negotiably unacceptable, is for any entity to con the federal government into mandating our purchase of their product.
Good Neighbor Law, “To use your own so as not to injure another,” is what I try to self-enforce moment by moment.
For near 4 years, I’ve been the volunteer editor for
GNL neither cares or knows the religious, political, ethnicity of its educators and volunteers who give freely of their time, talent, truth and facts to help develop a world of good neighbors.
I’m amongst the few writers who periodically rant. When one’s constantly under attack they have a tendency to rant.
Left the shrillness behind when someone told me I sounded like Pat Schroeder.
GNL believes in robust debate and discussion. At the last forum in Denver, we made an open invite to the public and elected officials to debate any of the speakers (who did not request or receive speaker fees). Not one accepted.
Again, this was puzzling to me, for I come from a time when people jumped at such opportunity.
Today instead we’re scolded, “The debate is over!”
The debate’s location, time, date, results and debaters information is withheld.
The product’s cost, warrantee, manufacturer, errors and omissions insurance and return policy information is withheld.
Regardless, we’re ordered “Either buy today, or be fined!”
If you read this, thank you. I appreciate your interest.
Now. Please go and be a Good Neighbor while I get to addressing Arthur's outline for debate, which he may or may not choose to post. It's his call.

Ronita - I'm not selling

Ronita - I'm not selling anything, I have no financial stake in this, and I have my own family to feed with the full-time job I currently hold, I have nobody to fund me gallavanting around the country and taking time off from work.

But if you really need to study the case for "AGW" you've come to the wrong place anyway; this is my site and its purpose is commentary on subjects that catch my fancy. If you are sincere about being a good neighbor, I recommend you go visit sites that are more devoted to teaching people about the "product": Here's my recommended collection of starting points - if they're too abstract I may be able to find some more suitable ones - or start with wikipedia, it's not bad on the subject.

Arthur, Just sent the outline

Just sent the outline for possible debate. Sorry it took me so long.
I completely understand your family situation - and appreciate your efforts to juggle that plus trying to help others understand matters that matter.
The reason why I view the climate debate as a product, comes from being in the domestic resource provider arena.
Please understand Arthur, that domestic resource providers have been under seige by eco-activists/terrorists, environmentalists, government funded groups like TNC, and - the federal government. Their end game? Seize control of all the land and water in America.
Buy virtue of the fact that domestic resource providers need land and water to produce food, fuel, fiber, timber, they either own land or have agreements with the federal government to use public land. That's why they've been at the front end of receiving blows dealt by those who want that land and water.
So I tend to look at those who believe man makes climate change - as those who want cap and trade (which is a takings bill) as a product; a product the government is mandating we buy.
Guess that's why I refer to mostly anything anyone comes around and tries to sell these days - even if it's an intangible - as a product.
Regards wikipedia, I understand they're much like the three credit reporting agencies, whereas anyone can post anything they want there, but if it's not true or accurate about someone...that someone can stand on their head and wiggle their ears and still not get it off.
The big three credit reporting agencies are used by the unscrupulous (Maybe investors in the big 3?), as today's Mafia way of knee-caping people to extort money out of them. Think of it. Credit card companies and any service provider can make up a bill amount, plop fees/penalties/interest on it, then tell you, "Well if you don't pay up, we'll `destroy your credit."'
Wikepedia allows people to plop whatever they want about another, and the "another" pays hell and wastes valuable time trying to remove it.
But then - I digress. I do think though, that the credit reporting companies deserve to go out of business. They serve no good purpose.
Please review what I emailed you. I appreciate your studious approach, and together maybe we can get the truth and facts out about alot of things.
Thank you.

The Boston globe has an

The Boston globe has an atrocious he-said she-said on Lindzen vs Kerry Emanuel as if it's some sort of personal bout: Joe Romm has details here.

But it does mention Emanuel sent a letter to the WSJ in response to Lindzen's op-ed - it's worth reading:

[Lindzen's op-ed] represents an irresponsible and misleading attempt to substitute polemic for reason. While ignoring the vast body of evidence of ongoing climate change, from increasing sea level to retreating glaciers, from basic theory to advanced climate models, Mr. Lindzen clings to his agenda of denial, advancing spurious hypotheses that have been thoroughly refuted in the peer-reviewed literature, even by climate scientists otherwise inclined toward a conservative view of the issue.

No climate scientist denies that the present state of the science entails large uncertainties in climate projections, with possible outcomes ranging from benign to catastrophic. While science works to reduce these uncertainties, citizens must decide whether and how much resource should be devoted to mitigating the uncertainly estimated risk.