Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has an article in this morning’s WSJ (by subscription) where he correctly states, again, that There Is No ‘Consensus’ on Global Warming: An inconvenient truth for Al Gore.
Dr. Lindzen is eminently qualified to discuss climate change, as you can see from his CV (lots of big words in there. Look them up if you question his qualifications.) One of the things he debunks is Gore’s assertion that scientists “don’t’ have any models that give them a high level of confidence” on the supposedly rising sea levels. I can only imagine the reaction of Dr. Lindzen and his colleagues, considering how Lindzen himself
has developed models for the Earth’s climate with specific concern for the stability of the ice caps, the sensitivity to increases in CO2, the origin of the 100,000 year cycle in glaciation, and the maintenance of regional variations in climate. In cooperation with colleagues and students, he is developing a sophisticated, but computationally simple, climate model to test whether the proper treatment of cumulus convection will significantly reduce climate sensitivity to the increase of greenhouse gases.
While right now the WSJ article is available only by subscription, you can read a siimilar article by Dr. Lindzen here. In this article Lindzen aks,
Why, one might wonder, is there such insistence on scientific unanimity on the warming issue? After all, unanimity in science is virtually nonexistent on far less complex matters. Unanimity on an issue as uncertain as “global warming” would be surprising and suspicious. Moreover, why are the opinions of scientists sought regardless of their field of expertise? Biologists and physicians are rarely asked to endorse some theory in high energy physics. Apparently, when one comes to “global warming,” any scientist’s agreement will do.
The answer almost certainly lies in politics. For example, at the Earth Summit in Rio, attempts were made to negotiate international carbon emission agreements. The potential costs and implications of such agreements are likely to be profound for both industrial and developing countries. Under the circumstances, it would be very risky for politicians to undertake such agreements unless scientists “insisted.” Nevertheless, the situation is probably a good deal more complicated than that example suggests.
In today’s WSJ Lindzen concludes (emphasis added),
So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points.
First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists – especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. This an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a “moral crusade”.
Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce – if we’re lucky.
The political issue can lead to disastrous public policy, and, as Dr. Lindzen well knows (pdf file),
Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens.
I can only add that it is your duty, as a citizen, to not only understand the issues but also to understand the qualifications of the person explaining the issues. A source like Dr. Lindzen, because of his education, background, experience and research, is worth thousands, even millions of blind global Gorewarmers. Update: Keith Burgess-Jackson examines a common fallacy about the transferability of expertise and authority, and advises,
On matters that require expertise, either become an expert yourself or consult someone who is. On matters that require no expertise, such as morality, make up your own mind — after gathering all relevant facts.
More on global warming:
At the blogs
The Anchoress looks at The media’s full-court press on Global Warming
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred has Environmental Reality, Round Two.
Bookworm room notices how there’s Always an agenda
Update: There’s a Dr. in the house.
Immediate cause of cynicism
ABC wants you