Recently, Dr. Richard S. Lindzen was a featured Guest Opinion writer in Newsweek. Lindzen was also featured in the antithesis to Al Gore’s docu-drama, The Great Global Warming Swindle. Dr. Lindzen is no layman in the particular matter of climate change. He has the following oft cited credential of being, “the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.”
Lindzen has written numerous articles worthy of review and I am reproducing some brief quotes from three for starters. I find Dr. Lindzen’s perspective rather refreshing not because his arguments tend to validate my observations and resulting opinion (and they do), but rather because he is appealing in the end to real scientific inquiry. The fact that he is a government employed scientist is interesting to ponder, but I will leave that discussion for another day. Dr. Lindzen is being objective it would appear to me in a discussion which seems to have, at least among the popular press to date, no objectivity whatsoever.
Lastly, Dr. Lindzen, unlike so many others, is and has been consistent – then and now.
This first article, “The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus” was written by Dr. Lindzen and published out at CATO roughly fifteen years ago (1992)… It is definitely worth reading (or re-reading) to grasp a little context in view of the incessant manic rantings by individuals such as Al Gore.
As Aaron Wildavsky, professor of political science at Berkeley, has quipped, “global warming” is the mother of all environmental scares. Wildavsky’s view is worth quoting. “Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist’s dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population’s eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.” In many ways Wildavsky’s observation does not go far enough. The point is that carbon dioxide is vitally central to industry, transportation, modern life, and life in general. It has been joked that carbon dioxide controls would permit us to inhale as much as we wish; only exhaling would be controlled. The remarkable centrality of carbon dioxide means that dealing with the threat of warming fits in with a great variety of preexisting agendas–some legitimate, some less so: energy efficiency, reduced dependence on Middle Eastern oil, dissatisfaction with industrial society (neopastoralism), international competition, governmental desires for enhanced revenues (carbon taxes), and bureaucratic desires for enhanced power.
The second article was published last summer in the WSJ’s Opinion Journal.
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. That is 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.
And lastly, we have this powerful article written and published in the UK’s Daily Mail just last March and focuses on The Stern Report.
Certainly, there have been many sweeping predictions of global ruin, few more emphatic than the report from Sir Nicholas Stern into the economics of climate change, which states with an air of unchallengeable conviction: ‘The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Climate change presents very serious global risks and it demands an urgent global response.’
His study, commissioned by the Government in July 2005 and published amid much Whitehall hype in October 2006, seemed to carry all the more weight because Stern is one of the most senior civil servants in Britain, the head of the Government’s economic service.
His conclusions appeared to be based on powerful scientific authority, since his team of 20 or so officials had drawn on a wide range of published papers and data.
Tony Blair has described it as the most important document produced during his ten years as Prime Minister, and urged that the Stern blueprint, with its calls for more regulation and taxation, be adopted in full.
‘The disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future, but in our lifetimes,’ said Blair, who went on to claim that the ‘the world faces nothing more serious, more urgent and more demanding of its leadership than climate change.’
All this has helped put the Stern report at the very forefront of the debate. The central theme of it is that there is a near universal consensus of opinion within the scientific community about the dangers of climate change. But this is not true.
There is no such unanimity among scientists.
Throughout the 550 pages of his document, Stern continually strikes a confident note, as if there were no dispute about the issues.