Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millennium Bug, a mistake?

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Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT

At a public meeting in the Commons, the climate scientist Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT made a number of declarations that unsettle the claim that global warming is backed by “settled science”. They’re not new, but some of them were new to me.

Over the last 150 years CO2 (or its equivalents) has doubled. This has been accompanied by a rise in temperature of seven or eight tenths of a degree centigrade.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes half this increase to human activity.

Lindzen says: “Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true but essentially meaningless.”

He said our natural body temperature varies by eight tenths of a degree.

He showed a Boston newspaper weather graphic for a day – it had the actual temperature against a background of the highest and lowest recorded temperature for that day. The difference was as much as 60 degrees F.

When you double CO2 there’s a two per cent change in the “radiation budget”. Yet two billion years ago, the sun was 20 to 30 per cent dimmer – and the planet’s temperature was about the same.

The Al Gore graph showing CO2 and temperature rising and falling in tandem showed that the release of CO2 from the oceans was prompted by warming, not vice versa.

He gave us a slide with a series of familiar alarms – melting ice caps, disappearing icebergs, receding glaciers, rising sea levels. It was published by the US Weather Bureau in 1922.

And one further element of the consensus: there’s been no increase in temperature for 15 years.

He concluded with an exposition of science that, frankly, I didn’t follow. However, the reliability and explanatory power of climate models was satirised convincingly. And I found myself believing – or accepting the possibility – that warming would reduce rather than increase tropical storms.

He also said that the IPCC needs “positive feedback mechanisms” to justify anything above a one degree C  increase in their predictions. But: “Observation points to small negative feedbacks.”

How to explain the procession of eminent opinion leaders – some even in our own Royal Society – who advance the tenets of catastrophic global warming? “It is science in the service of politics,” he said.

If Lindzen is right, we will never be able to calculate the trillions that have been spent on the advice of “scientists in the service of politics”.


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