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The Thoughts Of Richard Lindzen On Climate Change

May 2, 2017

By Paul Homewood




Richard Lindzen has written a powerful article about the state of climate science.

His introduction sets the scene:



For over 30 years, I have been giving talks on the science of climate change. When, however, I speak to a non-expert audience, and attempt to explain such matters as climate sensitivity, the relation of global mean temperature anomaly to extreme weather, that warming has decreased profoundly for the past 18 years, etc., it is obvious that the audience’s eyes are glazing over. Although I have presented evidence as to why the issue is not a catastrophe and may likely be beneficial, the response is puzzlement. I am typically asked how this is possible. After all, 97% of scientists agree, several of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past 18 years, all sorts of extremes have become more common, polar bears are disappearing, as is arctic ice, etc. In brief, there is overwhelming evidence of warming, etc. I tended to be surprised that anyone could get away with such sophistry or even downright dishonesty, but it is, unfortunately, the case that this was not evident to many of my listeners. I will try in this brief article to explain why such claims are, in fact, evidence of the dishonesty of the alarmist position.


 He covers a lot of ground, so rather than trying to summarise it, I will divide the whole thing up into bite size chunks:



The 97% meme:

This claim is actually a come-down from the 1988 claim on the cover of Newsweek that all scientists agree. In either case, the claim is meant to satisfy the non-expert that he or she has no need to understand the science. Mere agreement with the 97% will indicate that one is a supporter of science and superior to anyone denying disaster. This actually satisfies a psychological need for many people. The claim is made by a number of individuals and there are a number of ways in which the claim is presented. A thorough debunking has been given in the Wall Street Journal by Bast and Spencer. One of the dodges is to poll scientists as to whether they agree that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased, that the Earth has been warming (albeit only a little) and that man has played some part. This is, indeed, something almost all of us can agree on, but which has no obvious implication of danger. Nonetheless this is portrayed as support for catastrophism. Other dodges involve looking at a large number of abstracts where only a few actually deal with danger. If among these few, 97% support catastrophism, the 97% is presented as pertaining to the much larger totality of abstracts. One of my favorites is the recent claim in the Christian Science Monitor (a once respected and influential newspaper): “For the record, of the nearly 70,000 peer-reviewed articles on global warming published in 2013 and 2014, four authors rejected the idea that humans are the main drivers of climate change.” I don’t think that it takes an expert to recognize that this claim is a bizarre fantasy for many obvious reasons. Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (this body, generally referred to as the IPCC is the body created by the UN to provide ‘authoritative’ assessments of manmade climate change) doesn’t agree with the claim.

Despite the above, I am somewhat surprised that it was necessary to use the various shenanigans described above. Since this issue fully emerged in public almost 30 years ago (and was instantly incorporated into the catechism of political correctness), there has been a huge increase in government funding of the area, and the funding has been predicated on the premise of climate catastrophism. By now, most of the people working in this area have entered in response to this funding. Note that governments have essentially a monopoly over the funding in this area. I would expect that the recipients of this funding would feel obligated to support the seriousness of the problem. Certainly, opposition to this would be a suicidal career move for a young academic. Perhaps the studies simply needed to properly phrase their questions so as to achieve levels of agreement for alarm that would be large though perhaps not as large as was required for the 97% meme especially if the respondents are allowed anonymity.


Other topics which he covers include:

  • “Warmest years on record”
  • Extreme weather myths
  • Sea level rise
  • Arctic ice
  • Polar bears
  • Ocean acidification
  • Coral reefs

I will continue the series later.

  1. May 2, 2017 12:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    Looking forward to further posts in this series.

  2. R2Dtoo permalink
    May 2, 2017 1:19 pm

    Thanks Paul. This will be an interesting read. Lindzen is a very thoughtful and thorough scientist.

  3. May 2, 2017 1:24 pm

    Thank goodness there is a breath of sanity coming from MIT. My late father received his PhD in chemistry from that institution in 1926 and was the DuPont Fellow his last year there.

  4. tom0mason permalink
    May 2, 2017 2:53 pm

    Richard Lindzen has more than most other scientist understood, and thanks to his position at MIT, expressed that global warming/climate change is all about politics and not about science.
    Yet again he speaks out clearly for real science and against the ‘climate science personalities’ with their overblown hubris, and against the political advocates/lobbyists that demand disastrous actions that would destroy western economies and lifestyles.

    Well done Professor Richard Lindzen.

  5. nigel permalink
    May 2, 2017 3:43 pm

    “…the audience’s eyes are glazing over…”

    It is rare to EVER see a spark in the eyes of Westerners.

    Take a proper look at your fellow citizens, as they trudge past. “Take a pair of laughing eyes,,,”? Good luck with finding any examples.

    After a hundred years of universal education, i.e. being pounded with “stupid sticks,” the people flog themselves at a simple word of command. They might as well be the stooges of stage hypnotists.

  6. May 2, 2017 4:13 pm

    When Trump got elected I felt a new freedom to look at the evidence without constantly thinking “I don’t want to do the alarmists any favours in what I say”.

    On the one hand, I did conclude that humans were likely responsible for some warming from 1970-2000, on the other hand, I also concluded that I should countenance the possibility that CO2 has no net warming effect (that they may be some subtle feedback involving clouds that actually results in no net change or even cooling).

    But I can absolutely certainly say that the CO2 alarmism is the biggest load of unscientific non-sense and that I’m pretty sure that the supposed “solutions” are a waste of time and money.

    Unfortunately, despite the clear promises from Trump – he has moderated, repressed, but so far I see nothing that will stop the nutty climate extremism returning to the heart of government if Trump isn’t the next president.

    So, I’m starting to go back to thinking: “I don’t want to do the alarmists any favours in what I say”.

    • bea permalink
      May 2, 2017 4:57 pm

      The only thing that might help if he (or his ilk) is a one-termer, would be an actual, marked, drop in the next four years in the so-called global temperature series. But – in all seriousness – that would also ,somehow. be blamed on CO2 as the bringer of all that is unsual.

      • dave permalink
        May 2, 2017 5:46 pm

        “…the bringer of all that is unusual.”

        Which is why the refocusing from “fear of a warming climate” to “fear of any climate” has made of the cult a veritable “vampire.” It will live on, even with a stake in its heart.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      May 2, 2017 7:59 pm

      Do note that Trump still has about 1350 days remaining.
      The Trump Administration may do a couple more things.
      I know, that is a, so called, WAG.

    • HotScot permalink
      May 2, 2017 10:05 pm

      I’ll emphasise John F. Hultquist’s point. Trump has been POTUS for just over 10 days.

      However, I’ll also make the point that, however much he has done wit the EPA, NASA etc in that time, he can always change his mind.

      We can’t rely on Trump, nor anyone else, to kick the green sh*t into touch.

      There is growing unrest and disbelief as the climate continues to do nothing negative. It will become apparent, particularly to the children and grandchildren so frequently threatened by the alarmists.

      You and I might not win the war against extremism, in all it’s forms, but our descendants most certainly will.

      • HotScot permalink
        May 2, 2017 10:09 pm

        Sorry…..100 days. Fat digits!….Not you, me. 🙂

  7. May 2, 2017 7:15 pm

    An earlier (2014) article by Prof Lindzen on the same subject:

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 2, 2017 7:55 pm

    Watch for various alarmists to claim Prof. Lindzen is not to be listened to because of some or all of “He is …”
    Old. White. Short. Wide. Doesn’t drink wine, or drinks too much wine. Doesn’t have a degree in “climate science” from Penn State. Once said something nasty to Al Gore. Or something nice about the Roman Pope. Appeared on a stage with a “denier.” Does not agree with Bill Nye, Bill McKippen, or Bill Clinton. Texts while driving. Published a paper with an old data set and never revised it.
    I think the last one may be true but I don’t remember when or where I saw that. I suspect what he says in this current paper is as near the truth as science now understand the issues. As indicated, I doubt anyone will actually try to question what he says.
    In any case, I have flower bulbs and corms to plant.
    Carry on.

  9. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 2, 2017 8:24 pm

    I’m going to note the following here — less apt to get lost in the noise.

    Delingpole has this in his post:
    His (Al Gore) use of an obviously photo shopped picture of a pathetic polar bear on an ice float suggests this.

    A photo Gore used was of a mother and cub — maybe not the one implied.
    The “mother-cub” photo was taken by a graduate student (from NZ, I think) as her research ship sailed near the iceberg. Great photo, healthy and curious bears. The young woman passed her photo on to a Canadian and it was copied from there — without attribution.
    This was later determined and web-posts covered it. Likely Climate Audit and WUWT, +others.

    There have been other stupendously stupid “photo shopped” images of Polar Bears. Lindzen may be thinking of one of those and its use.
    For intelligent reports on Polar Bears go here:

  10. May 3, 2017 10:27 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Richard Lindzen, one of the world’s most famous climate scientists,reviews the global warming evidence and concludes that global warming policies have hurt us more than global warming itself. (A.Bolt)

    “Despite this, climate change has been the alleged motivation for numerous policies, which, for the most part, seem to have done more harm than the purported climate change, and have the obvious capacity to do much more. Perhaps the best that can be said for these efforts is that they are acknowledged to have little impact on either CO2 levels or temperatures despite their immense cost. This is relatively good news since there is ample evidence that both changes are likely to be beneficial although the immense waste of money is not.”


  1. ‘Climate Change’ Is No More Credible than Magic Says Top Physicist – Delingpole World

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