Puffing Lindzen

January 13, 2014

Dana Nuccitelli’s recent piece in The Guardian has generated some comment.
Dana notes that Climate denial warhorse Dick Lindzen has finally retired from MIT, and lets the door hit him on the way out.

Scurrillous and unkind rumors have it that Lindzen’s health is poor, related to his long time smoking habit – which, some say, he always insisted was not nearly so dangerous as all those crazy doctors said.
I’ll have reaction to this piece tomorrow from contributor D. R. Tucker.

Dana Nucictelli in the Guardian:

The conservative media may currently be the single biggest roadblock to addressing the threat posed by human-caused climate change. There is virtually no support for any sort of climate policy among Republicans in US Congress, because even acknowledging the reality of global warming guarantees a wave of attacks by the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party and a probable primary election challenge. This politicization of science has been caused in large part by the conservative media like Fox News, who treat climate change like a punch line.

Another conservative media outlet, The Weekly Standard has occasionally run articles encouraging the Republican Party to stop denying science and start engaging in constructive debate about the best climate solutions. Unfortunately, those types of constructive articles are the exception rather than the norm. Last week, The Weekly Standard instead ran a puff piece about contrarian climate scientist Richard Lindzen that embodied the fundamental problems in most conservative media coverage of climate change.

Richard Lindzen is one of the approximately 3 percent of climate scientists who believe the human influence on global warming is relatively small (though Lindzen is now retired, no longer doing scientific research). More importantly, he’s been wrong about nearly every major climate argument he’s made over the past two decades. Lindzen is arguably the climate scientist who’s been the wrongest, longest.

The Weekly Standard devotes the first page of its piece to establishing how smart Lindzen is – and he certainly is a smart man, but as climate scientist Ray Pierrehumbert put it,

“It’s okay to be wrong, and [Lindzen] is a smart person, but most people don’t really understand that one way of using your intelligence is to spin ever more clever ways of deceiving yourself, ever more clever ways of being wrong. And that’s okay because if you are wrong in an interesting way that advances the science, I think it’s great to be wrong, and he has made a career of being wrong in interesting ways about climate science.”

Make no mistake about it; Lindzen has made a career of being wrong about climate science. Unfortunately, while the Weekly Standard piece goes through Lindzen’s many contrarian climate arguments, it misses the key point that they haven’t withstood scientific scrutiny or the test of time:

• Changes in water vapor will dampen global warming (also known as Lindzen’s “Iris hypothesis”)? Refuted by four peer-reviewed studies within a year of the publication of Lindzen’s hypothesis. Measurements show that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing as mainstream climate scientists expect, and as a greenhouse gas, is amplifying global warming.

• Climate change over the past century has been “minimal”? In reality, the current rate of global warming is unprecedented over the past 11,000 years.

The 15-year ‘pause’ myth? Completely debunked – global surface warming over the past decade turns out to be more than double previous estimates, and the climate continues to accumulate heat at a rate equivalent to 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second.

The accuracy of climate models during that timeframe? Much better than Lindzen claims.

In my extensive research into Richard Lindzen’s climate papers and talks, I’ve never been able to find an instance where he predicted how global temperatures would change in the future, other than to say in 1989,

“I personally feel that the likelihood over the next century of greenhouse warming reaching magnitudes comparable to natural variability seems small,”

The natural variability of the Earth’s climate rarely causes more than 0.2°C global surface warming over the span of a few decades to a century, yet we’ve already seen 0.8°C warming over the past century and 0.5°C over the past 3 decades, with much more to come over the next century. Based on his comments in that 1989 talk, I pieced together what Lindzen’s global temperature prediction might have looked like, had he made one, and compared it to the prediction made by prominent NASA climate scientist James Hansen in a 1988 paper (like Lindzen, Hansen is now retired).

Comparison of the observed NASA temperature record (black) with temperature predictions from Dr. James Hansen’s 1988 modeling study (red), and with my reconstructed temperature prediction by Dr. Richard Lindzen based on statements from his talk at MIT in 1989 (blue). Hansen’s Scenario B projection has been adjusted to reflect the actual observed greenhouse gas concentrations since 1988.

Between mainstream climate scientists like Hansen and contrarian climate scientists like Lindzen, it’s clear who has the better track record in making accurate climate predictions. Lindzen has made a career of being wrong about climate science, and he’s who The Weekly Standard is relying on to evaluate the risks posed by climate change.

How do Lindzen and The Weekly Standard justify dismissing the 97 percent expert climate consensus? With conspiracy theories, of course.

“[Lindzen] says it mostly comes down to the money—to the incentive structure of academic research funded by government grants. Almost all funding for climate research comes from the government, which, he says, makes scientists essentially vassals of the state. And generating fear, Lindzen contends, is now the best way to ensure that policymakers keep the spigot open.”

Lindzen would have us believe that tens of thousands of climate scientists around the world are all tossing their ethics aside and falsifying data in order to keep the research money flowing, even though contrarian climate scientists like Lindzen have had no trouble obtaining government research grants. Is this more plausible than the alternative explanation that 97 percent of climate research is correct, and Lindzen, whose claims have consistently been disproved by observational data, is wrong?

In the end, the Weekly Standard piece revisits comparisons between Lindzen and Galileo. There’s one major difference between the two: Galileo was right. His positions were based on and supported by scientific evidence, and they withstood scientific scrutiny and the test of time. Other scientists at the time also recognized that Galileo was right. On the contrary, Lindzen is an outlier whose arguments have been disproved time and time again, including about the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Today’s conservative media outlets are rarely willing to consider the scenario in which 97 percent of climate scientists and peer-reviewed research are correct. Instead they ridicule mainstream climate scientists and give disproportionate coverage to the few contrarian scientists like Lindzen. Betting our future on the slim chance that Lindzen is right and nearly every other climate expert is wrong, despite Lindzen’s terrible climate track record, would be foolhardy – perhaps humanity’s greatest risk management failure. Yet by politicizing science through their biased coverage of the subject, conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard have created a poisonous environment in which it’s almost impossible for Republican policymakers to approach the issue from any direction other than denial of the problem.

As The Weekly Standard has previously written, what we need now are conservative policymakers with the courage to do the right thing, take the conservative approach, and engage in constructive debate to develop the best possible climate policies. With most of its climate pieces instead denying the risks posed by climate change, The Weekly Standard is helping to create a toxic partisan atmosphere where conservative policymakers feel they can only obstruct climate policies.

This Weekly Standard article exemplifies the problem with today’s conservative media, as they ironically help stick us with government greenhouse gas regulations rather than encouraging a potentially more effective free market approach favored by economists, including conservative ones.

29 Responses to “Puffing Lindzen”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Great title and cartoon. LMAO
    And Nuccutelli nailed it.

  2. Martin Lack Says:

    They only reason it matters that Lindzen has made a career out of being wrong about climate science is this: Lindzen is the #1 expert-of choice cited by those who dismiss the consensus as merely ‘an argument from authority’. As such, far from being like Galileo, all such contrarians are like the obscurantist Catholic church of 400 years ago.

  3. daryan12 Says:

    I presume if and when he does shuffle off he’ll be cremated…on a bed of cigarette’s and coal!


  4. […] Puffing Lindzen | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  5. MorinMoss Says:

    Those who wish to compare themselves to Galileo should do a little research first


  6. […] So, jackass Petey Sinclair decides to slur one of the most distinguished scientists we’ve known during our lifetime, Richard Lindzen.  He’s retiring from MIT.  This piece is probably nothing more than click bait, mostly because no one cares about the warmista anymore. But, his idiotic slurring is here.  […]

  7. Les Johnson Says:

    Of course, if you continued temps through to present, then Hansen is running hot. Hansen had about 1 deg in Scenario B, after 50 years, with some cuts in Scenario B that have never happened in real life.

    Actually, even his scenario C (severe curtailment by year 2000) is running hot to current temps.

    If you used Lindzen’s sensitivity of about 1 deg C/century (Lindzen and Choi 2009), Lindzen would be slightly cooler than GISS. His 0.55 Deg C in 55 years, vs. GISS running 0.6 YTD in 2013.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Hansen’s scenario B originally assumed a climate sensitivity slightly higher than we do today, and he also assumed larger emissions.


    • Wrong on multiple counts, Les.

      First of all, Lindzen has argued equilibrium climate sensitivity is less than 1°C, as low as 0.5°C per doubled CO2 (i.e. see Lindzen & Choi 2009). Second, that’s *equilibrium* sensitivity, and we’re not in equilibrium. Third, sensitivity isn’t “per century”, it’s per doubled CO2, and we’re nowhere near doubled CO2 yet. Fourth, yes Hansen’s 1988 model is running a bit hot now because it had an equilibrium sensitivity of 4.2°C for doubled CO2, which is likely too high. If it had a sensitivity of 3°C it would have been spot on. What does that tell you?

      Leave the analyses to people who know what they’re talking about.
      http://skepticalscience.com/lindzen-illusion-2-lindzen-vs-hansen-1980s.html
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hansen-1988-prediction-advanced.htm

      • Les Johnson Says:

        True, we are in TCS, not ECS.

        Its likely that CO2 will be doubled by 2100, so we can use 1 deg/century, or 1 deg/doubling.

        As for Hansen’s temps? Observed is well below his Scenario A (BAU) and even his Scenario B. In fact, if you had normalized your fake Lindzen prediction at zero, that would be closer to observed than Hansen.

        What does that tell you?

      • Les Johnson Says:

        Why DID you start Lindzen’s fake prediction at nearly -0.5?

        GISS shows 1958 at +0.04 deg. Basically zero, which is close to where you started the Hansen and observed temps.


        • “Its likely that CO2 will be doubled by 2100, so we can use 1 deg/century, or 1 deg/doubling.”

          In 2100 maybe. Not today.

          “Observed is well below his Scenario A (BAU) and even his Scenario B.”

          So is the observed radiative forcing (it’s closest to Scenario C, but between B and C).

          “In fact, if you had normalized your fake Lindzen prediction at zero, that would be closer to observed than Hansen”

          False.

          “Why DID you start Lindzen’s fake prediction at nearly -0.5?”

          I explained this in the post that’s now been linked twice. Because one of the many, many things Lindzen was wrong about in 1989 was the accuracy of the surface temp record. He said the actual warming during the record was less than half of the GISTEMP estimate, or something like that. Lindzen said there was hardly any warming between 1880 and 1989. Again, Hansen right, Lindzen was wrong.

          • Les Johnson Says:

            Less than 1/2 the observed warming in 1958 would be less than 0.02 deg (GISS was 0.04).

            You end up with 0.5, which is a factor of 25 difference.

            You need to normalize to zero.

            Hansen’s scenario C has temps at 0.6 deg C anomaly in 2013. GISS YTD November average for 2013 is 0.6 deg C. Observed temps are not between B and C. B is at 1.0, and A is at 1.2 (67% and 100% high, respectively)

            If we use satellite data, he is much higher than observed.


  8. […] I reposted Dana Nuccitelli’s Guardian piece on the puffery of climate denial media. Turns out that kind of touched a nerve in that part of the denio-sphere where […]


  9. The graph is PHONEY! PHONEY! PHONEY! The alleged Lindzen forecast is a fraud! Lindzen made no such forecast. Please give us the ***SPECIFIC*** source for the Lindzen forecast with the actual data/words he used . Alarmists show their desperation by creating fraudulent graphs to make their case. And even the Hansen forecast is a fraud. How desperate and without scruples must a person be to create such false information… The satellites show a 17+ year temperature “hiatus” which shows the climate modals to be a joke…as well as Hansen’s predictions. None of the models predicted this temp stand-still. NONE…

    “He made up fake numbers for every line in his graph, didn’t normalize the non-existent Lindzen forecast. and used the wrong Hansen scenario.”

    “Hansen’s forecast was a complete disaster, and the claimed Lindzen forecast is a fraud constructed by Nuttercelli.”

    A few years ago climate skeptics were a tiny minority. Now climate skeptics are either a majority or near majorities in the UK (BBC polls), Germany (Der Spiegel polls), and the USA (Gallup). Skeptics are winning in the polls and alarmists know it. A few more years of the temp “hiatus” should finally sink these fraudsters who are enjoying govt research grants otherwise known as “welfare for otherwise unemployable climate scientists”.


    • Why is it so hard for deniers to actually read and click links? I guess that’s more work and less fun than crying “PHONEY” like some sort of deranged hyena.

      I don’t embed links for the fun of it, deniers.
      http://skepticalscience.com/lindzen-illusion-2-lindzen-vs-hansen-1980s.html

      • mpcraig Says:

        From your link: “Our reconstructions of Lindzen’s projections…”

        What projections? You mean his MIT talk in 1989? So let me get this, you read a REPORT of a talk by Lindzen 24 years ago and “reconstructed” that into a climate projection from 1958-2018? And call it “Lindzen’s projections”?

        Cmon, If a skeptic did this, you have 10 Guardian articles on how wrong it was within the hour.

      • IskurBlast Says:

        ” I want to be explicit that these projections are my interpretation of Lindzen’s comments, not Lindzen’s own projections.”

    • daryan12 Says:

      “How desperate and without scruples must a person be to create such false information”
      Funnily enough, I’ve long wonder the same thing about deniers such as Lindzen!

      “Skeptics are winning in the polls”
      Science unfortunately is not influenced by opinion polls. The laws of physics won’t magically change because alot of people find it inconvenient.

      Consider that back in the1400’s the majority of people thought the sun revolved around earth. That didn’t necessarily make it so! Oddly enough most of the naysayers were also right-wing religious zealots….

      “welfare for otherwise unemployable climate scientists”
      Let’s land those black helicopters. Being a tenured professor is about as secure a job you can get. About the only way for a prof to get fired is by doing something really dumb or horribly unethical (sleeping with a student, faking scientific data, etc.). Are you seriously suggesting that they would jeopardize their job for no obvious gain?

      And as for alternative sources of research funding (which goes to the uni btw not the scientists) to climate studies, Geologists and Climate experts can tap industries, such as the Oil & Gas industry, military, communications & IT industries.

  10. catweazle666 Says:

    Utter nonsense.

    Stop making stuff up.


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