Archive for January, 2011

A Case Against Precipitous Climate Action

January 18, 2011

On Jan 15, 2011 Dr. Lindzen released this essay

Bruce McQuain provides an excellent analysis:

Richard Lindzen: AGW movement driven by money, power and dubious science

That’s the conclusion I gathered from a devastating essay Richard Lindzen published this past Saturday. Here are the lead 2 paragraphs:

The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well. Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. During the latter, alpine glaciers advanced to the chagrin of overrun villages. Since the beginning of the 19th Century these glaciers have been retreating. Frankly, we don’t fully understand either the advance or the retreat.

For small changes in climate associated with tenths of a degree, there is no need for any external cause. The earth is never exactly in equilibrium. The motions of the massive oceans where heat is moved between deep layers and the surface provides variability on time scales from years to centuries. Recent work (Tsonis et al, 2007), suggests that this variability is enough to account for all climate change since the 19th Century.

One of the reasons I constantly ask those who believe in AGW what the “perfect temperature” for the world is and how we can achieve it is I understand that the only constant in the earth’s climate is change.   The world’s climate has always been changing in various cycles since its formation.  History shows us that we’ve had periods of more CO2 than now, warmer periods than now and neither of the events can be explained away by blaming man.

My favorite paragraph though, is Lindzen’s parting shot , er, conclusion:

With all this at stake, one can readily suspect that there might be a sense of urgency provoked by the possibility that warming may have ceased and that the case for such warming as was seen being due in significant measure to man, disintegrating. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed. However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence. Nor is the assumption that the earth’s climate reached a point of perfection in the middle of the twentieth century a sign of intelligence.

I’m still laughing over the last sentence.   Given any intelligence and a smattering of curiosity about climate history, even a cursory examination of that history makes one immediately suspicious of the claims by the AGW crowd and very skeptical of the science.

For those who Lindzen describes as

“well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue”,

he’s saying it is neither intelligent or virtuous.

All I can say is, “agreed”.