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An important essay by Richard Lindzen

By Don Aitkin - posted Friday, 26 October 2018


Nevertheless, when these claims are presented to the leaders of our societies, along with the bogus claim that 97% of scientists agree, our leaders are afraid to differ, and proceed, lemming-like, to plan for the suicide of industrial society. Again, nothing better illustrates the problem that Snow identified.

Interestingly, however, 'ordinary' people (as opposed to our 'educated' elites) tend to see through the nonsense being presented.

The evidence

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At this point, some of you might be wondering about all the so-called evidence for dangerous climate change. What about the disappearing Arctic ice, the rising sea level, the weather extremes, starving polar bears, the Syrian Civil War, and all the rest of it? The vast variety of the claims makes it impossible to point to any particular fault that applies to all of them. Of course, citing the existence of changes – even if these observations are correct (although surprisingly often they are not) – would not implicate greenhouse warming per se. Nor would it point to danger. Note that most of the so-called evidence refers to matters of which you have no personal experience. Some of the claims, such as those relating to weather extremes, contradict what both physical theory and empirical data show. The purpose of these claims is obviously to frighten and befuddle the public, and to make it seem like there is evidence where, in fact, there is none. If there is evidence of anything, it is of the correctness of C.P. Snow's observation. Some examples will show what I mean.

First, for something to be evidence, it must have been unambiguously predicted. (This is a necessary, but far from sufficient condition.) [Lindzen here offers a long account of changes in the prediction of Arctic ice levels, in which he concludes that there are so many of these, and they are so different, that they provide nothing of consequence.]…

This has also been the case with sea-level rise. Sea level has been increasing by about 8 inches per century for hundreds of years, and we have clearly been able to deal with it. In order to promote fear, however, those models that predict much larger increases are invoked. As a practical matter, it has long been known that at most coastal locations, changes in sea level, as measured by tide gauges, are primarily due to changes in land level associated with both tectonics and land use.

Moreover, the small change in global mean temperature (actually the change in temperature increase) is much smaller than what the computer models used by the IPCC have predicted. Even if all this change were due to man, it would be most consistent with low sensitivity to added carbon dioxide, and the IPCC only claims that most (not all) of the warming over the past 60 years is due to man's activities. Thus, the issue of man-made climate change does not appear to be a serious problem. However, this hardly stops ignorant politicians from declaring that the IPCC's claim of attribution is tantamount to unambiguous proof of coming disaster.

Cherry-picking is always an issue. Thus, there has been a recent claim that Greenland ice discharge has increased, and that warming will make it worse. Omitted from the report is the finding by both NOAA and the Danish Meteorological Institute that the ice mass of Greenland has actually been increasing. In fact both these observations can be true, and, indeed, ice build-up pushes peripheral ice into the sea.

Misrepresentation, exaggeration, cherry picking, or outright lying pretty much covers all the so-called evidence.

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Conclusion

So there you have it. An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly has become politically correct 'knowledge,' and is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization. What we will be leaving our grandchildren is not a planet damaged by industrial progress, but a record of unfathomable silliness as well as a landscape degraded by rusting wind farms and decaying solar panel arrays. False claims about 97% agreement will not spare us, but the willingness of scientists to keep mum is likely to much reduce trust in and support for science. Perhaps this won't be such a bad thing after all – certainly as concerns 'official' science.

There is at least one positive aspect to the present situation. None of the proposed policies will have much impact on greenhouse gases. Thus we will continue to benefit from the one thing that can be clearly attributed to elevated carbon dioxide: namely, its effective role as a plant fertilizer, and reducer of the drought vulnerability of plants. Meanwhile, the IPCC is claiming that we need to prevent another 0.5?C of warming, although the 1?C that has occurred so far has been accompanied by the greatest increase in human welfare in history. As we used to say in my childhood home of the Bronx: 'Go figure'.

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This article was first published on Don Aitkin.



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About the Author

Don Aitkin has been an academic and vice-chancellor. His latest book, Moving On, was published in 2016.

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