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Climate Hustle

Lindzen Illusion #1: We Should Have Seen More Warming

Posted on 22 April 2011 by dana1981

Australia has begun to discuss the possibility of implementing a carbon tax, and this seems to have lit a fire under the purportedly non-political global warming "skeptic" movement.  David Evans and Jo Nova have spoken at anti-carbon tax rallies, Chris Monckton wants to join them in an Australian speaking tour, and Aussie radio talk shows have even interviewed some prominent American climate "skeptics," including John Christy and Richard Lindzen.

Disappointingly, but perhaps predictably, both climate scientist "skeptics" used the opportunity for some serious Gish Galloping, as though they were in competition to see who could regurgitate more climate myths in his Australian radio interview.  As a consequence, we'll now be launching Lindzen Illusions to refute the myths of the latter, and adding to Christy Crocks to respond to those of the former.

In this first edition of Lindzen Illusions, we examine a rather old and stale myth; one which Lindzen has been making at minimum on an annual basis since 2002, and was making as early as 1989, despite the fact that it is flat-out rubbish.  Skeptical Science readers may recall that we have addressed this one before.  I am of course referring to "Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected."

"The models do say you should have seen 2-5 times more [warming] than you've already seen, you know, you have to then accept, if you believe the models, that you actually should have gotten far more warming than you've seen, but some mysterious process has cancelled part of it...if nothing else changed, adding the amount of CO2 that we have added thus far should account for maybe a quarter of what we have seen, we have added some other greenhouse gases, methane, fluorocarbons, freons, this sort of thing, and that should bring one to perhaps 0.5 C."

As we have already addressed this myth, the remainder of this post will be an updated version of the previous rebuttal (utilizing a slightly different approach to account for ocean thermal inertia, and looking at some more up-to-date numbers).  If Lindzen is going to regurgitate the same old long-debunked nonsense, we may as well replay the same old scientific piledriver of that myth!

Lindzen's argument hinges on ignoring two critical effects on the global surface temperature: the thermal inertia of the oceans, and the cooling effects of aerosols.

Thermal Inertia and Climate Sensitivity

Due to the fact that much of the Earth is covered in oceans, and it takes a long time to heat water, there is a lag before we see the full warming effects of an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases (this is also known as "thermal inertia").  In fact, we know there remains unrealized warming from the greenhouse gases we've already emitted because there is a global energy imbalance.  The amount of unrealized warming is dependent upon the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (or other radiative forcing causing the energy imbalance) and the thermal inertia of the oceans (which causes a lag before the warming is realized).  Lindzen does briefly acknowledge thermal inertia in a previous version of this myth, in testimony to the British Parliament:

"the observed warming is too small compared to what models suggest. Even the fact that the oceans' heat capacity leads to a delay in the response of the surface does not alter this conclusion."

Unfortunately, Lindzen does not substantiate this claim, or provide any references to support it.  However, the easiest way to incorporate this thermal lag is, rather than using the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) to calculate the amount of global warming once the planet has reached equilibrium, using the transient climate sensitivity (TCS) to calcuate the transient climate response: how much the planet should have warmed right now in response to the CO2 we have emitted thus far.  The IPCC puts TCS between 1 and 3°C for a doubling of CO2, with a most likely value of 2°C.

Aerosols and Other Cooling Effects

Lindzen briefly addresses aerosols in another previous version of this argument:

"Modelers defend this arguing that aerosols have cancelled [sic] much of the warming (viz Schwartz et al, 2010)...However, a recent paper (Ramanathan, 2007) points out that aerosols can warm as well as cool"

In short, Lindzen's argument is that the radiative forcing from aerosols is highly uncertain with large error bars, and that they have both cooling (mainly by scattering sunlight and seeding clouds) and warming (mainly by black carbon darkening the Earth's surface and reducing its reflectivity) effects.  These points are both accurate. 

However, neglecting aerosols in calculating how much the planet should have warmed does not account for their uncertainty.  On the contrary, this is treating aerosols as if they have zero forcing with zero uncertainty.  It's true that aerosols have both cooling and warming effects, but which is larger?

In some of his many previous instances deploying this argument, Lindzen referred us to Ramanathan et al. (2007).  This study examined the warming effects of the Asian Brown Cloud and concluded that "atmospheric brown clouds enhanced lower atmospheric solar heating by about 50 per cent."  The study also noted that, consistent with Lindzen's claims about the aerosol forcing uncertainty, there is "at least a fourfold uncertainty in the aerosol forcing effect."  However, this study focused on the warming effects of black carbon, and did not compare them to the cooling effects of atmospheric aerosols.

Ramanathan and Carmichael (2008), on the other hand, examined both the warming and cooling effects of aerosols.   This study found that black carbon has a warming effect of approximately 0.9 W/m2, while aerosol cooling effects account for approximately -2.3 W/m2.  Thus Ramanathan and Carmichael find that the net radiative forcing from aerosols + black carbon is approximately -1.4 W/m2.  This is similar to the IPCC net aerosol  + black carbon forcing most likely value of -1.1 W/m2 (Figure 1). 

Figure 1:  Global average radiative forcing in 2005 (best estimates and 5 to 95% uncertainty ranges) with respect to 1750.  Source (IPCC AR4).

Note that Lindzen's assumed zero net aerosol + black carbon forcing is outside of this confidence range; therefore, neglecting its effect cannot be justified.  However, since the IPCC provides us with the 95% confidence range of the total net anthropogenic forcing in Figure 1, we can account for the uncertainties which concern Lindzen, and evaluate how much warming we "should have seen" by now.

Expected Forcing Effects on Temperature Thus Far

In fact, this is a simple calculation.  The IPCC 95% confidence range puts the total net anthropogenic forcing at 0.6 to 2.4 W/m2 (Figure 1).  A doubling of atmospheric CO2 corresponds to a radiative forcing of 3.7 W/m2, according to the IPCC.  Therefore, the net anthropogenic radiative forcing thus far is between approximately 16% and 65% of the forcing associated with a doubling of atmospheric CO2, with a most likely value of 45%. 

In order to be thorough, we can also include the natural radiative forcings.  Most have had approximately zero net effect since 1750, with the exception of the Sun, which has had a forcing of 0.06 to 0.30 W/m2 with a most likely value of 0.12 W/m2 over this period (Figure 1).  Therefore, net forcing since 1750 is approximately 0.66 to 2.7 W/m2, with a most likely value of 1.78 W/m2.  Thus the total net forcing thus far is between 18% and 73% of the forcing associated with a doubling of atmospheric CO2, with a most likely value of 48%.

What Does This Tell Us About Climate Sensitivity?

So far, global surface air temperatures have increased approximately 0.8°C  in response to these radiative forcings.  Since we're 18% to 73% of the way to the radiative forcing associated with a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (most likely value of 48%), the amount we should expect the planet to immediately warm once CO2 doubles (TCS) has a most likely value of 1.9°C, with a range of 1.1 to 4.4°C.  Although the upper bound is a bit high, this is very consistent with thr IPCC TCS of 1 to 3°C with a most likely value of 2°C.

The TCS is also approximately two-thirds of the ECS, which tells us that the warming we have seen so far is consistent with an equilibrium sensitivity of 1.6 to 6.6°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2, with a most likely value of 2.9°C.  This is also broadly consistent with the IPCC ECS range of 1.5 to 4.5°C with a most likely value of 3°C.

How Much Warming Should We Have Seen?

We can also flip the calculation backwards and address Lindzen's central claim (how much warming should we have seen so far?), assuming the IPCC most likely TCS of 2°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 and using the numbers above.  In this case, we should have seen from 18% to 73% of 2°C, or about 0.36 to 1.46°C.   Clearly the amount of warming we have seen so far (0.8°C) is well within this range.  Additionally, the most likely amount of warming is 48% of 2°C, which is 0.96°C.  In other words, we have seen very close to the amount of warming that we "should have" seen, according to the IPCC.

We can also update the calculation with some more recent numbers.  For example, Hansen et al. have a new draft paper out which puts the aerosol forcing at -1.6 W/m2.  CO2 levels have continued to rise since the IPCC report, and the CO2 forcing is now 1.77 W/m2.  If we incorporate these figures, the most likely net forcing value becomes 1.5 W/m2, or 40% of the way to the doubled CO2 forcing.  Using these values, we would expect to have seen 0.8°C warming of surface temperatures to this point - precisely what has been observed.

Warming is Consistent with What We Expect

In short, contrary to Lindzen's claims, the amount of surface warming thus far (0.8°C) is consistent with what we "should have seen."  Moreover, this calculation puts the most likely climate sensitivity parameter value within the IPCC's stated range, whereas the much lower value claimed in Lindzen and Choi (2009) (less than 1°C for CO2 doubling) is very inconsistent even with our calculated ECS lower bound (1.6°C).  For additional discussion of the errors with Lindzen and Choi (2009), see here

When we actually account for thermal inertia and negative forcings, we find that the amount of warming we have seen is consistent with what the IPCC would expect, but inconsistent with Lindzen and Choi 2009.  Thus the correct conclusion is that if Lindzen is correct about low climate sensitivity, we should already have seen much less warming than we have seen thus far.

However, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Lindzen to retire this old jalopy of a myth.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 115:

  1. When you poke a large industry with a stick like this, it is expected to see a strong reaction.

    I would think that they would like to delay every precedent.

    This is an important moment.
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  2. Lindzen has been making this argument since 1989, at least. He said in an interview that year with MIT Tech Talk,

    Lindzen critical of global warming prediction

    "The trouble is that the earlier data suggest that one is starting at what probably was an anomalous minimum near 1880. The entire record would more likely be saying that the rise is 0.1 degree plus or minus 0.3 degree." Lindzen concluded, "The greenhouse effect does not seem to be as significant as suggested." The interview ended: "It seems to me," said Professor Lindzen, "that if science doesn't have integrity, it isn't of much use to people."
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  3. Didn't Lindzen testify in front of congress with James Hansen in 1988? Can we review his predictions from that testimony and compare them to the observed changes (and also compare to Hansen). Do you have a link where that testimony can be found?
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  4. Jimbo - nice link. It's funny, just about everything Lindzen said in that 1989 talk has turned out to be wrong. Hard to believe people still listen to him with that history of errors.

    In your quote he claims the planet hasn't warmed. Here is the relevant quote for this post:
    "He said that the models showing that warming will occur with increasing CO2 predict after-the-fact (post-predict) that since the 19th century we should have seen between about one and two degrees of warming."
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  5. I think I may have found James Hansen's 1988 testimony;
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  6. And RealClimate reviewed James Hansen's 1988 testimony in 2007;
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  7. Jimbo @2,

    That is quite the find! SOme nuggests from Lindzen's talk in late 1989:

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

    Well, it is now known that the recent warming has easily surpassed any warming that can be expected from natural variability.

    "Urbanization also creates problems in interpreting the temperature record, he said. There is the problem of making corrections for the greater inherent warming over cities--in moving weather stations from a city to an outlying airport, for example.

    Lindzen has also been shown to be wrong on that front here, and here.

    ""The trouble is that the earlier data suggest that one is starting at what probably was an anomalous minimum near 1880. The entire record would more likely be saying that the rise is 0.1 degree plus or minus 0.3 degree."

    This paleo reconstruction from Ljungqvist clearly shows that assertion to be false, the minimum occurred around 1700, not near 1880.

    Lindzen also seems to be floating the myth about the climate rebounding from the LIA, well that too has been refuted.

    And those demonstrably false claims and predictions came from the first third of his talk!

    I am once again reminded the sage words of an esteemed climate scienetist Dr. Kerry Emanuel:

    "... [B]eware those who deride predictive science in its entirety, for they are also making a prediction: that we have nothing to worry about. And above all, do not shoot the messenger, for this is the coward’s way out of openly and honestly confronting the problem."
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  8. From the same interview, (I am still shaking my head, 20 years of the same misinformation), he concluds with this:

    ""It seems to me," said Professor Lindzen, "that if science doesn't have integrity, it isn't of much use to people.""

    On that account I fully agree with Lindzen, unfortunately for him, that assessment has been demonstrated repeatedly to apply to him and his fellow contrarians and 'skeptics'.

    Dana did you know about the talk that Jimbo linked us to?
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  9. Albatross - no, this is the first I've seen the Lindzen '89 talk. We'll have to incorporate it into some future Lindzen Illusions.
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  10. Lindzen will be quoted as an 'expert' in the media for as long as the media can make money out of a 'controversy' which the media itself has helped to create.
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  11. I would like to see a comparison of Hansen 1988 and Lindzen 1989. That would show the difference between the scientific and skeptic predictions.
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  12. michael #11 - interesting proposal. We'll see what we can do.
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  13. I am not a scientist, but I do have scientific leanings. It seems to me that I keep reading reports of scientists regurgitating previously debunked opinions/theories. This site even has special sections for the likes of Lindzen, Moncton, Christy etc. so prevalent is the practice.

    Surely the scientific community needs to develop some mechanism that can impose sanctions on any of their number when they can be shown to have deliberately misrepresented scientific evidence in the way described herein.

    The medical profession can strike people off when someone behaves in a way that falls below the required standards. Even sports people can be charged with bringing their game/sport into disrepute and the sanctions can be severe.

    I find it difficult to believe that a similar mechanism cannot be devised within the science profession for someone who behaves in the way Lindzen is said to have in this post.

    Failing that, he and those like him will continue to impress politicians all around the world with their disinformation and give those with their own agenda a credibility for their position or opinion that is ill deserved. The general public stands no chance and the scientific community must bear at least some of the responsibility.

    Rebuttal on a site like this, excellent as it is, doesn't have the sanction that a formal disciplinary hearing would be able to impose. It is not as though the bodies that could perform the regulatory function are not already in place, such as The Royal Society in the U.K.
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  14. The question to Lindzen, as to any expert, is "Exactly how much will you allow yourself to be wrong, and still be an expert?" Then make a neutral, peer-reviewed assessment of his statements/predictions, e.g. the mentioned 1989 version, and let him comment on it.

    As for the transient sensitivity, I think it is important to be careful about precise estimates of expected temperatures in a situation with considerable radiation imbalance. The temperature increase we experience now, about 0.15-0.17 deg/decade, is related mainly to the current CO2 level, and very little to the current increase. Even if we froze the level now, we should expect the temperature rise to decrease only slowly at first, with the temperature converging to something we could interpret as representing the transient climate sensitivity (TCS). Afterwards, in a "virtually constant temperature" situation we would, in the course of a few centuries, approach the temperature representing ECS.

    In a far-from-equilibrium situation, the "expected value right now", may not be very well defined. From the increase observed so far, I strongly suspect the TCS to be above 2 deg C, but that does not necessarily imply the ECS is >3.

    Of course, Lindzen should be pressed to state exactly what temperature observations would refute his claim of ca 1 deg sensitivity. Of course, he may do this conditionally, he just have to state the conditions as clearly, and they, too, must be easily testable. If he won't, his claim is a specualtion, not a testable hypothesis.
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  15. @ finglestrumpet

    I don't see any mechanism that would be relevant really, given Lindzen has such a willing audience outside of academia. He has already lost his credibility on this issue in the academic community. What difference does it make?

    In the professions, there are regulatory bodies that can enforce bans. IN sports there are associations that oversee participation. There are no certification procedures for working scientists - although some societies are moving in this direction for certain activities. There no bodies with such absolute control in science.

    There are sanctions against clear misdeeds like falsification or plagiarism that can be imposed by the university and funding agencies. Societies or acdemies can revoke membership. In this case, Lindzen can be said the be stating his opinion. He can always claim to be ill-informed or to disagree with other research for arcane reasons that are hard to evaluate. Coming up will hard and fast rules to counteract such arguments would endanger the cherished goal of academic freedom that is so important for free exchange of ideas. You would be opening the gate to political pressure on scientists from all fronts.

    The one route of enforcement that might work is in the case of testimony to congress. Perjury and lying to congress rules are rarely enforced, as I understand it. Both parties like to engage in political theater. Such rules wouldn't apply to his origninal testimony either since the issue was still up in the air then - Lindzen just ended up on the wrong side of the debate. Later testimony that reiterated positions that were clearly known to him to be incorrect, however, might be subject to sanction. It would be steep hill to climb though...
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  16. funglestrumpet "Surely the scientific community needs to develop some mechanism that can impose sanctions on any of their number when they can be shown to have deliberately misrepresented scientific evidence in the way described herein." If they did that, the IPCC would have been closed down years ago.
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  17. Very revealing rhjames @16-- I'll have to keep your blunder and beautiful example of making unsubstantiated accusations, bias and gross generalizing in mind whenever I read your posts in the future.

    Sad that you can't bring yourself to be a true skeptic and call Lindzen on his errors.
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  18. Say to point to any of those supposed IPCC misrepresentations that haven't already been dealt with on this site? If not, do you care to continue discussion on the relevant threads dealing with those already considered?
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  19. I would also point out to rhjames that it appears Lindzen in one third of a single testimony made more demonstrably incorrect or misleading statements than an army of skeptics could uncover in the entire IPCC AR4 report, despite its thousands of pages, hundreds of authors and thousands of reviewers stumbling over each other.

    That's actually quite amazing. A ratio of >3 mistakes:1 Lindzen vs a ratio of <<2 mistakes:100 IPCC authors.

    IPCC wins!!!
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  20. I would ask rhjames to point out any of that "deliberately misrepresented scientific evidence" by the IPCC, but realise it will be a waste of time and he/she will just move on to the next so-called skeptical disinformation meme.
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  21. Worth be simplified - Figure the first - to this scheme - how lot depends on the positive feedbacks!

    (Well, the clouds are balanced "to zero".)

    Their opinions Lindzen - similar to those cited by Dana1981 February 4 - short (in the form of post), he also presented here.

    “The larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback.

    “For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn't and this means that something is wrong with the data.”

    “Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling.”
    “Thus, Santer, et al (2008), argue that stretching uncertainties in observations and models might marginally eliminate the inconsistency. That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community.”

    "On the planet the most wonderful constituent is water with its remarkable thermodynamic properties. It's the obvious candidate for the thermostat of our system, and yet in most of these models, all water-related feedbacks are positive.” Lindzen 1989.

    Main attention: Lindzen then (and today) does not deny the warming! “What we have is data that says that maybe it occurs, but it's within the noise” - 1989

    As you can see past the main concerns of Lindzen - against the AGW theory (with all objections against the this term) are - for him - to date. And not just for him for example ...

    “ ... IPCC misrepresentations that haven't already been dealt with on this site ...”

    Well, maybe my favorite:
    Landsea, Christopher W., Gabriel A. Vecchi, Lennart Bengtsson, Thomas R. Knutson, 2010: Impact of Duration Thresholds on Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Counts*. J. Climate, 23, 2508–2519.:
    “Upon adding the estimated numbers of missed TCs, the time series of moderate to long-lived Atlantic TCs show substantial multidecadal variability, but neither time series exhibits a significant trend since the late nineteenth century, with a nominal decrease in the adjusted time series.
    Thus, to understand the source of the century-scale increase in Atlantic TC counts in HURDAT, one must explain the relatively monotonic increase in very short-duration storms since the late nineteenth century. While it is possible that the recorded increase in short-duration TCs represents a real climate signal, the authors consider that it is more plausible that the increase arises primarily from improvements in the quantity and quality of observations, along with enhanced interpretation techniques.”

    And this - "to set" example this Figure.
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  22. Arkadiusz @ 21, I read your post and I don't find it convincing. You don't provide any evidence Linzden is correct and most of what you say doesn't even refer to transient climate sensitivity (the subject of this post).

    One thing though, you quotes from Linzden appear to have him claiming that if there is a discrepancy between the surface temperature data / climate models and the satellite data, then the satellite data will be correct. A little history shows we have been here before and it was the satellite data that was shown to be wrong. Considering how much more difficult it is to get accurate temperature data out of a satellite (or radiosondes for that matter) compared to a ground based thermometers I'm skeptical of such claims.
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  23. Stephen Bains @15

    "I don't see any mechanism that would be relevant really, given Lindzen has such a willing audience outside of academia. He has already lost his credibility on this issue in the academic community. What difference does it make?"

    1 If no mechanism, create one.

    2 The difference it would make is that any public 'striking off' that would result would curtail his appearance before willing audiencies and restrict his being quoted by those politicians with a hidden agenda.

    If, as you say, Lindzen is discredited within the academic community, yet is called upon to give talks to radio shows and evidence before congressional committees, then something is wrong, very wrong. On any issue, such a thing would be bad, but on one as serious as climate change has the potential to be, it borders on criminal behaviour.

    Clearly, Lindzen, Christy and suchlike would be wary of behaving the way they do if at risk of being subject to a meaningful sanction.

    The question that springs to my mind is why is the scientific community so blasé about something that brings all of them into disrepute in the eyes of the general public?

    The average person on the street has no idea that Lindzen is not to be trusted. All they see is two sides of a difficult (in their eyes) argument going hammer and tongs at each other. The action needed to combat climate change is dramatic and getting more so as time passes. Why on earth would anyone support such measures when as far as they can see there is very real doubt regarding the need?

    As a relative outsider, it seems to me that the longer the world holds back from making the changes needed, the more it can be said that the IPCC, and the rest of scientific community that agrees with it, is winning all the battles, but slowly losing the war.

    There needs to be a climate (no pun intended) where people that go beyond the realm of legitimate differences of opinion - and I believe that that is what is under discussion here - are compelled to change their ways or suffer serious consequencies. What those should be and how to administer them is up the scientific community to decide. That is never going to happen if there is no discussion on the matter. All I am trying to do is sow the seeds that may lead to one. I am not qualified to do more and if the issue were not so serious, wouldn't ever bother to do this much.
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  24. Arkadiusz @21,

    I'm sorry, but am not sure whether you posted that to critique or support Lindzn's obfuscation.
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  25. The misrepresentations to the public in general by Lindzen and others doesn't really concern me that much (that freedom of speech thing). After all are we not pummelled on a daily basis with misrepresentations as we conduct our lives? It's up to each individual to wade through the relentless inputs on a daily basis and sort out the garbage from the truth. Unfortunately few have the luxury to ponder detail and thus are easily swayed. A certain person proved this to be the case in January 1933 (oh how history repeats).

    What should be of concern is the testimony before such bodies as Congress, and what, if any, analysis of that testimony is taken into consideration by policy makers.
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  26. Ron, I have to wonder whether 'freedom of speech' should include 'freedom to lie' in this way. After all, the classic example of the limit of freedom of speech is, 'yelling FIRE in a crowded theater which is not actually on fire'.

    So there is already a concept that untruthful speech is not allowed when it creates a danger. Likewise, we prevent advertisers from making false statements about their products.

    Frankly, I'm surprised that false statements about global warming haven't ended up in court yet. There has clearly been false testimony to Congress... which is illegal. There have clearly been cases of defamation against Michael Mann and others. The public statements of many AGW deniers have been both untrue and dangerous.

    Sooner or later the matter will have to end up in the courtroom... and for all the flaws of modern justice they do at least still require that evidence be true... at which point AGW deniers don't have a leg to stand upon.
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  27. #31 Ron Crouch at 01:42 AM on 23 April, 2011
    The misrepresentations to the public in general by Lindzen and others doesn't really concern me that much (that freedom of speech thing).

    #32 CBDunkerson at 02:01 AM on 23 April, 2011
    Ron, I have to wonder whether 'freedom of speech' should include 'freedom to lie' in this way.

    First point of Comments Policy:
    • No accusations of deception. Any accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. Stick to the science. You may criticise a person's methods but not their motives.
    Nuff said.
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  28. Like previous commenters, I really have no idea what Arkadiusz @ 21 is trying to argue.
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  29. BP, who exactly did I accuse of deception?

    If you go back and actually read you'll see that I made an argument about the limits of 'freedom of speech' in regards to false statements. I didn't actually ascribe false statements to anyone... though even that would not violate the comments policy. Only ascribing negative motives to actual people is at issue.
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  30. DB/Mods,

    A brief note concerning the deleted "hate" post. I actually think it would be good if SS did what RC did, and had the equivalent of "the Bore Hole" (perhaps Septic Science would be a good name) -- a thread to which to move posts that should be deleted, along with the responses (which would be a thread where it is not possible to add posts, only read them).

    The Bore Hole at RC provides me with a fair amount of entertainment, and I think it serves a purpose, to show people that they can't just drop drive-by stink bombs without consequence, and to let people have a one-stop-shopping location to see the sort of inanity and invective that some people do deliver, but safely quarantined from the real debate.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] That is being considered. In the meantime, everyone's forbearance is appreciated. Thanks for the suggestions!
  31. #29 CBDunkerson at 02:31 AM on 23 April, 2011
    BP, who exactly did I accuse of deception?

    I am glad to hear you have not referred to specifically Dr. Lindzen and called him a liar as one might have inferred from the context. Neither have you accused him with false testimony to Congress and called for a criminal trial against him.

    If so, you are expected to squarely confirm all these points, one by one.

    ( -Snip- )
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Off-topic meanderings snipped. Please focus on the topic of this thread; thanks!
  32. That indeed was a good find by Jimbo.

    "The trouble is that the earlier data suggest that one is starting at what probably was an anomalous minimum near 1880"

    That assertion seems to be the exact opposite of reality. The period near 1880 suggests a relative high.


    "The entire record would more likely be saying that the rise is 0.1 degree plus or minus 0.3 degree."

    We can calculate the linear trend from 1880, 1870, 1890, etc. to 1989 and get roughly the same +0.5 C.

    We should also allow for earlier versions of datasets possibly showing different trends, for which Lindzen may have based his claims from, although looking at Hansen et al. 1981, I don't think there's a notable trend difference during the period of record.

    From Hansen 1981, it certainly appears his projections are spot on.

    "It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural variability by the end of the century, and there's a high probability of warming in the 1980's. Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of shifting climatic zones, erosion of the west Antarctic ice sheet with a consquent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage."

    Hansen 1981

    Hansen also discusses ocean heat capacity, something missing from any Lindzen "analysis".
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  33. As requested, we're working on a post comparing Hansen's 1988 projections to our interpretation of what Lindzen's projection would have looked like (since he didn't actually make any specific predictions), based on his 1989 talk. I think it's going to be an interesting post, with a very telling graphic.

    I'm guessing we'll publish this early to mid next week.
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  34. BP, on Lindzen specifically it is difficult to tell what he is thinking. His claim that climate models predicted warming 2 to 5 times what has actually been observed is obviously false... that'd mean models were showing 1.6 to 4.0 C warming by now, when in fact they only predict those levels in future decades.

    What he apparently means is that the climate forcings calculated by the models would result in 2 to 5 times as much warming as has been observed... if we ignored the existence of the oceans, aerosols, and other 'anti warming' factors which the models take into account, and thus do not predict the extreme warming he claimed they do.

    The question is what should be done about such blatantly false statements. Is it simply 'freedom of speech' and there is no recourse when scientists mis-inform the public? Or should there be academic and/or legal consequences? Personally, I think Lindzen has gone well past the bounds of simple 'skepticism' or even 'contrarianism'. If these false statements are mistakes then they are egregious ones of a sort I wouldn't expect a competent scientist to make.
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  35. You guys should refrain from bad-mouthing Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, Carter et al because they are expressing a professional opinion based upon their personal observations and research. In particular, when they give testimony to the US congress they swear an oath to tell the truth, the whole and nothing but the truth. Lying to the US Congress is a very serious felony and carries severe penalties.
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  36. Wow

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    If money was where it was to stop at, it would not be so bad. But look at what is being called for on THIS forum. It is not unique and more and more there is a culture appearing that is calling for this! funglestrumpet suggests a solution for Lindzen and others:

    "There needs to be a climate (no pun intended) where people that go beyond the realm of legitimate differences of opinion - and I believe that that is what is under discussion here - are compelled to change their ways or suffer serious consequencies."

    So let me understand this. Lindzen says that there in not enough warming to validate IPCC's claims, so he should be "compelled to change their (his) ways or suffer serious consequencies." I note that this is fine according to the Comments Policy, not political and all in line with good science.

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    I am sure this method would satisfactorily get as much warming as anyone could possibly want out of Mr Lindzen :)

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    Polotics or science? come on be honest now
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    [DB] Please focus on the topic of this post.

  37. @ Finglestrumpet

    Look, I feel your pain and frustration. But I think you are apportioning too much power to the scientific community in this instance. The fact that there is actually a public "debate" on humans are causing global warming despite clear statements from so many scientific societies is exhibit A for the case that the scientific establishment only contributes to the public debate - it does not set the terms, especially in the short run.

    Exhibit B is that censure, even if justified, creates the appearance of a "witch-hunt" and martyrdom (Cue cries of Galileo!). Development of a governmental mechanism to limit public statements would certainly run afoul of academic freedom and freedom of speech concerns that protect all sides of the debate (including Mike Mann). It would also almost certainly take longer to get agreement on how to control access to the debate while preserving those freedoms as the debate itself would take. Basically it's a distraction.

    Could the societies and MIT set some ethics guidelines regarding how Lindzen protrays his views in public (much as government agencies do for, say, NOAA sicentists like Conway when talking about his book with Oreskes)? Possibly. Not sure it will make a lot of difference.

    The real problem is not that Lindzen is allowed to speak, it's that people give him credence without checking his statements. Scientific illiteracy, the complexity of the issues, politics, PR by vested interests are all at work. As a scientist, though, I have to believe that the evidence eventually prevails over the long haul. It has time and time again in previous debates where many of the same forces were at work. Time is of the essence, but you need not convince everybody to win this debate...

    Can Lindzen of Christy can be reprimanded for making demonstrably incorrect statements in front of congress...maybe. But, you still have to prove they deliberately misled. Were any scientists held accountable for their testimony during the tobacco hearings?

    Just saw PFs post. Double wow. That would be exhibit C.
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  38. 36, Peter Freeman,

    You are entitled to your opinions, and your emotions. You're entitled to anger at one group of people, while giving another group a free pass for equivalent (but far worse) behavior. You're entitled to your own interpretation of events, albeit very, very different from mine and many others, and seemingly founded in extreme ignorance.

    You are not entitled to have seen "many dozens of graphs and read more analysis than I could ever understand" and then comment as you did (until you make a concerted effort to actually understand them).

    You are not entitled to misunderstand, misinterpret, and misrepresent history as you did by saying "in 1988, before a single 'scientist' had done any work, the IPCC knew.."

    [For that one, I'd strongly suggest that you go read Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming, to see exactly how far back the science goes, as well as how solid it is.]

    You do not get to bring angry invective to the table, disparaging everyone (especially after your first post complained of exactly that behavior!).

    What you do get to do is to educate yourself. This site is full of science. It's even organized into neat little beginner/intermediate/advanced tabs.

    The Internet is a wealth of information, presented at many levels, and you can learn enough to contribute a valid position to the discussion, as long as you are wary and seek out true, reputable science sites, and not the myriad venomous faux-science sites that will mislead and confuse you rather than educate you.

    Go do some reading. Fill the holes in your knowledge.

    You do not get a place at the table until you do.
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  39. h pierce, Lindzen's comments in the article above were not to congress and not based on his own research. Did you even read the article?

    Basically, he said that climate models show alot more warming than has been observed. Problem is... they don't. Instead, he is essentially creating his own climate model where he takes the forcings used in standard models and then calculates warming from that without considering the ocean heat sinks, aerosol effects, and other 'anti warming' factors in the IPCC and other models. His model then comes up with vastly more warming than has been observed and based on this he denounces the models which match the observed warming.

    In short, it is exactly the same game Monckton played with the supposed 'IPCC warming graph' that appeared nowhere in the IPCC reports and had vastly different values than the warming graph which WAS in the report. An extreme form of the 'straw man' argument... their opponents predictions turned out to match observations, so they ignored the actual predictions and made up their own fake versions.
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  40. CBD #34 - actually if you go back through the history of Lindzen's "Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected" arguments (linked in the article), he's very clear. He says based on GHGs only, the Earth should have warmed much more than it has. This would be true if aerosols and thermal inertia didn't exist, but it's hard to characterize their omission in anything other than a very poor light.

    Lindzen justifies these omissions by claiming they wouldn't make a significant difference in his calculations, which is clearly wrong, as this article shows. Yet Lindzen continues to make this factually wrong argument again and again and again and again.

    I think a couple commenters here need to make a distinction - just because a smart person says something doesn't mean there's any validity to it. Facts are facts and reality is reality. If a biologist told you that elephants are pink, that wouldn't change the reality that elephants are not pink. And a lot of people would question why that biologist claimed otherwise.

    That's what's happening with Lindzen. He's saying things which are indisputably wrong, which it's hard to believe he doesn't know are wrong, which makes people question why he's making these claims.
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  41. I am looking for sources of quotations in the post above.

    Text "the observed warming is too small [...]" is found here:

    House of Lords (UK)
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs
    2nd Report of Session 2005-06
    The Economics of Climate Change
    Minutes of Evidence
    Memorandum by Professor Richard S Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed by Examination of Witness, page 45, 25 January 2005.

    Worth reading in full.

    However, I could not find "The models do say you should have seen 2-5 times more [...]". Is there anyone who knows the source and can provide a pointer to the original text?
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  42. "Lindzen says that there in not enough warming to validate IPCC's claims, so he should be "compelled to change their (his) ways or suffer serious consequencies." I note that this is fine according to the Comments Policy, not political and all in line with good science."

    Lindzen makes a statement about climate model predictions. That statement can be shown to be factually incorrect, teh models do not make those predictions (see post above). Nothing political about it. If he did so knowingly, it is a severe breach of public trust. Nobody is saying anyone should suffer consequences for stating his "feelings", "opinions" or "values."
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  43. BP #41 - Lindzen made that statement in the radio interview linked toward the beginning of the post.
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  44. 36, Peter Freeman,

    Concerning the relevant aspect of your post... substantive, contradictory, outlier positions are welcome in science. Science is no different from any other human endeavor, and it will invoke the same degree of passion, both positive and negative. Passion is a good quality in a scientist.

    Science needs people pushing the envelope, and there will be some who are annoyed by that.

    But Lindzen, and others, are guilty not merely of disagreeing with the mainstream, but of openly and blatantly ignoring and misrepresenting the science to Congress and the public.

    It's one thing to publish a "renegade" scientific paper or theory. It's quite another to testify before Congress, or to tout to the media, positions that are known to be abjectly false.

    This is what Lindzen has done. He's not guilty of being a heretic. He's guilty of being a reputable scientist, who should know better, and yet making patently falsifiable claims.

    So, yes, in cases such as this, there should be academic and career consequences. No one, in any career, gets to abuse their position to promote their own personal agenda. That applies to lawyers, doctors, and many others. In some professions, malpractice can cause one to be disbarred or lose their license, or at a minimum be fired.

    Blatant disregard for one's own profession and professional responsibilities should come with consequences.

    Personally, I would think that at some point MIT would begin to find him to be a major embarrassment. I personally have lost a great amount of respect for MIT as an institution. They are in a difficult position... an institution can't be burdened with even a sniff of trying to control or direct their own academics. That's wrong.

    But professional misconduct is wrong, too, and reflects just as poorly on the supporting institution. Normally, professional misconduct is very strictly defined, but this is new ground, and pushing the envelope. The fact that Lindzen is using his position, which is buttressed by his association with MIT, to sway Congress and people with clearly false claims puts MIT into a very bad light.
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  45. Stephen Baines #42 makes a valid point. There is no question whatsoever that climate models don't predict 2-5 times more warming than observed. As CBD put it, Lindzen is basically creating his own model which totally neglects aerosols and thermal inertia, and that model is wrong, but it's also a strawman.

    Lindzen made this and other indisputably false statements in this radio interview. At least he wasn't speaking to Congress, but he's still misinforming a segment of the public.
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  46. Albatross at 02:06 AM on 22 April, 2011 at 7

    Don't get carried away with these kind of graphs because temperature mesurements used for calibration aren't that accurate. In the US temps at weather stations are measured to +/-1 deg F. In Canada temperature data is reported to nearest +/- 0.5 deg C.

    Where are the error bars for plots in the graph? You need at least ca. 1 deg C difference between means of two sets of temperature data for stat significance at p < 0.05. Thus you really can't say 1700-1800 was colder than 1800-1900.

    We know from historical accounts that 1800-1900 was pretty cold in the NH.
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  47. dana1981, my issue is that in this case he specifically attributes the '2 to 5 times as much warming' as being shown in "the models".... he is not simply saying that >he< believes that would be the result, but that others (presumably the IPCC) have shown it. However, the reality is that 'the models' show warming in line with observations.... because they do account for the things Lindzen dismisses.

    It is one thing for Lindzen to make false statements on his own behalf... another step worse when he attributes these claims to others who actually got it right.
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  48. Sphaerica and Finglestrumpet have me rethinking a bit. While it may not make much of a difference in the larger debate, institutions do need to take a stand on the ethical issues this debate has raised regarding public communication. There should be clear ethical rules regarding how you present yourself, and your statements, to the public. And there should be teeth in those rules - although I'm not sure what those would be. One should of course be free to say what they want, but not under false guises. Government scientists are already subject to these rules, as I understand it.

    Of course, another layer of compliance is likely to make it even harder for scientists to connect with the public.
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  49. Sphaerica so you think that in 1988 the IPCC had already done scientific research? You suggest I get an education!

    It does not take much intelligence at to see that the IPCC is a farce and that it has never done a days worth of science as it was never intended to do any science. How does an organisation have a mandate to prove its conclusions that it had when it was founded?
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Please tone down the rhetoric and invective. And the IPCC doesn't actually DO any research.
  50. BTW, since he was on a radio interview answering questions in real time it is entirely possible that in this case Lindzen simply mis-spoke. Dana's point that in the past he has been clearer about explaining that this '2 to 5 times as much warming' is based on taking the GHG forcings and positive feedbacks without considering other factors that the models account for.

    It came out as a false claim that the models got the temperature rise radically wrong, but that might have been because he didn't fully explain that he was talking about his own view of how the models should work rather than their actual results.
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