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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 51 to 100 out of 115:

  1. Peter Freeman @ 36

    As I understand it, Lindzen's work on climate sensitivity to CO2 was debunked because he excluded large areas of the globe in his work, including the polar regions, which are warming at a rate considerably faster than elsewhere. He is supposed to be producing another paper that is global in extent, though this has yet to appear.

    Does Mr Freeman support Lindzen's continued quoting the results of his debunked paper, knowing it will influence policy on a topic that could lead to countless loss of life and untold hardship?

    If yes, why?

    If no, would he please retract his tirade so that this site can maintain the standards it sets itself. It would be a shame if the comments section were to degenerate into the sort of thing that one sees elsewhere. There really is something up with that.
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  2. Peter, by 1988 all of the 'broad strokes' of AGW science were long since settled. You really should read up a bit before proclaiming that the IPCC 'jumped the gun'... the greenhouse effect was first discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1806. Thus, by 1988 it was hardly some new and unproven concept.
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  3. #43 dana1981 at 05:38 AM on 23 April, 2011
    Lindzen made that statement in the radio interview linked toward the beginning of the post.

    I see. Isn't there a transcript?
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  4. "Sphaerica so you think that in 1988 the IPCC had already done scientific research? You suggest I get an education!" your history. The first evidence for the effects of green house gasses on climate precedes the IPCC by 100 years (see Tyndall) and Ahrrenius. Extensive research after that confirmed this role and established increasing CO2 concentrations reslting from human output. It was being discussed in the 50s and 60s! That's historical record documented on this site. Look around! It takes a lot of effort, but it's worth it if you are actually curious.

    The IPCC process (it is not really a group) was set up to address predictions based on that previous research and a prior NRC report that raised alarms. It did not arise from the ground fully formed but is just part of a gradual development and accumulation of knowledge. It was not bound to find a positive effect of humans on climate, and that is not implied in its mission statement. It takes an extreme prediposition to distrust to make that leap. IPCC only recently came down firmly on the side of a human influence existing.
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  5. Mr Moderator do you not think that in order for you to be taken seriously inconstancy and bias should not be your operating criterion, don't you think?
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    Moderator Response: [e] Indeed the rules apply to everyone; as a guest here you are asked to abide by them.
  6. 50, Peter Freeman,
    Sphaerica so you think that in 1988 the IPCC had already done scientific research?
    The IPCC does not do research. They compile existing research into a comprehensive document.

    Prior to 1988, a vast amount of climate research had already been performed (hence the IPCC's ability to compile it). Climate science is over 100 years old.

    Today, a quick visit to Google Scholar shows over 686,000 papers/citations on climate change since 2000 alone. None of these were written by the IPCC because, as has already been explained, the IPCC does not do research.
    It does not take much intelligence at to see that the IPCC...
    You are parroting the WUWT misrepresentation of the IPCC. I suggest you control your emotion and actually learn more about it.

    Reading the actual IPCC report would be a good start.

    I'd also suggest you reread both the comments policy (for instance, you have wandered off topic here in attacking the IPCC). You might also consider your own original post about "hate" expressed in blog comments. It's fine to express opinions and debate, but there's no need for the clear anger.
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  7. I would like to reiterate CBDs statement that the IPCC is NOT a research only summarizes the research that has been done. It does it very well, considering the task, which is ridiculous...

    If you look, Lindzen, Christy, McIntyre etc are all cited..despite having views off the mainstream.
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  8. BP #53 - no, I'm not aware of any transcript of this interview. We transcribed the relevant quotes ourselves.

    CBD - I agree with you that Lindzen's comments about "the models" are a blatant misrepresentation of many other scientists' work. He's made similar statements in the past, but I'm not sure if he's made this statement specifically about models before. I think he usually says "we should have seen" without clarifying according to who/what.
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  9. You need at least ca. 1 deg C difference between means of two sets of temperature data for stat significance at p < 0.05

    Nonsense. The error in global mean temperature observations is on the order of a few thousandths of a degree.
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  10. 58, Peter Freeman.

    I suggest you post your comments on the IPCC on IPCC Reports: Science or Spin?, but only after first reading the post there.

    You should also first take hede of bullet point 3 of the comments policy:
    No politics. Rants about politics, ideology or one world governments will be deleted.
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Nice rede. ;)
  11. Sphaerica ( -Ideological rant snipped- ).

    As for for expressed anger I comprehend what is going on here and what effect it will have and has had on the world and yes it makes me angry! All other environmental issues, pollution, over foresting, over fishing, decertification, clean water and ocean destruction have fallen off the table thanks entirely to 'climate science.'
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Many here share your frustrations. But your entire 2nd paragraph is off-topic on this post and thread (but other threads are here on those topics, so feel free to use the Search function to find them). But don't blame those issues on "climate science".
  12. 61, Peter Freeman,

    You can discuss the IPCC here only where you can directly tie it to Lindzen.

    Your understanding of the leaked e-mails is incorrect. There are a variety of threads on that topic. You can use the search box at the upper left (just type in IPCC) to find them and learn more.

    Concerning your anger... let me describe mine to you. Unlike you, I thoroughly understand the science. I invested a great portion of my life, starting in grade school, to understanding math and science. This equipped me well to understand climate science today.

    I've since spent much time in the past years specifically studying climate science. I began as a true skeptic. There was a time, a period of about six months, where I vacillated between accepting and refuting climate change theory, as I came across what appeared to be one good argument one way, and then a refutation and argument the other way. I went back and forth and back and forth.

    After a great amount of research and effort I came to recognize that current climate science is very, very solid, and all of the denial positions are built on misrepresentations and misinterpretations. Not some of them -- all of them.

    Which leads me to my anger. I have a 16 year old daughter. Beyond her, I have a healthy respect for humanity, and those billions of people whom I will never meet who share this world with me, and must live with the consequences of climate change after I'm gone, when it will be both too late for me to act, and too late to even say "I'm sorry."

    ( - Snip - )

    The effort to combat climate change, meanwhile, is actually minimal. It will not hurt economies. It will not cost jobs. It will take time, and if we start too late, it will cost more and take longer than it should.

    So I, and many others here, get angry at people like Lindzen. I feel anger towards people like yourself, who get angry at the wrong problem, one that doesn't even really exist (i.e. the evil scientist cabal bent on one-world-socialist-government).

    Climate change is serious. You owe it to your own stated respect for other people to research the issues further, and to take the time to learn whatever it is you need to learn to make sure that you have a valid and correct position on the issue.

    Whether you are right or wrong isn't going to change what the planet does in the next twenty years, but you are going to have to shoulder your portion of the blame if we could do something but don't because of people who are ignorant of the science, and yet venomously vocal about the politics.

    So... weigh your anger against mine. You can doubt my position, if you feel you are informed enough to do so, but you cannot doubt my intentions, or my right to my own anger, any more than you doubt your right to your own.

    But in the end, whether one is right or wrong, anger is always an obstacle that must be overcome in order to do the right thing.
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    Moderator Response: [e] Let's please not create invitations to descend into Godwin's Law.
  13. "'All other environmental issues, pollution, over foresting, over fishing, decertification, clean water and ocean destruction have fallen off the table thanks entirely to 'climate science.' "

    I'm not sure why you have this impression, and it strikes me as a false dichotomy. Just this week in the New York Times there has been a ranging discussion of policies regarding fisheries. Speaking as a scientist, I have many colleagues right now studying effects of deforestation, overfishing, water issues and pollution. I can't count how many actually. Climate change poses a real problem though because it fundamentally alters how we handle those problems, and because we weren't prepared to account for it. There is a lot of ground to make up. Many scientists are quite dejected about it, actually...

    Again...there are sections devoted to issues like these around the site. I invite you to read.
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  14. @Peter Freeman #63 and previous

    We should have seen more warming? Yes or no? and, why? (Saying "yes" or "no" is not a valid answer) Do you have something to provide related to that?

    I know that in 1 hours, 3 hours or 1 day you'll part to never return here, but I have to ask accordingly to what this site is and not according to what you are trying to do here.
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  15. "The models do say you should have seen 2-5 times more"

    I think the source for that idea can be found in the testimony to Congress of Patrick Michaels:
    "Ground-based temperatures from the IPCC show a rise of 0.11°C, or more than four times less than Hansen predicted."
    In his testimony, Michaels showed a graph in support of his claim in which only Hansen's scenario A is shown. B and C were omitted, with B being Hansen's most likely scenario.
    This cherry-picking on the grand scale was noticed at the time:
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    [dana1981] No, Lindzen in the past has been very clear that his numbers are based on omitting aerosols and thermal inertia.  I don't think it's accurate to infer he's misrepresenting Hansen et al. 1988 the way Michaels did.

  16. Peter Freeman's cameo has actually gotten me to harden my stance somewhat on ethics. A kind of creeping relativism has engulfed almost any discussion of science and policy. It may have started on the politcal left through post-modernism, but it has been adopted by those fighting all science based policy on a number of fronts.

    When scientists, like Lindzen and Christy, make statements that clearly fly in the face of established research without at least providing a proviso (e.g., "this is not what most of my colleagues think," or "I am not talking with the imprimatur of so-and-so intitution."), they are feeding into that motif. Anything goes and science is simply politics in disguise.

    That is what makes me rather angry, because it threatens our ability to make any rational decision as a society, no matter what the issue or the values at stake. It's a real philosophical scorched earth policy.
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  17. Sphaerica#44: "I personally have lost a great amount of respect for MIT as an institution."

    Lindzen is a tenured professor; he can say just about anything and there's very little that MIT can do about it. Right or wrong, most universities try to keep hands off the 'free speech' of their faculty.

    h pierce#35: "Lying to the US Congress is a very serious felony and carries severe penalties. "

    That's a good one! Like no one's ever done it and gotten away with it before.
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  18. ( - Response to deleted snipped - )

    As for the topic here, I have tried to follow Lindzen's climate-related activities for a while, and I can't really find any excuse for what he is doing. It is completely basic to the scientific discourse to represent the different conjectures, hypotheses, theories and results in a way the proponents can accept, and I find Lindzen is constantly violating that principle. Whenever we are reviewing papers and find unfair or misleading citations or representations, we reject, or require it to be corrected. We can not let it pass.

    And a basic premise for the public trust in experts is that they rely on the same principles in their public apperances _as experts_ as in their peer-reviewed scientific work. The public messages are subject to popularization, but in no way that can imply that competing views are misrepresented or simply suppressed. As I find Lindzen often does, and we get several examples of in this post and the discussion.
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  19. h pierce at 05:46 AM on 23 April, 2011

    I'm not sure where you learned your stats, but you have been misinformed; with enough measurements, you need far less than 1 degree to achieve significance. For practical purposes, thermometers can be considered to generate discrete distributions. For example, if you roll a 6-sided die a million times, and the mean of those rolls was 3.6 instead of the expected value of 3.5, you could tell with near certainty that the die is unbalanced.

    Look up discrete distributions and do some reading before repeating that mistaken assertion again please. (This feels like something I've covered before.)
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  20. Regarding Lindzen and MIT: My guess is that MIT is biting their lip because they long ago decided that empowering their employees to express their views without repercussion was more valuable than any damage that those views might cause MIT.
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  21. h pierce @46,

    Really, it never ceases to amaze me the lengths "skeptics" will go to to defend the misdeeds and rhetoric of Lindzen, Christy and Spencer etc., but what you do not realize is that by trying to defend the indefensible you are only further undermining the beleaguered credibility of the "skeptics", and yours too.

    I suggest you follow the link in NewYorkJ's post @32, and if you are trying to argue semantics on this issue you are on thin ice. Multiple, independent datasets (both from thermometers and proxies) show that Lindzen's claim about the "anomalous minimum near 1880" (he said nothing about 1800-1900 as you claim) is demonstrably wrong. I suggest that you read the full post and look at the figures available here.

    There are error bars on the graph that I provided-- did you not see see the grey lines? Interesting how Pat Michaels failed to present error bars in one of his key figures in his recent testimony to Congress, and now here we have "skeptics" trying to use error bars to cast doubt. The double standard is telling.

    As for the Canadian weather station temperatures, data are measured to the nearest decimal degree, not half degree. I have no idea where you sourced that myth. If you do not believe me, go to the Environment Canada web-site and look at the current weather at some of the stations, or look at the historical data.
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  22. CNR

    "And a basic premise for the public trust in experts is that they rely on the same principles in their public apperances _as experts_ as in their peer-reviewed scientific work..."

    I get the sense that some scientists think different rules apply in the academy and in the public sphere. If you're going to play by different rules, maybe you should have to state that you are doing so up front. Otherwise all that sweat involved in providing balance in the academy may be for naught.

    How would that be enforced? Would MIT want bother? I don't know.
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  23. My comment #65

    dana1981 - I accept what you say in reply to my comment - with no reservations.
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  24. @Stephen Baines #66

    Please, don't follow that path. It SEEMS to be the right thing to do. I know it's an off-topic here and I don't want to paste here a long post in other forum (with Poptech) So I provide the link here. The key subject is that being true that they operate that way, one has to avoid following the same behavioural path no matter it is difficult. Don't feed the image, only try to show how they operate and what supine human defects are exploited.
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  25. Chris G#70: "My guess is that MIT is biting their lip"

    My guess is he didn't get an invite to this lecture and won't be attending this event.

    It looks like MIT is doing quite well in spite of Lindzen.
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  26. Peter said... "All other environmental issues, pollution, over foresting, over fishing, decertification, clean water and ocean destruction have fallen off the table thanks entirely to 'climate science.'"

    I'm really very curious how you come to this conclusion. Do you have any data to support that position?

    My sense is quite the opposite. I believe the immediate importance of climate change is causing more people to become more aware and engaged in a wide variety of environmental issues. Climate is certainly resulting in more money going into research related to all the issues you list above.
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  27. Rob @76,

    This is getting OT, and we are debunking quite an old contrarian myth here-- AGW has drawn attention to protecting the rain forests, for example (REDD). So if anything, b/c of AGW, there has been a big push to protect forests. Additionally, ocean acidification is also making people more aware of the many stresses that the ocean ecosystems are facing. The reasons for the seemingly perpetual failure of enforcing reasonable fishing quotas has everything to do with greed and politics, and ignoring the scientists, and has been an ongoing saga for decades now.

    I could go on about pollution, but I do not want to contribute to derailing this thread. The continued misconduct and failings of Lindzen are what at issue here.
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  28. #27 Berényi Péter

    Would you be happy if I were to have phrased it in the following manner: The way in which Lindzen and others portray the science to the public is of little concern to me (they are after all entitled to their opinions, whether correct or not).
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  29. @ Alec #74

    I may have been unclear. I'm not suggesting taking the same path as those who engage in a philosophical scorched earth policy. Quite the opposite. My suggestion is that maybe we need more strict ethical guidelines regarding comunication with the public when scientists are speaking as representatives of scientific institutions. Scientific debate should not be the same as legal or political debate, and that distinction needs to be preserved.

    There are drawbacks to that approach, however. As is obvious, my opinion is evolving...
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  30. Peter said... "All other environmental issues, pollution, over foresting, over fishing, decertification, clean water and ocean destruction have fallen off the table thanks entirely to 'climate science.'"

    Hmmm, seems that Peter is unfamiliar with the massive amounts of environmental damage which are attributable to the extraction & combustion of fossil fuels-even if you completely ignore global warming. Mining of fossil fuels consumes large amounts of land & water-& frequently leads to contamination of both with toxic by-products. The combustion of coal produces significant amounts of air pollution-such as particulate emissions, as well as cadmium, mercury & radon gas. Combustion of petrol & diesel fuel also produces particulate emissions, along with benzene & nitrogen dioxide. A tendency to rely on raw over recycled materials-which also contributes to increased GHG emissions-is also a source of increased landfill size & resultant pollution. So actually, dealing with the various causes of global warming will have the effect of dealing with *all* of the environmental issues that Peter Wells lists as important. Of course, I could add that, even were this not the case, the last I checked humans were capable of "walking & chewing gum at the same time". To suggest that dealing with climate change somehow makes us incapable of dealing with other social & environmental issues is just another typical straw-man argument.
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  31. JMurphy - you challenge me to point out incompetence of the IPCC. I doubt you are serious - it's been well documented before, and to go into detail here would be off topic. They have even admitted publicly to many of their errors.
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  32. rhjames: what, all three of them? :-P

    But seriously, you need to go to the right thread to discuss the accuracy of the IPCC reports.

    [mods feel free to delete this post as off-topic]
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  33. #79 SB

    I think it is fairly obvious that stricter ethical guidelines should be enforced. Not at all to silence scientists, but to make them clearly state when they are speaking as experts commanding public trust, and when they are not. And when they are sure about what they are saying, and when they are not.

    And the principle I mentioned, that what they say should stand up to peer review, modulo popularizations, is really simple. It also underscores the inherent degree of subjectivity in scientific judgments: Several referees may all come to different conclusions, but more often they tend to agree.

    When there has been a complaint, and the referees' judgment is clear: This scientist has, as an expert in the actual field, said something in public that would never have passed review if stated in a paper, a warning may be issued. And repeated violations could lead to firing etc.

    In the actual case of Lindzen, he would probably have been out by now by such rules. He could save himself by a number of measures, some examples:
    1. Stating that this is about climate science, and he is a meteorologist, so he isn't really an expert in the actual field.
    2. Acknowledging that there are empirically well-founded approaches leading to apparently correct predictions, but noting that he himself thinks the modeling should be done differently.
    3. Stating clearly that he uses the models in a non-standard way, so discrepancies must be expected.
    4. Pointing to weaknesses or inconsistencies in the work he criticizes, reducing its validity. In this case, he is entitled to state that in public, provided he can back it up scientifically.
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  34. Just a thought regarding bringing people into line who are thought to be deliberately making misleading statements. I can sympathise with the desire that academic freedom should not be made to suffer as a result of any control mechanism established to counter such behaviour, so how about the following?

    Establish an open email forum for making accusations of academic misdemeanours. (Only open to bona fide scientists specialising in the field i.e. established peers of the person who is the subject of the complaint). Whilst only an email rather than a formal letter, it should follow a strict code of practice, which the scientific community decide upon. This is then made available to view publicly on some dedicated web site. The ‘accused’ should then respond, explaining their position. There then follows a series of exchanges with supporting evidence until the matter is either resolved, or in need of arbitration. All correspondence is automatically open to view by anyone, so that they can see how the debate is going. I think the press might get some mileage out of this, thus raising the profile.

    There would be the need for checks and balances. For instance frivolous complaints should be subject to sanction (scientific community to decide on exactly what that should be). There would need to be an international administration (U.N.?) where records would be kept etc. And they should also be responsible for passing on emails from other interested parties (restricted to those operating in the field) so that all correspondence is of value to the debate i.e. a filtering process might be necessary. (This secondary correspondence should be kept private to the sender, recipient and arbitrators.)

    Serious thought would have to be given to the arbitration panel, perhaps even formed from the judiciary with the power to call on guidance from learned scientific personnel.

    Finally, the issue is resolved and if the case is found proven, some sanction (scientific community to decide – possible publication of findings on the public website set up for the purpose?)

    This is only my loose thoughts on the matter, please treat it as seed corn for discussion.

    To the moderator. There seems to be quite a lot of discussion on this topic. How about a separate thread with invitations to post from other scientific fields – it will impinge on them after all.
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  35. rhjames, to provide your evidence of how the IPCC "deliberately misrepresented scientific evidence", please choose one of the IPCC-related threads here, here, here, or here.

    Don't forget to read the headline post and all comments, just in case you repeat something which has already been discussed. After having done that, if you still feel confident that you have something new to add (especially with regard to 'deliberate misrepresentation'), please do so. Otherwise, you have the opportunity to withdraw your accusation.
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  36. I find this Lindzen thing getting a bit confusing. In the first place he doesn't say what models he is referring to. As far as I am aware the most sophisticated models do in fact take into account the oceans and so thermal inertia should be part of the model and be reflected in the model output. The article seems to be arguing that we have the ?some? unspecified model which we have to apply thermal inertia corrections to. This looks kind of wrong.

    I think it would be more to the point to show a specific model's predictions and mark on it what Lindzen says the model prediction is and what the actual temperature is. That way we have an instant conclusion: Lindzen is right or wrong!!!
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  37. h pierce at 05:46 AM on 23 April, 2011

    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.
    Err no. This is a very common misconception in climate skeptic land. I have explained why it is wrong before without success. It's amazing the number of people with technical backgrounds don't/won't understand how averaging of data produces a higher resolution result than the input data.
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  38. Chris G at #69 and LazyTeenager at #87.

    'H Pierce' appears to be one Harold Pierce Jnr, a recalcitrant, statistically-inept AGW denialist who has a long track record at Deltoid of inappropriate use of statistical tests.

    For example, HPJ used many dozens (at least) of t-tests to compare various weather station temperatures over time, even after the issue of repeated measures was pointed out to him. Further, I suspect that I have previously pointed out to HPJ the very fact of the accuracy of averages of large datasets being greater than the accuracy of any random individual datapoint in the set.

    Cherry picking and misrepresentation, such as demonstrated by Lindzen in the top of this thread, are prime devices for denying the existence of climate change. Deliberate and incompetent misuses of statistics and analysis are some of the favoured tools to achieve this denial, as tens of thousands of denialist comments on hundreds of blogs and in hundreds of newspapers will attest.

    Sadly, it is unlikely that objective science can ever really decapitate this beast of ignorance. In this regard, I feel Sphaerica's pain at #62. Perhaps one partial solution would be to have a list of basic statistical rebuttals here similar to the ever-growing list of conceptual rebuttals on Skeptical Science - then all one would need to do is to provide a link, and leave alone the painful repetition of basic explanations that have been covered many times previously.
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  39. Professor Lindzen is the main target on this site now, I understand. The title "Lindzen Illusion #1" forebodes that we will soon see a series of articles like the Monckton Myths numbers 1 thru 16. I have stayed completely out of this site for some months, but now that I returned I stumbled on this Lindzen theme. The purpose is to prove him wrong on point after point by quoting selected reports, as if it was possible to prove anything within climate science.

    Climate science exists in the vast grey area somewhere in between physics and statistics. You can measure a lot of things daily or year by year, but it is still just weather when the time scale is 10, 20, or 30 years. You cannot test a climate theory in real life, on the real globe itself, unless you allow for a time scale that is too long for a human scientist. Computer models can be built to 'test' a theory, but a good model yields the desired results - those that were in fact built into the model.

    I have great respect for Professor Lindzen; he is still an established atmospheric physicist and a famous professor of meteorology, and he has written hundreds of publications within the subject of climate and weather. In my view it is still possible that within another 25 or 50 years, those who live then will see that he was more right than wrong (and that the IPCC was wrong about the glaciers in 2035!).

    On this site, however it is insinuated that he is a charlatan, a liar and a cheater. All this is of course writings by, and intended for, those that already have a certainty of belief in present-day climatology. They know they are right, and that Lindzen is completely wrong, but will any skeptic convinced by this post and these comments?

    Reading through all the comments to this thread, I recognize about the same 50 guys that all have the same opinions and are full of implicit faith. They have read hundreds of "reports". They are full of indignation over the fact that some professor who has slightly different opinions (a millimeter here, a tenth of a degree there) is allowed to speak in public.

    Then we have the 5 or so skeptics that are not so easily convinced. Without them there would be almost no discussion. They are told to go read more "reports" and come back later. If they write something considered off-topic, it is officially (-snipped-). That´s new, at least! I guess my comment will be seriously snipped.
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    [DB] Do you agree with Lindzen or not, per the topic of this post, that we should have seen more warming?  Otherwise your comment is much ado about nothing.  And thus off-topic...

  40. Argus@89
    "I guess my comment will be seriously snipped"

    The only insightful thing in your whole comment. I disagree though. It is more likely to be deleted altogether since it is a long winded complaint that has nothing to do with the topic. I for one cant wait to see both of our comments deleted in order to maintain some decorum on this site.
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  41. Argus #89 - do you have something of substance to say about this post? "I like Lindzen therefore he must be correct" isn't exactly a very compelling argument.
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  42. Argus said... "In my view it is still possible that within another 25 or 50 years, those who live then will see that he was more right than wrong..."

    Is there any basis for this belief? If so I'd like to hear it.

    It's my most sincere hope that Lindzen is right, that there is a mechanism in the system that's going to produce much lower climate sensitivity than what is currently being projected. But I'm not seeing much out there to support Lindzen's position.
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  43. That comment from Argus is a fantastic resource as a conglomerate of many so-called skeptical beliefs and complaints. It can be boiled down to sham shock, dismissal, belittling, incomprehension, misunderstanding, selective idolisation, hypocrisy, wishful-thinking, double-standards, a martyrdom-complex, naivety, and an unawareness of the absurdity of most of the claims made.
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  44. "The IPCC 95% confidence range puts the total net anthropogenic forcing at 0.6 to 2.4 W/m2 (Figure 1)."


    "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 1.77m W/m2. If we incorporate these figures, the most likely net forcing value becomes 1.5 W/m2"

    But of course Dr Trenberth says that the net forcing is actually 0.9W/sq.m NOT 1.5W/sq.m when the 'CLIMATE REPONSES' are taken into account.

    Surely this is enough of an indicator of the wide range of potential NET forcing to make a similarly wide range of temperature rise outcomes.

    Lintzen is plumbing for the low end, others the high end.

    This should not be a cause of the abuse and denegration of any scientist as long as the opinions held are honest and in good faith. Error is not a crime.

    The tone and quality of debate on this site has deteriorated since Moderators were appointed { - snip -}
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    Moderator Response: [muoncounter] Complaints about moderation snipped. You know the rules; when you don't follow them, you have no one but yourself to blame.
  45. Re "Lintzen is plumbing for the low end, others the high end." @94,

    I do agree that Lindzen is aiming for the low end alright (< 1 K), in the very tails of the probability distribution function for climate sensitivity in fact. Lindzen is an outlier in more than one sense-- we are still waiting for his mystical negative cloud feedback mechanism to kick in, while evidence to the contrary continues to mount.

    Not sure who the "others" are in the above quote, but the IPCC is actually stating the middle ground for climate sensitivity at 3 K, and that is derived using data from multiple independent lines of evidence and studies (e.g., Knutti and Hegerl 2008). To be high they would have to be calling for a climate sensitivity greater than about 4.5 K (see Annan and Hargreaves 2006, for example), and a paper by them in 2009 came to a similar conclusion supporting a most likely climate sensitivity near +3 K. See also Knutti et al. (2006).

    SkS continues to be an excellent source for genuine scientific information and a beacon of light in a "debate" often filled with invective, vitriol and hyperbole. Unfortunate then that contrarian posters have taken it upon themselves to try and ruin has become a valuable pedagogical tool.
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  46. Ken Lambert at 95 says

    This should not be a cause of the abuse and denegration of any scientist as long as the opinions held are honest and in good faith. Error is not a crime.
    I agree. But:
    Lindzen has written one newspaper article, if memory serves,.that abuses and denigrates other scientists, so maybe you should explain this to Lindzen.
    Lindzen is often presented as an authority, which means he should check his facts and not dogmatically communicate the same wrong information over and over again. Science is a collective enterprise, so the tendency to claim yourself as correct and everyone else as wrong, incompetent or dishonest is not a valid position.

    If Lindzen is propagating information which is in error, people should be able to explain why without having their own motives impugned.
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  47. KL #94: top of the atmosphere energy imbalance is not the same as radiative forcing at the surface.
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  48. dana1981

    Perhaps you could explain to the readers how an imbalance of 1.5W/sq.m at the surface becomes 0.9W/sq.m at TOA and still complies with the first law.
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  49. Quick answers:

    Moderator: "Do you agree with Lindzen or not, per the topic of this post, that we should have seen more warming?" -- Answer: it is still too early to say; time will tell.

    #90 pbjamm -- not worth an answer.

    #91 dana1981: " "I like Lindzen therefore he must be correct" isn't exactly a very compelling argument." -- Answer: you are right, and that quote misrepresents what I wrote; read again!

    #92 Rob Honeycutt: "Is there any basis for this belief? If so I'd like to hear it." -- Answer: the basis is that 20 years is too soon state definite answers about climate.

    #93 JMurphy: "That comment from Argus..." -- Answer: an excellent compilation of invectives, insults and foul language, other than that deserves no answer ( -Inflammatory snipped- ).
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    Moderator Response: [DB] JMurphy was making a generality about your comment being emblematic of stock "skeptic" responses and tactics. I see no personal insults or foul language. Any invective I read is directed at the argumentation style and mindset in general, not in specific.
  50. Argus, what do you mean that it is "still too early to say" that we should have seen more warming ? When do you believe we WILL have seen more warming, at least to your requirements ?
    (Hope I haven't used any "foul language" there - not that I used any before but, there you go...)
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