Lindzen achtergrond thermometer

Onder de titel, ‘Global Warming and the irrelevance of science’, publiceerde de ‘Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)’ onlangs een rapport met daarin de tekst van een recente lezing van de gerenommeerde Amerikaanse klimaatscepticus Richard Lindzen (afbeelding boven) in het Ettore Majorana Centre in Erice (Sicilië). Ettore Majorana was een beroemd Italiaans theoretisch natuurkundige, die op jeugdige leeftijd in maart 1938 onder mysterieuze omstandigheden tijdens een bootreis van Palermo naar Napels is verdwenen.

In zijn voordracht gaat Lindzen dieper in op een aantal belangrijke thema’s, die ook al in zijn eerder werk aan de orde zijn gekomen, zoals de dominante invloed van de overheid middels brede subsidiestromen op de inhoud en richting van het wetenschappelijk onderzoek, waaraan het gevaar van politisering van de wetenschap kleeft.

In many fields, governments have a monopoly on the support of scientific research. Ideally, they support the science because they believe objective research to be valuable. Unfortunately, as anticipated by Eisenhower in his farewell speech from 17 January 1961 (the one that also warned of the military–industrial complex), ‘Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.’ Under these circumstances, when the government wants a particular scientific outcome the ideal arrangement is vulnerable.

However, as I hope to show, the problem is not simply bias. Rather, the powers that be invent the narrative independently of the views of even cooperating scientists. It is in this sense that the science becomes irrelevant. This was certainly the case in the first half of the twentieth century, where we just have to look at Lysenkoism in the former Soviet Union, social Darwinism and eugenics throughout the western world, as well as the unfounded demonisation of DDT in the 1960s. Each phenomenon led to millions of deaths. And, in each case, the scientific community was essentially paralysed, if not actually complicit.

Will climate catastrophism join this list? It appears so. The position of the policy world is clear. Here is President Obama’s constant refrain:
Climate change is contributing to extreme weather, wildfires, and drought, and that rising temperatures can lead to more smog and more allergens in the air we breathe, meaning more kids are exposed to the triggers that can cause asthma attacks.

Vervolgens geeft hij een overzicht van de punten waarop een grote mate van overeenstemming bestaat tussen wetenschappelijke protagonisten en antagonisten van de menselijke broeikashypothese (AGW = ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’).

None of this is controversial and none of this actually implies alarm. However, in the policy world, as emerges from virtually any reading of the current political discourse, sometimes referred to as CAGW, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and its attendant media coverage, the innocuous agreement is taken to be equivalent (with essentially no support from observations, theory or even models) to rampant catastrophism. There are numerous examples of the issuance of unalarming claims, regardless of their validity or lack thereof, that are interpreted as demanding immediate action.

Een van de geliefde thema’s van Lindzen is de onbeduidendheid van de opwarming die de afgelopen 150 jaar heeft plaats gevonden. Daarbij vergelijkt hij de 0,8 graden C opwarming met de temperatuurschommelingen in Boston gedurende een aantal dagen in februari en maart 2013.

Some charts from the weather page of the Boston Globe of 12 March 2013 – any other date would serve as well – illustrate how small the changes really are. In the attached figure we see the high and low temperatures for each day in the preceding month (black), the average high and low temperature for each date (dark grey) and the record high and low temperature for each date (light grey). The width of the black horizontal line corresponds to the change in the global mean temperature anomaly over the past 150 years.

Lindzen 1 Knipsel

Vaak wordt er paniekerig gedaan over de gevolgen van opwarming, maar …

Although it has become commonplace to fear warming, it is worth noting that the approximately 1◦C warming since the 19th century has been accompanied by the improvement of all indices of human welfare, including environmental quality.

Inderdaad, nooit in de menselijke geschiedenis heeft er zó veel welvaartstoename plaatsgevonden als in de afgelopen 150 jaar.

Wie hebben belang bij het aanjagen van de opwarmingshysterie?

Of course, scientists are hardly the main beneficiaries. The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong motivations for believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence. In no particular order, there are:

• Leftist economists for whom global warming represents a supreme example of market failure, as well as a wonderful opportunity to suggest correctives.
• UN apparatchiks for whom global warming is the route to global governance.
• Third World dictators, who see guilt over global warming as providing a convenient claim on aid, in other words the transfer of wealth from the poor in rich countries to the wealthy in poor countries.
• Environmental activists, who love any issue that has the capacity to frighten the gullible into making hefty contributions to their NGOs.
• Crony capitalists, who see the immense sums being made available for ‘sustainable’ energy.
• Government regulators, for whom the control of a natural product of breathing is a dream come true.
• Newly minted billionaires, who find the issue of ‘saving the planet’ appropriately suitable to their grandiose pretensions.
• Politicians, who can fasten on to CAGW as a signature issue where they can act as demagogues without fear of contradiction from reality or complaint from the purported beneficiaries of their actions (the wildly successful London run of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ dealt with this).
• etc., etc.
All of the above special interests, quite naturally, join the chorus of advocates.

In het verleden hebben Dick Thoenes, Simon Rozendaal en ik ook aandacht aan dit thema geschonken in ons: ‘Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma.’ Voor een bespreking daarvan zie hier.

Maar zelfs velen van de meest fervente aanhangers van de AGW–hypothese onder de mainstream klimatologen behoren niet tot de catastrofisten.

To state that climate change will be ‘catastrophic’ hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science. Even Gavin Schmidt, Jim Hansen’s successor as head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, whose website,, is a major defender of global warming, does not agree with claims of extremes.

General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media … It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realise that’s nonsense.

Toch suggereren politici, de media en de milieubeweging vaak dat het vijf voor twaalf is.

[That] has very serious implications for proposed policies alleged to deal with global warming, such as the restriction of access to electricity for the 1.3 billion human beings currently without it, and the increased poverty for billions more, with obvious implications for health and longevity, not to mention foregoing the well-established agricultural benefits of added carbon dioxide, a chemical essential to life as we know it rather than a pollutant. It is clear that the issue of climate does constitute an emergency. However, as is so often the case, the emergency does not arise from science and technology, but rather from politics.

It is worth examining whether science can play a role in the mitigation of this emergency. It is doubtful whether the answer will consist in research grants. However, science has much at stake. Its hard-earned raison d’etre as our most effective tool for objective assessment is being squandered, and with it, the basis for public trust and support.

If we do nothing to stop this insanity, science will rightly be regarded as just another racket. This might just be more collateral damage than we can readily afford.

Aldus Richard Lindzen.

Lees verder hier.

Voor mijn eerdere bijdragen over klimaat en aanverwante zaken zie hierhier, hier, hier en hier.