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Lindzen, Happer, and Cohen Wall Street Journal Rerun

Posted on 22 August 2012 by dana1981

Readers may recall a letter published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in January 2012, signed by 16 climate contrarians, which we dubbed The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change InactionRoger Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen (hereafter CHL) were 3 of the 16 signatories on that letter, and have published yet another in the WSJ a mere 7 months later.  As we noted at the time, neither Happer nor Cohen has a single climate science publication to his name, while Happer is a member of two fossil fuel-funded climate denialist think tanks (George C. Marshall Institute and Global Warming Policy Foundation) and Cohen is a George C. Marshall Institute 'expert' who has previously worked for ExxonMobil.  Richard Lindzen is of course a climate scientist, but quite possibly the most consistently wrong climate scientist on climate issues on the planet. 

Suffice it to say that CHL do not have a great deal of credibility on climate science issues, which is perhaps why they continue to publish their opinions in the conservative mainstream media rather than subjecting their arguments to the scientific peer-review process.  As we saw in January, the first WSJ letter was little more than a compilation of many long-debunked climate myths, and the quality of their arguments has not improved much in their second attempt.  In fact the two letters bear some striking resemblances, for example both citing the climate opinions of Ivar Giaever, who we have previously seen has not even done the most basic climate science research.

In this post we will examine the claims made in the latest WSJ letter from CHL, with one in particular standing out above the rest.

WSJ - Home of the Whopper

Just last month we looked at a paper by Lindzen and Choi (2011) (LC11), which claimed to provide evidence for a climate sensitivity of less than 1°C, meaning that if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere doubles, Lindzen argues that the average global surface temperature will only warm a total of <1°C in response. 

As we discussed at the time, subsequent research has identified a number of fundamental errors in LC11 which have not been addressed, and in addition, virtually all other research using many different lines of evidence finds that climate sensitivity is very likely between 2 and 4.5°C for doubled CO2.  At the time, we also noted that arguments for climate sensitivity <1°C depend entirely on LC11, because there has simply been little if any other scientific research in recent years finding such extreme low outlier sensitivity values.

"Since the body of research using multiple different approaches and lines of evidence is remarkably consistent in finding an equilibrium climate sensitivity of between 2 and 4.5°C for doubled CO2 (whereas a 'low' sensitivity would be well below 1.5°C), climate contrarians...attempt to replace it with this single study by Lindzen and Choi"

As if they were reading our post when they penned their WSJ article, this is precisely what CHL have done, claiming:

"It is increasingly clear that doubling CO2 is unlikely to increase global temperature more than about one degree Celsius, not the much larger values touted by the global warming establishment."

How is this "increasingly clear"?  The beauty of publishing an article in the mainstream media is that providing supporting evidence is unnecessary - the reader is expected to simply take CHL's word for it.  We can only assume that this 'increasing evidence' refers to the increase from essentially zero studies finding such extremely low climate sensitivity, to one fundamentally flawed study (LC11).  While this can perhaps be construed as "increasing" evidence, it is hardly a strong or convincing case.

Extreme Weather Obfuscation, Again

Denying the link between climate change and extreme weather events is becoming a common exercise amongst climate contrarians, for example John Christy, Roger Pielke Jr., and Steve McIntyre.  CHL join the extreme weather obfuscation party, and in fact refer to John Christy's myth and misinformation-filled congressional testimony on the subject as "measured and informative" in the process.  Perhaps they meant to say "misinformative."

Their comments on the issue are in response to a previous WSJ article by Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, in which Krupp asserted:

"One scorching summer doesn't confirm that climate change is real any more than a white Christmas proves it's a hoax. What matters is the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather. But with more than 26,000 heat records broken in the last 12 months and pervasive drought turning nearly half of all U.S. counties into federal disaster areas, many data-driven climate skeptics are reassessing the issue."

This was a perfectly reasonable and accurate opening to Krupp's article, but CHL take issue with his measured words, describing them in less than flattering terms:

"Despite shrill claims of new record highs, when we look at record highs for temperature measurement stations that have existed long enough to have a meaningful history, there is no trend in the number of extreme high temperatures, neither regionally nor continentally. We do see the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s setting the largest number of record highs, at a time when it is acknowledged that humans had negligible effect on climate."

They proceed to list several types of extreme weather events which they proclaim have shown no long-term trend.  However, as we have documented, the link between climate change and many types of extreme weather has already been documented in the peer-reviewed literature.  Here are just a few examples regarding precipitation, drought, and extreme heat.

Min et al. (2011):

"Here we show that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas."

Dai et al. (2011):

"All the four forms of the PDSI show widespread drying over Africa, East and South Asia, and other areas from 1950 to 2008, and most of this drying is due to recent warming. The global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% (of global land area) per decade from 1950 to 2008."

Zwiers et al. (2011):

"Therefore, it is concluded that the influence of anthropogenic forcing has had a detectable influence on extreme temperatures that have impacts on human society and natural systems at global and regional scales"

We also recently discussed Hansen et al. (2012), which showed that heat waves have already become both more intense and more frequent as a result of global warming.  This is true on a global scale, on a hemispheric scale, and even just for the United States, although to a lesser degree (Figure 1).

Hansen Fig 7 

Figure 1: Percent area covered by temperature anomalies in categories defined as hot (>0.43σ), very hot (>2σ), and extremely hot (>3σ). Anomalies are relative to 1951–1980 base period; σ is from 1951–1980 data.

As this figure shows, if we split summers from 1951 to 1980 evenly into 'cold', 'moderate', and 'warm' such that each occurred 33% of the time, we are now experiencing cold summers just 10% of the time and warm summers ~75% of the time, globally.  However, this shift toward hot summers and heat waves doesn't occur uniformly over the whole planet's surface.  CHL are correct to note that the USA experienced similarly hot conditions during the Dust Bowl 1930s, which Hansen et al. discuss explicitly in their paper:

"Temperature anomalies are “noisy” for the United States because of the small area of the contiguous 48 states (less than 1.6% of the globe), yet we can discern that the long-term trend toward hot summers is not as pronounced in the United States as it is for hemispheric land as a whole. Indeed, the extreme summer heat of the 1930s, especially 1934 and 1936, is comparable to the United States temperature in the most extreme recent years.

The large 1930s and 1940s anomalies in the United States do not obviate the conclusion that recent global warming, with high probability, is responsible for recent extreme anomalies."

Despite the local warm period in the USA in the 1930s, there is still a clear long-term trend toward hotter summer temperatures in the middle frame of Figure 1.  Additionally, the USA does not exist in a bubble.  Our CO2 emissions are mixed throughout the atmosphere and thus impact the global climate; thus we cannot simply consider changes in our own climate while ignoring changes throughout the rest of the world, as CHL do.  The global trend toward more frequent and intense heat waves is abundantly clear in this animation based on the results of Hansen et al. (2012):

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center GISS and Scientific Visualization Studio

More CO2 is Good for Plants?  Really?

CHL proceed to repeat the grossly oversimplified myth that more CO2 is good for plants:

"CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants, and there are persuasive arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity."

Given the recent climate impacts on wheat in Russia and corn in the United States, for example, this contrarian argument is a rather large pill to swallow.  Quite simply, CO2 is not the only factor influencing plant growth.  In fact side effects of increasing atmospheric CO2, like more heat waves and droughts, are far more important for crop growth than CO2 concentration.  And as Dai (2010) showed, droughts are expected to become more common in a warming world, including in the USA, as measured by the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) (Figure 2).

pdsi dai

Figure 2: the potential for future PDSI worldwide over the decades indicated, based on current projections of future greenhouse gas emissions (Source)

For perspective, Figure 3 shows the PDSI map for the USA in July 2012, which produced the agricultural-crippling drought in the midwestern states.

July 2012 PDSI

Figure 3: PDSI for the USA in July 2012 (NCDC)

Note that dark red in Figure 3 corresponds to a PDSI of -4 and below, which corresponds to red in Figure 2.  This current level of agriculture-crippling extreme drought is projected to become the norm in the USA by mid-century, and drought intensity will only grow worse thereafter.  Dai was recently interviewed by Andrew Revkin at the New York Times and noted that we've been lucky in the USA not to have experienced a lot of drought in recent decades, but that our luck on this front is unlikely to continue (emphasis added):

"In essence, I think the U.S. has been very fortunate to have experienced a wetting trend from the 1950s to the 1990s, in contrast to many other low- and mid-latitude land areas. However, this luck is about to run out, because the tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures apparently switched into a cold phase around 1999 that typically lasts for 20-30 years and brings below-normal precipitation and drought over much of the West and southern U.S. On top of that, the greenhouse-gas-induced global warming is predicted to cause severe drying in the coming decades over the U.S. Even if the tropical Pacific condition changes after 1-2 decades into a warm phase, the U.S. is unlikely to return [to] the wet conditions of the 1977-1999 because of the expected large drying from global warming."

Yet CHL would have us believe that plants will benefit from more atmospheric CO2?

Contrarians Should Take their Own Advice

CHL did actually provide some useful advice in their article, for example:

"Whether increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is bad or good is a question of science. And in science, truth and facts are not the playthings of causes, nor a touchstone of political correctness, nor true religion, nor 'what I tell you three times is true.'"

Despite these wise words, the contrarians expect us to do exactly that - accept the myths they are peddling because they keep repeating them over and over again in the mainstream media, each time with zero supporting evidence.  Indeed whether increasing CO2 is good or bad is a question of science, and the scientific evidence clearly indicates that it is bad.  If these contrarians believe otherwise, they should subject their evidence to the scientific peer-review process rather than publishing unsupported myths in the public sphere.  The contrarians conclude their article saying:

"Let us debate and deal with serious, real problems facing our society, not elaborately orchestrated, phony ones..."

Again we entirely agree with this sentiment, and there is no more serious or real problem facing our society than human-caused climate change.  CHL of course finish the quoted sentence by denying this reality, but they have provided no credible evidence why we should share their denial.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 44:

  1. CHL proceed to repeat the grossly oversimplified myth that more CO2 is good for plants:

    "CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants, and there are persuasive arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity."


    Given the recent climate impacts on wheat in Russia and corn in the United States, for example, this contrarian argument is a rather large pill to swallow.


    This is an important point, and worth nominating in the form of Sprengel's Law of the Minimum.
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  2. Dana,

    You have the patience of Job cranking out all these counters to WSJ crap. Keep up the good work.
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  3. Actually, I disagree with Lindzen et al's assertion that:

    Whether increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is bad or good is a question of science.


    Science can tell us the impacts of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. We decide whether these are good or bad based on what we value.

    Since the impacts include ocean acidification, sea level rise, and the decline of food production, all of which imply degradation of human well-being or even destruction of human life, I would say they are bad - indeed, very much so.
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  4. Bernard @1 - I hadn't heard specifically of Sprengel's Law, thanks.

    michael @2 - thanks.

    Composer @3 - valid point, the specific impacts are a question of science, and whether those impacts are 'good' or 'bad' is a somewhat subjective question. I think most people would agree that increasing droughts are a 'bad' consequence though!
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  5. re: 1 Sprengel's Law

    Ominously, it's also known as Liebig's Law.

    I swear, it's as if Nature and History were washing their hands of us.
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  6. I made my (grim) joke, but I wanted to add that the idea that since CO2 is plant food that it's therefore always beneficial is ludicrous. After all, we can't do without water, but we drown in an excess. And it doesn't need to be a huge excess, either.
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  7. I swear, it's as if Nature and History were washing their hands of us.


    As I've just noted on a ThinkProgress thread (still in moderation as I type):

    With such species-wide, recalcitrant stupidity evolution may very well decide to give humanity a collective Darwin Award. And we can't say that we didn't know that we were nominated.
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  8. Lindzen trades on his history and associations. He's been throwing gravel in the mental gears of the population for a couple of decades now, never changing his story even as research increasingly proves him wrong.

    When a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and MIT Alfred P. Sloan Professor tells you that temperature records in the US show no sign of concern, why wouldn't you believe him?

    There comes a point where shame is the only effective means of dealing with a miscreant. In this case, appropriate shaming can only come from a unique group, Lindzen's own peers in the scientific community. Unfortunately that community is too squeamish about social propriety and (let's face it) scared of Lindzen's silverback status to deliver the message the public needs to hear.
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  9. I've looked through the site and don't find anything that addresses my question. I accept that the earth is heating up, but has anyone studied the impact of this heating on a feedback loop in which the earth stores more CO2 than prior to warming? For example, if the oceans heat up it seems that it would provide an environment more conducive to plankton growth. I read once many years ago that the CO2 stored in plankton dwarfs that stored in land-based plants. Is it possible that global warming will stimulate plankton growth so that the oceans store considerably more CO2 than it did prior to the warming? Or, does warming inhibit plankton growth and actually reduce the storage capacity of the oceans, and thereby reinforce the earth's warming?
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  10. re: #9

    The idea that there are built-in climate regulators is an attractive one, but exactly when are they supposed to kick-in? CO2 has been increasing steadily (and I believe exponentially), but neither Lindzen's Iris Effect of cloud formation nor a carbon-absorbing plankton bloom have ever materialized. These effects haven't developed in the past -- witness the advance and retreat of glaciers. Why they should pick now (or the near future) to work their magic would need to be explained.
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  11. Broomy, see Climate change and marine plankton for a thumbnail intro and leads to tons of good literature.
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  12. Broomy,

    There are nutients deficiencies in the oceans that limit the growth of plankton.
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  13. Apologies I posted that link without reading it properly the paper doesn't conclude that N is a limiting factor in plankton growth.

    "A similarly rigorous demonstration of N limitation has not been achieved for marine waters. Therefore, we conclude that the extent and severity of N limitation in the marine environment remain an open question."

    However 2 papers relating to iron deficiencies in Antarctic and Pacific subarctic.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] An additional, related paper is here:

    Global phytoplankton decline over the past century (PDF here; author letter response here).

  14. Getting back to Lindzen and Crew, if a scientist trades on reputation to mislead the public and persists in doing so in places where critical public policy decisions are being made, with an eye to mutating public policy to fit a fictitious worldview, is the public owed some explanation and guidance by the malefactor's peers?

    Accepting that members of the lay public are ill-equipped to discriminate between one collection of letter salad and another and that it's particularly difficult to pick an expert when paper qualifications are identical, is there a way for professional societies and the like to provide some guidance?

    Leading up to this little screed I wrote for Planet3. If a professional society offers specific guidance to members concerning ethical behavior and then acts on that guidance by casting judgment on particular individuals, does it have an obligation to also treat such cases as Lindzen's?
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  15. I found Richard Kerr's "Greenhouse Skeptic Out in Cold" article published in Science 246.4934 (1989) useful to understand Lindzen:

    Then, as now, some say: "no other US skeptic has such scientific stature".

    Kerr got Lindzen to admit how unscientific his critique is: "what Lindzen has now is not so much a complete model as an idea about how control of atmospheric temperature works. Indeed, he describes it himself as an idea of a theological or philosophical nature"

    Kerr quoted Schnieder in 1989 on Lindzen's ideas: "I know of no observational evidence supporting it". His latest 2012 paper was rejected by PNAS editors as you discussed in your analysis because it was low quality and its conclusions were not justified. Nothing has changed.

    In his book "Storms of My Grandchildren" Hansen shares a story about when he shared a cab with Lindzen: "I considered asking Lindzen if he still believed there was no connection between smoking and lung cancer. He had been a witness for tobacco companies decades earlier, questioning the reliability of statistical connections between smoking and health problems".

    Hansen says didn't ask that question during that cab ride, but he says he did ask Lindzen later, at a conference both were attending: "He began rattling off all the problems with the data relating smoking to health problems, which was closely analogous with his views of climate data"
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  16. Regarding Oceanic trends, I've been very interested in this ongoing story off our Pacific coast line. I live within an hours drive of some of the effected areas of our coast;
    http://www.oceanandair.coas.oregonstate.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.display&pageID=174

    These harmful blooms have been shutting down our fisheries from time to time, which directly impacts peoples livelihoods.

    Apparently they don't have proof of causation, only theories. But climate change is one of the leading theories.
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  17. Broomy, not to mention that the paleoclimatic records would suggest that more CO2 goes into the atmosphere is the actual feedback when the temperature warms. Oceans can hold less; more released from tundra, asian swamps etc.
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  18. Peter Wirfs:

    "These harmful blooms have been shutting down our fisheries from time to time, which directly impacts peoples livelihoods.

    Apparently they don't have proof of causation, only theories. But climate change is one of the leading theories."

    They're nothing new. The question here is whether or not climate change is responsible for what appears to be an increase in the frequency of these toxic algae blooms. It's similar to our state of knowledge regarding extreme weather events. The article you cite discusses other anthropogenic influences that might be responsible, and my guess is that the true answer is likely to be a mix (anthropogenic increases in nutrients due to ag runoff is real, transportation of phytoplankton via ship ballast is real, climate change is real ...),

    BTW if you're Allen's brother he and I knew each other as teen computer geeks ...
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  19. re: 15, on Steve Schneider
    People may recall that Steve spent a lot of effort trying to include uncertainty in IPCC and explain it as well as possible to differing audiences, including random groups of people on Stanford lawns for open talks.

    We were talking one time and he said that Lindzen was so frustrating, not so much because his views were so far off from the data, but more because he just wouldn't admit to any uncertainty about them, and hadn't budged for decades.
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  20. Well Lindzen thinks uncertainty applies to everyone but him. He always plays up the aerosol forcing uncertainty, for example, and yet in his own calculations treats it as though the forcing is zero with zero uncertainty. We can't know how the climate is going to change in the future, but we know for sure it's not going to change very much!

    Frustrating indeed.
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  21. Lindzen
    "CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants......"

    Funny how there seemed to be enough CO2 during the entire Holocene, at lower atmospheric concentration than now.

    And long before the Holocene
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  22. I agree with Bernhard J @7 . Homo industrialis collectively deserve a Darwin Award. And I must thank Dana for continuously strapping on the armor of logic and rationality and getting into the breach once more. Am I wrong in thinking that climate scientists in general are rather blase about AGW (Hansen being the exception)?
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  23. Uncle Pete: Homo industrialis.

    I like to think of us as Homo bolidus, a species imitating a extremely large impacting body moving along a planet-wrecking trajectory.

    We're supposed to be smarter than a bag of rocks but so far our collective intelligence seems confined to areas mostly removed from competently planning our future. Hence we're anticipating and superseding the arrival of the next giant bolide with our own act.
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  24. I've always said that Homo sapiens is a misnomer and that Homo intellectus is more appropriate, but given the commentary here I would suggest that Homo apoptosis is most apt.
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  25. So, we have a widely read website dedicated the science of climate change describing Professor Richard Lindzen, a highly regarded climate scientist at MIT, as: "... quite possibly the most consistently wrong climate scientist on climate issues on the planet."

    I wonder if I am the only one who will see Professor Lindzen as incompetent, or possibly even as a fraud, if he does not sue for defamation of character and be very interested in the outcome if he does. I would have thought that MIT would want to know why if he fails to sue and also be very interested in the outcome of any proceedings if he does.
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  26. Uncle Pete @22 - I think most climate scientists are extremely worried about AGW. However, they also don't see it as their job to be advocates, and they think that if they become advocates, it will harm their credibility as scientists.

    funglestrumpet @25 - we didn't say anything about Lindzen's character. We said he is quite possibly the most consistently wrong climate scientist on climate issues, which is factually true, as we documented if you click the associated link. If you say something wrong and I point out you have said something wrong (as just happened), I am not defaming your character in any way. You're just wrong.
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  27. Coincidentally, if you want to see real defamation of climate scientists' characters, stop by WUWT or any climate denialist blog on any day of the week. It really gets funny after they've spent years insulting climate scientists and the entire scientific field, if you even have the temerity to say a word against one of their 'skeptic' heroes, they go ballistic. I once got a nasty email from Anthony Watts for calling Bob Carter a 'fake climate expert'. After the insults he's hurled at Hansen and Mann and any number of climate scientists, that just cracked me up.
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  28. Funglestrumpet - Lindzen repeated the CO2 and plant food myth. Mate, even school children know better than that.
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  29. Excellent article Dana -- thanks very much.

    If I can make a suggestion, it would be extremely helpful if someone would write up a basic tutorial on the physics of drought. In struggling to understand basic climate science, I find that when I read some of the papers, the basic physics is somewhat obscured by the complexity of the models. I found within this site, some very helpful discussion in the comments on Hadley cells and the intertropical convergence zone, but it's not pulled together into a coherent picture for me yet. So for example, I read the very recent Dai (August, 2012) paper and the regions where the models most disagreed with the observational data was in the US and the Sahel -- the observation being that in the recent past the US was wetter than expected and the Sahel dryer. When Dai projects ahead the model then predicts it to be dryer in the US and wetter in the Sahel. What's the physics here? In the quote above from the Revkin article, Dai says it's been colder in the Pacific since 1999 and he expects it to last 20-30 years. But I thought we were entering an El Nino phase where the eastern Pacific should be warmer? And why is the Sahel expected to have more moisture? Is it that the ITCZ is expected to move North from it's present location with increased warming or for some other reason? As I said, a basic tutorial would be immensely helpful for people like me. Thanks.
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  30. dana@27...a case of 'the [climate change fake skeptic] lady doth protest too much, methinks?"

    >;-P

    I, too, am galled at the temerity and hypocrisy seen on WUWT, RC, et al, ad nauseum. It'd be WAY funnier if so many people didn't buy their [self-snipped expletive] version of climate science.
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  31. Rob Painting @ 28

    You are preaching to the converted.

    I just wonder how many times this site must expose respected climate scientists dishing out myths and falshoods before we get some political action. I have to assume that not all politicians are bought by election donations. Some must be acting on what information they have seen. If that was false, then they need to be made aware somehow or other of that fact.

    Perhaps the experience of this summer might help some of the brighter politicians look at climate change with an open mind instead of an open mouth.

    I don't think that there is a cat in hell's chance of Lindzen suing Dana. But wouldn't it be nice for MIT to enquire why he tolerates being describe in such manner. After all, that MIT tolerates a professor who can be desribed thus without reacting does reflect on MIT itself. Perhaps MIT really isn't as good as it would have us believe.
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  32. "Perhaps MIT really isn't as good as it would have us believe."

    Mmmmphft! Mmmmphft! (snipped observation)--amned Beaver rings!

    >;-)

    Your point is well-taken; someone posited that shame was likely the only solution but, given the extreme amount of attention they've gotten, methinks the FF-funding smothers that in its volume. Shame seems to be a quaint old idea, these days.

    It's all a mystery to me how this topic *ever* became such a political football, but...see aforementioned FF funding. What they have to throw against their opponents makes what the tobacco industy used seem like a virtual greenback peashooter.
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  33. Joe T - I'll draft up a little blog post with an excellent climate model simulation that explains part of the intensification of drought.
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  34. Even if Lindzen was right about the 1 degree C, that isn't an insignificant amount of warming. The difference between the LIA and the MEP was less than a degree. And of course some areas, like the poles, will warm much more.
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  35. Lazarus,

    And, of course, following Lindzen's path, we'd double CO2 at least three times and still wind up at 3˚C of warming (or, considering that he's wrong, quite probably 9˚C of warming and the end of all modern civilization).
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  36. Denial is part of pop culture, part of mainstream industry marketing. The denial approach works because modern culture's inherent false-ness: everything we engage with is fashion, that being trendiness, desire (the latter a business good), frivolousness/triviality and contrariness-for-its-own-sake.

    Modern, post-WWII culture is 'girlish' and erratic, vamping and gay (homosexual); pornographic, inconsequential and theatrical. Business isn't presumed to behave this way (where is that bottom line, again?) but business is a component of culture -- not the other way around.

    Business conforms to roles culture sets out for it. One role for business is the gay outlaw: business as misunderstood/evil and all-consuming: businessmen are therefore evil and cannibalizing, they have no choice. Saintly businessmen cannot compete because culture has created a business environment that gives evil businessmen various social and economic advantages over the rest.

    Climate scientists are part of pop culture as well. Not everyone can be a real climate scientist which is why individuals like Pielke and Monckton gain credibility that eludes actual scientists: they self-create the terms of their own 'success', they are democrats who open up the science process: they 'speak truths to power', they are 'scientists for everyman'.

    The process of democratization is what matters, not content: in America (and its copycats) every mediocrity can become a great artist (Warhol) a great musician (Snoop Dog), a great writer (EL James) simply by 'flaunting convention' (mom and dad), branding themselves in the process. There is nothing more: anyone can be an 'instant rebel without a cause' in the (fake) tradition of (fake) James Dean.

    Why not fake scientists? What's so special about scientists?

    The fake scientists are chosen because of how they look, dress and speak, where they are from and whom they know rather than any quality of thought or research, 'qualifications' or relationship to 'facts'. Real scientists are boiler tenders who are required to mind to the machines and keep them from blowing up. Because of how pop culture inverts priorities, the fake scientists are real: the real versions lack the social status to get anyone to pay attention to them.

    Scientists are constrained to the boiler-tenders' role: to invent technology. When scientists speak out, they cease being tenders and technologists, they cease being scientists -- as determined by role -- at the same time. The social role of 'scientists' is determined the fakes then filled by them.

    Scientists chasing deniers in newspapers is like Marx brothers being chased by Keystone Kops. Uh ... you guys are the 'Kops'. "Ha ha! Very funny. Look at those dumb scientists!" Because the dead-end kids can always outmaneuver the 'kops' in self-created (theatrical) contexts the kids are made out to be smarter in their own (self-created) way than the smarty-pants scientists.

    The only possible hope to blow this business up is to draft some photogenic, charismatic 'real' fake scientist like Captain Kangaroo or Rod Serling. Put this individual on TV as frequently as possible telling folks as graphically as possible how their grandchildren are going to die because of global heating -- use that term 'global heating'. It's scary, it frightens people. Nothing else will do. Science has to compete with non-science on its own (false) ground and not shilly-shally around. Part of pop-culture is apocalypse: best to start making use of it!

    Nobody takes anything seriously in America unless there are bodies in the streets. By then it is too late ...

    Plan B is for the scientists to start preparing for that day: coming up with lists of things to be jettisoned so that some humans might survive the next 500 years. Start with getting rid of the cars, all of them. Step two is getting rid of industrial agriculture. Any possible response to climate change that does not include getting rid of all the cars as the first step has not one shred of credibility.

    Otherwise, overpopulation -- of cars and humans -- will take care of itself.

    A question: how many climate scientists have cars, vacation 'homes', flat screens? (sigh ..)

    Primer on culture/climate here:

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  37. steve from virginia,

    I disagree. I think the solution is that world leaders -- indeed leaders at all levels -- need to be above falling for denial shenanigans, and to actually lead. If the world leaders (including USA Republican presidential candidates, for example) were united and serious about things -- recognizing their need to be mature and intelligent in everything, especially an issue with such gravity as this one -- you wouldn't have nearly so many people watching the Marx brothers versus the Keystone Kops and getting confused.

    We don't need scientists pretending to be salesmen or conmen, we need leaders pretending to be acting like leaders.
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  38. Steve from VA:Climate scientists are part of pop culture as well. Not everyone can be a real climate scientist which is why individuals like Pielke and Monckton gain credibility ...

    I've long thought that Monckton's special influence in the U.S. and Australia hinges in part on atavistic cultural impulses to do with his peerage, plus of course his toff accent and appealingly florid writing.

    Just because you're no longer a colony doesn't mean you instantly abandon the instinct to knuckle your forehead.

    Does it help to know that Chris Monckton is a lord only because his grandpa was a politician shunted out of government over disagreements with Anthony Eden and given a consolation prize of peerage, that the current Lord Monckton wasn't even born a peer? Probably not; Brits don't care that Lady Gaga is the child of a NYC city couple of humble origins, but Lady Gaga gets the power of "Lady" in front of any name.
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  39. Steve from Virginia ,

    A humans sexual orientation in this case homosexual(gay) does not mean they are "pornographic, inconsequential and theatrical" or even responsible for the " 'girlish' and erratic, vamping " of society . Typical offensive stereotyping which I am surprised got through moderation ?? .

    It is easy to blame a small minority for the problems of society dealing with Global Warming but maybe you should look to the right wing religious side of politics whom have done more harm to our cause of stopping the looming disaster than anyone .

    Most people understand there is a problem but are just to busy or poor!! to make changes to their lives with kids, mortgages, work, bills, and this where the role of political leaders need to be strong and not just take the easy way out of accepting the views of a few wrong umm scientists ? or even non scientists (Monckton) .

    Also why cant I have a car if its powered from batteries charged from my solar panels ?, we don't have to go back to living like Hobbits you know .

    Well that's my rant .

    Great work everyone thanks , you all make climate science accessible for society .
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    Moderator Response: TC: I do not read Steve from Virginia as saying that humans of homosexual orientation are pornographic, inconsequential, etc. Rather, I read him as saying that these are all distinct archetypes which are dominant in modern culture. Taking "pornographic", it is beyond question that pornographic imagery is a common feature in modern society in a way that it has not been in the modern west before. Full nudity can appear in adds on billboards or TV screens with no apparent concern for decorum. Recognizing this does not commit us to believing that all features of modern culture, the Olympic games, are pornographic in any way.

    Homosexual culture has also become a major feature of modern culture. Gay men, for example, appear to have been elevated as the doyens of style based solely on their sexuality. I doubt that the impact of homosexual orientations is yet commensurate with the actual homosexual presence in society; still less is it compensatory for the massive prejudice, and all to often persecution, against homosexuals that still exists.

    Read as such, there is nothing offensive or stereotyping about Steve from Virginia's comments. They do, however, push the border on relevance. As such, I ask him in future to be more direct in his style.
  40. Well that whole Modern, post-WWII culture paragraph makes me feel that gays are having a bad effect on society and that they are part of the problem of our cultural shallowness leading to our willingness to to be duped by Monckton and friends .

    If steve had just said that the over exposure of gay men in TV and films most of which just follow the same old stereotypes , was an issue I would tend to agree , maybe he should have defined what he meant by gay (homosexual) effect on culture but I get the feeling the intent was to implicate the whole sector of society in the great moral decline of the west .

    I know I am trying to convince people here with probably 20 or 30 IQ points more than me . But basically I was offended and my poor language skill stop me present a decent cogent argument . so leave it at that then .

    To keep it on topic you don't need to post this .
    Thanks
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  41. Daved@40, I too, am somewhat sensitive to 'code' words that target the GLBT population (said from my ground of being, as a straight man) and I too, like a few commenters, do not read *into* steves's words an anti gay rant. The gay part was parenthetical to a single point, and having a large number of gay friends (even having been made an honorary lesbian, by a GLBT choir to which I once belonged!), I'd say accurate. In no way do I see in Steve's words an anti-gay rant and/or stand, only an observation upon post-modern societal norms, which seem to be quite accurate. I won't deign to speak for Steve--I'm sure he'll chime in soon--but the takeaway for me was the tendency, in this PNS world, to glorify the sizzle, and minimize the steak.
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  42. hey vrooomie , hmmm interesting I live and work in an environment where being homophobic is still ok and because I'm not out I get to see what people are really like and it isn't nice . So i guess my experience colours the way I interpret that paragraph .
    Suppose i just over reacted sorry Mod TC .
    Thanks vrooomie for the insights .
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  43. One can only presume MIT do not decry Lindzen as (pick as many as apply): he has tenure, he has gone all emeritus, he attracts funding, he is amusing in the coffee room. The rest of MIT seems to be very climate aware: http://globalchange.mit.edu/ and http://cgcs.mit.edu/ and the more personal attacks on Kerry Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/01/mit-climate-scientists-wife-threatened-frenzy-hate.
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    Moderator Response: [JH]Correction: Re your final reference, Kerry Emanuel, not Kerry Jones.
  44. Daved@42: No wukka! I understand *completely* how the culture in which one resides, however 'micro' it may be, can color how one reacts to words, spoken and/or written. I try to take that into consideration, when interpreting comments that otherwise might be taken wrong.

    We both learned, and isn't that the whole point?
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