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Lindzen's talk at DDP meeting

Alarming Global Warming: What Happens to Science in the Public Square

See also a written version of the talk in a journal...
Willie Soon sent us the newly posted video at the bottom, a 56-minute-long talk by Richard Lindzen at the (July) 2012 DDP meeting (Long Island Hotel And Conference Center). DDP stands for "Doctors for Disaster Preparedness" that sounds silly, the talk is 1 year old, and there has already been a 2013 DDP meeting.

But the talk still looked interesting enough to me which is why I thought it was a good idea to increase the video's visibility and you may watch it here, too.

So here we go. From the YouTube video page:

From DDP 30th Annual Meeting, July 2012. Professor Lindzen is a dynamical meteorologist with interests in the broad topics of climate, planetary waves, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, and hydrodynamic instability. His research involves studies of the role of the tropics in mid-latitude weather and global heat transport, the moisture budget and its role in global change, the origins of ice ages, seasonal effects in atmospheric transport, stratospheric waves, and the observational determination of climate sensitivity.

He has made major contributions to the development of the current theory for the Hadley Circulation, which dominates the atmospheric transport of heat and momentum from the tropics to higher latitudes, and has advanced the understanding of the role of small scale gravity waves in producing the reversal of global temperature gradients at the mesopause, and provided accepted explanations for atmospheric tides and the quasi-biennial oscillation of the tropical stratosphere. He pioneered the study of how ozone photochemistry, radiative transfer, and dynamics interact with each other. He is currently studying what determines the pole-to-equator temperature difference, the nonlinear equilibration of baroclinic instability, and the contribution of such instabilities to global heat transport. He has also been developing a new approach to air-sea interaction in the tropics, and is actively involved in parameterizing the role of cumulus convection in heating and drying the atmosphere and in generating upper level cirrus clouds. He has developed models for the Earth's climate with specific concern for the stability of the ice caps, the sensitivity to increases in CO2, the origin of the 100,000-year cycle in glaciation, and the maintenance of regional variations in climate. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS's Meisinger and Charney Awards, the AGU's Macelwane Medal, and the Leo Huss Walin Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, and has been a member of the NRC Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the Council of the AMS. He has also been a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

Lindzen begins with some funny comments on why he would visit a conference of prepared doctors for the first time, how their talk seem to be catchy, and so on. Then he discusses how problematic it is to identify science with institutions. These days, the connection is almost automatic, anyway, with government's monopoly in external funding in fields like climatology. This has worrisome consequences for the potential ethical erosion. Lindzen said that many others have said it, you don't need Lindzen to tell you such things.

Nevertheless, he says lots of things about these social issues surrounding science, anyway. One of the texts he recommended was The Blueprint by Peter Thiel (Paypal, FB), Max Levchin, and Garry Kasparov (chess) that Thiel was working on when I and Lindzen met him 3 years ago. But the book hasn't been released, as far as I can see.

Lindzen tells us about the context of similar "moral" movements, more precisely about science that is "politically useful". About 100 years ago, the counterpart of global warming was eugenics because all the people expressed their high moral standards by supporting eugenics just like many do it with global warming today. To make it "work", one needs powerful advocacy groups talking about science all the time, simplistic depictions, events to be "interpreted", and scientists flattered by public attention in sufficient numbers to produce the science "demanded by the public".

He shows a cartoon with the vicious triangle of scientists (making ambiguous statements), journalists (conversion to alarmist declarations), politicians (responding to the alarm by paying scientists), and so on. Scientists in faraway disciplines (psychology, political science...) are happy to have some "action" in science. Ordinary people have sense, academics don't. Some amazingly meaningless, AGW-motivated research projects that got $200k or $400k are mentioned.

Lysenko wasn't an evil man, we hear. He was a mediocre man who just used the opportunity to be influential. Millions of casualties of agricultural failures were a side effect. Similar comments apply to the people in eugenics (e.g. Harry Laughlin) and people like Mann and Jones in the climate science. Lindzen remembers the era when "climatology" was only used for record keepers, an underappreciated group of workers. Well, that has changed. They morphed into "leading scientists". Obviously, they want to maintain the new situation – and invites others to improve their status, too. People have been joining the bandwagon to be promoted. The "politically useful" transformation of science inevitably leads to the loss of quality, promotion of incompetence, and the disappearance of logic itself.

Examples. Correlation isn't causation despite stupid women with accolades. Global mean temperature isn't an important driver of the temperature but just the residue in a calculation of things that actually matter for the climate change (equator-pole difference is more important). By the way, the IPCC models incorrectly predicted the behavior of the equator-pole difference. This has consequences because one can't derive the Eocene (56-34 Myears ago) from these models!

The temperature is quickly oscillating. The annual etc. average is much lower than these oscillations, essentially zero although not quite zero. It's not exciting but if you change the scale, you can make it look exciting. ;-) Lindzen also shows how you can't feel global warming – and how certain things about the weather may be accurately predicted through a trick. He also shows that the recent and 70-year-older temperature graphs for 30 years are almost the same. Which one is global warming?

The annual temperatures contain residues and/of many other effects. Lindzen has been pointing out that an independent evaluation of the sensitivity was needed. Almost all empirically based methods suggest that the sensitivity is below 1 °C; IPCC insists on 3 °C, anyway. Even the temperature record is really consistent with a much lower sensitivity.

AGW is a mess and has been costly to the society and damaging for science. The question is How do we get out of it? In the case of eugenics, immigration gave the stimulative events, some genetics was the science behind it. The movement was discredited by the Nazis but some of it survived through the 1960s. Lysenkoism was supported by the whole USSR machinery but the opposition actually remained strong throughout the era and omnipresent behind the borders. Stalin's death helped by Khruschev was actually a Lysenko fan and allowed him to continue in his position. Lysenko didn't need to fight for his job which is ironically the reason why the movement faded away.

Global warming differs in 2 ways from eugenics and Lysenkoism. Unlike the two older examples, it has become a religion. Many people found the meaning of their lives by saving the planet through watching their carbon footprint. ;-) Fun WSJ cartoon with a lazy boy on the couch: Isn't it enough that I am saving the planet? ;-)

The second difference is that the propagation of AGW is global, unlike Lysenkoism, and it has devoured more or less all of institutionalized science. However, cracks exist. The claims are becoming increasingly indefensible. ClimateGate showed a pathology, regardless of attempted whitewashes. Groups including physicists are heard as skeptics and official statements from Norway, India etc. happened to be clearly non-alarmist. Even Ralph Cicerone (NAS) has denounced the climate catastrophicism. Their retreat has hopefully begun. It's plausible that similar movements have a natural lifetime about 30 years.

Questions: the last 14 minutes...

A participant points out that the laymen don't distinguish scientists and science. Five PhDs publishing something make the report "scientific". Lindzen agrees: no doubts about it. But there's no clue what to do about it. This problem clearly damages all of science. No ways to wrestle with it without a public pissing match. ;-)

Another guy praises Dick as a "compensator" for the institutional voice of his MIT and the Boston establishment. Is it possible for a PhD candidate or someone who wants tenure in Greater Boston to be critical? You can't say it openly, Dick says. A young person couldn't make a career if he were openly critical of global warming, Lindzen repeats it. (I assure you that I've gone through quite some terror at Harvard due to my AGW skepticism as well, partly because of the role of visiting aggressive outsiders and Marxist sluts such as Naomi Oreskes – which was, of course, just a tiny portion of my positions that are viewed as "politically incorrect" by the insane establishment not only in that area.) Gerard Roe of the Milankovitch fame is an example of a silent skeptic who can do fine – he adds a sentence or two that he kindly hopes that the kind reader understands that the paper, while it says nothing about CO2, doesn't rule its effects out. Other examples.

Also, you need to bring the money to be promoted at universities so your grant applications can't openly say skeptical things, either. Lindzen also mentions that South Korea doesn't mind, for example, as he learned from his Korean postdoc collaborator (probably Choi). However, Dick's Chilean ex-student can't come out because Chile is much more politically correct (that's probably true especially for countries that try to "undo" the sins of clearly right-wing regimes from their history). A French collaborator can say anything because he has no intention to stay in the field. ;-)

The third man crisply summarized a comment by Dick – fluctuations away from the mean are more important than the fluctuations of the mean. Sea level and health impact of daily cycles are clear examples (heart attacks increase with the night-day difference). Death rates numbers to support the thesis... This man actually says that heart attacks are reduced by 3-5% because of the reduction of the diurnal temperature fluctuations caused by CO2. Dick doesn't believe it and neither do I because the CO2 is changing the temperature almost by the same amount at night and during the day and its contributions to the day-night temperature difference is even smaller than its contribution to the overall mean which is tiny by itself. Lindzen points out that the reasoning is illogical because the global mean temperature, which is a residue, is presented as the cause etc.

Fourth man asks about the meaninglessness of the global average – which are problematic because of abandoned and new stations etc. Dick Lindzen says that once you get obsessed about tenths of degrees, these details really matter. Pissing contests on whether those things matter but Dick wisely says: this is not what the climate is about.

Dick confirms the fifth man's comments about the large changes that historically occurred – ice ages – relatively to the negligible recent ones. He explains that the ice ages are driven by the summer insolation over the Arctic. These influences require changes by hundreds of watts per meter square meter; CO2 doubling is about 3 watts per square meter. The global mean is actually unaffected in those cycles. Thus, talking about the global average only throws the baby out with the bath water and returns science by decades if not generations.

The sixth man points out that Dick is Emeritus, will it change his activities? Dick hopes so. ;-)

The seventh man says a joke, a medical analogy with the obsession about the temperature change. Dick says that if the body weren't fluctuating in its temperature on short timescales, it couldn't be stable on the long time scales. We've forgotten it and started to treat change as a bad thing instead of an indication of stability.

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snail feedback (5) :

reader Gordon said...

I admire Lindzen for dealing with all the cr@p that AGW fanatics try to smear him with. The purported list of all the things attributed by the hysterics to global warming would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetically imbecilic...the latest after a shark attack in Maui is that global warming is causing shark attacks...I guess aliens are next.

reader lucretius said...

It's very depressing how few scientists today have Lindzen's courage and integrity. The situation in science today reminds me of the that of dissidents in former communist countries before the rise of Solidarity in Poland and Perestroika in the Soviet Union. Many people agreed with them in private but few dared to speak up in public. I don't know how long this can last but eventually the edifice of lies will collapse. Then they will probably try to make everyone forget everything, just like the Western Left has tried to make everyone forget their support for Stalinism, Maoism etc.

reader Rathnakumar said...

"The global mean is actually unaffected in those cycles."

The global mean temperature does not change between glacials and interglacials? This is quite a revelation to me, Dr. Motl! Or, I understood you wrong?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Sorry, you misread. The sentence doesn't say "global mean temperature". It talks about the global mean of a different quantity that is clear from the context - namely the global mean of the insolation.

Richard's point was that if you only studied the energy budget over the Earth, you could never discover any irregularity such as the Milankovitch cycles - and you could therefore never predict the ice ages and interglacials. The ice ages and interglacials are *not* driven by the global average of anything. They are driven by the amount of solar radiation reaching the Arctic in the summer.

reader Rathnakumar said...

Thank you for the clarification, Dr. Motl!