Re-discredited climate denialists in denial

“The fact remains that the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that the alarmists’ fears are grounded in empirical reality.”

“Climate Science In Denial,” reads a Wall Street Journal op-ed headline. “Global warming alarmists have been discredited, but you wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric this Earth Day.”

Actually, the subhead should be revised: “Global warming denialists have been re-discredited, but you wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric in today’s Wall Street Journal.” Far be it from me, a non-scientist, to dispute the scientific expertise of an MIT professor of meteorology, Richard Lindzen, but then again, Lindzen’s selective recitation of the litany of arguments against global warming practically begs a rebuttal.

The Atlantic hasn’t exactly been at the cutting edge of climate science (see “People Who Just Don’t Get Global Warming: Gregg Easterbrook and the Editors of the Atlantic).  So it was doubly nice to see this piece, “Climate Denialists in Denialst,” by Marc Ambinder, their politics editor (and chief political consultant to CBS News).

Ambinder doesn’t know that Lindzen is one of the most debunked  climate scientists in the world (see Lindzen debunked again: New scientific study finds his paper downplaying dangers of human-caused warming is “seriously in error”:  Trenberth: The flaws in Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got”).

But Ambinder still does a great job on Lindzen in this piece:

First, he mentions “Climate Gate” — those e-mails from the Climate Research Unit from the University of East Anglia. He suggests that the e-mails show “unambiguous evidence of the unethical suppression of information and opposing viewpoints, and even data manipulation.”

The e-mails were actually quite ambiguous and contained evidence of churlishness and defensiveness from scientists whose data had long been under attack from climate denialists.

For some reason Lindzen presumes that “one might have thought the revelations would discredit the allegedly settled science underlying the currently proposed global warming policy,” without specifying what those “revelations” were.

Two investigations, one conducted by the British government and one conducted by the university, as well as methodological reviews by the journals where some of the research mentioned in the e-mails, concluded that no data was manipulated and no legitimate (i.e., scientifically grounded) opposing views were supressed. So, of course, Lindzen finds the investigations “thoroughly lacking in depth” and “whitewashes.” You can read the government report here and make up your own mind.

To go into detail on but one point: on the allegation that CRU scientists artifically adjusted (or corrected for) data from tree ring analysis that supposedly showed no warming after 1960, the review found that the corrective mechanisms were NOT, in fact, applied to the data published by CRU and were, instead, an appropriate possible way of dealing with methodological discrepancies that result from measuring tree ring data.

A while later, Lindzen makes this curious claim about the International Panel on Climate Change’s conclusions: “For example, [their] observations are consistent with models only if emissions include arbitrary amounts of reflecting aerosols particles (arising, for example, from industrial sulfates) which are used to cancel much of the warming predicted by the models. The observations themselves, without such adjustments, are consistent with there being sufficiently little warming as to not constitute a problem worth worrying very much about.”

First, the addition of aerosols to the models aren’t arbitrary. As Tim Flannery explains for a lay audience in “The Weather Makers,” from 1940 to 1970, aerosol particles in the atmosphere helped to counterbalance the effect of global warming. Once technology advanced to scrub aerosols from emitters, the cooling trend slowed. Numerous natural and man-made experiments have confirmed, and testable hypotheses have been successfully validated, to figure out exactly how aerosol emissions change temperature predictions.

(Prediction: in the absence of jet contrails, daytime temperatures in developed areas will be higher because there will be less “stuff” in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight, thus cooling the earth. Result: check the daytime temperature figures for the days following 9/11 when airplanes were grounded.)

Flannery notes that the two forces would seem to balance out — but they don’t, since we’re producing fewer aerosols and more CO2. That would seem to suggest that we should do more to reduce CO2 emissions, not less, if we’re worried about future warming….

The discussion of aerosols and CO2 brings us to a larger question: temperature models vary considerably. Interesting how denialists often suggest that scientists rig these models to show warming and THEN use the same models to show how wide the variation in expected temperatures could be. If anything, what evidence there is of actual warming suggests that the less conservative modeling is more accurate.

Then Lindzen writes about how some French academics have published books criticizing global warming advocates for being too alarmist in their predictions. Then he ends the op-ed by suggesting that the matter is settled. One can agree that global warming advocates can be alarmist, that they can hype the negative effects of the less conservative models, and that they can often present their conclusions with more certainty than is warranted.

But the fact remains that the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that the alarmists’ fears are grounded in empirical reality.

Precisely (see “Intro. to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“)

For a debunking of Lindzen’s one remaining big idea “” that clouds are negative feedback — see Science: “Clouds Appear to Be Big, Bad Player in Global Warming,”an amplifying feedback (sorry Lindzen and fellow deniers).  And for more Lindzen debunking “” see RealClimate here.

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25 Responses to Re-discredited climate denialists in denial

  1. LucAstro says:

    IN the field of business and economy, the field that is closest to the Wall street Journal, one would have thought that they could have seen the last economic bubble coming. They did not and as a result they are discredited. What lessons can they now pretend to teach scientist in a field they know nothing about? It is like following a blind guide while trekking in the woods.

  2. James Newberry says:

    It is amazing that employees like Mr. Lindzen of ivy league institutions can regurgitate industrial ideological pabulum with no ramifications on their privledged standings in these institutions. What does MIT stand for, Military Industrial Tampering (of public perceptions)?

  3. Ron Broberg says:

    That’s the thing about Calvin-ball: Some think that if they can frame the debate, score some cheap political points, declare victory, and take their ball and go home, then it’s suddenly game over!

    Sorry WSJ. The game plays on. Science is a robust endeavor. It doesn’t demand 100% accuracy 100% of the time. It sure as hell doesn’t depend on public opinion polls and political theater. It’s a self-correcting epistemological system that over time removes errors and adds knowledge. You can throw yourself in front of the juggernaut in the name of the ideology of your choice – it cares not, and rolls ever onward, with or without you.

  4. Arthur Smith says:

    My thoughts on this and Lindzen’s previous post here. He is deep in conspiracy-theory land – and he doesn’t seem to understand some basics of the science – or at least his communications on the questions are deeply confused. Deliberately or not is hard to tell.

  5. Bill R. says:

    Ron: Well said!

  6. Deep Climate says:

    The Wall Street Journal has always given massive support to the supposed destruction of the “hockey stick”. In 2006, they celebrated the Wegman report commissioned by Joe Barton.

    Of course, now it turns out that the Wegman report was no more than a shoddy, politically-motivated attack on climate science and scientists.

    The latest? There’s new evidence of wholesale unattributed cribbing of material from a Wikipedia article and two well known text books on social network analysis. And that material just in the Wegman report itself, but also in a little-known follow up article that acknowledged support from government funding agencies.

  7. Deep Climate says:

    That should read:
    And that material *is not found just* in the Wegman report itself, but also in a little-known follow up article that acknowledged support from government funding agencies.

  8. Leif says:

    After a less than stellar performance by the population this Earth Day, I am about to throw in the hat on preemptive mitigation.

    (pace, thrash, ruminate)

    The problem is that what else is there to do?

    The reality is that more than likely anything not survivable by me will happen within my life span, currently 69. I should just kick back, get a life and watch the crapola splatter. Seriously contemplated today.

    As Douglas Adams would say “it is someone else’s problem.” SEP

    Grab my towel and let the Vogons have at it. The Universe cares not.

    Unfortunately, I am still stuck with the problem of awareness, a couple of kids and a grand kid and perhaps two. It would sure be nice to check out thinking that they had at least a chance of a future.

    Hell, I am enough of a romantic to even wish a future for humanity… I have however had a good life with minimal suffering. Many before me have faced far worse in their journeys and ultimate demise.

    Well, it appears that an attitude adjustment is warranted. The sun is coming out and the garden needs attention.

    I’ll be back…

    Two Palms UP,

  9. mark says:

    I thought Joe, and others might be interested in this:

    from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

    “A prominent University of Victoria climate researcher says he’s been repeatedly defamed by the National Post and has launched a lawsuit against the national newspaper.

    Andrew Weaver has filed a statement of claim in B.C. Supreme Court, citing four articles published in the newspaper late 2009 and early 2010.

    “These articles put him in a false light,” said Weaver’s lawyer, Roger McConchie. “Attributing to [Weaver] views that he says he never held and accusing him of conduct that he says never occurred.”

    Weaver, a full professor who was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the Nobel Prize in 2007, claims in the court documents that the National Post articles suggest he’s a corrupt scientist who promotes global warming theories so he can obtain government research grants.”

    Read more:


    [JR: On my to-blog list.]

  10. Bob Wallace says:

    Damn Leif, you’re older than me! I never expected that…

    “The reality is that more than likely anything not survivable by me will happen within my life span, currently 69. I should just kick back, get a life and watch the crapola splatter.


    Hell, I am enough of a romantic to even wish a future for humanity… I have however had a good life with minimal suffering. Many before me have faced far worse in their journeys and ultimate demise.”

    I often find myself thinking along the lines of your first paragraph. I’m not going to live long enough to see Florida go under water. But I have a little different take on your second.

    Before you and I, the “Silent Generation” came of age a lot of people worked very hard to make a better world that we got to enjoy. We didn’t fight the great labor battles of the early 20th Century, but we did get to enjoy 40 hour weeks and safe working conditions.

    I think we not only ought to “pay it forward” for those who follow us, I think we have a debt to pay to those who proceeded us and made our lives smoother.

  11. Ron Broberg says:


    Think globally, act locally.

    Any one who thinks that they can effectively control the economic activity of 6.7 billion people (as of now, 9 billion by 2050) is, well, more ambitious than I am.

    And lobby to make sure that “all of the above” efforts really are a “all of the above.” Sacred cows on the left and the right should be gored and put to rest. CSP in the Mojave. Oil from ANWR. Wind in Nantucket. Nuclear storage in NV (or tectonic plate subduction zones).

    Environmentalism as “preservation” is a luxury of the rich. As oil production begins to wind down, we are going to see just how costly it will be to continue a liquid fuel based market or to find a substitute (electric, hydrogen). Energy inputs will become more costly – economic activity could slow or even reverse. Life will change – there is no stopping that. The best you can do for your kids is to help ensure that they have the tools and mindset to adapt.

  12. Dan B says:

    Leif and Bob;

    I struggle with despair almost daily. My profession is landscape design and ecological restoration. In the mid-eighties the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain began publishing reports about advanced bloom and leaf-out time, advanced last frost (Spring) and delayed first frost (Fall) throughout the British Isles, and, thanks to societies throughout the Commonwealth, worldwide. The signature of global warming was already unmistakable. The RHS had records dating back centuries from hundreds of sites. The graph of their data was already a hockey stick by 1983. A group of us had lunch with the officers of “the Society” in June of 1984. I recall clearly their inquiring as to whether or not we’d noted similar changes in the US. This was not normal lunch chit chat.

    In the early 90’s a friend of mine organized a day long seminar on global warming for our local horticulture societies. 200+ gardeners, professional and hobbyist, attended the seminar. We heard from two local climatologists and a number of forward thinking nursery owners. There was only one voice of disagreement in the room. Everyone had already noted the changes in their gardens. This spring nearly half of our plants bloomed a full month early.

    Gardening and landscape design are not esteemed “professions” in the US. We have little esteem and little influence on the intelligentsia. Even though my family is full of high achieving scientists and mathematicians just the mention of my profession results in a lack of credibility. (I chose a career in design because it was more challenging to me than chemistry.)

    In Great Britain, in contrast, “gardening” is a highly esteemed pursuit of the elite as well as those of humble means. Because of the northerly latitude (Paris is the same latitude as Vancouver – far north of Quebec City, Scotland is as far north as Sitka, AK and Hudson Bay) global warming’s effects have been readily noticeable – droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, etc. The combined influence of gardener elites and the accident of location seemed to tip Britain in the direction of awareness and made rational discourse possible.

    The only way I revive my spirits is to focus on the rapid growth of interest, investment in, and deployment of clean sustainable energy. The rate of growth is still not what it needs to be and doesn’t seem to have penetrated the “Clean coal” / “Green Nukes” mentality inside the beltway. Things will change rapidly the minute we loosen the gates that have so far kept financial institutions looking for the next easy-money bubble. Tens of millions of families would have solar hot water, Solar PV, and super insulation if there were reliable, simple, and clear funds available. Millions of businesses would as well.

    My job as a horticultural professional is to persuade people that the biggest impact they can have on their carbon footprint is to “reduce ruminants” – cut back on beef and improve their soil and soils worldwide. Even my “green” friends eat steak and burgers while discussing their experiences with solar PV. And they have no clue that most of the carbon in mature landscapes is stored in the soil.


  13. Will Koroluk says:

    @Leif (#8) and Bob (#10):
    I’m 77, and the best motivation I’ve ever had will be with my wife and me for dinner tomorrow night: grandsons, age 16 and 18. Those boys talk a lot about climate change, especially the 16-year-old, who has the good fortune to have a physics teacher who’s keen on giving even teenagers an introduction to scientific methods. So I read as much about climate science as I can understand, and the grandsons and I talk about it. My legs don’t work well any more, and lower back is no hell, but I hope I can be an activist by encouraging my grandsons to learn more about science and about activism. And yes, Ron Broberg, planting an apple tree is a wonderful idea–and I’m going to encourage my grandsons to do the same. We could make it a celebration.

  14. john atcheson says:

    #3 Ron:

    Well said!

  15. #13 Congrats Will, kids need the ‘wisdom of the elders’. Encouraged my what’s-C02? son to go to Copenhagen and now he’s organizing protests against the tar sands in europe this summer.

  16. john atcheson says:

    It is interesting that MIT doesn’t discipline Lindzen — or fire him. It is clear that he is either being intentionally disingenuous, or that he is woefully ignorant of the science behind climate change.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating censorship — which is destructive when it is a government function.

    What I’m saying is the the premier scientific and technical institution in our nation has a right and a responsibility to hold its employees to a high standard of scientific and academic performance.

    Being intentionally deceptive or pathetically ignorant hardly meets that standard, and it would not be censorship to acknowledge that.

    Obviously, in a free society Lindzen should be able to say whatever he wants as an individual — he ought to be able to say the moon is made of green cheese, the world is flat, the Earth is the center of the universe, climate science is inconclusive — whatever crapola he wishes to dish.

    But certainly it is well within MIT’s rights and responsibilities to hold Lindzen to a higher standard than that when he spouts his bizarre religio-political pseudo science as an employee of the Institution.

    At a minimum, MIT should issue a statement disavowing any relationship with his astrology-like pronouncements.

  17. Leif says:

    Back into the breach. Attitude adjustment inhaled. Some garden work accomplished. Thank you all for the support.

    I do not feel part of the “Silent Generation” I feel part of the Ignored Generation. We marched in the streets in the sixties against an unjust war. Tens of thousands of us attempted to levitate the Pentagon! We died in the quest of Civil Rights for our brothers. We were hundreds of thousands strong on the streets of DC the first Earth Day 40 years ago. 20 million strong around the Nation! From our ranks came the likes of Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baize, The Beetles, Janus Joplin, Rolling Stones and on and on. Some alive today, some flaming out.


    You have got to be kidding.

    Anyway you get the picture.

    My youngest son received his 1600 Ton Masters license a week before turning 29. Currently pilots ships on the Gulf of Mexico in the supply chain that supplies oil to the Nation. He gets it but is able to keep his mouth closed to protect his job and investment in his future. He is well on his way to becoming a Puget Sound Pilot. My oldest son has graduated in the top of his class in mathematics, computer drafting, and worked as a custom slaughter. He gets it.

    My home has fruit trees and an active garden. I use ~230 kW a month and pay a green power premium. I continue to attempt to transform the Native American subsistence fishing fleet to fuel efficient vessels.

    I have many years of productive relations with many of the NW First Nations. In case I need to ask for Political Asylum. I get it.

    I am old enough to be afflicted with senior moments as witnessed on some of my posts.

    Bob W. I am again in full agreement with you on your last paragraph. We do have a responsibility to leave the world a better place, I know it, you know it, Joe knows it, most of the commentators on this site know it, most of the readers of the site know it. There is strength in numbers. That is what keeps me coming back and adding my humble attempts of awareness.

    Thank you all for the indulgence.

    Two Palms Up,


  18. MapleLeaf says:

    For those who think Lindzen has any integrity left. Please go here:

    “Look at the attached. There has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995. Why bother with the arguments about an El Nino anomaly in 1998? (Incidentally, the red fuzz represents the error ‘bars’.)
    Best wishes,

    Richard S. Lindzen Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences MIT Cambridge, MA 02139 USA”

    In the above email Lindzen appears to be coaching Watts on how to cherry pick dates to minimize the warming, that and to cherry pick a window of time which is known to be too short to obtain a stat sig warming trend. Anthony Watts in response states “the man has a point”. That is, he agrees. This from two contrarians who routinely falsely accuse others of fudging the data and conducting sub-par or faulty data analysis.

    This posts on WUWT blew my mind. IMHO, Lindzen suggesting this type of data manipulation is at best unprofessional and at worst possibly scientific misconduct.

    If Jones et al had said this in an email, it would have been blasted all over the net, and rightly so. Yet, the media and even some pro science bloggers remain mute on this little gem despite knowing about it.

  19. David B. Benson says:

    It seems time, once again, to point to my prediction for the average global temperatures of the 2010s, certainly much hotter. It is carefully calculated in
    but the first formula is missing a right paenthsis and ought to read
    AE(d) = k(lnCO2(d-1) – lnCO2(1870s)) – GTA(1880s)

    My hope is that that intentionally simple model (but not overly simplified) is accessible to 16 and 18 years olds. Kindly let me know if it is or if not, what the difficulties might be.

  20. It is nice to read about how people cope. Sometimes I feel like it is tilting at windmills. But it is nice to join the assault on the Wall Street Journal denialists. Kudos to the Atlantic

    Clearly the Wall Street Journal would prefer to wade into squabbles between dueling economic policies… something less connected with hard science – an issue that is far easier for them to bloviate upon. They avoid the hard science, and ignore vast data and refuse to examine endless observations. If they reached such conclusions with data from the world of financial markets they would be labeled village idiots.

    They are lost and bewildered — foundering and desperately clinging to a pitifully small island of scientific mis-expression – meanwhile ignoring the vast, valid research of governments and university scientists from all over the world. And now, in local regions, the common man begins to feel the painful realities of climate change. Not a smart time for WSJ to be posturing above it all. Time to get out of the chauffeured limo.

    It looks as if the climate wars of the future are starting to be defined as class wars. The affluent of the world will more easily adapt, and eventually come to know, understand and exploit climate change. The poor, disenfranchised climate refugees will be lied to and ignored. The actions today by the WSJ amounts to information skirmishes that precede that age.

    By ignoring science, and pushing denialism, the Wall Street Journal helps to sabotage the future of the human race. It is surprising that a newspaper that crafts messages would persist in promoting such delusional, denialist slime – because it helps define themselves as the propaganda arm of a corrupt, sociopathic oligarchy. (you can tell I grew up in the 60’s)

    I would think it wise instead to acknowledge the science, and then editorialized on ways for an economy to attack the problem at hand. Their delusional belief in magical capitalism is irrational – and now increasingly dangerous. The Wall Street Journal is a dying dinosaur.

  21. Ross Hunter says:

    I know we should stay on topic but all this talk about despair – I wanted to tell my friend Lief: try being a Buddhist. There’s NO escape, you’re coming back, a baby in a very hot world ;)

    The best hope I’ve found is from Paul Hawken’s miraculous story of Blessed Unrest. He shows that the disease is 500 years of industrialism, and we are all part of the immune response of humanity, which started 100-200 years ago with concern about public health, and took on greater profile with early environmentalism 50 years ago.

    He notes that the organizations around the world forming this response are literally too numerous to be finally countable, but have to equal 1 million and perhaps 2 million. Even as each group may disagree with many other groups doing many other things, when looked at through the paradigm of humanity’s immune response acting to defeat its disease, it becomes clear we are all united in purpose.

    The patient may die, it happens every day. But the agents of attempted cure don’t think about that, they just expend themselves in their best efforts.

  22. mike roddy says:

    Lindzen is a far right goofball, and his papers are rarely taken seriously by scientists in the field.

    It’s not about the Wall Street Journal. It was bought by Rupert Murdoch, remember? His reporters at WSJ are goose stepping to fossil fuel and wealthy talking points, just like the airheads on Fox News. If they want to keep their jobs, that is. And they are backed by research about how to push the public’s buttons, of course.

  23. Florifulgurator says:

    Here’s my fav quote to end all Lindzen:
    “After all, CO2 is a product of breathing itself.”

  24. facepalm says:

    I really dont get it:
    Mann got an inquiry after the out-of-context quotation of stolen private e-mails.
    Wegman & Co were, with more than “prima facie” evidence, manipulating (or just plagiaring) data and informations for the “United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee” AND THEY GET AWAY WITH IT!