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Category — Lindzen, Richard

Lindzen on Kerry Emanuel’s Climate Alarmism, Non-Sequitur

When I was director of public policy analysis at Enron in the late 1990s, I hired climatologist Gerald North of Texas A&M as a consultant to help me get to the bottom of the raging debate between climate ‘skeptics’ and ‘alarmists.’ I was Ken Lay’s speechwriter, and I was concerned that Enron’s embrace of climate alarmism (we had seven profit centers banking on priced CO2 from government intervention) was intellectually off base and thus violated the honesty plank of corporate responsibility.

It was money well spent. Dr. North was personable and honest, although he had a propensity to default toward alarmism if you did not challenge him. (Such is the neo-Malthusian propensity of most natural scientists who see nature as optimal and the human influence as only downside.) This is why I have called Dr. North, to his chagrin, the non-alarmist alarmist.

North distrusted climate models. He noted time and again the personal relationships and personality traits in driving the scientist’s views. And his own sensitivity estimate was at the bottom end of the IPCC range. (North’s climate sensitivity estimate of about 2ºC for a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in equilibrium–with a plus/minus of .25ºC I would later find out–was an intuitive number.)

Some of North’s comments in the late 1990s may prove insightful when the science finally settles out, such as: [Read more →]

September 27, 2011   12 Comments

Lindzen-Choi ‘Special Treatment’: Is Peer Review Biased Against Nonalarmist Climate Science?

[Editor’s note: The following material was supplied to us by Dr. Richard Lindzen as an example of how research that counters climate-change alarm receives special treatment in the scientific publication process as compared with results that reinforce the consensus view. In this case, Lindzen's submission to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was subjected to unusual procedures and eventually rejected (in a rare move), only to be accepted for publication in the Asian Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.
I, too, have firsthand knowledge about receiving special treatment. Ross McKitrick has documented similar experiences, as have John Christy and David Douglass and Roy Spencer, and I am sure others. The unfortunate side-effect of this differential treatment is that a self-generating consensus slows the forward progress of scientific knowledge—a situation well-described by Thomas Kuhn is his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. –Chip Knappenberger]
“If one reads [our new] paper, one sees that it is hardly likely to represent the last word on the matter. One is working with data that is far from what one might wish for. Moreover, the complexity of the situation tends to defeat simple analyses. Nonetheless, certain things are clear: models are at great variance with observations, the simple regressions between outgoing radiation and surface temperature will severely misrepresent climate sensitivity, and the observations suggest negative rather than positive feedbacks.”

- Richard S. Lindzen

 From Dr. Lindzen…

The following is the reproduction of the email exchanges involved in the contribution of our paper (Lindzen and Choi, “On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications”) to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The editor of the PNAS follows the procedure of having his assistant, May Piotrowski, communicate his letters as pdf attachments.

These attachments are part of the present package. Attachment1.pdf is simply a statement of PNAS procedure. Note that members of the NAS are permitted to communicate up to 4 papers per year. The members are responsible for obtaining two reviews of their own papers and to report the reviews and their responses to the reviews. Note, as well, that rejection of such contributions by the Board of PNAS is a rare event, involving approximately 2% of all contributions.

The rejection of the present paper required some extraordinary violations of accepted practice. We feel that making such procedures public will help clarify the peculiar road blocks that have been created in order to prevent adequate discussion of fundamental issues. It is hoped, moreover, that the material presented here can offer the interested public some insight into what is involved in the somewhat mysterious though widely (if inappropriately) respected process of peer review.

This situation is compounded, in the present example, by the absurdly lax standards applied to papers supportive of climate alarm. In the present example, there existed an earlier paper (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) [we covered that paper here -CK], that had been subjected to extensive criticism. The fact that no opportunity was provided to us to respond to such criticism was, itself, unusual and disturbing. The paper we had submitted to the PNAS was essentially our response which included the use of additional data and the improvement and correction of our methodology. [Read more →]

June 9, 2011   83 Comments

A Positive Human Influence on Global Climate? Robert Mendelsohn, Meet Gerald North!

“[Robert] Mendelsohn’s position is rather similar to yours…. He believes the impacts are not negative at all for the US and most of the developed countries. Most impact studies seem to be showing this. It leads us to think that a little warming is not so bad. Glad I have kept my mouth shut on this issue of which I know so little.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999

“I agree that the case for 2C warming [for a doubling of manmade greenhouse gas forcing in equilibrium] is pretty strong.”

- Gerald R. North to Rob Bradley, email communication, August 13, 2007.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published my letter-to-the-editor rebutting Kerry Emanuel’s letter, which, in turn, was critical of his fellow MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen’s op-ed, “Climate Science in Denial.”

My arguments opposing those of Professor Emanuel (see entire letter below) are fairly straightforward, but I end with this challenge:

“But when will many climate scientists, including Mr. Emanuel, face Climategate and the fact that the human influence on climate, on net, is as likely to be positive than negative?”

Is this challenge rash, or is it backed by the facts?  Well, let’s consider the views of an esteemed climate economist and an esteemed climate scientist. They are, respectively,

Robert O. Mendelsohn (Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy; Professor of Economics; and Professor, School of Management)

Gerald R. North (Distinguished Professor, Physical Section, Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the
Department of Oceanography

Dr. North’s long held sensitivity estimate of 2ºC for a doubling of atmospheric greenhouse concentrations is one-third below the “best guess” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or the IPCC’s best guess is one-half greater than that of Dr. North). That is a big difference, and if you believe Mendelsohn et al. that a 2ºC for 2x results in net positive benefits for the world, then voila!

Is it radical to believe that the human influence on climate, on net, has more positives than negatives for many decades out and even beyond a century or more?  After all, the CO2 fertilization effect is a strong positive, and warmer and wetter is going in the right direction for the biopshere…

Perhaps CO2 as the green greenhouse gas is ’closet’ mainstream, if North’s (private) views are considered. [Read more →]

May 6, 2010   23 Comments