Dr. Richard Lindzen's OpEd Published today:
The IPCC's claim that most of the warming since the 1950s is because of man assumed that current models adequately accounted for natural internal variability. The failure of these models to anticipate that there has been no statistically significant warming for the past 14 years or so contradicts this assumption.
However, the modelers chose not to stress this. Rather, they suggested that the models could be further corrected, and that warming would resume by 2009, 2013, or even 2030.
Global warming enthusiasts have responded to the recent absence of warming by arguing that the past decade has been the warmest on record. We are still speaking of tenths of a degree, and the records have come into question. But since we are, according to these records, in a relatively warm period, it is not surprising the past decade was the warmest on record.
Given that the evidence suggests that anthropogenic warming has been greatly exaggerated, so is the basis for alarm. But this basis would be weak even if anthropogenic global warming were significant. Polar bears, arctic summer sea ice, regional droughts and floods, coral bleaching, hurricanes, alpine glaciers, malaria, etc., all depend not on GATA, but on a regional variables including temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, direction and magnitude of wind, and the state of the ocean.
This is not to say disasters will not occur as they always have. Fighting global warming with symbolic gestures certainly will not change this. However, history tells us that greater wealth and development can profoundly increase our resilience.
One may ask why there has been the astounding upsurge in alarmism in the past four years. When an issue such as global warming is around for more than 20 years, agendas are developed to exploit it. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring power, influence and donations are reasonably clear.
So, too, are the interests of bureaucrats who seek control of carbon dioxide. After all, carbon dioxide is a product of breathing itself. Politicians see the possibility of taxation that will be happily accepted to save the earth. Nations see exploiting the issue to gain competitive advantages. So do private firms.
Take the case of Texas energy firm Enron. Before disintegrating from unscrupulous manipulation, Enron was one of the most intense lobbyists for the Kyoto Protocol. It had hoped to become a trading firm dealing in carbon-emission rights. This was no small hope. These rights are likely to amount to trillions of dollars, and the commissions will run into many billions.
It is probably no accident Al Gore is associated with such activities. The sale of indulgences is in full swing, with organizations selling offsets to one's carbon footprint while sometimes acknowledging that the offsets are irrelevant. The possibilities for corruption are immense.
Finally, there are well-meaning individuals who believe that in accepting the alarmist view of climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue. For them, psychic welfare is at stake.
Clearly, the possibility that warming may have ceased could provoke a sense of urgency. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real. However, the need to resist hysteria courageously is equally clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever-present climate change is no substitute for prudence.
Dr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Related: Dr. Richard Lindzen's Talk at Fermilab