The Boston Globe today fronts a good story by environmental reporter Beth Daley on the feud between MIT scientists Richard Lindzen and Kerry Emanuel. Lindzen, who is described as a global-warming skeptic, has had something of a falling-out with Emanuel over the latter’s rising fame resulting from his advocating strong steps to combat climate change.
No story about Lindzen’s so-called skepticism, though, would be complete without a reference to his classic 2007 essay for Newsweek, in which he revealed himself not to be a skeptic but, rather, someone who thinks global warming could prove to be a boon. The piece is no longer available on on the open Web, so allow me to quote from it at some length. Here are the highlights:
There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it?…
A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now….
Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.
OK, I’m being selective. Lindzen does write that his reading of the evidence shows human-caused climate change is less severe than most scientists believe, and that the climate models used to predict catastrophic global warming are inherently unreliable. He discusses that in more detail in the Wall Street Journal piece that Daley mentions.
But, at root, Lindzen the “skeptic” believes that the earth is warming, and that human activity is contributing to that warming. Nor do we have to worry about warming-related disease — all we need is the guts to bring back DDT.
Lindzen is free to believe anything he likes. But his opinions and political beliefs are not science.