Saturday, April 18, 2009

why serious and persistent doubts remain

One of the aspects I respect most about Richard Lindzen's many articles on climate is his ability to transcribe the science into terms accessible to all. This feature forms the central premise for one of his latest papers:
  • In science, there is an art to simplifying complex problems so that they can be meaningfully analyzed. If one oversimplifies, the analysis is meaningless. If one doesn't simplify, then one often cannot proceed with the analysis.
  • When it comes to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, it is clear that many approaches are highly oversimplified. This includes the simple 'blanket' picture of the greenhouse effect .... We will approach the issue more seriously in order to see whether one can reach reasonably rigorous conclusions. It turns out that one can.
  • ...we present a physically correct view of the greenhouse effect, and show how this view enables us to use modeling results and observations in order to estimate a bound on the greenhouse contribution to recent surface warming of about 1/3.
  • This is, indeed, somewhat less than the iconic claim in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers of Working Group 1 which
    claimed that it was likely that most of the recent warming was due to man. The present estimate is more constrained, and thereby suggests a lower climate sensitivity than is commonly found in current models.
  • Section 3 discusses the origin of the contradicted claim as well as its relation to claims of high climate sensitivity. It turns out that far more than the iconic claim is needed for the sensitivity required for alarm.
  • The main point of this paper is simply to illustrate why serious and persistent doubts remain concerning the danger of anthropogenic global warming despite the frequent claims that 'the science is settled.'
Often when I give presentations on climate change as a pre-dominant ecomyth, I am asked for referrals to sources and readings, especially on the supposed "settled" science enveloped by the ideological dogma. This paper by Lindzen offers an excellent study point for anyone interested in either AGW theory and/or the skepticism it fosters.

While this paper, also by Lindzen, puts the issue of climate change into the larger perspective of environmentalism and ideology.