10 April 2010

'Scientific consensus'

Richard Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at the Masachussetts Institute of Technology. That's professor of atmospheric science at MIT, the world's leading centre for science and technology.

If 24-carat credentials counted for anything, therefore, any pronouncement he might make on the subject of man-made global warming should be given the respect it deserves by all the media that pretend to care about the subject.

Instead, his annihilating short article 'Earth in never in equilibrium' found a publisher in The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and has attracted attention only from the blogosphere (hat-tip to Watts Up With That). His concluding paragraphs are superb (my italics):
One may ask why there has been the astounding upsurge in alarmism in the past four years. When an issue like global warming is around for more than 20 years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring more power, influence and donations are reasonably clear. So, too, are the interests of bureaucrats for whom control of carbon dioxide is a dream come true. After all, carbon dioxide is a product of breathing itself.

Politicians can see the possibility of taxation that will be cheerfully accepted to save Earth. Nations see how to exploit this issue in order to gain competitive advantages. So do private firms. The case of Enron (a now bankrupt Texas energy firm) is illustrative. Before disintegrating in a pyrotechnic display of unscrupulous manipulation, Enron was one of the most intense lobbyists for Kyoto. 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 that Al Gore himself is associated with such activities. The sale of indulgences is already 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 the 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 indeed. However, the need to courageously resist hysteria is equally clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever-present climate change is no substitute for prudence.

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