Richard Lindzen: Global Warming And The Irrelevance Of Science

  • Date: 14/03/16
  • Professor Richard Lindzen

In many fields, governments have a monopoly on the support of scientific research. Ideally, they support the science because they believe objective research to be valuable. Unfortunately, as anticipated by President Eisenhower in his farewell speech from January 17, 1961 (the one that also warned of the military-industrial complex), “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.”

Under these circumstances, when the government wants a particular scientific outcome the ideal arrangement is vulnerable.  However, as I hope to show, the problem is not simply bias.  Rather, the powers that be invent the narrative independently of the views of even cooperating scientists.  It is, in this sense, that the science becomes irrelevant.  This was certainly the case in the first half of the twentieth century, where we just have to look at Lysenkoism in the former Soviet Union, Social Darwinism, and Eugenics throughout the western world, as well as, in the 1960s, the unfounded demonization of DDT. Each phenomenon led to millions of deaths. And, in each case, the scientific community was essentially paralyzed, if not actually complicit.

Will climate catastrophism join this list?  It appears so.  The position of the policy world is clear.  Here is President Obama’s constant refrain:

“Climate change is contributing to extreme weather, wildfires, and drought, and that rising temperatures can lead to more smog and more allergens in the air we breathe, meaning more kids are exposed to the triggers that can cause asthma attacks.” 

Pope Francis, President Hollande, and virtually all state leaders have chimed in with similar proclamations.

And yet, the whole proposition is largely without basis and highly implausible.  The association with asthma that is regularly made by both Obama and Hillary Clinton is a good example of nonsense driven by focus groups who find this to be an effective scare theme.  The other claims are no better.

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