Richard Lindzen, Congress Testimonies, 1991-1997

Selected quotes from three House and Senate testimonies by Richard Lindzen in 1991 – 1997

Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Presented to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
October 8, 1991

“Where then does this leave us. At the least, it leaves us with a self-evident need to understand our climate, and, more generally, our environment. It seems entirely reasonable for wealthy, scientifically and technologically advanced societies to set themselves the goal of understanding the physical environment they reside in. Such an understanding would be among the greatest gifts we could leave to our successors on this planet. Such an understanding would not only enable us to anticipate currently unexpected dangers, but would also help us avoid being exploited by dangerous hysteria based on ignorance. In emphasizing understanding, I must point out that although understanding benefits from large observational programs and supercomputers, it is primarily an activity of the intellect. The development of a sound conceptual framework is essential to the planning and evaluation of large programs. Such development is monetarily cheap but difficult, and large programs can tend to deemphasize such theoretical efforts — not only because they are cheap but also because it would be embarrassing to admit that the conceptual foundations for large efforts might sometimes be absent. [Very instructive. The scientists want to understand.  Actors act. Salesmen want us to act. – AH]

Richard S. Lindzen, MIT. Testimony: House Committee on Science,
March 6, 1996
“The situation became significantly more complicated as concern developed over global warming. The success of the environmental movement in popularizing this issue provided an after the fact rationale for what became known as MTPE, and an expansion of the effort to other agencies under the aegis of the USGCRP. [Current state of USGRP is “Thirteen Agencies, One Delusion” – AH] This led in several ways to a defensive rather than a scientific approach. A major source of support was seen as depending on the perpetuation of an issue rather than on a focused attempt to solve basic questions in a prioritized manner. Politicization contributed to this by establishing that agreement as to the possibility of crisis constituted public virtue, while scientific questioning was frowned upon (to put it mildly). The situation has been compounded by the desire of a variety of disciplines ranging from economics to trace gas chemistry to medicine to partake in the program. Such participation presupposes a well established problem, and leads to little interest in actually assessing this – especially among scientists whose interests are dependent on the existence of the basic problem. There is also the massive increase in university bureaucracy (nominally associated with the needs mandated by federal guidelines) whose needs are dependent on federal support, but whose immediate concern for science per se is limited.”
The widespread insecurity within the scientific community following the end of the cold war also acts to distort normative scientific approaches. There is a conviction that funding is based on fear and would not survive the actual solution of the basic problems or the finding that some problems may not be as serious as supposed. The situation has persisted for so long that we now have a generation of scientists for which this situation seems normal. The political system seems to have had difficulty recognizing the importance of security and stability to the proper functioning of science. This contrasts strongly with the twenty year period following WW II, which, in many ways, constituted the golden age of American science.”

 

Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Presented to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
July 10, 1997.
“In brief, a decade of focus on global warming and billions of dollars of research funds have still failed to establish that global warming is a significant problem. Normally, this would lead one to conclude that the problem is less serious than originally suggested. While the IPCC 1995 report does not go so far as to state this explicitly, it is certainly the most  subdued and reserved of the numerous IPCC reports issued since 1990. It has been a remarkable example of semantic distortion that this weak and unsupportable statement has encouraged environmental advocates to claim that this report endorses various catastrophic scenarios. An appeal issued a few days ago by one such organization, The Union of Concerned Scientists, illustrates the general procedure. The statement begins with a clear misrepresentation of the IPCC statement. The UCS immediately continues: “Climate change is projected to raise sea levels, threatening populations and ecosystems in coastal regions. Warmer temperatures will lead to a more vigorous hydrological cycle, increasing the prospects for more intense rainfall, floods, and droughts in some regions. Human health may be damaged by greater exposure to heat waves and droughts, and by encroachment of tropical diseases to higher latitudes.” The UCS proceeds to then associate climate change with forest depletion, water scarcity, food security, and species destruction. It concludes that scientists must endorse a strong climate treaty at Kyoto. The implication is that the so-called IPCC consensus extends to these claims as well. This is clearly a misrepresentation of the IPCC. I use the phrase ‘so-called’ advisedly. The IPCC went to great lengths to include as many names as possible among its contributors. Against my expressed wishes, even my name was included. I can assure the committee that I (and the vast majority of contributors and reviewers) were never asked whether we even agreed with the small sections we commented on. Nevertheless, the usual comment is that 2500 scientists all agree with whatever it is that the environmental advocates are claiming. To the credit of the IPCC, it extensively documented the shortcomings of various projections, and made few claims for any confidence. The document was deeply biased insofar as it took as its task the finding of global warming rather than the more objective approach of determining whether it is indeed a significant problem. Such an approach could be rationalized on the basis of sincere concern. However, even this document puts forward comments which are misleading.”
“S. Fred Singer has recently reported that the former head of the IPCC, Bert Bolin, has denied claims by Vice President Gore and environmental activists that “any floods, droughts, hurricanes, or other extreme weather patterns are the result of rising global temperatures.” Bolin is quoted as saying “There has been no effect on countries from any current change,” adding that efforts by activists to establish such a link “is why I do not trust the Greens.”

 

Emphasis is mine.

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