Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adding to the Lindzen pile-on, but for an older Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

Richard Lindzen's got a stinky Earth Day Op-Ed at the Wall Street Journal, where Op-Eds go to stink. (A good trick from Coby Beck to get around the paywall and smell the Op-Ed yourself - Google search here, and click the first link.)

The cleanup work's been done at Deltoid and by Arthur Smith, but while snooping around I came across this paragraph that Lindzen dropped four years ago at the WSJ:

....there has been no question whatever that carbon dioxide is an infrared absorber (i.e., a greenhouse gas--albeit a minor one), and its increase should theoretically contribute to warming. Indeed, if all else were kept equal, the increase in carbon dioxide should have led to somewhat more warming than has been observed, assuming that the small observed increase was in fact due to increasing carbon dioxide rather than a natural fluctuation in the climate system.

A little misleading combination there: it's kind of true to say that CO2's direct effect, absent feedbacks, is relatively minor. What's not true is to say we should've seen more warming than observed, if all you're talking about is the direct effect of CO2. When the Op-Ed was written (2006), the increase was toward the low end of what might be expected, but only when the strongly warming net feedbacks were included. Lindzen has switched from talking about an apple (no feedbacks) to an orange (results expected from feedbacks) without telling his readers. No wonder that denialists, who take Lindzen's non-peer-reviewed ravings seriously, get confused.

And at this point in 2010, with the warmest 12 month period ever recorded happening right now, even Lindzen's exaggeration doesn't make sense.

Anyway, misleading info from Lindzen eventually translates into nonsense in the lower denialist depths, like this from Andy McCarthy:

...On the other hand, the skeptics (I am one) too often deny the [AGW] premise — not because it's false but because it may be frivolous. That is, relatively speaking, it may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean. I suppose it is undeniable, in absolute terms, that the drop increases the ocean's volume. The increase, though, appears so de minimis that denying it makes sense in the greater scheme of things.

Save us from these people and those they choose to be misled by.

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