Meteorologist Lindzen Tells Bush 'Kyoto Would Be to Do Nothing at Great Expense'
NEW YORK, July 15 -- With the Kyoto plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions effectively dead, attention is turning to meteorologist Richard Lindzen perhaps the most well-respected voice of dissent against the environmentalist view of global warming. Lindzen, called to the White House to talk to President George W. Bush after he turned his back on Kyoto, told Bush that even if doomsday forecasts were to be believed, ``Kyoto would be to do nothing at great expense,'' Newsweek reports in the July 23 Asia edition (on newsstands overseas Monday, July 16, and available at http://www.Newsweek.MSNBC.com ).
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010714/HSSA008 )
Lindzen is not a complete skeptic about global warming. He concedes that the earth is getting warmer, and that human activity might have something to do with it, but no one knows how warm it will get. And Lindzen doesn't think scientists have a very good handle on how the earth's atmosphere will respond to increased levels of carbon dioxide either. He finds empirical flaws in their computer programs and models designed to simulate what the earth's climate will be like a 100 years from now. ``In the scientific methodology,'' he says, ``simulation is the weakest link. To say you've simulated something is to say very little.'' Whereas most of these simulation models predict a warming of 3 or 4 degrees centigrade in the next 100 years, Lindzen's calculations suggest less than 1 degree, a figure that makes Kyoto seem downright laughable, writes Senior Editor Fred Guterl, in the cover package on global warming.
But most climate scientists, it is fair to say, disagree. They stick by their models, despite the flaws. ``It's easy for Lindzen to criticize,'' says a scientist who works on the climate models Lindzen disparages. ``But he's a theorist, not a modeler. He points out errors, but he's not the one who necessarily has to correct them.'' Yet, Lindzen's defiance serves as a reminder that climate scientists, despite their newfound relevance to policy and public renown, are still grappling with huge gaps in their knowledge.
Strongly at odds with Lindzen's opinion, environmentalists are preaching doomsday sermons to the public. And nothing gets people into the streets like the fear of extinction, writes Paris Bureau Chief Christopher Dickey. The idea that this slow-motion apocalypse is caused by greenhouse gases, which are generated by fossil fuels sold by enormous multinational corporations, makes it the perfect unifying force for global protest. And many activists say Bush actually helped their cause by rejecting Kyoto. ``Greenpeace would never have done as much good as he [Bush] did on March 13 when he rejected the Kyoto Protocol,'' says a climate adviser to Greenpeace International.