MIT Prof Dismisses Global Warming in Darmouth Speech

By By U Wire

By U Wire

HANOVER, N.H.?Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Richard Lindzen’s dismissal of carbon dioxide emissions as the source of global warming met with mixed reactions from a crowd last Friday at Darmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering.

The effects of global warming?an environmental buzzword of the 1990s?are not worthy of the recent political and scientific hype they have received, said Lindzen, a professor of meteorology and atmospheric sciences.

His controversial position?that this hot topic is nothing more than environmental alarmism?met with skeptical smiles and a few doubts from an audience of students, professors and community members.

Oliver Bernstei, student chair of the Environmental Conservation Organization, was not convinced.

“It was upsetting to see someone who is that qualified using pretty advanced science to try to disprove global warming,” Bernstei said. “Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing humankind today.”

The planet’s temperature has jumped in recent decades, Lindzen acknowledged, but he said the cause remains unclear.

“Scientific models are exaggerating the response of temperature to CO2,” he said.

Rather than human generated carbon dioxide, he cited natural fluxes and flows as a possible cause of warming. Lindzen warned against using carbon dioxide as an easy answer to a more complex climatic issue.

Environmentalists have dismissed study results showing a low atmospheric sensitivity to carbon dioxide, Lindzen claimed, noting that the nature of research funding “discourages problem resolution and encourages alarmism.”

Lindzen supported President Bush’s recent decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord, calling the international treaty to reduce emissions a “fatuous exercise.” He questioned the “bitter international dispute of an irrelevant solution to an unlikely problem.”

“Ceasing emissions does not immediately alter atmospheric CO2 levels, nor does the reduction of emissions stop CO2 levels from increasing,” he said, suggesting that scientists not rely on climate change as a catchall for current environmental woes.

Environmental studies Professor Richard Howarth equated efforts toward emission reduction with other risk prevention measures. “The probability that my house will burn down is actually very low, but I do take precautionary measures and pay for fire insurance,” he said.

By directing funds toward emissions reduction, policy makers are squandering valuable resources, Lindzen said. According to him, while humans do have a discernable effect on climate, it is neither significant nor is it proven to be environmentally detrimental.

“We are wallowing in uncertainty,” he said, suggesting politics have exacerbated an issue he said even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?sponsored by the United Nations?regards as unresolved.

While Howarth did not disagree with Lindzen directly, he said, “To an extent [Lindzen] is exactly right that we need better science. Unfortunately the uncertainty isn’t going to go away.”

Bernstein reacted similarly, saying, “This speech showed me that both sides in the climate change argument can use the data to try to prove their side.”