Lindzen Keeps It Complicated — And The Wall Street Journal Laps It Up!

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Dr. Richard Lindzen The editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal have a love affair with longtime skeptic Richard Lindzen. It’s easy to see why.  Wind him up and he says the same thing – only with more obscurity and complexity than the previous time around.  If you’re up to it, read Lindzen’s latest in the WSJ.   Then consider just one inconvenient example from his writing.

Lindzen writes in a most misleading way about the connections between global warming and hurricane intensity:

“Even among those arguing, there is general agreement that we can’t attribute any particular hurricane to global warming. To be sure, there is one exception, Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who argues that it must be global warming because he can’t think of anything else. While arguments like these, based on lassitude, are becoming rather common in climate assessments, such claims, given the primitive state of weather and climate science, are hardly compelling.”

In fact, it’s not only Holland who can’t think of any other possible reason for the marked increase in hurricane intensity.

Hurricanes take their strength from the temperature of surface waters – the hotter the water, the stronger the hurricane.  Given the intensity of Katrina, Rita, Wilma and the other severe hurricanes we witnessed last summer, the reasons are spelled out in a series of scientific findings:

* Dr. Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (and his fellow researchers) found last spring that 84 percent of the excess heat from atmospheric warming is absorbed by the oceans.

* Shortly before Katrina hit, Kerry Emmanuel, a colleague of Lindzen’s at MIT, published a report indicating that tropical storms all over the world have become 50 percent more intense since the mid-1970s – because of warming surface waters.

* Weeks after Katrina made landfall, another team of researchers, led by Dr. Peter Webster at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that, while the number of Atlantic hurricanes had remained relatively constant since the mid-1970s, the proportion that had attained category 4 and 5 status (the strongest ratings) had nearly doubled.

Similarly, while Lindzen dismisses Gore’s connection between warming and the spread of infectious disease, he ignores the evidence from, among other sources, the World Health Organization and Harvard Medical School. 

Those are peer-reviewed, well-documented findings Lindzen chooses to ignore.  But, then, that’s probably why the Journal’s Editorial Page Editors love him so much!

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