Lawrence Solomon is back in the National Post with another in his series on climate change “deniers” – this time lauding the patriarch of the denial movement, Dr. Richard Lindzen.
First, let’s concede that Dick Lindzen is probably the most credible climate change denier on record, even if his actual denials grow ever more conditional.
But it’s a leap to go from Lindzen’s caution about the certainties of science to Solomon’s contention that the case for anthropogenic climate change is unproven. In fact, Solomon has misled his readers on that count.
To better understand the issue of climate change, including the controversies over the IPCC summary documents, the White House asked the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s premier scientific organization, to assemble a panel on climate change. The 11 members of the panel, which included Richard Lindzen, concluded that the science is far from settled: ‘Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).’ (My emphasis.)
The press’s spin on the NAS report? CNN, in language typical of other reportage, stated that it represented ‘a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room.’
This characterization of the NAS report clearly suggests that CNN was misrepresenting the NAS conclusion: that while the magnitude of the problem remains in doubt, the fact of global warming is beyond debate. Yet, in its most current climate change document , the NAS puts it this way:
How climate will change in the future is inherently uncertain, but far from unknown. If scientific uncertainty about climate change is used to delay action, the risks and costs of adverse effects of climate change could increase significantly. (My emphasis again.)
Solomon ends his piece with this quote from Lindzen:
“… lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”
To which we would have to say: fair comment.