Meteorologist Likens Fear of Global Warming to 'Religious Belief'
By Marc Morano
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
December 02, 2004
Washington (CNSNews.com) - An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than 'religious beliefs.'
"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about 100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'" and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute. Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.
According to Lindzen, climate "alarmists" have been trying to push the idea that there is scientific consensus on dire climate change.
"With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is foreign," Lindzen said.
Alarmist predictions of more hurricanes, the catastrophic rise in sea levels, the melting of the global poles and even the plunge into another ice age are not scientifically supported, Lindzen said.
"It leads to a situation where advocates want us to be afraid, when there is no basis for alarm. In response to the fear, they want us to do what they want," Lindzen said.
Recent reports of a melting polar ice cap were dismissed by Lindzen as an example of the media taking advantage of the public's "scientific illiteracy."
"The thing you have to remember about the Arctic is that it is an extremely variable part of the world," Lindzen said. "Although there is melting going [on] now, there has been a lot of melting that went on in the 30s and then there was freezing. So by isolating a section ... they are essentially taking people's ignorance of the past," he added.
'Repetition makes people believe'
The climate change debate has become corrupted by politics, the media and money, according to Lindzen.
"It's a sad story, where you have scientists making meaningless or ambiguous statements [about climate change]. They are then taken by advocates to the media who translate the statements into alarmist declarations. You then have politicians who respond to all of this by giving scientists more money," Lindzen said.
"Agreement on anything is taken to infer agreement on everything. So if you make a statement that you agree that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas, you agree that the world is coming to an end," he added.
"There can be little doubt that the language used to convey alarm has been sloppy at best," Lindzen said, citing Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbles and his famous observation that even a lie will be believed if enough people repeat it. "There is little question that repetition makes people believe things [for] which there may be no basis," Lindzen said.
He believes the key to improving the science of climate change lies in altering the way scientists are funded.
'Alarm is the aim'
"The research and support for research depends on the alarm," Lindzen told CNSNews.com following his speech. "The research itself often is very good, but by the time it gets through the filter of environmental advocates and the press innocent things begin to sound just as though they are the end of the world.
"The argument is no longer what models are correct -- they are not -- but rather whether their results are at all possible. One can rarely prove something to be impossible," he explained.
Lindzen said scientists must be allowed to conclude that 'we don't have a problem." And if the answer turns out to be 'we don't have a problem,' we have to figure out a better reward than cutting off people's funding. It's as simple as that," he said.
The only consensus that Lindzen said exists on the issue of climate change is the impact of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to limit greenhouse gases, which the U.S. does not support.
Kyoto itself will have no discernible effect on global warming regardless of what one believes about climate change," Lindzen said.
"Claims to the contrary generally assume Kyoto is only the beginning of an ever more restrictive regime. However this is hardly ever mentioned," he added.
The Kyoto Protocol, which Russia recently ratified, aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2010. But Lindzen claims global warming proponents ultimately want to see a 60 to 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses from the 1990 levels. Such reductions would be economically disastrous, he said.
"If you are hearing Kyoto will cost billions and trillions," then a further reduction will ultimately result in "a shutdown" of the economy, Lindzen said.