Richard LINDZEN on CNN Larry King Late Night 31 Jan 07

excerpt from transcript


Well, I think my read on it is that there is a certain climate of fear, to quote Mike Creighton. You know, for instance, Nye was talking about fresh water perhaps shutting down the Gulf Stream.
But that isn't what physical oceanographers think.
First of all, you know, we've measured the heat transport from the tropics to high latitudes. It's almost all in the atmosphere. The Gulf Stream is mostly driven by wind. To shut it down, you'd have to stop the rotation of the Earth or shut off the wind.
And there's a lot of confusion in this and, you know, at the heart of it, we're talking of a few tenths of a degree change in temperature. None of it in the last eight years, by the way. And if we had warming, it should be accomplished by less storminess. But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular, we have developed all sorts of fear of prospect scenarios -- of flooding, of plague, of increased storminess when the physics says we should see less.
I think it's mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves.

LINDZEN: Well, in a certain sense, when it comes to expenditures, and I'm speaking mostly as a citizen, except in one respect, almost everything proposed so far, if there's anything that there is a consensus on, will do very little to affect climate. So right now despite all of the claims to the contrary, we're talking about symbolism. And I think Julian's point is correct. Do you spend a lot? Do you distort a great deal in the economy for symbolism? And I think future generations are not going to blame us for anything except for being silly, for letting a few tenths of a degree panic us. And I think nobody is arguing about whether our climate is changing. It's always changing. Sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age. The experts on it in the IPCC have freely acknowledged there's no strong evidence it's accelerating. Senator Inhofe was absolutely right. All that's coming out Friday is a summary for policymakers that is not prepared by scientists. Rob is wrong. It's not 2,500 people offering their consensus, I participated in that. Each person who is an author writes one or two pages in conjunction with someone else. They travel around the world several times a year for several years to write it and the summary for policymakers has the input of about 13 of the scientists, but ultimately, it is written by representatives of governments, of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations, each seeking their own benefit.