Twenty Years of Warming
This post is part of a series by guest bloggers Anthony Tomaine and Leah Block, senior chemistry students attending the COP16 conference in Cancun under the sponsorship of the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement.
Dr. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, is one of the most recognized names among climate-change skeptics. I attended his recent lecture at York College on November 11. Unfortunately, I found his presentation to be lacking in recent scientific data. No relevant data was presented from the last ten to twenty years. When confronted with this fact during the question and answer session, he became irritated and said that the data was statistically insignificant.
We hope that the discussion on our blog will be about what scientists know and don’t know about climate change based on scientific data. Since recent climate change data was not presented during Dr. Lindzen’s lecture, I had to obtain this information from outside sources after his lecture. The years 1998 and 2005 have been documented to be the warmest years on record. And, even though 2008 was the coldest year of the decade, it has been shown through models and collecting data that each decade is on a continuous warming trend since the 1970s. 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record. This data contradicts what Dr. Lindzen responded to the audience member’s question about the last two decades.
During the lecture, Dr. Lindzen seemed to deliberately talk over the heads of the audience. He barely mentioned rising carbon dioxide. When one audience member questioned him about the missing Keeling curve in his lecture, he did not even allow the person to finish asking a question, interrupting and stating that it is so well known it didn’t need to be presented. The Keeling curve documents the steady rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958.
Dr. Lindzen made clear that he believes the environment is changing by a degree or two, but that it cannot be linked to people causing this. At the start of his lecture, he listed three main topics he would discuss. However, the only point he addressed was the “alarm” associated with the current issue. I emailed him to ask for a copy of his power point to ensure that I present the correct information from his lecture; however, he did not respond back to me. He had stated at the end of his talk that he would be willing to share his power point with anyone who requested it. He resembled a politician who did not want to directly answer specific questions. He merely danced around the current topic, not mentioning what should have been relevant points. Dr. Lindzen worried more about the wording of the information than the information itself, referring to the IPCC scientists as extremists. Although Dr. Lindzen claims not to be a “skeptic”, there are no other words to describe him.
We are learning that climate change is a challenging topic. As we report from COP16, we will try to include the most recent scientific data as far as we understand it.