A recent WUWT post by Richard Lindzen is a rather lame attempt to defend an equally lame opinion piece by Freeman Dyson in the Boston Globe. Evidently, Lindzen felt the need to defend Dyson’s piece because it was rather roundly refuted in a response by 8 members of the faculty of MIT.
I leave it to readers to dissect Dyson’s opinion piece and the response. I’d like to point out something Lindzen said which betrays a problem with Lindzen. Talking about the statements made by the 8 MIT professors, he attempts to minimize climate change thus:
“… the claim that most of the climate change since 1960 is due to human activities, refers to more than half of a change on the order of only 0.5C …”
I’ve heard claims like this many times, and I always wonder: is this person deliberately misleading his readers, or is he that ignorant? You can’t even get that right?
Here’s global temperature, annual averages, according to data from NASA:
The lower dashed lines mark two estimates of the 1960 value, and the upper dashed lines are 0.5C above those. For an honest definition of the “since 1960” value, we might use the smoothed value of -0.046 deg.C, or we can just use the 1960 average, -0.031 deg.C. They’re not that different.
To define the present value, we can use the smoothed value of 0.75 deg.C, the 2015 annual average so far (based on the first 11 months of the year) of 0.845 deg.C, or the average of the most recent 12 months, 0.839 deg.C.
Whichever honest choice you make, the warming since 1960 has been bigger than 0.5C. You could honestly say 0.8C, or 0.88C, or 0.87C. But you can’t say 0.5C without being either dishonest or astoundingly ignorant (or both).
We’re not only well above 0.5C, we’ve been above that level for at least 15 years:
This isn’t just “pretty basic,” it’s as basic as it gets. When you underestimate the warming since 1960 by 60% or more, you’re not telling it like it is. Either you don’t know, or you’re hoping readers don’t look for themselves.
In a crowning achievement of irony, Lindzen attempts to turn a phrase used by the 8 MIT critics against them:
A careful reading of the letter of the 8 professors leaves one wondering whether the dismay they express over Dyson’s “limited understanding and short-sighted interpretation of basic elements of climate science” is not merely a projection of their own limitations and biases.
When Lindzen uses the phrase “limited understanding,” I think he can only be referring to himself.