NYT Writer Deceitfully Claims Climate Conference Disharmony

You’d expect a gathering of over 700 reputable scientists, economists, and policy makers tackling an issue as topical and media-hyped as global warming to be big news.  And you know it would be, had the goal of their discussions and presentations been to parrot and propagate the conclusions of the alarmist mainstream.  But instead, attendees of the International Conference on Climate Change arrived on Sunday prepared to put anthropogenic warming claims to the test, and for their sins the publicity they received ranged from none to insulting.

This was the second year that Heartland’s ICCC was held in NYC, and the second year the city’s premiere newspaper dispatched environment writer Andrew Revkin to discredit its significance.  Last year’s hatchet-piece smugly challenged the expertise, motivations and funding of the scientists in attendance, and concluded by suggesting that few attendees were actual men of science at all.  And, while it touched upon what Revkin considered a “dizzying range of ideas on what was, or was not, influencing climate,” such was not its focus.

Although this year’s New York Times attack dutifully mentioned the tired but requisite erstwhile Exxon Mobil funding, IPCC heresy and dwindling numbers blather, its very title, Skeptics Dispute Climate Worries and Each Other, implied a new strategy.  This time out, Revkin played the old divide et impera card – characterizing scientific points of debate as “internal rifts” within realist’s ranks, sprinkling words like “division” and “dissent” to imply disruptive disunity throughout. 

While the piece is fraught with intellectual dishonesty, the manner in which he highlighted Dr. Richard Lindzen’s Sunday keynote address to make his point was over the top, and demands rebuke.

He writes that the MIT Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology “criticized widely publicized assertions by other skeptics that variations in the sun were driving temperature changes in recent decades.”  Paraphrasing the climate expert, Revkin wrote: “To attribute short-term variation in temperatures to a single cause, whether human-generated gases or something else, is erroneous.”

That’s a conscious misrepresentation of Lindzen’s position.  Here’s what was actually said on Sunday night:  [my emphasis throughout]

The global warming issue has done much to set back climate science. In particular, the notion that climate is one-dimensional -- which is to say, that it is totally described by some fictitious global mean temperature and some single gross forcing a la increased CO2 -- is grotesque in its oversimplification. I must reluctantly add that this error is perpetuated by those attempting to ‘explain’ climate with solar variability. Unlike greenhouse forcing, solar forcing is so vague that one can’t reject it.

However, acting as though this is the alternative to greenhouse forcing is asking for trouble.

Okay, for starters, the expression “asking for trouble” hardly implies “erroneous.”  Telling your wife she’s gaining weight is certainly asking for trouble, but it doesn’t make you a liar.

Of course, had Revkin included these words Lindzen spoke next, he would have made the climate guru’s actual meaning quite clear:

Remember, we are dealing with a small amount of warming (concentrated in two relatively brief episodes) in an inadequately observed system. The proper null hypothesis is that there was no need whatsoever for external forcing in order to produce such behavior. The unsteady and even turbulent motions of the ocean and atmosphere are forever moving heat from one place to another on time scales from days to centuries and, in doing so, they leave the system out of equilibrium with the sun, leading to fluctuations in temperature.
Just moments prior, Lindzen had explained that nature is “dominated by stabilizing negative feedbacks rather than destabilizing positive feedbacks,” and that once such is made clear, “the silliness of the whole issue becomes evident.”

So Lindzen wasn’t suggesting for a moment that solar variability is inconsequential to global temperatures.  To the contrary, as he wrote here in 2006, he considers it one element of “natural forcing,” which was his whole point on Sunday.  The amount of warming all of the fuss is about is miniscule and can easily be reconciled with natural phenomena, which include both ocean circulation and the sun, not man-influenced trace gases.  Focusing on any one force concedes modern warming is somehow unusual and therefore requiring explanation – which it is not.  Make sense, Andy?

Now, I’ve just returned from the conference, and I’m not suggesting we heard no debate amongst the experts at ICCC.  We did, and plenty of it. 

It must be easy for the other side to keep the Gorebots in lock-step alignment. They need remember but four silly words:   Carbon Causes Warming – Period. 

But Revkin’s subterfuge notwithstanding, as S. Fred Singer noted to open a heated discussion on atmospheric CO2 he moderated Tuesday morning:

“There’s disagreement among skeptics – and that is good.”