As an alum, I was happily surprised when a few weeks ago a senior MIT professor directed me to major study by a dozen leading experts associated with their Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change that made clear MIT had joined the climate realists.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has just doubled its previous (2003) projection of global warming by 2100 to 5.1°C. Their median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm. Human civilization as we know it could not survive such warming, such concentrations (see likely impacts here).

But there is one MIT professor who has remained blind to the remarkable strengthening of our understanding of climate science in the past 2 years — Richard Lindzen. A general debunking of Lindzen’s popular disinformation tracts can be found on RealClimate here.

At the Heartland conference of climate-change deniers that began Sunday in New York, however, Lindzen went from denial to defamation as he smeared the reputation of one of the greatest living climate scientists, Wallace Broecker.

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Before discussing that indefensible and hypocritical smear, it is worth noting that the Heartland conference is so extreme that even “moderate” deniers, like John Christy won’t go, as Andy Revkin reports:

John R. Christy … said he had skipped both Heartland conferences to avoid the potential for “guilt by association.”

Now when a guy who has been as wrong for as long as Christy has (see here) is afraid his reputation will be harmed by attending your conference, you are way, way out there!

And indeed, Lindzen chose to abandon what little is left of his professional reputation, as the astonishing report on the conference from makes clear:

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The conference also featured Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said his colleagues endorse climate change to win acclaim.

“Most of the atmospheric scientists who I respect do endorse global warming,” Lindzen said. “The important point, however, is that the science that they do, that I respect, is not about global warming. Endorsing global warming just makes their lives easier.”

Yes, the atmospheric scientists Lindzen “respects” all lie to the public about what they believe just to make their lives easier. That doesn’t sound like a single scientist I have ever met in my life. I’d love to talk to some of those scientists and see if the single one of them respects Lindzen.

Lindzen called out colleagues such as Wallace Broecker, a geochemist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, whose work, Lindzen said, “clearly shows that sudden climate change occurs without anthropogenic influence, and is a property of cold rather than warm climates. However, he staunchly beats the drums for alarm and is richly rewarded for doing so.

And so Richard Lindzen — a man who would be unknown to the public, with no “acclaim” whatsoever, if not for his denial of our basic understanding of climate science — accuses one of the nation’s preeminent climate scientists of lying to the public for fame and money. I’d also note that back in 1995, journalist Ross Gelbspan explained in Harpers that it is Lindzen who is far more richly rewarded for spreading anti-science than Broecker ever has been before explaining science: “Lindzen, for his part, charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services” (see here).

Shame on you, Richard Lindzen.

It is worth noting that Broecker famously published in Nature ($ub. req’d) in 1995, “The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges.” The issue isn’t whether the climate has changed suddenly in the past without human influence, the issue is why the climate changes (answer — because it is pushed by external forcings, which clearly can include greenhouse gases), and whether the climate has ever been pushed into a much warmer state than it is today (answer — yes).

Broecker is traveling and could not be reached immediately for comment. Broecker is considered a pioneering scientist of climate change because in a 1957 article in Yale Scientific he pondered the effects of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Last year, Broecker wrote a book, Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat — and How to Counter It suggesting humans will be unable to change activities that contribute to climate change in time to forestall a climate catastrophe.

I don’t know “unable” is the right word, but so far it appears “unwilling” certainly is.

Earlier this year Lindzen’s colleagues at MIT revised prior estimations to conclude that human activity is on a path to instigate climate catastrophe within this century.


This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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