Since I had nothing better to do with my afternoon, I watched the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) Annual Lecture, given this year by Richard Lindzen. If you really want to watch it, you can find the link here, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest doing so. In case anyone is new here, I’ve written a number of posts about the GWPF. They’re not exactly an organisation renowned for promoting credible information, and this annual lecture is no exception.
It is actually quite a remarkable lecture, but not in a good way. To be fair, the first third discussed some of the basics of atmospheric physics, the greenhouse effect, and the direct impact of increasing atmospheric CO2, and was actually pretty good. The lecture then switched into conspiracy ideation mode; the UN, Maurice Strong, Olaf Palme, Lysenko, etc. Climate change is – according to Lindzen – entirely politically motivated. The final third of the talk was essentially disputing the evidence for any risks associated with anthropogenically-driven global warming; sea level rise is the same as it’s been for centuries, there is no increase in extremes (even quoting Gavin Schmidt to support this), climate sensitivity is low.
The GWPF article claims that Lindzen said there has been no significant warming for 20 years, that coral reefs will be fine, and that ocean acidification isn’t really a problem, but I don’t recall hearing this in the talk (I may have missed it and don’t plan to listen again). It did finish with a claim about the positive benefits of enhanced atmospheric CO2; it’s is a plant fertiliser that also helps plants to become more drought resistant
I often see claims that we should be moving on from focusing on climate science, to focusing more on climate policy. I agree, and do think this is what we should be doing. What I don’t get is how this is meant to happen if reasonably prominent policy foundations promote narratives that dispute the need for any such policy. I do think we should realise that to achieve anything we will probably need to be pragmatic (don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good) and we should be willing to compromise (we can’t expect the policy that we actually implement, and its goal, to exactly satify our individual ideals).
However, this would seem to require all those involved recognising that there is actually a problem to solve and that pragmatism and compromise are still aimed at developing policies that will actually achieve something. One reason why I think there is still a focus on climate science, rather than climate policy, is because the latter requires a reasonable acceptance of the former. If there is a way to move on to the latter without the former, I’d quite like to know how. Bear in mind that this year’s annual GWPF lecture was given by someone who thinks that emitting CO2 into the atmosphere is actually beneficial.