LEWISTON — Show me your data!

The exclamation was made simultaneously by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and a pair of audience members debating whether or not increased global crop production since 1970 was related to increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere Monday night during a lecture about global warming at Bates College.

Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology and chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science at MIT, offered a critique of the concept that human activities, namely increased carbon dioxide emissions, are leading to higher global temperatures. 

Though the theory is widely accepted by many other scientists, Lindzen said the “mainstream media” and a herd mentality by scientists has led to a “contrived intuition” on the subject. That is to say, he’s got it right and everyone else has it wrong.

Lindzen, a well respected scientist in his field and the recipient of many prestigious awards, helped research and compose reports as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group formed to calculate the risk of climate change caused by human activity.

“The fact of the matter is, climate always changes and those changes have consequences,” he said, adding that just because there are changes in temperature doesn’t mean humans are responsible or that the impacts of those changes will be negative.

“You’ve all heard (from the media) that the ice caps are disappearing — but what you have in the Arctic is ice caps that vary seasonally,” he said. Though he acknowledged a 20 percent drop in the amount of ice during the summer of 2007, he said by this year it had rebounded. 

“Overall, sea ice did nothing,” he said. “I would personally say there was nothing in the fluctuations that was out of the ordinary.”

Lindzen used graphs and data throughout his 45 minute PowerPoint presentation to a couple hundred Bates students. His main points were that there weren’t significant enough changes in climate temperatures to indicate human activity was altering the earth’s temperature. He agreed carbon dioxide emissions were on the rise, but argued that it is not impacting climate change.

“Let’s say something depends on a chance of six or seven things happening in a sequence and the probability that any one of them occurs the way you need it to is about 10 percent,” he said. “What is the probability that you get them all? One in a million? This is why predictions of catastrophe never come true, which doesn’t mean they don’t happen.”

Lindzen said the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary about former Vice President Al Gore trying to educate people about global warming was “dishonest.”

“None of those things (depicted in the movie) is being associated with global warming,” he said. “When you look at complicated things involving floods and ice, they rely on many factors, not global warming.” 

At the completion of the lecture, Lindzen was alternately dismissive and combative with members of the audience who criticized his data and conclusions.

“I don’t know what you’re proving by misreading a graph,” he said in response to one questioner.

Lindzen’s visit is part of a program on climate change organized by Bates College for first-year students, according to a news release.

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Massachusetts Institute if Technology Professor Richard S. Lindzen presents a lecture at Bates College on “Deconstructing Global Warming” Monday evening.


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