Claim: Climate scientists who claim global warming will be a disaster are just alarmists trying to scare you, trying to insure more grant funding for their projects.

Why This Claim is Wrong: Richard Lindzen is fond of repeating this theme (while supplying no evidence) - that climate scientists are just trying to scare you, for their own nefarious purposes. The large scientific literature supporting the reality of anthropogenic global warming and much of it linked in this website, speaks for itself. But let's consider whether the predictions from the IPCC consensus documents are "alarmist" or not. This link concisely compares the IPCC AR3 (2001) and AR4 (2007) predictions with actual observations since publication. It shows CO2 emissions accelerating upward even faster than the most "alarmist" IPCC scenario, it shows sea level rising at a rate at the extreme upper end of the range of IPCC scenarios since 1990, and it shows Arctic ice loss accelerating faster than even the most alarming IPCC models. Even the IPCC AR4 issued in 2007 is actually too conservative and not "alarmist" enough in its predictions. The AR4 models predicted that the Arctic would not become ice free in summer until near the end of the 21st century, but it did not include modeling the effects of breakage and movement of broken ice. Moving ice finds its way into the ocean currents that carry it south where it melts rapidly (Rampal et al. 2011). It is not only that the area of ice loss that is growing, but the thickness of the ice that does remain is thinning rapidly, so the ice volume is shrinking even more rapidly. The pace of Arctic ice melting is indeed alarming, and this MIT University study (2011) shows far more rapid ice loss predicted for the Arctic Ocean, and an ice-free Arctic is likely to happen many decades earlier. Elsewhere here, I reference observations of ice loss due to glacier movement in Greenland, significantly worse than IPCC predictions because they were unable to model the glacier base/ground interface and so did not include it, yet observations clearly show that glacier movement is accelerating as the Earth warms, faster than the IPCC (AR4 and earlier) predictions.

Ocean temperatures are also proving to be hotter than climate models of earlier IPCC assessment reports had predicted. See this seminar by Scripps oceanographer Dean Roemmisch on ocean temperatures, especially 48 minutes into it.

Observed Arctic Ocean ice area (in red) vs. climate models. The conservative IPCC AR4 modeling is clearly not alarmist enough.

A new low in Arctic Ocean ice area in 2011

The trend is clearly down

Arctic ice area is dropping in all seasons, not just summer.

Now lets get to the slander in this. Note that Exxon-Mobil's revenues in recent years have averaged $420 billion, and their profit margin 10%. That's $42 billion in spendable profits from just ONE oil company. Compare that to the total funding of climate research in the United States of $2 billion. If your main goal was lots of money, how stupid is it to work for ~8-10 years in college making nearly nothing, to master difficult science, and then compete for some of that $2 billion, when you could instead get on the gravy train of Big Oil. Those with PhD's in climate science are not stupid people. But those who buy into this slander are, in fact, intellectually challenged as numerous studies show. In fact, a university study finds that $558 billion has been spent on funding climate denialism by corporate and right wing groups. If money were their motivation, climate scientists would be better off jumping ship and shilling for Big Oil and joining in this slander campaign. There are (thankfully very few) who do indeed take Big Oil money, and Richard Lindzen has been one of them. The notion that a good scientist in the middle of his career would jeopardize his reputation and his future by band-wagon jumping when he "knew" that human-caused global warming was a hoax, a conspiracy of money-grubbing scientists, is absurd, and show no understanding of how important it is to a scientists reputation and career to make ground-breaking discoveries that show his contemporaries are in fact incorrect.

In Short: It's a slanderous ad hominum against good scientists, without a shred of evidence presented to back it up. The evidence has shown that reality is actually worse than the IPCC AR3 (2001) and AR4 (2007) predictions. The rapidly rising CO2 levels, global land and ocean temperatures, plummeting polar ice coverage, rising sea levels, and rising extinctions rates, all speak for themselves. The IPCC (which, after all, is a document which must be signed off by government representatives as well) has clearly not been "alarmist" enough.


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