andrew dessler

A Debate: And Dick Lindzen takes a Beating

Debate enthusiasts will love this long, but worthy video showing Texas A&M atmospheric scientist Andy Dessler mopping the floor with his increasingly out-of-touch colleague from MIT, Dick Lindzen.

The fact of Dessler’s victory is a value judgment that you may not trust without watching the video yourself. But speaking of value judgments, Dessler got off a great shot during his rebuttal, in which he commented on how often Lindzen had said that climate change presents “no cause for alarm.”

That, Dessler pointed out, is also a value judgment - not a scientific finding, adding:

“Before the lecture, he (Prof. Lindzen) was smoking. That’s a risk. He’s decided that’s a risk he’s willing to take. But not everybody would take that risk, so when he says there’s no cause for concern, he’s giving you his value judgment.”

Proceeding beyond the degree to which Lindzen has bad breath - as well as bad judgment - the lecture hosts at the University of Virginia School of Law jumped in with two policy presenters, Jonathan Cannon, making all kinds of sense, and Jason Johnston bending over backwards to argue that because economists can’t accurately put a cost on the coming climate armageddon, we shouldn’t bother taking out any insurance to prevent it. (Pass that man a pack of Camels. It’ll make it easier for him to blow smoke in the future.)

Debunking Joanne Nova's 'Skeptics Handbook' part 2: Yes, Global Warming is Real and it's Still Happening

Today we’ll look at two more of the (supposedly) bullet-proof points in Joanne Nova’s “The Skeptics Handbook.”

“Professional Speaker” turned climate expert Nova rehashes two of the more common skeptic talking points, that: the world is no longer warming and the Vostok ice core record proves that rising CO2 emissions are not the cause of warmer temperatures.

As skeptics love to point out, the planet has not appreciably warmed over the last decade even though carbon dioxide levels have greatly increased. While it’s true that surface temperatures have remained essentially flat over the last 10 years, taking such a myopic view of the temperature record obscures the much more meaningful long-term trends.

Indeed, if you look at the temperature record of the last 150 years or so, you’ll find it extremely hard not to notice the obvious upward trend (there’s a reason why the nine warmest years on record have all occurred between 1998 and 2008).

Debunking the 'Skeptics Handbook': More CO2 Does Worsen Climate Change

If you were to take the sum “knowledge” of global warming skeptics and distill it into a short, quasi-readable manifesto, you’d end up with something like Joanne Nova’s “The Skeptics Handbook.”

For someone who claims to have been a “veteran believer in greenhouse gases from 1990 – 2007,” Nova sure has a way of rehashing a lot of the same old tired arguments that climate scientists have been shooting down for years – particularly her central point that there is no evidence to link rising carbon dioxide emissions to higher temperatures (more on that later).

Perhaps the most odious aspect of this handbook is that it seems to be aimed squarely at a younger audience – what with its dumbing down of the science and constant repetition of the same flawed arguments. Having failed to gain ground with the adults, the skeptics are presumably turning to the younger generations now to carry their water.

While I’d encourage anyone who wants a substantive discussion of the science behind climate change to go consult the experts (actual scientists like the Real Climate blogger team, for example) – a revolutionary concept, I know – I’ll do my best to debunk some of Nova’s most egregious arguments over the next few days. I’ll get things started today with her “bottom line”: that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere does not cause global warming.

The easiest way to dismiss this point, as Grist contributor and Texas A&M University Professor Andrew Dessler noted, is to look at Venus’ atmosphere. Though it shares several features in common with our planet – hence its sometimes being called Earth’s “sister planet” – it differs in one crucial aspect: the amount of CO2 in its atmosphere.

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