MIT physicist warns against ‘alarmism’ over climate change

Arctic ice, rising sea levels, and polar bears were the stuff of spirited discussion over bagels and lox Sunday morning at Central Mass. Chabad.

Atmospheric physicist Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor Emeritus of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an eminent dissenter from the popular consensus that climate change poses a significant threat to the planet, spoke at a breakfast at the Jewish center at 22 Newton Ave.

Mr. Lindzen’s topic: “Global Warming or Climate Alarmism?” He argued the latter.

While headlines blare “the world is coming to end,” Mr. Lindzen said, that is not happening. A “totally insignificant spike” in temperature of a tenth of a degree last year led to reports that 2016 was the “warmest year on record,” he said. He showed graphs of temperatures over centuries that he said showed fluctuations in temperature are normal.

“The relationship of modest warming to coming catastrophe are blatantly false,” said Mr. Lindzen, who warned against “indoctrinating a generation of young people with foolishness.”

The seas have been rising for 10,000 years, he said. Climate change is cyclical and natural, and the amount of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity from the Industrial Revolution to the the present day is arguable, he maintained. Climate “hysteria” is being fed in the cause of a malicious “war on energy” by propagandists of the environmental Left who “want any source of energy as long as it doesn’t work,” he said.

He quoted H.L. Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety from an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” The time has come to “put the brakes on” climate change alarmism, he said.

This was a provocative message for the audience of about three dozen that included rabbis, a former director of cancer research at Boston University School of Medicine, and a number of students from the Chabad group at Clark University, several of whom engaged in a spirited give-and-take with the lecturer on the threat posed by climate change.

“Maybe you can explain, to a plain person like myself,” asked Rabbi Chaim Fishman, with white beard and black fedora, gesticulating as he spoke, “when they’re showing the glaciers falling and the polar bears have nowhere to go – is it warming or what?”

Mr. Lindzen said polar bears, whose numbers have been kept down by hunting permitted by the Canadian government, are strong swimmers and are not deterred by distances between ice floes. He said glaciers are not depleting but fall off from time to time.

“So what are they saying this for?” asked Rabbi Fishman. “To scare you!” exclaimed Mr. Lindzen.

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