Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Great pain - no gain: No pressure

Professor Richard Lindzen
"Great pain for no gain" is how Nobel prize-winner Professor Richard Lindzen described current proposals to prevent catastrophic global warming.  He was speaking on the BBC radio programme One Planet last week.   It is well worth listening to what he has to say.  He is interviewed from 5:30mins and again at 21:30 in this 28 min programme.  And if you haven't time to listen through, here are a few highlights:
  • I do believe it (man made climate change) is real.  I just believe it is very small and has very little potential to grow to compete with the normal scales of variability
  • to be sceptical assumes there is a strong presumptive case, but you have your doubts.  I think we are dealing with a situation where there is not a strong presumptive case
  • the IPCC has a bias towards the existence of a problem (catastrophic global warming)
  • the precautionary principle is an absurdity - because eventually it feeds back to all the actions you would take in precaution are themselves subject to the precautionary principle - a formula for collective stasis
  • Most of the suggested policies (to combat global warming) are great pain for no gain
A few weeks back at a meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh I asked our Edinburgh climate science expert Professor Gabi Hegerl why she claimed there was a consensus about man made global warming when there were people like Professor Lindzen expressing such a sharply contrasting view.  Her reply was that generally accepted models did not bear out his views.

No pressure
The print media has contained little coverage of a film from the 10:10 global campaign.  Encouraging people to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% in 2010, the 10:10 campaign is focused particularly on next Sunday, 10th October.

The mini-movie attracted a star line-up with Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Blackadder) directing  and Franny Armstrong (The Age of Stupid) along with a cast which included Tottenham Hotspur players donating their services.

The mini-movie has been withdrawn and 10:10 has issued an apology - twice.  Intended to be humorous and hard hitting, the film was about blowing up people who dissented from common action against global warming, and raining their flesh of the terrified participants.  It was a misjudgement which has been described as 'crass, tasteless and unfunny as it gets'.

There was also sponsorship for the 10:10 campaign from a range of large and well known organisations such as O2 (including some government funded), some of which have now withdrawn their support from the project (Sony, Kycera)

You can see the film here, or by searching for 'No Pressure on YouTube - but be warned.  It is not for the faint-hearted.

As Richard Lindzen would say, all for great pain and no gain.

Update 7.10.10: See here for further discussion of a lecture by Gabi Hegerl on 5.10.10 in Edinburgh.


  1. Cameron,

    Glad to find your blog. Lot is happening in Edinburgh on climate change and energy, the latter being the most important issue.


  2. Thanks for dropping by. Its a challenge to keep up with - and then make sense with all the developments.

  3. "generally accepted models" trump Richard Lindzen?? Oh, well ... that's post-normal science at it's finest, I suppose!

    Regarding "No Pressure", in the interest of truth in posting, there were actually three apologies (although the third could be described as Take 2 of Sorry Two):


  4. hr001,

    Thanks for your comment and the additional information

  5. I agree with hro001. Anybody who believes that climate models are science shouldn't be working in a scientific field (but she is a mathematician), and thus probably thinks that computer models beat real world physics, or beat the expertise of a leading atmospheric physicist like Professor Richard Lindzen.