The Chicago-based Heartland Institute is hosting its Third International Conference on Climate Change and its second this year. The event, taking place in Washington DC, has a lot of the same players as the second conference but all of them are worth hearing again. It’s a group of climatologists, scientists, economists and a few politicians.

Kicking off the event is Dr. Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He argues there are three reasons why purported climate science typically supports global warming alarmism. The first is triage, typically used as a medical term to prioritize patients based on severity of their condition. When it comes to alarmist ideas as opposed to “there’s not a problem”, you can guess which one will be priority for the media.

The second reason is what Lindzen refers to as opportunism of the weak. Environmentalists will pick up on weak studies – studies not based on solid evidence and run with them. In other words, you don’t have to produce sound scientific studies to get your name in the paper or environmental alarmists’ support.

The third is free riding. If scientists can relate their work somehow to global warming, politicians and the media will quickly pick them up. Governments begin to fund these scientists and it becomes a circle of one playing off the other.

There are a many questions we don’t know the answers to: Is the sensitivity of climate change such that we might reasonably expect such large warming in the future as a result of human activities. Is the net impact of such warming likely to be beneficial or detrimental?

He points to the economic claim of the IPCC study (Al Gore’s magnum opus) that most change of the temperature over the period since 1954 was due to man. Even if this were true, with Dr. Lindzen argues it is not, the temperature has only changes a few tenths of a degree since then. Is this the reason we’re going to extract trillions of dollars from the economy and create jobs losses of one million per year on average through a cap and trade program? Why all the alarmism?

There’s a question of sensitivity and feedback of carbon dioxide. That is to say, how much of an effect can a small increase in carbon dioxide have on global temperatures. The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is miniscule when compared to other natural greenhouse gases, but increased carbon dioxide could have effects on clouds, water vapor and react with other greenhouse gases. It is these reactions, as claimed by Al Gore and the IPCC, that could lead to dramatic temperature increases.

Dr. Lindzen, unsurprisingly, disagrees. He argues that the models and data the IPCC uses to create global warming alarmism are way off base and simply not credible; in a normal field of science this would just be beating a dead horse, but when it comes to global warming, it somehow manages to resuscitate the alarmism. Why? Because they can get away with it. Only a very small percentage of the population truly understand the science behind global climate change or who are even trying to understand it. This paves the way for alarmists to highlight faulty science for the media to sell. Optimistically, less people are buying.