President Obama gave a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today, focusing on energy policy and global warming. While the President’s MIT comments on global warming are important, especially as we head into the Senate debate on the Kerry-Boxer cap and trade bill and the international climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, there’s an MIT professor whose work on the topic may also prove very influential – Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT.

President Obama and Dr. Lindzen could scarcely be further apart on the issue. The President has described global warming as a dire crisis and has stated that combating it will be a high priority in his administration. On the other hand, Lindzen is perhaps the most influential of a growing number of scientists who dissent from such alarmism. Lindzen sees a wide gulf between the not-so-alarming scientific realities of warming and the apocalyptic scenarios that have catapulted it into the headlines. He fears that global warming policies based on such hype would do more harm than good. He has also spoken out against the attempts to intimidate and marginalize dissenters such as himself, something that President Obama unfortunately engaged in during his speech.

Most recently, Dr. Lindzen has coauthored a paper concluding that the impact of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels on the earth’s temperature may be only a fraction as much as some had previously thought. In other words, other factors play a much bigger role in temperature trends than man made emissions from energy use. This would help explain why there has been no global warming for a decade or more even though carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase. Most importantly, his work raises serious questions whether the multi-trillion dollar price tag of any efforts to try to ratchet down carbon dioxide emissions make sense.

Those interested in a counterpoint to the President’s talk can listen to Dr. Lindzen in Washington DC on October 26th at CEI.