Richard Lindzen


Richard Lindzen


  • Ph.D., Applied Mathematics, Harvard University (1964). [1]
  • S.M., Applied Mathematics, Harvard University (1961).  [1]
  • A.B. (mcl), Physics, Harvard University (1960).  [1]


Richard S. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as the Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. [2], [3]

Professor Lindzen's academic interests lie within the topics of “climate, planetary waves, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, and hydrodynamic instability.” [2]

Lindzen has published work with the conservative think-tank, the Cato Institute, a think tank that has received $125,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. In his 1995 article, “The Heat Is On,” Ross Gelbspan notes that Lindzen charged oil and coal organizations $2,500 per day for his consulting services. [4], [5]

Lindzen has described ExxonMobil as “the only principled oil and gas company I know in the US.” [6]

Stance on Climate Change


Talking about the 97% consensus among climate scientists, Lindzen describes it as “propaganda”:

It is propaganda. So all scientists agree it’s probably warmer now than it was at the end of the Little Ice Age. Almost all Scientists agree that if you add CO2, you will have some warming. Maybe very little warming. But it is propaganda to translate that into it is dangerous and we must reduce CO2.” [7]


“So what, then, is one to make of this alleged debate? I would suggest at least three points. First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists–especially those outside the area of climate dynamics. Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what Mr. Gore claims is not a political issue but a 'moral' crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce–if we're lucky.” [8]


According to Richard Lindzen, computer models used in predicting climate change are “generally recognized as experimental tools whose relation to the real world is questionable.” [9]

Key Quotes

April, 2016

Even the connection of fossil fuel emissions to atmospheric CO2 levels is open to question. In the ice core records of the ice ages, it appears that CO2 levels may follow temperature increases, rather than vice versa.” [10]

November, 2015

“Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best and even modest warming is mostly beneficial. […] When someone says this is the warmest temperature on record. What are they talking about? It's just nonsense. This is a very tiny change period.” [11]

January, 2015

Lindzen compared people believing in global warming to a cult:

“As with any cult, once the mythology of the cult begins falling apart, instead of saying, oh, we were wrong, they get more and more fanatical.” [12]

Fall 2013

“To say that climate change will be catastrophic hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions that do not emerge from empirical science.” [13]

“…there is no substantive basis for predictions of sizeable global warming due to observed increases in minor greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons.” [14]


Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age.” [15]

January, 2007

In a CNN interview with Larry King:

“[W]e're talking of a few tenths of a degree change in temperature. None of it in the last eight years, by the way. And if we had warming, it should be accomplished by less storminess. But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular, we have developed all sorts of fear of prospect scenarios – of flooding, of plague, of increased storminess when the physics says we should see less. 

I think it's mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves.” [16]

Key Deeds

June 13, 2016

Richard Lindzen was among individuals listed as creditors in Peabody Energy's 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch). [17]

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy's financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial. [18]

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRoy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more. [19]

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings: [20]

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations also listed as creditors in the bankruptcy documents include:

May 18, 2016

Richard Lindzen was a signatory to a full page color advertisement in The New York Times titled “Abuse of Power” (PDF) sponsored by The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).  The ad serves as an open letter from 43 signatories including organizations and individuals in response to  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, and the coalition of Attorneys General investigating groups denying man-made climate change[21][22]

Attempts to intimidate CEI and our allies and silence our policy research are unconstitutional,” said CEI president Kent Lassman. “The First Amendment protects us and everyone has a duty to respect it – even state attorneys general.  CEI will continue to fight for all Americans to support the causes in which they believe.” [21]

The Competitive Enterprise Institute received a subpoena from AG Walker on April 7, 2016. On April 20, CEI filed an objection to the subpoena calling it “offensive,” “un-American,” and “unlawful,” and are contending that AG Walker is “violating CEI’s First Amendment rights.”  [21]

The “freedom of speech” argument was echoed by ExxonMobil's legal team, as well as numerous other conservative groups including the Pacific Legal Foundation, and Heritage Foundation and the recently-formed Free Speech in Science Project, a group created by the same lawyers who defended the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the past. [23]

The CEI letter lists the following signatories:

April, 2016

Richard Lindzen was one of several witnesses sponsored by Peabody Energy, fighting a legal case on Minnesota's Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). Peabody Energy's list of skeptical scientists included the following: [10]

DeSmog reviewed the case findings, and reported how the arguments presented by Peabody were rejected by the wwwistrative Law Judge (ALJ). Some of Peabody's central “scientific” arguments, as commented on by The ALJ in findings documents, were as follows: [24]

p.18 “Peabody asserted that significant climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, it is not due to anthropogenic causes. Furthermore, Peabody insisted that any current warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial. Based on its position on climate change, Peabody maintained that the externality value of CO2 would most accurately be set at or below zero.…”

p.31 “The wwwistrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody Energy has failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, the warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial.” 

Richard Lindzen's contribution included testimony later rebutted by R. Gurney (also see CO2 lags temperature at Skeptical Science) :[25]

Even the connection of fossil fuel emissions to atmospheric CO2 levels is open to question. In the ice core records of the ice ages, it appears that CO2 levels may follow temperature increases, rather than vice versa.” [10]

The Judge ruled unambiguously against Peabody, as reported Bloomberg BNA. [“ALJ: Minnesota Should Use Federal Costs of Carbon in Decisions,” Bloomberg BNA, April 20, 2016. Archived June 27, 2016. URL:

The Guardian also suggested a number of reasons that Peabody Energy lost the case, including Richard Lindzen's own admission that the case hinged on ignoring the IPCC expert consensus, and instead listening to contrarian science: [26]

“All of this [opposition] testimony is flawed to the extent it simply relies on … predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change […] today the best evidence indicates that … a much lower climate sensitivity value of 1°C or 1.5°C is correct […]” [26]

“Peabody’s scientists made errors that were easy to identify and point out to the Judge. Furthermore, the Judge was smart, quickly able to see through nonsense non-science,” The Guardian reports. “For those of you that read the report, you’ll notice that the Peabody side made claims about the natural variability of Earth’s climate, about Earth temperature changes, and about extreme weather events.” [27]

Some notable judicial conclusions were as follows, reports The Guardian:

“22. The wwwistrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 1 or 1.5°C is correct.”

“23. The wwwistrative Law Judge concludes that the climate sensitivity is reasonably considered to be in the 2-4.5°C range.”

“47. The wwwistrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that the relied upon process is neither peer-reviewed nor transparent.”

March 29, 2016

Richard Lindzen was a featured speaker at a conference titled “The Climate Surprise: Why CO2 Is Good for the Earth” hosted by the CO2 Coalition and The New Criterion in New York City. [28]

According to the event description, “Members of the CO2 Coalition and  many other experts argue that carbon dioxide enrichment of the atmosphere provides manifold benefits for humanity. And observed surface warmings are much smaller than predicted by climate models.   Economic models that fail to include the benefits  of CO2 and the serious exaggerations of climate models  and are being used to advocate “cures” that are much worse than the non-existent disease.” Video of Lindzen's talk below. [28]

Other videos of the conference are available at The New Criterion's YouTube page. Featured speakers listed at the event included the following: [28]

February, 2016

Richard Lindzen was a guest on RealClear Radio Hour, a program hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His comments to Bill Frezza were also transcribed by Marc Morano at (samples comments below). [29]

Lindzen's claims were subsequently debunked at Inverse[30]

Question: How much warming do you expect for a doubling of carbon dioxide?

Lindzen: “Doubling is chosen for a very good reason. The dependence of the greenhouse gas effects what is called logarithmic. Which means if you double CO2 from 280 to 560ppm, you would get the same thing you as you would get from doubling from 560 to 10120. It’s a diminishing return thing.”

There is no obvious trend for at least 18 years in temperature.”

Lindzen on ‘97% consensus’: 

Lindzen: “It was the narrative from the beginning. In 1998, [NASA’s James] Hansen made some vague remarks. Newsweek ran a cover that says all scientists agree. Now they never really tell you what they agree on. It is propaganda.”

So all scientists agree it’s probably warmer now than it was at the end of the Little Ice Age. Almost all Scientists agree that if you add CO2 you will have some warming. Maybe very little warming. But it is propaganda to translate that into it is dangerous and we must reduce CO2 etc.”

April 18, 2016

Richard Lindzen offered a presentation entitled “Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say,” where he claims that there is “much agreement” between climate change deniers and scientists who believe in human-caused climate change. [31]

The video was hosted by PragerU, which also offers a presentation by Alex Epstein on why fossil fuels are “the greenest Energy,” and a variety of other videos from prominent climate change deniers including Bjorn Lomborg and Patrick Moore[32]  

According to their website, PragerU's mission is to “spread what we call 'Americanism' through the power of the Internet. Our five-minute videos are conservative sound bites that clarify profoundly significant and uniquely American concepts for more than 100 million people each year.” They focus on “Judeo-Christian” values including “freedom of speech, a free press, free markets and a strong military to protect and project those values.” [33]

According to Conservative Transparency, PragerU has received $215,000 from the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. [34]

Video of Lindzen's presentation below:


I’m an atmospheric physicist. I’ve published more than 200 scientific papers. For 30 years I taught at MIT, during which time the climate has changed remarkably little. But the cry of “global warming” has grown ever more shrill. In fact, it seems that the less the climate changes, the louder the voices of the climate alarmists get. So, let’s clear the air and create a more accurate picture of where we really stand on the issue of global warming or, as it is now called—“climate change.” 

There are basically three groups of people dealing with this issue. Groups one and two are scientists. Group three consists mostly, at its core, of politicians, environmentalists and the media. 

Group one is associated with the scientific part of the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change or IPCC (Working Group 1). These are scientists who mostly believe that recent climate change is primarily due to man’s burning of fossil fuels—oil, coal and natural gas. This releases C02, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere and, they believe, this might eventually dangerously heat the planet. 

Group two is made up of scientists who don’t see this as an especially serious problem. This is the group I belong to. We’re usually referred to as skeptics. 

We note that there are many reasons why the climate changes—the sun, clouds, oceans, the orbital variations of the earth, as well as a myriad of other inputs. None of these is fully understood, and there is no evidence that CO2 emissions are the dominant factor. 

But actually there is much agreement between both groups of scientists. The following are such points of agreement:

1) The climate is always changing. 

2) CO2 is a greenhouse gas without which life on earth is not possible, but adding it to the atmosphere should lead to some warming.

3) Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been increasing since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 19th century. 

4) Over this period (the past two centuries), the global mean temperature has increased slightly and erratically by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit or one degree Celsius; but only since the 1960’s have man’s greenhouse emissions been sufficient to play a role. 

5) Given the complexity of climate, no confident prediction about future global mean temperature or its impact can be made. The IPCC acknowledged in its own 2007 report that “The long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

November 19, 2015

Richard Lindzen was part of a group of climate change skeptics to speak at a “climate summit” arranged by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shortly before the UN climate summit in Paris. [11]

“Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best and even modest warming is mostly beneficial,” Lindzen said. “The most important thing to keep in mind is – when you ask 'is it warming, is it cooling', etc.  — is that we are talking about something tiny (temperature changes) and that is the crucial point.” [11]
Lindzen went on to claim that current climate change is “inconsequential,” saying that “When someone points to this and says this is the warmest temperature on record. What are they talking about? It’s just nonsense. This is a very tiny change period. And they are arguing over hundredths of a degree when it is uncertain in tenths of a degree.”[11]
Lindzen also criticized EPA Chief Gina McCarthy's education: “I don’t want to be snobbish, but U Mass Boston is not a very good school.”

December, 2014

Richard Lindzen is a contributor to the book Climate Change: The Facts published by the Institute of Public Affairs and featuring “22 essays on the science, politics and economics of the climate change debate.” The Institute of Public Affairs, while not revealing most of its funders, is known to have received funding from mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company. [35]

The book includes essays and articles from a range of climate change skeptics, with contributors including the following:

According to Editor Alan Moran in a post at Catallaxy Files blog on Climate Change: the facts 2014, Richard Lindzen “demonstrates that the climate is relatively insensi­tive to increases in greenhouse gases, and that in any event a warmer world would have a similar variability in weather to that we have always seen.” [36]

September 18, 2014

Richard Lindzen writes a blog post for the Cato Institute titled, “Reflections on Rapid Response to Unjustified Climate Alarm,” detailing Cato's Center for the Study of Science's “rapid response center,” which aims to “identify and correct inappropriate and generally bizarre claims on behalf of climate alarm.” [37]

Lindzen writes that “climate alarm belongs to a class of issues characterized by a claim for which there is no evidence, that nonetheless appeals strongly to one of more interests of prejudices. Once the issue is adopted, evidence becomes irrelevant. Instead, the believer sees what he believes.”  [37]

Lindzen notes, “there is an important role for such a center … to reassure those who realize that this [climate alarm] is a fishy issue, that there remain scientists who are still concerned with the integrity of science … This is a problem that is truly worth of Cato's attention.” [37]

August 2013

Lindzen publishes an article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons entitled, “Science in the Public Square: Global Climate Alarmism and Historical Precendents. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.” [38]

January 27, 2012

Lindzen is a signatory to an Op-Ed published in the Wall Street Journal titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” [39]

Other signatories include

Skeptical Science summarized how the list of signatories “only includes four scientists who have actually published climate research in peer-reviewed journals, and only two who have published climate research in the past three decades.” Also, almost half have received funding from oil companies and big industry. [40]

Media Transparency reported similar findings in a in-depth analysis. [41]

March 8 - 10, 2009

Lindzen was a keynote speaker at the Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. [14]

Sponsors of the 2009 conference have collectively received over $47 million from energy companies and right-wing foundations.

March 8, 2007

Appeared in The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary. [42]

The Great Global Warming Swindle also starred fellow skeptics including, but not limited to: [42]

December 13, 2007

Lindzen was a signatory to a 2007 open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that declared “It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages.” [43]

The letter further explains how carbon dioxide is a “non-polluting gas that is essential to plant photosynthesis” and why the IPCC's reports are “inadequate as justification” for implementing climate change policy. [43]

November, 2005

Lindzen was also a signatory to the 2005 Leipzig Declaration which describes the Kyoto Protocol as “dangerously simplistic, quite ineffective, and economically destructive to jobs and standards-of-living.” [44], [45]

The Declaration further states that “there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide.” [45]

The Declaration, available in two versions, was penned by prominent climate-change denier Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).  SEPP has received at least $20,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. [46]

November, 2004

Lindzen made the claim that the climate would be significantly colder in 20 years.

When James Annan, a British climate researcher, approached Lindzen about solidifying a bet on the claim, Lindzen would only agree if Annan would accept a 50-to-1 payout (Annan did not agree to those terms).

Anan eventually made the $10,000 wager with two Russian Solar physicists, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev. [47]

November 16, 2004

Lindzen signed a 2004 open letter to John McCain that refuted findings by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). [48]

The letter concludes that that past past warming in the arctic cannot be attributed to greenhouse gas concentrations:

“Arctic climate has and will continue to exhibit intricate patterns not reliably reproduced by global climate simulations, thus underscoring their scientific incompleteness and need for advances in Arctic climate science, in measurements, theory and models.”  [48]

It was signed by numerous prominent climate change skeptics including R. Timothy Patterson, Tim Ball, David Legates, Pat Michaels, Gary D. Sharp, Roy W. Spencer, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas.

September 30, 2002

Lindzen was the main speaker for a congressional media briefing, sponsored by the Cooler Heads Coalition, entitled “On The Meaning of Global Warming Claims.” [49]

May 2, 2001

Testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the subject of climate change.

Lindzen concluded that “If we view Kyoto as an insurance policy, it is a policy where the
premium appears to exceed the potential damages, and where the coverage extends to only a small fraction of the potential damages.” [50]


Lindzen is a signatory to the Oregon Petition, a controversial document first circulated in 1998 with an article that appeared to be a reprint of a National Academy of Science peer-reviewed article. [51]

The National Academy of Science has stated that it is not connected in any way with the Oregon Petition. [52]


As reported by Ross Gelbspan's The Heat Is On, Richard Lindzen was among expert witnesses that were hired to testify on behalf of Western Fuels Association, a “$400 million consortium: of coal suppliers and coal-powered utilities.”  The hearings were to determine the environmental cost of burning coal by state power plants. [4]

Testimony documents below, via Greenpeace research documents:

  • 05/22/95 - Richard Lindzen [53]
  • 05/23/95 - Richard Lindzen (cont), Pat Michaels. Note that, when asked, Lindzen noted WFAhad paid expenses for a 1991 testimony [54]

According to Gelbspan, “Lindzen, for his part, charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels, and a speech he wrote, entitled 'Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus,' was underwritten by OPEC.”  [4]

May 24-25, 1993

Lindzen took part in a conference titled “Scientific Integrity in the Public Policy Process,” that was organized by SEPP and George Mason University's International Institute. [55]

The conference invited numerous journalists to a “special media session,” where the organizers went through the conference's overall themes which were described as follows: [55]

“The conference discussion underscored two themes: (1) the need for stringent, open, external peer-review of the scientific basis of federal environmental actions, and (2) distortions in the teaching of environmental issues, i.e. 'Who peer-reviews what is being taught under the guise of environmental education?'” [55]

Lindzen spoke on a panel that accused any scientists supporting the conclusion of AGW (Anthropogenic [man-made] Global Warming) of “distorting the issues,” “distorting logic,” “using science to advance a political agenda,” and even “intimidating other scientists through coercion.” [55]

June, 1992

Lindzen is a signatory to the Heidelberg Appeal. The Heidelberg Appeal was created by the International Centre for Scientific Ecology, a public relations front group, during the 1992 UN World Summit. Eventually the document was endorsed by 4,000 scientists who declared that “we are worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology [man-made global warming] which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.” [56]

The document also says that “many essential human activities are carried out by manipulating hazardous substances, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces.” 

Dr. Fred Singer and the International Centre for Scientific Ecology consented to the tobacco giant Philip Morris' use of the Heidelberg Appeal to draw support to its European branch of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC)—TASSC Europe


According to Richard Lindzen, computer models used in predicting climate change are “generally recognized as experimental tools whose relation to the real world is questionable.” [9]



According to his curriculum vitae and Google Scholar, Dr. Lindzen has published numerous articles in the field of climatology, with many appearing in peer- reviewed journals.

Skeptical Science notes that while Linzen has published a large body of peer-reviewed work, some of his points remain disputed. In one of Lindzen's speaches, for example, both Lindzen and UK experts agree with some well-established “knowns” of climate science, however disagree with Lindzen's supposition that scientific uncertainty means that scientists are ignorant on some key issues. [63]


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