MIT climate scientists turn on their former colleague after he tells Donald Trump to tear up Paris Agreement

Retired professor Richard Lindzen wrote to the US President saying atmospheric carbon dioxide was 'plant food, not poison'

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Twenty-two professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have written to Donald Trump to say that climate change poses a serious risk to humanity, disavowing a retired colleague who claimed it did not.

The letter was sent after Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor at the renowned institute, urged the President to withdraw the United States from international efforts to limit global warming, claiming such actions were not justified by the science.

Professor Lindzen is one of only a handful of actual climate scientists who disagree with the overwhelming consensus among experts on the issue — that climate change is real and will increasingly lead to devastating storms, deadly heatwaves, drought and other problems around the world unless action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Signed by various associate, assistant, emeritus and full professors, the MIT climate scientists' letter said: “It has come to our attention that our colleague Richard Lindzen, professor emeritus at MIT, has sent a letter urging you to withdraw from the UN climate convention, claiming that actions with respect to global climate are not scientifically justified.

“As his colleagues at MIT in the program in atmospheres, oceans and climate, all of whom are actively involved in understanding climate, we write to make it clear that this is not a view shared by us, or by the overwhelming majority of other scientists who have devoted their professional lives to careful study of climate science.

“The risks to the Earth system associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide are almost universally agreed by climate scientists to be real ones.

“These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and increases in extreme flooding and droughts, all with serious consequences for mankind.”

It said that various scientific bodies, such as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union, had backed the scientific consensus.

“We owe it to future generations to remain engaged with the international community to seek the widest possible efforts to understand and mitigate those threats,” the letter added.

Professor Lindzen is recognised as a climate scientist by others in the field even though they profoundly disagree with him. 

However one leading climatologist, who has worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports, described him as someone who enjoyed taking a “contrarian” position.

In his letter to Mr Trump last month, Professor Lindzen wrote: “The US and other governments have undertaken actions with respect to global climate that … already have, and will continue to cause serious social and economic harm – with no environmental benefits. 

“Restricting access to fossil fuels has very negative effects upon the well-being of people around the world. It condemns over four billion people in still under-developed countries to continued poverty.

“There is clear evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful to food crops and other plants that nourish all life. It is plant food, not poison.”

His views on poverty in the developing world appear somewhat out of date. Renewable technologies like solar have recently become significantly cheaper than fossil fuels as a source of electricity in many developing countries, resulting in a boom based largely on pure economics.

The ‘greening’ effect, in which plant growth is boosted by extra carbon, is real and is often cited as a benefit of global warming by sceptics, who ignore or dismiss the predicted negative effects. However plants will not absorb enough carbon to prevent the rise in temperature and the associated extreme weather conditions.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK-based sceptic think tank, adopts a ‘lukewarmist’ position.

This accepts all climate science up to the present date, but claims the predicted temperature rises in the future are exaggerated.

The forecasts are based on computer models that have been shown to be remarkably accurate.

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