RICHARD S. LINDZEN
Who is he? Atmospheric physicist and professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; member of the National Academy of Sciences; contributing expert to the free-market Cato Institute and the industry-funded George C. Marshall Institute
Chief beef: everything about climate science
Telling quote: "Climate science ... may be the first of the physical sciences that has become a part of the political process." —interview with FP
Lindzen is a decorated scientist who doesn't think that carbon dioxide has a significant effect on the Earth's temperatures. "If you double carbon dioxide and do nothing else, that only produces 1 degree of warming," he says. He's a distinct minority in the field, and neither his scientist peers who dispute his findings nor the more polemic climate skeptics who find his research useful know what to make of him. He commands respect from some scientists interviewed, even those who disagree with him, despite having worked as a consultant for the coal industry, while others charge he has effectively made the transition from working scientist to professional shill.
His own political leanings are clear (he sees climate advocates as wanting "to roll back industrial society" and an excuse "to redistribute global wealth"). Perhaps ironically, one of his chief conjectures is about how mixing science and politics is detrimental to both, a concern echoed by those with precisely opposite ideological leanings. As the 70-year-old tells it: "Climate science always been a small backwater field, mostly [composed of scientists who] considered themselves atmospheric or oceanic scientists.... It was not a particularly strong field. In the 1960s and 70s, a number of people in the environmental movement began to look to climate as a vehicle [to advance an agenda].... It may be the first of the physical sciences that has become a part of the political process."