klimate kerfuffle

WarpathjenlucJen-Luc Piquant is tres, tres fache at the moment because a group of unprincipled global warming denialists is spreading lies about our beloved American Physical Society (APS). Readers familiar with my backstory might recall that I took a job with the APS many years ago when I was struggling to make it as a freelance writer in NYC. What started out as a short-term office job to pay the bills turned into a fabulous shiny new career and ignited a love for science in general, and physics in particular, that I would not have thought possible otherwise. I’m still a contributor to APS News (membership newsletter) and to Physics Central‘s blog, Physics Buzz, part of the Society’s outreach efforts. So yeah, I have a bit of a soft spot for APS, and hate to see its good name unfairly tarnished.

Now, every organization is going to have its unsightly warts and such, but the APS is a solid citizen by any standard — and it puts good science above all else, especially in the case of policy decisions. So imagine my surprise to read this paragraph at Daily Tech:

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly
50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now
proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global
warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of
global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously
called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

Say what?!? Did I accidentally stumble into Bizarro World? There is no way in hell the APS would ever officially sponsor or support any kind of global warming denialism. For starters it would directly contradict the Society’s own November 2007 policy statement:

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the
atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases
include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other
gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of
industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no
mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s
physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human
health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse
gases beginning now.

Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction
difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects
of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the
technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and
longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national
laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that
will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Believe me, it takes ages to get the APS Council to agree on a statement, bless their independent-minded hearts: they quibble over every word, including "and" and "the." I found it hard to believe they could have had such a total change of heart so quickly, i.e., in less than a year. So I did what any clear-thinking person would do when faced with a suspicious bit of information: I went straight to the source material, which turned out to be the latest issue of Physics and Society, the humble (relatively speaking) in-house newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society. Horrormoviecatdarkscary

I’m not knocking the publication, mind you: it has some very interesting, thought-provoking articles, and traditionally the editor seeks to foster debate and discussion on issues of science policy. But it clearly states in each and every issue that the newsletter is a place for members to express opinions, and that the APS does not officially endorse anything that appears within its pages. It is neither a peer-reviewed scientific journal, nor a mouthpiece for the APS Executive Board and Council. Nor does it pretend to be.

Anyway, the current editor, Jeff Marque, apparently decided to run opinion pieces focusing on both sides of climate change — one by well-known (and handily debunked) denialist Lord Monckton. Marque indicated in his editorial comment introducing the issue that there were "a significant number" of physicists who disagreed with the IPCC conclusions about global warming due to CO2 emissions from human activities. (Note: "overwhelming consensus" still handily trumps "significant number," for those unfamiliar with physics-speak.)

This was the phrase that the Daily Tech blogger jumped on, and proceeded to willfully mis-represent with malice aforethought. (Incidentally, the last couple of times I tried to access the post in question, I got a blank page, but all the other posts on Daily Tech load just fine, so I suspect the post may have been pulled in the aftermath of the kerfuffle.) Soon, the sewer-brain that is Matt Sludge Drudge jumped on the story and it proliferated throughout the blogosphere. (We have never stooped to linking to the Drudge Cesspool Report here, and I’m not going to do so now.) And then it spread like a fungus to a bunch of other denialist sites and blogs. Most couldn’t even get the Society’s name right, which doesn’t say much for their attention to detail.

Fortunately, Climate Progress was paying attention and sounded the alarm, urging readers to write to the APS objecting to such an article appearing in an APS publication. Joseph Romm, who heads Climate Progress, is a former APS Congressional Fellow, so he felt pretty strongly about this, even calling for the firing of Marque. I think that last part is a bit of an over-reaction. For one thing, Marque, like most of the APS leadership, is a volunteer. For another, he’s mostly just guilty of a lapse in judgment. Marque is not the one who mis-represented the Society. The Daily Tech blogger did that. Direct your anger at the appropriate target, people.

But otherwise, kudos to Romm and Climate Progress for keeping a sharp eye out, and moving quickly to counter the smear. Once it became aware of what had happened, the APS Council posted a notice on its Website clearly stating that it has not changed its official position on climate change. And it added a disclaimer to the offending article in Physics and Society:

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its
conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the
world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical
Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions.

Got that? Really, it couldn’t be more clear. This episode is just a minor kerfuffle, of course, but it demonstrates a useful principle: always, always go to the source material before putting your faith in what some blogger or news reporter tells you. That goes for me, too, by the way…

31 thoughts on “klimate kerfuffle”

  1. Unfortunately, when you search google news, 99% of the leading articles that pop up say “Consensus collapses: APS re-opens debate on global warming” 5 bucks says we’ll still see people quoting APS has changed its position 6 months from now. Quite frankly, if you can’t find a single physicist to counter point the existing consensus then you’re not doing your homework. That’s probably why Romm is calling for the editors resignation.

  2. That’s unfortunate, but it’s still an over-reaction — unless, of course, Marque has a pattern of such lapses in judgement, in which case, I might be more inclined to change my mind. 🙂 And let’s not forget that this is really just a small newsletter that goes out to the small number of APS members who belong to the Forum on Physics and Society (although it IS available online). It’s not the NY TIMES, and Marque is not a paid employee.

  3. Well, your preview stripped out my hot links. 🙁 A warming about that would be nice. The hard way:
    There are truly some odd goings-on at that newsletter.
    First note this additional statement that the Forum Executive Committee added to the newsletter index page http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/index.cfm:
    ‘The Forum on Physics and Society is a place for discussion and disagreement on scientific and policy matters. Our newsletter publishes a combination of non-peer-reviewed technical articles, policy analyses, and opinion. All articles and editorials published in the newsletter solely represent the views of their authors and the Editors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Forum Executive Committee nor those of the American Physical Society.
    ‘The executive committee of the Forum on Physics and Society, however, believes that the statement in the July 2008 edition of our newsletter, Physics and Society, that “There is considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution,” exaggerates the number of scientists who disagree with the IPCC conclusion on anthropogenic CO2 and global warming. That statement does not represent the views of APS or the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society. The FPS Executive Committee strongly endorses the position of the APS Council that “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.’
    So one or both editors did this on their own and have now been officially hung out to dry.
    Then note this article http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200804/marsh.cfm in the prior edition of the newsletter. It’s nearly as wacky as the Monckton piece, although probably it’s fair to say that it more ignores than attacks the peer-reviewed literature. At least it’s by a physicist, but why publish this sort of thing at all?
    So there’s a bit of a history, but how do we explain the further step of agreeing to publish a known nutjob (with degrees in journalism and classics)? Marque’s statement http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/editor.cfm in the July newsletter that he would accept only *scientific* responses to the two articles indicates that he knew there would be some degree of sharp response. As well, Monckton’s article was so riddled with flaws that it seems unlikely that the editor who reviewed it (Saperstein) wouldn’t have spotted at least some of them. So did the editors publish an article that they knew to be a scientific disaster?
    John Mashey suspects http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/07/more_monckton_1.php#comment-997267 the key to this may be an internal lobbying campaign led by the head of the New England Section, an explanation that seems consistent with the evidence except for providing no explanation as to why the editors would have been willing to embarrass themselves. I’ll give John a pointer here.

  4. Looking at it again just now, I think it’s informative to pull out that entire passage from Marque’s comment in the July newsletter:
    “We, the editors of P&S, invite reasoned rebuttals from the authors as well as further contributions from the physics community. Please contact me (jjmarque@sbcglobal.net) if you wish to jump into this fray with comments or articles *that are scientific in nature*. However, we will not publish articles that are political or polemical in nature. Stick to the science!”
    He really knew what was coming.

  5. I don’t read Drudge either, but qualifiers you appended to him don’t enhance faith in your motives. It seems that political is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, Drudge report delivering the goods on former President Clinton seems to have left a bitter taste with the proprietor, inspite of the allegations being 100% true.
    Are there other hot button truths which you turn an equally derisive eye? One has to assume the answer is yes.
    Marsh didn’t need a red letter disavowal. Why do you suppose that is? Can we safely believe that all such articles sans red lettering have received the APS official okie dokie as approved descriptions of reality conforming in total agreement with the policy of same?
    If so, then why isn’t the APS urging enhanced co2 discharges into the atmosphere as policy to counter the eminent ice age?
    If not, then why single out Lord Monckton for special abuse?
    You claim Lord Monckton is “handily debunked”, but you fail to show the debunking. Where has this taken place?
    From past experience many have claimed that Monckton has been debunked, when the reality is that Al Gore’s AIT as teaching material is the item with court ordered corrections affixed before it is fit for British classrooms.
    I hold hope that your position regarding climate change isn’t informed by political consideration, but sadly there is reason to doubt. Therefore I’ll be needing to see that handy debunking with my own eyes, rather then defer to your status as ex APS employee.

  6. No one has singled Viscount Monckton of special abuse, he has put himself forward numerous times, and he has seriously abused others. Maybe he’s unhappy that he never got to be in the House of Lords after all.
    His pseudo-science has been debunked often enough over in RealClimate, by credible scientists.
    Read the Wikipedia entry for Viscount Monckton, including his strategy for those with HIV/AIDS.
    Read his open letter to Senators Snowe and Rockefeller, in which he demanded they apologize to ExxonMobil or “resign the offices they pollute.”
    Read (my) 40-page analysis of Monckton’s orchestration of an attack on professor Naomi Oreskes [and which also documents other past actions]:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/monckton%20schulte%20oreskes%207%200%20(2).pdf
    Read Monckton’s reply to that (part of thread, and my reply to him):
    http://www.desmogblog.com/skeptics-journal-publishes-plagiarized-paper

  7. Jennifer: nice overall article, but you may indeed want to check that pointer by Steve Bloom to my info & speculation over in Deltoid. I speculate that Saperstein primarily handled the Monckton side of this.
    After the dust has settled, it might be worth having a rational discussion about the role of newsletters like FPS *should* be. Recall that FPS published an article in the previous issue about worries about an oncoming ice age…
    Marsh article in http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200804/index.cfm .
    There is actually more to this than the ClimateProgress post. I’d *guess* that people reported this to the APS almost immediately [do you happen to know exactly when the issue appeared?] …
    but I *know* the APS leadership heard about this from a source they would take *very* seriously, late afternoon of Wednesday the 16th.

  8. My opinion of Drudge has nothing to do with politics (I’m a registered independent), and everything to do with his tabloid tactics, lack of research, sloppy writing style, and such. And if PaperTiger doesn’t read Drudge at all, how could he possibly know my tongue-in-cheek (which they were) epithets did or did not apply? But I will grant Drudge this much: he has retracted his link to Daily Tech after realizing it was a blatant misrepresentation. Good for him. If he keeps it up. he might just turn respectable and all. 🙂
    This post is not an analysis of global warming, or even of Monckton himself, and I find it amusing that a few folks are trying to make it so. It’s about one blogger at Daily Tech misrepresenting the official views of a scientific society to further their own political ends. There was no disclaimer in red on Monckton’s article until that happened. The ONLY reason it’s there is because people apparently are unable to tell the difference between a peer-reviewed scientific journal and a small newsletter containing opinions. (Which also means either they can’t read, or are lazy, because the distinction is spelled out in every single issue of the newsletter.)
    Thanks to John Mashey for weighing in with links to the Monckton debunking, which I ought to have linked to in the original post… But I, too, assumed folks could use “the Google” in a pinch, rather than having to be spoonfed everything…. The information is out there for those with eyes (and fingers) and a willingness to look for it. Which was the point of my very last sentence. You don’t HAVE to take my or any other blogger’s word for it with the Internet at your fingertips. Use it!

  9. Jennifer:
    (Note: I’m a computer scientist, but until the last term of my senior year, was training as a physicist; I’ve done a lot of computer hardware hardware and software used by physicists and worked with many of them over the years. I’ve done volunteer editing, and am a member of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS. I.e., I’m a friend to APS, so the following is trying to be constructive. I’m easy to Google :-)]
    I conjecture that the confusion easily arises as follows:
    1) At one extreme, there are real scientific journals, with real peer review, which is pretty painstaking. It doesn’t guarantee correctness, but it certainly sets a high bar and normally weeds out most of the junk.
    2) There are (a few) serious newspapers/magazines, such that:
    a) Editorial material is so-labeled, and is clearly opinion.
    b) News reporting is supposed to be factual, and certainly, in better publications, good editors check carefully.
    3) We have many publications (like ACM SIG newsletters), that are edited by volunteers, are usually not generally peer-reviewed, but whose material is selected by an editor quite familiar with the topic.
    4) There are publications/websites where the editors/writers generate the material, which can either be careful, or totally careless, or have serious axes to grind.
    5) There are publications that try to present themselves as 1), but are really 4): Energy and Environment is the typical example.
    6) There are unmoderated or loosely-moderated blogs, in which almost anyone can offer opinions, which are whatever they are worth. If one wishes, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between this and 1).
    ===
    But, where, exactly does FPS fit?
    a) It seems *very* weird to publish detailed technical-looking papers filled with math:
    – without peer review
    – that wouldn’t pass peer review in a real journal
    – in domains outside the editors’ specific expertise
    – in domains that seem *much* better addressed by other groups, like the AGU.
    really: physics is big enough that being a physicist is no guarantee of knowing anything about climate science
    – and expect letters to the editor back, which might appear in 3 months
    (really, the world is more modern than that)
    – in a well-produced from that looks like a real journal
    – and have an APS logo on it, even with the disclaimers
    I have the original PDF file of the July issue of FPS. It looks a lot more like a journal than a place for opinions. It has volume numbers and a professional appearance. It clearly took work … but is that the best way to spend the effort?
    b) Some of its “opinion” efforts might seem better served by running a well-organized blog, akin to RealClimate, but with most articles provided by guests who have something to say, with enough blog moderation to keep out junk, and with reasonable selection of articles.
    This would clearly be *opinion*, would clearly not be peer-reviewed, but would obviously get immediate feedback.
    c) But I’d hope it would *not* be a place to submit papers-that-can’t-get-published in journals where they should be submitted.
    In two FPS issues, we’ve had two technical-looking papers trying to prove that the overpowering consensus among climate scientists is wrong, selected by editors who are not climate scientists. Is this the right venue for this?
    Really, it is not that hard for people to be confused (even without help from Drudge, Milloy, et al). Yes, the disclaimers are there, but personally, I hope APS rethinks the role and structure of efforts like FPS. To some extent, it feels a little like a leftover from pre-Internet days.

  10. Hi John–
    Your comments are very constructive, and we don’t shy away from constructive criticism here at the cocktail party.:) It’s true that the APS is a bit behind the times in terms of its online presence. The APS has been around for over a century and most of its publications and such predate the Internet. By a lot. Old, ingrained habits are hard to break. They’re starting to catch up, though. I think your idea of replacing unit newsletters with blogs open to unit members is an excellent one…
    I can’t speak to the issue of prior incidences because frankly, I don’t follow FPS all that closely. I’m mostly involved with APS education and outreach efforts (to the extent to which I can be said to be “involved”; I’m not an employee official spokesperson). But if you’re right and there is a trend here, then maybe it IS time for the APS to take a closer look at the editors…

  11. Craig Pennington

    “This post is not an analysis of global warming, or even of Monckton himself, and I find it amusing that a few folks are trying to make it so. It’s about one blogger at Daily Tech misrepresenting the official views of a scientific society to further their own political ends.”
    I think you were too quick to exclude Lord Monckton from your analysis of those seeking to “[misrepresent] the official views of a scientific society to further their own political ends.” There was this press release from the SPPI (which preceded the Daily Tech post) that breathlessly proclaimed [ http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/press/proved_no_climate_crisis.html ]:
    “Mathematical proof that there is no “climate crisis” appears today in a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 10,000-strong American Physical Society, SPPI reports.”
    Lord Monckton is the Chief Policy Advisor for the SPPI [ http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/personnel.html ]. And while it doesn’t claim that the APS has reversed its position, the press release does claim that P&S is a “journal” and that the paper was “peer-reviewed.” The press release is very obviously trying to leverage the reputation of the APS in support of the SPPI’s and Monckton’s political ends.

  12. Craig: yes.
    1) Some of us are *very* familiar with Viscount Monckton’s works. I’m afraid the APS folks were effectively hoodwinked by Monckton, and perhaps (here I speculate) Larry Gould, whose home page is http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/LGOULD/ .
    2) SPPI basically = Robert Ferguson (who started an anti-AGW section of Frontiers of Freedom) + the SPPI website; there may be other staff, but then there is a usual selection of the cast of anti-AGW folks who are advisors to numerous thinktanks. If you look at page 40 of that analysis I mentioned earlier, you can see a matrix of the way that people and organizations overlap.
    3) The tactics are fairly similar to those used last Summer, and various other times. Monckton was trying to use a “researcher”‘s not-yet-published paper in a poorly regarded journal (E&E) to claim a peer-reviewed rejection of scientific consensus on climate change, and also harass Naomi Oreskes, and be able to spread that on the net.
    The fact that the “researcher” was Monckton’s endocrinologist whose own actions demonstrated incompetence at climate science, was beside the point! The whole thing was a PR exercise … and unfortunately, not all scientists are used to the games played there. [Fortunately, Naomi is quite used to these folks, and she gets help from some friends.] Still, this got an amazing coverage in the blogosphere, and was successful in generating doubt out of nothing, and still gets quoted, as I’m afraid this will be.
    4) If someone claims to have psychic abilities, and you want to check them out, it’s long been said (by CSICOP / Skeptical Inquirer) folks that:
    a) You can send out scientists
    b) BUT, send some stage magicians with them.
    Scientists, by default, do not expect the universe to be explicitly tricking them, whereas magicians are looking for tricks.
    5) I do hope, thought, that FPS rethinks its structure and role. I do think it has a useful role to play, but I’m not sure that it’s current structure helps it do that. I think the FPS editors have good will, and I know volunteer jobs can be, and maybe if people help them out, the situation will improve.

  13. Lets recap.
    Jeff Marque states that a considerable portion of the scientific community is sceptical of man made global warming. He provides a venue to hash it out.
    The first sceptic is Lord Monckton who reevaluates climate sensitivity to co2 using real world observation instead of synthetic computer generated expectations prefered by the IPCC.
    A letter writing campaign orchestrated by Joe Romm of Climate Progress blog asserts “What Marque has does [sic] is so beyond the realm of real scientific debate that he should be fired from his editorial position..”
    Joe helpfully includes all contact information for Jeff, his employer, and the APS, to the readers of his blog.
    The APS is bombarded by who knows what sort of bile the acolytes of Romm might spill.
    Monckton is saddled with a scarlett letter disclaimer, warning the lost babes of physics not to be swayed by his sciency looking paper.
    Monckton objects to the abuse (and it is abuse when an invited paper is prefaced with an insulting disclaimer).
    Shortly there after the red message is switched to a black lettered more tempered and even handed treatment, applied to both pro and con submissions.
    The next edition of pro and con debate appear at FPS.
    I don’t think Jeff will be fired from his day job, or even his hobby at the APS. The witchhunt for Saperstein (whoever he is) will end simularly.
    What incidents like these tend to expose is the nature of the people promoting manmade global warming. The bullying by Mashey. The propaganda of Oreske. The control of the conversation by Gore’s hirelings at Fenton communications (Realclimate and Wikipedia).
    Those tactics have failed.
    A new dawn awaits.
    Courage.

  14. What a depressing affair.
    It’s been said many times before, but it bears repeating: Scientists are accustomed to an adversary who plays fair, and are consequently not well equipped to deal with fraud. Handling denialist, antiscientific sleaze requires a different set of tactics, and we haven’t yet put that class in the undergrad curriculum.
    Hey, here’s a fun idea. Let’s have an APS newsletter run an opinion column saying that science has made the Bible obsolete, and watch the wingnuts drop their APS fancy like a radioactive Ebola potato. Epic lulz are to be had.

  15. By playing fair, I take it you mean sitting down and shutting up as the enviromentalists threaten and intimidate their way to one world government, make breathing a criminal offense, ruthlessly impliment their population control measures through regulation restrictions and artificially increased food prices, thus disposing of the excess population in the poorer regions of the planet?

  16. What a breathtakingly foolish thing to say. The very hyperbole of it makes it clear to me that you’ve far deeper issues here than whether or not physics is trustworthy. Grab some of that courage and get help. Seriously.
    More topically, it is a well-known tactic of those outside the scientific community to regard *any* outlying opinions as equally valid to the overwhelming consensus. As if scientific opinions were no more amenable to proof than musical or political ones. Aggravating in its (sometimes willful) ignorance.

  17. Papertiger: “By playing fair, I take it you mean sitting down and shutting up as the enviromentalists threaten and intimidate their way to one world government, make breathing a criminal offense, ruthlessly impliment their population control measures through regulation restrictions and artificially increased food prices, thus disposing of the excess population in the poorer regions of the planet?”
    It sounds like you’ve rationalized the position that, given Monckton’s view (shared by you) that AGW is not thing but the plot of irrational and misanthropic enviro-Nazi-commies to snuff out most of the world’s population and drag us back to the stone age, Monckton’s actions – in claiming that FPS’s editorial review and publishing of his paper as “Mathematical proof that there is no “climate crisis” appears today in a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 10,000-strong American Physical Society, SPPI reports” – were perfectly “fair”. Clearly Blake was addressing this issue; can you clarify your opinion?
    As to the rest of your concerns:
    – “enviromentalists threaten and intimidate their way to one world government”: First, can you indicate one country that is run by environmentalists? Second, do you consider everyone who has concerns about AGW – scientists, businessmen (even Exxon), defense/intelligence analysts, think tanks (even AEI), world leaders and church leaders – as part of the monolithic movement of “environmentalists”? Third, can you identify a single country that is seeking to surrender its domestic or foreign policy agenda to a “world government”?
    – “make breathing a criminal offense”: on what, specifically, do you base this? What environmentalists, anywhere, have suggested that in order to control AGW we need to limit human breathing (as opposed to changing our energy systems)? You seem to make no distinction between natural respiration by living beings with massive releases of CO2 from fossil fuels. What gives?
    – “ruthlessly impliment their population control measures through regulation restrictions and artificially increased food prices”:
    Again, can you clarify? While enviros may have been dupes of special interests in the corporate agriculture lobby, it is government subsidies – fully supported by Republicans here – that have responsibility for price rises – along with the incompetence and corruption of governments of poorer countries that do not allow free trade in foodstuffs.
    – “disposing of the excess population in the poorer regions”: It seems that your framing of populations in the third world as “excess” betrays your “concern” as a projection of your own eliminationist fantasies. Those radical man-hating enviros and the treaties that they arm-twisted governmental all over the world into signing explicitly recognize that developing countries have no CO2 reduction responsibilities, and the assumption of such responsibilities in the West of course serves as a subsidy to development in poorer nations – by increasing incentives for business to move there, and by dampening demand and prices for fossil fuels.
    I’ve recently run into several prominent worriers of your type (Bret Stephens of the WSJ and Lubos Motl) and have addressed their perfervid anti-reason screeds. You might enjoy taking a look at this and embeded links:
    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/07/07/mind-games-bret-stephens-of-the-wall-street-journal-panders-to-quot-skeptics-quot-by-abjuring-science-and-declaring-himself-an-expert-on-quot-mass-neurosis-quot.aspx

  18. Right now Obama is telling the Germans
    “cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.”
    I live in California so don’t tell me about how environmentalist don’t run the world. They are running my corner of it pretty much.

  19. Jennifer, I think it would be hard to overestimate the damage done by this one incident to the cause of getting something done about climate change. True, demagogues like Inhofe have no shame and do not eschew a naked lie, but for their more squeamish invertibrate colleagues in the Legislative Branch, they can now extend this bare fig leaf to cover their true motivations.
    It strains credulity that a grown man, let alone a physicist could exhibit such poor judgement, ignorance of the science (and Monckton’s reputation for that matter) and naivete that they would consent to running this blatantly flawed diatribe. After all, to assert that “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion…” is at best a gross distortion of the situation. In the vast majority of cases, the ignorance (and lack of relevant publications) of these bitter enders makes their opinion entirely irrelevant to the scientific consensus on climate. That after accepting Monckton’s obviously flawed screed, Marque then has the audacity to admonish us to “Stick to the science,” is astounding!
    So what’s next? Allowing Biblical Creationists to “debunk” the Big Bang?
    Revisiting the “Astrology Controversy”?
    Where the hell has Marque been the past 20 years and how the hell do we go about sending him back there?

  20. Papertiger, OK, so let me get this straight. The fact that Obama is stating the truth–that humans are pretty much trashing the planet–in Germany implies that environmentalists run the world?
    Whatever, dude?

  21. What environmentalists, anywhere, have suggested that in order to control AGW we need to limit human breathing (as opposed to changing our energy systems)?
    ‘Green’ website tells when you should die.
    By Bob Unruh
    The Australian Broadcasting Company has created a “green” website that tells you when you should die, based on your usage of Earth’s resources.
    The PlanetSlayer site, which the network calls the “first irreverent environmental website,” includes “Professor Schpinkee’s greenhouse calculator,” which tells a user when he or she should die, based on their lifestyle and consumption of resources.
    The “calculator” is made like a children’s video game, with cartoon characters who look like a detective dog and a pig, and asks, “How big a greenhouse pig are you?”

  22. The fact that Obama is stating the truth–that humans are pretty much trashing the planet–in Germany implies that environmentalists run the world?
    Pick a leader any leader; it’s all the same.
    McCain would give the same speech Obama did.
    What arrogance to think there is something you could do to “trash” the planet.
    Does it make you feel important?
    The truth is the planet (give or take a small fraction of mass swept up in the form of asteroids, meteors and the occasional comet) is comprised of the same matter it coalessed from five billion years ago. This includes all the stuff you call trash. We can’t clean it up, or mess it up, anymore then we can move the sun.
    The only thing within our power is to shuffle it around some, and even that ablility is limited.

  23. Catherine Brahic has a plausible-looking account of how this happened, via interviewing Al Saperstein, at New Scientist:
    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2008/07/now-will-you-publish-my-paper-showing.html?DCMP=ILC-rhts&nsref=ts10_bar
    After reading that, it is worth knowing that the editors got the suggested list of names from Gerald Marsh, an APS Fellow who has often contributed to FPS, not Larry Gould, as I’d conjectured before. (Gould seemed happy to help Monckton, but that seems to have been later).
    If one peruses the references in RealClinate, it turns out that Dr. Marsh for some years has written against AGW and the IPCC in OpEds, letters-to-editor, thinktank whitepapers, newsletters … but as far as I can tell so far, *not* in credible peer-reviewed journals.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/07/once-more-unto-the-bray/langswitch_lang/wp#comment-93523
    To that list, one may add:
    June 2005 “No consensus on prime cause of global warming”
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/10ea480e-dba7-11d9-913a-00000e2511c8.html
    Dec 2004, “CO2 cannot be called a pollutant”, letter to Financial Times
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/72a811d4-593e-11d9-89a5-00000e2511c8.html?nclick_check=1
    That’s at least 10 such since 2001. Needless to say, I support free speech, but I usually get nervous when retired scientists with long publication records, start writing strong opinions in different disciplines, but not via peer-reviewed articles.
    I feel a little bad for the editors: they got a list from an APS Fellow and FPS contributor, and they didn’t quite check it out enough to realize there was a land-mine.

  24. It’s encouraging to see that a respectable organization is admitting that “climate change” might be a hoax. Sure, there is climate change. But in which direction seems to be currently in doubt (see “sunspot minimum”, for example). The idea least supported is whether AGW is a viable concept. The very fact that it has turned into an item of religious dogma (see Al Gore, James Hansen) is more than enough to cast suspicion on the idea. Krakatoa did more damage in a few hours – damage that lasted a few years, even affecting crop yields here in the US – than all our sputtering SUVs.
    As to “consensus”, just look back at Gore’s embarrasing citation of the Naomi Oreskes study.
    While I’ll agree that just because this notion has been picked up by non-scientists with an ax to grind, like Gore, and shamelessly promoted by groups with an environmental agenda (like the “We Care” campaign), that’s no reason to discredit it.
    What is reason enough, is when they make up data (the Hockey Stick graph), purposefully misrepresent data (as in Gore’s slide show), and threaten the lives and careers of those who might not agree (like Hansen, among others).
    Ray Ladbury falls into the same error – unwarranted extrapolation (“So what’s next? Allowing Biblical Creationists to “debunk” the Big Bang?”) – as Papertiger (“… we need to limit human breathing …”). On the other hand, I’ve heard more than one poor global-warmer say that she’s not going to have any children, for the sake of the planet.
    It was also reported on the BBC recently, by a pair of doctors, that having a third child is equivalent to getting a patio heater – they both produce a large carbon footprint:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/27/doctors_babies_patio_heaters_o_lordy/
    Doctors: Third babies are the same as patio heaters
    As long as I’m in a technical blog, I really wish the promoters would learn the difference between “carbon” and “carbon dioxide”. If “carbon” is so nasty, let’s shut down all the diamond mines.

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