Nowadays I seem to rely on wikipedia for my news stories. Not necessarily for the truth, but that something has occurred. So this little thread at global warming piqued my interest (note, BTW, how the poor dear septics don’t even bother trying to edit the page any more, having been crushed so often by the Mailed Fist): I’m a sceptic now, says ex-NASA climate boss says The Register. Working in an office full of software engineers (not to mention the odd visiting hardware bod) I see lots of people reading El Reg (very briefly of course, in their very short lunch breaks, did I say lunch break, I meant… actually we have a very nice free canteen), but hadn’t realised it had become a septic rag.
My usual suspects (see blogroll) don’t seem to have looked this one up [update: that was true when I wrote this, but no longer. Deltoid snipes, and provides helpful links to Gavin's take and BCL], so I was forced to. The US senate wacko index gives him a high rating, and bolsters him with a handy link to his google scholar count, which I suppose is what passes for a citation index nowadays in this debased world. I’m not sure why they link to his scholar count, because its deeply unimpressive, event by comparison with my own hardly stellar career. Theon’s count shows he hasn’t published for ages, and hardly anyone bothers to cite what he did write (he seems to have been involved in TRMM, which is worthy enough). Clearly, his reputation doesn’t rest on science, but on being some kind of administrator.
What sort of administrator? An “ex-NASA climate boss” according to the Reg. Or “formerly in charge of key NASA climate programs” – these are clearly his credentials, and why we should believe whatever it is he is saying. [per update above, it looks rather strongly as though these claims of prominence have been exaggerated].
In his correspondence with Morano, Theon starts off by establishing his technical competence:
-----Original Message----- From: Jtheon [mailto:jtheon@XXXXXXX] Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:05 PM To: Morano, Marc (EPW) Subject: Climate models are useless Marc, First, I sent several e-mails to you with an error in the address and they have been returned to me. So I'm resending them in one combined e-mail.
But we can trust what he says on global warming because
As Chief of several NASA Hq. Programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research. This required a thorough understanding of the state of the science. I have kept up with climate science since retiring by reading books and journal articles.
I don’t think that’s credible. Anyone with a thorough understanding of the science would be able to make a better stab at finding holes in it; Theon just blunders around repeating garbled versions of the std.septic stuff.
Errm, there isn’t much else; read it yourself if you care.
I tried to find something he had written during his tenure as Head Honcho in the 80′s that says something about climate, but failed. Can anyone do any better? [BCL wins the prize: Undoubtedly, humankind is affecting the environment. Inadvertent climate system changes brought about by mass loadings of carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane, etc." Notice how earlier Theon claims to have been thoroughly on top of the science in those days?]
Incidentally, did you know that drroyspencer is a wacko? And did you realise he’s a Dr? With A Ph. D.? You should trust him, because of that. These things are important.
[Theon declared non-nontable: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/John Theon]]. Some interesting stuff in the debate about how important he was. Answer, not very -W]