Wise words from David Appell. But this is the blogosphere, so that isn’t going to happen. And Hal Lewis would be disappointed if we did; after all, he is trying to make a splash with his nonsense. As DA puts it So someone named Hal Lewis has resigned from the American Physical Society in a snit over their position on climate change, and this is supposedly “fracturing” the scientific community. Who is Hal Lewis? I’ve been studying physics for 30 years, and I’ve never heard of him. In the unlikely event that you want to read what HL has to say, the usual idiots have it all laid out.

And so the game is: who is Hal Lewis? Almost as amusing as Who is William A. Sprigg, Ph.D.? who was the last mold-breaking Absolutely Key Scientific Figure dredged up by the septics. Anyway, that one is long forgotten, so we need to find HL. He doesn’t have a wikipedia entry as I write this: HL redirects to [[Hal Lewis (Aku)]] (ha, I spoke too soon. [[Harold Lewis]] now exists. And is rubbish. Sigh).

He has written a book: Technological risk (1992): Risks seem to abound in our everyday lives, especially the risks flowing from the explosion of our modern technology, with its pesticides, pollution, nuclear power, microwave radiation and chemical trace elements in food of all kinds. Two questions face all of us: how real are these risks and, if real, how do we manage our lives in order to avoid personal damage from them? The book examines these questions, delving into the nature and true seriousness of risk (as opposed to how bad the risk seems to be), into how we measure risk and how we regulate it. Lewis includes the latest scientific information on carcinogens and the greenhouse effect (my bold). W00t. That sounds nicely relevant. Why Flip a Coin is less so. Anyway, I’ve ordered a copy of the Risk book, so we can have fun with that.

So, where are the papers? You can’t have a scientific career without papers. There are some early ones – The Multiple Production of Mesons from 1948 with Oppenheimer, no less. Or Multiple Scattering in an Infinite Medium, 1950 – worthy maths-ish thing, I’d guess. But past the late-50′s early 60′s it suddenly gets very thin indeed. I’d guess, without knowing more, that he gave up science and moved into admin.

Eli is good at this stuff. Perhaps he’ll chime in. Which reminds me: Lewis was spotted earlier. But back then he was just one sig of several, and no-one cared that they didn’t know who he was.

Refs

* Romm getting it right.
* Darth Data Destroyer – Eli poking fun.
* Andy Revkin

Comments

  1. #1 anon
    2010/10/12

    He was designing nuclear weapons and power plants while you were copy pasting environmentalist press releases for a PhD. You are not fit to kiss his boot.

  2. #2 Craig Pennington
    2010/10/12

    You are not fit to kiss his boot.

    Wow, that’s some pathetically weak sauce. Dribble out some out-of-his-field scientist every half-year or so and argue from his authority. That’s just pathetic.

  3. #3 David Brown
    2010/10/12

    Funny how the alarmists take a pathetic and moronic approach to character assasination every time they are caught with their pants down.

    I think comment No.1 is most approriate.

    I hope that most of you are around in another 30 years, because it will take at least that long for you to be shown and realise this is just another Y2K bug or any other number of scare campaigns that have run over the years.

    [Errm, so that would be "no, I don't know who he is either or anything about what he did" then? -W]

  4. #4 Craig Pennington
    2010/10/12

    I hope that most of you are around in another 30 years,[because history will show you wrong]

    I suppose the “is-not” rebuttal is weaker than the argument from someone-else’s rather unconvincing authority.

  5. #5 Joe
    2010/10/12

    Well, isn’t this interesting. I happen to have a copy of Technological Risk (actually 1990) right here. Lewis’ discussion of global warming begins on p. 266, in a chapter on the risks posed by fossil fuels.

    After a shaky start (he conflates global warming with greenhouse effect and gets the greenhouse analogy wrong), Lewis pretty much gets everything right. He discusses the EM spectrum and explains how greenhouse gases (mainly water and CO2) keep the earth warm. He talks about the state of climate models, writing:

    “The GCMs in use nowadays do a pretty good job of calculating the effect of a potential doubling of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, but more research is truly needed… The details of the impending changes of climate are still beyond our grasp, though the broad outline is clear.”

    He then discusses how models were mostly in agreement on a global scale but differ at local levels and says:

    “All models agree that the net effect will be a general and global warming of the earth; they only disagree about how much. Non suggest that it will be a minor effect, to be ignored while we go about our business.”

    After some discussion of global warming effects on agriculture and SLR Lewis concludes:

    “Yet, despite the complexity, the bottom line is that the earth will be substantially warmed by the accumulation of man-made gases, mainly carbon dioxide, and that warming could conceivably approximate the climate at the time of the dinosaurs. It seems likely, but not certain, that sea level will rise accordingly, conceivably by several feet or more. We are doing this to ourselves.”

    Lewis then goes on to discuss options to avert global warming – mainly nuclear power and greater efficiency. He is pretty bleak – “But there is nowhere in evidence any effective solution to the problem”.

    [That *is* interesting. I look forward to my copy with great expectation! -W]

  6. #6 chek
    2010/10/12

    Actually David Brown, the Y2K problem is a very good recent example of recognising a grave problem and having the will to act speedily to avert a very probable social disaster.

    A it’s obvious you don’t know what RTC stands for without googling it, then perhaps you should re-examine some of your received ideas. Particularly those received from the likes of Christopher Booker.

  7. #7 thefordprefect
    2010/10/12

    An interesting bit here
    http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4742.html
    Asked about doc/manuscripts etc:
    “There are lots of things, but they’re scattered in a complicated way. Generally speaking, I throw things away after a few years, so the only things I have are the things that have accumulated over the last few years and are relevant to the things I’m actually doing these days.”

    “Yes, I understand. But I have enough trouble keeping up with current papers. ”

    But he seems to have kept busy up to this interview in 1986
    20 years on it is not likely that he would have kept up with climate science.

  8. #8 barry
    2010/10/12

    No need to poison the wells. The guy is a scientist and has an opinion. As his resignation letter was political, rather than a discussion of the science, an administrative position (if so) might even give his views some weight. The skeptics can imagine that this is some kind of victory, but amongst the tens of thousands of members of the APS, this is hardly a dam buster.

    His resignation seems honourable to me, in light of his views. But the skeptical community automatically equate this virtue with sound insight.

  9. #9 John Mashey
    2010/10/12

    Ahh, Hal Lewis back at it. See Science Bypass -
    Anti-science Petition to APS from folks with SEPP, George C. Marshall Institute, Heartland, CATO
    .

    Lewis’ entry is pp.107-108, and you can see some history and how he connects. I know one person who knows him, and cannot figure out what happened. I have his old book as well, and thought the climate was OK.

    I think he fell in with a bad crowd, hence the social networks analysis in that report, showing how the 2009 petition spread.

    The other interesting piece might be Section 5, on demographics. Hint: conservative old guys, some pretty angry, some sure AGW is a hoax by greenies, or something.

  10. #10 Jonathan Gilligan
    2010/10/12

    I’ve read Lewis’s Technological Risks book. It’s a very good book. There’s much I would disagree with that falls in the realm of normal scholarly disagreement, but the book is very good at presenting a sensible approach to risk with a focus on understanding probabilities and uncertainties (and distinguishing aleatory from epistemic uncertainty) and emphasizing that the risks business is about trading off one risk against another because there are precious few opportunities to reduce one risk without, at least marginally, increasing another.

    One can disagree with his tendency to be dismissive of precautionary approaches to uncertain risks (i.e., he tends to say that if you can’t prove it’s dangerous, then it’s a good bet to assume it’s safe), but that’s a pretty mainstream point of view, and he’s in good company with it. Chapters 2-6 of his book make an excellent introduction to risk identification, assessment, and management for undergrads.

    The screed that’s heard ’round the blogosphere bears almost no relationship to the Technological Risks book.

    FWIW, a bit more from Tech Risks on global warming: “[CO2] has been increasing ever since [the industrial revolution], and has just passed 350 ppm, with no end in sight. Why is it happening, is it bad, and what can be done? The answer to the last question is easy—very little. The answer to the next to last question is also easy—yes, it is bad.” (p. 270)

    [Thanks. I get the impression - from his papers - that he was an advocate of nuclear power. Does that show up, in the book? I might expect him, say, to downplay long-term risks -W]

  11. #11 John Mashey
    2010/10/13

    re: #10
    It is sad, but true, that some older scientists “go emeritus”, not in a a good sense. Some actually do great work or keep contributing strongly (Burton Richer is a good example, his idea of retirement would wear most people out), but some really go over the edge, even after excellent careers.

    I would generally agree with your assessment, although I did not study it rally thoroughly.

    One theme that did pop up in the APS Petition study was”nuclear physicists who never forgave environmentalists for whacking nuclear power, and they believe in AGW, so that’s wrong.” or something like that

    {This of course makes no sense. If I were a nuclear guy (almost was), I would proclaim AGW whether I thought it were true or not, since a carbon tax would be a big boost to the nuclear industry. I do think there is a generation of nuclear folks (baby-boomers) who did PhDs, thinking nuclear was the hot field … oops. but Lewis is way older than that.}

    [Ha, know your place. Square brackets are strictly reserved for me to interject comments with :-). As the the general nuclear-guys-don't-like-greenies, I think you have it right (in a general sense) though obviously with many exceptions. But as to the carbon tax stuff: yes it would help the nuclear industry. But I think those folk are very reluctant to go strongly on the economic case for nukes, because they sense they could lose very badly on it.

    Another excellent example is David Bellamy - once a pro-env campaigner, now a firm GW skeptic. And his reasoning, as far as I can understand it, is "I don't like windmills; windmills are renewable energy; renewable stuff is counternig GW; therefore GW is false" -W]

  12. #12 MarkB
    2010/10/13

    “Why is it happening, is it bad, and what can be done? The answer to the last question is easy—very little. ”

    That’s perhaps a hint. The theme of TR is that most human-caused things aren’t something we should try to do too much about, and that most are overblown (disclaimer, I’ve only read a NYT review and a few pages of a few preview chapters online). Trying to do something about these perceived manmade problems will cripple technology and so forth. Maybe the drive to reduce emissions pushed him over the edge at some point, fearing economic disaster or what not, although certainly many of his comments reveal parroting of standard contrarian lines, so maybe he just hung out with the wrong crowd too long.

    Lewis (1990 version) doesn’t particularly care for environmentalists. His view on pesticides seems most suspicious. My post at CP:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/11/hal-lewis-resigns-from-the-american-physical-society/#comment-300819

    John Mashey writes:

    “One theme that did pop up in the APS Petition study was”nuclear physicists who never forgave environmentalists for whacking nuclear power, and they believe in AGW, so that’s wrong.” or something like that”

    That theme’s in TR as well.

    WC, isn’t there a local library you can get that book from? Why donate money to a nutty professor?

    [I didn't occur to me it might be available - but indeed the Cambridge libraries aren't too bad, even the public ones. But I've just checked and they don't have it. Don't worry, I'm buying a second hand copy via abebooks :-) -W]

  13. #13 outeast
    2010/10/13

    That wiki page is much better now, and I imagine will improve still further with time.

    It’s interesting to see how much of an apparent about-face he’s made wrt climate change (unless the stuff quoted in comments above was only written out of a conscious desire to cash in on the scam?). But it’s telling that the main trigger seems to have been the emails, not the science. That’s becoming such a familiar story…

  14. #14 Mike G
    2010/10/13

    Notice that among the Lewis’ complaints about climate scientists are a)they’re chasing money b) they use the issue for fame and glory to further their careers and c) they make frequent trips to exotic islands (who is he talking about here?).

    Now compare that to what he talks about in the AIP interview.

    When asked by the chancellor of UCSB in 1964 what it would take to attract world-class physicists, he replied that he needed 10 $50,000 a year professorships. That’s almost $350k in today’s dollars.

    Ironically, he also makes mention at least twice that the organizations that funded his work didn’t dictate what was produced. Apparently he thinks it works differently in climate science.

    He also details how he used notoriety and connections from JASON to secure influential policy positions on nuclear security (which he built his later career on), despite having no previous experience in nuclear physics. That almost sounds like using fame and glory rather than sound science to build his career.

    Last but not least, he mentions that the JASONs flew cross-country to meet 3 times a year and sometimes flew around the world, including their trip(s?) to the (exotic) Marshall Islands.

  15. #15 JBrock
    2010/10/13

    I wonder how many of you guys are old enough to recall the reason the greenies initially opposed nuclear power: the reactions created plutonium, an un-natural element. This was a sin!

  16. #16 John McManus
    2010/10/13

    Oh No. St. Hal destroyed his data.

    I wonder if he erased his emails too.

    [Its all right - he is a folksy old man so no-one will care -W]

  17. #17 John Mashey
    2010/10/13

    re: #13
    “But it’s telling that the main trigger seems to have been the emails, not the science. “.

    The evidence contradicts that, because he was invovled wit the APS Petition ~April 2009.

  18. #18 JasonW
    2010/10/13

    JBrock, I think the small matter of producing thousands of tons of hyper-toxic waste which will not break down for over 10,000 years was and is no small part of it. That and the devastating aftermath a full meltdown would have. I am unaware of any other reason for the massive protests against nuclear a couple of decades back. Unless you have some other sources you’d like to share…?

  19. #19 crf
    2010/10/13

    Stoat, your reasoning of why Nuclear advocates should advocate for a Carbon tax is good. But Lewis is arguing only half with his head and half with his heart after his profession was crippled by environmentalist influence in congressional decisions in the early nineteen-nineties.

    You cannot discount the utter contempt many of those in the Nuclear industry have for “Hollywood Liberals”. It’s not strictly logical. It’s based on anger. The thinking goes like this:

    “In the nineties, enviros helped to hinder the nuclear industry, which saw the shutting down much research, and cancelling 4th generation nuclear, because of faux-reasoning about the harms of nuclear waste and radiation hysteria over minor emissions, and conflating the US industry with Russia (and Chernobyl).

    “Now johnny-come-lately Al-Gore-fluffing “environmentalist” has a new cause-celebre, climate change, but just elides over his philosophy’s role in the paucity of tools we have now to combat it.

    “You know what? F U you stupid environmentalist. You know nothing about nothing. I hate you so much, I’m just spitting mad.” (Insert picture of Cleese raving about communists)

  20. #20 guthrie
    2010/10/13

    Thats funny, I had gotten the impression that one of the main reasons nuclear didn’t get on any further was that they didn’t want to have to bear the cost of insurance alone and wanted taxpayer subsidy for it…

  21. #21 natural cynic
    2010/10/13

    Clarke’s First Law:
    When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

  22. #22 Mike G
    2010/10/13

    In another hint at his motivation, in his AIP interview he states that he and other JASONs would rally around any of their members being attacked from the outside. Dyson and Nierenberg, both of whom Lewis apparently thinks are brilliant, are among those members, and obviously neither has been well received in the climate science community.

  23. #23 snide
    2010/10/13

    I can’t believe he pulls out the ‘they are only in it for the gold’ argument.

  24. #24 P. Lewis
    2010/10/13

    D’oh! The APS really does respond this time.

    HT to Damian at Deltoid still.

    (Delete that earlier effort, eh.)

    [I found it in the end. Earlier comment deleted -W]

  25. #25 D. C. Sessions
    2010/10/13

    I hope that most of you are around in another 30 years, because it will take at least that long for you to be shown and realise this is just another Y2K bug

    I love that comparison, actually. Y2K was a non-event precisely because millions of programmers worked overtime for years to clean up the entire corpus of enterprise software worldwide resulting from about two decades of “who, me worry?” programming.

    No doubt if we dedicate proportional resources and time to heading off the adverse effects of human pollution on the environment we’ll have a lot of “what was all that anxiety about?” comments.

    Big if, that.

  26. #26 Douglas Watts
    2010/10/13

    ["I don't like windmills; windmills are renewable energy; renewable stuff is countering GW; therefore GW is false" -W]

    Well said. I have a real problem with some facets of hydroelectricity. Hydro is touted by some as a solution to AGW. But I don’t express my concern about hydro by denying AGW. I just point out the flaws and downsides of hydro.

  27. #27 Eli Rabett
    2010/10/14

    It is actually painful reading Lewis’ diatribe. Sort of like Rapp on steroids. Mostly a long moan that he and his ilk are not in charge.

  28. #28 deconvoluter
    2010/10/14

    We are into the realm of the highly non-rigorous.
    There is the conspiracy model , the cockup or rather the decline in reasoning power model, and last but not least the projection model i.e. :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Could it be the third? Exhibit comment #14. The temptation might grow when you have no regular income for a long time.

  29. #29 Jonathan Gilligan
    2010/10/14

    MarkB (#12) and William (comment on #10). Lewis is very pro-nuclear, and while he’s serious about the short-term risks, he is dismissive of the long-term risks of high-level waste disposal.

    The nuclear power section of Technological Risk is a bit bizarre—the author gets quite heated and detours along all sorts of rather unrelated tangents, such as using carbon-14 analysis to check the authenticity of wine—but he deserves credit for stating clearly, “Disclaimer. The views that follow are personal … [The author] is also a supporter of nuclear power, while an advocate of more focused attention to nuclear safety.” (p. 225)

    Regarding TMI, he says, “So whenever there is a disaster that commands public attention, the President will appoint a special presidential commission to review it. This will always result in severe criticism for the operating organization, criticism that will fade with time after the commission is disbanded. Complacency will then be allowed to return, business-as-usual restored. … After Three Mile Island, President Carter tried to maintain some level of surveillance by appointing a President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee, but President Reagan allowed it to die quietly.” (p. 233)

    On high-level waste, he writes, “EPA requires that the waste be stored in such a way that future people, presumed to be ignorant savages, will not be able to hurt themselves if they accidentally dig the stuff up. … The arrogance deserves emphasis. We assume that we know much more than the people of the past, and it is even true…. To assume that we are also more competent than the people of the future means that we have selected ourselves as the highest manifestation of the human race…. An engaging thought, just a bit pompous.” (p. 245)

    And the bit that most directly addresses William’s question about long-term risks: referring to the natural reactor in Gabon, “Nature didn’t have all these fancy cannisters and caves in which to store its nuclear waste; the waste was just left where it was, and where it still is after two billion hears. It would seem that with carefully selected geology, modern technology, well-built containers, human ingenuity, and deep burial, it should be possible to do a millionth as well. Our planned repository has to last about as long as some of the Roman ruins or possibly the Egyptian pyramids, and if our engineers can’t match that technology we are in deep trouble.” (p. 246) He concludes that worry over disposing of high level waste “is a phony issue, and it would be in the national interest to get on to more important matters.” (p. 247)

    More generally, he is very pro-technology, and that leads him to share some of the blind spots toward the risks of technology that Myanna Lahsen describes in her study of Seitz, Nierenberg, and Jastrow, “Experiences of Modernity in the Greenhouse.” This seems a manifestation of what the risk-perception crowd refers to as the “affect heuristic,” in which people tend to lump things into categories of good or bad. If you label something good, you will be attentive to its benefits and tend not to perceive its risks and vice versa for things you label bad.

    Despite this pro-technology bias, Lewis’s book tends to acknowledge technological risks even as it argues that we worry too much about them. I find it a much more sane presentation of this point of view than, say, Peter Huber’s or Dixy Lee Ray’s books from that era.

  30. #30 John Mashey
    2010/10/14

    re: #29 John Gilligan
    I generally concur, and this all reminds me:

    Burton Richter is a Nobel physicist, ran SLAC for many years, and gave a great presentation in a local town meeting room. The first half of it could been right from AIT, although Burt’s talk was earlier.

    In 2008, Burt was a big help in fixing that silly APS FPS mess with Monckton.

    Burt led the APS efficiency report.

    Burt has a recent book, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century written for a general audience. He certainly knows the nuclear business and presents a (balanced) set of views.

    While a few physicists go weird, most don’t,.

  31. #31 Jonathan Gilligan
    2010/10/14

    John Mashey (#30):

    I’m a rogue physicist myself, and while I hope I’ve not gone ’round the bend, I do find that it takes conscious effort to restrain the arrogance I picked up in grad school about being able solve any problem on the back of an envelope, using order-of-magnitude estimates and a lot of hand-waving. Sensitive nonlinear systems are not suited to analysis by orders of magnitude and spherical cows. Spencer Weart’s conversations with the RealClimate crew on the dangers of using simple illustrative models to explain tricky radiative equilibrium phenomena (e.g., the cooling of the stratosphere when GHGs rise) are very useful cautions in this regard.

    Beyond Richter, whom I certainly admire, I’d point to Art Rosenfeld as a supreme example of a physicist going off the reservation in the best possible way. And let’s not forget that Stephen Schneider started his professional life as a plasma physicist.

    The basic sanity of the majority of the physics community is demonstrated in part by the failure of the insurgency against the APS statement on climate change; a failure that precipitated Lewis’s current tantrum.

  32. #32 Paul Middents
    2010/10/14

    Curry thinks it’s “inexplicable and unwise” for the APS to make a statement on climate change because it is not part of their member’s expertise.

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/14/open-thread-week-in-review-101410/

    Seems to me there might be one or two folks in the APS with quite a bit of expertise–Spencer Weart perhaps?

  33. #33 John Mashey
    2010/10/14

    (I was on track to be physicist until mid-senior year, when I found myself having a lot more fun in the computer center than in studying theoretical mechanics form someone who scribbled equations while mumbling to the blackboard each class.)

    But, I would object strongly to mention the 3 others in any way that could be mistaken for Lewis.

    Burt “retired” from particle physics, put his efforts into energy&climate, doing serious study. (I say “retired” since his idea of retirement would wear most people out.) As he notes, having a Nobel does tend to open a few doors if you want to ask people people questions.

    Rosenfeld made a similar move, although earlier, as did Steve.

    A physics background is a terrific starting basis for studying many topics, if one remembers to *study* the topic, rather than pontificate without bothering.

    In studying the PAS petition, there was a period while Lewis’ name dropped off the list, which made me wonder, but his views clearly were strong. Too bad.

  34. #34 Jonathan Gilligan
    2010/10/14

    JM:

    “But, I would object strongly to mention the 3 others in any way that could be mistaken for Lewis.”

    Agreed. All three are quite different from Lewis. I mentioned them for the striking contrast, not similarity.

    “A physics background is a terrific starting basis for studying many topics, if one remembers to *study* the topic, rather than pontificate without bothering.”

    Exactly. That’s the key. In “Modernity in the Greenhouse,” Lahsen quotes a young physicist who made the jump to climate work saying something very similar.

    But an unfortunate part of physics culture is Fermi’s legacy of attacking problems with lots of ignorance, some wild guesstimates, and gross simplifications. Fermi had the judgment to do this well (e.g., estimating the Trinity yield), but in others’ hands the Fermi estimate can be a dangerous instrument of hubris.

  35. #35 Hank Roberts
    2010/10/14

    > Fermi had the judgment to do this well

    That’s why the Fermi Paradox isn’t laughable.

  36. #36 Emerita
    2010/10/14

    At last your out of Wikipedia lets hope its permanent

    [But I'm not. You're thinking of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:William_M._Connolley#Wikipedia:Arbitration.2FRequests.2FCase.2FClimate_change I believe -W]

  37. #37 Douglas Watts
    2010/10/14

    Not to grill the steak until it is a mote of charcoal but, “Curry thinks it’s ‘inexplicable and unwise’ for the APS to make a statement on climate change because it is not part of their member’s expertise.”

    Who does have the expertise? Non-physicists?

  38. #38 Eli Rabett
    2010/10/14

    Curry is an idiot. There are many trained physicists who are atmospheric scientists. To pull one name out of the hat, James Hanson who was a student of van Allen. Judy should also go talk to Paul Wine.

  39. #39 Cy Five
    2010/10/15

    Idiot,Eli? Why stoop? Poor form if you ask this lowly fluorophore.

    To be fair, though Cy is skeptical regarding future uncertainties like Dr. Curry, he agrees with Eli that physicists are qualified on the subject. In fact, quite the contrary ICHO. Cy knows a few physicists. Biologists and Chemists too.

    I think the point may have been that not all members of the APS are qualified, and how many of a group does it take to justify a “statement” on behalf of the whole? 5%? 50%? Begs more questions than it’s worth. But what does Cy know?

    One thing Cy doesn’t know is who is Paul Wine, but he’s going to take a look. Cy is a curious dye.

  40. #40 Cy Five
    2010/10/15

    Eli,

    Cy thanks you for pointing out Dr. Wine. Cy lives in the West, so doesn’t know many eastern scientists, but he finds such people interesting.

  41. #41 Jonathan Gilligan
    2010/10/15

    To follow up on Eli’s comment, Prof. Curry talks legalisms about the APS charter without any evidence that she’s familiar with the long APS history of advocacy. APS has, for decades, issued advocacy statements on matters where physics and public policy intersect: teaching evolution vs. creationism in schools, Star-wars antiballistic missile program, hydrogen-fueled cars, the use of nuclear weapons, electric power lines and cancer, the manned space station, the display of sexually demeaning images of women in the workplace, etc.

    On none of these issues is all the APS membership expert, but these statements, and a broader engagement in advocacy and public policy, have been an important part of APS life for the three decades that I’ve been a member. It’s rather late in the game to be shocked at discovering that the APS engages in policy advocacy. Prof. Curry would be wise not to emulate Captain Renault.

    And, pace Pielke, The APS explicitly categorizes these statements as advocacy so there is no stealth involved (although the 2002 statement on defense research engages in a different sort of stealth advocacy in calling for more money to be appropriated for basic and applied defense research, including work on materials to reduce radar cross-sections).

  42. #42 Steve Bloom
    2010/10/15

    Per Mark G’s comment above about the JASON tendency to circle the wagons, perhaps Oreskes set Lewis off?

  43. #43 John Mashey
    2010/10/15

    1) It really, really really does not make sense to over-generalize about JASON’s as a group.

    2) I know 4 personally, several over many years, and they are all smart and quite rational. I certainly know of many others by (good) reputation.

    3) When I did the APS petition study, I observed that:

    a) With multiple JASONs as petition organizers/signers, they surely asked everyone they thought might sign, and many JASONs are physicists and members of the APS. Only a small fraction did.

    b) Likewise, despite active campaigning by a bunch of senior people who surely had many contacts, they got less than 0.5% of the membership, skewed heavily towards old guys, many with obvious close connections to someone else.

    4) It is badly-flawed logic to say:
    a) These people know each other through X, and they believe Y.

    b) and therefore members of X generally believe Y.

    5) Of course, it may be that X has a more than usual tendency to believe Y. For example, AAPG (Am. Soc. Petroleum Geologists) has a different distribution of views on AGW than does the Geological Society of America.

    6) Finally, X may be some organization whose job includes promoting Y. Active membership in one of those is different.

  44. #44 Eli Rabett
    2010/10/15

    Cy, Eli is rather tired of dealing with nonsense such as J Curry has been dealing out lately. You are right, he got a bit short.

  45. #45 Lazar
    2010/10/16

    “not part of their member’s expertise”

    Curry seems inconsistent here

    … but then she blew wc off with a tu quoque on data uncertainties…

  46. #46 Girma
    2010/10/17

    THE OBSERVED TEMPERATURE DATA DOES NOT SUPPORT MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING.

    Here is the observed global mean temperature trend for 90-years from 1910 to 2000:

    http://bit.ly/bylFMq

    1) Global warming rate of 0.15 deg C per decade from 1910 to 1940, which gives a global warming of 0.45 deg C during the previous 30-years warming phase.

    2) Global warming rate of 0.16 deg C per decade from 1970 to 2000, which gives a global warming of 0.48 deg C during the recent 30-years warming phase.

    3) Slight global cooling from 1940 to 1970.

    As a result, the effect of 60 years of human emission of CO2 between the two warming phases on the global warming rate is nil.

    [Sorry, you lost me there. You've linked to a graph showing, rather crudely, that the world is warming. I really don't see what you can deduce from that graph alone; but you certainly can't deduce anything about human influence. What you need is a more sophisticated analysis, such as that referenced by the IPCC -W]

    Also, the effect of 30 years of human emission of CO2 during the global cooling phase from 1940 to 1970 is obviously nil.

    The data above describes the global mean temperature trend for 90 years until year 2000. What is the global mean temperature trend since 2000?

    4) Since year 2000, the global mean temperature anomaly trend is nearly flat at 0.4 deg C as shown in the following plot:

    http://bit.ly/aDni90

    In conclusion, man-made global warming is not supported by the observed data.

    According to the data, according to the apolitical science, the effect of human emission of CO2 on global mean temperature is NIL.

    [You seem to be under the impression that repeating teh word "NIL" a lot in capital letters constitutes a logical argument. Try http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9.html instead -W]

  47. #47 Philip Crowley
    2010/10/17

    Connolley is a two bit hack. He’s not even allowed to write on Wikipedia any more. No one has done more to bring climate science into disrepute than Connolley. He should be prosecuted for fraud.

    [You're wrong in all respects. But you're also in the wrong thread. Have another go -W]

  48. #48 Pete Ridley
    2010/10/20

    William, may I, with all due respect, suggest that you insult a scientist with a proven track record with your “I’m sure Dr Lewis deserves some respect. But his opinion on climate science does not. Let’s move along”

    [You can suggest it, but you'll need some evidence -W]

    I was checking up on whether or not you and your computer modelling associates could reasonably call yourselves “scientists” [snips] Neither your previous title “Senior Scientific Officer” nor mine of “Member of Scientific Staff” give either of us the right to consider ourselves scientists [snips]

    [You're not doing very well so far. Ad-homs against me have no bearing on Dr Lewis, obviously. Am I a scientist? No. Was I a scientist when I worked for BAS? Yes. Try http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/wmc/, in particular http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/met/wmc/papers/ IMO the test of a scientist, in practice, is publications. Are you a scientist? I don't know, and it doesn't matter -W]

    I do love the graph that you provided on your Wikipedia “User:William M. Connolley/My Images/Science” thread (Note 3)… [snip]

    [You want http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_cooling -W]

    [snips]

    [OK, I've got to the end and you've provided no evidence at all. What Dr Lewis said was nonsense. I don't think you've bothered even to read the post, or you'd have noticed the amusing contradiction to his earlier, saner views -W]

    PS: If you decide to edit or [Yes, I did -W]

  49. #49 Pete Ridley
    2010/10/21

    [Snip -W]

    The validity of your claim to having worthwhile scientific expertise in the processes and drivers of global climates can be left to others to assess. From the evidence that I have seen it appears to be bogus, but perhaps I’ve missed something.

    [I have no idea what evidence you've seen; the normal way to evaluate an (ex)scientists expertise is to read their papers; I've already pointed you at a link to those. If you can't read them, I can offer you a proverb -W]

    [Snip -W]