Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes

A headline stolen blatantly from HH. But it seems rather applicable to the Institute of Physics. The Grauniad are still pushing them (go big G!) but the IOP are stonewalling: they won't say who wrote their pap; but it seems one Peter Gill was involved.

In an apparent attempt to take the Irony Prize back from the gunmen of Caracas, the institute supplied a statement from an anonymous member of its science board, which said: "The institute should feel relaxed about the process by which it generated what is, anyway, a statement of the obvious." It added: "The points [the submission] makes are ones which we continue to support, that science should be practised openly and in an unbiased way. However much we sympathise with the way in which CRU researchers have been confronted with hostile requests for information, we believe the case for openness remains just as strong."

I've added the bold myself, because the IOP somehow failed to link the two halves of their statement together. Ho ho.

The IOP fiasco refers.


* You can see PG here at... weatheraction! The Corbyn connection emerges, ha.
* A href="…">TERRI JACKSON (where does she fit into this; but she claims to be a "a scientist dealing in climate facts") writes some tosh in the Belfast Torygraph (is it Tory, over there? I don't know) whereupon one Peter F Gill pops up in the comments recommedning you google my article in IOP South Central Branch Newsletter April 2008) (and other tosh).
* Scary pic of TG here plus some of her views. Mmmm, sounds just like the sort of person you'd want.
* And (I'm getting lost in this crap; Eli or Frank please help me out) SPPI are now repackaging the IOP junk. Why? Can't they think of their own junk?
* TG also makes the "650 list", which is odd, because that says she is a "a physics teacher at Belfast Institute Further and Higher Education for 30 years". Hold on, *that* is supposed to be a list of scientists. And her letter to the BT said she was a scientist. Could she be... stretching her credentials at all?
* An agenda item for EMG Committee meeting on 21 January 2004: Proposal: what steps can the EMGroup take to suggest how the IOP can become more pro-active in physics related energy matters. This vitally important matter has come from the useful discussions held by Peter King and Peter Gill with Professor Peter Main. (30 minutes).
* More waacko Gill stuff here.
* Deltoid picks up on this.

More like this

Right. When there's an inconsistency between what we profess and how we act we should have our noses rubbed in it. And we should be equal opportunity critics. Don't see how this provides solace to the UEA folks, though, except insofar as misery loves company.

By bob koepp (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

Nice job, David Adam; it's good to see someone in mainstream media able to do a good job.

I presume you're digging around more in:
Since there is not only some other relevant history, but some strange gaps. I did note that the Energy Institute (with which he claims affiliation) is interesting.

njp's pointer to equivalent of:…
was fun, especially with comments on Harrabin.

Citing E-G Beck: amazing, one of the silliest ever.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

The IOP has some serious heavyweights (e.g. members of the Royal Society, etc.) They are not going to take being made to look like fools lightly.

"we believe the case for [the] openness [of others] remains just as strong"

I fixed it for them.

If Peter F. Gill was the man behind the submission to the Commons Committee then the IoP need to retract their statements fast, as he states this on the 22nd of November last year:

"When you get back from your most recent walkabout Mark try googling CRU and Phil Jones. Poor old CRU have been seriously hacked. The e-mails and other files are all over the Internet and include how to hide atmospheric cooling, how to deal with freedom of information requests and other stuff that I feel sure you will find of interest. All the best as always."

He also comments that it is ok to cherry-pick 1998 as a start year so as to claim global cooling at that page!

Here Peter claims:

"Carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas. Its contribution to the greenhouse effect in the Earthâs atmosphere is small compared to that of major greenhouse gas which is water vapour. Most of the CO2 in the atmosphere arises naturally and the contribution by mankind is small in comparison with natural inputs.
Water vapour is responsible for nearly all âgreenhouseâ global warming by absorption of certain frequencies of the infrared radiation emanating from the Earthâs surface. However water vapour is also responsible for clouds which can have warming or cooling effects not all of which are fully understood but thatâs another story."

Later, in response to a comment by myself he suggests the IPCC has invented a new, longer CO2 residence time - and also fails to understand the importance of the short residence time of water vapour in the atmosphere.

He does refer to an article he wrote in the April 2008 edition of the IoP South Kensington Newsletter, entitled "Man made climate change" (On page 3 of the PDF) which trots out all the usual rubbish - CO2 being a minor greenhouse gas, CO2 lags temperature, "It's the sun", and allusion to "Runaway greenhouse effects".

However, there is a nice little admonishment of Peter's article in the next issue from the Branch Secretary (page 4 of the PDF). I particulary like:

"The basic physics is uncontroversial â we know at what wavelengths CO2 absorbs and emits, and that it is a greenhouse gas...we should be even more, not less, cautious
about emissions than we are already, because extra CO2 will
push up the temperature more."

But this is the best:

"We can all do our bit, by making sure that there is more
widespread understanding of basic science."

As it is obvious that Peter is either unaware of, or wilfully blind to the basic science.


"However the IOP would not reveal names because they would get "dragged into a very public and highly politicised debate"."

Sure, we don't mind contributing to a very public and highly politicised debate, but don't drag us into it!!1

Mr. Rabett is quite correct. I know of at least two FRS, physicists and members of the IOP who are not amused.

I take that members of the Institute are of the opinion that CO2 is not absorbing IR at 4250nm though… clearly states so.

Is Gary Novak a member?
In is a very open and clear explanation of the whole issue. I take that they do not object this, but am a bit curious about their definition of 'physics' - 'the thing you do to nature when profit is the objective'.

Quite hard to match up what happened here.

Now the submission has turned up on the Science and Public Policy Institute site complete with attract front page:

[Thanks. Someone else pointed that out too, now in the update -W]

You can judge for yourself the character of this organisation.

No response to my letter yet, other than a public one of further enthusiastic digging.

SPPI is well-known as the Viscount Monckton's arm in Washington, DC, a key participant in Monckton's attack on Naomi Oreskes in 2007, using his endocrinologist Klaus-Martin Schulte, who turned out to be as climate-clueless as had Benny Peiser in his 2005 attack on Naomi.

Given all that, SPPI would naturally be an "early adopter."

By John Mashey (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

Just got a reply back from the IOP via the Director of Communications and External Relations (Beth Taylor) who I imagine is busily earning her salary at the moment. It repeats the public line, so I won't copy it here, furthermore I don't believe it appropriate to publish an e-mail from someone without their express permission.

I was a crystallographer once and in my youth attended an intensive course at which Peter Main (he of the IoP statement) was one of the lecturers. In crystallography there is a much stronger tradition of supplying raw data (usually lodged with the journal for any crystal structure publication). This may explain something of the openness focus I guess (being charitable). The lack of openness on the part of the IoP itself is indeed hilarious.

Is it not disturbing in this account that 3 memebers of the "Science Board" of the IoP declined to even render a judgement on a statement relating to scientific practice (not climate science)?

Even if they disagreed, or had not read the emails in question, surely they should have voiced their concerns and/or made it their business to read the materials so they could form an opinion.

This is a parlimentary enquiry into the scientific practice of a noted institution. Scienitific bodies should be taking an active interest.

"The Grauniad"

Pun too Englishy. What does it mean? "Torygraph" is obvious.

[It is from Private Eye. They had nicknames for all the papers in the "Street of Shame". The Grauniad was, in the days before computer typesetting, notorious for its typos... -W]

Regarding the "scary pic of TJ" - do we really want to go down that road and give the denialists an excuse to complain of low behaviour?

[This particular post isn't attempting to make any logical arguments. It was just a collection of useful information. That pdf is for her views, not her view - I just couldn't resist the comment. The septics will attack anyway, there is no need to worry about excuses -W]

Paul Erlich wants to start an Antiseptic ad campaign. He comes from the discredited alarmist tribe.

It is hard to defend against the death by a thousand cuts. There's the overwhelming feeling of why is this happening to us.

From the Gill wacko stuff:

"He had an interesting calculation I hadn't heard before. The human contribution to CO2 is 26 gigatons a year. It's peaked in the past, however. Assuming all that was anthropogenic, between 1820 and 1855 the peak was 44gt a year and between 1942 and 1953 78 gigatons a year."

I have not heard this calculation before either. But the BS I haven't heard before could fill a weatherman's blog.

> the discredited alarmist tribe.

Irony indeed.…

"All seven of the steps could be written of as an exercise in Pollyannaism. âTotally impractical,â people will say, ânot gonna happen.â Well, I tend to agree. But there is nothing more impractical than letting our global civilization go down the drain, with billions of people dying. Pundits seem to think we have choices, but they are wrong. If we donât change our ways, theyâll be changed for us."

I just whipped out my handy-dandy "European Historical Statistics 1750-1970 (Abridged Edition)", by B.R.Mitchell, and checked some numbers. Coal output in Europe in the first half of the 19th century was dominated by England; total European output was about 50 million tons/year. You can't produce 44 billion tons of CO2 out of only 50 million tons of coal. Yes, there was also plenty of wood burning, but certainly not a thousand times as much as coal. The calculations are junk.

By Erasmussimo (not verified) on 05 Mar 2010 #permalink

"scary pic" is a PDF, the whole file is a picture--mostly a picture of text. The opinions are from SEPP and Moran, to which she points for further information.

"... The summer ice melt in the Arctic was at its lowest point in 2007. It is now almost up to its original extent. 'Ice melting is not due to humans but to the global cooling which has set in at the equator so that the equatorial waters are pushed north by ocean currents and high winds.'...."

> wood burning, but certainly not a thousand times
> as much as coal

'certainly'?? There used to be old-growth forest covering most of Europe. It's gone. Where do you imagine it went?

People used to be able to collect trainloads of meat by just going outside and shooting shotguns into the air.…

"The pigeons were picked up and piled in heaps, until each [hunter] had as many as he could possibly dispose of, when the hogs were let loose to feed on the remainder."

You cannot believe how much life there was on this planet just a few centuries ago. It's gone. Into the air.

People were able to to collect trainloads of meat by riding the trains across the US Great Plains and shooting primitive rifles at herds of buffalo

People were able to collect boatloads of fish by dragging simple nets in shallow coastal waters.

It's all gone. Where do you imagine it went?

IOP has now clarified its clarification. A bit of a comparison of texts back at BCLSB. Language is even softer, submission appears unaltered.

When I read David Adams report this morning, I was gobsmacked - can a respected scientific society really be this dumb?

Well done for David Adams and the Guardian team for following this up: it begins to make up for Fred Pearce.

Re#16 - Sorry, but Terri Jackson does seem to look like David Walliams in drag - frankly, I thought Stoat was being quite diplomatic...

I think personal appearance issues are fairly irrelevant, but in any case, it is clear that individuals can form quite strong opinions, sometimes in 8 weeks:

"But this needed adherence to Anthropogenic Global Warming. I investigated the science; it took eight solid weeks which turned into a nightmare as I uncovered a monster, whose tentacles appeared to have gone very deep, with bad science in very many areas."

"The science of AGW: The scientific conclusion I reached was, eventually, unequivocal; manmade global warming is so small, if it exists at all, and natural variations are so much larger, that our current contribution to warming cannot even be measured. Always, CO2 follows temperature, it did not lead in the past and it does not lead now; its greenhouse gas qualities are already at near-maximum effect."

This comes from a submission to Parliament: Anne Stallybrass, of the Green World Trust. Some GWT members are shown here, and they seem like perfectly-ordinary sorts of folks, although Anne has gotten used to the name Lucy Skywalker which she says fits.

[Not User:Lucy_Skywalker I take it -W]

They seem to have reasonable-sounding goals:

"To build up a neutral source of key information, for beginners as well as experts,
including information on basic Climate Science and the real climate issues"

However, its Climate Science page is "interesting."

Maybe minions of the all-powerful Stoat can give this group the attention it deserves.

[Go to it, minions! :-) -W]

By JohnMashey (not verified) on 05 Mar 2010 #permalink

Submissions to Parliament or your local equivalent are cheap ways for third raters to get their names in lights and onto the wingnut gravy train. Peiser, Beck, Gerlich et al are prime examples.

Belfast Torygraph (is it Tory, over there? I don't know)

Not really, more middle of the road. Of course the political environment in Northern Ireland is less Conservative vs. Labour and more Nationalist vs. Unionist so I'm unsure as to GB perceptions of it. It is definitely a provincial paper, and so has to pander to a wide range of viewpoints - I guess that's why Terri Jackson's "Pouring cold water on global warming" article made its Environment section.

That said, I recently had a circular back-and-forth with a denialist who wrote in to complain about the lack of coverage of 'Climategate' in the 'Tele (as we call it) - so I guess they're middle-of-the-road on the Climate issue too!

Well, it is very clear that the green world trust website contains the usual lies, eg Monckton is quoted admiringly, the old CO2 follows ice age warming, mismatched data, quotemining etc. Creationists would be proud of them.

Yet when you go to their page titled wisdom, you get this:

"Many are aware of deep spiritual dimensions to the current planetary challenge. Yet the challenge affects different people very differently, and only some want to know about the deep spiritual dimensions. These pages are for such people. Others may even think that spiritual dimensions are nonsense. However, we regard that as bad science in the true meaning of science as rigorous, impartial openness to evidence, not driven by prejudicial emotions either for or against. There is plenty of scientifically valid evidence for miracles. And every near-death-experience is a testimony to realities beyond the physical world. Some people don't want to look, CSICOP being leaders in wilful blindness... but it is essential in the present crisis that we can collaborate, all who have goodwill and care about humankind and the precious earth on which we live."

So basically a woomeister has decided that the IPCC and AGW are horning in on their turf....

Never underestimate the capacity for a woomeister for sustained work in building a coherent world model which totally ignores reality and contradictory evidence.
And yet at the same time they agree with peak oil and support the transition town movement...

People are annoyingly complex.

Actually, I have a somewhat different hypothesis, as I've seen this particular one before. I live on the edge of Silicon Valley, home of a dense concentration of well-educated engineers, scientists, etc. Not all those in Northern California are of this worldview, and they keep things from getting boring.

Most people around here accept AGW either because:
1) They say "Mainstream science says so, and unless I want to spend a huge amount of time learning about it, I accept mainstream science in this area as in most others, and get on with it."
2) Some say "As in 1), but I'm really interested in this, I'll give the other side every chance, and really learn about the science and the attacks on it." and have a good enough science background to do that.

Around here, most of those who reject it do so for the usual political/ideological reasons, as per Reasons catalog and Organizations and Individuals vs Reasons.

But every once in a while, one will run into someone whose politics seem of the not-very-well-considered far left, sometimes into extreme environmental activism, who soaked up a belief in AGW without really understanding of the science, and sometimes are prone to exaggerations taht drive scientists nuts and give anti-science folks great targets.

Some of these can be susceptible to PSY7 in those web pages above, "All-or-none thinking", and if something causes them to doubt what they've taken on faith, they flip all the way to the other extreme. For example, they run into someone who reads {Singer, Michaels, CA, etc) and barrages them with sciencey-sounding arguments they don't know enough to refute, gives them books and pointers to website ... and the next thing they know, they're off in the strange "alternate universe" where ""most of the basic findings of mainstream science are rejected or ignored." as per Bill Ruddiman.

A parallel might be an intense conversion in either direction between strong religious belief and militant atheism without ever occupying any intermediate position.

I've had some good discussions with psychologist friends who have known really-extreme cases where someone oscillates rapidly between extreme beliefs.

Put another way, some people are well-suited to follow Feynman:
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs in different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything, and of many things I don't know anything about, but I don't have to know an answer I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is as far as I can tell possibly. It doesn't frighten me. "

But, for many people, that would be a *terrifying* worldview.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

The Feynman quote says it all for me, except that I think we do have a purpose, if only the base biological one to maintain the species. Of course each of us has the opportunity to choose a purpose. Can you give any examples of "exaggerations that drive scientists nuts and give anti-science folks great targets."

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 08 Mar 2010 #permalink

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