Lovelock goes emeritus

Or have I used that one before? It seems only too likely. But perhaps not: I don't seem to have had a decent go at him for four years.

Anyway, it makes a change from CRU-investigation navel-gazing (I'll get back to that in a moment). So what has the much-loved but getting-on-a-bit genius of electron capture said now?

It was bound to happen. Science, not so very long ago, pre-1960s, was largely vocational. Back when I was young, I didn't want to do anything else other than be a scientist. They're not like that nowadays. They don't give a damn. They go to these massive, mass-produced universities and churn them out. They say: "Science is a good career. You can get a job for life doing government work." That's no way to do science.

This is crap. It is the std "the skies were bluer, the grass was greener, people tipped their hat to the local bobby and children were seen and not heard" stupid nostalgia for the good ol' days. He then rants on:

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done.

And I really don't have a clue what he is on about there. What was faked? What has Lovelock been smoking? I'm going to ask Howard, maybe he knows.

More like this

So basically he's saying: models are unreliable, researchers are fudging data because they're only in it for the money, this winter's been unusually cold, AND WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE. Oh, and also: chill out, enjoy life, we can't do anything but adapt to the changes, and we need to give up democrazy. Or what is he saying?

Why does anybody really care what Lovelock says? It really irks me that he's treated as an authority on, well, anything.

[I heartily agree. He did some great stuff in the old days, but no more. And it is especially annoying that he is treated as "green", and therefore anything he says against AGW must be especially valid -W]

By carrot eater (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

It might be interesting to look at the early climate modeling work that indicated very little problem from CFCs, e.g.

A Coupled OneâDimensional RadiativeâConvective, ChemistryâTransport Model of the Atmosphere 1. Model Structure and Steady State Perturbation Calculations

A.J. Owens, C.H. Hales, D.L. Filkin, C. Miller, J.M. Steed, J.P. Jesson
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Experimental Station, Wilmington, Delaware

An atmosphere model composed of a narrow band radiativeâconvective (RC) code coupled with a oneâdimensional chemistry and transport code is described. The RC model, formulated in logâpressure coordinates, includes accurate solar absorption calculations for O3, O2, H2O, and CO2. Infrared heating and cooling by CO2, O3, and H2O are calculated with a narrow band formulation, while broader band formulations are used for CH4, N2O, CFC 11, and CFC 12. The atmospheric chemistry and transport model uses photochemical reaction rate data from Jet Propulsion Laboratory publication 82â57. The calculated steady state atmospheric response to several potential perturbations is discussed. Doubling the atmospheric CO2 level yields a change in total ozone of +2.9% and a surface temperature increase of 1.7 K. The continued release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) alone at nominal rates gives a calculated column ozone change of â5.7% at steady state, while for a combined 2 Ã CO2 + CFC perturbation the result is â3.5%. Ozone perturbations due to increases in N2O, CH4, and aircraft are also discussed. Two coupled scenarios including projected changes that may occur in about 100 years due to all these identified manâmade perturbations are discussed. The calculated ozone column changes are â4.5% and +1.5%, assuming fixed and doubled methane source strengths, respectively.

Citation: Owens, A., C. Hales, D. Filkin, C. Miller, J. Steed, and J. Jesson (1985), A Coupled OneâDimensional RadiativeâConvective, ChemistryâTransport Model of the Atmosphere 1. Model Structure and Steady State Perturbation Calculations, J. Geophys. Res., 90(D1), 2283-2311.

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[I think (without looking at this closely) that it would be hard to regard this as evidence of any kind of malfeasance... ozone depletion didn't occur at first where it was expected. Studies looking at tropical stuff would genuinely have found little problem. It really needs some clear understanding of what Lovelock thinks is so badly wrong - what are these 80%, 80% of? -W]

The only people who care about Lovelock are the media...and Lovelock himself. Sad, although not quite as sad as the media types who continue to think he has something valid to say. Perhaps this is an off-shoot of 'Dysonism'?

Lovelock sez: We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done.

That is just nuts. The only thing I can think of that he might be referring to is the way the original Nimbus-7 data were handled. A filtering algorithm erroneously "corrected" the ozone hole in Antarctic spring of each year, because of a built-in assumption that such steep declines were physically impossible and thus must be bad data. When the data were reprocessed without this algorithm, the hole appeared.

If that's what Lovelock is referring to, than the "corruption of science" bit is just drama, the "80%" was pulled out of thin air, and the "faked" ditto. I suppose you could go with "incompetent" if you want to be deliberately provocative.

Lovelock is pretty much completely unreliable nowadays. He seems to constantly be tossing out these crazy comments which must be based on vague memories of hearing this or that factoid at some point. Over at John Cook's site, people are talking about another nutty remark from Lovelock:

"There has been a lot of speculation that a very large glacier [Pine Island glacier] in Antarctica is unstable. If there's much more melting, it may break off and slip into the ocean. It would be enough to produce an immediate sea-level rise of two metres, something huge, and tsunamis."…

Two meters of SLR from Pine Island Glacier? And tsunamis? Not going to happen.

Perhaps this is an off-shoot of 'Dysonism'?

It's a long, proud line of great minds 'going emeritus'. As some folks age, their inner cranks rise up to the fore. Meanwhile, they had gotten very used to their opinions being heard and respected. It can get ugly.

There doesn't seem to be a Wikipaedia entry for going emeritus...

Good comments except for the ageist stereotyping.

[Ha yes sometimes I forget -W]

I notice that you have let the younger man, i.e Leo Hickman, off the hook. The subheading of the longer article begins with "Read the full transcript of.. JL's interview".

Is this really the full transcript of two or more hours discussion? As far as I remember,the transcript of the one hour's programme, GGWS, is longer. Where are Hickman's questions? Even if these were too trivial to report, that in itself would make him partly responsible. A good experienced interviewer could have tactfully made JL reveal evidence about the quality of his memory. He might also have made a better job at making JL provide some basis for his allegations.

[Yeeesss... the assertion that this is a full transcript isn't really credible. And as you say, seeing the questions would be rather useful. And the gaps are rather obvious: they strike pretty well everyone reading this immeadiately: did LH really not notice? -W]

As is well known, JL initially thought that CFC's were not present in high enough concentrations to do any harm. Did he remain a CFC skeptic or change his mind when confronted with new evidence? Hickman should have clarified that for the typical Guardian reader. Clarity is obviously less important for Hickman than sensationalism.

[It doesn't look like he has pushed JL very hard - perhaps he wasn't brave enough to ask anything difficult or to interrupt the ranting -W]

As an analogy, Nigel Calder may have started his career as GW contrarian with reluctance to drop his ice age scare. We need to rule out a similar mechanism for JL.

[Well, the ice age stuff is NC's sole paper. JL has veered wildly - as you say, the initial spin was "no harm", I think he then quietly faded from that scene and is next seen in "Gaia" mode. The moral of Gaia, if there is one, is that the world is self-regulating and he pushed that for a bit in a vague way. Then he shifted off to we're-all-doomed. I think, in the end, he has nothing of interest to say -W]

An interesting thing is JL's classification of skeptics into good and mad ones with his friend Nigel Lawson in the former category. Perhaps that explains the rest. I'm surprised he failed to put in a plug for David Bellamy with whom he shares a dislike for wind power.
JL is supposed to have been undergoing a political shift to the right. That may determine his choice of friends and newspapers which matters if he is losing touch with researchers.

By deconvoluter (not verified) on 04 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh dear, the denial movement is positively in love with Lovelock. He is throwing them all kinds of love and soundbites. They are eating it up.

Say, does this remind anyone of another former intellectual giant: Freeman Dyson? And Ian Pilmer (though more midget)?

They've become old men yelling at "the kids" to "keep of my lawn you damned whipper snappers!"

Maybe Lovelock is looking at how many Google hits he gets? "Say time to say something provocative! That will give me a few more million Google references!"