Climatologist Judith Curry saying farewell to academia

Judith Curry, the Georgia Tech climatology professor vilified by her peers for trying to have a meaningful dialogue with CAGW skeptics, is taking early retirement from academia to focus on a startup company dealing with long-term climate forecasting.

The moneygraf from her letter:
“[…] I started to realize that academia and universities nationwide were undergoing substantial changes. I came across a recent article that expresses part of what is wrong: Universities are becoming like mechanical nightingales.

“The reward system that is in place for university faculty members is becoming increasingly counterproductive to actually educating students to be able to think and cope in the real world, and in expanding the frontiers of knowledge in a meaningful way[…]”

It is always sad to see the departure of any academic who is truly committed to the spirit of free inquiry. Here’s wishing her the very best in her new venture and I hope to be hearing more of her!

Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

View original post 1,620 more words

UCSB physicist Hal Lewis resigns from the American Physical Society with a screed against climate alarmism and its enablers

Watts Up With That reports that UCSB physicist Hal Lewis (more about him here) resigned from the American Physical Society with a blistering resignation letter in which he dares to call the organization’s position on AGW:

Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society - an important moment in science history I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.- Hal Lewis

Read More at Watts Up With That? who call the letter the scientific equivalent of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the church gate at Wittenberg.

Walter Russell Mead: climate alarmism as the new Prohibitionism

Walter Russell Mead gives a smackdown to the CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) crowd that deserves to be read in full.

Note that he is not an AGW “denier”  (in the Godwinesque loaded language of the CAGW crowd): he thinks we may well have a problem on our hands. Rather he draws an analogy with the Prohibitionists: they were drawing attention to a very real problem (alcoholism and its social ravages), but their policy prescription (Prohibition) turned out to be so disastrous that it led to the only example in US history where a constitutional amendment (the 18th, establishing Prohibition) had to be annulled by another (the 21st).

Another analogy he draws is with the interbellum anti-war movement, which likewise addressed a very real issue (the carnage of wars in general, and most recently WW I in particular) but whose policy prescriptions, implemented, set the stage for an even bloodier WW II.

This doesn’t mean that nothing can or should be done.  Nudging the US economy toward less energy intensive activity while cutting the costs of hiring people is a sensible way to promote the kind of high tech, complex service economy that will serve us best down the road with or without global warming[…]

I note that the Indian government, as allergic as ever to the Copenhagen approach, is attempting to end that country’s wasteful and destructive policy of subsidizing energy use by keeping fuel costs artificially low.  This is happening for economic, not environmental reasons: the Indian government simply cannot afford the cost of these subsidies, and it is prepared to face strikes and protests to see the reforms through.  This single reform if carried through and sustained, is likely to do more for the environment than the complex, expensive, time consuming and largely ineffectual Kyoto Protocol.  Ending fuel subsidies was not a green idea; it was a growth idea.  It was not a global policy; it was an Indian policy.  The ideas that get us out of this mess will be ideas that work for specific countries and that make the economy work better, produce more wealth and use energy and raw materials more efficiently.

Alcohol abuse was a real problem in 1918, but the Prohibitionist belief that there was One Big Legislative Answer only made things worse.  Over the years, we’ve made progress on reducing the effect of alcohol abuse on our society in various ways.  Organizations like AA have helped millions stop drinking while leaving those who can drink responsibly to do so in peace.  Strict enforcement of drunk driving laws has dramatically reduced highway deaths due to drink.  Many of the most important advances had nothing to do with direct assaults on the alcohol problem.  Increased economic competition ended the days of the three martini lunch.  Attacks on discrimination against women have given women and children more economic choices when Daddy spends all his money at the corner saloon; enforcement of laws against domestic violence has helped curb the vicious spouse and child abuse that was once part of John Barleycorn’s toll on our society.  We are not all the way there yet, and as long as human nature is what it is we may never get there, but once we had the good sense to ignore Carry Nation and the crazy Prohibitionist cranks, we were able to make significant and sustained progress dealing with the problem.

Something like this is going to have to happen on the climate front.  Relatively small steps, or larger steps often undertaken for reasons that have little directly to do with climate, will have to see us through.  Until more greens understand that, and until the green movement as a whole disabuses itself of the dangerous fantasy that the way to solve our environmental problems is to embrace Malthusian fantasies, utopian treaties and grandiose laws, the green movement will continue to be a drag on human progress — even as the computer models get better and the temperature goes up.

At best, the green movement might be compared to an alarm clock: jangling shrilly to wake up the world.  That is fair enough; they have turned our attention to a problem that needs to be carefully examined and dealt with.  But the first thing you do when you wake up is to turn the alarm clock off; otherwise that shrill beeping noise will distract you from the problems of the day.

The alarm clock will never understand this; making shrill and irrational noise is what alarm clocks do and is all they understand.  But sensible and thoughtful people who want humanity to live fuller, richer lives in a cleaner and more sustainable world need to get past the naive and crude policy ideas that currently dominate green thinking and start giving these questions the serious attention and careful thought they deserve.


NAS compiles dossier on AGW “deniers”, including… NAS members

This is the sort of thing that, if this were even possible, would make me feel ashamed to call myself a scientist. Frank Tipler:

The National Academy of Sciences, in its official journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has just published a list of scientists whom it claims should not be believed on the subject of global warming. I am number 38 on the list. The list of 496 is in descending order of scientific credentials.

Professor Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Royal Society, is number 3 on the list. Dyson is a friend of mine and is one of the creators of relativistic quantum field theory; most physicists think he should have shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynman. MIT professor Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist who is also a member of the National Academy, is number 4. Princeton physics professor William Happer, once again a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is number 6.

I’m in good company.

The list is actually available only online. The published article, which links to the list, argues that the skeptical scientists — the article calls us “climate deniers,” trying to equate us with Holocaust deniers — have published less in climate “science” than believers in anthropogenic global warming (AGW).


But if the entire field of climate “science” is suspect, if the leaders of the field of climate “science” are suspected of faking their results and are accused of arranging for their critics’ papers to be rejected by “peer-reviewed” journals, then lack of publication in climate “science” is an argument for taking us more seriously than the leaders of the climate “science.”

Freeman Dyson, for example, was not trained as a physicist but as a mathematician. His contribution to quantum field theory was applying his mathematical skills to showing that Feynman’s work was mathematically rigorous and mathematically equivalent to another formulation due to Julian Schwinger (who shared the Nobel with Feynman). Freeman has spent the fifty years after this work switching from field to field, always making important contributions to these fields, and making them precisely because he has looked at the evidence from a different point of view.

Dick Lindzen actually is an insider in real climate science, but he is an insider who can’t be bought, an insider who follows the evidence rather than the grant money.

Will Happer is mainly an experimental atomic physicist, but a physicist who has a decades-old reputation for investigating extraordinary claims in all areas of physics.  Will was one of the experimentalists who exposed the cold fusion scam a number of years ago.

As for myself, I’m a cosmologist, with a special interest in the anthropic principle, as my National Academy of Sciences security police dossier correctly notes. Twenty odd years ago, I co-authored a book, published by Oxford University Press, on the anthropic principle. As my co-author and I pointed out, the essence of the anthropic principle is eliminating human bias from the interpretation of observations, and we focused mainly on eliminating such bias from cosmology.

“Seek the truth wherever thou mayest find it” has, sadly, become “seek grant money wherever thou mayest find it” for all too many.

For rather more refreshing reading, have a look at the website of Israeli astrophysicist Nir Shaviv,,  A couple of suggestions: “Cosmic rays and climate“, and “ClimateGate and the hockey stick: not news to me“.

ClimateGate redux+Strange new respect for the Tea Party

Today’s Best of the Web has lots of good stuf: let’s just quote two items.

Scientific M.O.
London’s Daily Telegraph reports on the latest global-warming scandal, “a scheme to claim $60 billion in carbon credits for keeping intact a large chunk of the Amazon rainforest which is not under any threat”:

The architects of this imaginative project are the environmental campaigners of the WWF and their close ally the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.

Last week a letter to this newspaper from Woods Hole’s CEO, William Brown, averred that it was not, as I had said, an “environmental advocacy group” but a “widely respected scientific institution.” This is precisely the claim which has been dismissed by, among others, the renowned atmospheric physicist Professor Richard Lindzen, who has more than once emphasised that the Woods Hole Research Center is “an environmental advocacy center, not to be confused with the far better known Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,” a genuinely respected scientific body.

Meanwhile another advocacy organization, Greenpeace, is urging “mass civil disobedience” to intimidate those who are skeptical about global warming:

If you’re one of those who believe that this is not just necessary but also possible, speak to us. Let’s talk about what that mass civil disobedience is going to look like.

If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:

We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.

And we be many, but you be few.

That be politics. It sound like incitement, though threat not be imminent, so probably it be protected by First Amendment. But definitely it not be science.

Strange New Respect

There was a time, oh, a week or two ago, when the mainstream media portrayed the tea-party movement as an assortment of crazed angry extremist redneck racist idiots. What changed?

The headline we’ve given this column is a phrase coined by the conservative writer Tom Bethell to refer to the media’s attitude toward conservatives who veer leftward. What we’re about to describe is a bit different: more an epiphany on the media’s part than a change in the object of coverage. It seems unlikely that the tea-partiers have suddenly become mainstream.

Yet that’s what you’d think from reading some of the recent coverage. The Christian Science Monitor, which a month ago baselessly labeled Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell a “right-wing extremist,” begins a Saturday story by rehearsing the stereotypes but then cautions that “political experts say that many such criticisms are near-sighted, if not outright inappropriate–and ultimately may miss the point”:

Indeed, polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men.

What’s more, the release this week of the top three planks of the “crowd-sourced” Contract From America project, to some activists, shows a maturation from sign-wielding protesters to a political reform movement grounded in ideas.

The top three vote-getters among 360,000 respondents on the Contract From America website: Calling for an enumerated powers act to force lawmakers to check the constitionality [sic] of new laws; requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for any tax hike; and a legislative backstop to prevent the EPA from “backdoor regulating.”

CNN–which became notorious a year ago for its hostile coverage of the movement, including the use of antigay slurs–carries a report titled “Disgruntled Democrats Join the Tea Party”:

Some Americans who say they have been sympathetic to Democratic causes in the past — some even voted for Democratic candidates–are angry with President Obama and his party. They say they are now supporting the Tea Party–a movement that champions less government, lower taxes and the defeat of Democrats even though it’s not formally aligned with the Republican Party.

To be sure, the number of Democrats in the Tea Party movement is small. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that while 96 percent of Tea Party activists identify themselves as either Republican or Independent, only 4 percent say they are Democrats.

Another poll, however, suggests this is less of a dog-bites-man story than CNN makes it out to be. “Four in 10 Tea Party members are either Democrats or Independents, according to a new national survey,” reports the Hill:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Kristen Soltis of the Winston Group notes another important point:

What truly sets the Tea Party apart from even Republicans or conservatives broadly is its commitment to economic conservatism. Tea Party members, like voters overall, are very focused on the economy and jobs; some 36 percent say it is their top issue. Yet while only 6 percent of voters overall say that the national deficit and spending are their top issues, that number spikes to 21 percent among Tea Party members.

The Tea Party is a movement defined by its preference for fiscal restraint and low taxes. Presented with two competing proposals to create jobs, over four out of five Tea Party members say tax cuts for small business will create more jobs than increased government spending on infrastructure. When the options were expanded, tax cuts still were chosen as the top job creator, but are closely followed by “expanding development of all energy resources.” Interestingly enough, the next runner up–“cracking down on illegal immigration”–was not more popular among Tea Party members (19 percent) than voters overall (16 percent).

When it comes down to it, the Tea Party does not appear to be focused on economic conservatism as an end in and of itself. When asked in the January survey if they favored “reducing unemployment to 5 percent” or balancing the budget, 63 percent chose reducing unemployment–a negligible difference from the 64% of voters overall who agree. Jobs are the goal–items like tax cuts and balanced budgets are a means to achieve that goal.

It all adds up to a remarkably broad-based and nonideological movement–one that has gained strength as the Democrats who currently run Washington have proved themselves to be narrow and ideological. Had President Obama governed from the center–above all, had he heeded public opinion and abandoned his grandiose plans to transform America, he might well have held the allegiance of many of the people who now sympathize with the tea party.

How is it that the media’s approach has changed so dramatically in just the past couple of weeks? Perhaps the Democrats simply went too far when they claimed that tea-party protesters had shouted racial slurs at black congressmen during the ObamaCare weekend. The media, of course, repeated these claims, but no evidence has surfaced to corroborate them, and Andrew Breitbart makes a very good case for skepticism:

The proof that the N-word wasn’t said once, let alone 15 times, as Rep. Andre Carson claimed, is that soon thereafter–even though the press dutifully reported it as truth–Nancy Pelosi followed the alleged hate fest, which allegedly included someone spitting, by walking through the crowd with a gavel in hand and a sh—eating grin on her face. Had the incidents reported by the Congressional Black Caucus actually occurred the Capitol Police would have been negligent to allow the least popular person to that crowd–the Speaker–to put herself in harm’s way.

Reader Taylor Dinerman notes: “Part of the function of a political media operation is to make the other side despair, lose hope, feel bad, etc. It’s one of the reasons I gave up reading the New York Times. In one of Isaac Asimov’s Empire series, he describes a drug called ‘desperance’ whose function is to make whoever takes it despair and be ready to kill or commit suicide. The bad guys feed it to someone they intend to use to murder the galactic emperor.”

Tales of tea-party racism could have been calculated to demoralize America’s anti-ObamaCare majority by presenting them with an ugly choice: accept the fate the Democrats have imposed upon us, or side with (as the Christian Science Monitor puts it) “neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies.” The strange new respect for the tea-party movement suggests that this approach is too invidiously partisan even for the mainstream media.

ClimateGate redux: “When the Germans give up on AGW…”

James Delingpole (via Roger Simon): “When the Germans give up on AGW you really know it is all over“, anthologizes a long feature article in Der Spiegel (note: article split up over 7 webpages) on the ClimateGate controversy. While Der Spiegel (Germany’s premier news and opinion magazine, generally reliably liberal in its tone) is not exactly jumping aboard the train, they are clearly breaking ranks with the AGW hysterics. Some choice bits:

On the recently vindicated Prof Phil Jones:

“I am 100 percent confident that the climate has warmed,” Jones says imploringly. “I did not manipulate or fabricate any data.”

His problem is that the public doesn’t trust him anymore. Since unknown hackers secretly copied 1,073 private emails between members of his research team and published them on the Internet, his credibility has been destroyed — and so has that of an entire profession that had based much of its work on his research until now.

On the politicisation of science:

Reinhard Hüttl, head of the German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam near Berlin and the president of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, believes that basic values are now under threat. “Scientists should never be as wedded to their theories that they are no longer capable of refuting them in the light of new findings,” he says. Scientific research, Hüttl adds, is all about results, not beliefs. Unfortunately, he says, there are more and more scientists who want to be politicians.

On the Urban Heat Island Effect (complete with nice dig at the aforementioned “exonerated, give him his job back” Prof Jones)

Critics reproach Jones for not taking one factor, in particular, sufficiently into account: the growth of urban areas. Stations that used to be rural are now in cities. And because it is always warmer in cities than outside, the temperatures measured at these stations are bound to rise.

Environmental economist Ross McKitrick, one of McIntyre’s associates, examined all rapidly growing countries, in which this urban heat effect was to be expected, and found a correlation between economic growth and temperature rise. He submitted his study in time for the last IPCC report.

Jones did everything he could to suppress the publication, which was critical of him. It proved advantageous to him that he had been one of the two main authors of the temperature chapter. In one of the hacked emails, he openly admitted that he wanted to keep this interfering publication out of the IPCC report at all costs, “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

On the myth of monster storms:

The all-clear signal on the hurricane front is another setback for the IPCC. In keeping with lead author Kevin Trenberth’s predictions, the IPCC report warned that there would be more hurricanes in a greenhouse climate. One of the graphs in the IPCC report is particularly mysterious. Without specifying a source, the graph suggestively illustrates how damage caused by extreme weather increases with rising average temperatures.

When hurricane expert Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado at Boulder saw the graph, he was appalled. “I would like to discover this sort of relationship myself,” he says, “but it simply isn’t supported by the facts at the moment.”

Pielke tried to find out where the graph had come from. He traced it to the chief scientist at a London firm that performs risk calculations for major insurance companies. The insurance scientist claims that the graph was never meant for publication. How the phantom graph found its way into the IPCC report is still a mystery.

Der Spiegel would never have got away with this article four years ago. But then, in 2006, according to a poll, 62 per cent of Germans surveyed answered “Yes” to the question “Are you personally afraid of climate change.” In 2010 that figure has dropped to 42 per cent, which for those of you who haven’t done the math means that the majority of Germans are now not personally afraid of climate change.

Elsewhere in the article, Der Spiegel make mincemeat of the idea of polar icecaps melting away and quote more plausible figures of sea level rises (18 cm to 1.90 m by the end of the century). It even has the heretic suggestion that global warming may actually have positive as well as negative consequences, that Germany might experience some benefits as well as downsides, and that the downsides may be comparable to some Germany is already coping with for other reasons in any case.