John Mashey and Arthur Smith were right (and Eli wrong)
It is always tempting to jump to conclusions before RTFR, but in some case the conclusion is available before the report so Eli has a bit of an excuse. The APS has released the report that the Council decision was based on to members, and it is not all good.
The Committee was lead by Dan Kleppner, a very distinguished AMO guy (atomic and molecular physics). Two of the members were theoretical particle physicists, one was a surface physicist and one was a nuclear physicist. The person who may have made the difference is Robert K. Adair, one of the early signers of the OISM petition.
Adair's position certainly should have been no secret as can be gathered from a letter sent from the George Marshall Institute to President George W. Bush in 2002 which concluded,
We applaud your commitment to a science based policy. We also reiterate that the overshelming balance of evidence shows no appreciable warming trend attributable to carbon dioxide from human activity. The tell tale sign of a significant human influence on climate - a warming of the lower atmosphere- does not exist. Contrary to all computer model forecasts for global warming, neither satellites nor weather balloons can find any net warming trend in the lower atmosphere for over two decades.The letter was signed by William O'Keefe, President of the Marshall Institute and was sent on behalf many of the usual suspects, Seitz, Jastrow, Baliunas, Happer, Chauncey Starr, Robert K. Adair, surprisingly to Eli, Sid Benson, Sherwood Idso, David Legates, Pat Michaels, Fred Singer, Edward Teller and a few others. The signature page is on a separate pdf.
Before we get to the bad news, it is worth thinking about why such a committee, with no members who had any professional experience in climate issues was chosen, and even if your accept the arrogance of physicists, why such an obvious champion of denialism was allowed to sit on the committee. Even if you accept that, then there should have been a counter balance. Perhaps there was, certainly the APS Council and the Committee owe the members an explanation of how this committee was chosen. OTEOP Adair had not signed the Austin Petition that set this all off.
The Committee relied on the IPCC WG 1 report and the NRC North Committee report on proxy reconstructions. Especially in the later case, the information was outdated, and there is no evidence that anyone on the Committee had any idea of how the field has moved since then. The quote the conclusion of the North report that
It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.Without being apparently aware of additional reconstructions that have appeared in the last four years strengthening both conclusions. The report is shockingly naive.
Less confidence can be placed in large‐scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. ”
The Committee's bottom line was that the data and projections all point to further global warming if present emission trends continue the costs of which could be catastrophic. The Committee concluded that the proposed statement from the Austin Petition should be rejected. This was the decision of the Council.
The Committee did not recommend strengthening the APS statement on climate change as Eli had surmised, but rather recommended a significant weakening, no doubt influenced by Robert Adair. The state that the anthropic influence on climate has not been proven to be a fact, although there is strong evidence, and recommend inserting the word probably into the first sentence of the Policy Statement, changing it to
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are probably changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate.but it gets worse. Referring to the second paragraph of the policy statement
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.The Committee writes
In the second paragraph, the first sentence states that the fact of climate warming is incontrovertible, which is true. However, by its context this is easily misread to mean that anthropogenic warming is incontrovertible. The only clue that there are uncertainties in the predictions for the global climate is the phrase “likely to occur” in the second paragraph. This hardly conveys the great uncertainties in analysis displayed in [WG1] PSB. The paragraph as a whole has an alarmist tone that belies the underlying uncertainties.Eli is very unhappy.