Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The APS Rips Hal Lewis Theses Down

The American Physical Society has responded to Hal (Not Martin Luther) Lewis' Theses down.

There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain. To the contrary, as a membership organization of more than 48,000 physicists, APS adheres to rigorous ethical standards in developing its statements. The Society is open to review of its statements if members petition the APS Council – the Society’s democratically elected governing body – to do so.

Dr. Lewis’ specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding. Moreover, relatively few APS members conduct climate change research, and therefore the vast majority of the Society’s members derive no personal benefit from such research support.

On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:

  • Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
  • Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
  • The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.

On these matters, APS judges the science to be quite clear. However, APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain. In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”

Additionally, APS notes that it has taken extraordinary steps to solicit opinions from its membership on climate change. After receiving significant commentary from APS members, the Society’s Panel on Public Affairs finalized an addendum to the APS climate change statement reaffirming the significance of the issue. The APS Council overwhelmingly endorsed the reaffirmation.

Lastly, in response to widespread interest expressed by its members, the APS is in the process of organizing a Topical Group to feature forefront research and to encourage exchange of information on the physics of climate.

and they ain't gonna take it no more.

Anthony Watts doesn't exactly have the reputation of being the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but his recent pushing of Hal Lewis' resignation letter to the APS was several levels below weak, especially his trying to liken Lewis' sophomoronic bleat to Martin Luther's 95 Theses. The repost was an obvious futile attempt to distract his little lamps attention away from the furor about Wegman and Rapp's copy and paste skills. The APS response to Lewis shows that the milk of human kindness has dried up there in the light of this year's denialist follies.

Arthur Smith put it well, Lewis is incontrovertibly emeritus. Still, Eli has a rep to uphold, and Lewis' letter is a delight of folly. Let us parse gentle bunnies, let this too parse.

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. . . .

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

Well of course it's different, Lewis, should know, having plunged the money hose into his mouth, ears, nose and places where no one wants to go, especially when he was chair at Santa Barbara. Lewis is another patricide claiming mercy as an orphan. Indeed, this sort of accusation is very prominent from the senior denialists, mostly because that is what they have done and they expect that everyone on the other side is doing just what they did. Afterall, they did it and they are the smartest nuts on the tree.



30 comments:

Douglas Watts said...

So Edwin Hubble was just after a bigger telescope?

Anonymous said...

"The giants no longer walk the earth..."

A case of denialosaurs and fossilised brains, to be sure.

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lewis’ specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding.

The chair of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) that re-endorsed the 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change sits on the science advisory board of a large international bank http://annualreport.deutsche-bank.com/2009/ar/supplementaryinformation/advisoryboards.html The bank has a $60+ billion Green portfolio, which it wishes to assure investors is safe…not to mention their income from carbon trading. Other members of this board include current IPCC chief Pachauri and Lord Oxburgh, of Climategate exoneration fame. The viability of these banks activities depends on continued concern over CO2 emissions . Then there is the member of the Kleppner Committee (that reviewed the APS 2007 Statement prior to POPA) who served on that committee while under consideration for the position of Chief Scientist at BP. The position had been vacated when Steve Koonin left to take a post in the administration at DOE. Soon after the Kleppner Committee report in late 2009, this committee member took the BP job. BP had previously funded the new Energy Laboratory at Berkeley, which was headed by current Energy Secretary Steve Chu.

Moreover, relatively few APS members conduct climate change research, and therefore the vast majority of the Society’s members derive no personal benefit from such research support.

This does not mention the firm expectation by federal government agencies such as the NAS and the Presidential Science Advisor’s office that the APS will continue to support the huge funding machine that diverts billions of taxpayer dollars into research that must support the alarmist credo. APS has been silent on the documented practice by some climate scientists aimed at preventing opposing research from being published.

Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a recent letter to American Physical Society (APS) President Curtis A. Callan, chair of the Princeton University Physics Department, Harold Lewis, emeritus physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced that he was resigning his APS membership.

In response to numerous accusations in the letter, APS issues the following statement:

There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain. To the contrary, as a membership organization of more than 48,000 physicists, APS adheres to rigorous ethical standards in developing its statements.

We know that the existing 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change was developed literally over lunch by a few people, after the duly constituted Committee had signed off on a more moderate Statement.


The Society is open to review of its statements if members petition the APS Council – the Society’s democratically elected governing body – to do so.

We have yet to receive a response to our Petition:

http://www.openletter-globalwarming.info/Site/Signatures__APS_Council_Study.html

…delivered last spring and signed by 260+ members and former members, including nearly 100 Fellows, 17 members of national academies and 2 Nobels. Driven largely by the ClimateGate revelations, the Petition asks that the Society conduct an independent study and assessment.

As for democratic membership participation in matters of science, consider the reaction to a grass roots outpouring of APS member opinion on the 2007 APS Statement http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200912/apscouncilors.cfm . “[APS Councilor] was uncomfortable with the idea of a membership-wide referendum on statements. He said that he was concerned that having a membership wide vote on controversial issues could lead to the adoption of scientifically unsound statements.” Evidently physicists should be excluded from inputting on a question of physics; only “physics monks” are entitled to do so ex cathedra .

Anonymous said...

On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:

Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
This passes over the fact that carbon dioxide absorption lines are nearly saturated.

The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.
Well, it depends on what you mean by “dwell time.” If it is the conventional half life of an impulse loading of carbon dioxide, the statement is wrong – by a lot.. The IPCC’s Bern carbon cycle model http://www.climate.unibe.ch/~joos/model_description/model_description.html gets a 16 year half life. If it is the time for the last molecule to get picked up by a sink, the statement is meaningless. At the very least, the statement is sloppy and hardly befitting a world class scientific society.

On these matters, APS judges the science to be quite clear. However, APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain.

This is much better than the 2007 APS Statement itself. However, the phrase “climate disruptions” is noteworthy because it is the new buzzword recently introduced by Science Advisor John Holdren http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100054012/global-warming-is-dead-long-live-er-global-climate-disruption/ , evidently enabling advocates to assign any unusual weather event to human causes. It is curious that that the APS press release happens to echo this new phrase.

Anonymous said...

In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”

What we have here is a bait and switch. No one is saying that the greenhouse effect itself is a scam. This passage seeks to transfer the ‘scam’ charge from its real target to the trivial. The fraud/scam is to be found in the continual drumbeat that the science is settled; that the effects will be catastrophic; that it requires draconian economic sacrifices to avoid; and that mandates and subsidies for rent-seeking corporations are justified.

Additionally, APS notes that it has taken extraordinary steps to solicit opinions from its membership on climate change. After receiving significant commentary from APS members, the Society’s Panel on Public Affairs finalized an addendum to the APS climate change statement reaffirming the significance of the issue. The APS Council overwhelmingly endorsed the reaffirmation.

Never mind that the Panel on Public Affairs is chaired by an individual whose research funding stream (from BP) depends on continued global warming alarm. And you have to keep your eye on the pea. The dispute was not over the “significance” of the issue; it was over the alarmist nature of the statement. The addendum used more than five times the number of words to try to explain what the original statement meant. Not a good sign that they got it right the first time.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, in response to widespread interest expressed by its members, the APS is in the process of organizing a Topical Group to feature forefront research and to encourage exchange of information on the physics of climate.

Never mind that the Topical Group was proposed in a petition organized by a group of five members that included Dr. Lewis. Also, the Council has not yet approved a TG; therefore it is not in the process of being “organized.” It is being considered. No formal charter or bylaws have been set down. What we have here is the first attempt to co-opt the TG for PR purposes. This before it has even been approved by the APS Council.

EliRabett said...

Let Eli, as is goes rip our friend Anonymous down a peg.

Dwell time means the time between when a pulse of CO2 enters the atmosphere raising the CO2 concentration and the time that the mixing ratio reaches a new equilibrium, hundreds of years, which, Eli notes, will still be higher than what it started at.

Anons dishonest bait and switch, refers to the residence time, the time that a particular molecule of CO2 remains in the atmosphere, which is ~5-20 years, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more depending on exactly how you define it. Skeptical Science has a discussion of this, but it essentially comes down to CO2 is rapidly distributed between three reservoirs, the atmosphere, the biosphere and the upper ocean. Put a pulse into one of these and it will spread out into the other two in about a decade. However, the long term response is determined by the weather of rocks (10K years) and the transfer into the bottom of the ocean (hundreds of years)

It is Anon and his ilks dissembling that makes discussing anything delightful. Take it and shove it.

Anonymous said...

Who says "climate disruption" is a new expression?

I first heard it years ago from a gardening presenter here in Australia. And I agreed with the reasons he gave for preferring it.

MinniesMum

EliRabett said...

More Anonogarbage. The fact that Lewis and his compadres proposed a Topical Group does not mean that they own it. As Eli wrote to the APS, the danger in forming a Topical Group on Climate is that it would be kidnapped by a fact adverse faction such as happened, to its embarrassment to the UK Institute of Physics. The response of the IOP was to abolish their Topical Group on Energy ASAP. Lewis appears unhappy that his ploy was stomped on. Tough

Anonymous said...

That international banking AND insurance take climate change seriously is hardly good news for deniers.

The "the huge funding machine that diverts billions of taxpayer dollars into research" funds climate research on the order of that spent by Americans on chewing gum.

John Puma

Marco said...

Moreover, everyone knows Holdren used "climate disruption" several years ago already. some have found references to "climate disruption" back to the 1980s!

Seems the Rabett had a short WTF-infestation...

Anna said...

Re Eli's "this sort of accusation is very prominent from the senior denialists, mostly because that is what they have done and they expect that everyone on the other side is doing just what they did" -

The impression I've gotten is that "scientific result for hire" science is how things are (often? formerly?) done, in defense/military-industrial work; which could explain why so many formerly-natl-defense think tanks shifted so seamlessly into the climate denial field.

Holly Stick said...

That Anon stuff looks lilke it is copied from a post at WUWT, here:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/13/aps-responds-deconstructing-the-aps-response-to-dr-hal-lewis-resignation/

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I always thought his letter read more like 99 feces than 99 theses.

CapitalClimate said...

Holly is correct that several of the anony-missives score very high on the plagiarometer.

Russell said...

While I am blase about defense science bureaucrats "seamlessly' shape shifting to become Climate Wars PR flacks- establishments happen- some of the class acts on the far side of the former iron curtain remain as scary as they were at the Cpld War's height.

Putin's mentors elevated Dezinformatzia to a bureaucratic art form, with the KGB taking its marching orders from Chief Ideologist Boris Ponomare'ev, who could have served as a role model for Boris Badnikov, To make matters lethally worse, Mister Big's pay grade was so high that casual disapproval of the policy ramifications of models could morph into executive action at home or abroad.

With this as historical context, what's a little e-mail hacking to a corporate culture forged as part of the apparat of a bone fide totalitarian state? While the APS isn't exactly hardwired to Xe, Putin's oily oligarchy has his former mentors--and their field operatives - on retainer, and they seem eager to please ,since today the threat of violent sanctions [or disappearance a la Alexandrov ] has been replaced by financial incentives.

Nostalgia buffs who wish to see some of the most senior talking Cyrillic heads of the Cold War reinventing advertising can see them sharing the stage with characters like Singerat the expense of Lukhoil and sundry Ostie lignite barons.

Pace Lubos Motl, they ain't doing it to celebrate free trade in Siberia. Plus ca change.

David B. Benson said...

Climate dysfunction.

Anonymous said...

Wow...been a while since I was here. But folks actually read and believe this POS garbage? Even just a handful I find amazing. Have at it, you in-bred cretins.

Oale said...

Come to think of it, I've no knowledge of giant skeletons found anywhere. Maybe there's a story in there.

Douglas Watts said...

Given Lewis' age, it might be there is a cultural overhang from the post WWII period when many scientists held two mutually exclusive ideas that (a) we are so strong that we can shape the entire world and (b) we are too weak to ever be able to shape the world. Esp. in the geological community this is still the 'debate' about AGW. Yes, even with a nuclear winter or massive global warming or a brutal Ice Age, there would still be microbes clinging to rocks. Nobody denies this. But is that the argument?

Martin Vermeer said...

> This passes over the fact that carbon dioxide absorption lines are nearly
> saturated.

It's funny what goes for 'fact' nowadays... let's do another peg. Already Svante Arrhenius, using original data from Samuel Langley, showed this to be nonsense... You've had a century to do your homework in mate.

Marion Delgado said...

Oale:

It's just that Hal Lewis is also, God bless him, clearly a creationist like all good scientists. I'll pray for you.

JMurphy said...

A commenter over at Collide-a-scape had this to say about 'climate disruption' :


Google results for “climate disruption”, 1970 through 2005.
over 1000 results

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22climate+disruption%22&hl=en&tbs=cdr:1,cd_min:1/1/1970,cd_max:12/31/2005&prmd=n&ei=DRy2TKuvNMrCnAeX_YXsDw&start=80&sa=N

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Anonymous asshat, Do you have a point or just an attitude? Here's a clue: It's a science blog. Go learn some.

Anonymous said...

Hijacking groups for self interested reasons is a long and honorable tradition amongst deniers. The first example I can think of is the American Association of State Climatologists. A largely moribund organization with empty positions, it was taken over by a motley band of deniers seeking what they most crave, legitimacy. Unable to get this through normal means, they have to resort to such subterfuge.

Oakden Wolf said...

What did Lewis say and when did he say it?

I'm going to focus in one key phrase in the Hal Lewis letter, the APS response, and the Lewis rejoinder to the response.

"It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist".

Calling it "pseudoscientific" questions the basic underpinnings of climate change science.

APS responded:
In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”

And then Lewis (along with Cohen and Happer) say:

"What we have here is a bait and switch. No one is saying that the greenhouse effect itself is a scam. This passage seeks to transfer
the ‘scam’ charge from its real target to the trivial. The fraud/ scam is to be found in the continual drumbeat that the science is settled; that the effects will be catastrophic; that it requires draconian economic sacrifices to avoid; and that mandates and subsidies for rent-seeking corporations are justified."

Read that again. "No one is saying that the greenhouse effect itself is a scam." Does that or does that not endorse the role of CO2 radiation absorption as a climate influence?

Lewis and Co. have beaten a hasty retreat to the refuge of uncertainty: while "global warming" is happening due to the greenhouse effect (i.e., CO2 absorption of longwave radiation), the fraud is the claim of "catastrophic global warming" and the socio-political ramifications thereof. Echoing the postulations of Inhofe.

SKEPTICS TAKE NOTE: This great response has just endorsed the basic
tenets of the scientific community's understanding of global climate
change under anthropogenic influence. The present is certain;
it is the future that is uncertain.

Douglas Watts said...

There is a very strong penchant in some parts of the geologic community to poo poo Earth climatic effects of only 1,000 years in duration. This is because once you get to the Silurian or Ordovician, for example, a thousand years is so slim a slice from the clock as to be indiscernible. I would like to hope this is the mindblock that Mr. Lewis is starting from.

Lars Karlsson said...

" The giants no longer walk the earth..."

Maybe Lewis is thinking about stuff like this.

Anonymous said...

Eli, thanks for posting the link to the APS response. When an acquaintance sent me an email with Lewis's resignation tantrum, I just replied, "This is all baloney. See the APS response," followed by the link to the APS response. Saved me a lot of trouble.

John Farley, UNLV