Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pieter Tans on the Role of Scientists

At the conclusion of his Revelle Medal acceptance speech Pieter Tans well captures the ethical need for those who study atmospheric carbon contamination to speak out

As climate scientists we now find our­selves in the situation that our subject is widely understood to be so relevant to soci­ety that many powerful interest groups feel threatened. Thus, we are facing a well-orga­nized and well-funded campaign attack­ing our science and our integrity, spread­ing confusion and disinformation. This is not surprising, as mitigating climate change goes to the core of our energy sup­ply system and the broader economic sys­tem. Human-made climate change demon­strates that we cannot continue business as usual. Should we ignore the deliberate lies and manipulations we face and stick purely with the science, hoping that sound judgment and compassion will eventu­ally prevail? We are scientists, but we are also citizens. It is our civic responsibility to redouble our efforts to convey to the public clearly the urgency and the essence of the climate change problem. The kind of world we leave to our children and grandchildren depends on it. It will have to be a world that has as one of its guiding principles a San­skrit prayer that was used as a dedication in the above mentioned 1972 book: “Oh Mother Earth, ocean-girdled and mountain-breasted, pardon me for trampling on you.”
Earlier at Climate Science Watch and Climate Progress, but IEHO they both buried the lead. This is but the latest instance of a distinguished scientist concluding that he can no longer stay hidden on the sideline but has a moral responsibility to speak out in public. It is a signal failure of the denialists that they have created the backlash. But they can't help themselves, the poor dears. It is also, as Ethon pointed out, a stick in the eye for the Honest Broker.


bob said...

I wonder how much WUWTs little overblown campaign against a minor error on his CO2 website 2 years or so back had an effect on his view that the science is under particular I am wondering how many WUWT readers sent Pieter Tans angry emails..

seamus said...

Bob, WTFUWT and ilk are small potatoes, a bunch of 'useful' idiots. No one pays them any serious attention, except to make fun of them. The radical libertarian "think tanks", funded by Big Carbon, those are the enemies of science. The ones little guys like Tony Watts get their marching orders from.
The Cato Institute
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Heartland Institute
Science and Public Policy Institute
The George C. Marshall Institute
see also: Koch Industries

EliRabett said...

Seamus, Tony's boys are the angry villagers and the ones who send the nasty notes.

seamus said...

Well, okay, they might generate a lot of heat and smoke, but they certainly aren't well-organized nor well-funded. :-)

John Mashey said...

The canonical depiction is the Monty Python witch scene.

In particular, I would conjecture that some of the people who leave dead rats on doorsteps or send hate mail read those blogs, with no connection to the thinktanks ... which mostly cluster around K-street.

Anonymous said...

seamus mentions the Kochs. They are getting attention tonight.

Pete Dunkelberg

seamus said...

My point was, where Pieter Tans talks about "facing a well-orga­nized and well-funded campaign attack­ing our science and our integrity", I rather doubt he's alluding to the clowns at WUWT.

EliRabett said...

seamus, you are confusing the rabble with the rabble rousers and the rabble rouser funders. The close connections between Tony Watts and Roger Sr., coupled with the known wingnut welfare funding tactics, leads Eli to agree with Tans.

John Mashey said...

See this.
In that flow, the denizens of WUWT would fit B1c\, generally unpaid, but the whole structure above is in part geared to harness masses of people. (In a "treetops/grassroots" campaign, one simultaneously persuades key decision-makers and some fraction of the public.)

For where that chart fits, see CCC, Section 2 on overall workings and funding, and then see p.159-160. Watts has spoken at various Heartland conferences.

Hank Roberts said...

Tans was extremely patient with Watts, I recall, and kept his cool under considerable provocation; Watts had siezed on a data glitch from a hard drive crash that was mistakenly put online uncorrected, on a weekend, and corrected the next day. Watts had a chumming frenzy whipped up for 48 hours or so because preliminary data had been corrected in a way he didn't like. It was reminiscent of the sort of 'tskandal' Herb Caen used to whip up in his newspaper column, a case of pearl-clutchers' fine whines. Watts never did learn how to spell "Tans" while he was attacking the man for all sorts of imagined offenses.

Jim Bouldin said...

Hank, that's because Pieter Tans is a very strong advocate for complete data openness in the first place. So someone like Watts comes barging in and yelling about data this and that, and Pieter just says "yes, what do you need exactly, let me see if I can get it for you". Then Watts is left with his mouth open and nothing left to say, which, being an unbearable state for him, he avoids by yelling anyway.

I don't know Pieter personally, but I do know the person under him who is in charge of preparing the calibration standard gas mixtures for worldwide use, and from everything I've heard and read, this is exactly the kind of person you want in his position.