Scientists and activists behaving badly

UPDATE: Pat Michaels responds, see below:

========================================================

Maybe it’s the summer weather, I dunno, but in the space of 4 days, we have three prominent figures in the global warming debate behaving badly.

First we have Al Gore, who paralleled climate skeptics with racists last Friday.

Then we had Pat Michaels, who made an unbelievably callous gaffe in a Forbes article saying

It is doubtful that Irene will even cough up eight bodies,”

That’s not only callous, but disappointing coming from him. On the other hand he did correct it to read: “hopefully kill fewer than the eight people who died in Gloria,”, but I think he should issue an apology as well.

Then today we have Dr. James Hansen, scientist turned political activist, now with street cred x3, because he was arrested today for the third time.

I think we need cooler heads at the top of the climate food chain on both sides.

==============================================================

UPDATE: Pat Michaels issued this statement and apology this afternoon via email to me:

While the text was in fact changed, the original was over the top. As anyone in this business knows, sometimes we don’t proof ourselves very well and say things that are hurtful, and that is not good and requires an apology to those unfairly hurt, which I offer sincerely. I will try to be more careful in the future, and I hope to have learned from this.

- Pat Michaels (via email)

It would be nice to see Mr. Gore (or anyone in the AGW camp for that matter) disavow his comparisons to racism.

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57 Responses to Scientists and activists behaving badly

  1. I often enjoy your well laid points, but to go ad hominem is hypocritical, yes? Also, I wouldn’t dare demean someone for protesting even if I disagree with the purpose of their protest. Address the actual issues without jumping on the Criminalize Protest & Speech when I disagree with it bandwagon, please. The squeeze is hard enough as it is.

  2. Anything is possible says:

    Anthony : FWIW Pat Michaels responded to this on Steve Goddard’s blog :

    http://www.real-science.com/uncategorized/romm-acknowledges-pat-michaels#

    Make of it what you will…..

  3. Robertvdl says:

    Scientists , activists and The Department of Energy behaving badly

    The Department of Energy has allocated $508 million to 41 states for its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and 600 jobs have been created or retained.

    Read more:http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/08/29/seattle-green-jobs-program-gets-20m-creates-14-posts/

  4. Wil says:

    I can honestly say – those of us in my local Harley Davidson chapter ain’t gonna lose any sleep over that apple dumpling gang anytime soon.

  5. Latitude says:

    Anthony, Pat posted on Steven’s blog….
    He said that statement was in the draft, but not in the final copy. Looks like someone leaked the draft to make him look bad……….
    It does not look like Pat is trying to hide anything, or that he has anything to apologize for………

    I hope Pat doesn’t mind me posting it here, but here’s his post……
    ==========================================
    Pmichaels 3 hours ago
    The odd part here is that the forbes.com text does not include what Romm said it did. Here is what’s there:

    A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected (and hopefully kill fewer than the eight people who died in Gloria) though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.

    Draft text did have the “cough up bodies statement”. I am wondering if somehow a draft was leaked onto the internet. I am having Forbes look into it as I write this.

    Pat Michaels
    ===========================================

    REPLY: Probably not a leak, but a simple glitch or confusion. When I post WUWT articles, I too have inadvertently posted a previous draft, sometimes due to being distracted by my kids or a phone call, and sometimes simply by having too many desktop browser windows open at once, editing one, then pressing publish on the other because I lost track of which window I was working in due to distractions. It happens. – Anthony

  6. omnologos says:

    Hansen is demeaning his own protesting by hanging on to a day job at 70 that is obviously incompatible with his political activism. Does he need the salary, I wonder? Are NASA’s pensions so bad?

  7. Dougmanxx says:

    Did you see the actual quote from Pat Michaels?

    “A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected (and hopefully kill fewer than the eight people who died in Gloria) though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.”

    He should apologize for hoping for less loss of life? Not sure I get your outrage here. The other quote was never actually published, anywhere. I checked. Although he did admit on Steve Goddards blog that it appeared in a draft before publication. He didnt need to do that IMHO. So he needs to apologize for remarks that were never published? Seems like a slippery slope there.

    REPLY: Actually it does appear in this version on Yahoo news http://news.yahoo.com/real-hurricane-irene-renamed-hurricane-hype-021402485.html

    – Anthony

  8. Brian says:

    This country has no future anyway, so does this petty stuff matter? Sometimes I wonder…

  9. Brian says:

    Nothing that Michaels has written is nearly as disgusting as Joe Romm’s shameless exultation that Michaels was wrong because the “death toll” was higher.

    Can we have a moment of silence for the nine people who selflessly gave their lives so that Joe Romm can enjoy the smug feeling of being right?

  10. Don Horne says:

    Aka, SiliconJoe,
    I don’t see how one can call telling the truth an ad hominem? Please enlighten me.

  11. JDN says:

    @Anthony.
    We make jokes about the black death. So, I think you’re being a little sensitive about the Michaels article.

    Perhaps it’s too soon, but, wasn’t someone on WUWT calling out Ron Paul for saying that we should be self-reliant like we were in 1900, and then telling people to google 1900 & hurricane to see something amusing? One of the Irene deaths was caused by a heart attack while hanging plywood. Another was caused by runnning off the road after hitting standing water. Both were unfortunate, but, it is a joke to call these hurricane-related deaths. I think that’s the kind of humor Michaels was going for… contempt for people overhyping the weather.

  12. cirby says:

    Jonathan: “Also, I wouldn’t dare demean someone for protesting even if I disagree with the purpose of their protest. ”

    The big point here is that Hansen is so involved in the environmental movement that he doesn’t mind committing minor crimes (blocking sidewalks and affecting the safety of other citizens) and being arrested for them, just to make a point – yet, at the same time, demands that we pretend he’s impartial and honest when reporting scientific results which could completely contradict his closely-held political beliefs. While, at the same time, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in “awards” for his political actions and comments in previous years.

  13. Rational Debate says:

    re: Jonathan Silveus (@SiliconJon) says: August 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I often enjoy your well laid points, but to go ad hominem is hypocritical, yes?

    Where is the ad hom??

  14. Robert M says:

    omnologos says:
    August 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Hansen is demeaning his own protesting by hanging on to a day job at 70 that is obviously incompatible with his political activism. Does he need the salary, I wonder? Are NASA’s pensions so bad?
    ____________________________________________________________________________

    What happens when the guy who replaces Hansen gets a good look at all of the “work” he has done with his temperature datasets. Hansen cannot retire. He would get more then a slap on the wrist for the fraud he has perpetuated.

  15. James Sexton says:

    Is it that people don’t understand that protest and redress is supposed to be lawful!! And those actions certainly are not something that should be allowed by a representative of the executive branch.

  16. eyesonu says:

    With all the doom and gloom, death and destruction being hyped with regards to this storm, Michaels made a pretty good call as to death issues. From the press it seemed there could be hundreds if not thousands. Call it callus if you will, but I stand behind Michaels.

    The main land event was rain and some storm surge. Lots of inland rain at that. Typical at that as a storm looses its heat engine. Wind was basically a non-event as far as hurricanes go.

    Anyway, where could the heat energy come from in a storm traveling north at approx 12 mph over the Gulf Stream flowing north at approx the same speed? Once the heat was removed from the water there should be a reduction of the available energy. This is likely why the storm extended so far north of the eye once it reached the Gulf Stream. It is also likely why it the eye collapsed so quickly. Do the modelers ever look at something from a common sense standpoint? They got the track dead-on. Did politics lead to a total miss as to intensity? If so, then being a yes man will have enormous consequences on their reputation, and rightfully so.

    Mr. Michaels, it’s nor what you said, thought quite accurate, but whether it was said in a politically correct way. As a New Yorker might say, fuggedabowdit.

  17. Garry says:

    I really detest the mudslinging that is both described and amplified in this thread.

  18. kuhnkat says:

    Thank you Mr. Michaels. The dialogue would be so much more reasonable if more people could fess up to their mistakes.

  19. eyesonu says:

    Before a grammer nazi gets me, I know that I have spelling errors (e.g. nor = not, thought = though, it = “delete”).

  20. Matt in Houston says:

    Bill Nye the anti-science guy was just on fox business freedom watch attempting to make excuses for Al the conman Gore’s racism idiocy…
    These people have no shame…I am still waiting for the pathetic remains of NASA to fire his voodoo doctor self. I won’t hold my breath.

  21. Matt in Houston says:

    Hansen that is…my iPad is not the greatest typing instrument…lol

  22. eyesonu says:

    Before the grammer police get me, there are a couple of spelling errors in my above comment (i.e. callus = callous, it = “delete”, nor = not, thought = though).

  23. Theo Goodwin says:

    Jonathan Silveus (@SiliconJon) says:
    August 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm
    “I often enjoy your well laid points, but to go ad hominem is hypocritical, yes? Also, I wouldn’t dare demean someone for protesting even if I disagree with the purpose of their protest. Address the actual issues without jumping on the Criminalize Protest & Speech when I disagree with it bandwagon, please. The squeeze is hard enough as it is.”

    No, because Hansen is not merely an ordinary citizen. He is a major manager in our government’s climate science bureaucracy. He has incredible influence on climate policy. His testimony to Congress has proved very important since the 1980s. Because of these facts, he is expected to exhibit rational and balanced behavior. As Immanuel Kant would explain, Hansen has the duty to win the trust of the people that he serves in his official capacity. Yet here he is, once again, exhibiting extreme partisanship by breaking justified and useful laws for the purpose of pushing his CAGW agenda. Obama should fire him.

  24. James Sexton says:

    There’s another thing that bothers me. Ok, so, “cough up eight bodies” may be calloused. But, I’m wondering if the vernacular or the thought is what offends.

    I don’t care how it is stated, the people engaged in the conversation about storms in general, and this storm in particular, compare the severity to the body count. Is it nice? Perhaps not. It is calloused, perhaps, but we all do it!!! So, Pat Michaels, without intention of the phrase being released to the public, used a phrase that some a$$hole takes offense to. We’re mad at Dr. Michaels because he didn’t dress the words up that met someone’s satisfaction? Me, I appreciate candor much more than any false nicety.

    I’ll let everyone in on a secret. The people that seek to help victims use much more calloused terms and euphemisms.

    As far as I’m concerned, Dr. Michaels owed no one an apology. If an apology is owed, it is for the people that somehow believe the life and death of the victims of this storm can be enhanced or diminished by any small amount of words. They can’t.

    James

  25. H.R. says:

    I thought Hansen looked sportier in the skirt ;o)

  26. Theo Goodwin says:

    James Sexton says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm
    “Is it that people don’t understand that protest and redress is supposed to be lawful!! And those actions certainly are not something that should be allowed by a representative of the executive branch.”

    Yes, and as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., explained, civil disobedience is justified only when the law that is broken during the protest is an unjustified law. In this case, we see Hansen once again being arrested for violating the security zone around the White House.

    I hope that no one believes that the security zone around the White House manifests an unjustified law. I bet Obama believes that the security zone is gold plated justified. Obama should fire Hansen.

  27. jd says:

    The media was loaded to death toll counting. It is one of their metrics. Someone somewhere made the point that the eastern seaboard shutdown lowered the death toll numbers that occur on a weekend for that area.

    Public policy is bad. Some people just want to prepare and not evacuate. they should be allowed to do so, and given the resources to do so. I interpreted Irene as a misuse of government power and media insincerity.

  28. mike g says:

    Still wondering if the net highway death toll might have been lowered by 50 million people driving less because of the storm such that, on balance, lives were saved by the storm???

    From this source, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Traffic_and_Motor_Vehicle_Safety_Act, I get that there are 1.7 deaths per 100 million VMT in 1997. Assuming there might have been 20 miles not driven by 50 million drivers over the course of the storm, that’s 17 deaths avoided because of the storm. I heard the 50 million people affected number bandied about somewhere. But, maybe it’s a stretch to say there were 50 million drivers affected???

  29. James Sexton says:

    Theo Goodwin says:
    August 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    James Sexton says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm
    “Is it that people don’t understand that protest and redress is supposed to be lawful!! And those actions certainly are not something that should be allowed by a representative of the executive branch.”

    Yes, and as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., explained, civil disobedience is justified only when the law that is broken during the protest is an unjustified law.
    ===============================================================

    Thanks Theo……….. I should have added the sentiment. It isn’t as if big Jim doesn’t have other options available to make his point. He should have been gone years ago.

  30. WordBandit says:

    @ SiliconJon: “I often enjoy your well laid points, but to go ad hominem is HYPOcritical, yes?”

    I agree, too polite here, need to step it up a notch….

    /sarc off

  31. mike g says:

    At 70 and still working. My guess is he’s afraid of someone checking his work.

  32. Poptech says:

    Is this an April fools joke? Dr. Michaels comment in no way insinuated that he wanted anyone to die only that the death toll was way over hyped.

    It is called SARCASM, I realize those that do not live in the Northeast don’t get it but that in no way makes it callous.

    FYI the storm was a joke, I live at the Jersey shore and my car looks nice and shiny thanks to all the rain.

  33. Poptech says:

    …oh yeah I almost forgot I had to drive through a 10 ft stretch of 6 inches of standing water on one road back home from my “evacuation” location. The horrors!

  34. TomRude says:

    Al Gore propaganda is still used by British Columbia University of Victoria…
    http://www.pics.uvic.ca/assets/pdf/seminars/UBC_SFU_Seminar_Sept.14_11.pdf

  35. Kuhnkat

    “Thank you Mr. Michaels. The dialogue would be so much more reasonable if more people could fess up to their mistakes.”

    we may disagree on a lot of things Kuhnkat, but we agree on this. There is no need to explain Pat or to defend Pat. he believes he made a mistake, he’s corrected it. Thank him, like Kuhnkat has. Simple.

  36. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    Robertvdl says:
    August 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The Department of Energy has allocated $508 million to 41 states for its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and 600 jobs have been created or retained.

    That statistic is just too over-the-top to comprehend.

  37. TomRude says:

    This interesting graphics details the fatalities:
    http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/fo0830_hurricaneirene.pdf

    Let’s put it this way a 68 y old windsurfing during the hurricane or the 46 y old who was paddling on the river in a canoe ending up drowned are hardly unexpected outcomes…

  38. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    from Pat Michaels–the original was over the top

    I understood what he meant. And it was over the top. But I didn’t have a problem with it. But I can see how it was taken in a bad way. And I believe his apology.

    I hope everyone else does too.

  39. Poptech says:

    The apology was only necessary because “sensitive” types don’t understand SARCASM. I personally would not have given an apology, told everyone to deal with it and then learn what sarcasm means. What a joke.

  40. Paul Deacon says:

    Anthony – this behaviour simply confirms that, politically speaking, the Global Warming movement has peaked and has entered its period of decline. It is at such times that leaders of such movements get hysterical, as they realise what is happening. Their opponents also say silly things, because they smell blood.

    Copenhagen was a dismal failure, from which the movement does not have the means to recover at the international level. Electorally, Global Warming has become poison in many Western democracies. As wise heads predicted some years ago, the Global Warming movement would not survive the first good recession. We are now in the phase where politicians, investors, bureaucrats and scientists are carpet-bagging what they can, while they still can.

    Expect to see more nonsense of this kind.

  41. Mr Green Genes says:

    Robert M says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    What happens when the guy who replaces Hansen gets a good look at all of the “work” he has done with his temperature datasets. Hansen cannot retire. He would get more then a slap on the wrist for the fraud he has perpetuated.

    Unless his replacement was, let’s say, Michael Mann, who would almost certainly know where to look (and where not to!!). I doubt he’d do anything to stop perpetuating the fraud.

  42. John Marshall says:

    It was about time Hansen was sent to klink.

  43. oMan says:

    Agree that the “eight bodies” comment is a nothing and very likely “miscontextualized” for fun and profit by idiots or enemies. Key word was (sic) “hopefully” which shows the humane intent behind the words.

    Also agree that Hansen’s behavior is problematic. For him, anyway. He may want to hang on at NASA to protect his “work” and reputation from the review that his successors will (or should) undertake. But if so, why is he making such a public commotion? Does he think he’s immune to discipline for having brought his employer into disrepute? Answer is probably yes, either he is so full of himself that he does believe he’s immune; or he’s prepared to play Martyr Versus The System if NASA bosses give him a hard time. In this game his media buddies will be delighted to help.

    Last point, agree that Alarmism is in a state of advanced decay. Which makes it unstable, unpredictable and very dangerous. It contains a lot of accumulated energy (investments of career years and prestige; sunk moral, political and financial capital; essentially-religious belief) and until that has all dissipated, it can go at high speed in any direction and hurt a lot of people. Take good notes, folks, this is important for sociopolitical learning as well as the intellectual history of climate “science.”

  44. Pascvaks says:

    “in the space of 4 days, we have three prominent figures in the global warming debate behaving badly”

    Three of the most prominent leaders in world in the global warming debate. And, AGW people wonder… why isn’t AGW taken seriously. Dahhhhhhhh.. maybe there’s a connection?

  45. James Sexton says:

    steven mosher says:
    August 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Kuhnkat

    “Thank you Mr. Michaels. The dialogue would be so much more reasonable if more people could fess up to their mistakes.”

    we may disagree on a lot of things Kuhnkat, but we agree on this. There is no need to explain Pat or to defend Pat. he believes he made a mistake, he’s corrected it. Thank him, like Kuhnkat has. Simple.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-

    I’ll fight PC whenever I see it. It is a horrible form of censorship. And, in the end, it defeats an open dialogue.

    We can have a dialogue, but only if you state things in a manner I wish them stated?

  46. larrygeiger says:

    Dear Jonathan Silveus (@SiliconJon)

    Mr. Hansen is a NASA employee. It would be interesting to see the DCAA audits of his timecard. For some reason, I doubt that DCAA ever audits his timecard. Hmmmm. I wonder how he gets a pass?

    Larry “the former DCAA auditor’s friend” Geiger

  47. clipe says:

    eyesonu says:
    August 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    “Typical at that as a storm looses its heat engine”

    eyesonu says:
    August 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Before a grammer nazi gets me, I know that I have spelling errors (e.g. nor = not, thought = though, it = “delete”).

    Loose instead of lose really grates on me.

  48. clipe says:

    eyesonu says:
    August 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Before the grammer police get me, there are a couple of spelling errors in my above comment (i.e. callus = callous, it = “delete”, nor = not, thought = though).

    Don’t forget looses instead of loses. That’s the one that always grates on me.

  49. eyesonu says:

    clipe says:
    August 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I stand humbly at a loss before you as I lost my loose lose.

  50. ” Not only there are Two Groups in Global Warming, here is a third GROUP, AIRCONDITIONING OF MOTHER EARTH. By capturing. Conc: from Desalters: No iceshelves deices, No sea rise, No more strong Hurricanes, 2*C. Can be very easily reduced, More icemasses means Airconditioning of Mother Earth.
    All are Welcome to visit. Sarva Kala Vallabhan Group & Airconditioning of Mother Earth & comment “

  51. Poptech says:

    James Sexton says:

    We can have a dialogue, but only if you state things in a manner I wish them stated?

    You can’t be hurting anyone’s “feelings”.

    Sarcasm like this is a NE thing, I have the same problem every time I talk to someone outside the NE.

  52. Rational Debate says:

    re:

    James Sexton says:

    We can have a dialogue, but only if you state things in a manner I wish them stated?

    What really gets me is the apparent gross double standard. the “only if you state things in a manner I wish them stated & can’t hurt feelings” always seems to married to “but I can say anything I want, in any fashion, and if anyones feelings are hurt, it wasn’t my fault, something is wrong with them” PC always seems to wind up applied in a very selective fashion.

  53. USA, clean up your act please. It is many decades since I hears of the USA being ridiculed in publicat vrial scale. Last I remember was after WWII in OZ, when there was a comment about the problem with GIs “They’re over sexed, they’re over paid and they’re over here.”
    This week, this is circulating:

    The US economy is so bad…

    – I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail

    – CEO’s are now playing miniature golf

    – Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen

    – Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America

    – Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore

    – A picture is now only worth 200 words

    – They renamed Wall Street ” Wal-Mart Street”

    – And, finally (drumroll), I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call
    center in Pakistan and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all
    excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

  54. J Solters says:

    This concern about the number and description of Irene storm deaths is really an overblown example of MSM daily nonsense and it’s impact on otherwise reasonably rational people. The reach for PC empathetic glory, and related release of self injected guilt, always leads to loss of perspective. Holier than thou stretches abide. Nobody is immune. (Strange to see this crap infect this blog,) For example, go ahead and tally the body count for murder after any weekend in LA, Chicago, DC and NYC, and compare that to the Irene death toll. Apply the PC Grief Scale, record results and find out which death tally relieves the most guilt. This is better than buying indulgences; and cheaper.

  55. Robert Segal says:

    Today is Thursday, September 1st and the death toll from Irene rose yesterday to 42 souls. What strikes me as odd about Pat Michaels’ apology — such as it is — is it inadequately concerned the coarseness of the words ‘coughed up bodies’ (I was in the Navy for six years, so I’m almost incapable of being offended anymore and every one of us bites it/passes on some day) but failed to address his true errors. First, there’s his hubris and foolishness in issuing a prediction of storm damage and death tolls and for dismissing the storm as mild. Why? Not because he was studying the involved science and making a meteorological forecast but because he was dismissing the work of those who were. That’s no basis for a forecast. Yes, weather force predictions must allow for wide variations in accuracy. That’s the sad state of the art and the best man can now manage. But to discount the accuracy of a forecast (fair enough) and therefore conclude the storm would be harmless? (Does not follow.) And to then spout off about it? Idiocy. No apologies there, it would seem.

    Then, to failings 1 (forecasting sans science) and 2 (having a big mouth), now add his most egregious error: misuse of the word “hopefully”. Irene (the modified noun) cannot hopefully (the modifier) kill anyone. It cannot do anything “full of hope”. A storm is incapable of hopes, dreams, whims, or other desires. And so number 3: Though Pat Michaels is a columnist, a man who uses words for a living, he is not competent to do so. That’s three apologies he owes. Shall we bate our breath?

    Yes, eyesonu and clipe, der Grammar Poletzei are here.

  56. Robert Segal says:

    By the way — and before my meaning gets mistaken — if Michaels had correctly said, “I hope…” instead of “hopefully…”, he would not have been making a predictive statement about the death toll and zero apologies would then have been required. (He can be as callous as he likes and still cause me not a whit of damage… unlike Irene, full of musing and hope though she may be.)

    And that’s why poor-but-entirely-correctable communication skills are unforgivable whilst unavoidably-quasi-accurate storm force forecasts get a pass. This weblog article is, after all, a piece about the perils of communicating poorly.

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