Open thread weekend – societal concerns

open_threadI’m off on travel today, but I wanted to take this opportunity to give readers a chance to talk about a variety of topics and to discuss something that has been of interest to me over the years: professional and scientific societies.

We’ve seen the pronouncements on climate change and the internal strife generated from organizations like the American Physical Society. As you may recall APS pushed a climate change agenda to their membership via a position statement. When one of their prominent members, Dr. Hal Lewis, decided to resign in protest, the APS doubled down.

A number of people who don’t like this sort of thing have resigned from professional societies they used to belong to for similar reasons, so my question is this:

If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?

Also, an unrelated note: the “Top Headlines” will return Monday.

 

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97 thoughts on “Open thread weekend – societal concerns

  1. Should hardly need saying, but simply make its mandate to follow the scientific process. End of.
    Too simple?

  2. “If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?”

    That may require a cultural shift. The current melieu honors lying and cheating.

  3. If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?

    I would have a bylaw that stated that the society would never take a position on any scientific matter. Science is not done by voting and the history of science (does no one study that anymore?) tells us that “science” is often wrong when it reaches a consensus. For example, it was not all that long ago that is was heresy to claim the continents moved.

    A scientific society should exist to promote good, honest science within its own field and to inform its members of the latest news and developments. (and it should have annual meetings in very nice, exotic places of course)

    My two cents. ~ Mark

  4. Ah, now there’s something I have been thinking on for a long time.

    Question to all who come by: What organizations do we know of so far, in which the ‘97% consensus’ has been shown to not exist?

    Right now I am aware of the American Meteorological Society. The Geological Society of Australia. And….. whom else?

  5. Elaboration on the above. …

    Explicitly exclude the association from voting on positions or topics of a political nature (i. e., anything pertaining to society and/or economy in general) and from positions on the taking of actions of any sort other than the ethical conduct of their science and operations of the association, while allowing individual members of the association all the freedoms (i. e., speech, politics) in the conduct of their own lives they have guaranteed in a free society without repercussions from the association.

  6. As a charter member of two scientific societies formed about 30 years ago, I can report that the main purpose as we saw it was to provide a way to integrate a few isolated researchers in a number of countries by providing an association that would sponsor annual conferences where ideas could be exchanged, create a peer-reviewed journal where studies in our areas could be concentrated, have a place where students would be able to assess the job market, and so on. Ultimately, both societies took hold, with a moderate membership in the neighborhood of 1500(?) , two journals were created that have reasonable impact factors, some scholarships were established allowing students from developing countries to attend conferences, and so on. Even though the two societies include atmospheric physicists and chemists, some of whom do research impinging on climate science, neither society has felt impelled to issue a “position statement” on climate change. (The Societies are the International Society for Exposure Science (ISES) and the International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ).)

    Nonetheless, the climate change phenomenon has had a direct effect on our societies, mainly by sweeping up much of the research money available, to the extent that it forces our members to compete for research funds by including In the title something like “Effect of Climate Change on [fill in actual focus of research here]“. If awarded, the researchers can do their normal research and spend a couple of days filling in the effects of climate change on their specialty subject, always very simple to do, just calculate the effects of a 2-degree rise in global temperature, and put that in the abstract. Then Cook and Nuccitelli can count it in as a supporter of the consensus on climate change.

  7. David, UK on June 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm
    “Should hardly need saying, but simply make its mandate to follow the scientific process.”

    … and some catchy motto like ‘Nullius in Verba’.

  8. Things are so bad at this point that the word ‘science’ is now broken. It has been co-opted to such an extent that it now means blind adherence to authorities in power. Sort of like how the word liberalism now means believing in following the dictates of authority rather than its traditional meaning.

    Given the difficulty in fighting such a coordinated front of misinformation, is it time to replace science with something else, something that screams falsafiability?

  9. Quite simply we need a society for the advancement of science with a motto something like “Take nobody’s word for it.”

    Oh, hang on …

  10. I’m mostly with Mark. Things like logic, mathematics, and the scientific method are “settled”, but no “fact” about nature is.

    But I would also have a process like the accounting societies do, to investigate cases where a member engages in fraud or offers fallacious arguments to the public, and tell the whole story in print. This function would probably need to be located where UK libel judgments aren’t enforceable.

  11. Lance Wallace says:
    June 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm
    ====
    Lance exactly the same in my field….and I’m sick and tired of it

  12. You can’t. I don’t mean to be a downer, but there’s no way to prevent people from (eventually) distorting any group or law or rule to support their agenda.

    You just have to keep starting over. Making the thing with a limited and defined lifespan would help – but only a little, because people could change that rule, too.

  13. The way I understand it, scientific societies are a way for those intersested in those subjects to discuss and broadcast acquired vetted knowledge in their particular areas of interest.
    Why have a scientific society at all, why not a series of web sites and blogs, where papers may be dowloaded for free, comments sent back to the author for their perusal and perfection of the paper. Each author can have their own web site or blog, linked to other sites of similar interest.
    This is the way things appear to be going any way. The choke points ( publishers, societies with agendas, paywalls, etc) will have to adapt, or become more irrelevant.

  14. That all members be bound to present data , analysis methods & code for all published materials in any journals the society publishes.

    In addition, there will be no speculative statements not supported as conclusions by the above in any journal or made by any member in any capacity.

  15. As a minimum: Each member would affirm Feynman’s statements regarding the scientific method – and any member or group who best fulfills the principles that fall from that method would be awarded the Feynman Medal of Scientific Excellence. And I would seek out and reward science teachers who are not afraid to embrace the scientific method, putting science ahead of agenda.

  16. William F. Buckley quote from 1955: The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so.

  17. All organizations, unless carefully structured will drift left over time. Influential organization will be target by Marxist for infiltration taking advantage of this tendency. This exasperates the problem, making the protection nearly impossible. The only solution is to deliberately exclude socialists. This would mean using some sort of litmus test and we all know that only lefties are permitted to do such things.

  18. Robert Christopher says:
    June 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm
    … and some catchy motto like ‘Nullius in Verba’.

    That motto needs an update.

    How do you say “computer output” in latin?

  19. This is a great question. You need to define what you mean by a professional or scientific society. For example, I am required to belong to a professional body as a P.Geo. in order to practice in the field of geophysics. However, I can also join the SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) or CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum), more for professional development and networking but not a requirement for my profession. If my Association of Professional Geoscientists came out with a position on global warming (which I was supposed to agree with) I would be very concerned. I can’t quit because I’d be out of work or breaking the law. But if the SEG supported global warming I could quit or just ignore the executive.

    In short, societies should stick to a narrow mandate and not wade into political topics. They should not have latin mottos either. If a society wasn’t formed in the back of a bar or in someones basement over a case of beer, you probably shouldn’t join.

  20. What is it that a scientific society would do? If not to encourage some form of “socialized science, I would guess they would sit around in deep armchairs smoking cigars and drinking cognac like some latter-day Mycroft Holmses, occasionally debating the merits of Barycentrism. As soon as you elect a chairman, you’ve elected a “deer leader”, with his eyes fixated in the headlights of his own version of the “truth”. Wouldn’t that deter honest science?

    Utopia:

    http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/21cc/utopia/more1/island1/island.html

  21. Politics and climate science have been inextricably linked. Wish it wasn’t, but here we are.

    How do you remove the “funding trough” motivation as well?

  22. Q: What is the objective of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors?

    A: To make money.

    Which all finance/economics/business students should get immediately.

    To borrow a phrase, all corporations will drift toward this objective.

    The directors of professional and scientific societies are doing what the think will make the most money.

  23. @otsar: Why have a scientific society at all, why not a series of web sites and blogs, where papers may be dowloaded for free, comments sent back to the author for their perusal and perfection of the paper. Each author can have their own web site or blog, linked to other sites of similar interest.

    This is the way things appear to be going any way. The choke points (publishers, societies with agendas, paywalls, etc) will have to adapt, or become more irrelevant.

    The main reason that scams such as “climate change” draw as much support as they do is that a large part of the public simply don’t have the attention span necessary to acquire real scientific literacy, and aren’t willing to put in the effort to get it. And what’s worse, most of the so-called journalists who claim to be, and ought to be, informing that group are members of it themselves.

    So long as this is so, there are going to be societies, books, and media outlets that purport to tell the whole story; and whether they’re honest or not, or diligent or not, they’ll accumulate followers. Leaving it up to each person to do his own research simply won’t work in two senses. (1) It won’t work where “work” means to correctly inform most of the public, because most people don’t have the knowhow even to identify trustworthy sources. They’ll just go along with someone they know. (2) It won’t work where “work” means to get most of the public to accept the fact that no source is very reliable long term, because most of the public isn’t willing to believe that, and will latch onto some source and trust it uncritically.

    I’m not saying the problem of eco-scams itself is hopeless. I am saying that there’s no way to get all those intellectually lazy people to accept correct information about eco-scams; and taking away their right to vote, even if possible, would be worse than the disease.

    So the only way to solve the problem of eco-scams is to impose constitutions that deny any government agency the power to shut down industries or impose sumptuary laws, as the scammers want to do.

  24. The first thing I would do is find someone extremely rich to fund research of members, no ideological strings attached, so the members would not have to grovel and prostitute themselves to get research money. Then, perhaps, people in my society could say what they think and publish unbiased results without worry that they might say the wrong thing and lose their funding source.

  25. If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?
    ========
    First, tell the politicians to take a hike.

  26. @urederra:
    prōductus computātrō is the best I can craft. It translates to “computer product”

  27. When I was studying architecture some 20 odd years ago, a 5th-year course required a visit to an architectural firm. The architect I met with told me that after you graduate, you learn that the A students teach, and the B students end up working for the C students. While somewhat said in jest, there is a great deal of truth to this.

    Many (most?) professional societies are comprised to two types of members. 1) those who feel obligated to join, but don’t really participate and 2) serial joiners (think high school student council president types).

    Rule one of any institution is to increase it’s power and scope – often to it’s detriment. It’s a pull that those who gravitate to leadership cannot resist.

  28. Say nicky, could you stay on topic please? For example, which societies are you aware of, which have a lot of dissent going on over the unproven theory of AGW?

  29. A number of people who don’t like this sort of thing have resigned from professional societies they used to belong to for similar reasons, so my question is this:

    If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?

    I would require a DECLARATION OF INTERESTS.

    Here is a non-scientist called Lord Stern who tells us that co2 warming is worse than he thought!!! Do a little digging and you can see why HE says it’s a terrible thing. He is an ECONOMIST afterall. They deal with money and all that dontcha know.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/16/260-ton-for-carbon-the-price-of-salvation/#comment-1663660

  30. There are many, many Warmists with vested interests. But the biggest group are Climastrologists with their mouths firmly clamped to the teat of public ‘climate change’ funding. Their vested interests are easy to understand – produce works of art that backs the Warmist governments of the day. It really is that simple and that is why they keep telling me about the ‘mountain of evidence’. Of course there’s a mountain, there would be a mountain if it was the other way round too.

  31. If this is about Kenji’s vote, just advise him to heed his conscience. He, more than most is aware of the paws. Or was that the “concerned scientists”?

  32. It is worth mentioning (DesertYote comment was close) an edited quote from urban dictionary about O’sullivan’s law:
    “O’Sullivan’s Law states that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. The law is named after British journalist John O’Sullivan.

    Television shows are the best examples of this. 24, House. Charitable foundations are worse but harder to see.

    One of the reasons for this is leftist intolerance versus right-wing tolerance. Right wingers are willing to hire openly left-wing employees in the interest of fairness. Left-wingers, utterly intolerant, will not allow a non-Liberal near them, and will harass them at every opportunity. The result over time is that conservative enterprises are infiltrated by leftists but leftist enterprises remain the same or get worse.

    Another reason is that the parasitic nature of Liberals/Leftists attracts them to existing money.

    An enterprise can stave off O’Sullivan’s Law if their creators keep it in mind and remain vigilant and truthful. ”

    I think this explains a lot of what is going on.

  33. Nick Stokes says:

    June 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I haven’t seen much mention of the recent June SIPN Arctic Ice predictions, to which WUWT contributed. Wang at CFS and WUWT stand out as the big optimists, at over 6.1 M sq km minimum. Next is 5.5; median is 4.7.
    ==============
    Patience, the consensus has been recorded.
    Now lets see how She plays her cards.

  34. Steve from Rockwood’s comment, recently fired professor Caleb Rossiter’s experience at American University, and the recent rejection of Judith Curry’s essay by American Geophysical Union are probably all indications of the economic blackmail the political thugs promoting AGW are using in promoting global fascism and suppressing legitimate climate science.
    I’d like to believe that scientists of Hal Lewis’s stature have retained the clout required to promote ethical science in professional societies since Lewis resigned from APS in 2010, particularly as a UCSB physical science alumni.
    Unfortunately, as AGW has lost scientific credibility, all forms of censorship have increased – media reporting, employment, funding, and journal publication of legitimate climate research.
    It’s easy to say that members of a professional society should be expected to support positions that are scientifically defensible, and Feynman’s definition is a good one.
    The major issue, I think, is the level of impact that anti-science politically-oriented funding and hiring has on the membership pool. The number of physical scientists who have crossed over to the dark side and are advocating PC social science labeled as climate-science is scary, but hopefully it will reverse as the CAGW-alarmism farce is increasingly exposed as part of an evil political process.

  35. A professional society should be to encourage professionalism in its members. It is not a union.
    Jeff L makes a good start: “That all members be bound to present data, analysis methods and code for all published materials”. It should set a code of ethics and ensure that its members follow it. It might also include obvious administrative trivia such as “any statement by the society representing its members must be approved by its members”.

  36. BillyV says
    That is so right, where the media is concerned. For example, News Ltd Publications employ from all sides of politics here in Australia, whereas, the Government owned ABC and privately owned Fairfax Publications are almost exclusively of the left.
    I prefer the Organization of WUWT readers!

  37. I do not think there is any way to write society charters to eliminate politics and selfish self-interest in these societies; they exist specifically to promote their selfish self-interests and to influence politics. All you can do is vote with your feet; I quit the National Society of Professional Engineers when I realized their “ethics” were designed to protect engineering firms instead of the public welfare, and I quit the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers when I realized their agenda was to award building designs not based on actual energy use per square foot, but on expensive “improvements” to already wasteful designs. ASHRAE’s new HQ building is a monument to the egos of architects and management who have to have glass corner offices with no regard to the energy inefficiency of using glass. A recent survey of energy certified buildings in Washington DC revealed that these “certified” buildings actually used more energy than non-certified buildings. The meddling by these societies is harmful to the public. In my state, if you build a new unattached garage, and decide to run power to the garage for the automatic garage door opener, by law, you now have to insulate the garage!

  38. Nick Stokes says:
    June 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm
    I haven’t seen much mention of the recent June SIPN Arctic Ice predictions, to which WUWT contributed. Wang at CFS and WUWT stand out as the big optimists,
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

    Southern hemisphere ice anomaly approaching a record for the satellite era….
    Odd you didn’t mention that as well?

  39. Nick Stokes;
    Wang at CFS and WUWT stand out as the big optimists,
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    We must live in an inverted upside down bass ackwards world where guessing there will be more ice is considered “optimistic”.

  40. u.k.(us) says: June 21, 2014 at 6:16 pm
    “Patience, the consensus has been recorded.
    Now lets see how She plays her cards.”

    Indeed, and I make no prediction myself. But WUWT has had several threads on 2014 Arctic ice prospects, including two in anticipation of June SIPN (here and here) so I thought it’s actual appearance was worth noting.

  41. Hank Paulson, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, and now chairman of the Paulson Institute, which he founded in 2011 to promote sustainable economic growth and a cleaner environment around the world(?), is very, very concerned about CAGW, & willing to repeat the tired old CAGW memes in the Paper of Record(?):

    Hank, like other CAGW-ers before him, co-opts “BUBBLE” to mean something entirely other than the CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS TRADING BUBBLE we should fear more than any of the extreme weather events Hank is pushing here:

    21 June: NYT: The Coming Climate Crash
    Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession
    by HENRY M. PAULSON Jr.
    THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.
    For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.
    We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate BUBBLE that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked…
    We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive…
    ***(LOL)I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving…
    Already, observations are catching up with years of scientific models, and the trends are not in our favor…
    Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two…
    Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt…
    It is true that there is uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of these risks and many others. But those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture…
    I’m a businessman, not a climatologist. But I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists and economists who have devoted their careers to this issue. There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible….
    In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security…
    Let’s not ignore the climate BUBBLE.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html?_r=0

  42. the money keeps flowing…

    21 June: Daily Texan: UT engineering program receives $12 million to research reducing greenhouse gas emissions
    The University’s Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security, led by engineering professor Larry W. Lake, received a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, also known as the DOE, to continue researching carbon storage challenges aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    The four-year grant is a continuation of a five-year, $15.5 million grant awarded by the DOE in 2009. Although 31 other Energy Frontier Research Centers across the nation received grants, UT is the only university in Texas to have been awarded one…

    http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2014/06/20/ut-engineering-program-receives-12-million-to-research-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions

  43. This will be of interest here, read and enjoy.

    “There is a tendency for members of Western Societies to consider science as an accomplishment – a set of settled, known facts and values. Accompanying this attitude is one which considers Scientists (with a capital “S”) to be authoritative and wise, knowledgeable in many things other than their specialty. It is a stereotype established by some of the notable scientific figures (and communicators) of the past and present: Einstein, Sagan, Hawking… and perpetuated by a media which treats the notion of scientific expertise as knowledge itself. The very presence of three little letters after a name –- P-h-D – is taken by many to be a mark of authority, and the “Scientist” is accorded credibility and wisdom well beyond their due.”

    http://www.baen.com/Why_Science_is_Never_Settled.asp

  44. Australia is an even bigger patsy, with all our MSM believing Obama is battling CAGW to save the planet!

    21 June: Toronto Sun: Lorrie Goldstein: Obama’s fossil fools
    Canada, were being played for a patsy on the oil sands.
    It’s being orchestrated by an unholy alliance headed by U.S. President Barack Obama, aided and abetted by American Democratic billionaires, hypocritical Canadian and U.S. environmentalists and Canada’s opposition parties.
    While Obama acts like Hamlet on approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and while the rest of the usual suspects rail against the Northern Gateway pipeline, or Keystone, or both — proxy fights for the real issue, which is the development of Canada’s oil sands — Obama is upping U.S. fossil fuel production like stink.
    And no one among the usual suspects is calling him on it.
    It’s not like Obama hasn’t given them ammunition.
    Here’s Obama speaking in March, 2012 at the Cushing Pipe Yard in Cushing, Oklahoma:
    “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years … Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75% of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.
    “So we are drilling all over the place … In fact, the problem … is that we’re actually producing so much oil and gas … that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world. There’s a bottleneck … because we can’t get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough. And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they’re needed as much as possible.
    “Right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done …
    “So, yes, we’re going to keep on drilling. Yes, we’re going to keep on emphasizing production. Yes, we’re going to make sure that we can get oil to where it’s needed.”
    The pipeline Obama’s referring to is the southern half of the Keystone XL…
    ***But instead of keeping more coal in the ground, the U.S. has upped its coal exports to record levels. Obama isn’t reducing U.S. emissions. He’s exporting them…
    That’s his job.
    What’s surprising is how many hypocritical Canadians are helping him do it, at the expense of our economy.

    http://www.torontosun.com/2014/06/21/obamas-fossil-fools

  45. how dead does this scam have to get before they bury it?

    21 June: Bloomberg: Matthew Carr: Rising German Coal Use Imperils European Emissions Deal
    The European Union’s attempt to cap greenhouse-gas emissions over the next 16 years is threatened again as rising pollution from the bloc’s biggest economies shows even developed nations want to burn cheap coal.
    Germany, Europe’s largest economy, boosted consumption of the fuel by 13 percent in the past four years, while use in Britain, No. 3 in the region economically, rose 22 percent, statistics from oil company BP Plc show…
    Countries including Poland, which relies on coal to generate more than 80 percent of its power, want to guarantee their right to use the fuel before signing off on targets they say penalize lower-income nations…
    “Both the U.K. and Germany are on a collision course with Poland,” Maciej Bukowski, president of the Warsaw Institute of Economic Studies, which has advised Poland on greenhouse gas cuts, said by phone June 17. “To cut emissions, it needs to spend a lot of money up front,” he said, predicting a 50 percent chance the October deadline will slip…
    The so-called Visegrad group of former Soviet-controlled countries — including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — said in May that the EU’s plans for 2030 put a “disproportionate burden on the lower-income member states.” …
    German fossil-fuel emissions climbed 5.5 percent to 843 million tons in the four years through 2013, the BP data show. To meet its commitment, Germany would have to reduce its pollution by about 379 million tons, a further 45 percent. The BP statistics cover only fossil-fuel burning, which makes up about 88 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas output…
    Failure of the EU to reach a deal this year risks diluting the global climate agreement due to be forged in Paris in December 2015, said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program…
    “If it requires unanimity, it’s going to be very, very difficult,” Stavins said. “Poland is right to be concerned for its economy.” …
    The cost of emitting one ton of carbon dioxide in the EU’s emissions market has slumped 81 percent since 2008 as the financial crisis cut industrial demand, fueling a surplus of the pollution rights…
    ***European governments handed out $57 billion in 2012 for green energy projects, more than half of the global $101 billion, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-19/rising-german-coal-use-imperils-european-emissions-deal.html

  46. Unfortunately, I believe we are seeing an example of unintended consequences. Back in the 60s and 70s, at least as I recall it, physical scientists (in fact I can only speak about physics directly) became increasingly aware of social causes, perhaps due to the turmoil of the 60s in general. A conversation among and within the various groups of physical scientists began about the “social responsibility” of scientists to help inform policy making in society. (Or the “badness” of working for the military industrial complex.) The majority of physicists largely saw it as something one could do in one’s spare time but mostly an occupation of those who leaned toward picking up the management and administrative duties attendant to research facilities and institutions. I think the original intent of scientists expressing opinions on issues of social and political relevance was to “do good” somehow, based on the notion that scientists “knew more” about things in some way.

    Somehow between then and now, the activity of scientists taking positions on issues of social or political relevance seems to have migrated to two unintended outcomes. In one, scientists are viewed analogous to celebrities, namely because they can do something well (tennis, act, string theory, economics, whatever) then their opinion on issues of social relevance but outside their specialty must also be somehow informed by as much focused effort as they put into their specialty. In the other outcome, professional societies, while not actually selling out in the most crass sense, seem to be ever aware of the necessity of their members to obtain largely governmental funding for research and have been taking positions, if any, that largely agree with the position of the government that funds them. They do this for the same reason that many businesses prefer to take no controversial position or relatively bland pro forma supportive positions of issues of interest to the government in power – namely to avoid offending unnecessarily a potential funder of work for the members.

    Thus the rat’s nest we now have of scientific societies acting in decidedly unscientific ways is simply the unintended consequence of the desire of scientists to exercise social responsibility and “do good.”

    On balance, I agree with Mark Stoval at the beginning of this thread. If a society takes positions at all the outcome is doomed to become bad in unintended ways. This would however, relegate most scientific societies to the back seat of public interest, definitely not saviors of the world. We would have to learn to live without the occasional gushing news interest in our work. It might also make our societies less influential in assisting members toward getting access to governmental funding.

  47. The scientfic structure I would like to see developed at WUWT is the one used by a relatively new (controversial) organization, see here: http://www.deepcarbon.net
    They also have a closed membership site, where you log in and can discuss items and share information without general publication.

  48. Regarding Nick Stokes at June 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I had been looking for the update every day this past week and hadn’t noticed it Thursday morning, and couldn’t check Friday. Today I was off on travel. No need to think it is being avoided. I’m just not always able to do things to everyone’s satisfaction.

  49. I think the situation has become endemic. Associations become impelled to have a position, but often the position papers are couched in platitudes that are hard to argue with; and full of political correctness:

    1. http://www.acec.ca/source/2014/SourceExpress/sustainability/PDF/SustainabilityEng.pdf
    2, https://www.apeg.bc.ca/News/Articles/ACEC-Report-Tackles-Sustainability-in-Engineering
    3. https://www.apeg.bc.ca/getmedia/a39ff60e-80a1-4750-b6a5-9ddc1d75248a/APEGBC-Climate-Change-Position-Paper.pdf.aspx
    4. https://www.apeg.bc.ca/APEGBC/media/APEGBC/Sustainability%20and%20Climate%20Change/APEGBC-Sustainability-Guidelines.pdf

    With the exception of item 3, these statements are hard to argue with when there is a duty to use “best practices” in accordance with “current” technologies. But this can quickly degenerate into a discussion of whose “opinion” or whose “conclusions” or which “consensus” is to be used.

    Glad I am retired.

  50. The Frankfurt School Neo-Marxist chappies Horkheimer and Adorno wrote that: “‘what men want to learn from nature is how to use it in order to wholly dominate it and other men.” That is the game the ruling class is playing when it dominates science in order to dominate us.

    What are you going to do as a scientist when the government comes calling and says: “nice little research project you got there, pity if something should happen to it?” So scientists go along to get along — even if they aren’t already believers in the lefty academic culture.

    Change can only happen if enough people get totally pissed off by the injustice of it all and decide to do something about it. That day will come, but it hasn’t come yet.

  51. We have a big problem in American science, foreseen by Pres. Eisenhower….our university research infrastructure develops a “vampiric” relationship with government funding sources, and the process becomes self-perpetuating. Climate science isn’t the first, but it is certainly one of the most egregious.

    I’ve seen this happen in public health, when the attacks of 9/11 spawned an academic/industrial complex to study, develop and deploy new technologies to protect us from water supplies poisoned by terrorists, chemical weapon attacks (anyone remember DHS’s admonitions for Americans to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to protect ourselves?? It seems ridiculous upon reflection, but that was policy: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-terror-ducttape-ct,0,512761.story)

    The worst domestic bioterrorism incident was spawned by a US Army anthrax investigator, Dr. Bruce Ivins, who was obsessed with a college fraternity….technologies developed to protect us, and meanwhile, universities and public health departments continue to fight for funds to counteract this stuff. Consider the hideously expensive, and ineffective, “Biowatch” monitoring system: http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=node/12998

    Personally, I think academic research should be funded by a lottery system. It would be more honest, avoid the temptation of rent-seeking academics to stampede after every new topic, and probably generate some very interesting basic and applied research. Have a nice weekend, Anthony.

  52. You can’t have a society to deliver a utopian vision of the scientific method.

    Societies have rules. Many rules are directed at maintaining standards. Standards protect the society from “the cranks”.

    The rot sets-in at the outset. From rules and standards, you get policing, entry qualifications and membership selection (e.g. disqualification), speaking from authority, peer review, position statements (e.g. “we don’t think ‘x’ accords with the scientific method and we distance ourselves from its promoters”), and all the rest.

    A formal organising produces vested interests. It is incompatible with the free spirit of scientific ideals.

  53. As WUWT regulars know, scientific ‘announcements’ are all to often over-sensationalised to draw attention. Therefore, a society should ensure that, when communications and scientific statistics are released by their members (or fellows), that they are careful to ‘play down’ the risk of someone distorting the facts to grab attention.

    So . . . . no more “CO2 has increased from 383ppm to 400ppm” which results in “it’s worse than we thought – we’re all doomed”.

    If they had only said “CO2 has increased very slightly from 1 x 2,611th of the atmosphere to 1 x 2,500th of the atmosphere” – then nobody would take any notice.

    Incidentally, worldwide bread manufacture (via yeast fermentation) produces 85.571 Million tonnes of CO2 per annum – which is the same amount of CO2 emitted by 61 Million cars in the same period (there are 32 million cars registered in the UK).

  54. “If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?”

    No 501c3 – too many laws and lawyers. You need a structure that allows you to run your own enterprise as you like without having to get legal advice all the time. No Board of Directors – they always allow some highly trained, dazzling hires to come in, who then kick out the builder/creator and take over. (That has happened to 3 churches, 1 company, and 1 science alliance I have been in.)

    I cannot tell if this society is solely for the purpose of publishing papers.

  55. Science ceases to be objective when the finance comes from an organisation or branch of government which has a commercial or political agenda.

    The only way out is for the best researchers to have tenure and guaranteed research funds for a defined term, during which they are not subject to such pressures.

    The argument then switches to ‘the end effect'; will researchers tailor their work to getting money at the end of their term of fiscal freedom? The answer to that is quite simple: let them bid again based on their track record of honesty and scientific ability. One example of cheating and you’re out.

  56. “Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that ‘the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science.’ Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom.”
    Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) Austrian Economist

  57. As we speak an entirely new model for the climate is being released online to be vetted and probed on Jo Nova’s site. This is the modern way to do peer review, politics are removed, trolls are controlled by the other participants. It is attracting some seriously clever people, remember it is an Australian web site, we tend to be patient and polite.

  58. >Bill says:
    >June 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm
    >I do not think there is any way to write society charters to eliminate politics and selfish self-interest in >these societies;
    It is impossible to write rules that compel unreasonable people to behave in reasonable ways. Period.
    ++PLS

  59. [ when an article appears here or discussion appears here that regards Mr. Mosher, then your comment might have relevance. If readers want to see the latest smear on Mosher they can go to populartechnology.net -mod]

  60. Key to climate change
    What fascinates scientists about the age of the finds is that they correspond to times when climate specialists have already calculated the Earth was going through an especially warm period, caused by fluctuations in the orbital pattern of the Earth in relation to the Sun.
    At these times, historians now speculate, the high mountain regions became accessible to humans.
    The Roman coins found on the Schnidejoch are being seen as proof that the Romans used this route to cross the Alps from Italy to their territories in northern Europe. Interestingly, one of the Earth’s chillier periods coincides with the decline of the Roman empire.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/receding-swiss-glaciers-reveal-4000-year-old-forests-warmists-try-to-suppress-findings/

  61. ***
    Nick Stokes says:
    June 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I haven’t seen much mention of the recent June SIPN Arctic Ice predictions, to which WUWT contributed. Wang at CFS and WUWT stand out as the big optimists, at over 6.1 M sq km minimum. Next is 5.5; median is 4.7.
    ***

    Nick, why is a larger guess “optimistic”? Optimistic might be zero ice in Sept as this allows life “en masse” to occupy the entire Arctic Ocean instead of being limited to just ice-specialists. An ice-free world is the most biologically productive.

  62. I have been a geologist for 33 yrs and to date have avoided joining any professional organization because you are by association agreeing with their agenda. The advancement of science comes thru independence from constraints. I think the scientific method is the only rule that needs to be followed. The moment you create a group or organization, there will always be an agenda.

  63. Surely this to a large extent turns on the answer to the question “is (scientific) knowledge finite or infinite” (perhaps akin to “is human ingenuity finite or infinite”). If finite, there will at some stage come a time when the work of the society/academy is done so this is more an issue of trying to understand where we now stand on the curve; otherwise (infinitely) more work, debate, controversy always lies ahead of us and today’s society/academy will probably come to be not fit for purpose at some point ahead.

    My guess is that scientific knowledge (as per the universe) is to all practical intents infinite. Whatever way the society may be structured, I think the important thing is that it should formally “re-boot” from time to time, re-thinking its structure, membership qualifications, methods and practices so that these do not become entrenched or taken over by a group-think du jour.

    I would therefore suggest that the constitution of any such society should provide that it automatically dissolves after a fixed term: perhaps once per century so that the society cannot get too entrenched in the political system and there is the opportunity for (former) members to re-think the ways of their predecessors and perhaps (jointly and/or severally) decide to go in entirely different directions.

  64. “Also, an unrelated note: the “Top Headlines” will return Monday.”

    No hurry on my part, it is really nice not to have to scroll past it for the newest posts. :)

  65. Wayne Delbeke: Had the APEGGA spent one penny on this during my time as a member, I’d have resigned on the spot.

  66. The first thing one would have to do to join the society would be to take a polygraph test!

    Could any of the high visibility, policy impacting, climate folks pass it?

    Think about it>p

  67. “PLS says:
    June 22, 2014 at 1:30 am
    >Bill says:
    >June 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm
    >I do not think there is any way to write society charters to eliminate politics and selfish self-interest in >these societies;
    It is impossible to write rules that compel unreasonable people to behave in reasonable ways. Period.
    ++PLS”

    Things began going seriously downhill when “networking”, ie politics, became the most important factor in finding a job.

    ” I went down Virginia seeking shelter from the storm
    Caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow
    Five-year plans and new deals
    Wrapped in golden chains
    And I wonder, still I wonder
    Who’ll stop the rain”

    CCR from “Who’ll Stop the Rain”

  68. If a society wasn’t formed in the back of a bar or in someones basement over a case of beer, you probably shouldn’t join.

    I’ll drink to that Steve……..

    I am a mechanical engineer employed in the nuke power plant business. I have been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers since graduating from college in 1979. In the last 8 years or so, I have seen an increasing number of members writing letters and articles in ME Magazine urging all members to get behind the leftist global warming scam. Lately, as more and more evidence indicates there is no global warming, the letters to the editor have increased. I am beginning to think they are being paid to write these letters because they all sound the same.

  69. Another question would be; what should happen to those once-reputable scientific organizations who signed on wholesale to the CAGW myth, at the expense of all of society and to science itself?
    It is certainly to their great shame that they did so.

  70. As a foreign member of the APS, it was irritating to see the executive release a statement claiming that the evidence for man-made global warming [AGW] is “incontrovertible”.

    This was done with no consultation with the members.

    What I find remarkable is the complete lack of critical review of AGW published results, compared to say, the recent claim by the BICEP2 experiment of the observation of gravitation waves.

    For example, the original plot by NASA/GISS/Hansen et al, the started the AGW meme

    the claim that the global temperature anomaly is known to within +/- 0.1C back in 1880 is based on an equilibrium model guesstimate, an unproven assumption, as far as I know, that temperature anomalies correlate over thousands of kilometres, and the accuracy of various UHI corrections.
    Homegenization, allowing the temperature at actual measurement sites to float, instead of being fixed, is also suspect.

    Yet the plot is held up as established fact.

    Critical reviews may have stopped the AGW meme in it’s tracks and prevented a lost opportunity cost in the billions in terms of time and money [WOFTAM]. Oh, well.

  71. Of what organization is “Nullius in verba” the motto? The Royal Society. The very name suggests subordination to the state. I submit that this subordination is the source of the trouble, which is more deep-rooted than is usually acknowledged.

  72. A number of people who don’t like this sort of thing have resigned from professional societies they used to belong to for similar reasons, so my question is this:

    If you could create a scientific society today in the physical sciences, what would you do to make it the best you could and to give it a measure of immunity from the political downsides of the climate wars?

    =================================================================
    Many groups with noble goals and inspirations have been diverted from their original vision because they were set up giving the authority to speak with whatever respect the group has earned to a few people. That’s fine until “the top” has been infiltrated by those with an agenda who use that respect earned in the past to promote their agenda in the present.
    Keep the “authority” bottom up rather than top down.

  73. Facts are not smears. He claims he wrote the AI for a video game but his name does not appear anywhere in the manual. I fail to see how that is a “smear”.

  74. Poptech says:
    June 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm
    “Facts are not smears. He claims he wrote the AI for a video game but his name does not appear anywhere in the manual. I fail to see how that is a “smear”.”

    What was it, Falcon 4.0?

    From 1999:

    http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/falcon-40-review/1900-2535935/

    “Unfortunately, even with the latest patch, you’ll also see wingmen returning to base immediately after takeoff, AWACS controllers sending you to intercept enemy planes hundreds of miles off your course, inaccurate post-mission success ratings, and the rare but annoying crash back to the Windows desktop. In fact, if you’re going to be playing the single-player campaign, you’re better off not installing the initial patch, as the program is more stable and the AI more intelligent without it.”

    Make of that what you will, I just found it amusing.

  75. I do NOT regard PopTech’s writings a “smear” (as he notes)…I had a similar file I developed on Amory Lovins during the 1980’s. It was more for personal satisfaction, than “utility”. However, when contacted 3 times by legal firms, fighting PUC’s and other state regulators when the “greens” brought in good old “expert” Amory, it seems my FACTUAL file had quite the impact. DISQUALIFICATION from testifying as an “expert witness” was that impact. That, indeed, is a realm where PopTech’s research on this Poppinjay may prove to have great utility. It’s bad enough when people with actual academic status, are accepted (generally) unquestioningly, (Mann, et.al.) I think we should at least strive to expose the “Trolls” for what they really are. (Please note, in contrast we have a Willis E. WHO ADMITS straight out he has NO formal training. Yet, his published analyses are in depth, accurate, well backed. He oft times publishes the “R” code used for his statistical work, and also the data or pointers to the data. In his case, I’d hark back to a Marconi or a Tesla and say that discounting them because they had no “academic training” in Radio Frequency work, or A/C power systems, would, of course, be silly. But then again, they both PRODUCED reproducable and documented results. Mr. M? I don’t believe so.

  76. Of course, if it were about science, you would not censor science. You could censor foul language, sarcasm, bad jokes, etc., but you would not censor science. That’s if you really wanted to be scientific.

    But, we know how that plays out….

  77. I always thought Groucho had it right! I would never join any club that would be willing to have me as a member!

  78. Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address was mentioned above. Here’s what he actually wrote relevant to the topic-

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

  79. It looks as if you folks at WUWT are winning (slowly) the war of truth over the Alarmists. Yet all my alarmist neighbors, after watching a “Nature” series TV show, are convinced the world’s polar bears are all dying from exhaustion from the long swims between ice foes. And, after reading the text from a Nat Geo article, they are sure the Antarctic ice extent is getting smaller every year. (The Nat Geo folks lie? Never.)
    How about a section of WUWT for us slower witted folks and our even slower alarmists neighbors?
    Not discussions of “Gompertz Curve fit” , just simple one line sentences of facts such as:
    1) In 1960 the estimated total of the earth’s population of polar bears was 5,000. The estimated total of the earth’s polar bear population today is 30,000
    .2) In the 1970’s, NASA began utilizing satellite imaging to measure solar ice extent. These measurements indicate that since measurements started, the three largest areas of Antarctic ice occurred in the last 10 years.
    3) At current rates of sea level rise, it would take about 50,000 years for sea levels to reach the waist of the Statue of Liberty as indicated on the cover of a Nat Geo magazine.
    Include the briefest of references to show where the data for the fact list came from?
    We need to end this war as quickly as possible. It’s not just you doctors sparring with each other, It’s single moms working two jobs and teenagers with no summer jobs.

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