Recently after some conversations with a former chemical engineer who provided me with some insight, I’ve come to the conclusion that many engineers have difficulty with many of the premises of AGW theory because in their “this has to work or people die” world of exacting standards, the AGW argument doesn’t hold up well by their standards of performance.
Today I was surprised to learn that one of the foremost and world famous engineers on the planet, Burt Rutan, has become an active climate skeptic. You may be familiar with some of Rutan’s work through his company, Scaled Composites:
Thanks to WUWT reader Dale Knutsen, I was provided a PowerPoint file recently by email presented by Mr. Rutan at the Oshkosh fly-in convention on July 29th, 2009 and again on August 1st, 2009. It has also now been posted online by an associate of Mr. Rutan’s.
There were a number of familiar things in the PowerPoint, including data plots from one of the USHCN stations I personally surveyed and highlighted, Santa Rosa, NM. Rutan had an interest in it because of the GISS adjustment to the data. For him, the whole argument is about the data. He says about his presentation in slide #3:
Not a Climatologist’s study; more from the view of a flight test guy who has spent a lifetime in data analysis/interpretation.
In the notes of his PowerPoint on slide #3, Rutan tells us why he thinks this way(emphasis mine):
My study is NOT as a climatologist, but from a completely different prospective in which I am an expert.
Complex data from disparate sources can be processed and presented in very different ways, and to “prove” many different theories.
For decades, as a professional experimental test engineer, I have analyzed experimental data and watched others massage and present data. I became a cynic; My conclusion – “if someone is aggressively selling a technical product who’s merits are dependant on complex experimental data, he is likely lying”. That is true whether the product is an airplane or a Carbon Credit.
Now since I’m sure people like foaming Joe Romm will immediately come out to label Mr. Rutan as a denier/delayer/generally bad person, one must be careful to note that Mr. Rutan is not your average denier/delayer. He’s “green”. Oh horrors, a “green denier”! Where have we seen that before?
From his PowerPoint, here’s his house, note the energy efficient earth walled design.
In his PowerPoint notes he says about his green interests:
My house was Nov 89 Pop Science Cover story; “World’s Most Efficient House”. Its big advantage is in the desert summer. It is all-electric and it uses more energy in the relatively mild winters than in the harsh summers – just the opposite of my neighbors.
The property has provisions for converting to self-sustaining (house and plug-in hybrid car) via adding wind generator and solar panels when it becomes cost effective to do so.
Testing Solar Water Heat in the 70s at RAF; the Rutan Aircraft Factory was converted to solar-heated water in the 70s, when others were only focused on gasoline costs.
My all electric EV-1 was best car I ever owned. Primary car for 7 years, all-electric with an 85 mile range. I was very sad (just like the guy shown) when the leased cars were recalled and crushed by General Motors. I will buy a real hybrid when one becomes available (plug-in with elect-range>60 miles). The Prius “hybrid” is not a hybrid, since it is fueled only by gasoline. A Plug-in Hybrid can be fueled with both gas and electricity. You might even see a ‘plug-in hybrid airplane’ in my future.
Interest is technology, not tree-hugging
Well that right there is reason enough to put all sorts or nasty labels on the man. Welcome to the club Burt, we are proud to have you!
Rutan’s closing observations slide is interesting:
And, in his notes he makes this mention:
Is the debate over? – The loudest Alarmist says the debate is over. However, “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry”.
I think by the “loudest alarmist” he means Al Gore.
And his final slide:
Rutan’s PowerPoint file is posted at:
For those that don’t have PowerPoint, I’ve converted it to a PDF file for easy and immediate reading online which you can download here.
I wonder if in conversations with his biggest client, Virgin’s Richard Branson, he ever mentions Gore and their joint project? I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.