Another letter from Hal Lewis to the American Physical Society

Dr. Harold Lewis sent this today via email with a request to make it public here. I’m happy to oblige. Read the letter to understand the movie poster.- Anthony

Date: Saturday, November 06, 2010 2:32 PM
To: Curt_Callen
Cc: Kate Kirby
Subject: followup

Dear Curt:

When on October 6 I sent you my letter of resignation from APS , I of course expected the Empire to strike back in one way or another. It pleased me however, when I read your response, to find a very minimum of ad hominem attacks, confined mostly to apparently irresistible eruptions of “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.) So I thank you for that courtesy.

What took me by surprise was the pusillanimous, almost puerile, tone of the comment, which reads more like an ad for a used-car lot than as a declaration of a great scientific society. All our products have passed a complete inspection by our factory-trained mechanics. We’re making no money on this, take it and be thankful. Etc. Not a single major issue confronted in any substantive way. Yet everyone knows about the sloppy handling of the 2007 statement; everyone knows about the financial investments of many of the major players; there is plenty of dirt in the public domain, yet you continue to pretend it is all in a different universe.

Curt, you cannot have written such a shabby document.

Roger Cohen has written an incisive deconstruction of your response, and I can add little, so let me turn to the repair options. For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing, my objective here is to help slow the APS rush toward the cliff. This is what I think must be done at the proximate meeting of the Council.

1.The 2007 statement should be simply withdrawn. No excuses, no caveats, no unnecessary embarrassment, no statement of principles, no references to future research, simply withdrawn. It was a mistake. This is the sine qua non for restoring the honor of APS.

2. The Council should promulgate a transparent confict-of-interest policy, comparable to those used by the government. Those offended by this might even serve under reasonable constraints. Others should not serve. Many know how to do this. It is insane to have people with millions of dollars at stake determining APS policy on such matters.

3.The APS management has become a conglomerate force in itself. This is largely through neglect, because the Council is drawn too specifically through its major fields, and in all too many cases the policies are drawn by very few members, often with an axe to grind. It is too easy to push them through the Council, the members of which are in the dark. There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top.

Cheers,

Hal

Dear Curt:

When on October 6 I sent you my letter of resignation from APS , I of course expected the Empire to strike back in one way or another. It pleased me however, when I read your response, to find a very minimum of ad hominem attacks,  confined mostly to apparently irresistible eruptions of “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.) So I thank you for that courtesy.

What took me by surprise was the pusillanimous, almost puerile, tone of the comment, which reads more like an ad for  a used-car lot than  as a declaration of a great scientific society.  All our products have passed a complete inspection by our factory-trained mechanics. We’re making no money on this, take it and be thankful. Etc. Not a single major issue confronted in any substantive way. Yet everyone knows about the sloppy handling of the 2007 statement; everyone knows about the financial investments of many of the major players; there is plenty of dirt in the public domain, yet you continue to pretend it is all in a different universe.

Curt, you cannot have written such a shabby document.

Roger Cohen has written an incisive deconstruction of your response, and I can add little, so let me turn to the repair options. For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing, my objective here is to help slow the APS rush toward the cliff. This is what I think must be done at the proximate meeting of the Council.
1.The 2007  statement should be simply redrawn. No excuses, no caveats, no  unnecessary embarrassment, no statement of principles, no references to future research, simply withdrawn. It was a mistake. This is the sine qua non for  restoring the honor of APS.

2. The Council should promulgate a transparent confict-of-interest policy, comparable to those used by the government. Those offended by this might even serve under reasonable constraints. Others should not serve. Many know how to do this. It is insane to have people with millions of  dollars at stake determining APS policy on such matters.
3.The APS  management has become a conglomerate force in itself. This is largely through neglect, because the Council is drawn too specifically though its major fields, and in all too many cases the policies are drawn by very few members, often with  an axe to grind. It is too easy to push them through the Council, the members of which are in the dark. There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top.
Cheers,
Hal

Dear Curt:

When on October 6 I sent you my letter of resignation from APS , I of course expected the Empire to strike back in one way or another. It pleased me however, when I read your response, to find a very minimum of ad hominem attacks, confined mostly to apparently irresistible eruptions of “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.) So I thank you for that courtesy.

What took me by surprise was the pusillanimous, almost puerile, tone of the comment, which reads more like an ad for a used-car lot than as a declaration of a great scientific society. All our products have passed a complete inspection by our factory-trained mechanics. We’re making no money on this, take it and be thankful. Etc. Not a single major issue confronted in any substantive way. Yet everyone knows about the sloppy handling of the 2007 statement; everyone knows about the financial investments of many of the major players; there is plenty of dirt in the public domain, yet you continue to pretend it is all in a different universe.

Curt, you cannot have written such a shabby document.

Roger Cohen has written an incisive deconstruction of your response, and I can add little, so let me turn to the repair options. For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing, my objective here is to help slow the APS rush toward the cliff. This is what I think must be done at the proximate meeting of the Council.

1.The 2007 statement should be simply redrawn. No excuses, no caveats, no unnecessary embarrassment, no statement of principles, no references to future research, simply withdrawn. It was a mistake. This is the sine qua non for restoring the honor of APS.

2. The Council should promulgate a transparent confict-of-interest policy, comparable to those used by the government. Those offended by this might even serve under reasonable constraints. Others should not serve. Many know how to do this. It is insane to have people with millions of dollars at stake determining APS policy on such matters.

3.The APS management has become a conglomerate force in itself. This is largely through neglect, because the Council is drawn too specifically though its major fields, and in all too many cases the policies are drawn by very few members, often with an axe to grind. It is too easy to push them through the Council, the members of which are in the dark. There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top.

Cheers,

Hal

119 thoughts on “Another letter from Hal Lewis to the American Physical Society

  1. So true, the lightweights will rise to the top. Time for a little light on many of the previously unattended organisations.

  2. A gentleman scientist helping his once-esteemed organization, the American Physical Society, to regain credibility. To return to excellence will take years of integrity and following the scientific method. Thanks, Hal Lewis

  3. If Lewis now feels that the APS is reformable, perhaps he should have stayed in. But now that he’s started a “Protestant reformation” he may as well complete it by starting a replacement organization. Right?

  4. pu·sil·lan·i·mous
    Definition of PUSILLANIMOUS
    : lacking courage and resolution : marked by contemptible timidity

    Nice word choice Hal! I will have to remember that one.

  5. ……if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top.

    Like an undisturbed column of air perhaps, slow down and cool ( I was going to say become less dense, but I won’t), call it the APS lapse rate.

  6. Hal Lewis is clearly confident about what he is writing and comfortable with his decision to leave APS. It is such a contrast in tone and demeanor to the other side that comes off stilted, unsure, off balance.

  7. Great letter. What a shame the National Academy of Sciences lacks a single member with Hal Lewis’ integrity, with its dedication in each isue of PNAS to Lysenkoism and other anti-science. Only last month it published this by Lysenko’s descendants:

    Forecasting potential global environmental
    costs of livestock production 2000–2050
    Nathan Pelletier1 and Peter Tyedmers

    Abstract:
    “Food systems—in particular, livestock production—are key drivers
    of environmental change. Here, we compare the contributions of
    the global livestock sector in 2000 with estimated contributions of
    this sector in 2050 to three important environmental concerns:
    climate change, reactive nitrogen mobilization, and appropriation
    of plant biomass at planetary scales. Because environmental
    sustainability ultimately requires that human activities as a whole
    respect critical thresholds in each of these domains, we quantify
    the extent to which current and future livestock production contributes
    to published estimates of sustainability thresholds at projected
    production levels and under several alternative endpoint
    scenarios intended to illustrate the potential range of impacts associated
    with dietary choice.Wesuggest that, by 2050, the livestock
    sector alone may either occupy the majority of, or significantly overshoot,
    recently published estimates of humanity’s “safe operating
    space” in each of these domains. In light of the magnitude of estimated
    impacts relative to these proposed (albeit uncertain) sustainability
    boundary conditions, we suggest that reining in growth of
    this sector should be prioritized in environmental governance”.

    One needs to read the full paper to appreciate its Stalinist nuances. Its main failure is colossal ignorance of the FACTS (1) that ALL non-plant life forms are CARBON NEUTRAL over their lifetimes, and (2) that all growing populations of any given species including us are a net CO2 “sink”.

    The evident total inability of the membership of NAS to show any interest in the rubbish published in their name suggests NAS has become a branch of the Moscow Academy of Science as it was in the 1930s. If any readers here know of any intelligent life at NAS please let me know their names (tcurtin at bigblue.net.au).

    And congrats to Lewis for showing that there was some intelligent life at APS, if no longer.

  8. The question facing the APS is, does the APS want to be the “Poster Child” for exampling how the “conspiracy” which constitutes the unscientific CO2CAGW claims and “consensus” came into being, or does it instead want to opt out right now to further the best interests of both itself and real Science?

  9. “So true ,the lightweights will rise to the top…”

    This is an insult to “those at the top,” but is so deserved…

    I can imagine the response: “I’m not a lightweight!”

  10. The use of ‘pusillanimous’ is laden with symbolism. The Wizard of OZ (1939) lectures the Scarecrow on the the lack of need for a brain but the importance of having a degree. Along the way he delivers an early indictment of academic elitism, which is what we have going on here and throughout the climate scam, and everywhere academia tries its hand at telling the rest of us what to think and how to live:
    “Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”

  11. The war is on. The warmists are limited to fighting with words and feelings and have to justify erroneous data and science.

  12. Possible TESB Yoda quotes that perhaps support Hal’s latest letter:

    “Help you I can. Yes, mmmm.”
    “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
    “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
    “For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi.”
    Coincidentally the reported lag of temperature to CO2. Hmm, I wonder who Yoda was really training? “Jedeniers”?

    I’ll add my thanks and respect to Hal for his stand on the issue.

  13. You know, this doesn’t sound like a guy who’s past it or out of it…

    Curt, you cannot have written such a shabby document.

    I think a gauntlet has just been tossed down, and the venue is significant.

  14. @Jeef
    In Australia we refer to it as “pushing s*#t up the hill with a stick”. However I have to say more strength to Hal’s right arm (unless he is left handed :-) – he is a courageous scientist and should be applauded. Keep up the good work Anthony!

  15. So he resigned throwing out insults freely on the way. So now he is offering gratuitous advice and additional slime to the people he slimed in the first place.

    The whole: “I am your good buddy and I am going to slime you again” speaks of someone very, very confused.

  16. Don’t mean to be rude, but when you resign.. you resign. If he loves the APS that much he was silly to leave it, otherwise he should move on with his life – this just looks weak and detracts from the force of his resignation.

    In fact, its a bit embarrassing like reading a dumped teenager’s letter to their erstwhile love interest.

  17. What took me by surprise was the pusillanimous, almost puerile, tone of the comment, which reads more like an ad for a used-car lot than as a declaration of a great scientific society. All our products have passed a complete inspection by our factory-trained mechanics. We’re making no money on this, take it and be thankful. Etc.

    Apt metaphor! I had to laugh at that, though I’m sure Dr. Lewis wasn’t trying to be funny.

  18. Yes R John, like you I had to look it up! HAHAHA I keep a giant dictionary by my keyboard just for dealing with the Watts Up With That crowd! Thanks once again Anthony.

  19. Tim Curtin writes that ” ALL non-plant life forms are CARBON NEUTRAL over their lifetimes..” This comment illustrates what the warmist vocabulary is doing to our science. Its true of course in the strict sense that animals are carbon neutral – but they are not carbon dioxide neutral. They take in fixed carbon and release carbon dioxide. What the warmists are actually bothered about, of course, is carbon dioxide. They themselves use the term “carbon” loosely as a substitute for carbon dioxide. So, Tim Curtin is right in the technical sense, but not in the sense the warmists use the term carbon (a mis-use, I will grant you). Another example of the way the vocabulary distorts science in the public mind is the use of “pollutant” for carbon dioxide. It does not help people who are uneducated in these things to understand that carbon dioxide is a natural and essential component of our atmosphere – I have encountered people who are educated in other ways who had no idea (until I told them) that carbon dioxide was essential for plant life. The simplistic “negative press” carbon dioxide gets these days contributes to such ignorance.

  20. The venue has broad reach, the APS may live in a very high ivory tower but here in the real world Hal Lewis speaks loud and clear. The APS has forgotten their base and that is science.

  21. @Tim Curtin:

    If any readers here know of any intelligent life at NAS please let me know their names…

    Yes, I know of at least one person who meets your criteria: Professor Richard S. Lindzen. From his home page:

    “He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, and has been a member of the NRC Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the Council of the AMS. He has also been a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”

  22. I think skeptics are making real progress but still a long way to go. The climategate emails have had an impact on the press. It seems that some have understood that just because a scientist says they are telling the truth doesn’t mean they are.

  23. The 2007 statement should be simply withdrawn.

    Well, no, there has to be more. There has to be acknowledgment that is was poor work.

  24. Also, it isnt the lighweights rising to the top, but the biggest turds.

    Its based upon Imhofs Law of sewerage treatment.

  25. “”… and in all too many cases the policies are drawn by very few members, often with an axe to grind.””

    This so describes the UK government. Many other governments come to think of it.

  26. Tawanda W. Johnson
    APS Press Secretary
    202-662-8702
    tjohnson@aps.org

    APS Comments on Harold Lewis’ Resignation of his Society Membership
    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a recent letter to the American Physical Society (APS) President Curtis A. Callan, chair of the Princeton University Physics Department, Harold Lewis, emeritus physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced that he was resigning his APS membership.
    In response to numerous accusations in the letter, APS issues the following statement:
    There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain. To the contrary, as a membership organization of more than 48,000 physicists, APS adheres to rigorous ethical standards in developing its statements. The Society is open to review of its statements if members petition the APS Council – the Society’s democratically elected governing body – to do so.
    Dr. Lewis’ specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding. Moreover, relatively few APS members conduct climate change research, and therefore the vast majority of the Society’s members derive no personal benefit from such research support.
    On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:
    Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
    Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
    The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.
    On these matters, APS judges the science to be quite clear. However, APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain. In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”
    Additionally, APS notes that it has taken extraordinary steps to solicit opinions from its membership on climate change. After receiving significant commentary from APS members, the Society’s Panel on Public Affairs finalized an addendum to the APS climate change statement reaffirming the significance of the issue. The APS Council overwhelmingly endorsed the reaffirmation.
    Lastly, in response to widespread interest expressed by its members, the APS is in the process of organizing a Topical Group to feature forefront research and to encourage exchange of information on the physics of climate.

  27. @Noblesse Oblige, November 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm
    That’s it in a nutshell! Thank you for the apposite observation. – and if my brain serves me correctly, he gives the scarecrow a diploma.

  28. @Jeef

    Its all a matter of where you are standing and, from my perception of the winds of change, scientifically its those at the helm of the Academy of Science, that are effectively showering themselves and those that dumbly stand behind the published ‘pusillanimous reaction’ of those controlling the Academy to dodge the real issue.

    I support and defend the right of Hal Lewis to reply to their attempt at reframing the debate on this personal level to avoid looking at the science.

    It takes courage to step outside the confines and comfort of a professional organization you loved, respected, and give timely, if unwanted advice in the hope others might think and consider the issues that prompted your resignation.

  29. All of the hysteria generated in the ‘Green’ debate about Carbon Dioxide merely serves to illustrate the point that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.’ There are far to many ‘sound bites’ emanating from Greenpeace and Fiends of the Earth which distort fact and scientific papers and far to little understanding by the foot soldiers who swallow the fictions as fact.

    All power to Dr Lewis, though I suspect his suggestions will be ignored. The expression is, I believe, “F*rt*ng against thunder.”

  30. I sincerely commend Hal Lewis for bringing this information to the international community prepared to question “top down decisions” on any issue. I suggest that the problem that Hal faced in the APS has been often faced by dissenters within powerful groups. As an Australian, I had the opportunity 30 years ago to examine the policy of having an offical dissenter who would not be punished for giving a problem analysis to a proposed executive plan . Their job was picking up problems in underground mining before the management decisions caused a major disaster.

    This great mining company of it’s day employed Kepner Tregoe of the USA to run the course, and the most informative section for me was based on a book called “The victims of groupthink”. I am of the opinion that every school child in the world should read it. Should you read it, you will fully understand Hal’s dilemma. I find it hard to believe that the USA scientific elite are choosing to ignore these principles now.

  31. John Game says:
    Its true of course in the strict sense that animals are carbon neutral – but they are not carbon dioxide neutral. They take in fixed carbon and release carbon dioxide.

    Animals are co2 neutral because the co2 they release, originated from the atmosphere and it is a natural part of the carbon cycle. Burning of fossil fuels is not neutral because it takes a source that has been removed from the cycle and adds it in an unnatural process, throwing off the balance between atmosphere, land and ocean.

  32. “..There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top…”

    I am unaware of the source for this observation – could someone please enlighten me? The only similar one I know about is the famous ‘Peter Principle’, which states that employees will rise to the level of their own incompetence (which is not necessarily anywhere near the top) – could this be what is being implied?

  33. There are virtuous cycles and there are vicious cycles. Science in the 20th century was propelled along by a virtuous cycle of technological discovery. However with the loss of around a quarter of that technological industry to Japan and now China science in the UK and US (particularly) have become disconnected from technological reality.

    As I said before, I think climategate was a Mash-stype “dropping of the shower curtain” on science revealing a pretty ugly set of affairs with in-fighting, manipulation of peer review the removal of those with a scientific difference of opinion and the wholesale massaging of data to fit PR. And, from the way the scientific elite quickly “threw in the towel”, it seems obvious to me that they all share the same phobia that if the proverbial climategate type shower-curtain were dropped almost every subject would look pretty ugly in the flesh.

    I can’t help noticing how little has changed in the decades since I did physics at University compared to the massive changes that occurred between my father and grandfather’s time. The text books from 1910 could not be understood let alone used today. Those of the 1940-50s are little better. But my own written about the 1970s contain virtually the same syllabus.

    It’s as if science has stood still for the last 30 years! At least at the fundamental conceptual areas taught to undergraduates.

    Why?
    *Because as I said the technological base needed for scientific progress has been undermined and left the UK and US where much of the “science” is being done?
    *Because we’ve “discovered” virtually every important thing?
    *Because science has become so inward looking and run by people whose only interest is in self-promotion, petty political pushing of ideas and “hiding the decline” in “science” generally?
    *Because after the “big” discoveries of the early 2oth century, the effort has gone downstream to smaller but equally important practical applications which whilst important, don’t have the same effect on undergraduate physics.

    I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts – but I still can’t get away from the hunch that climategate shows something very rotten at the heart of modern science which could be a fundamental block to innovation.

  34. Oh Lordy …

    LazyTeenager [November 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm] says:

    “So he resigned throwing out insults freely on the way. So now he is offering gratuitous advice and additional slime to the people he slimed in the first place.

    The whole: “I am your good buddy and I am going to slime you again” speaks of someone very, very confused.”

    and also …

    Robert Morris [November 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm] says:

    “Don’t mean to be rude, but when you resign.. you resign. If he loves the APS that much he was silly to leave it, otherwise he should move on with his life – this just looks weak and detracts from the force of his resignation.

    In fact, its a bit embarrassing like reading a dumped teenager’s letter to their erstwhile love interest.”

    Two comments from people who themselves sound like they never had to take a stand against someone or something, particularly when it is politically incorrect to do so. Most telling is the puerile analogy to a jilted lover. Yeah, that about covers it! Frankly it sounds to me like Harold Lewis is a man who DOES care a whole lot about his former organization. Sounds like someone who sees it infested with the contagious debilitating disease called political correctness and is not afraid to address it. This takes actual courage.

    If Dr. Lewis DID wash his hands of APS and “move on with his life”, well, THAT would sound exactly like a man who did NOT care about his former organization. Of course, then you could both come here and write comments about him being disingenuous for NOT following up his resignation.

    P,.S. Since you both thought attempting to read his mind to discern his motives was a good idea, I hope you didn’t mind me reading your minds to do the same ;-) No offense meant of course. It is entirely possible that the two of you are capable of being as courageous in real life as Harold Lewis.

  35. “…It is entirely possible that the two of you are capable of being as courageous in real life as Harold Lewis…”

    But unlikely…

  36. LazyTeenager [November 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm] says:

    “So he resigned throwing out insults freely on the way. So now he is offering gratuitous advice and additional slime to the people he slimed in the first place.

    The whole: “I am your good buddy and I am going to slime you again” speaks of someone very, very confused.”
    ——————————–
    Okay Lazy, do you see any comparison there with your persistent, hostile presence on this blog?
    You obviously don’t agree with his advice, but it’s not gratuitous. His intent is to restore honor to the APS.
    What’s your intent?

  37. @Jim Cripwell says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:51 am

    In a septic tank, it is not the lightweight weights, but the big chunks that rise to the top.
    —————————————————————————————
    ..and surfs the waves:

    “It is clear that UNEP must take advantage of windows
    of opportunity to make its case. Like a surfer, it must
    spot the waves it can ride. The biggest, most
    magnificent political wave at present and in the
    immediate future is climate change,and UNEP should
    not fail to ride it

    http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/113009_IISDreport.pdf

  38. If the executive of the APS used their combined skills and knowledge to design a jet plane, using all the care and thoroughness with which they have investigated global warming/climate change/global climate disruption, would they fly in it?

  39. Sleeptown

    I suspect this may be what Prof Lewis was implying but was at the same time too polite to say outright.

  40. Blade, points well made.
    Lewis’ quote; “Roger Cohen has written an incisive deconstruction of your response, and I can add little, so let me turn to the repair options. For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing, my objective here is to help slow the APS rush toward the cliff.” shows the integrity of a good man. If the face of the ‘Lewis is a liar’ response to his resignation, all he offers is a bit more advice on how to correct the seemingly incorrectable.

  41. John Andrews
    “As any competent scientist knows”. Who needs years of scientific training when a few seconds practical experience tells you all you need to know about pissing into the wind.

  42. Actually the term “lightweights” isn’t used much in the UK. We prefer to use a more aptly descriptive, metaphorical waste product that floats…

  43. Mike Haseler says:
    November 7, 2010 at 1:45 am
    It’s as if science has stood still for the last 30 years! At least at the fundamental conceptual areas taught to undergraduates.

    Why?
    *Because as I said the technological base needed for scientific progress has been undermined and left the UK and US where much of the “science” is being done?
    *Because we’ve “discovered” virtually every important thing?
    *Because science has become so inward looking and run by people whose only interest is in self-promotion, petty political pushing of ideas and “hiding the decline” in “science” generally?
    *Because after the “big” discoveries of the early 2oth century, the effort has gone downstream to smaller but equally important practical applications which whilst important, don’t have the same effect on undergraduate physics.

    I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts – but I still can’t get away from the hunch that climategate shows something very rotten at the heart of modern science which could be a fundamental block to innovation.

    Mike, in addition to the points you raise above, there has been a noticable stagnation in the theoretical sciences due to institutional inertia and security of tenure, croneyism, the exclusion of competing ideas due to the need for a single narrative to cement science as the purveyor of ultimate truth in the public mind, and other sundry reasons.

    It’s a ripe time for a scientific revolution.

    Reading the comments from the establishment climate scientists on Judith Curry’s blog, their minds are so closed that a new climatology will have to be built without them. They are interested in preserving their own prestige and position more than they are interested in the progress of scientific understanding.

  44. R John says:
    November 6, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    pu·sil·lan·i·mous
    Definition of PUSILLANIMOUS
    : lacking courage and resolution : marked by contemptible timidity

    Nice word choice Hal! I will have to remember that one.

    The noun equivalent (one who lacks courage and resolution : one marked by contemptible timidity) is pu.si

  45. Doddgy Geezer quoted Dr. Lewis as saying, “There is a wise observation (not due to Archimedes) that if any organization is left alone, the lightweights will rise to the top…” Then wrote, “I am unaware of the source for this observation – could someone please enlighten me?”

    I think Dr. Lewis was making a joking reference to Archimeds’ principle, which states “Any floating object displaces its own weight in fluid.”

    The Lewis Principle (quoted above) is much superior to the Peter Principle because it suggest an easy solution to the posited problem … shake vigorously!

    Furthermore, as everyone knows, in any organization sewage generally flows downhill. But it took a brilliant mind like Dr. Lewis to recognize the more important principle that, in the quite waters of academia, excrement soon floats to the top again.

    dT

  46. “For the record, though my resignation from APS gives me no standing,

    Au contraire, mon ami. It would seem that absent your resignation you had little or no standing. Now perhaps you can make a difference. Kudos, Sir, after 67 years of working within the system, this was no small endeavour.

    As Darrell C. Phillips quoted of Yoda, very aptly, “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

  47. Peter Plail said on November 7, 2010 at 3:09 am:

    John Andrews
    “As any competent scientist knows”. Who needs years of scientific training when a few seconds practical experience tells you all you need to know about pissing into the wind.

    Aim low with your legs and feet spread apart.

    That’s the practical knowledge. The years of scientific training are needed to computer model it. If it’s for climate science purposes, using a fixed wind speed from an unchanging direction is acceptable and expected. ☺

  48. We desperately need a Hal Lewis to come forward from the “Royal Society” in the UK.
    They have reinterpreted their motto “Nullius in Verba” which originally meant, on the word of no one, to mean respect the facts.
    That just says it all.

    I have the feeling that we have not heard the last of (from) Hal Lewis. I sincerely hope not.

  49. John Game says November 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm: “This comment illustrates what the warmist vocabulary is doing to our science… They themselves use the term “carbon” loosely as a substitute for carbon dioxide.”

    The do this for propaganda reasons, and they have done so very effectively.

    They want to associate their cause with the evil, dirty, and messy black soot of Dickensian London (“carbon”), and not with the innocuous gas that escapes when you open a bottle of root beer or Coke – carbon dioxide.

    So there are very intentional (and not just sloppy) reasons for calling it “carbon” rather than “carbon dioxide.”

    How ridiculous would the warmists sound if it was known around the world and to all peoples that the demon they fear (carbon dioxide) is in fact the gas used to make everyday beverages fizzy, a process which was invented in 1772 by the famous English chemist Joseph Priestley and described in his paper “Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air in order to communicate to it the peculiar Spirit and Virtues of Pyrmont Water, And other Mineral Waters of a similar nature.”

    Maybe the real culprit in anthropogenic global warming and “climate disruption” is the Coca Cola Company.

    Not the eeevvill “fossil fuel” and “carbon” companies.

  50. “the lightweights will rise to the top”

    Isn’t this exactly what happened in climate science, weak scientists have risen to the top. Alarmist and catastrophist groupthink has brought the weak together.

    One is reminded of the lines in the Star-Spangled Banner “the land of the brave and the home of the free”.

    Had it been written by a climate scientist, the Star_Spangled Banner probably would have sang “the land of the weak and the home of the restrained?

    Not the same ring to it.

  51. “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.)

    What an absurd thing for a supposed “scientist” to say. He clearly doesn’t understand the scientific process at all. He must have a ridiculously high opinion of himself if he thinks that the only possible way his statements could be false is if he actually consciously made them so.

  52. It is said that that there are two kinds of people in a large organization: those who work toward the mission of the organization, and those who work for the organization. Lazy teen demonstrates (s)he hasn’t had the experience of actually committing to the mission of anything substantial.

    Often, when the organization is firmly in the grip of the latter group, the only way to restore the mission to step outside, out of reach, and begin the process to turn the ship. You can’t do that when your integrity demands that you support the organization as well as the mission.

    This is the conundrum of integrity. Those that would believe in the mission sincerely, would also be drawn to respect the organization itself. If the need is great, you sometimes have to sacrifice one to save the other. Hail and godspeed to Hal Lewis.

  53. Hal Lewis,

    Thank you for sharing this recent letter to the APS.

    Do we know if the membership in the APS is falling? Any APS members here who can comment on this?

    John

  54. Robert Morris says:
    November 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Don’t mean to be rude, but when you resign.. you resign. If he loves the APS that much he was silly to leave it, otherwise he should move on with his life – this just looks weak and detracts from the force of his resignation.

    My guess is this may be the parting shot. He wrote his resignation letter making claims that the APS could not ignore. So the APS responded, and Lewis interpreted the reply and defended his claims which the APS attacked.

    His three recommendations are a bit odd. He includes phrases like “restoring the honor of APS,” “it is insane,” and “lightweights will rise to the top.” While these are challenges to the leadership, I think they are harshest statements he can make that the APS will not respond to. The points he listed in https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/16/hal-lewis-my-resignation-from-the-american-physical-society/ were directed at the APS community, these new points may be more for the membership to take up in future efforts to reform the leadership.

    To continue the Star Wars analogy, just before Obi-Wan Kenobi “resigns” to Darth Vader, Kenobi warns “Strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine…”.

  55. Ross Brisbane says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:35 am
    Tawanda W. Johnson
    APS Press Secretary
    202-662-8702
    tjohnson@aps.org

    In response to numerous accusations in the letter, APS issues the following statement:
    “There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain.”

    Dr. Lewis did not say that statements are driven by financial gain; rather, he pointed to conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest should be eliminated without regard for actual financial gain.

  56. Graham G at 1.23 am notes that 30 years ago ‘…the policy of having an official dissenter who would not be punished….’
    In the Roman Church an official called the Devil’s Advocate is appointed to do just that in the case of a person being nominated for sainthood; his function is to ensure that both sides are properly examined and he is not subject to vilification if the opposing view is accepted. I can think of a number of people, familiar to visitors to this site, who would qualify for the title even if they might not see themselves in that light!

  57. “The noun equivalent (one who lacks courage and resolution : one marked by contemptible timidity) is pu.si”

    I think this must be the correct etymology. Very astute.

  58. ““There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain.”

    If you work for an institution for higher learning that gets climate related grants even outside of your immediate department, you stand to gain in the sense that a rising tide floats all boats.

  59. Robert Morris suggests that “when you resign you resign.” To me, this betrays a tin ear, lacking in style. One of the best parts of any good journal is the letters to the editor, and especially the argumentative ones. I love the disagreements and the “cancel my subscription” blasts, setting out their reasons for consideration. Whether it is Wall Street Journal and Forbes, or whether it is Scientific American and society journals, this is where the pros and cons are disclosed. This is where clarifications are made. This is the live, beating heart of the publication.

    Unless “the science is settled”, and there is nothing to discuss, nothing to clarify, and nothing to consider. Yeah, right.

  60. pusillanimous: ORIGIN late Middle English : from ecclesiastical Latin pusillanimis (translating Greek olugopsukhos), from pusillus ‘very small’ + animus ‘mind,’ + -ous .

    Which, is how that ilk float if left alone. The remainder of the cranium, not filled with a small mind, is … buoyant.

  61. I am reminded of the early disputes of the Royal Society when it was founded. The dispute between Hooke and Huygens over watches and patents and Oldenburg’s involvement on Huygens side. It spilled over into dispute with Newton which Oldenburg stirred up.

    Scientists and their desire for priority and fame and fortune have not changed much.

    BTW
    I am not saying Oldenburg did not do good work for the Royal Society.

  62. Gentlemen

    One can certainly say Dr. Lewis is not “one who lacks courage and resolution” or is “marked by contemptible timidity”. Bravo Dr. Lewis.

    Kforestcat

  63. Ross Brisbane says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

    “Tawanda W. Johnson
    APS Press Secretary
    202-662-8702
    tjohnson@aps.org

    APS Comments on Harold Lewis’ Resignation of his Society Membership
    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a recent letter to the American Physical Society (APS) President Curtis A. Callan, chair of the Princeton University Physics Department, Harold Lewis, emeritus physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced that he was resigning his APS membership.
    In response to numerous accusations in the letter, APS issues the following statement:
    There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain. To the contrary, as a membership organization of more than 48,000 physicists, APS adheres to rigorous ethical standards in developing its statements. The Society is open to review of its statements if members petition the APS Council – the Society’s democratically elected governing body – to do so.
    Dr. Lewis’ specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding. Moreover, relatively few APS members conduct climate change research, and therefore the vast majority of the Society’s members derive no personal benefit from such research support.
    On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:
    Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
    Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
    The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.
    On these matters, APS judges the science to be quite clear. However, APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain. In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”
    Additionally, APS notes that it has taken extraordinary steps to solicit opinions from its membership on climate change. After receiving significant commentary from APS members, the Society’s Panel on Public Affairs finalized an addendum to the APS climate change statement reaffirming the significance of the issue. The APS Council overwhelmingly endorsed the reaffirmation.
    Lastly, in response to widespread interest expressed by its members, the APS is in the process of organizing a Topical Group to feature forefront research and to encourage exchange of information on the physics of climate.”

    Ron,
    Thanks for posting this. It shows how unfounded Lewis’s statements impugning the integrity of the officers and members of the APS.

    Lewis seems the type of person who gets off on puffing up his own importance, and has apparently found a receptive and uncritical audience here.

  64. Theo Goodwin says:
    November 7, 2010 at 7:05 am

    “Ross Brisbane says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:35 am
    Tawanda W. Johnson
    APS Press Secretary
    202-662-8702
    tjohnson@aps.org

    In response to numerous accusations in the letter, APS issues the following statement:
    “There is no truth to Dr. Lewis’ assertion that APS policy statements are driven by financial gain.”

    Dr. Lewis did not say that statements are driven by financial gain; rather, he pointed to conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest should be eliminated without regard for actual financial gain.”

    Lewis claim that there is conflict of interest is false. The part of the APS letter which you did not quote are:

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

    It seems that Lewis is making false charges of conflict of interest when there is none. This leads one to ask why someone in his position would do that. My personal assessment is that he is the sort of individual who is trying to puff up his own importance, and has found a receptive audience, and is making the most of it.

  65. Dear Dr Lewis, you’ve written two great missives, congratulations on your courage & thoughtfulness.

    You strongly intimate a financial conflict of interest between members of the Society & the performance of financial instruments in the market. Interesting. Very interesting & a great point of leverage… both ways!!!

    You should do some minor investigations & determine if a significant portion of stock makes anyone an investor of significant holdings. The SEC would always be interested in conflicts of interest & any subsequent fraud involving ‘hyping’ of any public company or it’s technical capability.

    I can think of more possible instances of conflict of interests involving institutions of learning & government agencies… thank about that too.

  66. @LazyTeenager :

    Often when one cares about something, be it a society, a principle, or truth itself, one has to defend it, even against itself.

    It is kind of like watching a family succumb to a cult. It is very rare that any individuals therein ever break out on their own, and the first thing that happens when they do is their castigation and vilification.

    An intervention is required. Interventions are rarely happy things. It is even more difficult when the family enables each other, and enforces their own beliefs, to the point of ignoring evidence and altering the nature of what is accepted as evidence in their worldview. The data is obviously wrong, not the theory. If the data does not fit the theory, they ignore or alter it.

    Most often, these cult followings grow more insular over time, with power concentrated in the hands of the founders. What is required to break the programming (for programming it is) is doses of the most bitter medicine of all… truth.

    Often, however, people never break their programming, having become so accustomed to the view of reality, and the idea that the ‘other side’, whatever it is, alters the argument in order to win. While this would seem to mark the ‘skeptic’ position, the grave difference is in communication, discussion, and argument.

    When any side refuses to debate, refuses to engage in that discourse of principles and conflict that is science, that side has engaged their beliefs into dogma that ignores fact, ignores truth, and reinforces itself against those medications. It is by conflict, by discourse, and by debate that science grows and is advanced.

    Consensus protects the status quo… and is not science at all, never has been, and never could be. Often cults operate with reward/penalty conditioning. In this case, the reward is a grant, recognition, or publishing, and the penalty is the withdrawal of that benefit. Slowly, over time, the body of research becomes flooded with the status quo position, without regard to its accuracy, because that is where the reward lies.

    And when people step out of line in the least, they must be punished for so doing. When they step out of line in major things, they are made anathema, excommunicated, and declared as heretics that must be destroyed.

    That… is the most disturbing development of all. When the belief becomes more important than the reality, and it must not be discussed… there is a major illness in the body scientific.

  67. Must apologize for my earlier post re-naming the American Physical Society (APS) under the description “Academy of Science”. One should not post when jet lagged!!

  68. Can anyone provide a link to Roger Cohen’s deconstruction of the APS response ? It might clarify a few points of contention here . Thanks in advance .

  69. Robb876 says:
    November 7, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Most of the carbon from past aeons are bound up in sedimentary rock. This is also circulated through plate tectonics. Nature does not care if the CO2 is from “natural” sources. Both geolocial and biological processes are involved in carbon circulation. Carbon based life forms has been used as fuel since man conquered fire. That the life form died millions of years ago or yesterday makes little difference to nature. So the use of a natural/unnatural distinction is quite meaningless.

  70. “kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    November 7, 2010 at 4:24 am
    Peter Plail said on November 7, 2010 at 3:09 am:

    John Andrews
    “As any competent scientist knows”. Who needs years of scientific training when a few seconds practical experience tells you all you need to know about pissing into the wind.

    Aim low with your legs and feet spread apart.

    That’s the practical knowledge. The years of scientific training are needed to computer model it. If it’s for climate science purposes, using a fixed wind speed from an unchanging direction is acceptable and expected. ☺”

    I disagree, I believe the climate science model would be more complicated.

    First they would factor out the “piss” as it is too complicated to predict it’s path.
    Secondly they would adjust the wind data to show that it is all blowing north.
    Finally they would run around with their scientific pants about their ankles trying to prove humans are creating the wind.

  71. Just to pile on with the lightweights rise to the top theme, I am reminded of this quote:

    “Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.” Such pettiness and greatness are rarely found in one person.”
    The Contender (2000) – President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges)

    Even though Napoleon didn’t say it exactly (he spoke French ;-)… ), it’s still a beauty.

  72. “Eadler says:
    Ron,
    Thanks for posting this. It shows how unfounded Lewis’s statements impugning the integrity of the officers and members of the APS.

    Lewis seems the type of person who gets off on puffing up his own importance, and has apparently found a receptive and uncritical audience here.”

    Actually, no it doesn’t. The statement from APS is pure bafflegab. Commentary is made in the statement with holes big enough to drive a Brinks truck through. Broad sweeping statements so generalized that they can’t possibly be true, even though some would desperately wish to believe. Spend some time and break down the APS statement and parse it out.

  73. I’m sure the resignation letter and this follow-up were aimed squarely at the membership of the APS. In every organisation there is a silent majority. Here’s hoping Hal’s message gets through to them and prompts a grass roots sea change.

    It’s not just climatology that has forgotten the scientific method and physics itself is full of the same unfalsifiable premises, with lots and lots of pixie dust created to cover the ever widening cracks.

  74. @KenB – sorry, wasn’t intending to suggest I disageed with what Hal’s doing, just that I perceive it to be pointless.

    @ John Andrews – perfectly correct and for obvious reasons. My peer group almost always contract the ‘into’ as ‘in’ though, as I did in my post.

  75. From Scott Covert on November 7, 2010 at 11:21 am:

    I disagree, I believe the climate science model would be more complicated.

    First they would factor out the “piss” as it is too complicated to predict it’s path.

    What’s so complicated? It’s just a liquid with identical properties to water that emerges from a perfectly straight and circular tube at a constant pressure and rate of flow, said tube pointing in a fixed direction, with the flow controlled by an instantaneously-acting on/off valve. This is confirmed as this is the physical model used by the other computer models.

    Secondly they would adjust the wind data to show that it is all blowing north.

    Nah, towards the South Pole if in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole if in the Southern Hemisphere. Standard Hadley cell circulation pattern, although since such a small phenomenon relative to the size of the Earth is being modeled, any East/West air movement from the Coriolis effect can be left out.

    Finally they would run around with their scientific pants about their ankles trying to prove humans are creating the wind.

    They already basically proved that. (C)AGW Science©® states that Anthropogenic Climate Change will lead to more frequent and extreme weather events, thus ones with greater wind speeds. Since the models show a linear relationship, working backwards one finds the y-intercept where with no humans there are much lower “normal” wind speeds. Indeed, current modeling efforts have demonstrated that if there were no humans remaining but conditions existed for further carbon dioxide reductions sequestration, such as new rainforests and open fields left to become forests, essentially having negative humans, the x-intercept would be hit and there would be no wind whatsoever. That point, of course, would be quickly passed as all the winds changed direction thus they would then be possessing negative speed.

    Side Note: More from the Scientific Consensus©® showing the wonders of models (emphasis added):

    There is some evidence that the expansion of the Hadley cells is related to climate change. (…) Both idealised and more realistic climate model experiments show that the Hadley cell expands with increased global mean temperature (perhaps by 2 degrees latitude over the 21st century); this can lead to large changes in precipitation in the latitudes at the edge of the cells. (…)

    Hadley Cell expansion is a clear indicator of climate change, as it can affect earth’s mean temperature in drastic ways. (…)

    Three cheers for Climate Science©®, and its chief defender, the APS!

  76. dkkraft , Darrel C Phillips ,
    Thanks – actually read this last month , but it slipped my mind . Probably should have checked the archives myself . Apologies , and thanks again .

  77. Physics cares not about political posturing. However those who study the physics cannot do what they do without financial support so inevitably the politics creeps in. When we have conflicts like this we are witnessing a battle over rhetorical and ideological positions, not a battle over physics. If the rot is setting in as Dr. Lewis argues, then the APS is nearing the end of its useful life as a physics institution.

  78. Darell C. Phillips says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    P Walker says:
    November 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

    “Can anyone provide a link to Roger Cohen’s deconstruction of the APS response ? It might clarify a few points of contention here . Thanks in advance .”

    For P Walker and others interested:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/13/aps-responds-deconstructing-the-aps-response-to-dr-hal-lewis-resignation/

    Thanks for the link.
    The deconstruction of the APS’ reply by Happer, Cohen and Lewis is a bunch of twaddle.

    They claim:
    This passes over the fact that carbon dioxide absorption lines are nearly saturated.

    The radiation transfer model takes the level of radiation and the shape of the spectral lines into account. The term nearly saturated is immaterial.

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

    The dissenters are displaying ignorance of the science. Susan Solomon has written a paper showing how elevated levels of CO2 is going to last hundreds of years, even after the increase in emissions is stopped. Check out figure 1.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.full.pdf+html

    This paper got a lot of publicity It would be surprising if the dissenters didn’t know about it.

    Cohen has no produced no evidence that there is a scam, which involves intent to deceive, associated with any aspect of climate science or the APS.
    The fact that a small number of scientists disagree with the position of the APS, and that other scientific societiest have adopted similar positions, doesn’t prove that there is intent to deceive. None of the investigations associated with the stolen emails have pointed to any scientific scam or fraud either.

    The charges against unnamed individuals who supposedly have conflicts is hard to debunk because the names are not mentioned. I have traced the first one and find that the individual seems to be Robert Scolow.
    The presence of Scolow , an expert on carbon on the Climate Change Advisory Board of Duetsche Bank is not a conflict of interest. His research career began in 1971. He was appointed to the DB board in 2008. He is advising DB on how to be a good corporate citizen with respect to climate change. Looking at his CV, it is not a significant activity for him, and I doubt that it contributes much to his income. He is currently a member of a dozen boards which tap his expertise in the field of carbon mitigation.

    https://www.princeton.edu/mae/people/faculty/socolow/2010SocolowLongCV.pdf

    In this case the charges of unethical conduct objecting to Scolow’s use of his expertise to help BP do good and be a “carbon neutral” corporation are nonsense. It casts severe doubt on the validity of the other specific charges he makes without naming names. I am not inclined to track them down.

    The quality of this reply is so lame, I don’t see a need to continue dealing with it further.

    These guys are really nobodies who are feeding their egos with the adulation they are getting from the skeptics of AGW, who are impressed that there are scientists with enough courage to go against the AGW juggernaut. They really have no scientific case, so they resort to letters and petitions rather than scientific publications. They really have very few followers among physicists.

    REPLY: Note, because your posts are getting increasingly long and contain a lot of links, they are getting flagged as commercial SPAM and being trapped to the wordpress.com SPAM filter. Save yourself and the mods extra works and shorten your response. – Anthony

  79. Robb876 says:
    (November 7, 2010 at 1:33 am) “Animals are co2 neutral because the co2 they release, originated from the atmosphere and it is a natural part of the carbon cycle”.

    I agree about the basic carbon cycle, and perhaps its semantics but
    I would not call processing carbon by one of the steps in a cycle the same as
    being carbon-neutral. The plants, not the animals, move the carbon back
    out of the atmosphere. Without animals there would be a lot more
    fixed carbon, and a lowering of atmospheric co2 would result; without plants the
    opposite would occur. (Neither process could go on for very long without the
    other, of course). Consider an animal eating tree-bark. Without that animal,
    the carbon in the tree bark would not become co2 for perhaps a few hundred years.
    With the animal it becomes co2 in short order. Now consider coal – in that case the
    carbon was removed from the atmosphere in much the same way as the carbon in the
    tree bark. Its been out of circulation for a few tens of millions of years instead of just
    a few hundred years, but we are now recycling it. Of course, we are changing the
    relative amounts of carbon in the different phases of the cycle, hence ” greenhouse
    concerns” but ultimately it still cycles. Both our fuel-burning activities and the
    ratio of living animals-plus-fungi to living green plants on the planet affect
    the relative partitoning of the amount of carbon in the gasesous and fixed stage.

  80. APS’s Curtis Callan has likely forgotten the physics behind band saturation when he writes: “Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming”. We all know that the CO2 absorption bands are already nearly saturated and that increasing CO2 cannot contribute to significant additional energy absorption. He and his members must be relying on some unknown, phantasmagorical positive feedback mechanism(s) for rising CO2 to have anything other than a minor warming effect or,…. money must be involved somewhere.

    He must also be worried about the shower curtain falling around their Standard Model, which is so full of “patches” that it also has become phantasmagorical.

    But,… if one wants to work one does not go up against ones trade union. Arp is a classic example.

    HURRAH for Dr. Lewis!!!

  81. Jeef says: (November 6, 2010 at 8:05 pm) Us Poms have a phrase for what Hal’s doing.

    Isn’t that INTO the wind, Jeef?

  82. Ross Brisbane says:
    November 7, 2010 at 12:35 am:

    Tawanda W. Johnson
    APS Press Secretary
    202-662-8702
    tjohnson@aps.org

    APS Comments on Harold Lewis’ Resignation of his Society Membership [ … ]

    On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:
    Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
    Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
    The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.

    The first assertion is correct.

    The second assertion is meaningless because the amount of warming is not quantified. In fact, its contribution to global warming is too small to be reliably measured.

    The third assertion is flatly contradicted by numerous peer reviewed studies.

    For the official spokesperson of a professional society of physicists to make such a sloppy and incorrect statement is a reflection of the degeneracy of the APS, from a formerly esteemed scientific organization that has devolved to simply another political NGO pushing their debunked CAGW agenda.

  83. LazyTeenager says: (November 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm) So he resigned throwing out insults freely on the way. So now he is offering gratuitous advice and additional slime […] …speaks of someone very, very confused.
    Robert Morris says: (November 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm) Don’t mean to be rude, but when you resign.. you resign. […] this just looks weak and detracts from the force of his resignation.

    Take a broader view, Lazy and Robert. In his resignation letter, Dr. Harold Lewis set out quite clearly the steps he had taken to be heard within the American Physical Society, and the stone-walling (to be polite to the APS) which had met his legitimate attempts to be listened to and to make his case to the membership.
        Considering the seriousness of his concerns he had no reasonable option but to resign as a means of making his concerns known.
        Publicity did what reason could not. That resignation established a high ground from which he could be heard; and now we are hearing.

  84. BACullen says:
    November 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    “APS’s Curtis Callan has likely forgotten the physics behind band saturation when he writes: “Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming”. We all know that the CO2 absorption bands are already nearly saturated and that increasing CO2 cannot contribute to significant additional energy absorption. He and his members must be relying on some unknown, phantasmagorical positive feedback mechanism(s) for rising CO2 to have anything other than a minor warming effect or,…. money must be involved somewhere.

    He must also be worried about the shower curtain falling around their Standard Model, which is so full of “patches” that it also has become phantasmagorical.

    But,… if one wants to work one does not go up against ones trade union. Arp is a classic example.

    HURRAH for Dr. Lewis!!!”

    It is Lewis et. al. and you who have fallen behind because of a lack of understanding of how CO2 causes global warming. The argument about saturation is only looking at the lowest levels of the atmosphere, where the concentration of CO2 is the highest, and the path length of radiation is the lowest. At the highest elevations, where the upward radiation escapes into space, the absorption is not saturated, and the concentration of CO2 will make a difference. Here is a link which explains why this is wrong.

    [Note: Please make your own arguments. See the site Policy for clarification. ~dbs, mod.]


    As we have seen, in the higher layers where radiation starts to slip through easily, adding some greenhouse gas must warm the Earth regardless of how the absorption works. The changes in the H2O and CO2 absorption lines with pressure and temperature only shift the layers where the main action takes place. You do need to take it all into account to make an exact calculation of the warming. In the 1950s, after good infrared data and digital computers became available, the physicist Gilbert Plass took time off from what seemed like more important research to work through lengthy calculations of the radiation balance, layer by layer in the atmosphere and point by point in the spectrum. He announced that adding CO2 really could cause a degree or so of global warming. Plass’s calculations were too primitive to account for many important effects. (Heat energy moves up not only by radiation but by convection, some radiation is blocked not by gas but by clouds, etc.) But for the few scientists who paid attention, it was now clear that the question was worth studying. Decades more would pass before scientists began to give the public a clear explanation of what was really going on in these calculations, drawing attention to the high, cold layers of the atmosphere. Even today, many popularizers try to explain the greenhouse effect as if the atmosphere were a single sheet of glass.

    This is proof that Lewis and his buddies are ignorant of climate science, and don’t understand the fundamentals. They have no standing to criticize climate science, and are correctly regarded by the APS as crackpots.

  85. The part of this letter I like the most is the way Lewis back-handed or rather, b*tch slapped, Cullen by thanking him for keeping the ad homs to a minimum. I almost fell off my chair when I read that. It was a very nice take on the concept of “damning someone with faint praise”.

    Well played indeed Dr. Lewis!

  86. Smokey says:
    November 7, 2010 at 7:54 p

    Your statement in the above post about the dwell time of CO2 not being hundreds of years is dead wrong.

    This is proven by Susan Solomon’s paper in which she shows that CO2, which will be at high levels in the atmosphere due to imbalances created by human emissions at current rates over the course of a century, will take many hundreds of years to clear out of the atmosphere.
    See the link to her paper in the PNAS proceedings that I have given in above.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/06/another-letter-from-hal-lewis-to-the-american-physical-society/#comment-525173

  87. eadler, your arguments assume that nothing else happens. But it may. More clouds may form and reflect radiation back to space. More plants may grow and absorb CO2. The world is a more complex place than present models can know.

  88. To echo BA Cullen, “Hurrah for Dr Lewis!”.
    Dr Lewis’s latest missive has a superbly erudite and gentlemanly flavour which is almost out of fashion in this age of brisk rudeness. Despite the erudition and the gentlemanly manner, Dr Lewis’s intent is very obviously steeled by his honesty, his knowledge of physics and his disgust at the behaviour of the officers of the professional association that he graced with his membership for so many decades.

  89. eadler;
    [snip] As far as Solomon’s nonsense goes, it is well-known, all right: for its preposterous conclusions (1,000 yr. dwell time, irreversable changes, yada yada) following from its googy computer model parametrized assumptions (fixed unrecycling base of CO2, ignoring of daily, month, annual fluctuations, etc.).
    As summarized here: http://www.co2science.org/articles/V12/N31/EDIT.php

    Sundquist (1985) compiled a large number of measured RTs of CO2 found by different methods. The list, containing RTs for both 12CO2 and 14CO2, was expanded by Segalstad (1998), showing a total range for all reported RTs from 1 to 15 years, with most RT values ranging from 5 to 15 years. Essenhigh (2009) emphasizes that this list of measured values of RT compares well with his calculated RT of 5 years (atmospheric bulk 12CO2) and ~16 years (atmospheric trace 14CO2). Furthermore he points out that the annual oscillations in the measured atmospheric CO2 levels would be impossible without a short atmospheric residence time for the CO2 molecules.

    Essenhigh (2009) suggests that the difference in atmospheric CO2 residence times between the gaseous molecules 12CO2 and 14CO2 may be due to differences in the kinetic absorption and/or dissolution rates of the two different gas molecules.

    With such short residence times for atmospheric CO2, Essenhigh (2009) correctly points out that it is impossible for the anthropogenic combustion supply of CO2 to cause the given rise in atmospheric CO2. Consequently, a rising atmospheric CO2 concentration must be natural. This conclusion accords with measurements of 13C/12C carbon isotopes in atmospheric CO2, which show a maximum of 4% anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere (including any biogenic CO2), with 96% of the atmospheric CO2 being isotopically indistinguishable from “natural” inorganic CO2 exchanged with and degassed from the ocean, and degassed from volcanoes and the Earth’s interior (Segalstad, 1992).

    So why is the correct estimate of the atmospheric residence time of CO2 so important? The IPCC has constructed an artificial model where they claim that the natural CO2 input/output is in static balance, and that all CO2 additions from anthropogenic carbon combustion being added to the atmospheric pool will stay there almost indefinitely. This means that with an anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 residence time of 50 – 200 years (Houghton, 1990) or near infinite (Solomon et al., 2009), there is still a 50% error (nicknamed the “missing sink”) in the IPCC’s model, because the measured rise in the atmospheric CO2 level is just half of that expected from the amount of anthropogenic CO2 supplied to the atmosphere; and carbon isotope measurements invalidate the IPCC’s model (Segalstad, 1992; Segalstad, 1998).

    The correct evaluation of the CO2 residence time — giving values of about 5 years for the bulk of the atmospheric CO2 molecules, as per Essenhigh’s (2009) reasoning and numerous measurements with different methods — tells us that the real world’s CO2 is part of a dynamic (i.e. non-static) system, where about one fifth of the atmospheric CO2 pool is exchanged every year between different sources and sinks, due to relatively fast equilibria and temperature-dependent CO2 partitioning governed by the chemical Henry’s Law (Segalstad 1992; Segalstad, 1996; Segalstad, 1998).

  90. Heh. Edit: “googy computer model” ==>”goofy computer model”.
    Note to self: Preview is your friend!

  91. Brian H,
    You are confusing the residence time of an individual CO2 molecule in the air, with the dwell time meant by the APS letter. The fact that the oceans and land emit and absorb large amounts of CO2 in a year, doesn’t mean that high concentrations won’t last in the atmosphere for a long time.

    Mathematically the average residence time of a molecule in the atmosphere is given by Rtm= Na/AR, where Rtm is the residence time of a molecule, Na is the number of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, and AR is the absorption rate of CO2 molecules by land and oceans.
    The net annual change in the number of molecules of CO2 in the atmosphere is given by
    CN= ER-AR, where ER is the emission rate.
    CN determines the time it takes for high concentrations of CO2 to reduce, which is what is meant by the “dwell time for CO2 in the atmosphere”.

    If the temperature of the ocean and the land is high, the absorption rate of CO2 by land and oceans, AR, will not increase enough above the emission rate , to reduce the high concentration quickly. This is what Solomon’s paper shows.

    Whether Susan Solomon’s modelling is correct or not is not the issue.
    The rebuttal by Cohen and et al confuses two obviously different variables residence time for an individual moleculeconcept, and the dwell time of high concentrations. This is basic stuff that a high school student should be able to understand. The fact that Lewis, Segalstadt and their supporters are confused about it, and are confusing their followers about this is highly disturbing, and would appear to be evidence of incompetence or a calculated campaign of disinformation.

    These people should know better.
    The likeliest explanation for this phenomenon is psychological in origin, a combination of the Dunning Kruger effect and avoidance of cognitive dissonance.

  92. Robert Morris says:
    November 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Don’t mean to be rude, but when you resign.. you resign. If he loves the APS that much he was silly to leave it, otherwise he should move on with his life – this just looks weak and detracts from the force of his resignation.

    In fact, its a bit embarrassing like reading a dumped teenager’s letter to their erstwhile love interest.

    Be rude, but also answer this: Did Hal’s letter of resignation contain any ad hominen attacks or was it dead center on the issues?

    That’s where we differ.

  93. There is nothing to be worried about: Expected answers. As Desmond Morris, the author of “The Naked Ape” would tell us: Those traits of social grooming, mutual caressing, self indulgence are the common characteristics of apes’ societies behavior, where the “egregore” (Greek: egrêgorein, to watch, “an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people”), i.e. the predominance of a group soul, by contrast to individual intelligence, behavior or reasoning. In other words, la “raison d’etre” of weak individuals associating in a bigger body which can protect them from the surrounding environment (in this case of the danger implied by free thinking individual “skeptics”.

  94. It pleased me however, when I read your response, to find a very minimum of ad hominem attacks, confined mostly to apparently irresistible eruptions of “Lewis is a liar.” (“His statements are all false” is the equivalent.)

    Please educate yourself on what argumentum ad hominem actually means. “His statements are false” is not an ad hominem attack, even if your statements are not actually false. It is only ad hominem if they base their argument on your personal characteristics, which they did not do.

    Perhaps some examples would help?
    * Not ad hominem: “His statements are false.”
    * Also not ad hominem: “His statements are false because they are contradicted by these facts.”
    * Still not ad hominem: “His statements are false. Also, he is a Communist.”
    * Ad hominem: “His statements are false because he is a Communist.”

    Wikipedia can give you many more examples. BTW, “your statements are false because you remind me of a used-car salesman” is ad hominem.

  95. So can a comment be regarded as an “ad hominem” argument if it is aimed at an anonymous “debater” ?

    Since such an argument would not be referring to the personal characteristics of any known source; it could hardly be regarded as ad hominem !

  96. RockyRoad says:

    Did Hal’s letter of resignation contain any ad hominen attacks?

    That’s a good question, so I looked again at Dr. Lewis’s resignation letter. While it contains many insults (“The giants no longer walk the earth,” “pseudoscientific fraud,” “apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch,” “pompous and asinine advice,” etc.), it doesn’t make much attempt to defend any of its statements or opinions. With no logical argument, there can be no logical fallacies.

    Dr. Lewis does strongly imply that AGW theory is unreliable merely because lots of money has been invested in its research. This would indeed be an argumentum ad hominem, but it’s not stated explicitly and he backpedals just enough (“this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives”) to avoid the label, in my opinion.

    George E. Smith says:

    So can a comment be regarded as an “ad hominem” argument if it is aimed at an anonymous “debater” ?

    Of course it can. Anonymity itself can be (and often is on this site) disparaged as a reason to ignore an opponent. So let me add another example to the list:

    * Ad hominem: “Your argument is invalid because you are posting anonymously.”

  97. John Game – Thanks for saying so eloquently what I have been thinking. Using “Carbon” as shorthand for CO2 is a “meme” as the say in the media that is simultaneously misleading, manipulative and wrong. It’s like saying Sodium when you really mean Sodium Chloride (actually, the health police have been making that mistake for years now that I think about it).
    Robb876 – As I am sure you aware, virtually all the carbon in “fossil fuels” was probably in the atmosphere before it was absorbed by the plants and algae now “fossilized” (another inaccurate expression in my book), so even they are technically “carbon neutral” – it’s just the time lag and release rate that is different. That is of course unless you believe in the theory of abiogenic petroleum.

  98. Enneagram says:
    November 8, 2010 at 7:43 am

    “There is nothing to be worried about: Expected answers. As Desmond Morris, the author of “The Naked Ape” would tell us: Those traits of social grooming, mutual caressing, self indulgence are the common characteristics of apes’ societies behavior, where the “egregore” (Greek: egrêgorein, to watch, “an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people”), i.e. the predominance of a group soul, by contrast to individual intelligence, behavior or reasoning. In other words, la “raison d’etre” of weak individuals associating in a bigger body which can protect them from the surrounding environment (in this case of the danger implied by free thinking individual “skeptics”.”

    [Snip. Gratuitous insult. ~dbs, mod.]

  99. Enneagram says:
    November 8, 2010 at 7:43 am

    “There is nothing to be worried about: Expected answers. As Desmond Morris, the author of “The Naked Ape” would tell us: Those traits of social grooming, mutual caressing, self indulgence are the common characteristics of apes’ societies behavior, where the “egregore” (Greek: egrêgorein, to watch, “an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people”), i.e. the predominance of a group soul, by contrast to individual intelligence, behavior or reasoning. In other words, la “raison d’etre” of weak individuals associating in a bigger body which can protect them from the surrounding environment (in this case of the danger implied by free thinking individual “skeptics”.”

    Theoretical arguments such as this are weak argument best. The same could be said of the reasons motivating AGW skeptics to flock at WUWT.

    The fact that scientists who accept AGW as a correct theory are in the overwhelming majority doesn’t prove that they are wrong.

    REPLY: And Eric, consensus proves nothing in science either. Plate techtonics showed just how flawed scientific “consensus” can be. – Anthony

  100. REPLY: And Eric, consensus proves nothing in science either. Plate techtonics showed just how flawed scientific “consensus” can be. – Anthony

    I agree. . Some scientific ideas that gained general acceptance were eventually overthrown. This was especially true in the early days of science, when careful experimental evidence was not generally demanded.

    There is a lot of experimental evidence and observations to support AGW at present, and the overwhelming majority of researchers in the field believe that humans are heating the planet significantly. Observations show that less long wave radiation was leaving the atmosphere in 1996 than in 1972, and the major changes were in the absorption lines of CO2, CH4 and O3.

    The mere fact of concsensus does not definitively rule out the possibility that this is wrong, but it does put the burden of proof on the opponents.

  101. I am still waiting for Lewis to explain EXACTLY why he believes AGW is a hoax. And if he would be so kind, what climate science credentials he has. From what I understand, he is an administrator who hasn’t published any research — of any kind — in 40 years.

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