AGU President on Gleick's "shocking fall from grace": "His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives."

Mike McPhaden

Mike McPhaden President, AGU

AGU President’s message

We must remain committed to scientific integrity

27 February 2012

During the third week of February our global community of Earth and space scientists witnessed the shocking fall from grace of an accomplished AGU member who betrayed the principles of scientific integrity. In doing so he compromised AGU’s credibility as a scientific society, weakened the public’s trust in scientists, and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.

Peter Gleick resigned as chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics on 16 February, prior to admitting in a blog post that he obtained documents from the Heartland Institute under false pretenses. His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives. It is a tragedy that requires us to stop and reflect on what we value as scientists and how we want to be perceived by the public. Here are a few things that come immediately to mind:

  • The success of the scientific enterprise depends on intellectual rigor, truthfulness, and integrity on the part of everyone involved. The vast majority of scientists uphold these values every day in their work. That’s why opinion polls show that public trust in scientists is among the highest of all professions. Public trust is essential because it provides the foundation for society’s willingness to invest in scientific exploration and discovery. It is the responsibility of every scientist to safeguard that trust.
  • As a community of scientists, we must hold each other to the highest ethical standards. This is why AGU established its Task Force on Scientific Ethics, in 2011, to review and update existing policies and procedures for dealing with scientific misconduct. Long before the Heartland incident, we recognized the need to have clear and broad principles and procedures that expressed the value of scientific integrity and ethics embodied in our new strategic plan. More than ever, AGU needs a clear set of guidelines that encompasses the full range of scientific activities our members engage in. The task force, now under the leadership of Linda Gundersen, director of the Office of Science Quality and Integrity at the U.S. Geological Survey, will complete its work with a renewed sense of urgency in view of recent events. Union leadership will ensure that these standards of ethical conduct are widely communicated to the membership and that they become an integral part of AGU’s culture.
  • All of this must be done with an eye to the future and to nurturing the next generation of Earth and space scientists. Today’s students must learn, especially through the example of senior scientists, that adherence to high standards of scientific integrity applies in all that we do: from research practices, to peer-reviewed publications, to interactions with colleagues, and to engaging with the public and policy makers. The lofty goal we set for ourselves of providing benefit to society through our research can be achieved only if we pursue our mission with the utmost honesty, transparency, and rigor.

This has been one of the most trying times for me as president of AGU, as it has been for many AGU volunteer leaders, members, and staff. How different it is than celebrating the news of a new discovery or a unique scholarly achievement. These rare and sad occasions remind us that our actions reverberate through a global scientific community and that we must remain committed as individuals and as a society to the highest standards of scientific integrity in the pursuit of our goals.

Mike McPhaden

from a tip received via email h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard

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

UPDATE: 4:10PM 2/27  In related news, the author of The Ethics of Climate Change, James Garvey has written a defense article on Peter Gleick at the Guardian.  saying:

Was Gleick right to lie to expose Heartland and maybe stop it from causing further delay to action on climate change? If his lie has good effects overall – if those who take Heartland’s money to push scepticism are dismissed as shills, if donors pull funding after being exposed in the press – then perhaps on balance he did the right thing.

Bishop Hill points out the Met Office Scientist that tell Garvey and the Guardian to basically go stuff it:

This comment from the Guardian thread:

Mr Garvey

I am a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre and also a lead author with the IPCC (NB. the opinions I express here are my own though – I am just telling you that for context).

I would ask you to refrain from bringing my profession into disrepute by advocating that we act unethically. We already have enough people accusing us, completely incorrectly, of being frauds, green / left-wing activists or government puppets. A rabble-rousing journalist such as yourself telling us that we should “fight dirty” does not help our reputation at all. “Fighting dirty” will never be justified no matter what tactics have been used to discredit us in the past.

Inflammatory remarks such as yours will only serve to further aggravate the so-called “climate wars”. People’s reputations are already being damaged, and we know that some climate scientists get highly distasteful and upsetting mail through no fault of their own. If people like you continue to stir things up further, it is only a matter of time before somebody actually gets hurt, or worse.

Please keep your advice to yourself, we can do without it thank you very much.

Richard Betts (Prof)

Indeed. Mr. Garvey, with AGU’s president saying “His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives.” please do shut up. – Anthony Watts

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Leif: What do you think about this Gleick affarr????

Where was all this condemnation of improper activities displayed in the Climategate emails?

Jeremy

…and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.

Hrumph, in spite of their recognition of how bad Gleicks actions were they still seem to think it’s a game of politics and public relations. Whence did their skepticism of their own viewpoints become so lost?

Jay Davis

When I got to “and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.” at the end of the first paragraph, McPhaden blew it as far as I’m concerned. That statement alone shows he has absolutely no interest in any scientific debate with regards to “climate change”. To him, the science is settled.

It’d be far better if they set for themselves a loftier goal, “improving the understanding of the world” rather than “providing benefit to society”. And that’d free them from public policy considerations.

“In doing so he compromised AGU’s credibility as a scientific society, weakened the public’s trust in scientists, and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.”
I agree with him completely. He should be more specific : Even though he alludes to Gleick ‘s actions fueling the firestorm, he allows the CAGW believers to interpret the inverse.
He weasels away from the argument, which is the size and direction of the feedbacks, and stays with the uncontested meme that the climate is changing.
Another non-scientific, political scientist, trying to maintain his cushy job.

Chris B

“seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.”
Reality ? Really. When has the climate stayed the same.
There should be a separation of science and religion.

Wise words from Mr.McPhaden.
Here’s hoping that some of his members will subject the Hockey Stick to due inquiry and publicly refute it if they find it lacking. Dissenting voices need to be as loud as those of the Cause.

Markus Fitzhenry

‘fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.’
Unproductive it is to sceptical of the settled science. This fellows scientific ethics are as bad as Gleicks. Astonishing.

Alan Wilkinson

“The lofty goal we set for ourselves of providing benefit to society through our research can be achieved only if we pursue our mission with the utmost honesty, transparency, and rigor.”
So how about starting with revising the AGU’s position statement on climate change?

“As a community of scientists, we must hold each other to the highest ethical standards.”
Right. Get Mann to release all that has been lawfully required of him as a first step.
Then let’s take it from there.

Markus Fitzhenry

”feet2thefire says:
February 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm
Where was all this condemnation of improper activities displayed in the Climategate emails?”
T^here was plenty of that from the warmist side, only it seems the Climategate emails were a proper cause for the whistleblower, whoever it was.

Jenn Oates

Ah, it seems like I’m not the only one who was annoyed by the climate change comment…as if AGW skeptics deny that climate changes, period. Way to frame the debate Mr. McPhaden.

Here’s something worth consideration.
Are we being blindsided by all of the CAGW malarkey whilst ignoring the bigger picture?
http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/forget-climate-change-we-must-focus-on-the-real-issue/

johnnythelowery says:
February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm
What do you think about this Gleick affair????
“His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives.”

GeologyJim

OK, taken at face value, this statement from Dr McPhaden is an affirmative step in the right direction. I applaud him for his directness, timeliness, and the clarity of his language.
What I’d like to further read is “Therefore, AGU will immediately cease all educational/advocacy/lobbying actions, archive all website public-outreach materials, and undertake a thorough review of the scientific basis of all such materials. To insure transparency and robust debate, AGU will actively solicit input, comment, and criticism from scientific voices that have expressed reservation about past statements or summaries by AGU. The truth can only be found by frank, open debate of the facts, hypotheses, data quality, computer models, statistical tests, and attribution analyses in the context of the geological record of climate change over (at a minimum) the last 500,000 years”
Something like that would be .. .. .. .. significant.

Eric (skeptic)

“betrayed the principles of scientific integrity”
What is “scientific integrity”? He lied in an email to Heartland, that speaks to integrity, but not science. Gleick is being tossed under the bus because he is inconvenient now, the poll numbers are against him.

Matthew

@Markus Fitzhenry
@feet2thefire
So you’re saying that the equivalent situation applies to a private organization operating from donations, and a public organization subsisting on taxpayer dollars (and thus subject to FOIA) which was deliberately evading its obligations under the law?
Just hoping you can clarify your stances.

Mr Green Genes

Jay Davis says:
February 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm
==========================
With respect, I disagree. I think one thing most people can agree on is that the Earth’s climate IS changing – always has, always will. It seems to me that the “firestorm” relates to whether, and to what extent, it is caused by man. My personal view is that any anthropogenic effects are minor in comparison with natural variations and there is nothing catastrophic about any of it.
If I have misinterpreted your comment, I apologise.

Eric in NC

“His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives. ”
So, we are to conclude that Glieck’s motives, which were to discredit the HI
and its supporters for expressing views not within the confines of The Cause,
were acceptable to the AGU? A very telling statement.

Pat Frank

Here’s the other give-away: “His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives (my bold)”
That is, the motives were good, although the practice was wrong. What were Peter Gleick’s motives? Well, he told us. They were his, “frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.
Apparently Mike McPhaden agrees with Peter Gleick’s view. Somehow, all the violations of FOIA, the bullying of journal editors, the suppressing of disconfirming papers and evidence, the attacks on reputations and character assassinations levied against honest scientists persuaded by different evidence, the outright lies entered into the IPCC ARs, the outright lies in which MBH98/99 are rooted, the blatant rigging of data — all by AGW-promoting scientists, all in public view, and all in exact opposition to Peter Gleick’s rendition of the circumstance — have produced in Mike McPhaden’s breast a sympathy for the motives of Peter Gleick.
Where’s the “intellectual rigor, truthfulness, and integrity” in that, Mike?

‘Pompous oaf’, is my first reaction. I hope to find a more moderate stance upon a second reading, but I fear my current prior for the AGU is so dismal that the most generous interpretation I could manage for this announcement will not shift my position much.

“weakened the public’s trust in scientists”
I dare say.

“transgression” = “getting caught with it all hanging out”

Rosco

As someone who was actively involved in environmental law enforcement I demand this person be dismissed from his position.
I would certainly have been dismissed if I had obtained evidence by fraud and finding little of significance in the material proceded to manufacture some – hell I would have been jailed as a corrupt public servant as well as dismissed.
Dismissal and disgrace is the minimu justice demands for this fraud.

John A. Fleming

McPhaden has pulled a Lord Dorwin. He has not actually committed the AGU to do anything now, nor has he committed the AGU to do anything after the Ethics committee issues its report. So he’s the guy in charge, and he’s powerless. His responsibility must be to keep the AGW gravy train on the track, that all these ideological debates are threatening.
It’s not enough to not condone it, That’s wet-noodle whipping. It’s pretty clear that this boys and girls club will not take an active role in the discipline of its members.

richard M

“….In doing so he compromised AGU’s credibility as a scientific society, weakened the public’s trust in scientists, and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s ”
Sigh,… he couldn’t just leave it at the utter lack of integrity and deliberate malfeasance on Gleick’s part but just had to slip in a kind of backhanded defense anyway?

Thomas

“His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives.”
So, can I read into this statement that McPhaden basically *approves* of the motives involved in the phishing attack, but finds the tactics unsavory? If Gleick had attempted to stifle debate by exposing the names of the board and big donors by actually attending the meeting and writing down their names, THEN it would have been OK?
Why did he feel it necessary to even mention motives? So he wouldn’t hurt Gleick’s feelings?
These are not the actions of people who have the facts on their side.

Joachim Seifert

Wonderful sounding WORDS of Mr. McPhaden…..but ACTION is what counts…..
The Warmists had their chance with Gleick, has the Chair now been awarded to a
firm, stout Skeptic?
Its time, the skeptics gain an appropriate seat…. and why was Linda Gunderson
selected in a huffing speed?
Who knows, whether she represent us, the honest, upright skeptics….
Or is she another Like of the Gleick but less visible? Somebody should
know? Only a question….
JS

JJ

When is AGU going to address its own blatantly obvious failing in this matter? Specifically that they selected a well known, virulent ideologue to chair their “task force on ethics and integrity”?
That’s like picking the fattest cop on the force to guard the donuts.

mkelly

I saw nothing about Dr. G having his membership revoked. Mr. McFadden fails as a leader.

Allen

Yeah, it was all good until I reached THIS PART: “and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.” This is code for “the AGU still believes that climate change is bad and that humans can do something about it”.
AGU – FAIL.

cui bono

“..produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.”
Well, you lot started it.

Gary Hladik

Mike McPhaden’s statement illustrates with devastating clarity how an unethical fanatic became chair of AGU’s “Task Force on Scientific Ethics”, and why Gleick’s successor is unlikely to be an improvement.

“His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives” seems, in itself, like an unequivocal condemnation to me. He doesn’t otherwise describe or praise motive – something of a mitigation trotted out by various apologists – he says that whatever the motive was, it cannot be a balancing factor.
I’m can’t really see any other interpretation and I applaud him for that much at least.

Kasuha

The only thing I don’t understand is, what took them so long. Regardless what they’re really planning, this is the only reasonable response they could have had to the issue.
I have a feeling Gleick’s going to become very, very alone.

Allen

What cui bono said at 3:59pm. Eventually the public sniffs out ideology tarted up as “science”. What an ironic statement by the AGU president.

sHx

Gleick wasn’t just an ordinary AGU member; he was the Chair of their effing ethics and integrity panel.
He was in a position to determine AGU’s standards for ethics and integrity.
Had it been any other AGU member committing the wrongdoing against the Heartland, Gleick would have been in a position to whitewash the unethical conduct and protect the culprit.
Why hasn’t Gleick been notified of an AGU disciplinary hearing anyway? Is it because the AGU officials don’t want to lose more credibility in the public opinion?

mrsean2k says:
February 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm
“His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives” seems, in itself, like an unequivocal condemnation to me. He doesn’t otherwise describe or praise motive – something of a mitigation trotted out by various apologists – he says that whatever the motive was, it cannot be a balancing factor.
I’m can’t really see any other interpretation and I applaud him for that much at least.

I’ll agree with this.

Al Gored

Well, I think that this – “His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives” – is classic weasel wording. To make it unweasel, the “regardless of his motives” needs to be deleted because it does indeed imply that such transgression could be condoned for the right motive.
This is Plato’s Noble Lie theme, which only applies to scenarios where the objective is unequivocally ‘good’ and this motive, built on lies, deception, and another agenda, cannot be called ‘good’ by anyone other than the climatutes who have benefited from it.
Nice try Mike. Just cut the crap and bring back real ethics to the AGU, if that is possible in the New
Lysenko Era.

theduke

Leif Svalgaard: “His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives.”
I found that offensive. Why not just say, “His transgression must be condemned. Those who would condone it are enemies of science.” Fact is that many whose position on AGW parallels that of the AGU and Gleick are condoning his transgression and celebrating his motives.
He calls it a “tragedy.” It wasn’t a “tragedy.” It was a crime.
Then he wallows in self-pity talking about this being “one of his most trying times as president of AGU,” and how it represents a “rare and sad” occasion.
Finally he says after discussing how they will react: “Union leadership will ensure that these standards of ethical conduct are widely communicated to the membership and that they become an integral part of AGU’s culture.” Which leads to the question, “Why aren’t they already?”
I respect you, but I think the statement is weak. The fact that Gleick didn’t show remorse or apologize to those he injured and that he continues to conceal the full story required strong, clear condemnation from McPhaden.

visceralrebellion

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Genghis

As the Chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics, Peter Gleick personified the AGU’s ethics or more accurately the lack thereof.
I have no idea how AGU can regain any semblance of being an ethical organization after this incident. Mike McPhaden’s resignation would be a good first step in the systematic house cleaning that has to occur.

just more legal-department approved weasel words. Move along, nothing to see here.

kwik

“and produced fresh fuel for the unproductive and seemingly endless ideological firestorm surrounding the reality of the Earth’s changing climate.”
Aha, another High Priest of the Church of CAGW.

Garry

“Union leadership will ensure that these standards of ethical conduct are widely communicated to the membership and that they become an integral part of AGU’s culture.”
Not a member of AGU, but if I were I’d be royally PO’d at this statement.
Rhetorically, why does the leadership have to “ensure that these standards of ethical conduct are widely communicated”? Are they not already? Doesn’t the AGU membership naturally adhere to ethical standards? Does the leadership really need to “communicate” those standards? Aren’t those already taught in high school and university science programs? Further, are ethical standards not already an “integral part of AGU’s culture”?
Much is implied by that sentence, and it leaves one wondering what the heck is going on within the leadership of the AGU. What must they be thinking?
Oh yeah. Peter Gleick was an AGU leader, and he was selected by the other AGU leaders. So I can think of one really, really good place to start with the assessments and the findings by the Task Force on Scientific Ethics. And it ain’t the membership.
Prediction: more declining membership.

dp

McPhaden’s response is patently passive and appears to be the prequel to finally doing nothing, mimicking UEA and Penn State.

Jay Davis

Mr. Green Genes, when McPhaden writes “ideological firestorm”, he takes the debate out of the scientific realm and into the political realm. There is no place for “ideology” in science. When you let your ideology influence your work, especially to the extent the so-called “climate scientists” have done, then you are not doing science.

David Ball

“What a solid deal. He was only driven to church on sunday by the little old lady that owned him.”

Doug Allen

It’s time to revisit the Gleick “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert” at Amazon and ask if it wasn’t already obvious then, that Peter Gleick was unsuitable to chair an ethics committee. For those who find the CAGW narrative plausible, wasn’t Glieck already hurting his and your cause? For those who find the CAGW narrative implausible, wasn’t Glieck just one more of those who put cause above science?