Guest post by Warren S. Warren
A reply to Roger Cohen from a fellow Executive Committee member
In a recent posting on your web site, Roger Cohen, who was on the Organizing Committee for the APS Topical Group on the Physics of Climate and just resigned from the Executive Committee, posted his resignation letter with an expanded “explanation”. As a member of both committees, I consider his letter to be a direct attack on my integrity, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Since I have been involved in organizing the Topical Group from the beginning, my views on climate change are relevant. I have never published in that field (my background is chemical physics, and research focus is on medical imaging) and I am not an advocate for either “side” in this discussion. But I could make the same statement about virtually everyone else involved on those committees. I don’t buy the arguments that only “experts on climate change” can understand the data and draw conclusions-any more than I would accept the same argument about astrology or homeopathic medicine. I can say that I am appalled by the highly unscientific and highly unprofessional way I see many prominent individuals, on both sides of this discussion, behave in public. For example, every tiny bit of new noisy data seems to get blown up into “conclusive evidence” one way or the other-ignoring what Judith Curry is fond of calling the uncertainty monster that clearly has not been tamed. I also feel that the APS statement on climate change (with the word “incontrovertible”) was very ill-advised, but the controversy focused on one badly-chosen word has harmed science by discouraging other scientific organizations from helping to sort wheat from chaff in this field. Finally, I think formation of the Topical Group on the Physics of Climate is a very positive step, and has the potential to dramatically improve the scientific discourse in this field.
In Roger’s post on this website, he presented himself as the voice of sanity in a biased group. That is certainly not the way I remember our interactions on that committee. But I will not try to tell stories; instead, I will let him speak for himself. Start with his consulting work on carbon remediation:
(and just in case he gets that taken down, here is a copy: https://www.dropbox.com/s/nu1o1ksyhc5u891/roger-cohen.htm)
and then reconcile this viewpoint with what he expressed in the Wall Street Journal:
Many other people have trouble speaking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. I will not miss him on the Executive Committee.
Much more importantly, the GPC Executive Committee and Program Committee has put together an extremely balanced set of speakers for the March 2013 meeting, including several Roger suggested. As I am not the chair, I do not feel it is my place to reveal the program, but I think nobody will look at the set of speakers at the March meeting and find them unbalanced. In addition, absolutely any APS member can submit an abstract, which by APS bylaws will be accepted for presentation.
Bottom line: if you are interested in climate science, as divorced from climate policy, and an American Physical Society member, GPC is a natural home for you and your input is welcome.
NOTE: I agree with his views on uncertainty and the elevation of weather noise to “conclusive evidence” but I don’t agree with Mr. Warren’s characterizations of Mr. Cohen. But, in the interest of fairness I have allowed this rebuttal, even though he has used a personal cheap shot about “speaking out of both sides of their mouth”. We’ll hold judgement on the speakers list for March 2013 until we see it. At that time it can be determined how balanced it is. – Anthony
UPDATE: a comment from APS see below.
Submitted on 2012/10/25 at 8:05 am
Dear Mr. Watts,
The trademarked APS logo must be removed from this site because the American Physical Society did not give permission for its use. Furthermore, the headline, “The APS Topical Group on the Physics of Climate, reply to:” should be removed because it is misleading. It wrongly implies an official APS endorsement of the reply to Mr. Cohen’s resignation.
Tawanda W. Johnson
American Physical Society
REPLY: Dear Ms. Johnson. The logo is from Wikipedia, and it is used here (like many other content items from Wikipedia) under the exception for fair use. Under fair use, I do not require permission from APS to use the logo that is at Wikipedia. They state:
Use of the logo in the article complies with Wikipedia non-free content policy, logo guidelines, and fair use under United States copyright law as described above.
If you wish to take the issue up with them, and if you are successful in having them remove it from Wikipedia I will follow suit. Bear also in mind that this logo comes up in WordPress automatically in the Zemanta free “cleared” content available to thousands of WordPress users. So you’ll also have to take the issue up with WordPress.com to get the hundreds and perhaps thousands of other uses of the logo also removed.
Until such time, for my part to ensure no unsuspecting reader might be influenced by the logo as you suggest, I’ll put the comment and my response in the main body of the article. – Anthony