The Baker Institute Climate Embarrassment

Guest essay by Rob Bradley

Rice’s Baker Institute Climate Embarrassment (Sass’s ad hominem response to Rep. Smith)

“The Baker Institute has some truing up to do in the multi-disciplinary field of climate change. Playing to its strengths, Rice University and Baker should host its third climate conference, titled something like ‘New Developments in the Physical Science of Climate Change.’

[Professor] Ronald Sass in his recent op-ed called for an ‘open, national debate on climate change.’ May Rice University and the Baker Institute lead the way.”

The Houston Chronicle this week ran opposing opinion-page editorials on the climate-change issue, one by Lamar Smith of the U.S. House of Representatives and the other by Ronald Sass, Fellow in Global Climate Change at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Politician Smith politely makes multi-disciplinary arguments assuming the best intentions of his opponents. Academic Sass goes ad hominem on the Keystone XL pipeline issue and refers vaguely to a scientific consensus for his position.

This, unfortunately, is not atypical. Under gatekeeper Neal Lane, the Baker Institute has refused to allow fair, open debate about natural versus anthropogenic climate forces and has championed sky-is-falling government activism. For example, Lane/Baker:

  1. Killed publication of the proceedings of a fair climate-change conference held in 2000 with, for example, Patrick Michaels and James Hansen participating;
  2. Held a high-priced, widely publicized, assume-alarmist-science conference in 2008, Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate Change, featuring John Kerry and John Holdren on the political side.
  3. Refused to host a climate forum/debate in 2010 between Gerald North (Texas A&M) and Richard Lindzen (MIT), which ended up being co-sponsored by Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability and the Center for the Study of Environment and Society.

More here, along with comments:

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May 31, 2013 12:10 pm

Social “Sciences” ….

Jack Simmons
May 31, 2013 12:21 pm

Sad, sad, sad.
When will there be rational discussion from the alarmist bench?

May 31, 2013 12:24 pm

I think the tone of the two letters is about even. They both had a couple sentences that raised an eyebrow.
Sass is a lot nicer than most people in the sciences would be when addressing the person who wants direct political control over the NSF.

May 31, 2013 12:31 pm

Climate Scientist Professor Judith Curry Defends Claims made by Texas Representative Lamar Smith, Criticizing Anti Science Climate Alarmists at Think Progress
“These criticisms of Rep. Smith’s op-ed make Rep. Smith look like more of a defender of science than his critics, which is not a good place for these critics to be.”

Mike jarosz
May 31, 2013 12:43 pm

There will never be an honest debate about climate change. The powerful people(governments) controlling the IPCC will not allow that to happen. Politicians are in control of the scientists in the same way the gangsters were in control of the police. Follow the money.

May 31, 2013 12:46 pm

I attended the Petroleum Club luncheon and the evening Rice University versions of the great Lindzen/North debates in Jan 2010. Most disturbing at these well attended events was the North demand that there be no visual aids and no mention of the Nov 2009 “stolen” Climategate emails. The result of trying to present science with no charts, graphs or tables was two hours of hand waving, twice in the same day. There have been no repeat performances in Houston during the last three years, so we are left with Clint Eastwood interviewing a chair type moment, in lieu of science debate.

May 31, 2013 12:48 pm

There is a social disease in America where wealthy conservatives make a lot of money, start a foundation or institute or school, and then have their money and creation hijacked by alarmists dressed up as academics who fritter away the conservative’s money and creation on lefty causes.

May 31, 2013 1:25 pm

Here is a copy of an E-mail I sent to Dr Sass yesterday – so far no reply.
From Dr Norman Page
I saw your piece in the Chronicle this morning.I find myself genuinely puzzled when scientists with your outstanding qualifications continue to support the CAGW meme.
There has been no net warming since 1997 with CO2 up over 8%. The SSTs show a cooling trend since 2003.
The problem with the IPCC- MetOffice Climate models is that, apart from the egregious structural errors in the specific models, (assuming that CO2 is the main driver when it clearly follows temperature and adding water vapour as a feedback onto CO2 to increase the sensitivity) climate science is so complex that the modelling approach is inherently incapable of providing useful forecasts for several reasons -for starters the difficulty of specifying the initial conditions with sufficient precision. All the IPCC model projections and the impact studies and government policies which depend on them are a total waste of time and money. The only useful approach is to perform power spectrum and wavelet analysis on the temperature and possible climate driver time series to find patterns of repeating periodicities and project them forward. When this is done it is apparent that the earth entered a cooling phase in 2003-4 which will likely last for 20 more years and perhaps for several hundred years beyond that. For the data and references supporting this conclusion check the posts “Open letter to Benny Peiser ” and “Climate Forecasting Basics for Britains Seven Alarmist Scientists”
There are a large number of other posts on the same site relative to Climate Forecasting and the impending Global Cooling – I hope you can find the time to check some of them eg “30 year climate Forecast – 2 year update” which looks pretty good.
Here’s my latest forecast summary
“It is not a great stretch of the imagination to propose that the 20th century warming peaked in about 2003 and that that peak was a peak in both the 60 year and 1000 year cycles.On that basis the conclusions of the post referred to above were as follows.
1 Significant temperature drop at about 2016-17
2 Possible unusual cold snap 2021-22
3 Built in cooling trend until at least 2024
4 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2035 – 0.15
5Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2100 – 0.5
6 General Conclusion – by 2100 all the 20th century temperature rise will have been reversed,
7 By 2650 earth could possibly be back to the depths of the little ice age.
8 The effect of increasing CO2 emissions will be minor but beneficial – they may slightly ameliorate the forecast
cooling and help maintain crop yields .
9 Warning !! There are some signs in the Livingston and Penn Solar data that a sudden drop to the Maunder
Minimum Little Ice Age temperatures could be imminent – with a much more rapid and economically disruptive
cooling than that forecast above which may turn out to be a best case scenario
For a dicussion of the effects of cooling on future weather patterns see the 30 year Climate Forecast 2 Year update at
I’m sure you will disagree with the above forecasts. I would be really interested to know what specific data or methods you disagree with.
Best Regards Norman Page.

May 31, 2013 1:28 pm

I agree with Richard.

May 31, 2013 1:34 pm

Dr. Norman Page,
It is quite ludicrous to make such specific predictions about the climate/weather 2 years or 7 years from now. Didn’t you learn anything from the CAGW side?

May 31, 2013 1:39 pm

Bill_W I repeat my statement to Dr Sass “I would be really interested to know what specific data or methods you disagree with.”

May 31, 2013 1:53 pm

@ Hunter:
There are actual laws at work there. Testable, proveable laws. A guy named Robert Conquest spelled them out. Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics (#2 pertaining to your post):
1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best. (The Feynman video is a great example.)
2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing. (Rockefeller Foundation, Episcopal Church USA, Amnesty International …)
3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies. (The US Gov’t.)

May 31, 2013 1:58 pm

Ryan says:
May 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm
“Sass is a lot nicer than most people in the sciences would be when addressing the person who wants direct political control over the NSF.”
Then Sass is apparently not bright enough to know whom he is addressing when publishing an op-ed in a newspaper.

May 31, 2013 2:06 pm

Ryan, I haven’t been following WUWT for a few weeks so have no idea of your broader views. I read both Sass’ and Smith’s op-eds when they were published. I didn’t find the two be about equal. I thought that Smith’s was more professional, as it should be since he is an elected Congressman. Sass’s was more strident and obviously in personal attack mode.

May 31, 2013 4:43 pm

That Rice Baker Public Policy Center was the site of the Global Cities Initiative Summit with Brookings a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about how it fits in here . It was sponsored by Brookings Metropolitanism initiative and JP Morgan Chase.
But you are not going to get the Public Policy Institute to listen to criticisms of Climate Change when the supposed global threat is the basis for remaking the American economy around green energy and urban areas.
Also Rice was one of the early participants in EdX. I am in the process of explaining the UN’s Transdisciplinary vision for education in the future, K-12 and higher ed. The MOOCs pushed by EdX are designed to create a universal online community to standardize and limit knowledge while simultaneously collecting tons of personal behavioral data. The idea put out there is that data can then be used to centrally plan the economy around Sustainability.
Transdisciplinarity is how the UN gets the mindsets called for by Agenda 21 in place.
Yes it does sound a bit wacky at first glance but I do not come up with the schemes. I just track them and read the reports. Which are far more conniving than what any fiction writer would come up with. But then this was supposed to happen in the 90s before someone like me got a chance to read and backtrack through all this “public policy.”

May 31, 2013 6:52 pm

hunter says May 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm
There is a social disease in America where wealthy conservatives make a lot of money, start a foundation or institute or school, and then …

… they want to be *liked* (in the press, in various social circles, on the cocktail circuit, etc), however, ppl can’t really be made to *like* you, but, you can pay them to ‘pay’ you a very similar kind of attention (which then results in ‘good press’, returned phone calls, invites to social events, etc) …

May 31, 2013 11:06 pm

Silence should raise alarm bells, it has got us this far.

Pamela Gray
June 1, 2013 6:44 am

Bill, I disagree with your solar statement at the end of your letter. Everything you predicted could reasonably be linked to intrinsic oceanic and atmospheric oscillations leading to changes in long term weather patterns. But the Livingston and Penn solar affect would not be a player in those Earth bound drivers.

June 1, 2013 8:40 am

Pamela Gray says:
June 1, 2013 at 6:44 am
I agree, except orbital variation of N hemisphere solar input is the base-driver. Of course, nothing to do w/any intrinsic solar changes.
But you knew that. 🙂

June 1, 2013 12:28 pm

The Early Bird has found the worm.

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