I knew this was coming, as I had a heads-up from Joe D’Aleo last week that the end was nearing. I knew Dr. Bill Gray through my work in climate, and from attending conferences. He always had a good word for me, and when I encountered him in person, he was fond of parodying the “Wayne’s World” skit where they meet Alice Cooper backstage and get on their knees and chant “I’m not worthy…I’m not worthy”. He’d actually do that with me. It was endearing, yet at the same time a little bit embarrassing, because I was the one who really should be doing that in his presence. I always found myself saying “please Bill, stop that!”, to which he’d get back on his feet and give me a chuckle with that toothy grin of his..
I remember in
2012 2008, I was at a conference, and we were talking about his climate skepticism, and he said to me (from memory) “I don’t care what they think, I’m going to keep doing this until they put me in a box”. A man of integrity and passion, he kept that promise. He will be missed greatly, and I was fortunate beyond words to be able to call him a friend.
UPDATE: Janice Moore points out in comments that my memory of this incident was a little bit off, as I had written about it years ago:
Day 3 of the International Climate Change Conference
“… Bill Gray delivered a wonderful presentation today at breakfast. Afterwards, I was able to meet him and I had a 4-way conversation with him, John Coleman (founder of the weather channel), and Peter Leavitt of Weather Services Corporation. Peter introduced me to Bill Gray, and I was amazed to find that when Peter described my project, Bill’s eyes lit up and he said, “Oh, you’re the fellow!”
It was nice to know that someone of Bill Gray’s stature knew about my work. … John Coleman asked him if he was ever going to retire from the work he was doing, to which Bill quipped, “…not until they put me in a box!” Anthony Watts
Meanwhile, there’s the typical ugliness from the left afoot already, as Robert Bradley reports today at Master Resource:
‘Hate Speech’ at Greenwire? William Gray, RIP
By Robert Bradley Jr. — April 18, 2016
Earlier today, the online subscription news service Greenwire published this item:
OBITUARY: Hurricane researcher-turned-climate denier dies at 86
William Gray, who pioneered hurricane forecasting tools as a professor at Colorado State University and voiced skepticism of climate change models, died Saturday.
The university said Gray, 86, died peacefully at home with his family.
Gray and his researchers were among the first to link the El Niño phenomenon to the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in their predictions.
“He consistently issued these forecasts for over 30 years, a track record unparalleled for university predictions,” said Phil Klotzbach, one of Gray’s researchers.
Gray, a Washington, D.C., native and alumnus of George Washington University, questioned the science of climate change in his later years.
“How can we trust climate forecasts 50 and 100 years into the future (that can’t be verified in our lifetime) when they are not able to make shorter seasonal or yearly forecasts that could be verified?” Gray asked in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in 2005 (Keith Coffman,Reuters, April 16). — SP
“Hurricane researcher-turned-climate denier” Really? Did Dr. Gray deny climate? Climate change? A human influence on climate?
Or did he just disagree with the human influence as the predominant climate forcing (still an open question), and that anthropogenic warming is a negative and potentially catastrophic one at that? …
Dear SP: Choose a better title or tell your editor that even a Monday is no excuse to denigrate a true scientist in the title of an obituary.
And kudos to William Gray for a professional life well lived. And for having the integrity of thought that is extremely difficult for younger scientists in the fields of oceanography and meteorology who must fight for research grants and contend for favor in their university departments surrounded by Malthusian-driven science investigation and views.
Compare Greenwire’s headline with the Weather Channel: