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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Anthony Watts arrives late at the APS climate party ... and gets it wrong

Sou | 4:32 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

I see that Anthony Watts has only just discovered that the American Physical Society is reviewing its climate policy statement.  He wrote excitedly (archived here):

That noise you can hear in the distance is the sound of John Cook’s, Dana Nuccitelli’s, and Joe Romm’s heads exploding
Lindzen, Christy and Curry appointed to APS climate statement review panel

He earlier wrote, quoting Simon of Australian Climate Madness, that:
The American Physical Society, which previously issued a highly alarmist statement regarding climate change, is to review it, and has appointed three climate realists to the panel of six. 
...before slightly amending it to insert the word "[address]" after "climate realists".

Anyway, Lindzen, Christy and Curry did attend a workshop of the APS sub-committee back in early January.  As well as the contrarians, the sub-committee invited three more highly regarded and serious climate scientists (Ben Santer, Isaac Held and William Collins).  Goodness knows why they had Richard, John and Judith along.

Lindzen, Christy and Curry aren't on the sub-committee and I don't hold great hopes that the sub-committee will end up with a sensible climate policy. If you read the transcript of the January workshop it's clear that the Sub-Committee members themselves know zilch about climate science.  You'd think that out of all the members of the APS they could find some climate experts to prepare a draft statement.

By the way, this is another example of Anthony either forgetting or not reading stuff he's already posted on his blog before, too. And he doesn't read Judith Curry's blog or Rabett Run either, both of whom wrote about this a month ago.

Eli's post is a must read.  He starts off scathingly:
The American Physical Society had done it again.  In a surprisingly repetitive fit of Dunning Kruger they have assembled a subcommittee to guide the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) in a review of the APS statement on Climate Change which is composed of nuclear physicists and others who know nothing about climate relevant physics.

From the WUWT comments

Even though the sub-committee has a lot of learning ahead of it when it comes to climate science, I wonder if WUWT is going to be a repeat of Richard Muller's temperature reconstruction - where they all cried "hurrah" anticipating a finding that earth had cooled or something - only to turn on him when his analysis was completed.  I mean how likely is it that the APS would reverse its current policy position?
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

Terry Comeau says:
March 20, 2014 at 7:53 am
What I would give to sit in on the meetings of the panel. The alarmists on that panel must be panic stricken. Three people with such impressive scientific credentials to actually put real questions of science and integrity to their blatant and exceedingly flimsy eco-activistic pseudo-scientific constructs. How on earth can they try to maintain their house of cards under those circumstances? The gig is up and they must see it coming like a light in a train tunnel, and there isn’t a damned thing they can do to avoid it. Wow. Break out the popcorn.

Ken Hall says:
March 20, 2014 at 8:01 am
AT LAST!!! An authorititive and august scientific institution actually using a scientific approach to investigating the merits, or lack thereof, of the CAGW hypothesis. fully balanced and fully in public, without hiding anything. About effin time!
To overtly mangle metaphors, once this domino falls it should creat a crack in the dam of CAGW alarmism which should spread through all the other authorititive and august scientific institutions, including the Royal Society. Once this happens, real science may prevail and we may see a return to sanity in science and politics. It is early days yet, but fingers crossed.

John Whitman says:
March 20, 2014 at 10:29 am
It does not get any better than this for it finally shows a reasonable good level of openness and transparency in climate science assessment. The review panel has high level personnel who are very critical of the processes that supported the controversial aspects of climate science used for the IPCC reports.
This APS process is a prototype that the The Royal Society, the IPCC, the NAS, AAAS, AGU and the US Congress should emulate.

Let's wait to see how this plays out.  The American Physical Society has a reputation to uphold after all.  It could well be that WUWT will suffer a series of head explosions, not John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli or Joe Romm.


  1. This is indeed reminiscent of BEST, the SurfaceStations project before it and the CRU hack in-between, each of which was finally going to finally reveal the truth yadda-yadda, only to disappoint.

    If the APS does stick to its position (or, just feasibly, moves to something stronger) we're likely to be treated to a fine display of conspiracist ideation in response.

  2. I'd guess that rather few of the commenters @ WUWT are APS members or know much about it.

    Most physicists are pretty sensible: less than 0.5% of the membership signed the silly 2009 Singer/Happer/etal petition to nullify the APS climate position, and the signers were heavily skewed towards conservative old men connected with organizers' social network.
    After that, the APS actually strengthened its statement in 2010 :-)

    There is a small but very vocal bunch of physicists who can ignore laws of physics. The APS hierarchy is pretty savvy: the vocal folks get to talk... But when the dust settles... They didn't get what they wanted.
    I've seen this multiple times since 2009. APS leadership is not dumb. The current President is at Stanford, has known Past APS President and Physics Nobelist Burton Richter for 30+ years. As for his views, see:
    Gambling with the future" or read his book: Beyond Smoke and Mirrors.

    There have been determined efforts to subvert climate statements of at least 3 science societies ... failed.

    1. Sounds as if the decision to invite three contrarians would have been deliberate so that when the statement is prepared, when they complain about it, as they will do if it's a sound position, then they can say they took their opinions on board. They can incorporate uncertainty into the statement but be quite specific about what it applies to.

      The way the APS sub-committee ran that workshop with time limits and strict rules of discussion suggest they are being very cautious. I don't know if they have unrealistic expectations of the reaction by the mob being any different to any climate policy statement. Deniers are not rational about climate science.

      A democratic process will not result in a better statement from a scientific perspective. Science isn't a democracy of opinions from non-experts. Having said that, the APS probably has too large a membership to be hijacked by deniers (eg a lot of deniers joining APS to distort the policy statement). It depends on whether the existing members have kept up with climate science or not, and whether they generally defer to experts in fields other than their own.

    2. Yes, I think you've got it. I doubt there ios the slightest concern about the gang outside the APS, and I do recommend a look at APS 2009 petition, especially the demographics of the signers, quite different from those of the entire APS.

      There is little worry about people joining APS, although the organizers of the above seemed to have tired to pack the APS GPC and its leadership ... and failed.

      This is an APS POPA committee, which means they generally make subcommittees from that membership, not by running around and getting others.

      Now recheck the statement review, and go through the Charge. They mention AR5 as a key reference, which if delayed, would delay this. HINT.

      IMHO the 2007 statement *ought* to be revised, because it was overly simple, and you really needed the 2010 additions. All this is part of the standard 5-year reviews that POPA does of their statements. The Statement Review ends by saying:

      "The workshop was the first step in a deliberative process. As a membership organization of over 50,000 physicists, APS adheres to rigorous scientific standards in developing all its statements. If the Subcommittee recommends updating the existing APS Climate Change Statement, then, consistent with APS by-laws, all APS members will be given an opportunity to review the statement and provide input during a comment period."

      Suppose they do decide to make changes and depart wildly from the mainstream. Think anyone will notice? Nobel physicists who understand this are rather thick on the ground around here and I can think of 3 offhand who might have comments, and none of them are at all naive about the game-playing. If POPA went off the rails, I suspect they might have comments, but I really doubt it would get that far.

      As usual, the breathless WUWT commenters are simply clueless.
      (I happen to be a member of APS and the APS GPC.)

  3. OT but Tim Ball is trying to raise funds by releasing his autobiography with the appropriate title page: "The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science by Tim Ball".


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