Climate change 'fraud' letter: a Martin Luther moment in science history
Esteemed physicist Harold Lewis is calling global warming the 'most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen.' His resignation letter could mark the unraveling of one of the great scientific mistakes in history and the beginning of a needed reformation of the scientific community.
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2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.)...Skip to next paragraph
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3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.
4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation....
5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition....
APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?...
Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.... As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.
I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.
This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg church door.
Lewis is no lightweight
Most people don’t know who Lewis is. He’s a quiet man, and he hasn’t sought publicity in his career. He was a student of Robert Oppenheimer, “father” of the atomic bomb, and was active in the field of safety of nuclear power plants, where being wrong had grave consequences. He worked with (the late) noted climatologist Stephen Schneider when he chaired a 1985 task force on nuclear winter.
In short, he’s no lightweight, and he’s well respected in the field of physics.
Lewis and 260 other members of APS signed a petition, and battled within the organization, following the APS constitutional rules, in an attempt to get the APS position statement on global warming considered for revision. The effort was ignored, stonewalled, and rebuked. After years of trying, he finally had enough.
Lewis must have been wrestling with his conscience for a considerable time before concluding that resignation was his only option.
And like Luther, with all other options extinguished, he figuratively nailed his letter to the door of the organization that had become so entrenched in its own consensus that it couldn’t even address the concerns of its own members.
Luther’s brave act started the Reformation of the Catholic church. Lewis’s act could very well begin the reformation of climate science.
Anthony Watts is a former television meteorologist and editor of the blog “Watts Up With That?”