Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leaning Against the Wind

It is always hard to take an unpopular view. Here is an article by Anthony Watts in the Christian Science Monitor that compares Harold Lewis, a physicist who has resigned from the APS (American Physical Society) to Martin Luther. Many will be instantly repelled by the idea. But the article is well worth reading. There is much here that never makes it into the popular media:
Five centuries ago, a German priest challenged the reigning theological “consensus” about the clerical sale of indulgences, unraveling one of the great religious scams in history and inspiring the Protestant Reformation.

This month, a senior American physicist challenged the reigning scientific “consensus” about global warming. His action may prove to be the unraveling one of the great scientific mistakes in history and the beginning of a greatly needed reformation of the scientific community.

Just as Martin Luther paid the price for his dissent, Dr. Harold Lewis is experiencing a sharp backlash in the wake of his Oct. 6 resignation letter from the prestigious American Physical Society (APS). After 67 years as a member, Dr. Lewis – emeritus professor of physics and former department chairman at the University of California, Santa Barbara – parted ways because of his “revulsion” over the climate change “fraud” perpetrated by what he felt was science distorted by money.

Other esteemed scientists have in recent years put forward compelling critiques of the technical and scientific case for anthropogenic climate change. Dr. Lewis’s resignation letter is not such a critique. Rather, it is a condemnation of the way ideology, politics, and money have suppressed dissenting viewpoint and distorted the very nature of scientific inquiry. Like the so-called Climategate controversy, in which hacked emails from a group of climate scientists revealed political and personal factors influencing scientific work, Lewis’ letter lays bare the less-than-noble motivations that seem to be driving discussion of climate-change research today.


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.

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.
There is much in this article worth reading carefully. Sadly, most with entrenched views will not bother reading it. Even worse, since mainstream media has successfully been selling one side of the controversy most will not deem it worthwhile to take time to understand Harold Lewis's viewpoint.

It has now been over 25 years that "global warming" has been sold by doomsayers as an "imminent" danger. But there has been no clear warming, i.e. beyond historical variations in temperatures. The claims have been extreme. For years fanatics have told us that the arctic would be ice free "in a few years". They aren't. In 2005 after a couple of years of extreme storms during hurricane season in the Atlantic were were assured that this was just the start of inevitable progression of bigger and more frequent storms. It hasn't been.

Money corrupts. There is an awful lot of government money pouring into all kinds of science provided they are willing to append the sticker "global warming" to sell their research. The pressure against dissenters is enormous. Harold Lewis has helped bring this situation to a head.

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