74 Responses to Physicists forced to reaffirm that human-caused global warming is “incontrovertible”
[I am asking all Climate Progress readers to start an email campaign. Please feel free to post your emails as comments.]
The Drudge headline blared “Group Repping 50,000 Physicists Opens Global Warming Debate…” The link was to a story “Myth of Consensus Explodes: APS Opens Global Warming Debate.” Since it was a denier website, I ignored it. Then I got forwarded an e-mail from one of the top journalists in the country titled “This may be important” with the same opening paragraph as the denier article:
The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”
Now you can be just as sure that any denier talk point is wrong without studying it in detail as you can be sure that a perpetual motion machine is not, in fact, perpetual without studying it in detail. But as a former American Physical Society Congressional science fellow, I feel obliged to point out that the obvious way to figure out what the American Physical Society believes is to go to their website, www.aps.org, and see what they say:
APS Climate Change Statement
APS Position Remains Unchanged
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:
“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”
An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.
Read: APS Climate Change Statement [which states, “The evidence is incontrovertible” and “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
I really don’t like the word “consensus” (see Deniers say there’s no consensus about global warming. Well, there’s not. There’s well-tested science and real-world observations [that are much more worrisome].” But in any case, one ignorant editor at one unpeer-reviewed newsletter does not explode it.
So this editor who single-handedly smeared the good name of the American Physical Society and the 50,000 physicists it represents is one “Jeff Marque, Senior Staff Physicist at Beckman Coulter Corporation, 1050 Page Mill Rd., MSY-14, Palo Alto, CA 94304, firstname.lastname@example.org.” Please do email him and his bosses (whose names and e-mails I will provide below) to let them know your thoughts.
What Marque has does is so beyond the realm of real scientific debate that he should be fired from his editorial position. In the July issue of the newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, Marque wrote:
With this issue of Physics & Society, we kick off a debate concerning one of the main conclusions of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body which, together with Al Gore, recently won the Nobel Prize for its work concerning climate change research. There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.
Apparently Marque hasn’t quite caught onto the scientific method. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t name a single scientist who does not agree with the conclusion, it is quite irrelevant as to whether there are some scientists who don’t agree with the scientific understanding. As I’ve written, “What matters is scientific findings — data, not opinions. The IPCC relies on the peer-reviewed scientific literature for its conclusions, which must meet the rigorous requirements of the scientific method and which are inevitably scrutinized by others seeking to disprove that work. That is why I cite and link to as much research as is possible, hundreds of studies in the case of this article. Opinions are irrelevant.”
Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion. This editor (JJM) invited several people to contribute articles that were either pro or con. Christopher Monckton responded with this issue’s article that argues against the correctness of the IPCC conclusion, and a pair from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, David Hafemeister and Peter Schwartz, responded with this issue’s article in favor of the IPCC conclusion.
Christopher Monckton! The well-debunked Lord Monckton of Brenchley!!! You cannot be serious!!! Marque apparently could not even find a real physicist for this physics newlsetter! !!! You can read Lord Monckton’s bio on Wikipedia. He has a diploma in journalism, served as a policy adviser for Margaret Thatcher, “inherited his father’s hereditary peerage upon his father’s death in 2006,” and “was an unsuccessful candidate for a conservative seat in the House of Lords.” You might consider him a rich man’s (failed) James Inhofe. If you wanted to consider him at all.
Marque reprints Monckton’s critique of the IPCC’s analysis of climate sensitivity, even though NASA’s Gavin Schmidt of RealClimate.org debunked it two years ago as “sleight-of-hand to fool the unwary,” and Dr. Stephan Harrison has shown Monckton’s articles are “full of errors, misuse of data and cherry-picked examples.” The IPCC itself notes in its Fourth Assessment,
Analysis of climate models together with constraints from observations enables an assessed likely range to be given for climate sensitivity for the first time and provides increased confidence in the understanding of the climate system response to radiative forcing….
I won’t waste your time further explaining why Monckton’s analysis is nonsense. You can read the discussion in the IPCC summary report cited above (which identifies the sections in the full report that have detailed analysis and citations to the extensive literature). If you believe ignorance is bliss, then you can join the deniers in their very unlikely and very unscientific belief that climate sensitivity is on the low side if you want.
In fact, the real problem with the IPCC discussion of equilibrium climate sensitivity is that they only include the fast feedbacks, such as water vapor, and not the longer-term forcings, like the tundra (see “Are Scientists Overestimating — or Underestimating — Climate Change, Part II” and “Another “Must Read” from Hansen: ‘Long-term’ climate sensitivity of 6°C for doubled CO2“).
Why should Marque be fired? Well, consider the rest of his newsletter comments:
We, the editors of P&S, invite reasoned rebuttals from the authors as well as further contributions from the physics community. Please contact me (email@example.com) if you wish to jump into this fray with comments or articles that are scientific in nature. However, we will not publish articles that are political or polemical in nature. Stick to the science! (JJM)
Whether or not human produced carbon dioxide is a major cause of impending climate change…
Uhh, how about this, JJM and JJM’s bosses. Stick to scientists! And unless you have come up with a different scientific method and a different way to establish the scientific understanding on an issue like climate science, and until you refute in detail the IPCC analysis, then please stick to scientific conclusions. Indeed, the last sentence above is doubly non-scientific: “Whether or not human produced carbon dioxide is a major cause of impending climate change….”
We know the science says there is a greater than 90% chance humans are the dominant cause of the global warming that has already occurred in the past 50 years, under a regime where atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have gone up a mere 100 ppm from preindustrial levels. We are poised to add more than another 500 ppm CO2 concentrations (see here), which means there is a far greater chance than 90%, that human produced carbon dioxide will be a major cause of impending climate change.
No scientist who wrote the above quoted sentences, who let Lord
Inhofe Vader Monckton publish his long-debunked disinformation in a (once-serious) physics newsletter, should keep his job. So I would urge all of you to write in (or call) — whether you are a scientist or not (if a non-physicist can publish an article in the newsletter, then surely a non-physicist can write in to complain).
Please email (or call):
Chair, APS Forum on Physics and Society
Andrew P. Zwicker
Head, Science Education Program, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
PO Box 451, Princeton, NJ 08543
office: (609) 243-2150 lab: (609) 243-3144 fax: (609) 243-2112
Former Chair, APS Forum on Physics and Society
Lawrence M. Krauss
Ambrose Swasey Prof. of Physics and Astronomy Director, Center for Education
and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics Dept of Physics, CWRU 10900
Euclid Ave, Cleveland OH 44106-7079
firstname.lastname@example.org 216 368 4070
Co-Editor: Al Saperstein, Physics Department, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, email@example.com
Interestingly, in researching this post I came across a nice review of my book by Prof. Peter Schroeder in the April issue of this (once-serious) newsletter, which notes: