American Physical Society Sees The Light: Will It Be The First Major Scientific Institution To Reject The Global Warming 'Consensus'?

The American Physical Society (APS) has signalled a dramatic turnabout in its position on "climate change" by appointing three notorious climate skeptics to its panel on public affairs (POPA).

They are:

Professor Richard Lindzen, formerly Alfred P Sloan Professor of Meteorology at Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a highly regarded physicist who once described climate change alarmism on The Larry King Show as "mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves."

John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, who has written: "I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see."

Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, a former Warmist (and still a self-described "luke warmer") who has infuriated many of her more extremist colleagues by defending skeptics and by testifying to the US House Subcommittee on the Environment that the uncertainties in forecasting climate science are much greater than the alarmists will admit.

As Anthony Watts has noted, this is news guaranteed to make a Warmist's head explode.

The reason it's so significant is that it comes only three years after one of the APS's most distinguished members - Professor Hal Lewis - resigned in disgust at its endorsement of what he called "the global warming scam."

Disturbed by an "appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change" which "was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members", Lewis went public with his letter of resignation to the APS's then President Curtis G Callan Jr. (Callan's replacement Malcolm Beasley appears to be of a more skeptical bent. When he wrote earlier this year to President Obama congratulating him on his support for "science", he studiously avoided any mention of the president's war on climate change)

It began:

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

Lewis went on to describe global warming as "the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist."

Yet when Lewis had gathered two hundred plus signatures from fellow members to protest against the APS's position, they found - "Constitution be damned" - that the Council simply refused to accept their petition.

He concluded:

This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. 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. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. 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.

It is inconceivable, given the new panel's constitution, that when the APS releases its new position statement on climate change later this year it will be anything other than broadly skeptical of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

This will mark a major victory for climate skeptics. Up until now, one of the most effective weapons in the climate alarmists' armoury has been to declare that all the world's major scientific institutions subscribe to the Man-Made Global Warming "Consensus."

These include: Academia Brasiliera de Ciencas; Academia Mexicana de Ciencas; Academie des Sciences (France); Academy of Science of South Africa; Accademia dei Lincei (Italy); American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Astronomical Society; American Chemical Society; American Geophysical Union; American Institute of Physics; American Meteorological Society; Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society; British Antarctic Survey; Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences; Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society; Chinese Academy of Sciences; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany); Environmental Protection Agency; European Federation of Geologists; European Geosciences Union; European Physical Society; Federation of American Scientists; Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies; Geological Society of America; Geological Society of Australia; Geological Society of London; Indian National Science Academy; International Union for Quaternary Research; International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics; National Academy of Sciences; National Center for Atmospheric Research; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Royal Meteorological Society; Royal Society of Canada; Royal Society; Science Council of Japan.

If that list looks impressive, perhaps it's worth reminding ourselves of Hal Lewis's theory as to why so many scientific institutions have fallen for the scam.

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. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst.

Yes the American Physical Society's change of heart is significant but we've a long way to go before that oil tanker turns round. Or, as Churchill might have said:  "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


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