A “a rude, intolerant, highly politicized climate crusader” who was a “dangerous enemy of free speech” has been honoured by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest report. Its synthesis report, which is a climactic summary of a number of documents released by the Panel over the course of the year, is dedicated to “the memory of Stephen H Schneider, 1945 – 2010”. (H/T No Frakking Consensus)
In life, Schneider had a glittering career in environmental and climate science, which saw him elevated to the upper echelons of society. According to Wiki, his CV included “Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University, a Co-Director at the Center for Environment Science and Policy of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Senior Fellow in the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Schneider served as a consultant to federal agencies and White House staff in the Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.”
There is no doubt, then, that he was widely respected among climate change alarmists. Yet rather than using his position of influence to promote robust debate over the science behind climate change claims, he instead used it to belittle his opposition.
As Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise, who has been following climate affairs for some years, wrote recently: “Schneider… was in a leadership position. It was his job to set an example of how scientists in his camp should behave toward those of a more skeptical frame of mind.
“Rather than demonstrating grace, tolerance, humility, or patience he acted like a demented sports fan – the sort who riot and beat-up people when their team doesn’t win. (The metaphor isn’t mine. Schneider titled his 2009 book Science as a Contact Sport.)”
Laframboise highlights three examples of his ungracious behaviour. The first is an email sent by Schneider to a lawyer working for the Environmental Defence Fund, bringing to Schneider’s attention an article authored by prominent sceptic Ross McKitrick that had been posted to the Heartland Institute’s website. In his reply, Schneider refers to McKitrick as an “idiot” and a “bozo”, a colleague of McKitrick’s as “incompetent”, and a dismissed offhand a third scientist as “way out of his depth”.
He also thoughtfully copied in 14 younger scientists into his scathing reply. “The lesson he taught these younger scientists had two components,” Laframboise writes. “1. lawyers paid to advance activist agendas are part of the in-crowd; and 2. people on the other team are unworthy of simple human courtesy, never mind serious consideration.”
The second example, also an email uncovered during the climategate affair, details Schneider’s derision for freedom of expression. He explains that he cannot possibly take part in a conference because the proceedings were due to be published by Cambridge University Press (CUP), a company which he deemed worthy of bad-mouthing and boycotting simply for daring to publish The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg.
“I cannot now, nor unless they withdraw the Lomborg book as science and apologize to the scientific community for a scientific fraud, nor can I EVER work with Chris Harrison [the Publishing Director at CUP]. His talk at the AAAS was deceitful manoeuvring–wrapping him self up in an authors right to speak (sic),” blasts Schneider.
“Until Harrison comes clean with the scientific community and denounces The Skeptical Environmentalist as political polemic, not science, neither I nor most ecologists I know will have any thing to do with them. CUP lost the Millennium Assessment because of a peasant revolt from ecologists–and they deserved it.”
Lastly, Laframboise draws attention to Schneider’s egotism. Like many scientists, Schneider was sent a copy of the IPCC’s first report, making some minor alterations which were accepted. He was subsequently incorrectly listed as a contributing author, rather than an external expert reviewer when the report was published – an error he made no attempt to correct. To the contrary, he proudly admits to the fact on page 125 of his book:
“They used some of my suggestions, and when the Assessment Report was published a year later, I was listed as a contributing author. It was flattering they thought to acknowledge me, since I spent only a dozen or so hours on it.”
Laframboise comments “At the IPCC, there is a huge difference between an expert reviewer and a contributing author. The two are not the same, and everyone knows it. Yet, from its earliest days the IPCC thought it was OK to indulge in this sort of sleight-of-hand.
“Schneider, who later became an IPCC mover-and-shaker, saw nothing wrong with this. Rather than insisting that the record be corrected, his ego basked in the flattery. Rather than insisting on the unvarnished truth so that no one would have any reason to doubt the word of this UN-sponsored body, he went along with the lie.
“Which is why the IPCC’s latest report belongs in the dustbin. After all the criticism that has been levelled against this organization in recent years, it still doesn’t get it. It doesn’t understand that its reputation is in tatters. It doesn’t recognize any need whatsoever for scrupulous, disinterested, and – above all – apolitical behaviour.”
By holding up this petty and deceitful man as a role model the IPCC has illustrated why it can’t be trusted, she concludes: “In that sense, the IPCC has done us all a favour by linking its latest document to a scientist whose legacy falls far short of admirable. Those two things do, indeed, belong together.”