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Physics Professor Emetitus Resigns From APS Over ClimateGate

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The following is a letter to the American Physical Society released to the public by Professor Emeritus of physics Hal Lewis of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Sent: Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

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.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

  1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

  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.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

  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. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

  5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

  6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful 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?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. 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.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.

Hal

Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

Comments

benanhalt 3 years, 6 months ago

Do you people have lives? Some cranky old Hubert Farnsworth no one has ever heard of writes a letter to his professional society and it gets 111 comments in a local newspaper halfway cross the country?

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 6 months ago

I have never heard of a "Professor Emetitus".

Is this a professor who vomits a lot?

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HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

By the way, Lewis is going on 88 years old. Is this guy is still a practicing scientist? I'd think he would have retired about 20 years back.

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HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

Anyone care to explain why Hal Lewis doesn't show up in the U.C. Santa Barbara faculty?

http://www.science.ucsb.edu/faculty/search

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supertrampofkansas 3 years, 6 months ago

Liberty,

You are talking about a possible scenario whereas the letter writer is not. Again where is the evidence that trillions are being spent? The professor is not referring to a possible income being lost (which is what you are talking about). This is an actual amount of money being spent. Again, all I am saying is that this is alot of money and like Overplayed, I find it curious that noone is asking for evidence for that number. The red flag for me was the word "literal" (which by the way, our learned and esteemed physics professor does not seem to understand the definition of or the correct usage, after all how is an amount of money literal?) And second and third world countries? Even in your possible scenario, I am skeptical you would even be able to get a total of 1 trillion out of that much less more than one trillion?

Forget the science, follow the money. Where is it and what is the actual amount? 2 or more trillion dollars? I don't think so. Try again.

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Chris Golledge 3 years, 6 months ago

In what way does politics affect the physics of greenhouse gases?

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Liberty275 3 years, 6 months ago

I would like official recognition from the professor that he has merely repeated what I have said at least 100 times on this forum. Every thinking human knows AGW is a blatant lie driven by corrupt educators seeking grants and leftist redistribution advocates.

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supertrampofkansas 3 years, 6 months ago

Ah overpalyed is asking the same question. Sorry OP. I'm with you. Where is this money coming from?

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supertrampofkansas 3 years, 6 months ago

"(literally) trillions of dollars driving it" from the letter.

Now I am kind of curious why noone has bothered to provide evidence for this statement. Trillions of dollars huh? Let's see the US of A has a GDP of about 14.5 trillion. I wonder how much of that goes to climate research? Presumably this number is referring to all of the research in the world but he never says that. Does anyone have any links to support "literally" trillions of dollars. I mean after all this is a scientist right? He has data to support this right?

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 6 months ago

This may not be a scientific question but, WHO? Who is the trillions of dollars coming from? How does he know the amounts are in the trillions? Who would have that much to invest in what? Where is the return for investing that kind of money? I am not questioning his scientific info, but why would a man of science engage in political conspiracies that make no sense or site any evidence? Nothing in the tone of this letter demonstrates a scientific thinking. Does it sound logical that there is some force out there that has the money to challenge the money of the coal and oil industry? Again I am questioning his suspicions and not his interpretation of Data. Physics is not the main scientific discipline involved in climate research. Sure there may be some people who are greedy about grant money, but again what are the expectations for returns on spending trillions to fund them?

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ivalueamerica 3 years, 6 months ago

I think the letter is perfectly reasonable. It still, however, does not show any junk science, only junk politics and it is a shame to let politics muck things up, no matter from what angle.

If the president bypassed the rules to ignore the petition, he should resign, not the guy who helped submit the petition.

Nothing here shows me global climate change is a myth.

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bluedawg79 3 years, 6 months ago

I just want a society where this debate ends and we all just start learning to respect the earth and what all it provides. Whether it be billowing clouds of black smoke rising from factory smokestacks into the air, hazardous chemicals leaching into our water supplies, or scouring the earth for resources, we are slowly killing the ourselves and our environment. We all have the choice to lessen our impact and create a better place for ourselves and future generations and yet so many simply don't care because they are selfish. We are a society of consumption and greed without concern or regard. What has to happen for that to change on a global scale?

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salad 3 years, 6 months ago

I have a feeling that your political ideology, religious beliefs, or how much money you have won't make any difference for any of us, should mother nature decide it's time to scratch her fleas.

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Chris Golledge 3 years, 6 months ago

Meanwhile in other news, we may be having trouble with our food supply.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/12b06cee-d300-11df-9ae9-00144feabdc0.html

OK, that is just weather. However, as the climate changes, usual weather is becoming less unusual.

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Chris Golledge 3 years, 6 months ago

What does this letter tell us? Let's examine the background.

For the sake of argument let's define four primary premises:

a) CO2 is a greenhouse gas. More of it acts to retain energy in the system more than less of it. b) Humans are putting gigatons of it into the atmosphere every year. c) There are multiple factors which influence the climate, and changing any one of them has feedback effects on the others. d) The initial forcing plus the positive feedback effects will produce energy balance differences that are dangerous to our society in a business as usual scenario.

We already know that if you randomly survey 100 climate scientists, you will get about 97 that agree with a-d, and about 3 that disagree with one or more parts. For instance, Lindzen, if memory serves, would agree with a-c, but he believes that the negative feedbacks effectively counter-balance the initial forcing plus the positive feedbacks. There's nothing nefarious about coming to that conclusion, and I'm sure that Lindzen is quite competent. However, both the paleologic record and the vast majority of other scientists disagree with him.

I searched for Hal Lewis in Google Scholar, and I got a number of hits, but I did not see any that related to the studies of climate. So, some will be tempted to say that this is because the publication system squelches dissenting opinions. OK, then why is it that if you search for Lindzen, you get a fair number of climate related hits? Why isn't the publication system refusing to publish the dissenting opinions of Lindzen?

I'll note a couple of points: Dr. Lewis makes no argument based on science about the current state of climate science, and we already know that some climate scientists disagree with the finding that what we are doing is dangerous to ourselves. So, what have we really learned from this letter? Not much.

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pace 3 years, 6 months ago

It is a liberal elite plot if some don't agree with you or worship your god given ideas. Probably women liberal elite are the worst. May their souls rot in the mud of so called global warming. No intelligent design of the universe would admit to any harm or climate change associated with carbon. Here is an example of the liberal elite with their flaunting of different ideas.. Many many scientists falsely claim they think differently than each other, even cite interpretation of data or point out conflicting data. We know they all know the real and final truth. This is all unheard of , we know all those science types think alike, To claim otherwise is a cabal against god.

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HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh and if Hal Lewis wants to impress, he should resign from Physics. That would give his criticism a lot more validity. He just comes off as a teet suckling hypocrite by taking the same money he claims is tainted by special interests. What a maroon.

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HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

It must get awfully tiresome carrying that burdensome cross for big energy. No wonder Hal Lewis is so grouchy. Maybe he and Senator Inhofe can go on a month long fossil fuel bender to show the world how they despise climate science and the environment.

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lawrenceguy40 3 years, 6 months ago

I have been ridiculed here by the liberal elite for suggesting that scientists say what their funding organizations want them to say. Science funding is social welfare for the intelligent. They are no better than the bums on Mass Street, and a lot more dangerous.

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 6 months ago

Reason- small thing, but you're missing an R in your title of this blog.

and apparently CG misses the eminent Physicist Lewis' use of the word "scam" in his letter.

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 6 months ago

Reason- thank you for posting this!
Montford's book is indeed poison to global warming hysterians.

now,reading your one opposing commenter above, I note: Dougcounty has not read Montford's book, and takes one of many issues of falsified data/analyses, applies second-hand criticism to it from paid global warming hysterians. gee, if I were a democrat like Jerry Brown (of California) I could call him a "whore," too.
Dougcounty lies about weather records. word in the news that this hurricane season was the quietest in like thirty years, and the pacific ocean was ... well ... quite pacific too.

the models that Dougcounty and AlGore (who invented the internet) rely on to claim evidence of global warming *do not account for precipitation and water vapor in the atmosphere.
they also fail to account for variations in solar energy output.

so, Dougcounty, in desperately trying to oppose this letter wants us to trust him/her and that second-hand poorly informed review of Montford's book, trust them over a Nobel Prize winning Physicist with a strongly positive character demonstrated across many decades.

thanks Dougcounty, you make the point well for the opposition. in Lawrence Solomon's "The Deniers" he douments how many scientists have had their funding threatened, and funding for their entire departments, because of merely questioning global warming's fake science.
the claim that this opposition is only fed by money is yet another sad attempt by liberals to demonize their reasoned opposition.

now, Mr. Obama has emasculated NASA, and turned it into an agency for monitoring nonexistent manmade global warming; and it is to make the muslim cultures feel better about their historical contributions to science, too.

Thanks for posting Reason- where'd you first hear of this brave Physicist's letter?

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Chris Golledge 3 years, 6 months ago

So, there is, or was, a disgruntled body in the APS; therefore, CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. Is that the conclusion we are supposed to arrive at from this post?

I don't see the connection; would anyone care to explain it?

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Sigmund 3 years, 6 months ago

DougCounty (anonymous) says… "That's because you haven't open your eyes or mind in the last quarter century, apparently."

Please open my eyes and cite just one single forecast made by weather alarmist (nuclear winter, new ice age, global warming, et al) that has proven correct. FYI ad hominem attacks are not forecast nor predictions nor evidence.

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Godot 3 years, 6 months ago

" Of particular concern is a provision of the Senate-passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,11 which needs only to be approved by the House of Representatives before it receives President Obama’s signature. In a section creating a new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct comparative- effectiveness research, the bill allows the withholding of funding to any institution where a researcher publishes findings not “within the bounds of and entirely consistent with the evidence,”12 a vague authorization that creates a tremendous tool that can be used to ensure self-censorship and conformity with bureaucratic preferences. This appears to be an effort in part to bypass the court order in Stanford v. Sullivan, a case involving federal contractual requirements that would have banned researchers from any discussion of their work without pre-approval by the Department of Health and Human Services. The order held that such blanket bans are “overly broad” and constitute “illegal prior restraint” on speech.13 The language in the Senate bill attempts to overcome this hurdle by eliminating prior restraint, but using the threat of post hoc punishment as an incentive for self-censorship. As AcademyHealth notes, “Such language to restrict scientific freedom is unprecedented and likely unconstitutional.”14 Given the higher propensity of government agencies to try to control the dissemination of scientific information, this is an alarming threat to the scientific process and to the utility of scientific research to inform good policymaking."

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/scientific_misconduct.pdf

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Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

That's because you haven't open your eyes or mind in the last quarter century, apparently. It's out there for inquiring minds to sort out, and no amount of Michael Crichton fiction or Koch brothers paid-for misinformation can change that.

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Sigmund 3 years, 6 months ago

Of course, global warming is pseudo-science — modern phrenology. Manipulating data and cherry-picking weather events is propaganda. As far as I can tell, not a single forecast of doom by global warming adherents in the last quarter century has come true. Not one.

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MacHeath 3 years, 6 months ago

No one reads those long posts dougcounty, they are used to ignoring Merrill. It seems to me that we are closing our minds to other possibilities. Never a good idea. Every scientist and researcher knows that the scientific community runs on research grants. They don't like to tell you this, but don't you know a few researchers at KU that are slobbering over the possibility of getting a research grant? You think you are going to get a grant for researching an idea that is not popular with the scientific community? Not bloody likely. It has always amazed me that so-called "liberals" claim to be open-minded.

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jumpin_catfish 3 years, 6 months ago

legitimate discussion, we don't need no legitimate discussion.

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Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

(continued from post above)

2) Regarding the distortions required to make the infamous “hockey stick” chart that is lambasted in Montford's book, this is an easy one to completely refute. The book has been roundly dismissed as bad science, which, if boiled down to the essence of the criticism goes something like: even if you take out the valid statistical procedures used by East Anglia and Penn State, the hockey stick shape of the data remains. 3 very interesting, detailed critiques of Montford's book can be found at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/the-montford-delusion/

3) The picture that I've found about the corruption and pressure around climategate is exactly the opposite of what Mr. Lewis describes. It is one of covert funding of climate deniers by oil and other fossil fuel interests, and heavy duty pressure on climatologists that can be summed up by the question of the reporter to the accused: “have you stopped beating your wife?” An example of these pressures and a resulting apology from a fellow climatologist who prematurely said disparaging things about the scientists who were accused and later vindicated in the climategate “scandal” can be found here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jul/07/russell-inquiry-i-was-wrong

4) The APS may have been unresponsive to Mr. Lewis' petition—I have no way of finding that out. I did go to their website and found that in April 2010, they added an addendum that went into more depth explaining their 2007 support of the legitimacy of climate change as scientifically validated. In that, they implied that the word “incontrovertible” was a rare term in the circles of science, as that is not really how science works. Here's the link: http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

So Mr. Lewis is certainly entitled to remove himself from his professional organization and state publicly why. But this does not change the reason why an overwhelming percentage of scientists accept global warming as a valid concept: the data supports it.

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Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad that you posted this, Reasonmclucus, perhaps a legitimate discussion of the issues can be aired out as a result.

If I am reading the letter correctly, Mr. Lewis has the following points to share: 1) Lewis bemoans the changes that have occurred in the field of physics in particular and science in general, changes he's witnessed in terms of the potential corrupting influence of money, which has transformed many scientists from being in the profession as a calling, to being in the profession in order to rake in the money.

2) He is a strong proponent of the climate distortion scenario that is summarized in Montford's book "The Hockeystick Illusion: Climategate and the corruption of science." which can be summarized by saying that the so-called rise in global temperatures has appeared due to careful manipulation of the data that has exaggerated recent temperatures and downplayed earlier temperatures, creating the illusion of a dramatic upward turn of global temps, or the "hockey stick."

3) Recent clearing up of the accusations of manipulation around climategate is due to corruption and a conformity of those in power who are more interested in money than truth.

4) The APS has become unresponsive to legitimate questions of its official statement about global warming, and as a result, I'm quitting.

At the risk of being accused of defending "bad science," let's look a bit at each of these points:

1) I don't feel qualified to speak to the veracity of the accusations regarding the profession of physics as I am not a physics professional, but I have been around in the world for a while and I can say that much of what he describes can be applied to many, many professions. My observation is that, like many other professions such as medicine, agriculture, engineering, various specialties of biology, and on and on, before WW2, folks were given a stipend to live on, a large part of which came from taxpayers, and they did their jobs. As such, much of what was done was done out of love of the topic and nobody got particularly rich out of the deal. That's before the era of grants and publish or perish became the norm, and folks were rewarded by the amount of money they could pull in to their institutions, and drivers of the process like Eisenhower's Military Industrial Complex came into play. I won't say much more about this other than to say that Dr. Lewis, being a nuclear physicist, was no doubt a repeated beneficiary of this system, since nuclear physics has been one of the most heavily subsidized scientific endeavors in the history of science.

(continued on next post)

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monkeyhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

Who are the w_ _ _ _ s now? I think some in the fraudulent science society had not counted on the "nutjob weirdos" who still have some sense of ethics, morality and integrity.

No mercy should be shown to those who lie, cheat and deceive in order to achieve their goals.

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independant1 3 years, 6 months ago

A candid and reasoned action from respected scientist/physicist.

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Godot 3 years, 6 months ago

wow. thank you for posting.

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devobrun 3 years, 6 months ago

What are the odds that bozo, agnostik, merrill, or the other defenders of bad science will have a cogent response to Dr. Hal Lewis.

Dr. Lewis is appalled by the bad state of science and the money that drives it. The more abstract but more important point is the political power garnered by the climatologists and other "modern" scientists. Getting funded for next year is good. But creating a whole new area of science is the goal. If you are known as the "father of paleobioclimaforensics" then you are funded for life. Tenure. Interviews on Nova. Pretty grad students. Ego trippin' in the world where image is everything.

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RoeDapple 3 years, 6 months ago

But, but, but. . . .I thought the internet trolls were the authorities on all this . . . surely they will be here soon to discredit Mr (Dr?) Lewis.

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