So much for “higher” education. James Cook University (JCU) has blackballed Professor Bob Carter, not because of any flaw in his scientific reasoning, but because he speaks outside the permitted doctrine. His views on climate science do not fit with the dominant meme (or the grant applications). And then there were pesky complaints and emails from disgruntled fans of the prophets-of-doom. (Quite a drain on the office.)
They took his office a while back, then they took the title. Carter was still supervising a student, and another professor hired him for an hour a week with his own budget. It meant Carter could continue supervising and keep his library access. But that wouldn’t do. Professor Jeffrey Loughran blocked that as well. The library pass and the email was shut off on June 21. It takes an active kind of malice to be this petty.
In years to come when everyone admits that the Great Global Warming Scare was hyped, JCU could have been seen as one of the rare beacons of academic honour and principle. Instead, apparently, it’s as spineless as any other bureucratic collective. The irony for JCU, is that Bob Carter has been working there for 31 years, and they only had to put up with him for a little bit longer in order to claim their glory (albeit post hoc) and then pretend that really they had supported him all along. The dominant meme is collapsing, thousands of respected scientists are speaking out and skeptic blogs are storming the awards. The evidence has turned, the carbon market has sunk to junk status, and assertive daring articles are appearing in mainstream media in places they would never have been seen a few years ago, like the New York Times, and the Economist. The climate scientists themselves are admitting they don’t know why the world isn’t warming. But the man who was right about that all along is persona non-grata.
Professor Bob Carter has been a key figure in the Global Warming debate, doing exactly what good professors ought to do, challenging paradigms, speaking internationally, writing books, newspaper articles, and being invited to give special briefings with Ministers in Parliament. He’d started work at JCU in 1981 and served as Head of the Geology Department until 1998. [UPDATE: to clarify, sometime after that he retired]. Since then he’s been an honorary Adjunct Professor. All JCU had to do was to approve an extension of this arrangement, giving him library and email access, at little cost to them, and he could have continued to help students and staff, provide a foil, a counterpoint, and keep alive the spirit of true scientific enquiry. (Not to mention his continued speaking, books, and influence on the National debate).
Instead every person in the chain of command tacitly, or in at least one case, actively endorsed the blackballing. Each one failed to stand for free speech and rigorous debate. In the end, JCU didn’t even make any effort to disguise the motive. The only reasons given were that the staff of the School of Earth and Environmental Studies had discussed the issue (without any consultation with Carter) and decided that his views on climate change did not fit well within the School’s own teaching and research activities. Apparently it took up too much time to defend Carter against outside complaints about his public writings and lectures on climate change. (Busy executives don’t have time to say “Why don’t you ask Carter yourself?” or “We value vigorous debate here.” Presumably they are too busy practising their lines and learning the litany? )
Each of these eminent professors, no doubt, is certain that they are independent minded, tolerant of other views, and have exacting ethical standards. I gather any one of them could have risen above the lap-dog obedience to the dogma of the day. None did.
- Head of School, Professor Paul Dirks
- Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Jeffrey Loughran (scroll in the link)
- Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Cocklin (Lead Author for the IPCC’s 2007 Report)
- Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding
As well as being a former IPCC lead author, Professor Cocklin currently holds ARC Discovery grants for two projects, one of which is ‘Sustainable Farming in Australia’.
Professor Cocklin is presently a member of the Advisory Board of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), the International Scientific Advisory Committee, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Expert Advisory Panel, Northern Australia Ministerial Forum, and the Scientific Steering Committee of the Tropical Ecosystems Hub of the National Environmental Research Program.
Prof Cocklin might not welcome the discovery that SUVs don’t have much influence on cyclones. You think?
But since Bob Carter and John Spooner are about to release a new book (“Taxing Air”, more on that soon), now was as good a time as any for JCU to lift Carter to that rare seat in the Hall of the Blackballed. Bob Carter has really made it now. But JCU has surely lost far more than they have gained.
Cartoon by John Spooner: The Age Gallery
UPDATE: To hear Stewart Franks talk about this listen to Andrew Bolt on the radio on 2GB at 43 minutes.