One of the best things about being a skeptic are the people I’ve got to know, and Bob Carter was one of the best of them, sadly taken far too soon. He was outstanding, a true gem, a good soul, and an implacably rational thinker. A softly spoken man of conscience and good humour.
So it is dreadful news that he suffered a heart attack last week in Townsville. For the last few days I have been hoping that he would return to us, but alas, tonight he passed away peacefully, surrounded by family.
We shall miss you Bob.
Professor Bob Carter (74) 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 started work at James Cook University in 1981, served as Head of the Geology Department until 1998, and sometime after that he retired. Since then he’d been an honorary Adjunct Professor.
He was a man who followed the scientific path, no matter where it took him, and even if it cost him, career-wise, every last bell and whistle that the industry of science bestowed, right down to his very email address. After decades of excellent work, he continued on as an emeritus professor, speaking out in a calm and good natured way against poor reasoning and bad science. But the high road is the hard road and the university management tired of dealing with the awkward questions and the flack that comes with speaking truths that upset the gravy train. First James Cook University (JCU) took away his office, then they took his title. In protest at that, another professor hired Bob immediately for an hour a week so Bob could continue supervising students and keep his library access. But that was blocked as well, even the library pass and his email account were taken away, though they cost the University almost nothing.
It says a lot about the man that, despite the obstacles, he didn’t seem bitter and rarely complained. He dealt with it all with calm equanimity. Somehow he didn’t carry the bad treatment as excess baggage.
Probably the saddest aspect of the whole petty saga of the Blackballing of Bob Carter was that JCU felt it was fine to explain that Bob’s mistake was that he had come to an inconvenient conclusion on climate change. It wasn’t that he got the facts wrong, instead his “views on climate change did not fit well within the School’s own teaching and research activities.” So much for academic freedom. Apparently it took up too much time to defend Carter against outside complaints about his public writings and lectures on climate change.
Such is the state of intellectual rigor in Australian universities. As I said at the time:
… 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.
The only one in that chain at JCU who would always put science before politics was Professor Robert Carter. He was a rare and remarkable man, and I will keenly miss his wisdom and philosophical good nature.
Here’s a fitting reminder of his influence: Thanks to John Spooner.
My sympathies and condolences to Anne Carter and the rest of his family. I know there are many who will miss him. At least he finished with a great year, he and Anne “successful gadding about”: Sydney, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Sicily, Rome, Dresden, Budapest and of course, Paris.
The sad short notification from Anne tonight:
“We are very sad to inform you that Bob passed away peacefully this evening in the company of his family. Heartland has put together a great bio on Bob’s career.
One thing is for sure, Bob made the most of every minute he had and was a fighter to the very end.
He would want to thank you for your support and to say how much he enjoyed working with each and every one of you.
Funeral arrangements are being made and will be advised when finalised but most likely on Monday next week in Townsville.” — Anne Carter
UPDATE: Funeral Arrangements have been made through Morleys Funerals at the lakes next Monday at 1pm in Townsville.
All my posts on Bob Carter. This won’t be the last. The world would be a much better place if it were a world with more Bob Carters.
And the tributes flow:
From Fred Singer:
I feel so privileged to have known and worked with Bob (since our 2006 voyage in the Baltic)
and to have shared the panel talks last month in Paris.
“He died with his boots on.”
From Joe Bast at Heartland:
This is almost unspeakably sad. Bob was the very embodiment of the “happy warrior” in the global warming debate. He was a scholar’s scholar, with impeccable credentials (including a Ph.D. from Cambridge), careful attention to detail, and a deep understanding of and commitment to the scientific method. He endured the slings and arrows of the anti-science Left with seeming ease and good humor and often warned against resorting to similar tactics to answer them.
Bob never failed to answer the call to defend climate science, getting on planes to make the long flight from Australia to the U.S., to Paris, and to other lands without complaints or excuses. He was a wonderful public speaker and a charming traveling mate. He was not an easy man to edit, though – he kept wanting to put unnecessary commas, “that’s,” and boldfacing back into his manuscripts — but the great ones never are.
Bob helped immeasurably with three volumes in the Climate Change Reconsidered series, a series of hefty compilations of scientific research he coauthored and coedited with Craig D. Idso and S. Fred Singer. Just a few weeks ago, he flew to Paris to speak at Heartland’s “Day of Examining the Data” and contributed to the completion and review of another book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: The NIPCC report on scientific consensus.
From Christopher Monckton:
We will remember him. He was our clearest voice of truth.
From James Delingpole:
We all loved Bob; we’re all going to miss him. He smiled as he fought and as Fred says he died with his boots on. What those of you who missed hanging with him in Paris last December should know is that he was on splendid form – hail, happy, looking like he was going to go on forever. Good old Bob with his dark Satanic beard and his impish smile. What a hero! What a friend! Just the kind of guy you want in the foxhole next to you!
I had the privilege of knowing and working with Bob for the better part of the past decade. Along with Fred Singer, I served with Bob as a Lead Author on several volumes of work produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. Putting together those volumes was always a Herculean task and Bob was an integral part of their success. He was a master of scientific knowledge and had an incredible talent of sharing that knowledge with others.
Bob had a long and storied career. A wonderful biography of his accomplishments can be found here. But for those who knew him best, it was not his career that kept his heart, but his dear, sweet companion Anne, who was always at his side and accompanied him to nearly every work-related conference and meeting he attended.
I will miss Bob and the friendship we shared. To Anne and their family, may God bless and be with you during this difficult hour of your lives. You have our heartfelt condolences and are in our prayers.
From Tom Harris International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC):
Professor Carter was a very fine man — compassionate, intelligent and still hard working long after most people have retired. He will be sorely missed by many people.
Bob was a great supporter of me and ICSC in general, helping providing the solid, rational science foundation to our work to bring climate realism to the general public.
I feel privileged to have known Bob in the last few years of his life. I also feel privileged to have spent some time with him in Paris, DC, Chicago, NY and here in Ottawa when he was on a speaking tour of Canada.
The first climate skeptic gathering this journalist attended was a 1-day event in 2009. There were numerous speakers, but Bob Carter’s calm, sensible, persuasive presentation was the one I most talked and thought about afterward. (In 2012, I recalled that event here).
Having shared a stage with Bob twice in the past six months, I can say with perfect sincerity that he was kind, charming, and a gentleman.
In 2003, when I was unknown to anyone other than my friends and family, I had been posting comments on climate reconstructions at a chatline. Bob emailed me out of the blue with encouragement, saying that I was looking at the data differently than anyone else and that I should definitely follow it through. Without his specific encouragement, it is not for sure that I ever would have bothered trying to write up what became McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) or anything else.
He was always full of good cheer, despite continuing provocations, and unfailingly encouraging.
Bob Carter was a shining light to those of us in Australia who benefitted from his leadership in the Earth Sciences. A great geologist, a sound scientist, a good friend, a superb speaker and illustrator, the sort of pedantic editor I appreciate, and good company. His leadership and advice in the great climate debate will be sadly missed, especially here in the Sunshine State.
Climate Depot: “Bob was a man of great courage, intellect and wit. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He easily seemed a decade younger than his 74 years with his youthful looks and energy level. the world of science has lost a true champion.”
David Rothbard At CFACT:
Science lost a champion and we lost a friend. In 2010, then Czech President Vaclav Klaus wrote a fitting tribute to Bob titled, “Thank heavens for Bob Carter.” We do thank God for Bob. We will miss him terribly.
To say that he was a man of good cheer and resilience would be an understatement. He not only bore the slings and arrows thrown his way by some of the ugliest people in the climate debate, he reciprocated with professionalism and honor, refusing to let them drag him into the quagmire of climate ugliness we have seen from so many climate activists. His duty, first and foremost was to truth.
[There are many more tributes to Bob at WUWT.]
Don Aitken (Former Chair of the Australian Research Council):
Bob was a lovely man. He was appointed to the Australian Research Grants Committee in 1987 when I was its Chairman, and stayed on in the Australian Research Council’s Earth Sciences group when the ARGC became the ARC. He was a feisty fighter for his discipline. As was common, he got to the position of assessing requests for money by having been a highly successful seeker of research funds himself. When I became interested in global warming ten years ago, Ian Castles, a great and former Australian Statistician, suggested that I should read his take on the issue, and Bob and I became in close contact again. Over the last ten years he has been one of the world’s best sceptics in this awful field of ‘climate change’. He writes well, bases himself on what is known, is alert to error and does not exaggerate. His passing is a great sadness to me, and will be to thousands of people he never met.’
Mark Steyn, “A Principled Man in a Corrupted Field”
He was no caricature of a wild-eyed denier, but in any almost any discussion invariably the most sane and sensible man on the panel. … A great scientist and a courageous and honorable man, he was full of joy and steel-spined, exactly the chap, as James Delingpole said, “you want in the foxhole standing next to you”.
John Spooner, Award winning cartoonist, co-author with Bob Carter
Bob Carter was a great man. His greatness was located in something that we all recognized; his intelligent courage , perceptive kindness and an exuberant love of life.
Here was a man who showed everyone how to stand up to bullying and cowardly malice with elegant dignity.
I think he understood human weakness without cynicism but he was baffled by the evasiveness of his opponents in the climate debate.How could they not see the truth, and why wouldn’t they face him openly? He felt that tribal allegiance or group think anxiety were at the heart of what passes for thought in our society.
Ingrida and I are grateful to have called Bob and Anne our friends. A conversation with Bob could range from politics to science and fine art. He always had sympathetic care for family life. In fact he seemed to have a loving embrace for us all. He will be missed dreadfully by all who knew him. Our sincere commiserations to Anne and family, from John and Ingrida Spooner.
Professor of Physics, Peter Ridd, Marine Geophysics Laboratory
This is distressing news. Bob was truly one of the major influences in my life since he set up the Marine Geophysical Lab at JCU in the 80’s. I learnt so much about the perspective that only a geologist can bring – and a brilliant one at that.
I can assure you that in addition to old post docs like me, there is a tribe of ex students who are very saddened by this news but grateful that they came under Bob’s spell for some of their formative years.
He will be missed.
Willie Soon, Astrophysicist
Bob Carter – what a great professional and personal loss for so many of us AGW critics with the news of the death of Bob Carter. Bob gave so much of himself in recent years to holding the line against the false arguments and propaganda that has been so extensively advanced by global warming advocates. We should all admire Bob’s courage and his insightful climate understanding which he so skillfully brought to bear to up-hold the integrity of science. He leaves behind a most admirable legacy which will continue to inspire me and I’m sure many others to keep up our efforts to bring truth to the warming question….
Steve Hyland (former student of Bob Carter)
Oh no. This is unexpected and very sad news about Bob Carter.
It was a privilege to be one of Bob’s undergraduate students in the mid 1980′s at James Cook University. I will always remember how he reinforced the importance of scientific method, which I probably didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I certainly do now in these ‘post modern’ times in science.
Bob was a scientist to the core and it goes without saying a true gentleman. I regret that he will not to see an end to the unscientific “global warming” madness that has gripped the world. This is a huge loss. I am resolved to continue the good fight in his memory.