JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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APS reconsiders its position on climate — Scientific storm on the way?

Everything about associations and committees is so paralyzingly slow. But nearly four and a half years after 160 members bitterly complained about the American Physical Society (APS) statement on climate change, they are finally revisiting it, and there are very promising signs. They’ve appointed Richard Lindzen, John Christie, and Judith Curry, all either longstanding skeptics or sympathetic to skeptical arguments. That’s three of six. (Though I stress that I will remain skeptical until the new statement comes out. One other member, Ben Santer, has a record of rewriting conclusions of much larger committees, and other shenanigans*.)

In 2007, the APS improbably stepped out of the world of physics and into the world of policy and proclaimed:

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.

If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

In 2009, when 160 members of the APS protested, the council “overwhelmingly” voted to reject their proposal. (See how these things work? There are 47,000 members, of which 160 people took the effort and time to publicly protest, and then a [...]

The scientific world is fracturing

The rift between real science (the pursuit of truth) and PR-science (the pursuit of of money and power) is growing. Associations like The Royal Society, the APS, and the American Chemical Society are beginning to fracture internally as eminent members reject the unscientific pronouncements made on their behalf by small “secret and stacked” committees.

Hal Lewis comes from the elite upper levels of science — a physics professor at University of California (Santa Barbara), and a member of the Defense Science Board (a group of the top 40 or so, advising the Pentagon).

He’s resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) today, after 67 years. The APS is the world’s second largest organization of physicists, with 48,000 members. He is scathing of the fall from grace of the once renowned institution.

Anthony Watts is calling it “…an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door.”

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 [...]