WEBCommentary Editor

Author: Bob Webster
Date:  August 1, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

Problems at the American Physical Society (APS)
Supporting the IPCC's failed theory at all costs

The APS Council undermines scientific inquiry and denies reality with their knee-jerk reaction to a paper solicited by them that is, apparently, viewed as a real danger because it supports the rapidly growing recognition that the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory of the IPCC is fatally flawed. Human greenhouse gases do not significantly impact climate. Carbon dioxide emissions are not "polluting" our atmosphere.

The American Physical Society (APS) publishes a monthly newsletter Physics and Society. The APS solicited articles for its July 2008 newsletter from several individuals so they could publish papers speaking both for and against the IPCC view that anthropogenic warming is a significant component of recent warming and will result in potentially "catastrophic" future warming (this is the essence of the anthropogenic global warming, AGW, theory).

In response to that request, The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (aka, Lord Monckton, Christopher Monckton) provided a paper titled Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered which reviewed assumptions of the IPCC that do not stand up to scrutiny and that lead to wildly excessive predictions of the human component to any climate warming from greenhouse gas emissions (specifically, carbon dioxide).

In early July the APS website posted both the papers, one supporting, Lord Monckton's rebutting, the IPCC AGW theory. For several days, there was no controversy. Then, without prior notice to Lord Monckton, someone at the APS added to the website page a disclaimer, in bright red, at the top of Lord Monckton's paper. That highly improper action caused a storm of protest that resulted in a milder, black text, version replacing the original disclaimer and also being added to the top of the article supporting the IPCC position.

Below are both the original and current disclaimers.

Considering that a full professor of Physics chosen by the APS did review the paper and through various communications with Lord Monckton suggested changes that resulted in more than 3000 additional words to the paper, the claim that the paper has not undergone "any scientific peer review" is debatable. It is absurd for the APS to claim that it is necessary to post a disclaimer at the head of each article not specifically identified as being reflective of the APS membership's opinion. Claims of consensus of opinions regarding scientific matters are generally inappropriate and not conducive to a healthy atmosphere for scientific inquiry.

The essence of scientific research is the quest for better "truth" in scientific knowledge. Those who believe that human emissions of carbon dioxide (or any other greenhouse gas) have a significant (or even detectible) effect on climate (the anthropogenic global warming, AGW, theory) have consistently attempted to silence opposing views on the peculiar basis that they do not represent "consensus." However, scientific truth is not determined by consensus -- it is determined by sound scientific research based on realistic assumptions and confirmed by observation. The AGW theory (as Monckton's paper demonstrates) not only fails the valid assumption test, it is completely discredited by a host of observational data (uncooperative polar temperatures, missing tropical mid-troposphere fingerprint, downturn in global temperature, cooling oceans, etc.) and new research that clearly demonstrates the claimed scientific bases upon which the AGW theory rests are fatally flawed. Humans are not capable of significantly altering climate. Greenhouse gases are not a signficant climate change force (and never have been in Earth's climate history over the past few billion years).

There is no longer any valid scientific basis for the claim endorsed by the APS Council that "emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate."

(logo design based on an idea by David Douglass at Rochester U.)

It appears that the APS membership would be well-served to step forward and elect a new Council to represent a more scientific approach to opinionating for the Society.

This entire episode raises more than a few questions that bear on the credibility of whether the views of the APS "governing body" represent the majority of APS members. Perhaps the APS could adopt a new logo to better reflect its approach to scientific inquiry:

  1. What process did the APS Council use to evaluate all aspects of the global warming theory espoused by the IPCC before endorsing it? It is particularly odd that the endorsement came as recently as November 2007 when emerging new research and observations (climate stability/cooling, projected multi-decadal cooling, shifts in PDO & ADO, increasing evidence supporting solar/cosmic link, lack of historic precedent for the AGW climate change mechanism, weakness of underlying IPCC assumptions exposed, lack of corroborating evidence predicted to appear by IPCC AGW theory, and not the least, the shattered basis for IPCC estimates of CO2 climate change forcing mechanism) have been devastating to the AGW theory.
  2. On what basis does the APS Council believe that the IPCC AGW theory is supported by "the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community" as stated in the original disclaimer? Where is the evidence for that statement?
  3. What role does "consensus" of scientific opinion play in real scientific discourse?
  4. What compelled the APS to divert from its very civil original approach to this issue by adding the original, highly offensive disclaimer to Monckton's paper?
  5. On what basis has the APS Council determined that the conclusions of Lord Monckton's paper are in "disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community" as claimed in the original disclaimer? (by what method has the Council determined the "opinion" of "the world scientific community"?)
  6. What has the APS Council done to provide future contributors assurance that they will not receive the same discourteous treatment given Lord Monckton's paper?
There is little doubt that Lord Monckton's paper will be peer reviewed. We can hope that any competent reviewing process will either establish the paper's validity or lead to modifications that will give us an even better paper with an improved understanding of the feedback processes involved with increased atmospheric CO2.

It is remarkable to witness how any questioning of the IPCC's AGW theory's key underpinning receives such hostile treatment prior to wide scientific scrutiny. Certainly there was no time for serious APS Council evaluation of Lord Monckton's paper prior to the appearance of the offensive disclaimers. The Council, or someone purporting to represent the views of the Council, simply stated what they wanted people to believe. Such reaction strongly confirms the growing belief that the AGW theory stands upon a crumbling foundation. It further serves to taint the reputations of those members of the APS Council, and it does nothing to enhance the reputation of Society members in general.

For more on this issue, see history of APS controversy and replies to rebuttal attempts as well as this excellent piece at The American Thinker: Unrepentant APS softens but doesn't remove offensive Monckton disclaimer.

Bob Webster
WEBCommentary (Editor, Publisher)

Biography - Bob Webster

Bob Webster, a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s) is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.

A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.

Copyright 2008 by Bob Webster
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