2010-10-10 09:07:31Oh boy... another "Skeptic" mad about APS - Harold Lewis
Shirley_Rocks
Shirley Pulawski
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From WUWT to The Telegraph... *sigh* Note the argument is completely political without a speck of science. 

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100058265/us-physics-professor-global-warming-is-the-greatest-and-most-successful-pseudoscientific-fraud-i-have-seen-in-my-long-life/

2010-10-10 14:13:30
nealjking

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Nobody expects much of emeritus professors. He's ranting.
2010-10-11 15:04:26agreed
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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Indeed, isn't it interesting how often these 'skeptic' scientists are really, really old?
2010-10-11 18:43:20What interests me is the WUWT take on this
John Cook

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Is it a sign of desperation that skeptic blogs like WUWT invest so much in these cantankerous old physicists? Anthony Watts likens this to Martin Luther nailing his theses to the church door. Stirring stuff. I see it more as the cranky old uncle ranting away at the family get-together (or in my case, the father-in-law).

2010-10-11 19:16:11
nealjking

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Yes, it would be a bit more plausible if it were a young firebrand instead of an emeritus reactionary.

The image that comes to mind is someone nailing his necktie to the church door - while wearing it.

 

2010-10-11 21:02:40
doug_bostrom

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The image that comes to mind is someone nailing his necktie to the church door - while wearing it.

Moving up the foodchain. Expect it to become part of the standard GOP stump speech within a few days... 

2010-10-12 07:53:50If SkS was a different type of climate blog...
John Cook

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Then I would do a blog post titled "Cantankerous elderly physicist rants about global warming. Anthony Watts wets himself"

But we're better than that :-)

2010-10-13 02:53:27haha
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
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That would be a pretty hilarious blog post though, John :-)

Martin Luther?  Seriously?  Watts is such a nutjob.  But hey, it sounds to me like he's comparing global warming denial to religion!

2010-10-13 02:58:06
nealjking

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Well, what he's implying is that this eminent emeritus has been compelled by his scientific integrity to declare his commitment to truth by publicly rejecting the scientific "dogma" of his day.

He may not be aware that Luther was dealing with a number of his own personal demons as well. But that's another story...

 

2010-10-13 07:03:58
Paul D

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Is there actually anything available about Harold Lewis and his views that isn't a skeptic blog or article?
2010-10-13 07:50:52
nealjking

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Well, here's an oral history transcript from 1986: http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4742.html

It's mostly about his involvement with JASON, a high-level physics advisory group for the US: They were involved in solving a lot of military technology problems. I think that's his claim to fame: He's no great shot at pure physics.

But from that history, his present stance is a little strange: This is not someone you would expect to be looking over his shoulder at "big government". He's been involved in governmental policy hip-deep.

2010-10-13 19:20:27
Paul D

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That was the only thing I could find as well neal.
2010-10-13 19:40:53
Rob Painting
Rob
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The Ville, this from a commenter (Joe) over at Stoat's, detailing what Lewis wrote in his 1990 book, Technological Risk:  

 

Well, isn't this interesting. I happen to have a copy of Technological Risk (actually 1990) right here. Lewis' discussion of global warming begins on p. 266, in a chapter on the risks posed by fossil fuels.

After a shaky start (he conflates global warming with greenhouse effect and gets the greenhouse analogy wrong), Lewis pretty much gets everything right. He discusses the EM spectrum and explains how greenhouse gases (mainly water and CO2) keep the earth warm. He talks about the state of climate models, writing:

"The GCMs in use nowadays do a pretty good job of calculating the effect of a potential doubling of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, but more research is truly needed... The details of the impending changes of climate are still beyond our grasp, though the broad outline is clear."

He then discusses how models were mostly in agreement on a global scale but differ at local levels and says:

"All models agree that the net effect will be a general and global warming of the earth; they only disagree about how much. Non suggest that it will be a minor effect, to be ignored while we go about our business."

After some discussion of global warming effects on agriculture and SLR Lewis concludes:  

"Yet, despite the complexity, the bottom line is that the earth will be substantially warmed by the accumulation of man-made gases, mainly carbon dioxide, and that warming could conceivably approximate the climate at the time of the dinosaurs. It seems likely, but not certain, that sea level will rise accordingly, conceivably by several feet or more. We are doing this to ourselves."

Lewis then goes on to discuss options to avert global warming - mainly nuclear power and greater efficiency. He is pretty bleak - "But there is nowhere in evidence any effective solution to the problem".

 

Apparently he was paying attention whilst involved with JASON. Given the work they did on global warming, I'd sure hope so!. 

 

 

2010-10-13 21:59:02
nealjking

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Interesting, this book is still in print: You can get it at Amazon for about $14.

So maybe someone should ask him what is wrong in his book?

2010-10-14 15:12:33APS response
doug_bostrom

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Here:

http://www.aps.org/about/pressreleases/haroldlewis.cfm 

2010-10-16 19:31:01Revkin converses with Lewis
John Cook

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Some more illuminating quotes from Lewis in email conversations with Andy Revkin:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/a-physicists-climate-complaints/

Disturbing stuff but nothing I haven't heard before (sadly).

2010-10-16 21:50:41
nealjking

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I don't see anything new or interesting in Lewis' responses. To be honest, I think this is less of a problem than that posed by Dyson, whom I also believe to be up a tree.

To quote Planck (more or less): "A scientific revolution is complete, not when there are no opponents, but when no one in the younger generation of scientists wishes to take up the arguments of the previous view."  I think we're there; unfortunately, the superannuated and the prostitutes can still be heard around the Internet.

2010-10-16 22:40:34
Paul D

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Lewis:
"I used to think that Phoenix was unbearably hot, but Indians lived there."

How many?
What food is available?

That's the point about a lot of these people, they just ignore the obvious.
Scientists should be rigorous and shouldn't be falling back on silly anecdotes.

"I’ve spent lots of time in New Mexico (Los Alamos), where 7,000 feet makes high temperatures a pleasure. Humans adapt. "

How many humans die in the process of adapting?

"So even though cold fusion hurt no one, it was a sin."

Is he religious?