October 15th 2011

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Gillard Government undeterred by growing voter backlash

EDITORIAL: Gillard's Asian foray is deeply flawed


CIVILISATION: Is culture more powerful than politics?

RETAILING: Dick Smith blasts Coles' "extreme capitalism"

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Still coming to grips with the global financial crisis

CLIMATE CHANGE: Nobel laureate breaks consensus over global warming

UNITED STATES: New Republican candidate for the White House

UNITED STATES: Gay agenda mandatory in California schools

TAIWAN: Taiwan celebrates centenary of Republic

EUTHANASIA: Nitschke, Nembutal and the TGA

OPINION: The error of demonising carbon "polluters"

OPINION: Robert Manne and the Quadrant affair

TRIBUTE: Max Crockett remembered

BOOK REVIEW The rise and fall of the New Left

BOOK REVIEW Cultural suicide

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QUEENSLAND: Brisbane ill-prepared for coming wet season


Nobel laureate breaks consensus over global warming

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, October 15, 2011

A Nobel laureate has quit the American Physical Society (APS), one of the world’s leading organisations of physicists, in protest at its assertion that the evidence of damaging global warming is “incontrovertible”.

Norwegian-born Professor Ivar Giaever, who lives in the United States, emailed the Society to say: “Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I cannot live with the [APS] statement below”.

The APS statement to which he referred said: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

“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.”

Professor Giaever commented, “In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?

“The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from about 288.0 to about 288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

Professor Giaever was one of Barack Obama’s leading scientific supporters during the 2008 president election campaign, joining 70 Nobel science laureates endorsing his candidacy.

But he has since criticised President Obama over his stance on global warming and was one of more than 100 scientists who wrote an open letter to him saying, “We maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated.”

Professor Giaever has criticised the global warming claims of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US vice-president Al Gore.

He has testified to the US Senate, calling himself a “sceptic” on global warming and citing both his birthplace and other scientific scares he has seen come and go during his career.

“I am Norwegian, should I really worry about a little bit of warming?” he said. “I am unfortunately becoming an old man. We heard many similar warnings about acid rain 30 years ago and the ozone hole 10 years ago or deforestation, but humanity is still around.

“Global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important. We don’t really know what the actual effect on the global temperature is.

“There are better ways to spend the money” to control greenhouse emissions, he concluded.

Professor Giaever is not alone in rejecting the APS’s insistence that there is consensus on the existence and severity of man-made global warming.

Several prominent members expressed frustration that it has refused to reconsider its position — drawn up in 2007 — in the light of the “Climategate” controversy about the findings of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

In an open letter to its governing board they wrote: “Measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th–21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today.”

Last year, Professor Hal Lewis, former head of the physics department at the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus, quit the American Physical Society, describing global warming as a “scam”.

Professor Lewis wrote that “the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. 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 my resignation from the Society.”

He added, “It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave.

“It is the greatest and most successful pseudo-scientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare.

“I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.”

The American Physical Society website has not commented on the departure of Professors Giaever and Lewis. It does, however, contain a media statement published two years ago, in which it reaffirmed its global warming position. 

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