American physical society statement on climate change: No longer ‘incontrovertible,

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. Revmitchell

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    Feb 18, 2006
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    A new letter to the American Physical Society (APS) from physicists Roger Cohen, Lawrence I. Gould, and William Happer makes it clear that the 2015 revision of the Society’s 2007 statement on climate change still hasn’t been revised enough.

    One major point of contention, the unacceptable use of the heavily loaded term “incontrovertible,” has been addressed, but the process by which that word slithered into the statement has not been dissected thoroughly enough, and dissenting scientists say promises to consult them on the new statement have not been honored.

    The American Physical Society is a non-profit organization boasting over 51,000 members, making it one of the largest such groups in the world. Climate science is a branch of physics, and climate change is the biggest and hottest debate in science (at least, it has the most money, cultural influence, and political power riding on it) so an APS statement on the matter was inevitable.

    Many members strongly believed that, as a society of physicists, the APS statement should focus solely upon the current state of climate science, and not the vast penumbra of policy surrounding it. That is certainly a fine ideal to uphold. Anyone who has closely followed the mutation of this most politicized of disciplines should be able to guess what actually happened in 2007.

    As Cohen, Gould, and Happer recall in their new letter, written on behalf of “the nearly 300 other members who signed our 2009 and 2010 petitions to the APS taking strong exception to the 2007 Statement on Climate Change”:

    APS email records show that the original 2007 Statement was rewritten “on the fly, over lunch” by a small group of firebrands who arbitrarily inserted themselves in the process, thereby overruling the prerogatives of POPA [the Panel on Public Affairs] and the APS Council. Thus, in “reaffirming” the 2007 Statement, the current Draft is referring to one that was produced by a bogus process and led to much ridicule of the APS, especially for its use of the infamous “incontrovertible.”

    In essence, the 2007 statement was modified at the last moment by the “firebrands” in question, to declare that the science of man-made climate change is “incontrovertible.” This is an entirely unacceptable term for serious scientists, especially physicists. It implies conclusions that cannot be challenged, questions that cannot be asked – the very antithesis of the scientific method. (Also, for those keeping score, the following years were not at all kind to some of 2007’s supposedly “incontrovertible” conclusions.)

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