Category Archives: Politicalization of Science

Another Example Of Inappropriate Communications On A Climate Assessement

In Judy Curry’s post on Climate Etc titled

Climate Etc. at 2

there is a remarkable e-mail that Steven Mosher posted September 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm from those hacked from the University of East Anglia (i. e. what has been called “Climategate”).  Steven’s comment is presented below followed by my comment as to why this is significant [highlight added]

From: Phil Jones To: “Michael E. Mann” Subject: Empire Strikes Back – return of proper science ! Date: Fri May 20 13:45:26 2005


REDACTEDJust reviewed Caspar’s paper with Wahl for Climatic Change. Looks pretty good. Almost reproduced your series and shows where MM have gone wrong. Should keep them quiet for a while. Also they release all the data and the R software. Presume you know all about this. Should make Keith’s life in Ch 6 easy ! Also, confidentially for a few weeks, Christy and Spencer have admitted at the Chicago CCSP meeting that their 2LT record is wrong !! They used the wrong sign for the diurnal correction ! Series now warms – not quite as much as the surface but within error bands. Between you and me, we’ll be going with RSS in Ch 3 and there will be no discrepancy with the surface and the models. Should make Ch 3 a doddle now ! Keep quiet about this until Bern at least. Can tell you more then. RSS (Carl Mears and Frank Wentz) found the mistake ! The skeptic pillars are tumbling ! Cheers Phil

I was at the Chicago meeting.  First the error that is mentioned in Phil Jones was actually  a minor one, and was corrected by Spencer and Christy immediately after it was identified at the meeting by the RSS group (Wentz and Mears). I felt it was odd that the RSS group presented this at the meeting rather than communicating prior to the meeting.

What is most disturbing, however, is that Phil Jones (who was NOT a member of the CCSP 1.1 Committee) found out about this issue, when the meetings of our Committee were supposed to be confidential.  Then, Phil Jones disseminated this information further to Mike Mann.

This is yet another example of the Old Boy’s network that, in my view, has undercut the credibility of climate assessments.

See also my posts (of which several provide additional examples of the inappropriate communication of Committee information to others outside of the Committee).

Further Evidence Of The Failure Of An Appropriate and Accurate Assessment Of Climate Science

An E-Mail Communication Between Phil Jones and Ben Santer Indicating Inappropriate Behavior By The US National Research Council

Conflict Of Interest Process with Respect To An NRC Review Panel Of A Draft Of The CCSP 1.1 Report

Further Documentation Of Inappropriate Behavoir By A Subset Of Members Of The CCSP 1.1 Committee And The NRC Review Committee

It has been over 7 years since the e-mail was sent by Phil Jones to Michael Mann. Unfortunately, it appears nothing has actually changed with respect to the Old Boy’s network.

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Filed under Climategate e-mails, Politicalization of Science

The Politicalization of The US National Academies With Respect To Climate Science

Just when you did not think the climate issue could become more political, the National Academies endorses the photo contest below. As they write in the e-mail “Winners of the staff favorite for best submission will receive Catan: Oil Springs-an extension for the game Settlers of Catan“.  I have highlighted selected text below. [For how BASC describes itself this link]

Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2012 08:30:03 -0600

From: BASC <>


Subject: [UTF-8] Participate in the Koshland Science Museums Climate Change     Photo Challenge

To view this email as a web page, go to the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser’s address window.

August 7, 2012

Participate in the Koshland Science Museum’s

Climate Change Photo Challenge

Submissions due Wednesday, August 15, by 2 p.m. ET

What is your community doing about climate change?

Share a photo of one way in which your community is lowering greenhouse gas emissions or adapting to the impacts of climate change.  Next month, these photos will become the basis of a climate change tour.

Don’t know what to look for? You can check out the information online in the exhibit, Earth Lab: Degrees of Change ( ) and at the Division of Earth and Life Sciences’ resource, Climate Change at the National Academies ( ) for background information, ideas, and inspiration.

Winners of the staff favorite for best submission will receive Catan: Oil Springs-an extension for the game Settlers of Catan.

Best of all, participation is free. You have the chance to capture climate change adaptation in mitigation in action and to share your photos with others.

For more information, visit  or email the museum at .

Visit the BASC Website at

The nation turns to the National Academies-National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council-for independent, objective advice on issues that affect people’s lives worldwide.

My Comment: The promotion of this context clearly shows that “the National Academies-National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council [DOES NOT PROVIDE] independent, objective advice on issues that affect people’s lives worldwide. If they did, they would communicate the diversity of  peer-reviewed perspectives on the climate issue; e.g. see

Pielke Sr., R., K.  Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D.  Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E.  Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J.  Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases.   Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American   Geophysical Union.

Each of the authors is an AGU Fellow.

The web version of the announcement can be read here.

Here is information on the Koshland Science Museum that presents their perspective.

Earth is warming. Heat waves have become longer and more extreme. Cold snaps have become shorter and milder. Northern Hemisphere snow cover has decreased. Rivers and lakes are freezing later and thawing earlier. Arctic sea ice has declined. Glaciers and ice caps are melting in many parts of the world.

Global warming is closely associated with a broad spectrum of other changes, such as increases in the frequency of intense rainfall, decreases in Northern Hemisphere snow cover and Arctic sea ice, warmer and more frequent hot days and nights, rising sea levels, and widespread ocean acidification. Learn more about these changes.

Human activity is causing climate change by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Natural processes cannot account for the recent change in temperature. Learn more about the causes of climate change.

Climate scientists have developed sophisticated computer models to estimate future climate change. Learn about how climate models work, how they are tested, and how will our decisions affect climate.

The environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts. Learn more about mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts.

My Comment: The Koshland Science Museum makes a number of errors in their mission statement. As just two examples, they write “Northern Hemisphere snow cover has decreased”.  This cover has not decreased since ~1998, despite ever increasing atmospheric CO2!  See the figure below from the Rutgers Snow Lab

The second example is that they write “Climate scientists have developed sophisticated computer models to estimate future climate change.” While it is correct that sophisticated computer models have been developed, the website fails to communicate that they have shown NO skill at predicting  changes in regional climate statistics!  This failure is overviewed in my recent post

CMIP5 Climate Model Runs – A Scientifically Flawed Approach

For those who wonder what the prize is that is being offered for this contest – Catan: Oil Springs – it is described as a game where

That’s right, oil has been discovered on the island of Catan!  And after many years of study, the great engineers of Catan have learned ways to improve production using this valuable new resource, both by converting it into other resources and enabling the upgrade of cities into metropolises.

But oil is scarce and its use does not come without cost. Using oil produces pollution, as well as climate changing emissions, which bring with them the threat of coastal flooding—and absolute disaster. With the discovery of oil on Catan, its inhabitants face a new challenge: deciding whether the common good is worth limiting oil usage or whether the pursuit of victory is worth the risk of ruin.

Students, media and policymakers who want to utilize the climate information from this sanctioned National Academies program, should read my son’s book

The Honest Broker

where the failure of the the National Academies to serve as an honest broker for independent, objective advice on climate issues that affect people’s lives worldwide is abundanatly clear.

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A “Climate Science” Poll Run Under The Endorsement Of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota

I was sent the e-mail below with respect to a poll run under the auspices of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 12:23:45 -0400 From: The Vision Prize <> To: Subject: Does rapid ice melt in Greenland affect your views about Arctic sea ice?

Dear Climate Scientist,

Did the news yesterday about the [rapid ice melt in Greenland]( surprise you?  The Vision Prize online poll of scientists is currently asking this related question:

**When (if ever) will the Arctic Sea become completely free of summer floating ice?**

Please [sign up]( now to submit your prediction.  _This timely one-question poll takes just 2 minutes after sign up, which is free and easy._ As a distinguished expert, your participation is vital to robust expert poll results.

Thanks in advance for interest and support.

_The Vision Prize is affiliated with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, and is strictly nonpartisan._ View this email on the web here: Unsubscribe: You can also forward to a friend:

The Vision Prize | Box 7775 #20915 | San Francisco CA USA | 94120

They list the goals of this effort as

Contribute to expert opinion on scientific issues relevant to decision makers and financial markets

  • Help identify where there is substantial agreement or disagreement
  • See how expert beliefs update with new information in each polling round
  • Win donations for charities of your choice
  • Participation is free — and takes just a few minutes

They write

The Vision Prize expert poll assesses the views of climate scientists — not public opinion. Expert participants are asked to give not only their own predictions (Actual Answers), but also to predict the views of their scientific colleagues (Expected Distribution of Answers).  This allows the poll to highlight “Surprisingly Common” points of agreement. Vision Prize features open data and transparent methodology.  The project currently involves more than 170 experts from institutions around the world. All questions in this poll ask for the participants’ best guess about what they expect — not what they hope — will be the true outcomes.

An example of one of the polls results is reproduced below. Other results can be found at the same link.

I went on their website and they list who has received a “Vision Prize”  which can be donated to one of the charities they list [see link for a clearer presentation on the names].


Vision Prize Winners

Charity Gift Card Prizes

skywatchernot provided; (United Kingdom); Other scientific or technical – commercial; Palaeoclimate, models, GIS; Industry – Environmental Services; $200
PhilEnvironment; (Ireland); Research scientist – government or NGO; Atmosheric Physics; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Emissions, Sinks and atmospheric transport $150
David Karoly University of Melbourne; (Australia); Academic staff; Climate science; Academia – Earth Sciences; Climate variability and climate change $120
BAOakley University of Rhode Island; (United States); Graduate student; Geology; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Glacial and Coastal Geology $120
Kevin Trenberth NCAR; (United States); Research scientist – government or NGO; Climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; water cycle $110
Kate Moran University of Victoria; (Canada); Faculty; paleoceanography, marine geotechnics; Academia – Engineering; ocean observatories $100
Per Wikman-Svahn Swedish Defence Research Agency; (Sweden); Research scientist – government or NGO; Climate change adaptation, Risk philosophy; Other – Government; Climate change impacts $100
Robert Kopp Rutgers University; (United States); Faculty; Earth system science, Paleoclimate, Geobiology, Climate and energy policy; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
dpierce Scripps Institution of Oceanography; (United States); Academic staff; Climate research; Academia – Earth Sciences; climate change, hydrology, detection and attribution $100
Alex Thomas University of Oxford; (United Kingdom); Post-doctoral researcher; Isotope Geochemistry, Sea Level, Paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
Stephen Mulkey Unity College; (United States); Faculty; Global change; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Forest ecology and climate $100
Ben Brown-Steiner Cornell University; (United States); Graduate student; Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $100
Lawrence Hamilton University of New Hampshire; (United States); Faculty; environmental sociology, statistics, survey research; Academia – Social Sciences; Human-environment interactinos in the Arctic, public beliefs and knowledge on climate $90
James Boulter University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; (United States); Faculty; Atmospheric; Academia – Chemistry; heterogeneous reactions, sustainability studies, climate and society $80
ken mankoff UCSC; (United States); Graduate student; glaciology; Academia – Earth Sciences; ice ocean interactions $70
GaryG Columbia; (United States); Research scientist – government or NGO; climate modeling; Academia – Environmental Sciences; $70
Kesem The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; (Israel); Faculty; Biogeochemistry; Academia – Earth Sciences; $70
Mitch Lyle Texas A&M University; (United States); Faculty; marine geology/paleoceanography; Academia – Environmental Sciences; water cycle, carbon cycle $70
Bart Verheggen Energy Research Institute of the Netherlands; (Netherlands); Research scientist – government or NGO; Atmospheric science; Other – Government; atmospheric aerosols, clouds, global climate change, communication $60
Yarrow Axford Northwestern University; (United States); Faculty; Paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $60
vertibogts Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources; (Germany); Research scientist – government or NGO; paleoclimate; Academia – Earth Sciences; $50
Jason Evans University of New South Wales; (Australia); Faculty; regional climate; Academia – Earth Sciences; regional climate modelling, water cycle studies $50
Raymond Arritt Iowa State University; (United States); Faculty; Atmospheric science; Academia – Earth Sciences; Regional climate; aerobiology $40
Joe QCCCE/DERM; (Australia); Other scientific or technical – government or NGO; climate science; Other – Government; climate modelling and analysis $40
Chris Vernon University of Bristol; (United Kingdom); Graduate student; Glaciology; Academia – Environmental Sciences; Greenland, Energy $40
robert davies utah state university; (United States); Faculty; quantum optics / atmospheric physics; Academia – Physics; climate change / science communication $40
Dana Nuccitelli Tetra Tech, Inc.; (United States); Other scientific or technical – commercial; Environmental Science, Physics; Industry – Environmental Services; climate science  [My note: Dana Nuccitelli is dana1981 on Skeptical Science] $40

This how they characterize their methodology

The Vision Prize incentivized scoring method mitigates the impact of herding and other behavioral biases of conventional aggregation procedures like calculating the mean, median or modal response. It does this by rewarding the answers that are more common than expected, not necessarily the most common overall. This approach means that there is no bias against atypical views and no special incentive to pick the answer you think most others will pick

I cannot believe that this poll serves any useful purpose other than to continue the politicization of climate science. Science issues, such as their first and second poll questions are only resolved in the peer-reviewed literature and in constructive debate at conferences, on weblogs, etc.  Their polling approach certainly does promote “herding”.  I am surprised (and disappointed) that this type of poll is sanctioned by two major research universities.

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An Example Of The Failure To Properly Respond To Climate Risk By The Obama Administration

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These last few weeks have involved wildfires destroying hundreds of homes, an organized thunderstorm system called a derecho resulting in several million homes without electric power, and a drought causing agricultural loss in large areas of the central USA. So how does the US government respond?

As reported in the Hill in the article by Ben Geman (h/t Marc Morano) [highlight added]

Obama official: US climate views shifting amid wild weather

A senior Obama administration scientist said this year’s heat and Western wildfires are altering perceptions of climate change in the United States.

Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in Australia on Friday that many have previously regarded climate change as a “nebulous concept,” The Associated Press reports.

Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it’s having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events,” she said at a university in Canberra, AP reports.

“People’s perceptions in the United States, at least, are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change,” she said.

Lubchenco “said that while it was impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change, the pattern of extreme events was consistent with forecast consequences of increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” AP reports.

She is the second Obama administration official to weigh in this week on the nexus between the violent U.S. weather and climate change.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano linked climate change with the wildfires hitting Colorado.
Napolitano said “there’s a pattern here” as she noted the summer wildfires as well as the East Coast heat wave and the high-velocity winds that whipped through the mid-Atlantic late last week.

For other comments on the extreme weather by senior members of the Obama administration see Judy Curry’s post

Week in review 7/6/12

with statements by Jane Lubchenco, Undersecretary of NOAA, Morris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Resources and Natural Environment, and Janet Napolitano, Secretary Homeland Security.

The clear implication is that the Obama administration is going to continue with the top-down, global climate model approach to respond to extreme weather events. Their focus will be on mandating reductions in CO2 emissions as a way to reduce the occurrence of these extreme events.

However, as discussed in our article

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing  with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based  vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and  Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press.

the top-down approach is too narrow, and will likely result in poor policy choices since all mitigation and adaptation responses to weather extremes are not being considered.

For example, with respect to the three extreme weather events listed earlier in this post there are a number of bottom up responses that should be adopted regardless of how or if weather patterns change in the future:

1. With respect to homes lost in wildfires, one way to reduce risk is to require homes built in those areas have fire resistant construction. This means that shake roofs be prohibited. When I lived in Fort Collins, our covenants actually required us to have skaked roofs! This is no better than having kindling for a roof top. A number of the homes lost in Colorado Springs appeared to have shake roofs which will often combust just from a single ember!

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2. With respect to the recent power outages in the eastern USA, this has been a perennial problem. Tropical storms and hurricanes, ice storms and thunderstorms have caused large losses of power in the past due to trees and branches breaking electric lines (e.g. see hurricanes for Maryland). The obvious solution is to place the electric lines underground as much as possible, as they do in Colorado, Florida and elsewhere.  The cost for this reduction of risk certainly will be less than the losses incurred by the power outages that will inevitably occur again.

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3. With respect to the drought, crop insurance certainly is a response by many farmers.  However, this is just a short-term stop-gap approach. What is needed is the development of pipelines to ship water across large distances. This has been proposed in Colorado   and California  (Big Straw project; see and see) and is worth considering throughout agricultural regions of the country.  Canada, for example, with its vast  fresh water supplies from inland lands could provide the USA with a source of irrigation water during times of drought.

image from WUWT 

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None of these approaches depend on whether weather patterns are changing or not. They make sense regardless. This approach is much better than appears to be adopted by the Obama administration. In the upcoming election, it could be another point of contrast in policy, if the Romney campaign adopts a broader based, resource-focused approach to reduce the risks of society to the climate.

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Filed under Climate Science Reporting, Politicalization of Science, Vulnerability Paradigm

Comments On The Global Warming Policy Foundation Report “The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal”

Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation has alerted us to a searing criticism of the BBC in a report by Christopher Brooker and Anthony Jay titled

The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal.

He summarizes this “betrayal” in three summary points

* First, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.

* Second, it has betrayed the principles of responsible journalism, by allowing its coverage to become so one-sided that it has too often amounted to no more than propaganda.

* Third, it has betrayed the fundamental principles of science, which relies on unrelenting scepticism towards any theory until it can be shown to provide a comprehensive explanation for the observed evidence.

Judy Curry has posted

David Whitehouse on Science Journalism

where she discusses their report among other topics. Her summary statement is

When science becomes politicized, we need journalists to be playing a watchdog role and not just parroting the words of scientists and their press releases.

I agree with her conclusion. I also would add that this politicization has permeated the leadership of professional societies including the American Geophysical Union; e.g. see

Advocacy Of A Particular Climate Science Perspective By A Panel Sponsored By The American Geophysical Union

as well as funding agencies; e.g. see

US Government Funding Agencies As Gatekeepers

The press is not the only group at fault as our professional societies and funding agencies are also failing to provide balanced assessments of the science.

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Is The Focus Of NOAA’s Postdoctoral Climate Program Too Limiting?

The publication NCAR Magazine has an article in their June 23 2011 issue titled

Twenty years of postdoctoral progress on climate – A reunion for NOAA’s C&GC program

One of the figures from the article is reproduced below.

Gavin Schmidt, Heidi Cullen, and Richard Somerville

with the caption

“At the closing panel of the 20th-anniversary reunion event, Gavin Schmidt (NASA) and Heidi Cullen (Climate Central) joined emcee Richard Somerville (Scripps Institution of Oceanography). (Photo courtesy Mary Norell.)”While
While I respect the views of each of the three individuals pictured above, all three of them advocate the  (rejected in our view)hypothesis listed in our paper
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union
that CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases are the dominate human climate forcings.  Their views can be read here, here, and here.
If such a view is a litmus test for NOAA climate postdoctoral support, than NOAA is not providing effective scientific leadership in supporting research of young scientists on the actual real-world climate system
We need NOAA postdocs who examine the broader perspective of the role of humans in the climate system and of natural climate forcings.  If the selection is strongly influenced by Gavin, Richard and Heidi, we should be concerned that alternative views of climate science are not being  investigated in this NOAA progam.

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Perceptive Article On The Sad State Of Research Funding By Toby N. Carlson

Toby N. Carlson of the Department of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University has shared with me two article on the sad state of research funding. This sentiment fits with my impressions of NSF funding that I have posted on in my weblog; e.g. see

Is The NSF Funding Untestable Climate Predictions – My Comments On A $6 Million Grant To Fund A Center For Robust Decision–Making On Climate And Energy Policy”

The National Science Foundation Funds Multi-Decadal Climate Predictions Without An Ability To Verify Their Skill

The two articles are

Carlson, T. N, 2010: Science by Proxy. The Chronicle for Higher Education. October 17 201o.


Carlson, T. N., 2008: Current funding practices in academic science stifle creativity. Review of Policy Research (Dupont Summit issue), 25, 631-642.

In Carlson 2010, excerpts are [highlight added]

“The agencies are also at fault. They are bureaucracies that promote top-down science to suit political and administrative ends. To begin with, there is the application process itself. Often, an agency’s request for proposal, or RFP, reads like a legal document, constricting the applicant to stay within very narrow and conventional bounds, with no profound scientific questions posed at all. Many RFP’s are so overly specific that they amount to little more than work for hire. Those who know how to play the game simply reply to RFP’s with parroted responses that echo the language in the proposal, in efforts to convince the reviewers that their programs exactly fit the conditions of the RFP. Thus many RFP’s inhibit good research rather than encourage it.

Program managers—who are even further removed from the forefront of their fields than overburdened principal investigators—also favor large, splashy research projects with plenty of crowd appeal, like fancy Web sites that look impressive but that no one actually uses. In other words, useless science.

Money is trumping creativity in academic science. This statement was previously given substance in an article I published, along with a companion paper by Mark Roulston in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (Carlson, 2006a; Roulston, 2006) and in a subsequent address I gave to the Heads and Chairs meeting in Boulder, Colorado (Carlson, 2006b). Here, I expand further on the issues treated in these papers, and make a plea for changing the way funding is administered in academic science. Using examples I show that the present worsening situation places a dead hand on the spirit and creative output of academic scientists, especially junior faculty. I suggest a possible solution, which would enable academic scientists to function in a stable environment, free from spurious financial pressures and dictates from university administration and funding agencies.”

Excerpts from the Carlson 2008 paper read

I would like to suggest an alternate approach to addressing this crisis. One approach would be to award a sum of money based on the score received from the reviewers. This would insure that all but the poorest proposals would receive some funding. Another suggestion is more radical. For this, we need not be fixated on the numbers here, as expediting the idea would entail a thorough cost analysis of funds available from institutions and the numbers of potential recipients of that funding. I believe that were funding agencies to collaborate by agreeing to award each faculty member a nominal sum of money each year (let’s say $20,000) plus one graduate student, subject to a very short proposal justifying the research and citing papers published, the total amount of money handed out would be far less than at present and the time spent in fruitless chasing after funds reduced considerably. Importantly, the productivity and creativity of the scientist would increase and the burden placed on reviewers of papers and proposals and on editors of journals would decrease.

The proposal submitted by the scientist to the funding agency would be very short (e.g., one page), and be subjected to a nominal review and a pass/fail criterion: does this proposal seem worthwhile? The level of subsistence would be set low enough to eliminate greed (or complacency on the part of the recipient), high enough to allow scientists adequate funds to carry on a viable research program free of financial stresses. The allotment would also be set sufficiently low as to insure that funding agencies have sufficient money left over for some larger programs. The latter would be funded by the submission of conventional proposals, subject to the current review process, except that the research would be initiated from the working scientist rather than the funding agency. In other words, bottom up science.

The atmosphere being created by the present system in academic science is joyless. Good scientific research requires dedication, patience, and enthusiasm and a high degree of passion for the chosen subject. Overhearing conversations in the corridors of my own institution, I am struck by the fact that the topics are almost always related to proposal writing and funding and not to scientific ideas. Where is the inspiration; where is the passion?

Toby’s recommendation is excellent, and should be encouraged. With respect to NSF funding in climate science, the current focus on funding multi-decadal climate predictions by the NSF fits with his characterization  that they “are bureaucracies that promote top-down science to suit political and administrative ends“.

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Interesting Information In EOS On The Interface Of Climate Science With The Public and Policymakers

There are two insightful articles in recent EOS issues that illustrate the current state of climate science. The first is

How Science and Hollywood Can Work Together Is Focus of Fall Meeting Panel By R. Showstack in the January 18 2011 issue of EOS

where one of the sections reads

“Perkowitz [the Moderator of the AGU session and author of the book Hollywood Science] related that the 2004 science fiction film about global warming, The Day After Tomorrow, which has grossed nearly $550 million, got many facts correct but sped up the tempo so changes occurred in weeks rather than decades. He said some scientists and others “were deeply offended that the movie took that degree of liberty. Yet the movie made people more aware of the importance of at least knowing about global warming and thinking that it might be an issue.”

In a quick survey of the Fall [AGU] Meeting audience, Perkowitz estimated that about half were offended by the liberties the movie took and half indicated that it is okay to stretch the truth in a movie to raise public awareness about an issue.”

The second EOS article is

Pieter P. Tans Receives 2010 Roger Revelle Medal

Pieter certainly deserves the recognition he received for his scientific contribution. In his acceptance of the Medal he presents his view on the role of climate scientists in the broader community.

“As climate scientists we now find ourselves in the situation that our subject is widely understood to be so relevant to society that many powerful interest groups feel threatened. Thus, we are facing a well organized and well-funded campaign attacking our science and our integrity, spreading confusion and disinformation. This is not surprising, as mitigating climate change goes to the core of our energy supply system and the broader economic system. Human-made climate change demonstrates that we cannot continue business as usual. Should we ignore the deliberate lies and manipulations we face and stick purely with the science, hoping that sound judgment and compassion will eventually prevail? We are scientists, but we are also citizens. It is our civic responsibility to redouble our efforts to convey to the public clearly the urgency and the essence of the climate change problem. The kind of world we leave to our children and grandchildren depends on it. It will have to be a world that has as one of its guiding principles a Sanskrit prayer that was used as a dedication in the above mentioned 1972 book: “Oh Mother Earth, ocean-girdled and mountainbreasted, pardon me for trampling on you.”

The AGU itself is taking a more active role in involvement in the political process. I received the e-mail reproduced below from the AGU on January 24 2011.

Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 12:26:09 -0500

From: Kaitlin Chell XXXXX

To: pielkesrXXXXX

Subject: Invitation: Come to Capitol Hill with AGU

Dear AGU Member,

Do you want to get involved with science and politics at the national level?  Do you care about the nation’s laws and how they affect global citizens and the scientific community?  Participate in Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (SET-CVD) on 6-7 April in Washington, DC.  This is a great opportunity for you to come to our nation’s capital and promote science!

AGU has partnered with other scientific societies to host SET-CVD  AGU will schedule meetings for you with Members of Congress and their staff so that you can discuss your research and illustrate the importance of supporting federally funded research through agencies such as DOE, EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and USGS.  I encourage you to participate in SET-CVD whether you have participated in congressional activities before or not.  You can view a short informational video at

RSVP to me at kchell@xxxx or xxxxx by 4 March.  Please be sure to include your primary research interest, affiliation, cell phone number, and home address (so I can determine your congressional district).

Please note that, unfortunately, no travel funds are available for SET-CVD participants.

PREVIEW AGENDA (subject to change)

Wednesday, 6 April

9AM—2PM:  SET-CVD workshop for Earth and space scientists at AGU headquarters (2000 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20009).  The afternoon will include a luncheon briefing on how to communicate with legislators, an overview of the federal budget and appropriations process, and ample time for questions.  A discussion with current and former Congressional Science Fellows will follow.  Topics will include how to improve communication with Congress, science priorities in the current session of Congress, and preparation for the next day’s visits.

2:30PM—5PM:  Briefings for all SET-CVD participants at AAAS (1200 New York Ave, NW)

5:30PM—7:30PM:  SET-CVD reception on Capitol Hill featuring the presentation of the George E. Brown Jr. SET Leadership Award

Thursday, 7 April

8AM-9AM:  SET-CVD breakfast on Capitol Hill

9AM—5PM:  SET-CVD participants visit their congressional delegations (as scheduled) on Capitol Hill

I hope to see you in Washington, DC, on 6-7 April!


Kaitlin Chell

Public Affairs Coordinator

American Geophysical Union

2000 Florida Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20009  USA

Office: xxxxx

E-mail: kchell@xxxxx

If AGU members participate in this AGU activity, I recommend they read my son’s book

Pielke, R. A. Jr,  2007: The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2007) should be required reader to determine the role that each AGU member wants to serve with respect to their interface with the political process.

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