Tim Ball talks in a recent post of '30 lost years' in climate science, as it has been taken over by people who know relatively little about it:
'We now have a generation (30 years) of people teaching, researching, or running government that has little knowledge because of lack of fundamental education. Because of them, the public is[are] ill informed, don’t understand the problem, and don‘t know the questions to ask. Correcting the education process will take time because there are insufficient people with the knowledge or expertise. Correcting and widening the research functions will take longer because of removing or re-educating current personnel and a lack of qualified replacements. Even if achieved, success is unlikely.'
This is reinforced by the events such as the appointment of a Chris Mooney to the board of the American Geophysical Union(AGU). Here he is quoted as wanting scientists to be ninjas:
'Can scientists become "Deadly Ninjas of Science Communication"? That was proposed by Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War Against Science," and a member of the board of directors of the American Geophysical Union. Mooney advocated this idea in a presentation at the Union's December 13-17 fall meeting in San Francisco.
Roger Pielke Jr. comments on the appointment of Mooney as follows:
'One factor might be seen in a recent action of the American Geophysical Union -- another big US science association: AGU recently appointed Chris Mooney to its Board. I am sure that Chris is a fine fellow, but appointing an English major who has written divisively about the "Republican War on Science" to help AGU oversee "science communication" is more than a little ironic, and unlikely to attract many Republican scientists to the institution, perhaps even having the opposite effect. To the extent that AAAS and AGU endorse the Democratic policy agenda, or just appear to do so, it reflects their role not as arbiters of knowledge claims, but rather as political actors.'
and he expresses concern over the ability of scientific institutions to withstand such strong political engagement:
'Many observers are so wrapped up in their own partisan battles that they either don't care that science is being associated with one political party or they somehow think that through such politicization they will once and for all win the partisan battles. They won't. Political parties are far more robust than institutions of science. Institutions of science need help to survive intact partisan political battles. The blogosphere and activist scientists and journalists offer little help.'
A far more appropriately and well-qualified appointment has just been made to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in the UK, where a Professor Corinne Le Quéré is to take over from Kevin Anderson. He had no background in climatology, nor in climate science (one site describes his background thus: 'Kevin is a qualified marine engineer and has 12 years industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is currently a non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management – a London based company advising leading firms and public bodies on how to manage their carbon emissions and is commissioner on the Welsh Assembly Government’s ‘Climate Change Committee’.').
Will Professor Le Quéré be any better? She seems to have surfed on various IPCC waves to get to where she is today, and that is of course very discouraging for those of us who regard the IPCC as suspect, and not worthy of our trust:
'As UEA Chair of Climate Change Science and Policy, Corinne Le Quéré is a physicist by training, and conducts research on the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. She recently led a team that uncovered the weakening of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink in response to human-induced climate change. Professor Le Quéré lectures internationally, and supervises postgraduate students and researchers at UEA.
Professor Le Quéré said of her appointment: “The Tyndall Centre is a young and vibrant institute with a highly respected international reputation. I look forward to maintaining and enhancing Tyndall’s renown and exploring new avenues of research.”
Other research achievements of Professor Le Quéré include her Lead Authorship of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
She co-chairs the Global Carbon Project, established in 2001 as a non-governmental organization that fosters International research on the carbon cycle and publishes annual updates of the global emissions and sinks of carbon dioxide.
Prof Le Quéré is originally from Canada. She completed a PhD in oceanography at the University Paris VI, an MS in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from McGill University and a BSc. in physics from the University of Montréal. She has conducted research at Princeton University in the United States and at the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany.'
So, will it take another 30 years or more for the tertiary institutions to get over the 'Great Climate Scare'? How does that place our primary and secondary schools? When will teachers appear who have not been exposed since their own schooldays to alarmist propaganda from their own teachers and mentors?
I find my optimism jolted a little by Tim Ball's article. If he is right, there is a long road ahead. How long did the relevant scientific institutions in the former Soviet Union take to recover from the Lysenko period? How much societal loss did it cause in the meantime? Perhaps the excursion of climate science into political alarmism is different? Perhaps the internet will help clear up the mess more quickly than otherwise by facilitating the exchange of deeper and clearer thinking?
Note added 21 Jan 2011. The article by Tim Ball referenced above contains some errors which have been corrected or commented on here: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/32322 . They mostly concern comments on a Dr Weaver, none of which have been quoted in my post above.
Note added 18 May 2011. A new essay by Dr Ball entitled 'Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years' has been posted here: http://drtimball.com/2011/corruption-of-climate-science-has-created-30-lost-years/