On the Scene, with Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever

 

shutterstock_72959515Last week, I attended the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany as a member of the American delegation of young scientists. The purpose of the meeting was to promote the scientific exchange of ideas between nations and generations. Throughout the week, students from around the world discussed research in physics, chemistry, and medicine with each other, as well as the dozens of laureates in attendance.

Ivar Giaever — who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for experimental discoveries characterizing electron tunneling — used the occasion to discuss global climate change. His remarks have recently been discussed by Dennis Prager, and shown up in various news stories. The content speaks for itself and, if you wish to listen for yourself, Giaever’s full, half hour lecture can be viewed below.

My principle interaction with Giaever occurred after his lecture, at a closed-door question and answer session exclusively for students. In it, I witnessed student after student attack Giaever, both for his remarks and as a person. Some initiated their challenges by explicitly stating — or, for those with more tact, insinuating — that he was unintelligent, slow-witted, immoral, or unfeeling.

It was shocking. This was the only time during the entire conference that I observed someone treated with contempt. To better set the scene, you need to understand that Giaever is in his mid-eighties and is a soft-spoken, kindly-sort who generally speaks in a strong whisper. The most memorable challenger was a fellow American — a post-doc at NASA doing climate change related research — who issued challenge after challenge, her thoughts never reaching completion, as she progressed through a list of all the errors (lies?) he had made in his lecture presentation. She was visibly shaken by the experience and left the session soon after.

In contrast to the emotional quality of the questioning from most of the students, Giaever always answered politely and on-topic. For him, the topic was of scientific interest; for the students, it was strangely personal.

As my work is concerned with the research and development of lithium-ion battery technology, my knowledge of climate change is limited, but I grew increasingly sympathetic toward Giaever as the discussion progressed. I am skeptical of the accuracy of land-based temperature measurements, the effect of cloud coverage on measurements of radiative imbalance, and the methods used to average such data across time and space. Moreover, those attempting to persuade me of the horrors of climate change do not seem to understand what the error bars for their measurements are.

To my knowledge, I was the only one at the conference besides Giaever who was a “skeptic.” As the meeting progressed, I became convinced that my skepticism was warranted, and that I needed to do more first-hand research. For many of my fellow scientists, climate change is not so much a research topic, but an issue or a cause. It is striking how personally — and, sometimes, financially — invested many are in the issue. It is quite uncomfortable to discuss the topic with them, for they treated me, as they did Giaever, with exasperation and a degree of contempt.

After speaking with students from parts of the world subject to immediate dangers and evils – Jordan, Iran, South Africa, etc. – it angered me that the sort of passionate contempt heaped on Giaever was rarely summoned in response to the unambiguously malignant forces doing real harm to people right now.

If you can suggest where I should look to find the raw temperature/radiative heating data used to measure climate change, please let me know. I want to be more than skeptical about the data and methodologies about climate change.

There are 16 comments.

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  1. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Video:

    • #1
  2. Gödel's Ghost Inactive
    Gödel's Ghost
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    How’s this?

    More generally, don’t miss ClimateAudit.

    • #2
  3. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Thanks for posting this!

    • #3
  4. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I am not a scientist and this argument would not work at a place such as the conference you attended or for that matter here on Ricochet but for the common person that spouts off about Globol Warming it does. I simply ask them to tell me the composition of the atmosphere within 5%. This stops the discussion 9 out of 10 times.

    • #4
  5. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    People tend to react with anger and resentment when you attack their faith and religious beliefs.  And their sources of funding….

    • #5
  6. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    They wail, gnash their teeth, and tear their garments when hearing Mr. Giaver because he threatens their income. Grant writing for Climate Change activists is income. After being enslaved as a go-for by a full professor to obtain their doctorate their only financial hope is to obtain grants to advance the myth of man made Climate Change.

    • #6
  7. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Son of Spengler:Thanks for posting this!

    Indeed. Thanks.

    • #7
  8. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    You may find this piece by Matt Ridley of interest.  It focuses on the politicization of science in this field and some of the egregious errors.

    I’d also recommend Georgia State climatologist Judith Curry’s blog, and in particular this presentation to the House of Commons that is a good summary of the main areas of dispute.

    Ridley and Curry are “lukewarmers” who agree that human activity plays some role in climate but that the current evidence is much too weak to support the catastrophic predictions routinely thrown around by the proponents.

    • #8
  9. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Dr. Roy Spencer ( http://www.drroyspencer.com/ ) focuses on satellite data.

    • #9
  10. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Ion: The most memorable challenger was a fellow American — a post-doc at NASA doing climate change related research — who issued challenge after challenge, her thoughts never reaching completion, as she progressed through a list of all the errors (lies?) he had made in his lecture presentation. She was visibly shaken by the experience and left the session soon after. In contrast to the emotional quality of the questioning from most of the students, Giaever always answered politely and on-topic. For him, the topic was of scientific interest; for the students, it was strangely personal.

    That’s interesting, as that’s a rhetorical technique often associated with creationists: i.e., overload the speaker with a barrage of questions that are difficult to address on the spot, or that take hours to explain.

    What burns me the most about this is that specific predictions about global warming are treated as if they’re on the same plane as basic claims of well-established theory. I’m a layman, but it seems like a wholly qualitative difference, and one that does injury to topics where we really do have something approaching genuine confidence knowledge.

    • #10
  11. Gödel's Ghost Inactive
    Gödel's Ghost
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    What burns me the most about this is that specific predictions about global warming are treated as if they’re on the same plane as basic claims of well-established theory. I’m a layman, but it seems like a wholly qualitative difference, and one that does injury to topics where we really do have something approaching genuine confidence knowledge.

    On those rare occasions (thank God) I am pressed to discuss it, I point out that I accept that smoking causes cancer, but am skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. If my interlocutor can figure out for themselves why that might seem contradictory, we can have a conversation. If they can’t, we can’t.

    • #11
  12. Rackut Inactive
    Rackut
    @Ion

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: That’s interesting, as that’s a rhetorical technique often associated with creationists: i.e., overload the speaker with a barrage of questions that are difficult to address on the spot, or that take hours to explain.

    Spot on. When I was challenged by a fellow American to explain my skepticism, it indeed took hours to complete our conversation. The reason was that in the mind of my friend, the science, politics and policy of the global climate change phenomenon were intertwined. To me, it was crucial to break the issue down into discrete topics: what is being measured? How accurate? Why is the measurement relevant?

    Interestingly, on the topic of policy prescriptions related to addressing global climate change, I was on the same page as with most of my fellow students: nuclear power is crucial and needs to be the priority investment for government officials considering what to focus upon in order to secure the future of American energy as well as climate.

    Just to throw it out there, it is my opinion that one major reason why it was so difficult to communicate with the students who disagreed with me is that they were primarily scientists and I am an engineer by training. A difference in our backgrounds is that engineers are required to emphasize problem solving rather than discovery.

    • #12
  13. J. D. Fitzpatrick Inactive
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    And yet they are the ones who will be praised as “dispassionate observers of nature” once they have their degrees.

    Convenient.

    • #13
  14. Black Prince Inactive
    Black Prince
    @BlackPrince

    Better video link (YouTube):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk60CUkf3Kw

    • #14
  15. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I also recommend ClimateAudit, although it tends to be technical. I got into it since they use the computer language “R” and publish the code and show how to access the data

    A more generally climate oriented site that I am surprised has not been mentioned is http://wattsupwiththat.com. It provides summaries and links to a wide variety of climate related articles, some written by authors which would be recognized as experts in the field and others by what I would call authoritative amateurs.

    Along those lines, any post by “Willis Eschenbach” is well worth reading.

    • #15
  16. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    WillowSpring:Along those lines, any post by “Willis Eschenbach” is well worth reading.

    Yes. Willis is fantastic.

    • #16

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