Nobel Prize winning physicist Ivar Giaever just resigned as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in protest over the group’s official position that
“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring,” the APS stated. “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.”
Giaever, an 82-year-old Norwegian, sent an e-mail to the APS announcing his resignation, saying he “cannot live with the statement” on global warming. Giaever wrote:
“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 ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”
Giaever, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973, is an institute professor emeritus at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., a professor at large at the University of Oslo, and the president of Applied BioPhysics Inc.
Giaever’s resignation doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t occurring, or that his colleagues are wrong. What his resignation does mean is that…
- Not everyone who disputes the claims that the extent, causes, speed and likely consequences of climate change is a high school dropout wearing a Rick Perry button.
- There are respected scientists who are offended at the politicization of the science and the over-reaching claims of certainty in a field dependent upon modeling, projections and estimates.
- It is now fair to say that there is at least one global warming skeptic who understands the science immeasurably better than Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Maureen Dowd, Eugene Robinson, or Bill Maher.
- The evidence of global warming may be strong, it may be persuasive, it may be well-supported, but it is not “incontrovertible.” Giaever just controverted it.
For adding some much-needed perspective and balance to an issue recently dominated by ridicule of those unconvinced by science they do not understand, by supporters of the science who don’t understand it any better, and doing so out of principle rather than ideology, Ivar Giaever deserves to be recognized as an Ethics Hero.