As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?His concern that money was now driving the research agenda could be well-founded - money has that effect.
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
Now APS has replied:
... relatively few APS members conduct climate change research, and therefore the vast majority of the Society’s members derive no personal benefit from such research support.Excuse me. I have now morphed from concerned to confused. If "APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain," what exactly is "settled" about the science? I doubt anyone disputes the basic properties of carbon dioxide, as such. The question is, how much does it matter? That unsettled part is what most people, facing big, legislated lifestyle changes, care about.
On the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:
•Carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity;
•Carbon dioxide is an excellent infrared absorber, and therefore, its increasing presence in the atmosphere contributes to global warming; and
•The dwell time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hundreds of years.
On these matters, APS judges the science to be quite clear. However, APS continues to recognize that climate models are far from adequate, and the extent of global warming and climatic disruptions produced by sustained increases in atmospheric carbon loading remain uncertain. In light of the significant settled aspects of the science, APS totally rejects Dr. Lewis’ claim that global warming is a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”