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Climatologist Stephen Schneider Is Dead

From an admiring New York Times:

Stephen H. Schneider, Climatologist, Is Dead at 65


July 19, 2010

Stephen H. Schneider, an influential climatologist who used the results of complex scientific models he developed to become a leader in pressing for action to address global warming, died Monday in London. He was 65.

His wife, Terry L. Root, said he died of a heart attack or an embolism on a flight from Sweden as the plane was landing in London.

Dr. Schneider wrote books on the effects of climate change on areas as diverse as politics and wildlife. He advised the administration of every president from Richard M. Nixon to Barack Obama and was part of a United Nations panel on climate change that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore

Ahem. (By the way, this means that Mr. Schneider was advising Presidents at the tender age of 29.)

In a statement, Mr. Gore called Dr. Schneider “a prolific researcher and author, co-founder of the journal Climatic Change and a wonderful communicator” who greatly contributed “to the advancement of climate science.”

In an interview on Monday, the biologist and population expert Paul R. Ehrlich said, “I don’t think anybody has worked harder and longer to educate the public on climate issues in particular and science issues in general.”

Well, Mr. Ehrlich is probably the last person on earth one should choose to vouch for anyone’s scientific credentials.

That human beings release warming gases into the atmosphere has been known since the early 19th century.

We suppose that depends upon the meaning of “known.”

But in recent years, scientists have employed satellites, computers and other technological means to construct complex mathematical models to predict future changes in temperature.

The resulting consensus — which Dr. Schneider helped form with models that combine interrelated processes like ocean dynamics and cloud changes — is that temperatures are rising and that potentially disastrous climate changes could result.

If it was already "known," why the need for a "consensus"?

Skeptics have questioned both the science and the need for costly expenditures to stop the predicted warming, like cutting coal consumption. But Dr. Schneider fought so tenaciously for a forceful approach to stop the warming that The New Republic last year called him “a scientific pugilist.”

Certainly “fighting tenaciously” is the mark of any objective scientist.

He rejected hyperbole, readily conceding that uncertainty was unavoidable in something so complicated and long-term.

And yet we have a "consensus." And he still insisted that we change our economies, indeed our entire way of life for a theory that was "uncertain."

The conference he had attended in Sweden before his death was partly to discuss how climate-change skeptics use that uncertainty to advance their cause.

In other words, Mr. Schneider was trying to silence his opposition right up to the last moments of his life.

But because the costs of global warming — from the melting of icecaps to the flooding of islands — is so high, Dr. Schneider maintained, not acting is riskier than acting. He demanded action from national, international and corporate leaders.

In the tradition of all objective and rational scientists.

His case was buttressed by the “accumulated preponderance of evidence” scientists had amassed, he said. In an interview with the magazine American Scientist this year, he said his opponents relied on “the political chicanery of ideologists and special interests.”

Like the “chicanery” of asking to see this “accumulated preponderance of evidence.”

Thankfully, Mr. Schneider was not himself an ideologue, like anyone who doubted him is.

His worry, he told the magazine, was that lobbying and advertising by “greedy” corporations would obscure this increasingly clear science. He asked, “Can democracy survive complexity?”

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Schneider seemed to believe that the people oppose his views only because of their venality. That he is alone is capable of rising above his self interest.

Stephen Henry Schneider was born in New York City in 1945 and grew up on Long Island, where he made a telescope at age 13 and was thrilled to see the rings of Saturn. At Columbia University, he earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in 1966, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and plasma physics in 1971.

Dr. Schneider was elected to serve on a new student-faculty senate that was established at Columbia after a wave of student demonstrations in 1968

Uh huh.

Dr. Schneider said his decision to become a climate scientist was “a marriage of convenience and deep conviction.” The conviction came from his decision on Earth Day 1970 to devote himself to the environment.

It’s not like he got caught up in the moment, or anything. By the way, this means that Mr. Schneider was advising President Nixon on the climate with less than four years experience in the field.

The convenience was ample opportunity in the climate field.

“My God, all that low-hanging fruit, all the simple discoveries are waiting to be made in this important field,” he said.

Dr. Schneider began postdoctoral study at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies of NASA, then moved to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. He helped found the agency’s climate project and helped start the journal Climatic Change there. He worked on the impact that nuclear war could have on the climate

Uh huh. Luckily, Mr. Schneider had no political agenda. None whatsoever.

As a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations in 1988, Dr. Schneider helped write papers that were influential in framing the climate-change discussion. In sharing the Nobel Peace Prize, the group and Mr. Gore were cited “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.”

Global warming skeptics liked to point to an article Dr. Schneider wrote that appeared in the journal Science in 1971 to suggest that he vacillated. In it, he predicted that the future climate danger could be global cooling, not global warming. He later explained that the cooling forces were regional, while the warming ones were global

Hilarious. But he mastered the art of doubletalk early on, which seems to be essential for a successful career in ‘climatology.’

In all, given his lofty background, it should be no surprise that Mr. Schneider is featured heavily in the leaked CRU emails of ‘Climategate.’ Indeed, his name appears 71 times, often in reverence, such as here:

An important requirement seems to be to attract an "internationally
renowned and charismatic scientist" to be overall Director. Do you think we
should sound out Schneider?
Watson? ??

There appear to be only four emails that he authored personally.

One of which indicates that Mr. Schneider considered data requests to be a form of harassment in an end game “battle of the bulge”:

From: Stephen H Schneider <shs@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>
To: santer1@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
Subject: Re: [Fwd: data request]
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2009 10:50:56 -0800 (PST)

"Thanks" Ben for this, hi all and happy new year. I had a similar experience–but not FOIA since we at Climatic Change are a private institution–with Stephen McIntyre demanding that I have the Mann et al cohort publish all their computer codes for papers published in Climatic Change. I put the question to the editorial board who debated it for weeks. The vast majority opinion was that scientists should give enough information on their data sources and methods so others who are scientifically capable can do their own brand of replication work, but that this does not extend to personal computer codes with all their undocumented sub routines etc. It would be odious requirement to have scientists document every line of code so outsiders could then just apply them instantly. Not only is this an intellectual property issue, but it would dramatically reduce our productivity since we are not in the business of producing software products for general consumption and have no resources to do so. The NSF, which funded the studies I published, concurred–so that ended that issue with Climatic Change at the time a few years ago.

This continuing pattern of harassment, as Ben rightly puts it in my opinion, in the name of due diligence is in my view an attempt to create a fishing expedition to find minor glitches or unexplained bits of code–which exist in nearly all our kinds of complex work–and then assert that the entire result is thus suspect. Our best way to deal with this issue of replication is to have multiple independent author teams, with their own codes and data sets, publishing independent work on the same topics–like has been done on the "hockey stick". That is how credible scientific replication should proceed.

Let the lawyers figure this out, but be sure that, like Ben is doing now, you disclose the maximum reasonable amount of information so competent scientists can do replication work, but short of publishing undocumented personalized codes etc. The end of the email Ben attached shows their intent–to discredit papers so they have no "evidentiary value in public policy"–what you resort to when you can’t win the intellectual battle scientifically at IPCC or NAS.
Good luck with this, and expect more of it as we get closer to international climate policy actions, We are witnessing the "contrarian battle of the bulge" now, and expect that all weapons will be used.
Cheers, Steve
PS Please do not copy or forward this email.

Stephen H. Schneider
Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,
Professor, Department of Biology and
Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

In another (to many of the usual suspects), Mr. Schneider admits that the global warming “trend” has taken a ten year pause:

From: Stephen H Schneider <shs@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>
To: Myles Allen <allen@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, peter stott <peter.stott@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, "Philip D. Jones" <p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Benjamin Santer <santer1@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Tom Wigley <wigley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Thomas R Karl <Thomas.R.Karl@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Gavin Schmidt <gschmidt@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, James Hansen <jhansen@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, trenbert <trenbert@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Michael Mann <mann@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>, Michael Oppenheimer <omichael@xxxxxxxxx.xxx>
Subject: Fwd: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 23:32:11 -0700 (PDT)

Hi all. Any of you want to explain decadal natural variability and signal to noise and
sampling errors
to this new "IPCC Lead Author" from the BBC? As we enter an El Nino year
and as soon, as the sunspots get over their temporary–presumed–vacation worth a few
tenths of a Watt per meter squared reduced forcing, there will likely be another dramatic
upward spike like 1992-2000
. I heard someone–Mike Schlesinger maybe??–was willing to bet
alot of money on it happening in next 5 years?? Meanwhile the past 10 years of global mean
temperature trend stasis still saw what, 9 of the warmest in reconstructed 1000 year record
and Greenland and the sea ice of the North in big retreat??
Some of you observational folks
probably do need to straighten this out
as my student suggests below. Such "fun", Cheers,
Stephen H. Schneider
Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,
Professor, Department of Biology and
Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment

Yes, in fact a lot of the claims of climatology seem to need to be straightened out.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Climatologist Stephen Schneider Is Dead”

  1. proreason says:

    If science is about consensus, let’s vote on Global Warming.

    Oh wait, they would demand that only True Believers could vote, wouldn’t they. Kind of like voting in Cuber.

  2. bill says:

    Sounds like we are reading the coordination of the Journolist, doesn’t it.

    All to prop up a proved lie. Just read what Phil Jones said when he was talking to lawyers …

  3. tranquil.night says:

    “Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment’s parts.”

    My only question is did mother Gaia really beckon Schneider home or was he too sacrificed on the altar for good harvest?

  4. wardmama4 says:

    Excuse me for being one of those stupid, distrusting flyover people who would love to read the actual data & scientific studies before I ‘decide’ whether I am the cause of the next Ice age or AGW or the next freaky weather pattern – but aren’t there educational disciplines (such as meteorology) that would be a more viable educational background for a ‘scientist’ studying the climate?

    I mean I don’t want a doctor who just studied biology – he/she would be seriously lacking in areas necessary to perform the duties of medical doctor. Could not the same be said for a climatologist who just studied – engineering?

    Sounds like his degree is really in social engineering.

  5. Liberals Demise says:

    We all know where liars go….so…..is Teddy still sober?
    Just saying.

  6. canary says:

    serves him right for unnecessarily smogging the air. It must have been a private airplane, since the NY Times left that specific out.

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