Posted by jlwile on September 29, 2011Dr. Ivar Giaever has a PhD in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was a biophysics scholar at Cambridge, and is professor at both his alma mater and the University of Oslo. Although he has an impressive list of accomplishments, he is best remembered for sharing the Nobel Prize in physics with Dr. Leo Esaki and Dr. Brian Josephson in 1973. The trio won the award for investigating a quantum mechanical effect called “tunneling” and how it relates to solids. When a particle (like an electron) passes through a barrier that Newtonian physics says it should not be able to pass through, we say that it has “tunneled” through the barrier. Specifically, Dr. Giaever showed how this quantum-mechanical phenomenon applies to superconductors, which are materials that conduct electricity without resistance.
Of course, that was almost fourty years ago. Since then, he made a name in the field of biophysics, shedding light on how large biological molecules as well as cells interact with thin metal films. While he still has academic appointments at both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Oslo, he has dedicated most of his recent time to a company called Applied Biophysics, which specializes in scientific instrumentation used in biological research and drug discovery.
Why am I telling you about this world-renowned physicist? Because he has joined another famous physicist in protesting the American Physical Society’s stand on global warming by resigning from the society.
Nearly a year ago, I discussed Dr. Harold Lewis, who resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) because of its anti-science stance on global warming. Back then, I applauded Dr. Lewis for his principled resignation, but I seriously doubted that the APS would actually learn anything from it. It seems I was right. Dr. Lewis resigned from the APS because their policy statement says:
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. 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.
Dr. Lewis rightly pointed out that the word “incontrovertible” is not justified in any way, shape, or form. In fact, very few things in physics are incontrovertible, and global warming is simply not one of them. Given the fact that heavily-massaged data related to climate proxies and the predictions of deeply-flawed computer models are the only real evidences those who promote global warming can muster, it is clear that at best, global warming is an unconfirmed hypothesis.
Dr. Giaever agrees with Dr. Lewis. In fact, he puts it in quite stark terms. In his resignation E-MAIL, he states:
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.
In 2008, he was even more direct.
Moreover, global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important.
I couldn’t agree with Dr. Giaever more. This is how a true scientist looks at things. He doesn’t believe in something just because the majority of scientists believe in it. He believes in it based on the evidence. Since the evidence for global warming is incredibly flimsy, it is clear that any reasonable scientist or scientific institution should be skeptical of it. The fact that the APS has blindly followed what the majority of scientists say rather than what the data say shows that at least in this area, the APS isn’t interested in science. It is only interested in politics.
Speaking of politics, it is important to note that Dr. Giaever is anything but a right-wing activist. In fact, he joined 69 other Nobel Science Laureates in supporting Obama for president. Dr. Giaever is not doing this for political reasons. He is doing it for scientific reasons. The APS could learn a lot from Dr. Giaever, but I seriously doubt that it will.