Friday, December 28, 2007

Who The Heck is Klaus Heiss? (Or: Selling Condos On The Moon)

I haven't bothered writing about the Inhofe 400, which has the dubious distinction of being probably the most complete list of climate change deniers ever compiled. Not only is it mostly composed of the same-old-same-old in the way of fake scientists (R. Courtney), non-scientists (E. Beck), and real scientists taken out of context (Landsea), it includes T.V. gardener!

However, a number of bloggers have taken it upon themselves to do potted profiles of the various list denizens, which project kind of interested me, and I noticed that there were a couple of late additions to it that nobody had mentioned yet. So here are a few notes on Dr. Klaus P. Heiss.

- Dr. Heiss' bit o' denying can be found here, in a crappy google translation. It's the same old same old. The sun's causing it, and things will be fine when it's warmer, and so on.

- Mr. Heiss has a background in engineering and mathematics. He is currently Director of High Frontier Inc., which is not a marijuana advocacy group, but

...the leading [U.S.] non-government authority on missile defense issues including missile defense, arms control, nuclear weapons, and strategic systems.

- Early in his career, Mr. Heiss worked for NASA, providing "conceptual work" on the space shuttle. (So already we have a career black mark. Mr. Heiss had a hand in designing the famous "space truck", an orbital vehicle that explodes more often than my old Datsun pickup from the same time-period).

- Mr. Heiss is a director of the SEPP, a "non-profit organization" (denialist group) founded by Fred Singer.

- With High Frontier Inc., Mr. Heiss is up to his nose in the Bush plans for a Moon Base, which will eventually serve as a "stepping stone to Mars". He is especially concerned with preserving private property rights in outer space. High Frontier Inc. has generated a document entitled "Rules of the Road for the Economic Exploration of Space: A Declaration of Principles and Property Rights". In it, Fred Hayek's warnings against Socialism are invoked, and lunar colonization in particular is envisioned along the lines of the opening of the American West. Indeed, Mr. Heiss is quite enamored (perhaps obsessed) with the "property rights in space" issue. He has, for example, suggested that the first developments on the moon should follow condominium rules.

- While denying certain aspects of Climate Change, Mr. Heiss is also schlepping his moon condos as being suitable platforms for a solar observatory which might prove once and for all that CO2 emissions cannot be responsible for our current bout of global warming. On the other hand, he suggests here and here that space/lunar based solar power might serve as the "low emission" generation technology of the future.

So: a righty Libertarian with expertise, but not in the relevant fields, who has doubts but is nevertheless behind developing (somewhat exotic) renewable technologies. Actually fairly low down on the nutter dial, compared to some others.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you go through the list of 400 scientists (from the US Senate report),

many from the world's top institutions, and many leaders in their field,

with the ad homonym's one at a time.

That may be too hard. Best to cherry pick and say "see they're all looney".

Keep up the posts like this, this is incredibly entertaining to watch unfold.

bigcitylib said...

Anon,

That's crap. I've could name half the people on the list without breaking a sweat, just from a year of blogging about the denialist movement. Many of this group are not scientists at all, let alone "leaders in their field". They're the same old bunch. There's some more that are TV weathermen, a gardening columnist, and a number of real scientists that have been quoted out of context (like Landsea).

When you get down to the actual credentialed scientists who actually go against the consensus, you're down to about maybe 10% of the original list. And many in this group aren't really qualified to speak to the issue in the first place.

Ti-Guy said...

I have to admit, I'll miss the denialist loonies, nutters, gas-bags and screaming meemies when they all move to the Moon.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh,

the broadstroke.

I recommended that one on an earlier thread.

Funny how the IPCC has a multidisciplinary focus (in other words many different types of scientists/varying areas) as "climate science" is very much a hodge podge of different areas:

they're all uniformly "qualified",

everyone else is "unqualified".

Love it.

Keep it up.

(p.s. the part of the IPCC report that suggests malaria is a southern hemisphere illness - whereas even a first year science major in epidemeology could tell you that is simply false and in fact the worst outbreak in the history of mankind occurred in Siberia - were the scientist(s) responsible for that little gem "qualified" too?)

(pps funny how no one is willing to tackle the fundamental issue of the fact that computer models can't predict the weather 20 days out, but we're supposed to beleive they can predict it 100 years out, and on a worldwide scale - a prediction which necessarily involves far more variables and hence is exponentially less reliable than the smaller scale weather models.)

Anonymous said...

Israel: Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has authored almost 70 peer-reviewed studies and won several awards.

Russia: Russian scientist Dr. Oleg Sorochtin of the Institute of Oceanology at the Russian Academy of Sciences has authored more than 300 studies, nine books, and a 2006 paper titled “The Evolution and the Prediction of Global Climate Changes on Earth.”

Netherlands: Atmospheric scientist Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, a scientific pioneer in the development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at The Netherlands’ Royal National Meteorological Institute, and an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric boundary layer processes

Norway: Geologist/Geochemist Dr. Tom V. Segalstad, a professor and head of the Geological Museum at the University of Oslo and formerly an expert reviewer with the UN IPCC

Canada: IPCC 2007 Expert Reviewer Madhav Khandekar, a Ph.D meteorologist, a scientist with the Natural Resources Stewardship Project who has over 45 years experience in climatology, meteorology and oceanography, and who has published nearly 100 papers, reports, book reviews and a book on Ocean Wave Analysis and Modeling



Yup, "unqualified" fools, really.

jmnlman said...

"leading [U.S.] non-government authority on missile defense issues including missile defense, arms control, nuclear weapons, and strategic systems."

hehehehehe I didn't know RAND Corp. changed their name.

Anonymous said...

As for the recent (all in just the last month or so) peer reviewed studies,

I guess we should just outright dismiss them with one broadstroke too:

In addition to the growing number of scientists expressing skepticism, an abundance of recent peer-reviewed studies have cast considerable doubt about man-made global warming fears. A November 3, 2007 peer-reviewed study found that “solar changes significantly alter climate.” (LINK) A December 2007 peer-reviewed study recalculated and halved the global average surface temperature trend between 1980 – 2002. (LINK) Another new study found the Medieval Warm Period “0.3C warmer than 20th century” (LINK)

A peer-reviewed study by a team of scientists found that “warming is naturally caused and shows no human influence.” (LINK) – Another November 2007 peer-reviewed study in the journal Physical Geography found “Long-term climate change is driven by solar insolation changes.” (LINK ) These recent studies were in addition to the abundance of peer-reviewed studies earlier in 2007. - See “New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears” (LINK )

Ti-Guy said...

I love how Biff cut 'n pastes (LINK).

This is good practice according to the Redneck Manual of Style. (Calgary, Alberta: The University of Calgary Press, 2001).

Anonymous said...

"For the uninitiated, here is the lowdown: Andrew Dessler is a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University. He is complaining about a US senate report which listed hundreds of individuals who have been reported in the media during 2007 as speaking against the "scientific consensus" on climate change, claiming that they are scientists."

...

"Now, you have to be qualified to have an opinion on climate change. But Dessler doesn't tell us exactly how we are to measure the qualifications, we just have to take his word for it that the 400 sceptics aren't qualified, but the IPCC scientists are. So it's not simply a consensus, it's a qualified consensus, and he gets to call the qualification."

...

"We decided to test Dessler's claim. So we downloaded IPCC WGII's latest report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it's Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK. Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren't clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists."

...

Nonetheless, were these contributors the "experts" that Dessler claims they are? There were a few professors, but few of them had the profile Dessler gives them. Many of them were in fact, hard to locate to establish just how much better than their counterparts they were. One professor (Abigail Bristow) wasn't what you'd call a climate scientist, but a professor of Transport Studies at Newcastle University. How is she going to cure the sick child? Will she be driving the ambulance? Another Professor - Diana Liverman at Oxford University - specialises in "human dimensions of global environmental change" - Geography is a social science too. Another - John Morton of the University of Greenwich, specialises in "development Anthropology". Professor of Geography, and Co-Chair of IPCC WGII, Martin Parry's profile merely tells us that he is "a specialist on the effects of climate change". But what does that actually mean?

Among the remainder - most of whom are not professors, but research associates at best, are an assorted bunch, many of whom are better known for their alarmist statements in the mainstream press than they are for their contributions to scientific knowledge - activists in other words, with their own political motivation. And in spite of being reported as "climate scientists", involved in scientific research, also seem to be working within the social sciences, albeit for "climate research" institutions, such as Tyndall. Johanna Wolf, for example, is an IPCC contributor from the University of East Anglia, who works in the department for "development studies". Does that make her a climate scientist? Anna Taylor, of the Stockholm Environment Institute in Oxford has no PhD at all, her research focuses on "stakeholder engagement in adapting to multiple stresses, including climate variability and change, water scarcity, food insecurity and health concerns" - not climate science, and has simply not been alive long enough to join the ranks of the specialists of specialisms that Dessler demands of sceptics. Similarly, Susanne Rupp-Armstrong, listed as a member of Southampton University only appears to have ever contributed to one academic paper. Research Associate at the University of East Anglia, Maureen Agnew does not focus her research on climate science, but on such things as “Public perceptions of unusually warm weather in the UK: impacts, responses and adaptations”, and “Potential impacts of climate change on international tourism.” Katherine Vincent specialising in "Social Capital and Climate change" at the UEA, only began her PhD thesis in October 2003. How can she be cited as a specialist in climate science?"


The rest is here:

http://tinyurl.com/32pxm9

Pre-eminent scientists listed in the senate report 400,

vs.

obscure unpublished quasi scientific political activists.


Hmmmmmm. That's a tough one to call. But I'm gonna have to go with the world's most pre-eminent scientists.

Anonymous said...

BCL,

getting into the qualifications of those for, and against, man made global warming, may not have been a great idea.

First of all it will stimulate a....gulp....debate, and we all know a debate on this issue per se is forbidden.

But more importantly, much, much more importantly is the results of such scrutiny: it is, in fact the IPCC contributors that have been shown to be the agenda driven non-scientific types, whereas the real scientist are the ones looking at this hysteria and shaking their heads in disbelief.

bigcitylib said...

Thanks, anons 10:06 and 10:28, you've given me my first post of today. The folks at CR are gonna taste the pain.

Anonymous said...

BCL,

I went to the comments, and they summarily shredded yours.

The whole point (and one that you just made in a previous post) was that those who don't have a specific expertise in "climate science" (whatever that means) are dismissed as unqualified to form an opinion,

but everybody and their dog in the IPCC is, by definition a "qualified expert" regardless if they know a thing about climate science.

Also, note the paucity of academic "expertise" in many of the contributors, regardless of the area of study.

Those with no published works?

Those with no phd's??

Meanwhile, some of the most esteemed scientits in the world are labelled as "denialists".

Holly Stick said...

first anon: "with the ad homonym's one at a time."

Are you referring to ad hominems? "Homonym" is a homonym for "hominem", not a synonym.

TCO said...

Go space exploration!!!!!

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