Real Climatologists masthead
Real Climatologists motto

Expert News Article tab

Photos of Richard Nixon and Gavin Schmidt.

Follow The Money II

September 21, 2017

Abstract: The wasted and misspent money at NASA GISS and all climate research institutions is staggering. We continue to follow the money.

Follow the money. Always good advice in journalism and government oversight. Particularly for climate research.

At the end of the Cold War, there was a demilitarization. There were a lot of now-pointless bomb physicists and mathematicians around waiting to be axed. There was also a lot of government money supposedly freed up.

At the same time, do-gooder science bureaucrats, particularly at the National Science Foundation (NSF), decided that global warming was the next big thing. There was also a lot of government money supposedly freed up.

You didn't need a model to predict what would happen.

The unqualified physicists and mathematicians carpetbagged it into climate science. (Just because everything has some physics/math in it doesn't mean physicists/mathematicians know everything. While I (Dr. Duane Thresher) was at NASA GISS, we used to make fun of the physicists/mathematicians at the National Bomb Labs for getting into climate modeling.)

Taxpayer money was shovelled at them. Since they were supposedly saving the planet what they did with the money wasn't questioned.

It should have been. Climate scientists are not noble. They are no better ethically than anyone else. Given their outcast nature and how it twists them, they are probably worse.

So let's continue to follow the money.

Everybody had to have their own supercomputer to model climate. I talked about NASA GISS's experience with this: no proper place to put it, no tech support, no qualified climate modeling programmers.

This was true at most climate research institutions.

For my master's in atmospheric science, I was at the University of Arizona. My advisor was Dr. Robert Dickinson, a climate big shot at the time from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He could really haul in the grant money.

They got a supercomputer, a "mini" but still very expensive. Supercomputers need to be cooled. They put the supercomputer in the supply closet off the terminal room and shut the door. It crashed frequently due to overheating. They opened the door and put a fan on the floor in the doorway. It crashed less frequently.

Climate models generate a lot of output data. I would try to work with my data, which required moving this data around the local network. I frequently brought the ancient network to a crawl, was yelled at by the system administrator and other users, and had to work after hours.

The overheated supercomputer hard disk crashed, destroying my data. The backup tape was put in the ancient tape drive and the tape broke. (No, tech support, you can't fix magnetic tape by hand with Scotch tape.)

I finally got my master's and went to NASA GISS and Columbia University for my PhD. (OK, not only because of the computer SNAFU -- Situation Normal, All Fouled Up -- but also because Dickinson had to be the worst advisor ever. He is no longer at the University of Arizona either. He switches universities a lot.)

Dr. Claudia Kubatzki had a similar experience at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, headed by Clever Hans Schellnhuber (more about this scary megalomaniac later), who is Stefan Rahmstorf's boss/protector.

We talked about the dishonest way grad students are funded off of project grants. The problem with funding grad students -- who do much of the work -- that way is that money gets spent on whatever climate scientists want to do, not what has been peer reviewed in the project proposal as worth doing. And they want to do whatever is going to get them published and funded even more: global warming.

What about the project results? Who makes sure something of value actually results from the taxpayer money? (Published papers usually.)

Nobody really.

I remember a time early in my 7 years at NASA GISS. Gavin Schmidt, now head of NASA GISS, was then just a British citizen new to American science. He was worried because he'd gotten a grant, the time was about up, and he had little to show for the grant money, i.e., no papers. He was worried he was never going to get another grant again because of it.

He needn't have worried. Nobody at the funding agency cared (I think it was the NSF, one of the big climate research funding agencies, but it doesn't matter). Why would they? If they even mentioned having wasted taxpayer money for a single project, getting any taxpayer money for all projects would be jeopardized.

Making sure something of value actually resulted from the taxpayer money would be a much better use of the Freedom of Information Act -- although it shouldn't even require this -- than demanding to look at the raw data, as we have said.

Almost all taxpayers are not qualified to interpret the data but they have the RIGHT to see and decide if their money is being well-spent. They could first see if ALL the taxpayer money given out was actually spent on what the peer reviewed grant proposal claimed. Then they could exercise their right to decide if what resulted from the project was worth the money.

About travel. Some insist that one in-person conference a year is worth paying for with taxpayer money. Fine. But make it to some place inexpensive and boring, where there is no temptation to essentially skip the conference and go play. And definitely make this place somewhere in the heartland so these elitist ivory tower climate scientists are forced to meet some of the deplorable real people that pay them and so that the taxpayer money goes to help some of these taxpayers. And unlike climate change zealots, these deplorables are not violent thugs so the climate scientists would be safe (a global warming skeptic climate scientist is not physically safe in San Francisco, where AGU Fall Meetings are usually held).

Speaking of which, citizens of the country paying should be given preference over foreigners in becoming and being climate scientists. Certainly their qualifications should be more fairly compared to foreigners. Senior climate scientists prefer recruiting foreigners because they are more easily taken advantage of -- doing most of the work but getting little of the credit. This is true everywhere, Germany for example, not just in America.

Yes, following the money may end up toppling a few leaders but that is a good thing when the leaders have proved themselves to be bad, for democracy and science.