Doomed Planet

The Irreplaceable Bob Carter

bob carter IIBob Carter’s passing is a great loss to those on the side of the angels — and to the noble cause pure, non-politicised science — in the debate on climate change. In contrast to the rent-seekers and opportunists aboard the global warming gravy train, he was a real scientist dedicated to truth. In his tribute, former radio host and one-time global warming believer Michael Smith highlighted his approach:

I’d made the error of asking Bob for his opinion after my perfect opening monologue.   Bob said, “I don’t have an opinion.   I am a scientist.   I don’t deal in opinion.  I deal in facts.   Observable, proven facts.  I deal with the scientific method, making observations, doing experiments and arriving at conclusions.   Your starting point seems to be an unproven hypothesis based on computer projections.  Do you have any facts to back up your claims about global warming?

Carter’s  book, Climate: the Counter Consensus, which came out in 2011, demonstrated this approach, as did his many presentations on climate issues over the years. Days before the mainstream media got around to reporting his passing, the internet was alive with tributes from around the world.

Bob Carter: Lysenkoism and Climate Science

Here are just a few that I found most striking. The first is from the great slayer of Michael Mann’s fabricated hockey stick graph, Steve McIntyre, who wrote:

He was one of the few people in this field that I regarded as a friend.  He was only a few years older than me and we got along well personally.

I will not attempt to comment on his work as that is covered elsewhere, but do wish to mention something personal.  In 2003, when I was unknown to anyone other than my friends and family, I had been posting comments on climate reconstructions at a chatline.  Bob emailed me out of the blue with encouragement, saying that I was looking at the data differently than anyone else and that I should definitely follow it through.  Without his specific encouragement, it is not for sure that I ever would have bothered trying to write up what became McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) or anything else.

We’ve met personally on a number of occasions over the years – at AGU in 2004 or 2005, and on several occasions at Erice, most recently last summer. He was always full of good cheer, despite continuing provocations, and unfailingly encouraging.

The second is from political scientist, writer and administrator, Don Aitkin, which appeared as a comment on meteorologist Anthony Watt’s tribute as well as on his own website.

Bob was a lovely man. He was appointed to the Australian Research Grants Committee in 1987 when I was its Chairman, and stayed on in the Australian Research Council’s Earth Sciences group when the ARGC became the ARC. He was a feisty fighter for his discipline. As was common, he got to the position of assessing requests for money by having been a highly successful seeker of research funds himself. When I became interested in global warming ten years ago, Ian Castles, a great and former Australian Statistician, suggested that I should read his take on the issue, and Bob and I became in close contact again. Over the last ten years he has been one of the world’s best sceptics in this awful field of ‘climate change’. He writes well, bases himself on what is known, is alert to error and does not exaggerate. His passing is a great sadness to me, and will be to thousands of people he never met.

The third also appeared a comment on Anthony Watt’s tribute.  It’s from Roy Spencer, who together with John Christy pioneered the measurement of global temperature anomalies using satellites, so providing the most comprehensive and unbiased world surface temperature measurements now available.  It’s a fine achievement that’s naturally ignored by the climate establishment, especially as it shows that 2015 was only the third hottest year since 1979, behind both 1998 and 2010.

Bob was a great guy, a class act.

And I fear this is the beginning of the end. There are only a handful of us skeptics who publish in mainstream journals, our average age probably exceeds 60 now, and young researchers risk their careers if they go down the skeptic route…they simply won’t get funded. For example, we have no one to take over production of the UAH satellite dataset when John Christy and I are gone.

This demonstrates just how degenerate many in Western academia and the political establishment have become.  In Australia we’ve seen this in the fate of Bjorn Lomborg’s proposed Australian research centre and, as science educator Jo Nova outlines in her tribute, Bob Carter was the victim of disgraceful treatment vengefully visited upon him by his former employer, James Cook University.

Roy Spenser’s tribute ended on this rather pessimistic note:

As Marc Morano [of] recently said, we win the science battles but we’re losing the war on the political front. Our only hope is that the public is still largely on our side…but it remains to be seen whether that even matters anymore in the policy arena.

As a happy warrior for truth, Bob Carter would perhaps be less pessimistic than Roy Spencer.  Let us hope that his many supporters are inspired by his example to continue his work, for if evidence based rational thinking doesn’t prevail in the policy arena, I fear for the future of Western civilisation itself.


    We have indeed lost a great man of courage, integrity and modesty. His passing causes concern for those who fight for honesty from the scientific establishment and, as Antony Carr hopes, we must support those who take the same approach as Bob Carter. We have to constantly remind ourselves that a great many politicians are shallow beasts whose only real aspiration is to be re-elected and will bend with whatever wind is blowing. We, who support and believe in evidence based rational thinking, must just keep applying logical argument to influence policy. Never give up the pursuit of truth!

  • JJ

    Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Mr Carter, however, I do somehow feel he was a friend. Although I am a poorly educated man from country Australia I have always searched for the truth and honesty that comes from real science and those gifted enough to apply themselves to the profession. I have followed Mr Carter for many years and read his articles, papers and of course his book on climate. As I often ponder the question, “will we leave the world a better place” for our children, it is disheartening to hear that so few of the younger generation, far better educated and equipped to do so than I was at that age, will be driven to take up the mantle of pure science and follow the footsteps of great men like Mr Carter, with honesty, integrity and the same thirst for fact. He will be sadly missed in my very small world but will remain prominent in conversation and debate for as long as possible.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.