Monday, February 1, 2016

Vale Professor Bob Carter

I was very sorry to learn on the weekend from my Mum that Prof Bob Carter had died. I had not known before that he had actually been hired by James Cook University to fill my grandfather's position, when he retired. I cannot remember ever meeting Prof Carter, but I did try to contact him once in 2007 - despite doing my best to grab his attention, see below, he must have been too overwhelmed with unsolicited email to notice me. 73 once seemed an impossibly distant age; but from here at 45 I am alarmed to realise that it is just as close as 17, which doesn't seem long ago at all. I haven't been back to Nong Khai or Pearl Harbour or Bellagio or Fargo or Bochum in the past 28 years. I probably never will.  And actually talking with Prof Carter is now something that I certainly never will do. So swiftly life passes.

Carpe diem, gentle reader, carpe diem.


I am Bill Lacy’s grandson, PhD graduate of JCU, and a lecturer in physical chemistry at UNE.  You must be deluged with mail all the time, so I thought I would put all those biographical bits in the first sentence to try and grab your attention!

I think the reason there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about anthropogenic global warming is because the mechanism is so good, even though the y = mx+c plot of temperature vs. [CO2] looks so spotty.  ( )  This makes it the opposite of continental drift, where the evidence was so good for hundreds of years but nobody could think of a mechanism so they quite rightly dismissed the idea.  Of course, the mechanism that is so good also implies that AGW cannot possibly be the existential threat it is made out to be.

What I mainly want to say is that ‘AGW does not exist’ is a position that has uncertain supply lines and is too exposed to enemy fire.  Veterans like yourself are needed to fall back and defend the stout battlements of ‘attempting to stop AGW is doomed to failure and a witless failure to prioritise’, with Bjorn et al. (Including me, in a tiny way- see Chemistry in Australia, Jan/Feb 2007).

Best regards,


Edit 11th February: I should say that I have reconsidered the position that I proposed to Prof Carter in the email above. While I still think that 'AGW does not exist' is not a proposition that has any chance of victory in the foreseeable future, I think that is important that people are prepared to voice it articulately and intelligently. This is because the 'Overton Window' - the volume of acceptable ideas in idea space - is defined not only by what it contains, but by what is outside it. Its limits are not fixed, and if all the ideas being expressed articulately and intelligently are within it, it will tend to contract. Keeping it open as wide as possible is good for our species.

Edit 15th June: I found out quite by accident the other day that my parents sat next to Ian Plimer at Bob Carter's funeral, which pleases me in a six-degrees-of-separation way.