What should be the cost of skepticism?
Every few months, it seems, someone comes out with the great idea about how people who are wrong in the climate-change debate should have something really bad done to them. Who can forget our very own David’s, ahem, indiscretion? Or Heidi Cullen and her suggestion to strip skeptical meteorologists of their AMS credentials?
Over on Roger Pielke Sr.’s Climate Science blog, guest blogger Hendrik Tennekes suggests some tit-for-tat:
More than once I have dreamed of regulations that would cut the retirement pay of climate modelers in half if their forecasts proved off the mark at their retirement. Such an arrangement would also help them keep their feet on the ground concerning the prediction horizon of climate scenarios.
What’s interesting is Tennekes doesn’t mention what should happen to scientists who claim that climate change is not happening, yet turn out to be wrong. Perhaps they should have their retirement taken away, too?
While I’d hate to see Tennekes, Dick Lindzen, and Bill Gray living together under a freeway underpass, asking passing motorists for $1 to squeegee their windshields, I do think it might stop some of their ridiculous statements. Now that I think about it, it would make a hilarious sitcom (hey, if Two and a Half Men is a hit …).
Oddly, Tennekes’ criticisms are not based on the physical content of the models, but more on an overarching distrust of models, combined with cultural differences. This is based on an analogy between engineers and climate models, which I’m afraid reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of climate science.
Tennekes is indeed a credible scientist, who wrote a classic book on turbulence. But he’s now retired, and his statements put him squarely into the aged skeptics category. I think it would make a fascinating study for a psychologist or age researcher to explain their proliferation.