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Another climate bully

The latest chapter in the saga of Peter Wadhams attempts to bully and threaten those who ridiculed his ridiculous Arctic ice predictions at a Royal Society meeting a few weeks ago has just been made public. Wadhams, it seems, has written to the meeting's organisers and to senior officials once again. Once again the response has been to make the good professor's missive public so that everyone can laugh at him. The letter is vastly enlivened by the annotations that have been added. I particularly enjoyed number 7, commenting on Wadhams assertion that the proper place for criticism of his work is in a scientific journal:

First Prof Wadhams cannot tell people where and how to debate science. Secondly the irony of Prof Wadhams using graphs from uncredited blog pages in his RS presentation and yet calling for discussion only in journals seems to have escaped him.

There is also a strong hint that Wadhams makes a habit of this sort of behaviour.

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Reader Comments (43)

Wadhams would have done better to keep his mouth shut and be thought a fool rather than open it and prove it.

I hope that the audience at his next public appearance will be tweeting like a flock of canaries...and not to praise him for his modesty, humility and self-awareness.

Pompous Prat!

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Arctic sea ice volume at minimum has practically doubled in two years. If this keeps up, Wadhams, we have a problem.

Oct 17, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

They deserve each other, they really do. Nice to see them abusing each other rather than sceptics for a change.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

remember the complaint and the response to it was leaked, in the first instance.

Prof Wadham never intended to make his complaint public..(or any of this)

As it was leaked at Stoat (A Realclimate founder) any guesses to the identity of the leaker (wink)

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

There is a recent book, A**holes, by Dr. Aaron James, that takes an academic look at what we recognize by the term of the title. The definition of the subject matter is (pg.5):

1. allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically;
2. does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement;
3. is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.

Bullying, rampaging over-sized egos, disdain for the thoughts or feelings of others, and an fixed, unwarranted belief in their moral, intellectual, professional and personal superiority. Not just your hugely irritating brother-in-law at Christmas dinner, apparently.

The James work is serious (with a humourous edge, for how else are we supposed to deal with these people?) and asks why they and their behavior is so prevalent. The subject discussions use celebrity figures extensively; we all recognize them. Perhaps the Good Professor wishes to be included in the next edition of this worthy book.

((A**holes, 2012/Aaron J. James, Random House, 221 pgs)

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

"As it was leaked at Stoat (A Realclimate founder) any guesses to the identity of the leaker (wink)"

I have irrefutable evidence of a conspiracy between Bishop Hill, Anthony Watts and the Dalai Lama, financed by Big Oil.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterKen

More than a hint (a pattern)

Point 25 (in the reply)

It is apparently common for people who bully others to claim they themselves are being bullied.

I note Prof Wadhams has a history of making similar complaints about others. I was subject of a complaint a just over a decade ago when Prof Wadhams accused me of “fraud, theft and plagiarism”. Can there be a more serious accusation for a young post-doctoral scientist? The complaint was found by my management at the time to be without merit.

However, the accusation was in other respects successful: I moved away from an area of science where I was having success.

Since the complaint and the BBS response were made public, I have received 3 personal emails from others who have been subjected to similar aggressive treatment from Prof Wadhams. They seem independently pleased BBS had responded so clearly. But it is for

those people to make their stories public if they choose.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

It's refreshing to see climatologists criticize poorly supported alarmist claims. There needs to be much more of that.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

I think even the die-hards can see the extreme alarmism is actually hurting the moderate case for action.

Oct 17, 2014 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

will he now be fired?

or should the taxpayer be "nice" and keep paying good money for his fat salary and pension fund
never mind the value is questionable at the least

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Perhaps Wadhams and Mann can team up and really have a go at the denialist koch brother funded denialist scum.

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Wadhams has no case at all and it must have been a very easy job for Mark Brandon to make those annotations.
This latest complaint includes the suggestion of a legal threat: “These may well be defamatory, a question on which legal counsel may be taken”.
Some of the more absurd suggestions are that "a simple public apology would have been in order, and we could have then moved on" (his original complaint did not even ask for an apology), that "twitter is not open to all" and that they should have sent their tweets to him by email or regular mail. I have updated my blog post on the dispute, where there is some support for Wadhams in the comments from Shub and Jim Bouldin.

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Negative North Atlantic Oscillation conditions increase poleward ocean transport and cause a reduction in Arctic sea ice. While increased greenhouse gas forcing in theory promotes more positive NAO conditions. Suggesting that the increased negative NAO states 1995-1998 and generally 2005 onwards was due to declines in a solar forcing that is poorly understood.

Oct 17, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterUlric Lyons

Yeez, what a baby.

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

I liked this bit (comment 25):-

"25 It is apparently common for people who bully others to claim they themselves are being bullied."

Doesn't Mann complain about being bullied all the time but seems happy attacking anyone who says things he doesn't like!

Oct 17, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Perhaps Lewandowsky can decipher and write a paper on the behaviour shown in this situation?

Oct 17, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

A bunker mentality becomes ever more subterranean, with the heavy thunder of incoming fire.......... but the bombardment is not from the enemy! In mirthful wonder do we sense - the froideur of green on green - it is as thick Siberian permafrost and the icy tones are a blast.

Cue, schadenfreude and rustle up the popcorn..!

Oct 17, 2014 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

What would be real progress would be if BBS made a similar evisceration of Michael Mann- for very similar reasons.

Oct 17, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Please someone take the chaps shovel away,we`re about to lose sight of

Oct 17, 2014 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterbanjo

A question, for clarity, because I do not know the answer; does the offence of misconduct in public office, apply to academia?

Oct 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

The response letter smacks of arrogance.

There are numerous instances in regular life and law where tweeting or Facebook posts - to name two venues where people tend to post off-the-cuff remarks - have gotten them into trouble. There was the guy who made a bomb joke on Twitter at an airport whose was subsequently defended by the Jack of Kent lawyer. There is the lady whose critical remarks on Facebook about her child care got her kid kicked out of the facility. There are numerous people who have lost their jobs because of what they said on Facebook or Twitter.

Fired for a tweet?

BBS somehow want to be shielded from the social consequences of what they say on Twitter. I would like to know how they feel what applies to everyone else in the world doesn't apply them.

Furthermore, there is the spin. In the previous response letter, there is a note saying Sheldon Bacon's 'back to the science' tweet was just a quotation, with a blustery rejoinder 'Quotation is not endorsement'. When in the world does simple quotation involve adding a 'ho ho' with a wink smiley at the end? In the present letter, there is a fisked comment waving away the Schimdt 'baby crying' tweet as though it was written and meant only literally. To me, these are similar to the spin people tried to put on emails after Climategate. It speaks of an attitude that perceives onlookers as idiot peasants who don't know Twitter, and that almost any action can be explained away in its favour.

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:34 AM | Registered Commentershub

As they used to say on Dad's Army "they don't like it up em"

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterErnieb


Big Bird, financed by Big Bird.

Oct 18, 2014 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

I've long wondered about this chap.

Wondering no more - thanks - whoever you are that leaked this ...

Joined a few dots that did.

Oct 18, 2014 at 5:06 AM | Registered Commentertomo

All seems a little overwrought for a Cambridge Professor. (Or is he from the poly?)

Oct 18, 2014 at 5:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

BBS somehow want to be shielded from the social consequences of what they say on Twitter.

And if Wadhams had just said that he felt their Twitter behaviour was disgraceful, he would probably have got some support. But he went so far beyond that, to the point of idiocy (Twitter, the least hidden media there is, is "behind someone's back"?. And so Wadhams is rightly called out for his belief that he should not be criticised at all.

If Schmidt is really such a bad apple on Twitter, it should be easy to find examples of such bad taste tweets. I suspect that it really comes down to him being particularly partisan -- which is not really a surprise to anyone.

Oct 18, 2014 at 8:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Why anyone would use Twitter for anything even semi-serious is beyond me. It's a technology that seems designed to facililitate misinterpretation, as countless celbrities have discovered. I mean where is the upside? Why not just write a review of a presentation after the event?

Oct 18, 2014 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames


To be honest I have no idea why you are being so charitable to the guy. There are times when peoples behaviour is so pathetic that the only true way to deal with them is to mercilessly take the p1ss our of them to bring their inflated sense of self importance back down to Real Life (tm) levels.

Lord knows there are plenty of candidates who call themselves climate scientists that could do with a cold, hard p2ss take or two!


Oct 18, 2014 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

BBS somehow want to be shielded from the social consequences of what they say on Twitter.

And what precisely should be the "social consequences" of tweets that criticize Wadhams' ideas?

Oct 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

Seems to me like we have a situation here akin to:

'I condemn poor science but I fully support the rights of people to expound it openly at scientific conferences free of annoying, deprecating and snide remarks by other scientists on Twitter'

It wasn't very 'nice' of Gavin Schmidt et al to do what they did 'behind Wadhams' back'. He responded by doing something even less nice 'behind the backs' of his perpetrators - writing to their employers - when a simple request for an apology would have been entirely appropriate. For a senior academic of advancing years, he really does need to grow up.

Oct 18, 2014 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaime Jessop

Is there a handy phrase to describe 'twitter mobs'? An ornithologist writes:

Careful experiments have shown that birds can learn from each other which predators to mob (indeed, one bird in an experiment was taught by another to "mob" a many-colored plastic bottle, although the mobbing was halfhearted). Therefore one function of mobbing may be educational -- to teach young birds the identity of the enemy. Another may be to alert other birds to the presence of the predator, either getting them to join in the mobbing or protecting them, since a predator is unlikely to be able to sneak up on an alert victim. The original mobber may benefit directly by the predator being moved along, or indirectly if the protected birds are its kin.

Much is lacking in our understanding of mobbing. It is not clear why predators don't simply turn on their tormentors and snatch up one or two of the mobbing birds. If they did, presumably mobbing would quickly disappear; that it persists suggests that surprise is an essential element in raptor hunting.

It would seem real birds only mob predators, and Wadhams does not strike me as a predator. Yet he is obviously seen as a threat by the mobsters who played the fool in and around his lecture. The 'bored schoolboys' explanation does not seem adequate to capture the contempt and derision on display, and so I return to the notion of a threat.

The main threat I can see is to the credibility of the alarm industry thanks to Prof Wadhams' habit of making dramatic forecasts that can be checked within a few years, and not only that but he dramatises them with associated tales of doom from erupting gases. He gets coverage. The BBC loved him for a while,(although I guess the mob has been working on that). Lots of people will be converted to the Alarmed state so desired by the industry, only to be shocked a few years later, like hippies on the beach waiting for the wave that was to have ended the world at 10am, because nothing much happened. State transition likely. Not back to Blank Slate state, but to You Fooled Me Once state. No wonder the boys tweeted away with such intensity!

Oct 18, 2014 at 9:58 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Wadhams made his bid for leadership of the alarmist pack by forecasting doom and gloom to occur earlier than the others had dared. Furthermore, his forecasts related to parameters that are easy to measure (eg Arctic sea ice). In his bid to crawl to the top of the ant hill he left himself very exposed. Now that his prophecies are being revealed as the silliness we always knew them to be, even amongst his warmist colleaugues, he doesn't like it.

Regardless of whatever reputation he previously built for himself, in his dotage he faces the alarming prospect of becoming a side-show climate change clown. There can be nothing worse for an academic than to try and deliver a lecture covering your life's work through the mocking laughter of ones peers. What a pity.

Expect to see more of the warmist crowd turning on each other as the younger ones realise the now over-hyped AGW bandwagon will shear an axle long before they reach the imminent easy retirement of their older cheerleaders.

Oct 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

They can't sack Wadhams, he is the BBC's "go to guy" on all things polar.

In 2001, Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agreed that the Arctic could soon open up. "Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there," he predicted.

14 October 2009
Arctic to be 'ice-free in summer' By David Shukman
Science and environment correspondent, BBC News

"The Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free and open to shipping during the summer in as little as ten years' time, a top polar specialist has said."

"It's like man is taking the lid off the northern part of the planet," said Professor Peter Wadhams, from the University of Cambridge. Professor Wadhams has been studying the Arctic ice since the 1960s. He was speaking in central London at the launch of the findings of the Catlin Arctic Survey.

"Berks at NERC snub Peter Wadhams, again" By Fred Pearce 04 Sep 2007

Fred Pearce on the apparent snubbing of Britain's top oceanographer by the Government's Natural Environment Research Council:

"I was expecting to die," Britain's top oceanographer Peter Wadhams told me back in March. He had just emerged unscathed from an explosion aboard a naval submarine beneath the Arctic ice.

He lived, but he has now fled the country after suffering academic death by a thousand cuts at the hands of a research council charged with keeping British environmental research afloat. In my humble view, it is a disgrace.

Wadhams is most famous among scientists as the man whose researches aboard a British sub in 1996 revealed that Arctic ice had thinned by 40 per cent since the 1970s."

This was challenged by Holloway and reported by the BBC:

It was addressed by the European Arctic Climate System Study:
Climate and Cryosphere Project Newsletter
Number 1, September 2001 Ice and Climate news

"Although details of the pattern of thinning differ from observation, the gross picture suggests a simple explanation:
Rather than either melting or export, the apparent ice loss was only a shifting location of ice within the Arctic such that the sampling pattern of the submarines missed the shift. Of the 12% ice loss calculated from the model, about 9% were due to enhanced export and 3% due to thermodynamics (less growth or more melt). On a further caution, these numerical values are quite specific to the particular years of the submarine cruises, and 12% volume loss (while less than 45%) is not a valid representation of even a more modest trend.

Large-scale wind patterns are ever changing, and the Large-scale wind patterns are ever changing, and the Arctic ice pack is readily rearranged.

Hypothesise that the five early cruises each occurred one year earlier (Sept 1957, 59, 61, 69 and 75) and the three later cruises each one year later (Sept 1994, 97, 98), spreading out the baseline on which to detect change.

What would the result have been? The submarine surveys would have shown no change at all to average Arctic ice thickness. Thus the actual results from the actual submarine surveys appear to be a fluke of timing coupled with a natural mode of Arctic sea-ice variability.

Observations to date, together with model physics, imply only that the loss of sea ice volume is not inconsistent with the 3% per decade loss of ice area, a modest rate itself not inconsistent with multi-decadal natural variability."

Oct 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

will he now be fired?

or should the taxpayer be "nice" and keep paying good money for his fat salary and pension fund never mind the value is questionable at the least

ptw you touch on a very important issue - the amount of money we taxpayers waste on cushy jobs in UniFairyLand.

Needs a Margaret Thatcher to clean those Augean stables.

Oct 18, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

I sense a new prospect for Climate Prat of the Year 2014 ...


Oct 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

H2O indeed, what is needed is to separate out research and teaching. Pay those with the ability to teach students, with realistic monitoring of their performance, and let the researchers find their own market.

This will prevent the common situation as mentioned on ratemyprofessor about Mann where he nominally teaches classes but in fact is hardly ever there due to jetting all over the world.

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

...hardly ever there due to jetting all over the world, in order to save the world from everyone else jetting all over the world and emitting CO2.

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Here's a suggestion - why doesn't Peter Wadhams save a whole lot of time and effort - and with less risk of explosion - by simply referring to the (unfiddleable) satellite-based charts on Anthony Watts' Sea Ice Page..?

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

"...plenty of candidates who call themselves climate scientists that could do with a cold, hard p2ss take or two"

I have no particular affinity for Wadhams. I know he's come up on BH before, and not in a very complimentary light. I actually happened to read some but not all of the mocking tweets as they came out. I remembered thinking the same thing Doug McNeall wrote on his twitter feed:

"If none take him seriously, why does he get invited?"

What we have therefore is a bunch of people who are the organizers of the conference, publishing mocking tweets about the guy, after having invited him, and then walking back on their own words. It was not the sensitive shrinking violet Wadhams alone who got the impression that he got

BBS apparently fancy themselves to be more scientific than Wadhams which I find utterly ridiculous. This is the thought that predictions that extend to the end of retirement rather than the crucial period when they might seek tenure are not just safe but somehow *better* - because they are based on models that are 'physical'. Computer models incorporate lots of little physics that may be valid in isolated fashion but there is no guarantee or proof they capture any integrated emergent behaviour of the system as a whole.

Wadhams' fame was not only because he predicted doom and gloom, though that did contribute, but specifically because it came at a time when Arctic sea ice took a sharp, unexpected turn. The media went to the guy who seemed to have the answer. The standard modelers' approach is to fill the gap between an under-prediction and reality with a 'it's worse than we thought' and declare a prediction co-incident with reality as validation. In other words, they are always cushioned and they can never be wrong. Witness Julienne Stroeve from the same meeting:

Stroeve: longer term Arctic sea ice forecasts perhaps coming into line with climate models?

Such approaches are good for hedging but hedging is not science, prediction is. I support the guy who sticks his neck out rather than the ones who spread their bets while tying your hands. Notice how Stefan Rahmstorf or Gavin Schmidt cannot predict anything correctly but yet know precisely how much petrol you should put in your car to meet their 2C targets.

/rant :)

Oct 18, 2014 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

I wonder if this kerfuffle might not simply be an extreme case result of academic isolation. Certainly Gavin's tweets were rude and snarky, but then practically everybody who takes an interest in the CAGW debate knows that he is consistently very rude to anyone who doesn't think just like him. Many, perhaps most, here at Bishop Hill has probably been the target of one of his snarky drive-by remarks at one time or another, and would hardly be particularly upset by a few more.

Perhaps Wadhams never reads RealClimate and consequently does not understand that he is in no way being treated different than practically everybody that has ever interacted with Gavin Schmidt in anything but a 100% sycophantic fashion.

Oct 18, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

John Shade at 9:58

Very interesting point not noted: who the attackers are, and why they would do what they did.

Wadhams was invited, I expect, because of his public position and BBC role in CAGW. He is a known, exhuberant supporter of the IPCC consensus. But he shows as a buffoon (remember "shows" is an appearance, not necessaarily a truth, though it may be a truth). His advancement as fact the hedged "projections" of others is very disturbing to the others. He would be like the bird who sings mightily about the cats nearby, thereby bringing the cats to where the rest of the birds are. Gotta get rid of that noisy bird! (Even if he is an enthusiastic "one of us".)

The mobbing by one's own is an interesting tactic that bears investigation in the animal world. It would be siilar to the lieutenant who is "fragged" by his own men because his behaviour may be directed towards the enemy but will get everyone killed. Politically, it might be the Chinese/Mao practice of the Cultural Revolution (or of the Cambodian Pol Pot): attack the Alpha members of society to stop them from inflicting unsettling change upon the the Beta members.

A most interesting idea, indeed. It might be an evolutionary practice that is more important than we would have thought.

Oct 18, 2014 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

@James I agree about twitter. It's like eating blowfish. Prepare it wrong and you're dead. Prepare it right and it tastes like fish. Big wow.

Oct 19, 2014 at 3:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterttfn

I'm not sure how this happened but there is a propensity for pseudo academics to claim the 'scientist' higher ground. Some dude claiming as he's a scientist he knows all about the epidemiology of smoking and passive smoking too. I think he was chief medical somink or other. During my time in academia, most of the scientific community knew that medics knew little of science, we took classes with undergrad medics on critical thinking. I don't smoke nor ever have, my folks died of peripheral vascular things (not pleasant), but apart from the odd fag burn I got when getting dressed aged 5 by my mum I have no lasting detrimental effects. Sure Mom and Dad did themselves little favours in terms of their vasculature, but their smoking did not harm me. I'm not obsessive about it, their choice. How on earth are all on TV and in the media speaking for me when they know bog all? Nor does Chief Someink. Would it not be better, honest, to admit that disease prevalence is not ones expertise (unless it is) and simply say 'not sure'. I do that with my charges, I don't know everything but then I get paid half as much as these guys and I tell it how it is.

Oct 20, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Shaw

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