Beauty And The Beast In Boulder

I attended a presentation this afternoon in Boulder by Judy Curry and Kevin Trenberth.

First Judy presented a very clear, calm, concise scientific explanation of why the science wasn’t settled, and why the 97% consensus was a meaningless number. It was obvious that she had put a large amount of thought into a way to present it in a way that any educated but non-technical person could understand.

Then Trenberth had his turn, and immediately launched into a 15 minute rant how Fox News and Republicans were going to cause the climate to be destroyed (and kill us all.) You might think that I am exaggerating about this, but I am not.  Those were almost his exact words.

The good news is that Trenberth’s rant was so ugly, so political, and so opposite Judy’s soft spoken and well measured presentation – I imagine that most of the audience left a little more skeptical than they came in.

I’m curious if anyone is familiar with the legal implications of a civil servant launching a political attack in a public forum, while on the job and presenting himself as a representative of the government?

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47 Responses to Beauty And The Beast In Boulder

  1. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) says:

    Heading for Judith’s page now… hope she wrote this up!

  2. Gail Combs says:

    Steve you might check with the Competitive Enterprise Institute link

    They are suing the EPA over a FOIA.

  3. Jim Keil says:

    I was there. The topic of the discussion was “Climate Change, it’s the data, not the politics.” After Judith gave her 15 minute presentation mainly discussing the science and areas of disagreements among scientists, Trenberth used about 5 minutes discussing “the science” listing supposed extreme weather conditions from 1970. 10 minutes was showing pictures of the Colorado flooding and the western fires. I remember him saying “Republicans don’t believe in Obamacare and they don’t believe in climate change…… During the Q and A session, one questioner was able to get Trenberth to say that Judith was not a denier!

  4. geran says:

    Let me see….Hedge, no Hudge…oh Hutch! Yeah the Hutch Act!

    • Gail Combs says:

      Thanks for the link.

      I knew the law was on the books but I thought it was not enforced and hadn’t been for a while. I guess it is enforced.

      On September 13, 2012, the OSC charged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with violating the Hatch Act by making a political speech during an official government event. Sebelius later said she had made a mistake and that the error was “technical” in nature.[31]

      Hope you got a video steve and other witnesses.

    • isbobc says:

      That’s odd. It was bought in because of behaviour by Democrats!?

    • geologyjim says:

      There seems to be a wide-open back-door for trolls like Trenberth to openly advocate political actions/positions while being almost-wholly funded by USGovt programs.

      Here’s an interesting notation in the wiki entry for Hatch Act: “US Office of Special Counsel found no violation when Kennedy Space Center officials allowed Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign to use a NASA facility for a 2004 campaign event, because no government employees worked at the facility in question. It found streaming the event to NASA employees and contractors violated the Hatch Act.”

      Watch the pea under the thimble (H/T Steve McIntyre)

      Everything at Kennedy Space Center is funded by NASA, but the worker-bees are employees of corporations funded by NASA. NCAR is a research entity of UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), which is a “non-profit” organization – a consortium of numerous university entities – per their website – engaged in such research that is nearly fully funded by US tax dollars (grants from DOE, NSF, EPA, etc, etc)

      Trenberth is an employee of NCAR/UCAR so “not technically” a government employee. He’s certainly no “public servant”.

      Legally, he’s just like a greeter at Warmart – simply Joe Shmoe working for a corporation. And so he would claim to be unfettered in any political utterance that might erupt from his oral orifice.

      I have not been able to determine if he is a naturalized American citizen – or if he’s still a Kiwi.

      His blatantly political rants on Friday against Republican members of Congress, “deniers”, and others who dispute the “science” of climate change made me wonder about his immigration status

      In any event, he was the yappy little dog of the event – boldly contrasted with Judith’s rational, factual, scientific presentation.

      • gator69 says:

        ABOUT NCAR
        “The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a federally funded research and development center devoted to service, research and education in the atmospheric and related sciences. NCAR’s mission is to understand the behavior of the atmosphere and related physical, biological and social systems; to support, enhance and extend the capabilities of the university community and the broader scientific community – nationally and internationally; and to foster transfer of knowledge and technology for the betterment of life on Earth. The National Science Foundation is NCAR’s primary sponsor, with significant additional support provided by other U.S. government agencies, other national governments and the private sector.”

        Their funding is no different than that of NASA, where my brothers works, and would lose his job if he tried pulling a Trenberth.

        It is the double standard at work, 24/7.

  5. Brian G Valentine says:

    I would rather

    – have terminal cancer
    – be in a Federal supermax prison
    – be unable to walk

    than sit there for five minutes in front of that sickening, Kevin Trenberth.

    That is the God’s honest truth and i hope he reads this

  6. rabbit says:

    Yes, the ol’ frothing-at-the-mouth approach is always a big winner, particularly when most in the audience are far more adept at reading people than reading science.

  7. Gail Combs says:

    It sounds like Trenberth has really lost it.

    Is it me or has the ‘professionalism’ expected at work and especially in government workers taken a real nose dive in the last decade?

    It also seems as if they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and are royally p…o..

    • Brian G Valentine says:

      He’s a nothing and he knows it. He is left with nothing excepting to wipe his feet on people who are a hundred times better than he will ever be.

  8. Password protected says:

    Who composed the audience?

  9. Jim Keil says:

    Trenberth also said that he was concerned that the folks were not in agreement on climate science as the scientists were. He said if you visit NCAR in Boulder where he works -you can see the available resources they have that prove AGW. He said you might get to talk to a climate scientist. I’m going to go to NCAR next week and personally ask for him. -Jim

    • Gail Combs says:

      Take a tranquilizer first so you can keep it mellow. (Also a second person and a micro recorder. – I hope Colorado has the same law as NC. If 2 out of 3 know you are recording it is legal in court.)

    • Brian G Valentine says:

      Ask him what it costs to say things he personally knows not to be true.

    • David A says:

      If they do not agree are they not fired for the most part. I think they were warned that there should be no “deniers”

  10. Brian G Valentine says:

    Off topic, but I wonder if Greenpeace extorts?

    I wonder if the attempt to expose people for some sordid activity if they don’t repeat what they want them to?

  11. rabbit says:

    To convince someone, it is not enough to know the topic. You must also know your audience. To be mired in your own world with no understanding of who you’re trying to convince is to lose the battle.

    And the audience doesn’t care about Trenberth’s problems and frustrations. His battles are of huge interest to himself but of no interest to anyone else. The audience came expecting to see two scientists debate a scientific question, and what they (reportedly) got was one scientist and one angry politician.

  12. philjourdan says:

    Dr. Curry reports on the conference as well. As usual, she is extremely diplomatic and kind to Trenberth. But examining her links to the presentations, and other material, Steve’s synopsis looks pretty accurate.

    • Andy Oz says:

      Judith’s looks balanced, sensible and thought provoking.
      Trenberth’s looks strident, alarming and frustrated with politicians not spending trillions on Watermelon Green projects. Underlying his is the call for a carbon tax and the desire for a global taxation system.

  13. emsnews says:

    Interesting this man is freaking out about global warming in Colorado.

    Glacier facts in that state: “Colorado has about a dozen glaciers in Colorado today. These are not remnants of the Pleistocene glaciers, but were formed about 500 years ago during the Little Ice Age. During the Little Ice Age cooling, thick snow accumulated in protected areas where winds could blow extra snow into the cirques.

    The snow gradually changed into ice which eventually began moving down the valleys. The maximum extent of the glaciers occurred about 1850.

    As the climate began warming again, the ice began to melt and the glaciers began retreating back into the cirques.”

    So, the ice there is recent and developed during the cooler cycle of the Maunder Minimum and only began to melt again by 1900. I hope the people of Colorado understand, if we get into another Maunder Minimum which is a very real possibility, the people there will be quite miserable.

  14. TomC says:


    Was this one of the NRDC events they’re now holding at senior centers?? We had one here (New York) back in February I was dying to go to but it was cancelled because we got 10-20″ of snow that weekend.

  15. Send Al to the Pole says:

    Meanwhile, whales are being crushed by ice in the arctic….

    That should feed a polar bear or two…

  16. GregO says:

    Trenberth bagging on Republicans is totally out of line in a discussion of science. Who cares where a political group representing a social constituency stands in regard to a scientific question?

    CAGW is real or it’s not. Period. Depends on two things AFACS:

    1) Measurement of current conditions with regard to recent conditions thus establishing a local trend (result: no warming for approaching two decades) and;

    2) Historical data, proxies and history – plenty of warm times / cold times in the last say, 10,000 years; what we see in our current optimum is just that, an optimum. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary, and most certainly not any kind of crisis.

    What do Republicans have to do with this? Well, they are allegedly fiscally conservative, or used to be, and perhaps Trenberth sees a bit of belt-tightening coming.

    What does that have to do with science? And if he has to eventually go get a real job, so what?

    • GregO says:

      Oh, and speaking of crises, reduction in climate panic-science funding may be reduced thus resulting in Trenberth’s unemployment as a publicly-funded charlatan – to him I’m sure a crisis; to me, no big deal. Go get a real job you useless fraud.

  17. Chewer says:

    Their disputes apparently ignored reality and what really comes next:

  18. crosspatch says:

    Did Trainbreath mention anything about finding the Hadley Heat Hidey Hole?

  19. Andy DC says:

    One highly rational scientist against one irrational, arrogant bully.

    • Dennis Gerlitz says:

      I lost whatever respect I was prepared to give the man today. His rant at the end of his presentation was pure politically driven agenda pandering to his supporters in the audience. When pressed to answer if he thought Judith Curry was a denier he ran right up to the line but didn’t have the courage of his convictions to cross over and actually call her one.

  20. jeremyp99 says:

    I’m curious if anyone is familiar with the legal implications of a civil servant launching a political attack in a public forum, while on the job and presenting himself as a representative of the government?

    Nothing will happen. Different rules for “them” and “us”.

    • crosspatch says:

      It depends on their political affiliation in the US. If Republican, yes, such a person will be punished well beyond the full extent of the law. If Democrat, well, then it is for the greater good.

  21. Dave G says:

    That’s what Obama, Pelosi and Reid and about 50 others do everyday. Not to mention the IRS. No consequences for Lerner yet.

  22. Chip Bennett says:

    I’m curious if anyone is familiar with the legal implications of a civil servant launching a political attack in a public forum, while on the job and presenting himself as a representative of the government?

    I’ll see your Trenberth meltdown, and raise you Harry Reid’s weekly Koch Brothers Two-Minute Hate on the floor of the Senate.

  23. I’m curious if anyone is familiar with the legal implications of a civil servant launching a political attack in a public forum, while on the job and presenting himself as a representative of the government?

    Well this practice is more or less inherent in a Jacksonian Democracy where so many supposedly non-partisan civil administrators are political appointees.

  24. Don Evanson says:

    Isn’t an express attach on a political party in violation of the Hatch Act?

  25. rw says:

    If this keeps up, they’re going to have to double the size of the DSM in order to accomodate all the AGW disorders.

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