John Clauser won the Nobel Prize. Then he started denying climate change.

John Clauser won the Nobel Prize.  Then he started denying climate change.

BALTIMORE — At a heated news conference at the Four Seasons Hotel here Tuesday, speakers denounced climate change as a hoax perpetrated by a “global cabal” including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and several Catholic Church leaders.

It may have seemed like a fringe event, except Credentials of one of the speakers. John F. Clauser shared the Nobel Prize in Physics last year before declaring on Tuesday that “there is no climate crisis” — a claim that contradicts the overwhelming scientific consensus.

The event demonstrated the remarkable transformation Clauser has made since winning one of the world’s most prestigious awards for his pioneering experiments with light particles in the 1970s. His recent denial of global warming has alarmed leading climate scientists, who warn that he is using his status to mislead the public about a planetary emergency.

Clauser, 80, who has a booming voice and white hair that he often leaves combed, brushed off those concerns. He says that doubt is an essential part of the scientific process.

“There was an overwhelming consensus that what I was doing was pointless” in the 1970s, he said in an interview after the news conference. “It took 50 years for my work to win the award. That’s how long it takes to change opinions.”

Tuesday’s event was organized by the Deposit of Faith Coalition, a group of more than a dozen Catholic organizations that says “those who push an anti-God, anti-family climate agenda must be called out and exposed.” A coalition spokesman acknowledged that Clauser, an atheist, needed some convincing to be the keynote speaker.

Other speakers included Mark Morano, a former Republican congressional staffer who runs a website that rejects mainstream climate science, and Alex Newman, a right-wing media journalist who has called for exposing “climate fraud.” Both men have made multiple criticisms of former Vice President Al Gore and his 2006 documentary about the dangers of climate change.

Wearing a gray blazer with black jeans and Teva sandals, Clauser looked fresh as he took the stage. He was scrolling through a PowerPoint presentation that began with the exclamation: “Great news! There is no climate crisis!”

“Although this may upset a lot of people, my message is that the planet is not in danger,” Clauser told an audience of about a dozen people in the hotel conference room and others watching the event online. “I call myself a climate denier,” he added. “I’ve been told that’s not politically correct. So I guess I’m kind of obsessed with the climate crisis.”

Clauser bragged that he met privately with President Biden in the Oval Office last year, when the 2022 Nobel Prize winners were invited to the White House. He said he criticized Biden’s climate and energy policies, to which he said the president responded: “It sounds like right-wing science.”

The Washington Post was unable to confirm this story. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming will have catastrophic consequences for current and future generations. They warn that heatwaves, famines and infectious diseases could claim millions more lives by the end of the century if humanity does not quickly reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The influence of climate deniers has diminished over the past several decades, as the science has become clearer and the effects of global warming have become clearer. But a small group of vocal Skeptics – including many prominent physicists – have continued to insist.

Clauser, who has never published a peer-reviewed paper on climate change, focused on one message in particular: Earth’s temperature is determined primarily by cloud cover, not carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. He concluded that clouds have a net cooling effect on the planet, so there is no climate crisis.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said this argument is “pure garbage” and “pseudoscience.”

“The best available evidence” shows that clouds do indeed have a net effect on warming, Mann said in an email. “In physics, we call that a ‘signal error,’ and it’s the kind of mistake that a freshman would be embarrassed to make when he was caught making,” he said.

Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, agrees.

“Clouds amplify global warming,” Dessler said in an email. “The scientific community has spent the last century studying (climate change), and at this point, almost everything that happens has become predictable. John Clauser and others like him ignore this because they They do not offer serious scientific criticism.

But Anton Zeilinger, the Austrian physicist who shared the Nobel Prize with Clauser last year, said in an interview that he had “very great respect” for Clauser’s scientific accuracy, although he cautioned that he was not an expert in climate science.

In 1972, Clauser conducted pioneering experiments on quantum entanglement, a process in which two or more particles are coupled such that a change in one particle leads to a simultaneous change in the other, even if they are separated by vast distances. The experiments confirmed the phenomenon that Albert Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” It also paved the way for technologies like quantum computers, which can solve problems too complex for classical computers.

“When Einstein proposed his ideas, he was considered crazy and strange,” said Zeilinger, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Vienna. “It has happened in science that the majority have been completely wrong. I have no idea if that is the case here, but science should be open to debate.”

Some physicists have made crucial contributions to the world’s understanding of climate change. In 2021, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to scientists Syōkoro Manabe from the United States and Klaus Hasselmann from Germany for their work that laid the foundation for current climate models.

Others have made a name for themselves as climate opponents.

William Haber, Professor Emeritus of Physics At Princeton University, he argued that global warming is beneficial to humanity. Under President Donald Trump, Haber served as a senior director at the National Security Council, where he oversaw a controversial initiative to reevaluate the federal government’s analysis of climate science.

Likewise, Richard Lindzen, a retired MIT physicist, criticized what he called “climate panic.” Also written by Stephen E. Kuhnen, a physicist who served as Under Secretary of Energy for Science under President Barack Obama, wrote the best-selling book Unstable: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t Tell Us, and Why It Matters.“.

“There is a skeptical streak in the physics community regarding climate science,” Nader Jevanji, a research physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote in a recent criticism of Kuhnen’s book.

In an interview, Jeevanji said that although climate science is based on physics, not all physicists are experts in climate science. But that hasn’t stopped some distinguished physicists from portraying themselves as experts and sowing doubt, he said.

“When they speak, people listen,” Jevanji said, emphasizing that he was speaking on his own behalf and not on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “It stokes the flames of denial.”

Some physicists who reject the scientific consensus on climate change have received funding from fossil fuel companies. Wei-Hock “Willie” Son, an astrophysicist who claims that variations in the sun’s energy account for most of global warming, accepted more than $1.2 million from the fossil fuel industry from 2005 to 2015, while failing to disclose a conflict of interest. This is in most scientific papers. .

Clauser said he does not receive any money from oil, gas and coal interests.

“If I go to Asia, I will get a huge bonus for the talks,” he said in the interview after the event on Tuesday. “But this conference did not give me a reward for coming here. The best I get is a flight ticket and a hotel. I live only on savings.”

In June, Clauser gave the keynote address at a conference on quantum information science in Seoul, where he told the audience, “I don’t think there is a climate crisis.” The speech came a month after he joined the board of directors of the Carbon Dioxide Alliance, a group that claims carbon dioxide is good for the planet.

Climate deniers kicked out of teachers’ conference over pro-carbon comics

Closer was not welcomed everywhere. In July, he was scheduled to deliver a symposium on climate modeling for the International Monetary Fund’s Independent Evaluation Office, but the event was then canceled without any explanation, the CO2 Alliance said in a statement at the time.

Clauser said Tuesday that he was initially told the event would be reframed as a debate with the author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. But that idea “hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson declined to comment on the record and did not respond to follow-up questions about whether the event could be rescheduled.

Clauser’s message may also reach a limited audience. Among the roughly a dozen people who attended the news conference in Baltimore, two journalists and several others were members of the Faith Deposit Coalition.

When asked about the smaller crowd, Clauser, who suffers from emphysema caused by smoking cigarettes in his younger years, took a puff from his inhaler and shrugged.

“I receive a fair amount of fan mail, some of which comes from people claiming to be climate scientists,” he said. “Most of them are very positive.”

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