Other esteemed scientists have in recent years put forward compelling critiques of the technical and scientific case for anthropogenic climate change. Dr. Lewis’s resignation letter is not such a critique. Rather, it is a condemnation of the way ideology, politics, and money have suppressed dissenting viewpoint and distorted the very nature of scientific inquiry. Like the so-called Climategate controversy, in which hacked emails from a group of climate scientists revealed political and personal factors influencing scientific work, Lewis’ letter lays bare the less-than-noble motivations that seem to be driving discussion of climate-change research today.
The APS position: 'incontrovertible'
To understand Lewis’s letter, you first have to understand the APS position on climate change. The APS, like several other major scientific organizations, supports the theory of man-caused global warming. Its official statement from 2007 read, in part: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.... The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.”
This statement troubled Lewis deeply. These key excerpts from Lewis’s resignation letter explain why:
“[T]he money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.