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Recollections of Bob Carter

This is a guest post by Professor David Henderson.

I became involved with climate change issues, entirely by accident, at the end of 2002. A year or so after this event, as my acquaintance with the subject broadened, I became aware of Bob Carter’s writings, and I was impressed. I marked him down as an author to be followed.

It was not until 2006 that we met, through an initiative on my part. At the end of 2005 the Stern Review was published. I felt that it deserved a comprehensive critique, and so far as the economic aspects were concerned a team of potential authors was already to hand. Well before the Review appeared, Sir Nicholas Stern (as he then was) had given a public lecture the text of which was published (together with an annex on climate science). I put together a team of nine economists, and we published in the journal World Economics (June 2006} a short critical article entitled ‘Climate Change: The Stern Review “Oxonia Papers”’.  Alongside our piece there also appeared a reply by Stern.

For the Stern Review itself, the journal accepted my suggestion that it should publish two critical review articles, separate but linked, one contributed by our team of economists and the other by a corresponding group of scientists. The problem then was to put together this latter team. 

It was in this context that I first met Bob. On learning that he was due to attend a conference in Stockholm, I wrote to suggest that we should meet in London during a stopover on his return journey. Happily, it proved possible to fix such a meeting, and over an extended Chinese lunch I explained the situation and invited Bob to join the prospective review group (for which, as I told him, I already had two names). He at once accepted.

Our final scientific team comprised Robert Carter, Chris de Freitas, Indur Goklany, David Holland and Richard Lindzen - three climate scientists and two engineers. They contributed a powerful review article, which appeared, alongside our economists’ critique, in the issue of World Economics dated December 2006. Not surprisingly, it provoked several highly critical responses, which the journal duly published; and these in turn gave rise to two separate rejoinders by the team which also appeared in the same issue. All three papers - the original critique and the twin rejoinders – read well today.

I next met Bob at a conference in early 2008, and during our conversation he said something that impressed me greatly. He told me that after the climate change debate had opened, he vowed that he would make no contribution to it unless and until he had satisfied himself that he had achieved sufficient understanding of the scientific issues involved. He then asked me: ‘How long do you think it took before I felt I was qualified to express views of my own?’ As an offhand guess which seemed reasonable, I replied: ‘Six months?’ ‘No’, said Bob, ‘it took me three years’ work.’

In 2009 Nigel Lawson established the Global Warming Policy Foundation; and he then set up for it, principally as a review body for publications, an Academic Advisory Council. Both Bob and I were founder members of this body, and as its chairman I had frequent interactions over the following five years with the more active of my new colleagues among whom Bob was numbered. His comments and responses were unfailingly prompt and helpful. He also became a GWPF author, in a report (co-authored with Willem de Lange) which Andrew Montford has rated as ‘one of the best things GWPF has published’. What he did for the Foundation was the more notable because it represented an additional task: it has to be seen in the context of his continuing major contributions of which others have written.

The last time I was in touch with Bob was in November 2014, when he sent me a kind and much-appreciated note on learning that I had stepped down as chairman of the Council.

I wish I had been able to see more of Bob before his untimely death. I miss him very much.

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Reader Comments (10)

I haven't seen a bad word written about Bob Carter by anybody who knew or met him - a person of great integrity and honesty. He certainly had a big and beneficial impact on me.

Jan 25, 2016 at 9:33 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well said David.

Jan 25, 2016 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Donna's just published an obit too:-

Though perhaps the best way to remember him is through his own words:-

Jan 25, 2016 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

A great loss to the real scientific community!

Jan 25, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Another fine tribute to a good man. His great output of work, in books, papers, presentations, correspondence, debates and interviews will remain an important resource for many years to come.

Jan 25, 2016 at 12:01 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

If only all climate scientists had as much honesty and integrity as Bob Carter. As it is, their noxious emissions are more damaging than anything produced by VW.

Jan 25, 2016 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

As someone not attached to any organisation or prominent in this debate (but very much a sceptic), I contacted Bob Carter by email a while back when I realised the sales of his excellent book ‘Climate – The Counter Consensus’, had effectively been banned by Amazon (I wanted another copy for a friend). He replied very promptly in a very helpful way. I got the sense from that email, which wasn’t cursory, of the man others here who knew him better, are writing about. A great loss as others say.

I notice that the book is still being sold at a premium price on Amazon and through the Independent Minds agency. Wondering if there might be an opportunity for Bishop Hill to take over distribution.

Jan 25, 2016 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

The world needs more Bob Carters. These older guys, like Bob, Will Happer, Patrick Moore give a very impressive performance on the media..showing a deep respect for the scientific method.
Look how they don't sneer and avoid debate.

Bob made a difference even neutrals could see how alarmists avoided debating him and sought to have him banned from the airways instead.

Jan 26, 2016 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

His talks on YT were among the first I'd seen on the AGW issue. Some of them are nearly a decade old but are just as timely today. Great public speaker, passionate and effective but never off-puttingly didactic.He'll be missed.

Jan 26, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterjbirks

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