Jack Schmitt on Computer Models vs. the Real World

Astronaut, Moonwalker, NASA Advisor, former Congressman, and accomplished scientist, writer and public speaker Harrison “Jack” Schmitt has left the Planetary Society for a variety of reasons, apparently including global warming:

As a geologist, I love Earth observations. But, it is ridiculous to tie this objective to a “consensus” that humans are causing global warming in when human experience, geologic data and history, and current cooling can argue otherwise. “Consensus”, as many have said, merely represents the absence of definitive science. You know as well as I, the “global warming scare” is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society’s activities.

A couple of perhaps not-well-known explanations are in order.

First of all, Schmitt is referring to the recent, pretty dumb decision by The Planetary Society (of whom I am a longtime member myself), of jumping onto the Climate Change bandwagon, to the point of dedicating a rather uncharacteristically clueless issue of “Planetary Report”, the Society magazine.

Another indication about the reasons for Schmitt’s decision can be found in this pre-lecture Q&A video from April 2008. At 23m 19s into the recording, Schmitt says

the first major important scientific discovery…when I stumbled across the..”orange soil”..and that is still a thorn in the side of the people who believe that the moon formed by a giant impact here on Earth. that hypothesis comes from computer modeling. models are great but they still have to agree with the real world. one big part that the model cannot explain in that hypothesis is how do you get the material that is in what is called the non-glass component in that soil. that material is very rich in volatiles…and just doesn’t fit…the debris [from the impact, would have experienced] very high temperatures.

Perfectly and very personally aware of the limitations of computer models, Schmitt cannot just take them as the ultimate Truth in Climate stuff just as he cannot, in Geology stuff.

Anybody wanting to bet if a person as accomplished and as scientifically renowned and respected as Schmitt will be called a denialist, with people figuratively dancing on his grave were a deadly disease to kill him?