Professor Ray Bates
One of the most unpleasant utterances of the climate Communists is that all they have to do is wait and all the skeptics will die, one by one. One of the greatest of us, Professor Ray Bates, former deputy director of Met Éireann, former Branch Head of NASA’s Laboratory for Atmospheres in Goddard, Maryland; Emeritus Professor of Meteorology at the University of Copenhagen and most recently Adjunct Professor of Meteorology at University College Dublin from 2004 to 2023, has died peacefully at Blackrock Hospice, Ireland.
His first wife Ziara died in 2003. His second wife Natasha, to whom he was devoted, survives him, as do his siblings Trish, Eugene, Billy, Declan, Kathleen, Dick and Margaret.
Ray Bates was one of those outstanding, enquiring minds that used to make the sciences endlessly fascinating. I first came across him a decade ago at a dinner in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, before we were to debate the climate question before the members of the Law Society of Ireland.
Even in those days, when one could still get a debate on climate change, it was not going to be one on one. Our hosts decided that to balance the Moncktonian case against the climate-change nonsense there should be not one but two upholders of the Party Line. My second opponent, who was also at dinner, shall remain faceless and nameless, for he was a mere drone, slavishly parroting the pusillanimous pietisms of the Party and contributing nothing of any lasting intellectual interest.
Ray Bates was instantly and visibly different. The word most often use of him by those who knew him and came to love him was “gentleman”. There was an unaffected courtliness about his beaming smile and his relentless, softly-spoken charm. He never spoke an unkind word about anyone. I forget what we talked about at dinner, but it had very little to do with the climate. He became a friend at once.
At the debate, after all three of us had spoken, the first question, from a climate Communist with the characteristic hatchet face, unsatisfactory wardrobe and sullen, grouchy manner, was addressed to Ray Bates. Why, he said, had Professor Bates been willing to lower himself to debate Monckton, whom everyone knew to be a nitwit, or indeed to debate anyone on the settled science of climate change?
Ray went up to the microphone, beamed contentedly at Worst-Dressed Man of The Year and said, “It should be as obvious to everyone here as it is to me that Monckton is profoundly knowledgeable on the climate question, and that it is I who am going to have to reconsider my position.”
You could have heard a pin drop. The climate Communist went white and collapsed untidily into his seat. The group of fellow-Communists in his row looked dismal.
For what they had not realized is that Ray Bates was intellectually honest. His particular specialism in the climate-sensitivity field was the application to climate of feedback analysis from control theory, a branch of rocket science in engineering physics.
Like every control theorist to whom my team’s result has come, Ray realized at once that the points I had raised could not simply be dismissed.
He wrote to me after the debate and asked me to send him the then early draft of our paper on the feedback issue. He went quite for a week or two and then got in touch. He had physically cut up the paper and lined up all the diagrams to match them with points in the text that interested him. He soon got the point, and, from then on, became a climate skeptic.
One of the many reasons why he and I got on so well is that I had undergone a similar conversio morum on the climate question. I had originally gone along with the Party Line, and had even appeared on the most popular TV chat-show in the UK, the Clive James Show, to explain how the greenhouse effect works, sticking my finger into a glass of water to demonstrate it. As far as anyone can discover, that was the first time it had been described on British television.
But then I had written a model to take the monthly global temperature data from the various datasets and plot the trend. Practically no one else was doing that. There was endless talk about global warming, but no one was letting us in on the secret or how much (or, rather, how little) global warming was actually happening.
I discovered, and named, the Pause. From 1997 to 2015, a period of almost 19 years, there was no global warming at all. Yet the vast majority of the world’s news media had kept this fact secret. On seeing the temperature plot emerge on the screen as a least-squares linear-regression trend that was horizontal, I realized the world was being fooled.
I wondered why the world had not been warming for so long. For the greenhouse effect is a real effect. Why was it not warming the planet at even half the long-predicted medium-term 0.3 K/decade? That is why I began to investigate feedbacks, since feedback response constitutes three-fifths of midrange predicted warming.
At our meetings from time to time since the Galway debate, we would often talk with sadness of those in the scientific community who were unwilling to think for themselves but were instead wedded to the Party Line because it was temporarily fashionable and undemandingly safe.
Ray was one of many who quietly encouraged me and my team in our research, and he was among the many distinguished scientists, from Freeman Dyson to Will Happer, who had generously given us their time and support when no one else wanted to know. From time to time he would send me his own learned papers and ask for my comments before he submitted them.
Ray Bates, then, dazzlingly and publicly exemplified the ancient truth that he who changes his mind when the evidence requires it provides irrefutable proof that he has a mind.
How, then, shall we honor the memory of that great man?
What I propose is this. We have now been working on our research for close to a decade. We submit that our result is no longer in doubt. It is not at all likely that global warming will be large enough or rapid enough to do net harm. Yet the journals of climatology will not publish our paper, not because it is wrong but because it is – to coin a phrase – the inconvenient truth. We have had some hilariously dopey reviews.
Therefore, if there are any learned readers of WattsUpWithThat who are curious, and would like to read our paper and give me any comments they would like to make, they can honor the memory of Ray Bates by doing what he did, asking for a copy of our paper, reading it, thinking about it and then letting us know whether we are right and, if so, how we can improve the paper. Just drop me a note at monckton[at]mail[dot]com and I shall send you the paper. It is just six pages long.
Meanwhile, may Ray Bates make merry in Heaven as he made us merry on Earth.