Posted for Jeff Tollefson
Update: Gray calls the uproar a ‘non-story’
It appears that the latest flap regarding hurricane expert and noted global warming sceptic Bill Gray was a bit overblown. Several hours after we posted the original Houston Chronicle story on this blog, Gray returned a phone call from Nature and quickly sought to set the record straight about his alleged troubles at Colorado State University.
“This is a funny thing,” he began. “We had something come up last year, and it was all smoothed over. It’s a non-story.”
At issue were Gray’s well-regarded hurricane forecasts and his unequivocal opposition to the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are driving global warming. The Chronicle reported that CSU is, or at least was, threatening to cut off its media support for his hurricane forecasts due to his unpopular stand on global warming. The key piece of evidence was a year-old internal memo from Gray suggesting as much.
Gray, who has retired and now comes to work as a professor emeritus, was not quoted directly in the story, and he said he was as surprised as anybody when it came out.
The Chronicle story, however, said Gray declined to comment prior to publication. In a separate blog post, Chronicle reporter Eric Berger said Gray declined to talk “because he did not want to embarrass CSU.”
Make of that what you will. Regardless, Gray and the University, flooded with media queries on the matter, put up a unified front and denounced the article on Tuesday as misleading and inaccurate.
Gray isn’t shy about events leading up to his memo last year. He says he “went out strong” against scientists who have linked increased hurricane activity to global warming, “and they came back and raised hell about me.” He blasted the scientific establishment, including Nature, for succumbing to dogma and went on to suggest that former Vice President Al Gore is “brainwashing our kids.”
Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering at CSU, pointedly separated Gray’s views on global warming from the hurricane forecasts, now run by Gray’s last student, Phil Klotzbach.
The real question is what happens now that Klotzbach has graduated and Gray is retired.
“As long as Phil and Bill are here and they would like to release the forecasts, we will do that,” Woods said. “But if Phil were to leave the university and go somewhere else, he would take the forecasts with him. That’s what universities do. They educate students so they can go on and have great careers.”