Journalists should not be duped into portraying anti-wind energy activist John Droz Jr. as simply a “physicist” and an expert on issues related to climate change. Droz has cast doubt on man-made climate change and undermined scientifically accurate sea-level rise predictions in North Carolina, despite admitting he has no expertise in either area.
Wash. Post Suggests John Droz Is An Expert On Sea Level Rise
Wash. Post: Droz Is A “Physicist” That Undertook An “Independent Review” Of Sea Level Rise. An article published on the front page of The Washington Post on June 25 described how, under political pressure, North Carolina's state government ditched a report by a science panel stating that the state should plan on about 39 inches in sea level rise by 2100. The state has instead decided that forecasts should only go out 30 years for public infrastructure projects and zoning of land, during which the sea level is expected to rise eight inches. However, the Post inadequately described John Droz, who undertook an “independent review” of the sea level rise report, as a “local physicist”:
“They said there were numerous things the county had to start doing: Raise roads, elevate bridges, rezone land. Any property affected by 39 inches, they wanted to be rezoned as uninhabitable,” said John Droz, a local physicist who was quickly recruited by Carteret County officials to undertake an independent review of the 39-inch forecast.
[Coastal Resources Commission chairman Bob] Emory disputed that account, saying the commission had no intention of demanding such drastic action. “We were not at the stage where there was enough certainty to say you can do this here, you can't do that there,” he said. [The Washington Post, 6/24/14]
Droz Is Part Of Business Group's Anti-Science Push In North Carolina
Droz Is An Adviser To Pro-Developer Group NC-20. The Institute for Southern Studies reported that Droz is an adviser to NC-20, a group formed by local development interests that fears “the financial impact of any limits on coastal development” if accurate sea level rise predictions are acted on:
A bill that would block North Carolina agencies from considering the latest science of sea level rise in making planning decisions has gotten a lot of attention nationally -- from a Scientific American blog post that said the state was “making sea level rise illegal” to a segment on the satiric Colbert Report that accused the state of addressing the crisis predicted by climate models “by outlawing the climate models.”
The push for the legislation came from a group called NC-20, which is comprised of development interests in the state's 20 coastal counties. The group's chair is Tom G. “Tommy” Thompson, director of the Beaufort Economic Development Commission, and its president is Willo Kelly, a former lobbyist for the Outer Banks Home Builders Association. The board also includes a number of realtors and home builders, who worry about the financial impact of any limits on coastal development. (For more on NC-20, click here.)
The group's scientific advisor is John Droz, a climate science contrarian and real estate investor who owns properties along the North Carolina coast. Droz, who has degrees in physics and mathematics, has never published a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal and has given presentations against wind energy to state lawmakers and the public that were marred by errors of fact. He is a senior fellow at the American Tradition Institute, a conservative think tank with ties to fossil fuel interests that promotes skepticism about global warming and renewable energy and has targeted a leading climate scientist with a controversial lawsuit.
NC-20 argues that the cost of accepting the CRC's estimates of sea level rise “would be incalculable.” The group claims that the projected 1 meter rise in sea level by 2100 is a “myth promoted by manmade global warming advocates” rather than a serious prediction based on science. [Institute for Southern Studies, 7/11/12]
Droz's “Independent Review” Cites Unnamed Experts, Makes References To “Karma.” Droz's “Commentary” on the state's sea level rise report published at NC-20's website, which The Washington Post portrayed as an “independent review,” quotes anonymous “experts” promoting cherry-picked data:
On the same day that the NC Coastal Resources Commission's (CRC) Sea Level Rise (SLR) Report Addendum was received, “The Ideology of Catastrophe” appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Some might consider that Karma, but maybe it's just the system working towards an inevitable equilibrium.
In that insightful WSJ article there are many memorable quotes, like: “My point is ... to understand why apocalyptic fear has gripped so many of our leaders, scientists and intellectuals, who insist on reasoning and arguing as though they were following the scripts of mediocre Hollywood disaster movies.”
It's not apparent that the author read the initial CRC “science panel” report, or it's newly minted Addendum, but his observations are uncannily prescient.
One SLR expert wrote me:
"As everyone closely following this matter knows, IPCC predicted a rise of global mean temperature of 0.2°C per decade, due to CO2 increase.
However, the temperature had fallen slightly (or has stagnated) the last 15 years despite increasing CO2 concentration (which rose 2 ppm/year). How the authors can state that temperature and CO2 emissions are predicted “relatively accurate” is hard to understand.
Another expert contributed:
“Many studies of mountain glaciers, Greenland, and the Antarctic focus only on the ice melt at the edges and do not consider the accretion of ice beyond the edges. Not including the accretion of snow and ice is misleading, whether intentional or not.”
“In any case the NOAA data seems to say that glaciers have been increasing in the most recent time period, so that may cast some doubt on the Panel's assertion here.” [Commentary at NC-20.com, 4/24/12]
Droz Admits He Is Not A Sea Level Rise Expert. In a guest post at WattsUpWithThat, a climate “skeptic” blog, Droz also acknowledged that he is not a “SLR [sea level rise] expert” even though he was commissioned to rebut sea level rise experts expectations for North Carolina:
As an independent scientist, I was solicited by my coastal county [in North Carolina] to provide a scientific perspective on this report. Even though I wasn't a SLR expert, I could clearly see that this document was a classic case of Confirmation Bias, as it violated several scientific standards. [WattsUpWithThat, 6/11/12]
Yet Droz's profile at Carteret County Now describes him as having “expertise” on sea levels, citing commentaries that he published at NC-20:
John also has Sea Level Rise (SLR) expertise, as is evidenced by his influential Critique of the 2010 CRC NC SLR Assessment Report. The CRC subsequently issued a follow-up Addendum, which John responded to by a Commentary. He also gave a SLR talk to NC legislators in late 2011. These all eventually led to the nationally recognized SLR bill: H819. [Carteret County Now, 3/12/13]
Droz Casts Doubt On Man-Made Climate Change
Droz Suggests Climate Scientists Are In It For The Money. In a presentation that Droz often gives, he denigrates the documented consensus among climate scientists about climate change. He then states: “When a Scientist violates his profession -- he is funded by advocacy groups.” [Presentation by John Droz Jr., 2/6/13, via WRAL]
Droz: There Are “BIG problems” With The Global Warming “Hypothesis.” Droz stated in a 2009 blog post that he believes there are “BIG problems” with the global warming “hypothesis,” and that “other theories ... explain some facets of the Climate Change situation better than [man-made Global Warming Theory] does”:
After digesting [some hundred] studies and reports[, it] is very clear to me that GWT [global warming theory] is still a scientifically unresolved matter.
An important point is that Climate Change is not the same as the GWT. There IS universal scientific consensus that we have experienced some recent Climate Change, so that is not the issue.
The crux of the matter is: what is the cause of these Climate Changes?
The “Global Warming Theory” is one possible explanation of Climate Change. The basic premise behind this hypothesis is that Climate Change is man-made (anthropological), primarily due to introducing an increase in CO2, etc. into the atmosphere through activities like burning fossil fuels. To be sure, there are good, credible people with sound scientific evidence to support this theory.
But the fact is that there are three BIG problems with this hypothesis:
1 - There is considerable scientific evidence that contradicts the assumptions and conclusions of this theory.
2 - The GWT is entirely built upon computer modeling projections.
3 - There are other theories that have been put forth by very qualified scientists, and these alternative explanations are also supported by significant scientific data. These other theories also have their weak points, but the fact is that they do explain some facets of the Climate Change situation better than the GWT does. [Master Resource, 7/27/09]
Droz Was A Speaker At Heartland Institute Climate Denial Conference. Droz spoke against wind power at the 2012 “International Conference on Climate Change” by the Heartland Institute, which touts a description of itself as the “most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.” [Heartland Institute's YouTube Channel, 6/14/12; Heartland, accessed 6/25/14]
Droz Is More Activist Than Scientist
Droz Has Not Published A Single Peer-Reviewed Paper In A Credible Journal. WRAL reported that Droz does not hold a Ph.D, and has not published a “single peer-reviewed paper in any credible journal”:
Droz's science credentials, according to his resume, consist of a Masters in Solid State Science from Syracuse in 1975. He has yet to publish a single peer-reviewed article in any credible journal.
Interviewed last December, Droz said his business as a real estate broker Is “a hobby, primarily for a tax deduction.”
“90% of my time is spent on science,” he said. “My focus is to try to educate citizens. Citizens could care less whether I have a peer-reviewed article.” [WRAL, 6/6/12]
Droz Denigrates Peer-Review And “Degree People.” WRAL reported:
Droz is a retired solid-state physicist and realtor with no formal background or peer-reviewed research in climate science, environmental science, or geology.
In fact, his presentation, available here, dismisses the peer-review process as inconsequential at best and misleading at worst, and says misconduct among published scientists is increasing rapidly.
“We are telling these degree people that they need to follow the scientific process,” said Droz. [WRAL, 2/7/13]
Droz Admits He Is Not An Expert In Climate Or Sea Level Rise. In 2012, WRAL reported that Droz said he is an “internationally known person” when asked why he should be regarded as a climate expert:
Asked why he should be regarded as a climate expert, Droz explained, “I'm an internationally known person.” [WRAL, 6/6/12]
After the article was published, Droz contacted the paper, stating that he does not claim to be a climate expert. From the update:
[Droz] says he is not a climate change denier, and says he has “never claimed to be a climate expert.” [WRAL, 6/7/12]
Droz Cites Conspiracy Site WND In Anti-Science Presentation. The Institute for Southern Studies noted that Droz cited WorldNetDaily and other non-credible sites in a presentation calling global warming a “new world religion”:
His slideshow presentation, titled “The Assault on Science,” was a compilation of claims purporting to show that science is in danger from a hostile conspiracy involving the scientific elite, environmentalists, educators, and the media -- but his own sources were rather unscientific, to say the least.
Among the publications Droz cited to make his case were Whistleblower, the monthly magazine companion of WorldNetDaily, a website that promotes conspiracy theories about topics such as President Obama's citizenship; Quadrant, a conservative Australian magazine that was involved in a scandal over publishing fraudulent science; and the Institute for Creation Research, a Texas outfit that rejects evolution and promotes Biblical creationism and the notion that “All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the Creation Week.”
Droz, a retired real-estate investor who holds a master's in physics from Syracuse University and has never published a scientific article on climate, pointed to stories warning smart meters are “fascism in a box” and calling environmentalism a “new world religion backed by the United Nations.” He also claimed the “logical next step” for environmentalists is to advocate mass suicide and dismissed scientific peer review as an “arbitrary academic anachronism” that has been “hijacked by the con artist clan.”
Sam Pearsall, a UNC environment and ecology professor and a retired program manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, called the presentation “the most remarkable example of propaganda delivered as anti-propaganda” he's ever witnessed, adding, “I don't know how you pack that much misinformation into one hour.” [Institute for Southern Studies, 2/7/13]
Droz Was A Fellow At Oil-Funded American Tradition Institute. Droz was a fellow at the American Tradition Institute before it was renamed the E&E Legal Institute. The Institute for Southern Studies outlined how over 75 percent of the group's funding came from a petroleum company owner in 2010:
According to its most recent filing with the IRS, ATI [American Tradition Institute] last year received $40,000 from its sister group ATP, which in turn is supported by oil, gas and coal interests. It received another $5,000 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a Virginia-based think tank that since 1998 has received over $1 million in funding from Exxon Mobil; between 1997 and 2008, Atlas also received $122,300 from the Koch foundations and $735,000 from the Pope foundation.
But ATI's biggest funder is Montana businessman Doug Lair and his Lair Family Foundation; they contributed $5,000 and $135,000 respectively to the group last year -- over 75 percent of its total income.
Lair's fortune comes from Lair Petroleum, the family business that was sold in 1989 to William Koch, the lesser-known brother of Charles and David Koch. As recently as 2010, Lair Petroleum was listed as Lair's employer in state campaign finance reports, although now he's also an investor in commercial and agricultural real estate. [Institute for Southern Studies, 10/31/11]
Droz Is An Anti-Wind Activist
Memo Reviewed By Droz Called For Creating “Subversion” In Wind Industry's Messaging. A memo edited by Droz suggested a coordinated media campaign to attack wind energy. Droz confirmed to The Guardian that “he had enlisted support for telephone campaigns from Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks - both of which have received funds from the Koch family.” From the memo:
Cause subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).
The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the 'not so green truth' to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry. At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and “greenwashing” as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare. The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources. State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure. This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc. The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point. The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position. [Memo, 1/23/12, via The Guardian, emphasis added; The Guardian, 5/8/12]
Droz Is The “Director” Of A Play Comparing Wind Energy To A Weight Loss Scam. Droz wrote a 3-page play “Alicia in Wonderland” that is an allegory attacking Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The play is about Alicia, a woman described as “a bit overweight” (although her listed statistics of 5'6" and 140 lbs. would place her at a healthy weight according to the standard Body Mass Index scale). Alicia's doctor advises her to undertake RPS (“Rapid Pedamorphic Solution”) to lose 20 pounds in two weeks. To meet RPS, he tells her to take “Weight Power” to reduce “CO22,” an “element of fat.” However, Alicia is skeptical, complaining that Weight Power costs $5,000 upfront and tastes like turpentine. The “CREDITS” explain that CO22 represents CO2, Weight Power represents Wind Power, and the turpentine taste represents the “Unpalatable Views” caused by wind turbines. [NorthNet.org, accessed 6/25/14, via Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions; National Institute of Health, accessed 6/25/14]
Droz Compares Renewable Energy Mandates To Mandating Fast Food Consumption. On his website, Droz compares Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require utilities to use a certain amount of energy from renewable sources, to “a law mandating that 25% of your meals had to come from fast-food establishments”:
What would you think if the government passed a law mandating that 25% of your meals had to come from fast-food establishments?
Most people would start by asking: “what business is it of the government where I get my meals from?” The same applies to our electricity sources. [Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions, 2013, some formatting revised for clarity]
Droz Compares Wind Energy To Snake Oil. In a presentation, Droz compared wind energy activists to snake oil salesmen, and concluded that wind energy is not green but rather solely being promoted for financial gain:
[Presentation by Droz, 2/10/12]
Droz Claims “Wind Energy Is Our LEAST Sustainable Option!” In a blog post titled “Twenty Bad Things About Wind Energy, and Three Reasons Why,” Droz claimed “Wind energy is our LEAST sustainable option!” [MasterResource.org, 10/24/12]
Droz Promotes Bogus Claims That Wind Has Adverse Health Impacts. An anti-wind website that Droz runs, Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions, links articles detailing infrasound noise from wind turbines, claiming that this “infrasound” causes “Adverse Health Effects” and even stating “Health Effects of Infrasound can Cause Death.” [Alliance For Wise Energy Decisions, 2013]
For the truth about wind power see here.