Lives of the Climate Bloggers (1) John L. Daly

This is the first of a series I promised at

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/coming-attractions/ 

when I first started this blog over a year ago.

*       *      *

When the Climategate story broke in late 2009, Wattsupwiththat  led with two emails from Professor Phil Jones. The second was the famous “hide the decline” mail. The first received less coverage. It read:

“Subject: John L. Daly dead.  Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004.  Importance: Normal

Mike, In an odd way this is cheering news ! One other thing about the CC paper – just found another email – is that McKittrick says it is standard practice in Econometrics journals to give all the data and codes !! According to legal advice IPR [Intellectual Property Rights] overrides this. Cheers Phil”

The fact that Professor Phil Jones was shocked!! (his exclamation marks) to discover that there were scientists who think it standard practice to publish their data, and that he was evidently relieved to discover that his supposed Intellectual Property Rights over the temperatures of the surface of the globe might mean that he would never have to reveal this personal secret to the world clearly had more scientific importance than the fact of his rejoicing over the death of someone many of us had never heard of.

So the fact of Phil Jones being cheered by the death of John Daly got forgotten (partly because it wasn’t of any scientific importance, while his attempts to hide his data from public view clearly were) and partly because the Climategate emails were of doubtful provenance, and we all felt a bit guilty about reading them. No doubt we’ve all said things like that which we’d be ashamed of if they were made public, haven’t we?

No.

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I can’t imagine the circumstances in which I’d be cheered by the thought of someone’s death, especially someone I’d never met.

OK, maybe a jealous husband with a gun licence and friends in high places – but really – I’m stretching it.

Phil Jones seemed a mild-mannered sort of person, judging by his appearance before the Parliamentary science committee and the revelations about his thoughts of suicide.

So what had John Daly ever done to Phil Jones to make him rejoice over the news of his death?

Nothing. He disagreed with him, that’s all.

I’d never heard of John Daly before Climategate. He was born in  Bournemouth, England in 1943, and died in Australia in 2004. In 1989 he wrote a book called The Greenhouse Trap”, (Bantam Books, 1989). When I started writing this, the book was advertised on Amazon at prices ranging from 100 to 1000 dollars. It’s now unavailable.

The fullest account of his life is at  http://www.john-daly.com/obituary.htm

The following is a slightly edited version, reproduced without permission, but  I hope the authors will allow it. I recommend people to consult the original.

John Daly was born in Bournemouth, UK, on 31 March 1943. His father was subsequently killed when his merchant vessel, Lancastrian Prince was sunk by German U boats off Newfoundland with the loss of all who were on board. John never saw his father.

After the war John’s mother, Mary Daly, was faced with the financial difficulties of raising both John and his sister Nicky in post-war Britain. Consequently, John was sent to live with his uncle in Cobh, Southern Ireland, and grew up surrounded by his cousins. Later on he was able to return to England to live with his mother and to study to become a ship’s radio officer.

He went to sea at the age of 17 for the Blue Funnel Line, where he travelled the world’s oceans, with extensive shore visits to many countries. At sea he became an autodidact, teaching himself through omnivorous reading, and developing his powers of analysis. A merchant seaman is always concerned about the weather, and a radio operator is always receiving weather reports. Thus John was able to study weather, climate and astronomy while actively observing them. Thus began his lifelong interest in climatology.

After three years at sea, John was successful in securing a position as a civilian radio officer for GCHQ at Cheltenham (the successor to the famous Bletchley Park intelligence organisation). In this job, however, he found himself “bored out of his mind” and resigned after only 2 years. […] John and Amy then settled at Milford Haven, Wales, where John worked as a radar service engineer for Decca. [At] Aberystwyth .. he took out an honours degree in economics. […] In 1980 the Daly family emigrated to Launceston, Tasmania, where John established a company manufacturing the two marine electronic devices he had invented (Daly Bilgeguard and Daly WatchGuard). Although this was commercially successful, by 1992, he found it intellectually insufficiently challenging. So the business was sold and John having already moved into teaching electronics and economics, became a full-time senior-secondary college teacher.

It was at this time he became particularly interested in the global warming issue. His first public foray into this issue was a 1989 monograph “The Greenhouse Trap” published by Bantam Books, which is still relevant to the debate.

In 1995 he established his website “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”

http://www.john-daly.com/.

He was one of the earliest pioneers in the use of the Internet to disseminate information and arguments concerning one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of Western Civilisation, that is, the attempt to de-carbonise the world economy on the grounds that increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in climatic catastrophe.

John was concerned that the legitimacy of these de-carbonisation campaigns was based solely on scientific theories that were both highly questionable and unsupported by empirical evidence. Although self-taught, John was a gifted scientist. He was particularly talented at presenting complex scientific climate data in a format that was easily read and understood by the layperson. As a result, his web site appealed to those who wanted to gain understanding of the various scientific arguments pertaining to the greenhouse effect in order to be able to contribute to the political issues surrounding the global warming debate.

The website acquired a huge readership from all over the world; a readership which included many well-qualified academics and scientists of repute, who have publicly recognised his scholarship and his scientific acumen. The non-scientists also appreciated John’s website both for its content, and because it represented the voice of an independent and gifted scholar who saw something seriously wrong with establishment climatology, and took it upon himself to demonstrate why it was wrong.

Since the birth of the website, more than two million hits have been registered. Although his talents and achievements were recognised abroad, particularly in the US, his antagonists in university and government science circles within Australia rarely lost an opportunity to refer to him as a “school teacher”; they often addressed him, with mock deference, as Dr Daly ; and in their submissions, usually referred to the unanimity of “elite scientific opinion” concerning their predictions of global warming and its anthropogenic causes. […]

The global warming debate is as much a religious as it is a scientific issue, which is why it is conducted with such passionate intensity. John Daly always conducted himself with good humour and courteous civility. The Internet has very recently provided the means whereby those outside the corridors of power can speak truth to each other, wherever they might live around the world and because, in the end, the corridors of power cannot be sealed off from the rest of the world, the truth will permeate into those corridors.

Just as the invention of the printing press destroyed the capacity of the ecclesiastical and political authorities of the 16th century to control what was written and spoken, the Internet has made possible open, independent, uncensored forums to be established, and for unfettered debate to occur outside official circles. One of John’s great legacies is the use of the Internet to publish scientific articles that had been rejected through the ‘peer-review’ control system.

Because of the Internet, the spectre of public nakedness now haunts the global warming establishment. This is due in no small part to the long hours which John Daly spent in his tiny study in Tasmania, corresponding around the world with admirers, interlocutors, and detractors, and preparing the next material to be loaded onto “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”.

[…] His life is testimony to the fact that one person, if armed with intelligence, energy, perseverance and a commitment to the truth, can change events. John Daly was above all valiant for truth and his memory will long endure.

Ray Evans & Rachel Daly

A full list of his publications is at http://www.john-daly.com/dalybio.htm

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11 Responses to Lives of the Climate Bloggers (1) John L. Daly

  1. catweazle666 says:

    “Phil Jones seemed a mild-mannered sort of person”. So did Adolf Eichmann.

    “his thoughts of suicide”. Adolf Hitler committed suicide,

  2. A history of internet/blog climate scepticism would make an interesting project. John Daly was one of the first, if not THE first. A related interesting question is how influential he was; he’s mentioned four times in the bios on Jeff Id’s Reader Background thread. You say you’d never heard of him.

    The link to his site needs fixing.

    On the Internet archive, the earliest copy of his site they have is from April 2001:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20010413232452/http://www.john-daly.com/
    You might be interested/amused by the “Shakespeare climate awards” on that page.

  3. Thanks Paul. I’ve fixed the link. I agree that a history of climate scepticism would be a worthwhile project, and I’ve often wondered how to make it interesting to “outsiders”, or to people who’ve just “come in from the warm”, as it were. How do you explain the problem with bristlecones or upside down Tijander without people’s eyes glazing over?
    Lives of the Climate Bloggers is a first step in that direction, and it’s by no means an original idea. Diogenes Laertes did it in his Lives of the Philosophers, Vasari in his Lives of the Painters, and Dr Johnson with his Lives of the Poets. When the history of a subject like Renaissance Painting is too recent to be seized and understood, the only way to approach it is via potted biographies. These books are terribly frustrating, because they don’t tell you what you want to know, but also fascinating because of the trivia and the impression of “live” reporting. We’d like to know why Piero di Cosimo painted pictures of early man for Signor Vespucci, and whether he had heard tales about Amerindians from cousin Amerigo. Instead we learn that he ate 28 boiled eggs at a sitting and wore a battered felt hat. Not much to go on, but the first attempt at writing art history for 1500 years.

  4. No doubt we’ve all said things like that which we’d be ashamed of if they were made public, haven’t we?

    No.

    Well said. It’s not just that the Climategate emails exhibited groupthink, it’s the poisonous nature of what was required to sustain a leadership position within the inner ring.

    Ah but I was almost forgetting, Poor Phil. One of Ostrov’s greatest ever coinages. I never forget Hilary.🙂

  5. johanna says:

    I first encountered scepticism in the blogosphere in about 1999, via Steve Milloy’s Junkscience site. He was citing John Daly’s work back then. I don’t know who else was around pre-2000, but there weren’t many of them.

    I certainly noticed that toxic quote in the Climategate emails, and Anthony Watts drew attention to it more than once. Apart from the uncivilised and cruel nature of it generally, it was particularly unpleasant because Daly was courteous and respectful in his dealings with other people, unlike some of his critics.

  6. Jack Savage says:

    Thank you for that very interesting snippet. I did wonder at the time of the email release who John Daly was. My snap judgement is that the likes of Phil Jones and Michael Mann are not worthy enough to lace his boots. I am not sure we are making people like John Daly any more. Maybe in China?

  7. Dodgy Geezer says:

    I’m very glad to see that John Daly is receiving a bit of the recognition that is his due.

    I came across John Daly’s site in 2002, a few years before he died, and it was influential in persuading me that the Global Warming Industry (as it then was) had feet of clay. His fights with the Australian Met Office and others over the Mean Sea Level issue preceded Steve McIntyre’s fight over the Hockey Stick, but was conducted in much the same fashion, and only his untimely death stopped it being carried to the same conclusion.

    After his death, there was concern that his site – as you say, one of the first to stand up against the torrent of fraud which was sweeping academia at the time – would ‘go off the air’ and be forgotten, as payment to his Internet Service provider and his Domain Name provider ceased. I think that it did become unavailable for a short while, but is now maintained by a friend.

    I think that there is a good case for making sure that the site is maintained in a reliable fashion – perhaps by a grant from some body? It is, of course, of importance historically and academically. Anyone who wants to do a study following Charles MacKay into the ‘Madness of Crowds’ (and I think that that would be one of the few useful things a sociologist could do) would find it an essential source document…

  8. Dodgy Geezer
    Information from as far back as 2002 will one day be precious. (Particularly from someone who hasn’t yet been banned from CiF).
    Librarians are currently very concerned by their on-line responsibilities. I’m wondering if there isn’t there a source of support for the maintenance of this site

  9. Dodgy Geezer says:

    …I’m wondering if there isn’t there a source of support for the maintenance of this site..

    It’s being maintained at the moment – but it did have problems in the past, and I don’t know how reliable the current maintenance is. Of course, a lot of people would like it to come down…

    I have always rated John Daly highly. He fought completely on his own, when there was no support anywhere else in the world….

  10. Brad Keyes says:

    Geoff, I had to stop halfway through this fascinating post for typographic reasons. Could you de-italicize it, pretty please? Italic face is for one or two sentences at most. It’s not suited to body text.

  11. Brad
    I can’t seem to get into the site to edit. Here’s the italics part in normal typeface:
    John Daly was born in Bournemouth, UK, on 31 March 1943. His father was subsequently killed when his merchant vessel, Lancastrian Prince was sunk by German U boats off Newfoundland with the loss of all who were on board. John never saw his father.

    After the war John’s mother, Mary Daly, was faced with the financial difficulties of raising both John and his sister Nicky in post-war Britain. Consequently, John was sent to live with his uncle in Cobh, Southern Ireland, and grew up surrounded by his cousins. Later on he was able to return to England to live with his mother and to study to become a ship’s radio officer.

    He went to sea at the age of 17 for the Blue Funnel Line, where he travelled the world’s oceans, with extensive shore visits to many countries. At sea he became an autodidact, teaching himself through omnivorous reading, and developing his powers of analysis. A merchant seaman is always concerned about the weather, and a radio operator is always receiving weather reports. Thus John was able to study weather, climate and astronomy while actively observing them. Thus began his lifelong interest in climatology.

    After three years at sea, John was successful in securing a position as a civilian radio officer for GCHQ at Cheltenham (the successor to the famous Bletchley Park intelligence organisation). In this job, however, he found himself “bored out of his mind” and resigned after only 2 years. […] John and Amy then settled at Milford Haven, Wales, where John worked as a radar service engineer for Decca. [At] Aberystwyth .. he took out an honours degree in economics. […] In 1980 the Daly family emigrated to Launceston, Tasmania, where John established a company manufacturing the two marine electronic devices he had invented (Daly Bilgeguard and Daly WatchGuard). Although this was commercially successful, by 1992, he found it intellectually insufficiently challenging. So the business was sold and John having already moved into teaching electronics and economics, became a full-time senior-secondary college teacher.

    It was at this time he became particularly interested in the global warming issue. His first public foray into this issue was a 1989 monograph “The Greenhouse Trap” published by Bantam Books, which is still relevant to the debate.

    In 1995 he established his website “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”

    http://www.john-daly.com/.

    He was one of the earliest pioneers in the use of the Internet to disseminate information and arguments concerning one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of Western Civilisation, that is, the attempt to de-carbonise the world economy on the grounds that increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in climatic catastrophe.

    John was concerned that the legitimacy of these de-carbonisation campaigns was based solely on scientific theories that were both highly questionable and unsupported by empirical evidence. Although self-taught, John was a gifted scientist. He was particularly talented at presenting complex scientific climate data in a format that was easily read and understood by the layperson. As a result, his web site appealed to those who wanted to gain understanding of the various scientific arguments pertaining to the greenhouse effect in order to be able to contribute to the political issues surrounding the global warming debate.

    The website acquired a huge readership from all over the world; a readership which included many well-qualified academics and scientists of repute, who have publicly recognised his scholarship and his scientific acumen. The non-scientists also appreciated John’s website both for its content, and because it represented the voice of an independent and gifted scholar who saw something seriously wrong with establishment climatology, and took it upon himself to demonstrate why it was wrong.

    Since the birth of the website, more than two million hits have been registered. Although his talents and achievements were recognised abroad, particularly in the US, his antagonists in university and government science circles within Australia rarely lost an opportunity to refer to him as a “school teacher”; they often addressed him, with mock deference, as Dr Daly ; and in their submissions, usually referred to the unanimity of “elite scientific opinion” concerning their predictions of global warming and its anthropogenic causes. […]

    The global warming debate is as much a religious as it is a scientific issue, which is why it is conducted with such passionate intensity. John Daly always conducted himself with good humour and courteous civility. The Internet has very recently provided the means whereby those outside the corridors of power can speak truth to each other, wherever they might live around the world and because, in the end, the corridors of power cannot be sealed off from the rest of the world, the truth will permeate into those corridors.

    Just as the invention of the printing press destroyed the capacity of the ecclesiastical and political authorities of the 16th century to control what was written and spoken, the Internet has made possible open, independent, uncensored forums to be established, and for unfettered debate to occur outside official circles. One of John’s great legacies is the use of the Internet to publish scientific articles that had been rejected through the ‘peer-review’ control system.

    Because of the Internet, the spectre of public nakedness now haunts the global warming establishment. This is due in no small part to the long hours which John Daly spent in his tiny study in Tasmania, corresponding around the world with admirers, interlocutors, and detractors, and preparing the next material to be loaded onto “Still Waiting For Greenhouse”.

    […] His life is testimony to the fact that one person, if armed with intelligence, energy, perseverance and a commitment to the truth, can change events. John Daly was above all valiant for truth and his memory will long endure.

    Ray Evans & Rachel Daly

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