Robert M. Carter

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Robert M. Carter
Bob Carter portrait.JPG
BornRobert Merlin Carter
(1942-03-09)9 March 1942
Reading, England
Died19 January 2016(2016-01-19) (aged 73)
Townsville, Australia
Other namesBob
CitizenshipBritish, Australian
Alma materUniversity of Otago, University of Cambridge
AwardsHochstetter Lecturer, Geological Society of New Zealand (1975), Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand (1997)
Scientific career
FieldsEarth Science, Geology, Paleontology
InstitutionsUniversity of Otago, University of Adelaide, James Cook University
ThesisThe Functional Morphology of Bivalved Mollusca (1968)
Doctoral advisorM. J. S. Rudwick

Robert Merlin "Bob" Carter (9 March 1942 – 19 January 2016) was an English palaeontologist, stratigrapher and marine geologist. He was professor and head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia from 1981 to 1998,[1][2] and was prominent in promoting climate change denial.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Carter was born in Reading, England on 9 March 1942[5] and emigrated to New Zealand in 1956, where he attended Lindisfarne College.[6] He obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) in geology from the University of Otago in 1963 and returned to England to complete a Ph.D. in paleontology from the University of Cambridge in 1968.[1] His doctoral thesis was titled The Functional Morphology of Bivalved Mollusca.[6]


Carter began his career as an assistant lecturer in geology at the University of Otago in 1963 and advanced to senior lecturer after obtaining his Ph.D. in 1968. He was professor and head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University from 1981 to 1998, an adjunct research professor at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University from 1998 to 2005 and a visiting research professor in geology and geophysics at the University of Adelaide from 2001 to 2005.[1][7][8]

He published papers on taxonomic palaeontology, palaeoecology, the growth and form of the molluscan shell, New Zealand and Pacific geology, stratigraphic classification, sequence stratigraphy, sedimentology, the Great Barrier Reef, Quaternary geology, and sea-level and climate change.[8][9] Carter published primary research in the field of palaeoclimatology, investigating New Zealand's climate extending back to 3.9 Ma.[10][11]

Carter retired from James Cook University in 2002, maintaining the status of "adjunct professor" until January 2013, when Carter's position of adjunct professor was not renewed. He maintained an association with several think tanks that disagree with some aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change. He was a founding member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition,[12] an emeritus fellow and science policy advisor at the Institute of Public Affairs,[13] a science advisor at the Science and Public Policy Institute,[14] and the chief science advisor for the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC).[8]

He served as chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council, director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and Co-Chief Scientist on ODP Leg 181 (Southwest Pacific Gateway).[1][15][16]

Carter was a member of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of Australia, the Geological Society of New Zealand and the Society for Sedimentary Geology.[1]

Robert Carter died on 19 January 2016 after a heart attack at the age of 73.[17][18]

Views on global warming[edit]

Carter was critical of the IPCC and believed statements about dangerous[19] human-caused global warming are unjustified.[20] He was on the research committee of the Institute of Public Affairs, an Australian free-market think tank promoting climate change denial,[3] and connected with its subsidiary think-tanks.[4] In April 2006, he argued against climate change being "man-made" by asserting that the global average temperature "had stopped" for the eight years since 1998, while the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased.[21] Chris Mooney refers to this article as an early example of statistically misleading use of the short period from the exceptionally strong El Niño year of 1998 which had set a temperature record.[22] In 2007, Carter participated in an expert panel discussion after the airing of The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary on ABC.[23][24]

His position on global warming was criticized by other scientists such as David Karoly,[25] James Renwick[26] and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.[27] In 2007 Wendy Frew, an environmental reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald, says Carter "appears to have little standing in the Australian climate science community."[28]

He published several critiques of global warming in economics journals.[19][29] In 2009, he co-authored a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which argued that the El Niño–Southern Oscillation can account for most of the global temperature variation of the last fifty years.[30] A comment criticizing this paper was published by nine other scientists in the same journal.[31]

Carter appeared as a witness before the 2009 select committee on climate policy of the Parliament of Australia,[32] and testified before the United States Senate on the issue of human-caused climate change.[33] He has appeared in the media speaking for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a contrarian report backed by The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank which opposes responding to climate change.[34] He was a contributor and reviewer of their 2009 report Climate Change Reconsidered, and lead author of their 2011 interim report.[35][36]

In 2012, documents acquired from The Heartland Institute think tank revealed that Carter was paid a monthly fee of US$1,667 "as part of a program to pay 'high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist [anthropogenic global warming] message'."[37] While Carter did not deny that the payments took place, he declined to discuss the payments.[37] Carter emphatically denied that his scientific opinion on climate change could be bought.[38]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Robert M. Carter". Community of Science. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Death of Prof Bob Carter". James Cook University. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Mark Davis (1 September 2008). The Land Of Plenty: Australia In The 2000s. Melbourne Univ. Publishing. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-0-522-85909-6.
  4. ^ a b Riley E. Dunlap; Aaron M. McCright (18 August 2011). "2.8 International diffusion of Climate Change Denial". In John S. Dryzek; Richard B. Norgaard; David Schlosberg. The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. OUP Oxford. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-19-956660-0.
  5. ^ "Who's who in Australia".
  6. ^ a b Carter, R.M. (1973). "A discussion and classification of subaqueous mass-transport with particular application to grain-flow, slurry-flow, and fluxoturbidites" (PDF). Earth-Science Reviews. 11 (2): 145. Bibcode:1975ESRv...11..145C. doi:10.1016/0012-8252(75)90098-7. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Robert M. Carter". The Heartland Institute. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "Professor Robert M. Carter - ICSC Chief Science Advisor". International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Research Papers". Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  10. ^ Carter, Robert M. (2005). "A New Zealand climatic template back to c. 3.9 Ma: ODP Site 1119, Canterbury Bight, south‐west Pacific Ocean, and its relationship to onland successions". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 35 (1–2): 9–42. doi:10.1080/03014223.2005.9517776.
  11. ^ Carter, R.M.; Fulthorpe, C.S.; Lu, H. (2004). "Canterbury Drifts at Ocean Drilling Program Site 1119, New Zealand: climatic modulation of southwest Pacific intermediate water flows since 3.9 Ma". Geology. 32 (11): 1005–1008. Bibcode:2004Geo....32.1005C. doi:10.1130/G20783.1.
  12. ^ "About Us & Contact: Inaugural Climate Scientists". New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  13. ^ "People and associates: IPA Staff". Australia: Institute of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Personnel". Science and Public Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  15. ^ "ODP Australia - Historical Summary in 2001". Marine Geoscience Office (MARGO). Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  16. ^ "The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) - Australian Legs ODP Leg 181". Marine Geoscience Office (MARGO). Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  17. ^ Bast, Joe (19 January 2016). "Dr. Robert M. Carter, R.I.P." Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  18. ^ Money, Lawrence; Green, Lindsey (21 January 2016). "Climate change sceptic Bob Carter dies at 74". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  19. ^ a b Carter, Robert M. (2008). "Knock, Knock: Where is the Evidence for Dangerous Human-Caused Global Warming?" (PDF). Economic Analysis and Policy. 38 (2): 177–202.
  20. ^ Solomon, Lawrence (17 July 2007). "What global warming, Australian skeptic asks". National Post. Retrieved 24 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Carter, Bob (4 April 2006). "There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  22. ^ Mooney, Chris (7 October 2013). "Who Created the Global Warming "Pause"?". Mother Jones. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  23. ^ "About The Film: 8.30 p.m. Thursday, July 12th on ABC TV and ABC2". Australia: ABC Television. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  24. ^ David Karoly, Bob Carter, Robyn Williams, Michael Duffy, Greg Bourne, Ray Evans, Nikki Williams, Nick Rowley (12 July 2007). The Great Global Warming Swindle (Television). Australia: ABC Television.
  25. ^ Karoly, David (24 June 2011). "Bob Carter's climate counter-consensus is an alternate reality". The Conversation. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  26. ^ Renowden, Gareth (9 April 2011). "Climate: The Counter Consensus (Review)". Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  27. ^ Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove (16 June 2011). "Who's your expert? The difference between peer review and rhetoric". The Conversation. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  28. ^ Wendy Frew (March 15, 2007). "Minchin denies climate change man-made". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  29. ^ Carter, Robert M.; de Freitas, Chris; Goklany, Indur M.; Holland, David; Lindzen, Richard S. (2007). "Climate Science and the Stern Review". World Economics. 8 (2): 161–182.
  30. ^ McLean, J. D.; de Freitas, C. R.; Carter, R. M. (2009). "Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature". Journal of Geophysical Research. 114 (D14): D14104. arXiv:0908.1828. Bibcode:2009JGRD..11414104M. doi:10.1029/2008JD011637.
  31. ^ Foster, G.; Annan, J.D.; Jones, P.D.; Mann, M.E.; Mullan, B.; Renwick, J.; Salinger, J.; Schmidt, G.A.; Trenberth, K. E. (2010). "Comment on "Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature" by J. D. McLean, C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter". Journal of Geophysical Research. 115. Bibcode:2010JGRD..11509110F. doi:10.1029/2009JD012960.
  32. ^ "SELECT COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE POLICY: Emissions trading and reducing carbon pollution" (PDF). Parliament of Australia. 15 April 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  33. ^ Carter, Robert M. (6 December 2006). "Public Misperceptions of Human-Caused Climate Change: The Role of the Media" (PDF). United States Senate. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  34. ^ Ashton, John (1 October 2013). "The BBC betrayed its values by giving Professor Carter this climate platform". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  35. ^ Idso, Craig; Singer, S. Fred (2009). Climate Change Reconsidered: 2009 Report. Chicago: The Heartland Institute. ISBN 1934791288. Archived from the original on 4 January 2012.
  36. ^ Idso, Craig; Carter, Robert M.; Singer, S. Fred (2011). Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report. Chicago: The Heartland Institute. ISBN 1934791369. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011.
  37. ^ a b Cubby, Ben (16 February 2012). "Scientist denies he is mouthpiece of US climate-sceptic think tank". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  38. ^ Readfearn, Graham (16 February 2012). "Dollars, documents and denial: a tangled web". Australia: ABC. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  39. ^ "GSNZ Awards". Geological Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  40. ^ "Distinguished Lecture Program". American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  41. ^ "List of Current Honorary Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand". Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 July 2012.

External links[edit]