Science expert quits Hadley climate panel after fencing with skeptics and using profanity

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 11-06-2023 4:46 PM

HADLEY — One of the leaders of a new town committee charged with reducing Hadley’s carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices has quit, saying that her continued service on the panel would be counterproductive given the contentious relationship that’s developed between her and vocal skeptics of the panel’s work.

Member Susi Moser, a climate science expert, also apologized in her resignation letter for using profanity while defending comments she made at a July meeting. She wrote that her continued involvement with the town board may impede progress on Hadley’s efforts to mitigate heat-trapping emissions and prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change.

“I apologize for offending anyone with my words and am sorry for not being better able to contain my emotions,” Moser wrote in the letter that went to the Select Board and Climate Change Committee. “To be clear, I am not apologizing for my standing up for science, or for defending my truth. But I am sorry I did it in the way I did.”

The Select Board, which established the Climate Change Committee in 2020, accepted Moser’s resignation last week.

Moser’s decision to leave her position followed an interaction with a resident at the committee’s August meeting in which she cursed while defending comments she made at the July meeting. Her use of an obscenity came as resident Tony Fyden questioned Moser for using the phrase “total system collapse” to describe climate change.

Moser was quoting Gay Sheffield, a marine biologist based in Alaska, who told Moser of her concerns for the climate and how Alaska is a precursor for a “total system collapse.”

When Fyden pressed Moser on the matter, Moser expressed frustration. “If you want to see it, I have it on f- ing transcript,” Moser said. “I’m sorry, I’m not letting you put something in my mouth that I didn’t say.”

The committee is charged with assembling and explaining information regarding the town’s current ecological footprint and potential actions the town might take to reduce its carbon emissions. In October 2022, though, Town Meeting rejected the committee’s appeal for the town to declare a climate emergency. That failed out of concerns about imposing new costs and regulations on farmers.

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A nonbinding resolution, the declaration was defeated on a 83-72 vote, after an hour of discussion, with points of contention including bringing townwide carbon emissions to zero by 2050, which critics that night called “totally unrealistic.”

Jack Czajkowski, who co-chairs the climate committee, said it is unfortunate to lose the expertise of Moser, a faculty member in the environmental studies department at Antioch University who has worked with the IPCC and on the the federal government’s third U.S. National Climate Assessment. Ready to get back to focusing on climate-change related issues, Czjakowski said he otherwise would not address the resignation or the involvement of some members of the public at recent meetings.

Meeting interaction

Recordings of the meetings on Hadley Media show that public feedback began in earnest in July, when resident Carol Kostek spoke about the possible secret geoengineering of the atmosphere and the use of chemtrails, a theory that governments are adding toxic chemicals to the atmosphere. The next month, Kostek referenced research into geoengineering by David Keith, a Harvard climate scientist, that she said has been funded by Bill Gates.

“Harvard, Cornell, Yale, they’re all doing geoengineering, which is going to go into the stratosphere,” Kostek said.

Moser rebutted this, saying no chemicals are being put into the atmosphere. “It isn’t happening, It just isn’t happening,” Moser said.

The minutes from the August meeting also became a point of contention. Fyden said those minutes show that the committee, despite no discussion during the public portion, made a decision that chemtrails “is not based on science and is a conspiracy theory. The Climate Committee is a science-based committee, therefore we don’t support the chemtrails claims referenced below.”

“Now there are definitive proclamations from the Climate Change Committee,” Fyden said. “Where did they come from, that’s all I want to know.”

At that same meeting, Moser explained that the committee was developing an inclusive process to hear concerns and opinions as its members do work on behalf of the town.

“It’s not about imposing a science, it’s not about imposing a policy, it’s about creating a process to bring the community together,” Moser said.

But Fyden objected to the committee’s discussion about the wet summer weather and the floods after members characterized them as being caused by climate change.

“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible of you, every single meeting I’ve attended, you’ve brought up the weather and you’ve related it to climate change,” Fyden said. “You have no idea that this storm was related to climate change. This is not the first flood we’ve had in Hadley. Not everything that happens in the weather is related to the climate crisis,” Fyden said.

“We’re way too far down the road to no longer talk about the climate crisis,” Moser responded.

At that August meeting, resident Susan Melchin also spoke to the committee “in the spirit of balance,” reading a New York Post article, that she also printed out to give to the committee. That article was by climatologist Judith Curry, who wrote, “climate change is a manufactured consensus” and that climate alarmism is necessary to get funding.

“I am just presenting to you another viewpoint to take into consideration for any and all decisions you might make going forward,” Melchin said.

Melchin then, at the following month’s meeting, called for some form of action to be taken against Moser for violating Robert’s Rules of Orders by twice using obscenities.

“Not only was profanity used against Tony, when he was clearly asking what was in the minutes that he referred to,” Melchin said, adding that Moser also didn’t appreciate the New York Post article. “Never have I ever heard anything as mean and nasty and argumentative.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.