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Anthony Watts, the scientifically-illiterate host of Watts Up With That, has been running a silly initiative called the Surface Stations Project through which he is trying to invalidate recent historical temperature records in the US to prove that global warming is a HOAX. His belief is that these surface stations are too often located close to airport runways, city parking lots, air condioners, and other manmade constructions that raise localized temperatures a degree or two. On a larger scale, a similar phenomenon makes cities much warmer than the surrounding countryside in the Urban Heat Island Effect, and Watts believes that this siting of surface stations invalidates the entire temperature record compiled by the pinko socialists at NOAA.

Watts is a former weatherman and an ideologue, and in any other sphere of comment, he would be considered a buffoon. He should have no more credibility than a conspiracy buff who thinks the moon landing was faked. An old math teacher often used to say that you don’t know enough to know that you don’t know.

If the issue wasn’t so serious, I would take no pleasure in belittling his lack of education. Anthony Watts doesn’t have a science degree, but that doesn’t stop him — and his loyal minions — from libeling better men and women of climate science at every opportunty. It’s preposterous, really. He doesn’t even understand the science he’s attempting to refute. (See here, and here, for instance).

It’s true that many weather stations were established before global warming became an issue, so some of them might not have been ideally situated. But Anthony Watts parades around like he’s got something over on the scientists, like he’s thought of a very important detail that they hadn’t considered with all their fancy PhDs and Ivy League educations. But the simple truth is that anything he could think of as a layman has already been considered and accounted for a very long time ago. And thats why temperature records are accurate, and why we know the planet is warming dangerously. We also have the thousands of empirical studies which support the temperature record.

Watts doesn’t even understand how ridiculous he sounds. He‘s a con man, a snake oil salesman.

Peter Sinclair, the incisive mind behind the Crock of the Week series, published this analysis of Watts’ surface station project last week, but Watts claimed copyright infringement, and it was removed until his claims could be examined and, of course, rejected. It’s 8 minutes long, and worth every minute.

In a similar vein, NOAA recently eviscerated Watts’ — and his misinformed minions — hard work at Surface Stations in an excellent Q&A.

Q. How has the poor exposure biased local temperatures trends?

A. At the present time (June 2009), to the best of our knowledge, there has only been one published peer-reviewed study that specifically quantified the potential bias in trends caused by poor station exposure (Peterson, 2006). The analysis examined only a small subset of stations –- all that had their exposure checked at that time -– and found no bias in long-term trends.

Q. Does a station with good exposure read warmer than a station with poor exposure?

A. Not necessarily. Many local factors influence the observed temperature: whether a station is in a valley with cold air drainage, whether the station is a liquid-in-glass thermometer in a standard wooden shelter or an electronic thermometer in the new smaller and more open plastic shelters, whether the station reads and resets its maximum and minimum thermometers in the coolest time of the day in early morning or in the warmest time of the day in the afternoon, etc. But for detecting climate change, the concern is not the absolute temperature -– whether a station is reading warmer or cooler than a nearby station over grass -– but how that temperature changes over time.

Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?

A. None at all. Even if NOAA did not have weather observing stations across the length and breadth of the United States the impacts of the warming are unmistakable. For example, lake and river ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall. Plants are blooming earlier in the spring. Mountain glaciers are melting. Coastal temperatures are rising. And a multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, upward as well.

And here’s the killer graphic. Watts has assayed 71 percent of the 1,218 weather stations used by NOAA to compile their historical temperature record, and found that only 70 stations could be classified as good or better.

But this graph highlights what happens when you compare the difference between the Watts-approved stations and NOAA’s entire 1218.

ncdc-temp.gif

Can you see the difference? Apparently, only conspiracy buffs can.

36 Responses to “Anthony Watts Wins the Double Dumb Ass Award”

  1. Balance says:

    Wow. What absolute nonsense.

    You start with a strawman, follow it with silly ad homs and then conclude by showing your scientific illiteracy. I can only conclude you have no knowledge whatsoever of the scientific method and the current state of climate science.

    The current debate (yes, there is a debate) is not helped by these kind of ridiculous articles. You are simply polarizing the discussions. If Watts survey comes up with no differences in trends between well sited stations and poorly sited stations it will help improve our confidence in the current data. If he does find a trend then this can only help move the science forward. Why do you have a problem with that? Unlike many current climate scientists he has promised to provide ALL the details of his assessment. You will be able to attack his methods if you think they are wrong. The scientific community has everything gain and nothing to lose. Only individuals who would prefer to stifle the truth would object.

  2. jeez says:

    Of course the fact that Antony was invited to present his preliminary findings to the National Climatic Data Center before they decided to circle the wagons and attack seems to have escaped you.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/04/24/road-trip-update-day-2-at-ncdc-and-press-release/

  3. Fred says:

    Of course when one’s entire argument is based on ad-hominem attacks, it only spotlights the shallowness of their underlying position.

  4. KlausB says:

    Most of what I’ve liked to write was already written by ‘balance’.
    Probably, he too, was looking by a link from ‘wattsupwiththat.com’
    to this site.
    Sorry, the visit wasn’t worth the effort.
    Too, my personal code of policy would not allow to give anybody
    something like ‘Dumb Ass Award’. Even when I do see some reason, like here (to offer it to you).
    So, I leave it to the patterns of time, like now, when standards and behavior are going down roses.
    And finally, be carefully to that what you are wish for, it may become true. But you certainly won’t like it.

    Best Regards

    KlausB

  5. Joel says:

    This is a worthless article. I actually give Watts credit for putting a great deal of effort into his project. NOAA obviously gives it some credibility to spend our tax dollars debating it It’s idiotic for someone to slam someone else’s hard work, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. The author of this article is obviously not a scientist, therefore his ideas concerning the surface stations project are worthless and a waste of time. Grow up my friend.

  6. VG says:

    Please leave guys like Richard to continue writing. They are the climate skeptics’s/deniers best friends. Thank you Richard

  7. Richard says:

    I can’t believe all these people coming to MY web site and hurting my feelings! You’re all such meanies!

    But I guess I can take it. As a science journalist who actually reads studies by, you know, scientists, I have a better grasp of climate change than you might imagine. For my day job, I read hundreds of articles on clean technologies and climate change science every single day. And I write about 35 stories a week on this same subject. So I’m up-to-date.

    So, if any of you had actually read on after all my amusing ad hominems — what other people call facts — you’d know that NOAA scientists have already checked and rechecked the record, and proved that Watts and his cronies have wasted their time. There is NO DOUBT AT ALL among NOAA scientists about this simple truth.

    The planet is warming. Humans are causing it.

    The reasons why so many scientists completely ignore Watts’ “research” (as the Tamino links above attest) is that he doesn’t possess the basic mathematic and statistical skills to know what to do when he collects and compiles his data. He’s not taken seriously because he’s an amateur, and not a very good one at that.

    So please, really. Sling a little mud if you must, but spend a little time reading climate blogs written by real scientists. The kind written by people with advanced degrees, and deep knowledge of this subject. Might I suggest: Greenfyre, Real Climate, Climate Progress and Open Mind.

    After you read them, if you want to argue that the USA can’t cut emissions while China pollutes outrageously, then you can score a few weak, feeble points here and there.

    But the questions about climate change and humanity’s role in creating it have been settled. You’re wrong today, you’ll still be wrong tomorrow, and you’ll be shocked when next year is the warmest in history. And the coming decade will change every one of your minds — that is, if any of you are truly skeptics. But I suspect you’re ideologues with eyes closed, fingers deep in your ears.

  8. fred says:

    Richard you can live in whatever fantasy world you wish. Btw, maybe you can put those ‘science journalism’ skills to use & direct your readers to the study that provides empirical evidence that man-made CO2 emissions drive climate warming…..oh, right, sorry, there isn’t one. I guess the ‘science’ is ‘settled’ afterall.

  9. gt says:

    I only heard of this blog through a commenter in WUWT who posted a link to this article. I regret giving you the hit count that you certainly don’t deserve. People disagreeing with you and you accuse them of “sling a little mud”. How classy. And who’s using terms like “double dumb ass”?
    As for the little “rebuttal” thrown out by NOAA, I wish they have addressed the following questions: “Is this observed warming trend abnormal compared to historical record?” and “what available empirical evidence (i.e. not computer modeling prediction) links this anomaly specifically to anthropogenic CO2 emission?” They have not, and I suspect they can’t. For you to throw out humdrum such as “The planet is warming. Humans are causing it.” is naive at best, and fear/guilt-mongering at worst.
    And for every seemingly educated ACW proponent that you refer to, there are highly regarded scholars such as Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Roger Piekle Sr. and Dr. Roger Piekle Jr. that are highly skeptical of the AGW theory. Maybe AGW is indeed happening; but so far the evidences are far from conclusive and therefore the debate is far from settled. People are not stupid, and indeed I would guess those who genuinely follow the climate change issue online are at least college graduates. Using ad hominem like you do (and your hero Dr. Joe Romm does) can only undermine your credibility, and what you advocate for.

  10. gt says:

    On a side note, I think the point made by “balance” is so revealing it deserves to be repeated:

    “If Watts survey comes up with no differences in trends between well sited stations and poorly sited stations it will help improve our confidence in the current data. If he does find a trend then this can only help move the science forward.”

    True scientists have nothing but appreciation for others to double-check their works. On the other hand, propagandists hate fact-checking by others which may overturn the “facts” that support their agenda. Which one are you?

  11. Balance says:

    Do you really believe that your appeal to authority argument carries any weight? It’s pretty obvious you decided your position without regard to the facts. This is typical of those who put their belief system in place before they gather facts. Dig a little deeper, Richard, it may surprise you.

    Since you are so sure that scientists know all the answers maybe you could explain why we don’t have cures for cancer, diabetes and 100s of other diseases. Clearly, scientists have been working on these major human problems for much longer than AGW. Why do you believe climate scientists are so much smarter? Or, maybe they really aren’t. Think about it.

    Also, maybe you should add a little reading that might help you understand the entire field a little better. Since you prefer those in the climate field I would suggest Lindzen, Douglas, Pielke, Christy, etc. Then you might learn that climate science is really an infant science just starting to find its legs. Climate models are being updated every day. Ever wonder why? New relationships are being discovered. Would this really happen in settled science? Think about it.

    Finally, most skeptics accept that CO2 really does absorb and radiate energy. That’s not really an important part of the debate. It goes way, way beyond that. And, yes, the planet was warming as it has many times in the past. For the last few years it has been cooling but that could change tomorrow. The real questions are what forces are at work. The total interplay of the oceans, the sun, the biosphere and the atmosphere are still being discovered. Climate sensitivity is still debated. I hope you decide to open your mind, otherwise, I hope you handle disappointment well.

  12. Corrinne Novak says:

    Do you know the PPM CO2 in the atmosphere where plants stop growing and trees die? Do you know what PPM CO2 all plants DIE? Do you know the PPM CO2 greenhouses use to fertilize crops?

    Before you scream for Congress to pass laws to sequester CO2 better make sure you don’t kill off all the rain forests and the rest of the plants.

  13. Fred says:

    > As a science journalist who…
    > if any of you had actually read on after all my amusing ad hominems…

    If you were an actual “science journalist” there would be NO ad hominems, amusing or otherwise, in your articles.

  14. Eric R says:

    Climate change deniers are like creationists. The amount of evidence doesn’t matter, they only need the smallest amount of flimsy to justify their faith. Science is not on their side, despite their creationist-museum-like belief. Deniers are the waste of humanity (pure ad hominem and loving it).

  15. Sam Spade says:

    “His belief is that these surface stations, often located close to airport runways and city parking lots, are affected by what is called the Urban Heat Island Effect, and that invalidates the entire temperature record…”

    I don’t like breaking a chain, but this is all that I could find wrong in the article.
    The Surface Stations Project is concerned with the immediate environs of the weather stations: too close pavement (parking lot, road, runway): buildings; air conditioners; etc.. These features are all shown in his photographs.

    The Urban Heat Island effect is a larger scale phenomenon that increases temperatures throughout an urban landscape of paved roads and tall buildings. Nighttime heat radiation won’t reach space if it hits somethinlg else.

    Both issues are used to criticize NCDC’s temperature data…separately.

    Thanks… I updated the post to better reflect your comments!

  16. dubyadubya says:

    Why the station data purge at CRU ? Afraid of the data being reviewed too closely? http://tinyurl.com/mvez5j

  17. Richard says:

    Fred…

    Umm, how’s this for empirical evidence for climate change.

    The first one is the studies compiled by 2,500 climate experts who wrote the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (And don’t give me the old denier screed suggesting that the IPCC report is just a political document of the UN because I’ve actually been in touch with several of the scientific experts involved… Most scientists believe that the IPCC report doesn’t go nearly far enough in stating the dangers).

    And this link leads to a second story, about the 1,400 studies published on climate change since the 2007 report, and all pulling in the same direction. Seems pretty comprehensive and overwhelming to me.

    Finally, it appears that you know as little about journalism as you do about climate science.

    This is my blog… it is comprised of mostly of commentary. Very little that I write here is straight news. Therefore, I’m free to express my opinions, as long as I have the facts to support them (which I do).

  18. Kat the farm says:

    Gee Richard they really are going at you. Well you can take it, just keep up the good work and all of us non-deniers sweltering here in WA will keep thanking you. If the facts of our situation get any more dire it won’t be because people like you didn’t try and try again to give the facts. The herd mentality is alive and well I see.

  19. Paul K says:

    This attempt to squelch Sinclair’s videos is a joke, given how skeptical non-scientists that Mr. Watts has repeatedly supported, have run roughshod over the copyright laws. Skeptics have called editors of journals “liars” for pointing out letters the journal weren’t peer reviewed. Mr. Watts once claimed the APS had changed their official position on climate change, by simply posting a letter from a skeptic. And one skeptic, who Republican congressmen have brought into the Capitol building to testify, stole and published other scientist’s work.

    A pretty sad state of affairs, when skeptics try strong arm methods on an independent reporter.

  20. Paul Kelly says:

    Unlike commenters linked in from WUWT, I am answering Richard’s request at climateprogress where I’m a daily reader. This is my first time here and as far as I can tell this post is a rommatoid thing as it also appears at other CP commenter’s sites.

    You Wattsers should understand the very simple argument that Watts is stupid for being interested in something he didn’t understand. What kind of a fool tries to learn something he doesn’t already know?

  21. Gail Zawacki says:

    Hiya Paul Kelly, fancy meeting you here! I’m linked from CP too, at Richard’s invitation, since I’m a big fan of One Blue Marble – so rather than pile on WUWT, I may as well paste what I sent to the editor at the NYT just now, since most likely, it will never see print…
    Dear Editor,
    Below please find an open letter to the following scientists who are researching the effects of ozone on plants:

    Dr. Victoria Wittig, University of Illinois
    Dr. Elizabeth Ainsworth, USDA
    Dr. Shawna Naidu, University of Illinois
    Dr. David Karnosky, Michigan Technological University
    Dr. Kevin Percy, Natural Resources Canada
    Dr. William Manning, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Dr. Thomas Sharkey, Michigan State University
    Dr. John Reilly, MIT
    Dr. Peter Cox, Exeter University

    Dear Scientists,

    Recently I have begun documenting on a blog (http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/) the deteriorating plight of trees in New Jersey. In my state as well as others I have visited along the Eastern Seaboard, the vegetation is in such rapid and universal decline that only a very significant agent, such as one related to climate change, can be broad enough to explain it.

    Until recently I could only speculate as to which exact mechanism could cause all species of trees and shrubs, of all ages, to show the extreme symptoms of drought and irreversible decline. I thought it most likely related to the fact that the average temperature has increased from pre-industrial levels, leading to unpredictable weather and faster evaporation of less regular precipitation.

    In just the past few days however, the following excerpt of a study by Dr. Cox, and subsequent reading other of your comments and published works, have convinced me that the main (though certainly not the only) driver in the vegetative damage that is now rampant must be due to exposure to ozone:

    “The chemical known as ozone may be making a much more significant contribution to global warming than scientists had previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
    ‘Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change,’ said study co-author Peter Cox.

    Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, but is produced in the lower atmosphere when sunlight strikes industrial pollutants such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides.

    Scientists have long known that ozone is a greenhouse gas, trapping radiation within the atmosphere and leading to rising global temperatures. But the new study suggests that ozone may have a much more significant climate impact by adversely affecting plants’ ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    According to the researchers, high concentrations of ozone and carbon dioxide damage plants’ ability to engage in photosynthesis. This weakens the plants, causing their stomata (pores in the leaves) to close. In turn, this reduces that amount of carbon dioxide or ozone that the plants are able to absorb.”

    (found at http://membrane.com/global_warming/notes/ozone_chokes.html)

    I am writing to you all because you have published research on this topic and it appears to me that to a certain degree, you are laboring in obscurity – at least as far as the media and the general public that it supposedly informs are concerned. Even for someone as alarmed as I am, it has taken me almost a year of writing dozens of letters to foresters and conservationists and environmentalists and climate scientists to finally discover the wealth of research in which you are engaged, about the effects of ozone. Most of the people I wrote to were kind enough to reply, including Dr. Jim Hansen – yet not one of them defined ozone as the likely culprit.

    I hope you will take this report of massive and widespread plant injuries with utmost seriousness, because I believe that once people understand that the trees in their own backyards and parks – and the food products on their grocery store shelves – are at risk of extinction, they will wake up and support government action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.

    It is, alas, mainly you scientists who possess the truth, and who have the authority to speak out and save humanity from its own stupidity.

    Below is a link to an early post that summarizes my motivation in starting this blog. If you go to other entries, you can find pictures and more recent observations.

    Frankly, the decline unfolding from week to week is worse than my worst imaginings when I first noticed a year ago that something terrible is threatening our forests. And now, the picture is even more dire, as ozone clearly is dangerous for all plant life, including crops.

    We really are in an emergency and should behave accordingly.

    Here’s the link to the post I mentioned:

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2009/05/effects-of-climate-chaos.html

    Thanks for reading. I am very interested in sharing information and appreciate any responses.

    Gail Zawacki
    Oldwick, NJ

  22. Richard says:

    No Paul Kelly… Just the opposite.

    Watts is holding himself out as an expert and pontificating on things he doesn’t understand. If he was humble and trying to learn, and if his blog was skeptical and questioning, then I wouldn’t have a problem with him. There is a room for healthy skepticism in science.

    But Watts isn’t a skeptic because he doesn’t have an open mind. He’s an ideologue, and he’s doing everything he can to prevent legitimate scientists from telling the world what we need to know.

  23. Richard says:

    Thanks Gail, for visiting and posting! And for kinds words, too.

  24. Fred says:

    > If he was humble and trying to learn, and if his blog was skeptical and questioning, then I wouldn’t have a problem with him.

    Interesting comment. It indicates that you have never actually read Watts blog. Or at least not sufficiently to know how things work over there.

    I also find it interesting that in this thread, the skeptical folks are uniformly polite and their post lack personal attacks. Yet the climate change crowd seem to thrive on name calling.

    “Watts, the scientifically-illiterate”
    “Watts is stupid ”
    “He’s an ideologue,”
    “Deniers are the waste of humanity ”

    This advances the science how? OK Being polite does not make one right, but it sure makes it easier to get people to consider your position with an open mind. When you start telling people who have a healthy skepticism of climate claims that they are stupid ignorant buffoons, well it makes them wonder what you’re selling. I’m old enough to remember the 70′s when we had a total consensus of scientific experts telling us we were entering a new ice age. We were arrogant enough then to think we understood climate, let’s not make the same mistake today.

    “Anthony Watts doesn’t have a science degree…”
    Remind me… what sort of science degree does Al Gore have?

  25. Paul Kelly says:

    I’ve visited WUWT and the question I have about the surface stations is is it about science, or engineering or quality control. The siting of a surprising percentage of stations is not in compliance with required best practices. Does this matter to anyone who uses their data for decision making? Are other government sensors for pollution or radiation monitoring and the like in a similar state of noncompliance? Aren’t attempts at falsification the bases for all scientific discourse?

  26. Brooks says:

    I find it interesting that not one Watts supporter has addressed the graph showing no significant difference between data from all 1218 stations and the 70 Watts says are “good”.

    So WattsUp with the zero difference?

  27. DavidCOG says:

    Hi Richard,

    Nice article. I’m visiting from Joe Romm’s place as well.

    I guess all the deniers, above, were just here for a hit and run comment to ‘protect’ the honour of their Denier-in-Chief, before scuttling back to the safe cocoon of ignorance at WUWT?

    I wonder how many them have considered why they can only find the ‘science’ that tells them what they want from a radio weather presenter with no degree, no scientific qualifications or training and no history of getting anything right. Not too many, I suspect. That cognitive dissonance is a powerful tool.

    And what Brooks said – ain’t it curious how quiet they’ve all gone about the Inconvenient Graph?

    Don’t know how I’ve missed this blog – now added to the feed reader. :)

  28. gt says:

    #25 and #26 If you care to read WUWT with an open mind, you’ll find Mr. Watts’ opinion on the so-called “inconvenient” graph. Dr. Roger Piekle Sr. commented on it awhile ago as well, way before the AGW-proponents even heard of the NOAA’s writeup. BTW does the same graph show relatively constant temp since 2000, and a huge drop in 2008?

    The Surface Station Project’s purpose is NOT to PROVE that the 2nd or 3rd tier stations produce unreliable results. The purpose is to EXAMINE whether poor sitings can influence the data. NOAA should consider themselves extremely lucky if they can conclude, beyond reasonable doubt, the stations that don’t even satisfy their own siting requirements can somehow miraculously produce usable data. So far many are not convinced. And I doubt NOAA would have looked at it seriously if not for Mr. Watts’ efforts.

  29. Richard says:

    Fred…

    I have read Anthony Watts’ blog; I visit once or twice per week but I don’t make a habit of it, and I can NEVER read an entire post. I’ve heard him call for the removal of James Hansen for exercising his right to free speech, accuse Hansen of falsifying data, and watched as supporters tar and feather any number of brilliant researchers. It goes on and on, and its endless.

    I would also argue that very few at WUWT are a true skeptics because very few of them have open minds. If they did, they would have to be swayed by the evidence. But no one there seems to learn anything.

    So… I’m sure you’ve noticed how often the same three or four scientists are quoted on WUWT. Pielke, Spencer, Lindzen. and Christy. That’s it.

    Now you may say… but Anthony quotes from many scientists and studies that contest the science of global warming. But the truth is that he doesn’t. Get in touch with ANY of these scientists, and you’ll find that their work has been misrepresented.

    I did that a few years ago with a couple of researchers whose work was featured in the Michael Crichton novel on climate change environmentalists gone awry. Their replies were illuminating. Crichton lied about their work, and what that work said about climate change. Of course, you could say that it was just a work of fiction, but Crichton was then called before congress as an expert on climate change, and he repeated the exact same lies. The scientists I talked to were furious. They still are.

    So I challenge you to ask a few questions about the science to some legitimate climate scientist or organization. Stop getting your info from WUWT. Ask the APS if they are reviewing their climate stance. Ask the scientists who have shown that clouds are a positive feedback mechanism (disproving Lindzen’s contention) if their work was characterized accurately. I could give other examples, but it’s a very long list. Still, if you’re polite and humble, you might get an answer… and then compare that answer to the info you read on Anthony Watts’ blog.

    You see, I write science stories every day for my day job, so I often read the studies, or know what the scientists say when quoted by reputable newspapers, or when they answer my questions. And then I see what Anthony writes about their work on his blog. It makes my skin crawl.

    The two have nothing in common.

    The problem, of course, is that the leading scientists are frightened by the pace of climate change, and they are predicting dire events for our children and grandchildren. This isn’t a fight for city council, it’s a fight for humanity, and lives are at stake.

    And that’s why I lost my cool with Mr. Watts, and why I’m furious at the current government in Canada, where I live.

    Climate change is here now. It’s taking lives now. By nature, I’m not mean, or confrontational. I believe in live and let live. But I can’t sit by and watch the callous disregard for human life that passes for climate debate these days.

    If my side is wrong, then the worst that happens is we shave a point or two off the GDP, and we all live off green, renewable energy, so pollution is no longer a problem.

    If you and Anthony are wrong, then these photos are just the beginning.

  30. Richard says:

    PS… and Fred…
    Two more points.

    1) I get exactly 0% of my science info from Al Gore.
    2) I was completing my BSc in the 1970s. (I’ve good genes, so I’m older than I look). Although there was one big splashy story on a new ice age at the time in the popular media, here’s a better snapshot of what scientists were really thinking.

    The world did cool slightly between 1945 and the 1970s, so scientists could have been confused in 1970s. Only most weren’t. A thorough review of the scientific literature shows 44 peer-reviewed studies were suggesting the world was warming, and only 7 studies suggested the world might be cooling because soot and aerosol pollution might counteract the CO2 warming effect.

  31. marianna says:

    Richard, I see you’ve beaten me into debunking Fred’s statements. I was going to post some links for him too (re: empirical evidence for man-made CO2 and climate change). Pretty easy to find really. Wonder why Fred couldn’t find them himself?

    Not that these links will do any good because I think he’s asked that question before, been given the links, and promptly ignored them. Want to bet that within a month he’ll post on another blog asking for “empirical evidence that man-made CO2 emissions drive climate warming.”? It is a typical denier talking point that has been disproved so many times and the argument is like a bullet-riddled walking zombie corpse refusing to die.

    But since I’m here I’ll just have a little fun too…

    Balance said, “Since you are so sure that scientists know all the answers maybe you could explain why we don’t have cures for cancer, diabetes and 100s of other diseases. Clearly, scientists have been working on these major human problems for much longer than AGW. Why do you believe climate scientists are so much smarter? Or, maybe they really aren’t. Think about it.”

    Overall, the argument is, “Scientists haven’t cured many diseases. Therefore, scientists are wrong about climate change”. Is this a new argument? Points for creativity, if so. Minus points for logic and critical thinking (lack thereof) though. Basically, this is just another version of an appeal to the fallacious argument “Science doesn’t know everything….” (look it up).

    First sentence: Straw man argument. No-one is arguing scientists have all the answers, especially not Richard. Second half of sentence is non-sequiter (i.e. doesn’t logically follow–if you don’t understand why, again look it up).

    Second sentence: Length of time working on a problem can be irrelevant as to whether or not a particular problem is solved. By their very nature some problems are easier to solve than others. We went to the moon and back several times in a very short period of time compared to the amount of time we’ve been working on diseases. Your “logic” would have us believe since we haven’t cured these diseases, then we can’t go to the moon (don’t even think about trying the “moon hoax” gambit as all of those arguments have been disproved many times over).

    By the way, you do know that CO2 study goes back to the mid-1800s and John Tyndall who found CO2 could trap heat . Then at the end of the 1800s, Svante Arrhenius calculated what would happen if the atmospheric CO2 decreased, and what would happen if it increased. His numbers are pretty close to modern estimates, and he even predicted Arctic amplification (extreme warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world).

    Third sentence: Strawman argument again. Putting words in Richard’s mouth. Try addressing his actual arguments, not the stereotypical talking points you’re parroting. I swear some people have a Pavlovian response to certain words. They see a few trigger words and instant talking point appears, relevant or not.

    Fourth sentence: Obviously. Only one who has said it might be otherwise is Balance and even s/he doesn’t believe that.

    Fifth sentence: Indeed. Think about it. Google “Logical fallacies” (I like “One Good Move”). Or Google “taxonomy of logical fallacies” and click on the hit from the fallacyfiles dot org. Nice chart that summarizes common errors (of which Balance has made many, but I suspect s/he’s still under 20 so improvement is sure to come).

  32. Fred says:

    >. I’ve heard him [Watts] call for the removal of James Hansen for exercising his right to free speech…

    Nicely spun!

    30 sez> I see you’ve beaten me into debunking Fred’s statements…

    How impressive! Debunking statements that I did not make. How prescient of you.

    Well. at least I got Richard to post a thoughtful response, with no reliance on name-calling. I shall now return to my lair, stick my fingers in my ears and resume chanting la-la-la-la :-)

  33. danappaloupe says:

    You can tell who has been trained on how to respond to strong science. They like to say ad hominem, appeal to authority. In science these are OK. If you want to know something about genetic drift in invasive bivalves… you ask a leading PhD geneticist who studies invasive bivalves. Not a English major with a BA. As for ad hom… if you are talking about plate tectonics, and someone who claims to be an expert in geomorphology also claims that the earth is 10,000 years old…. you can question them.

    Does anyone with a background in Philosophy of Science care to jump in on this?

    The readers of Watts are mostly completely scientifically illiterate. They wouldn’t be able to identify a legit research paper if it bit their nose off. They have also been know to not understand the difference between weather and climate. Ex: I tell them NOAA uses 30 years to determine the average temperature of regions climate… and they yell at me for appeal to authority…

  34. Dan Johnson says:

    “a strawman, follow it with silly ad homs”, “Of course when one’s entire argument is based on ad-hominem attacks, it only spotlights the shallowness of their underlying position”, “Using ad hominem like you do”, etc., etc.

    Short form:
    Ad hominem: A climate denier description of any hard data that do not support their preferred manipulation of science.

  35. Dan Johnson says:

    “I tell them NOAA uses 30 years to determine the average temperature of regions climate… and they yell at me for appeal to authority…”

    That made my day. Can’t type … laughing. It is great when they declare up-front their raw ignorance of the most basic principles and methods.
    ///
    Voltaire:
    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

  36. Gilbert says:

    Keep up the good work Richard. These AGW deniers sound reasonable sometimes but I’ve met and know some and they believe in only one thing: FAITH. Science and scientific research doesn’t come into it.
    One of my friends is a Monckton fan. When I tried to point out some ‘falsehoods’ in a Monckton seminar I was met with great hostility. It’s no good telling him that its not ad hominem if what you are saying about the person is the truth; obviously because that is true and he is blind to the truth. My friend idolises Monckton and swallows his lies hook, line and sinker. ANYTHING that back up his belief will do.
    He contradicts himself constantly. ‘the scientists are hoaxing global warming so they can get more money for research’ In the next breath he will say ‘ you can’t trust the scientists numbers because the climate is complex and they need to do more research!’ He will not discuss the irony in this. When he told me the arctic ice is melting due to newly discovered volcanoes under the sea I went off and researched it. I never say he’s wrong when he comes out with a new theory, after all he may have genuine information. He also said I would’nt be able to research it because the scientists are keeping it secret (except on climate denier sites it would seem) So I found the secret information publicly available on the internet and learned the volcanoes are 2 miles deep and even after an eruption approx 2-3 years ago the heat generated was so small by the time it reached the surface it probably had zero effect. (2 miles of freezing water is a pretty good coolant)
    When I told him my findings he was lost for words for once and finally yelled ‘but how do you know?’ Puzzled i asked what he meant by that. He’s like ‘how do you know the volcanoes are 2 miles deep?’ Cut a long story short, the only way to convince him would be if I physically went down 2 miles under the arctic ice and personally verified the volcanoes were there etc. So how does he know the deniers are right? He finally admitted that he doesn’t. Its just that he’d rather BELIEVE there is a world wide conspiracy to create a non-existant global warming hoax than believe there is a rational reason behind all of this. And that, Richard, is the mentality that you are up against.