Category Archives: Anthony Watts

Versiongate, inboxgate and now NIWAgate!: or when denial echo chambers implode

Climate sceptics, our operators are standing by…

Since the release of the Lewandowsky paper – “NASA faked the moon landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science” –  we have witnessed a wonderful demonstration of conspiracy ideation, the very thing the paper predicts. As the paper notes:

“…Another variable that has been associated with the rejection of science is conspiratorial thinking, or conspiracist ideation, defined here as the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations…” (Lewandowsky et.al pg. 4)

At last count we’ve seen at least three conspiracy theories explode in the face of the once-mighty denial machine.

Conspiracy #1 “inboxgate” – or when sceptics fail to check email inboxes

Graham Readfearn on Think Progress gives some the details:

Among the conspiracy theories tested, were the faking of Apollo moon landings, US government agencies plotting to assassinate Martin Luther King, Princess Diana’s death being organised by members of the British Royal family and the US military covering up the recovery of an alien spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.

In the paper, Lewandowsky concludes that “endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories… predicts rejection of climate science”. The research also claims a correlation between people who endorse free-market economics and the ”rejection of climate science”.

Much outrage from climate sceptics that “sceptic” blogs hadn’t been invited to participate – but in fact they had. That’s right folks, in attempting to refute a paper that implied climate sceptics had a tendency to engage in conspiracy making they responded with, er, conspiracy making:

Not content to wait, Australian skeptic blogger Simon Turnill has sent a Freedom of Information request to UWA asking for Lewandowsky’s emails. Lewandowsky told DeSmogBlog: 

So now there’s a conspiracy theory going around that I didn’t contact them. It’s a perfect, perfect illustration of conspiratorial thinking. It’s illustrative of exactly the process I was analysing. People jump to conclusions on the basis of no evidence. I would love to be able to release those emails if given permission, because it means four more people will have egg on their faces. I’m anxiously waiting the permission to release this crucial information because it helps to identify people who engage in conspiratorial thinking rather than just searching their inboxes. 

Lewandowsky revealed that two of the five skeptic blogs approached even replied to the email they were sent.

One stated “Thanks. I will take a look” and another asked “Can you tell me a bit more about the study and the research design?”

Conspiracy theory #2 “Versiongate” – in which basic methodology is not understood

Among the various conspiracies suggested by climate sceptics was the involvement of this blog. Indeed, Watts up with that? put a post in which the following claim was made:

Anthony, there was recently another survey (longer, and with a 1-5 scale) put out by Lewandowsky’s research assistant, Charles Hanich, on June 4, 2012. It seems that the link for this survey was only posted on two blogs: Watching the Deniers and Skeptical Science. Charles Hanich was also responsible for creating Lewandowsky’s 2010 survey, as mentioned in the comments here.

Anthony Watts then made the following claim:

I believe that Dr. Lewandowsky set out to show the world that through a faulty, perhaps even fraudulent, smear campaign disguised as peer reviewed science, that climate skeptics were, as Jo Nova puts it, “nutters”. Worse, peer review failed to catch any of the problems now in the open thanks to the work of climate skeptics.

Oh really?

I got a scattering of hits from WUWT, but I wasn’t at all phased by the attention from Mr. Watts & Crew.

But what of the claims being made?

Well it seems the big secret has been revealed!

It would seem Lewandowsky engaged in the shameful practice sometimes referred to as “basic methodology”.

In what I’m assuming is a tongue-in-check post titled “An update on my birth certificates” Lewandowsky writes:

I laud the stirring dedication to investigative Googling. Alas, this highly relevant detective work is far from perfect.

If I am not mistaken, I can indeed confirm that there were 4—not 3—versions of the survey (unless that was the number of my birth certificates, I am never quite sure, so many numbers to keep track of… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363 days ago, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent and hard to keep track of).

Versiongate!

Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs.

About time, too, I was getting lonely.

Astute readers will have noted that if the Survey ID’s from above are vertically concatenated and then viewed backwards at 33 rpm, they read “Mitt Romney was born in North Korea.”

To understand the relevance of Mr Romney’s place of birth requires a secret code word. This code word, provided below, ought to be committed to memory before burning this post.

So here it is, the secret code. Read it backwards:  gnicnalabretnuoc

Translations are available in any textbook for Methodology 101.

No really.

It’s that funny.

But would you believe the laughs keep coming?

Conspiracy theory #3 “NIWAgate” – in which Jo Nova claims courts controlled by government

As noted earlier today (see also Hot-topic) the climate sceptic movement suffered a major defeat in New Zealand in its attempt to undermine the temperature records. As Gareth @ Hot Topic notes:

The attempt by NZ’s merry little band of climate cranks to have the NZ temperature record declared invalid has ended in ignominious defeat. In his ruling [PDF], handed down today, Justice Venning finds: 

The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant. [and] The defendant is entitled to costs. 

It will be interesting to see whether the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, which was established purely to bring this action, is able to stump up to cover NIWA’s costs. If it doesn’t, the NZ taxpayer will be left to pick up the bill for this absurd bit of political grandstanding by the Climate “Science” Coalition.

Astute reader of this blog uknowispeaksense  made the following prediction:

My prediction Mike and its a no-brainer. They will either pretend it didn’t happen or claim the courts are in on the scam.

And then BAM!

Jo Nova goes and claims a conspiracy theory!

Apparently since the judges are employed by the government they “must” be following whatever directives they are given:

The courts are supposed to be independent of the government. When these two institutions are effectively working together we lose one of the major safeguards of democracy. All the more reason to fight to keep the free press, free. What else is left?

No not a conspiracy theory at all…

I’ve worked in-and-out of the legal industry for almost two decades, so I think I can say with some authority Jo Nova has no f*cking clue how the court system works.

Now I admit I’m not across the NZ legal system but I assume they share a similar common law tradition devolved from the British system like Australia.

I’m going to assume that the separation between the judicial, legislative and executive branches is going to be robust and protected by constitutional or legislative safeguards.

Unless of course…

It’s a conspiracy!

But nooooooooooooooooooo, sceptics aren’t “nutters” at all.

Downfall: Anthony Watts versus sea ice

The downfall videos are a standard trope of all debates these days, but this did make me chuckle:

Best line: “Everyone who isn’t a blog scientist please leave the room”

Deniers hit record low on sea ice: Anthony Watts lies; Marc Morano qualifies as the Iraqi Information Minister of climate denial

One swallow does not make a spring.

Nor does one record low for Arctic ice signify the immediate and imminent end of the world.

So then, why has the announcement by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) on the new record low for the Arctic sea ice got many talking, tweeting and blogging?

The death spiral of the Arctic is but one data point. As an isolated phenomenon it is concerning – what is important is that this is part of an emerging pattern that matches scientific predictions made decades ago.

This is why so many are focussed on the issue, and why the denial machine is in state of utter conniption (see below).

To put it bluntly: scientists said this shit would happen.

The shit appears to be happening.

QED: this shit is real.

Indeed, the shit is not merely hitting the fan, its knocking the fan from the ceiling and ploughing right on through into the stratosphere.

Climate change is generating fast-moving-super-powered shit and we’re standing between it and what ever trajectory it’s on.

As the kids like to say: “This shit just got real…

The record low for Arctic sea ice merely confirms our understanding of the multiple impacts of climate change: how it is now manifesting in extreme weather events; the Greenland ice sheet melt; rising sea and land temperatures; all of which paint a picture.

Its takes a very focussed mind to ignore all of the above, and dismiss this concerning event.

Thus the concern trolls who say “Look, maybe climate change is a problem but in regard to this issue there’s been only 33 years of satellite data” are no better than the outright deniers.

Yes – we understand it is only one data point. And if this was an isolated event we’d be saying “Interesting, perhaps we should look into this phenomenon, eh?”

But focussing on the fact we have a “mere” thirty years of satellite data is no different from saying we have only a century-and-a-half of temperature records from actual instruments.

Step back: look at the big picture.

Falling down: the denial continues, but from a distance its revealing

To those who think “Surely at this point, even the most hard-core “sceptics” have to accept the data?” the answer is a definitive “No, they won’t”.

For an example of this look no further than Anthony Watts (Watts up with that?) and Marc Morano (Climate Depot).

These men have spent a considerable portion of their adult lives – and I might add built public profiles – denying the science and undermining public trust in scientists.

Expecting them to repudiate their life’s work in response to mere facts, scientific data and the overwhelming consensus of experts is a naive hope.

Anthony Watts – after rousing himself from bed after a hard night poring over temperature data downloaded from public sources – gets straight to the task of convincing himself there is nothing to worry about:

No matter what though, its all just quibbling over just a little more than 30 years of satellite data, and it is important to remember that. It is also important to remember that MASIE wasn’t around during the last record low in 2007, and IMS was just barely out of beta test from 2006. As measurement systems improve, we should include them in the discussion

Yes, because high school graduate Watts has picked up something NASA and the NISDC have overlooked: Mr. Watts, the Nobel Committee will be knocking on your door soon.

No really Anthony – I promise, like soon.

You know, I could debunk what is merely a very public example of cognitive dissonance – but why? Tamino does it here – clearly he has a stronger stomach than I do.

But I will note Watts uses “Aspect two” of my Six Aspects of Denial:

Question the motives and integrity of scientists – This is the favourite tactic of the climate change denial movement. They claim the scientists are engaged in fraud, or are being pressured by governments to make up the results…

Such tactics can clearly be seen in Watts post:

“Note that we don’t see media pronouncements from NOAA’s NATICE center like “death spiral” and “the Arctic is screaming” like we get from its activist director, Mark Serreze. So I’d tend to take NSIDC’s number with a grain of salt, particularly since they have not actively embraced the new IMS system when it comes to reporting totals. Clearly NSDIC knows the value of the media attention when they announce new lows, and director Serreze clearly knows how to make hay from it.”

Yes – the NSIDC and its “activist” director are clearly a pack of media whores hungry for fame.

In fact, I’d suggest Serreze is the Lady Ga Ga of the scientific world, engaging in publicity stunts in order foster celebrity status.

Expect Serreze to be adorning a “meat dress” at the next Warmist Convention…

But for the throwing of chum, spinning of facts and sheer chutzpah of denying reality the award surely goes to Marc Morano of Climate Depot

Here is a man who has done more to sway public opinion against the science.

Today he goes into overdrive in an attempt to not merely wave away concern, but shout down doubt:.

Irony free would you believe…

Yes, Climate Depot will explain it all away for you….

Even a cursory glance today’s Climate Depot reveals the sheer desperation of Morano.

His repeated “It’s not happening, it’s not real, it’s not happening, it’s not real!” show cases not merely special pleading, but dissembling on an epic scale.

So clearly at odds with reality is Morano’s public statements he must qualify the climate deniers equivalent of Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf.

Morano is – quite literally – falling down in a very public way.

As the world yawns: Watts up with that? begins cherry picking some FOI documents in latest chumming incident

As wildfires in the US and Europe rage the folks over at climate denial blog “Watts up at that?” think the most pressing issue is to dig up some old emails they’ve sourced from a FOI request:

First look: ‘Hit on the head with a hockey stick’ – some selected emails from the recent NOAA FOIA release 2 years later

Posted on August 22, 2012 by Anthony Watts

Readers may recall this yesterday: NOAA releases tranche of FOIA documents – 2 years later. I have a few to share from CEI now. 

Here’s one email, right after Climategate1, that is uproariously funny, given NRO’s response to Dr. Michael Mann today.

Apparently – gasp! – Mr Watt’s has found out that an individual that refuses to read the blog of Andrew Revkin:

The Team is unhappy with Andrew Revkins post CG1 questions on IPCC, one refuses to look at his blog anymore.

Yes, how salacious.

It’s the process of “chumming” – throwing out bits of offal as bait to attract sharks. In this instance, the “chum” is some rather innocuous emails between scientists and journalists who are saying the same things they’ve said in public for years.

But the regular readers of WUWT are lovin’ it, thrashing about in an orgy of “OMG this proves everything dunnit!?!”

No doubt the world will take little note of this attempt to generate sound and fury that actually signifies nothing…

Anthony Watts cherry picks quote about record Greenland melt: surprised? Hardly

Gold plated bulls*t from Watts

When I read about the unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet I had an inkling what the response fo the denial bloggerati would be…

Sure enough, like clock work, Anthony Watt’s cherry picks the very quote I thought the deniers would zero in on:

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data…”

Watt’s most likely scanned this article and left out the important aspects that qualify the above. I’ve highlighted what Watt’s chopped off:

“If you look at the 8 July image that might be the maximum extent of warming you would see in the summer,” Zwally noted. “There have been periods when melting might have occurred at higher elevations briefly – maybe for a day or so – but to have it cover the whole of Greenland like this is unknown, certainly in the time of satellite records.”

Lora Koenig, another Goddard glaciologist, told Nasa similar rapid melting occurs about every 150 years. But she warned there were wide-ranging potential implications from this year’s thaw.

“If we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.” she told Nasa.

And here is the amusing, ever so tricksy thing deniers love to do: Watt’s does not link or reference the original article, but cherry picks part of the quote.

Context is everything: Watts is no fool, his is a deliberate choice to edit out information. That’s not honest scepticism, its a malicious form of misinformation.

Denial is easy: just hunt for itsy-bitsy pieces of information that confirm your bias and magnify their importance.

Here we go again: “Watts up with that?” pushing the no consensus myth

The denial movement, particularly in the United States is in a bit of a head spin. With record temperatures, a drought that is extending over a sizable part of the nation and devastated food crops, public acceptance of climate change has shot up to 70%.

In response, the denial machine has been paddling hard against the stream of public opinion and evidence. The team over at “Watt’s up with that?” have been working furiously to question the temperature record, tell everyone this is all just a “normal summer” and hey isn’t all really a conspiracy?

It must be hard toiling away on you climate denial blog when the power goes due to storm induced black outs or when the temperature is consistently over 100F. Cognitive dissonance can be a powerful tool to shelter ones shelf from reality.

The latest piece of denial to ping around the echo chamber comes courtesy of Mr Watt’s blog and is titled “What else did the ’97% of scientists’ say?” As you may have guessed it is the there is no consensus myth/meme/lie.

This post is authored by well-known climate “sceptic” Barry Woods:

I wonder just how many politicians, environmentalists or scientists who use the phrase ’97% of scientists’ (or those who more carefully use ‘active climate scientists’) to give weight to their arguments regarding climate change to the public, have any idea of the actual source of this soundbite.

I wonder, I really do.

Actually, I really do know where that figure comes from because I took the time to check all the facts. But let’s continue down the tortuous, twisting and amusing path of denial as an illustrative example in creating denier memes.

Woods is attempting to discredit the methodology and results of the paper “”Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” by Doran and Zimmerman.

Wood starts to frame the issue nicely:

In a world where politicians (UK) went to war in Iraq based on a ‘sexed’ up dodgy dossier plagiarised from a 12 year old PhD thesis. I wonder how confident they would be lecturing the public about the need for radical decarbonising economic climate polices, if they were aware that the ’97% of active climate scientists’ quote/soundbite actually comes from a students MSc thesis, that the Doran EoS paper cites?

Yes, the WMD scandal and climate science are the same. How? I don’t know, but it must involve a conspiracy. My money is on the Illuminati. Or the socialists. Or both.

Skeptical Science has a good summary of the Doran survey here

A survey of 3146 earth scientists asked the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” (Doran 2009). More than 90% of participants had Ph.D.s, and 7% had master’s degrees. Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what are most interesting are responses compared to the level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn’t publish research, 77% answered yes…

Which of coursed has outraged sceptics such as Woods, because the answer they want is “no”.

However in order to turn a positive response into a negative – or at least uncertain – Wood has fished out the original Masters of Science thesis by Zimmerman and cherry picked some of the respondents answers:

As this MSc thesis was the original source of the oft cited Doran paper 97% quote, I tracked it down (sometime ago now) and discovered in the appendi that there was a great deal of email feedback and answers to write in questions from the scientists that actually participated in the survey, much of it critical and sceptical of the survey itself, the methodology and the questions asked. Additionally, amongst those environmental scientists that responded, were some very sceptical sounding scientists with respect to man made climate change being the dominant driver of climate change. 

“..Science is based on scepticism and experimental proof. Whereas human GHG emissions certainly have a warming effect, the breakdown between natural and anthropogenic contributions to warming is poorly constrained.

Remember that the warming since 1650 AD (not 1900) is part of a real ‘millennial cycle’ whose amplitude cannot yet be explained by any quantitative theory. 

Also, the computer climate models are both too complex to be readily understood and too simple to describe reality. 

Believing their results is an act of faith…”

I’m shocked!

Should I question the science, and revise my entire “faith” in “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”?

Actually I’m not all shocked, nor surprised that Wood managed to cherry pick a few choice quotes. Wood’s has simply zeroed in on the tiny minority of quotes that are dismissive of the science and ignored the vast majority other respondents.

[Note: see Six Aspects of Denial tactic number 3: Magnify disagreements among scientists and cite gadflies]

Now if our entire “belief” that 97% of scientists accept the science is based one supposedly flawed study it might give us pause. But of course, just like the science of climate change there are multiple lines of evidence supporting this statement:

  • The 2004 study by Noami Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” surveyed all peer-reviewed papers on global warming between 1993 and 2003 found not one disputed the consensus. 75% where in agreement and 25% made no statement because those papers focused on methodology
  • The more recent 2010 paper by Anderegg, “Expert credibility in climate change” went beyond surveys and reviewed the actual published work of over 1300 climatologists and found 97-98% in agreement that climate change is real

Let’s not forget there is not a single national scientific academy on the planet who question the science. However, former mining executives, bloggers funded by think tanks and swarms of angry online trolls do.

Knowing who the expert is can sometimes be challenging.

Here’s an analogy: if I was on an operating table and the person standing next to me in hospital garb was holding a scalpel – surrounded by nurses and medical equipment – in what looked like an operating theater….

Well I’m going to make the leap of faith and consider them some sort of expert.

Or, I could go on the internet, Google my malady and place my trust on “Thegreatbigdoctorconspiracy.com”.

The blog post where I dismiss climate science

I’ll admit I was very inspired by this very amusing post over at Genomicron and this brilliant piece over at the Guardian. In short, here is my guide to writing a blog post denying climate change.

In this paragraph I’ll attempt to appear a sincere seeker of truth

In this paragraph I’ll explain some of the basics of climate science, but with extensive use of “scare quotes”. It will be a highly distorted version of the science: the “big picture” may be correct, but wrong on more detailed aspects.

I’ll note that for years I’d accepted the mainstream consensus on climate change, however out of sheer intellectual curiosity I decided to look into the issue myself.

Fortunately, my background in engineering/economics/physics or some other non-climate science related profession that requires maths has given me an understanding of the scientific method.

This how I establish myself as an authority.

At this point I will make reference to my intellectual journey, which in most instances involves extensive Google searching. I’ll note that after several days of trawling the Internet I was amazed to find blogs and web sites offering alternative views on climate change.

My use of search terms such as “climate change and fraud” will prompt Google to produce only the most authoritative materials. I will then muse why such information is not more accessible to the general public.

Here I will take down the IPCC in a paragraph

At this point I’ll take cherry pick quotes from the IPCC report and/or actual scientific research:

[Cut and paste text here…]

In this paragraph I’ll feign mock surprise that the claims in the quote appear to be exaggerated, as my own careful reading of blogs offering alternative explanations cast doubt on the claims of “experts” (natch, more scare quotes of course).

This is probably the appropriate time to make reference to the work of Steve McIntyre, a retired physicist or professor of geology. I might choose to include an image showing the famous “Hockey stick” and question it’s reliability. I’ll describe it as “broken”, without understanding what that means. However, it is an effective meme, and it’s stuck in my brain.

I’ll then post a link to Watts up with That? post that tears down climatologist (boo hiss!) Michael Mann and his stick (Ha ha! Did you see my pun!), pointing readers to bloggers more qualified to dismiss the science.

This is how I help repeat the same discredited claims.

This title indicates my distrust of “science”

Here it is appropriate to mention the “liberated” Climategate emails as proof that the workings of science have been corrupted. I’ll quote some very selective parts of said emails:

[Oh look scientists said nasty thing…]

I’ll feign surprise that scientists could act so un-professionally.

I’ll then move on to discuss how the “peer review process” is now “totally corrupt”. I’ll talk about the government funding of science, and allude to the fact that research funded by governments must be tainted.

Sometimes I’ll resort to Latin phrases. Ipso Facto sounds good. As does Caveat Emptor. I heard a very prominent sceptic uses Latin, therefore my post will sound much more authoritative.

I’ll dismiss the notion of scientific consensus as a kind of popularity contest.

I will make exaggerated claims about the stifling of alternative views: that scientists questioning this new “orthodoxy” have been shunned, picked on and called nasty names. Over 1 BILLION [cough] scientists [cough] have signed the Oregon Petition, stating they do not believe the planet is warming! What further proof do you need!?!?

I’ll throw in the line “They laughed at Galileo!” – but never “They laughed at Darwin!”, because that would betray my genuine doubts about evolutionary theory.

Here I will talk about Nazis, because it always about Nazis!

It is now at this point I usually descend into complete and utter paranoia, claiming the IPCC is the tool of socialists, lizard people and shadowy cabals. I’ll resort to Godwin’s Law and compare scientists with Nazis.

Or communists.

Or Nazis.

Or maybe both.

Clearly both were bad, so scientists must be equally bad.

Or I could term scientists eco-fascists, eco-terrorists or warmists.

By now I’ve worked myself into a rage, demanding that scientists be charged with FRAUD!

I will resort to even more UPPER CASE!

People such as myself – angry, white males feeling threatened by a loss of status – ARE ANGRY AND NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS LYING DOWN!

Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun understands my rage, he writes articles carefully constructed to provoke my sense of grievance and entitlement.

DID I MENTION I WAS ANGRY!

Here I just MAKE STUFF UP because I’M SO ANGRY!

My conclusion will be an appeal to personal liberty, god and small government

I’ll note the age of the Earth – except of course if I’m a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) – and that the climate has always changed.

However if I am a YEC, I’ll note it is presumptuous to claim humanity has any control over the climate. After all it is THE LORD who RULES THE HEAVENS:

[Appropriate Bible quote here…]

But then I might tone down the crazy creationist talk, as drawing attention to my support for other forms of denial might undermine my credibility.

My post will then end with an impassioned defense of liberty and how global warming is really a scam designed to raise taxes and limit your/our freedom.

I’ll end my post with a question.

Shouldn’t we just hope for the best and do nothing?

Going, going…

Climate Progress reports, but I also checked out the decline in Arctic ice over the weekend.  

The trend is anything but encouraging;  

Simply put, the Arctic is shrinking.  

According to experts, the Arctic ice is in a “death spiral” and is not going to recover:

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 20, 2010 (IPS) – The carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have melted the Arctic sea ice to its lowest volume since before the rise of human civilisation, dangerously upsetting the energy balance of the entire planet, climate scientists are reporting.“The Arctic sea ice has reached its four lowest summer extents (area covered) in the last four years,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado.

The volume – extent and thickness – of ice left in the Arctic likely reached the lowest ever level this month, Serreze told IPS.

“I stand by my previous statements that the Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It’s not going to recover,” he said.

If that wasn’t bad enough…

While much of the debate is focused on how much CO2 we add to the atmosphere, I’m more concerned about tipping points.  CO2 is but one greenhouse gas (GHG).  

There are vast reserves of methane – an even more powerful GHC – currently frozen in Northern tundras and seas. As the world warms, this is being released into the atmosphere. Form the same story:

If the Arctic becomes six degrees warmer, then half of the world’s permafrost will likely thaw, probably to a depth of a few metres, releasing most of the carbon and methane accumulated there over thousands of years, said Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and a world expert on permafrost.

Methane is a global warming gas approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

That would be catastrophic for human civilisation, experts agree. The permafrost region spans 13 million square kilometres of the land in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe and contains at least twice as much carbon as is currently present in the atmosphere – 1,672 gigatonnes of carbon, according a paper published in Nature in 2009. That’s three times more carbon than all of the worlds’ forests contain.

For a truly terrifying thought, the clathrate gun hypothesis.

This is why people like Anthony Watts are desperately, hopelessly trying to convince themselves and “sceptics” nothing is wrong.  

One can understand their response; they are terrified.   

The three horse race in which no-one is the winner  

The irony is that their denial is what is partly holding up our efforts to mitigate climate change. 

Let’s use a horse racing analogy to describe the current situation.  

Three horses are in the running:  “Physics and chemistry”, “The Denial Industry” and “Mitigation”. 

 “Physics and Chemistry” and “The Denial Industry” are out in front by several lengths.  

 Mitigation is running at odds of 1/10, struggling to keep up with the leaders.

Blogger Anthony Watts twists science, and yet no-one is surprised

Normally I refrain from commenting on the worlds largest climate change denial blog, “Watts up with that?”.

Firstly, its author is a former US weather man whose blog serves as the main rallying cry for the denial movement globally. My “niche” is watching the Australian denial movement.

Secondly, there are plenty of other blogs and commentators tearing down the daily nonsense Anthony Watts posts.  However there are times when the intellectual dishonesty of Watts et.al shocks even me.

And so dear reader, further evidence that supports the case that Anthony Watts lies to his reading audience.

Disinformation 101: cherry pick your facts

One of the classic techniques of climate change deniers is to cherry pick the results of scientific research:

“Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position…”

Creationists and climate change deniers excel at taking data and information out of context and reshaping it to suit their arguments.

Watts provides a text book example of this in the following post:

Surprise: Peer reviewed study says current Arctic sea ice is more extensive than most of the past 9000 years

“…A peer-reviewed paper published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences finds that Arctic sea ice extent at the end of the 20th century was more extensive than most of the past 9000 years. The paper also finds that Arctic sea ice extent was on a declining trend over the past 9000 years, but recovered beginning sometime over the past 1000 years and has been relatively stable and extensive since.

Although it seems like a day doesn’t go by without an alarmist headline or blog posting obsessing over the daily Arctic sea ice statistics (and never about Antarctic sea ice extent which reached a record high this year), this paleo-climate perspective takes all the wind out of alarmist sails…”

It is very clear the Arctic is entering a death spiral: but week after week Watts publishes lies and disinformation, desperately trying to assume his readers that it is not happening.

Watts cites a paper which suggests the Arctic is fine.

The problem is, the paper states anything but that.

How Watts twists the actual science

The paper Watts references was published in 2008, so it’s not even that new:

Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 45: 1377-1397, Authors: J.L. McKay, A. de Vernal, C. Hillaire-Marcel, C. Not, L. Polyak, and D. Darby

It is a rather dense, technical piece as most scientific papers are. The average punter could be forgiven for glossing over many of its points and not fully appreciating what it is saying.

However one thing is clear: in no way does it disprove the Arctic is in trouble.

It looks at a long-term trends and drivers, in particular what is known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) which drives the volume and extent of sea ice.

The paper notes the following in its introduction:

“The decline in Arctic sea ice associated with the +AO results primarily from the rapid removal of older, thicker ice from Arctic through Fram Strait and intensified cyclonic atmospheric circulation that brings warm air into Arctic, thus increasing sea-ice melt (Meier et al. 2005).

But here is the important part:

…However, sea ice has continued its rapid decline, since the AO returned to a more neutral state in the late 1990s, suggesting that anthropogenic warming of surface air temperatures is playing a role in the loss (Overland and Wang 2005), as now recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007).”

The AO has shifted to neutral, however sea ice loss is continuing in spite of that, most likely due to AGW.

The authors state this very clearly.

The paper also explicitly acknowledges the conclusions of the IPCC.

Seriously, all you have to do is READ THE FIRST FRAKIN’ PAGE which isn’t THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND and to see that Watts either hasn’t read the paper or is JUST MAKING STUFF UP.

Excuse the upper caps – but I can’t believe how transparent his dishonesty is.

Watts readers then chime in, adding posts that gleefully note how this paper disproves global warming.

Clearly they haven’t read it.

/facepalm

Climate scam exposed by Narrogin Observer. Funniest. Article. Ever.

And here I was saying I was on a break from blogging!  I couldn’t let this story pass without commenting…

Jo Nova is reporting on the Anthony Watts tour as it wends its way through Western Australia.

They’ve broken into the big time with a front page story in the Narrogin Observer (circulation 2,523):

“Climate hysteria is a “scam”

..thunders the headline.

The story goes on to quote Watts and Nova at length. Watts is described as a:

“…professional meteorologist man for over 30 years”.

While Nova (a “lecturer and science writer”) is quoted as saying:

“…scientists are starting to have an opinion that was not science.”

Oh those silly scientists, who are they say what science really is!

No, Nova with an undergraduate degree and no published research has a much, much better idea.

As they say on the internet: LMFAO.

Nova shyly admits the Narrogin Observer is “not the New York Times” (no really?), but this is obviously a great propoganda coup for the denial industry.

Let’s be frank: the Watts tour has fallen spectacularly flat.

No disrespect to rural Australia, but it’s  a sad indictment of these “citizen scientists” if this is the best they can do. Talk about operating on the fringes of the debate.

Please, someone call Media Watch.

I can’t reach the phone at the moment, I’m in too much pain from laughing.

Note: see Anarchist606 on Nova.

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