One of the biggest sources of climate change misinformation on the web, deceptively disguised as “scepticism”, is Wattsupwiththat, run by retired meteorologist Anthony Watts. Watts is the person on the Internet most responsible for viciously smearing scientists and spreading disinformation on global warming, particularly disinformation on the surface temperature record. He gets huge numbers of people reading it. For some years he has been promoting the idea that the apparent rise in global temperature has a lot to do with poor siting of the thermometers used to measure temperature changes and he organised a lot of volunteers to photograph and criticise the placement of thermometers because they were located near to tarmac, concrete, air conditioners etc. His theory is that the recorded rise in global temperatures is more down to urban thermometers getting hotter due to hot air from the tarmac etc. boosting the measurements rather than the planet heating up. Like many, indeed most, of the denialist arguments one sees, it sounds quite plausible – some of the stupid, ignorant or mendacious types who come up with the propaganda know how easy it is to lie to the public – others do the lying accidentally, because their poor judgement leads them to deceive themselves.
The real science of course went Duhhh!! The effects that Watts and his minions have been ruthlessly claiming are a big flaw in global warming science have, of course, always been known about and the science has always adjusted the raw data to take account of this. If Watts acknowledged this at all, he would then lead his readers to think that these legitimate, necessary adjustments were data fudging! How can science win against someone using paranoid arguments like that? The tragedy is that too many of the gullible public lap up this crap, as one can clearly see if one reads the comment sections of online TV or newspaper websites.
Over the last few months there has been a tremendous excitement in the Wattsup end of the climate science denialism blogosphere because one of the few scientists they listen(ed) to - Dr Richard Muller - announced that he was going to run a huge investigation into the temperature records. On his team was Professor Judith Curry – another darling of the deniers who writes a sort-of (her stated positions are very often rather muddled) sceptical blog, Climate etc. The research was even backed by, amongst others, the infamous Koch Foundation which bankrolls a fair bit of the denialist infrastructure. They were expecting this “unbiased” study to overturn the current scientific view on how much we are warming. Back in March, Anthony Watts even wrote (very unwisely, as it turned out…)
“And, I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. I’m taking this bold step because the method has promise”
Well the results are in. The climate scientists were right all along and the denialists were full of ****. Is Anthony Watts accepting his Nemesis with good grace and acknowledging that his "big idea" was disastrously wrong? Sadly, no. Those who use paranoid thinking can always wriggle out somehow and Watts and his ilk are wriggling like champion eels in a world title wriggling competition.
Here’s a couple of media excerpts:
Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post: “For the clueless or cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there. The latest icy blast of reality comes from an eminent scientist whom the climate-change skeptics once lauded as one of their own. Richard Muller, a respected physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, used to dismiss alarmist climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Frustrated at what he considered shoddy science, Muller launched his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. Instead, the record set him straight”.
“Global warming is real,” Muller wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal.
“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that.”
Here’s Pete Sinclair’s climate crock – Bad, Badder, BEST – that sticks the knife in to finally show up Watts as the weasel that he is.