How desperate is WattsUpWithThat to mislead the public about climate science? On Saturday, former TV meteorologist Watts ran a post “Flashback: Snow in Buenos Aires – first time in 89 years.”
Presumably he was doing denier pushback about the fact that NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center had reported this was the second hottest June on record globally, and easily the hottest June on record for the oceans, with further records likely to be set if the new El Ni±o continues. But what is so laughable typical about the post is what follows:
Flashback: More from the “weather is not climate” department.
NOTE: These are news stories about unusual July weather in Argentina from 2007 which I thought might interest readers. Please note these stories are not from 2009.
That’s right, his response to the whole friggin’ planet approaching a temperature record is a post on the weather 2 years ago over a teeny land area.
And that brought to mind an amazingly apt quote I had just read in an excellent new book by fellow science blogger, Chris Mooney, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, who has teamed up with scientist Sheril Kirshenbaum for a sequel to the bestselling. The Republican War on Science:
Anthony Watts is an extremely popular blogger…. Yet his blog contains highly questionable information — presented very “scientifically” of course, replete with charts and graphs — but all directed toward the end of making the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming seem faulty (in fact it’s extremely robust). A particular delight of the blog: hyping individual winter-weather events as if they have something to do with refuting global warming trends, a basic error of statistical reasoning.
And that brought to mind this recent NYT story, “Vocal Minority Insists It Was All Smoke and Mirrors“:
Forty years after men first touched the lifeless dirt of the Moon “” and they did. Really. Honest. “” polling consistently suggests that some 6 percent of Americans believe the landings were faked and could not have happened. The series of landings, one of the greatest gambles of the human race, was an elaborate hoax….They examine photos from the missions for signs of studio fakery, and claim to be able to tell that the American flag was waving in what was supposed to be the vacuum of space. They overstate the health risks of traveling through the radiation belts that girdle our planet; they understate the technological prowess of the American space program; and they cry murder behind every death in the program, linking them to an overall conspiracy.
Watts also has an entire effort devoted to people who “examine photos” — but these are far more boring pictures of temperature stations, although still part of a broader conspiracy to deceive the public (see Must-read NOAA paper smacks down the deniers: 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.”).
And while there is no credible evidence to support such views, and the sheer unlikelihood of being able to pull off such an immense plot and keep it secret for four decades staggers the imagination, the deniers continue to amass accusations to this day.
Global warming would require a similarly large conspiracy. But Watts approvingly reprints denier manifestos that claim global warming “is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind” “” see here.
As I’ve written, such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of conspiring in deliberate fraud - and not just the community of climate scientists, but the leading National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and the American Geophysical Union, an organization of geophysicists that consists of more than 45,000 members and the American Meteorological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see “Yet more scientists call for deep GHG cuts“).
Such a statement accuses all of the member governments of the IPCC, including ours, of participating in that conspiracy, since they all sign off on the Assessment Reports word for word (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“). And, of course, Ambler’s statement accuses all of the leading scientific journals of being in on this fraud, since the IPCC reports are primarily a review and synthesis of the published scientific literature.
Adam Savage, the co-star of the television show “MythBusters,” spent an episode last year taking apart Moon hoax theories bit by bit, entertainingly and convincingly. The theorists, he noted, never give up. “They’ll say you have to keep an open mind,” he said, “but they reject every single piece of evidence that doesn’t adhere to their thesis.”
For those who actually went “” and have I mentioned that we did land astronauts on the Moon? Six times? “” the conspiracy theories are simply galling.
Harrison Schmitt, the pilot of the lunar lander during the last Apollo mission and later a United States senator, said in an interview that the poor state of the nation’s schools has had predictable results. “If people decide they’re going to deny the facts of history and the facts of science and technology, there’s not much you can do with them,” he said.
“For most of them, I just feel sorry that we failed in their education.”
Of course, denying the moon landing doesn’t hurt anybody. But denying our scientific understanding of climate science — and actively misleading the public — imperils the health and well-being of billions of people and generations yet to come.
This post is not my book review of Unscientific America, which will be Part 2, or even my one (small) area of disagreement with Mooney, which will be Part 3.
No, I’m just drawing the painfully straight line from the moon hoax people to the climate hoax people.