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Anti-science blogger Anthony Watts keeps attacking Al Gore and IPCC head Pachauri for supposed conflicts of interest, but does he have his own conflict?

By Joe Romm  

"Anti-science blogger Anthony Watts keeps attacking Al Gore and IPCC head Pachauri for supposed conflicts of interest, but does he have his own conflict?"

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We have Al Gore who is viewed by many as being the most influential communicator on the climate change issue who is up to his neck in carbon trading and also has many board associations that help his cause. Now we have the leader of the UN’s IPCC with questionable business associations. Where’s NYT‘s Andy Revkin? Where’s 60 Minutes? Where’s Dateline NBC?

That would be former TV weatherman Anthony Watts in yet another post at his blog WattsUpWithThat acting as populist champion attacking supposed climate profiteers.  Except of course the long-debunked Gore charge is a fabrication — see Grist on the NYT’s “baseless hit job on Gore,” plus the story’s origin in a Fox News doctored video.  You can read Pachauri’s comments here, “Pachauri slams charges about conflict of interest.”

It’s kind of funny to see the anti-science crowd go after Pachauri for his connection to oil companies now that he has become a climate science realistPachauri was specifically chosen as IPCC chair in 2002 after the Bush administration waged a successful campaign to have him replace the outspoken Dr. Robert Watson, who was opposed by fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil. It’s the facts that make people alarmists, not their politics or professional background (see “Desperate times, desperate scientists“).

But what’s even funnier is that holier-than-thou Watts might be open to a charge of conflict of interest by the same standards he holds others up to.  Consider that Watts spends a great deal of time attacking the quality and trustworthiness of surface temperature stations in this country at his website surfacestations.org, one of whose stated goals is:

To photographically document poor examples of sites that may introduce biases and errors through faulty siting, encroachments, or maintenance issues, and to identify specific issues when possible

Nothing wrong with that, of course.  It turns out to be a relatively pointless exercise, of course, from a scientific perspective, 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, of course, if Watts really thought all those land-based U.S. weather stations were faulty and untrustworthy, he wouldn’t keep citing their data as supposed evidence that this country is seeing record-setting cold, would he?  I mean, no serious person would do that (see “Anti-science disinformers to media: Please make case for something that isn’t true using data we don’t believe“).  He’s just having some fun, right?  Why else would he be doing it?

Let’s borrow Watts’ populist hat, and see what’s up.  Hmm.  So Watts enlists people from around the country to photograph supposedly poor surface temperature stations.

The project has minimal costs, mostly for this website and computer hosting/bandwidth and that is paid for by the designer of the project, Anthony Watts, out of pocket. No other funding has been needed, sought, or accepted from any entity, corporation, or group.

He’s a tireless, purely altruistic champion of the downtrodden.  But wait, what does he do for a living?

Weather measurement and weather presentation technology is my specialty. I also provide weather stations and custom weather monitoring solutions via www.weathershop.com (if you like my work, please consider buying a weather gadget there, StormPredator for example) and www.tempelert.com, and turn key weather channels with advertising at www.viziframe.com

Say it ain’t so.  Watts uses his blogs to try to convince people that government weather sites are faulty, that their data can’t be trusted, enlisting the unpaid help of countless people — and he makes money selling weather stations?

Where’s Andy Revkin? Where’s 60 Minutes? Where’s Dateline NBC?

Weathershop.com has been around longer (since 1996), shipped more orders, and provided more custom weather solutions than any other weather site on the web.  We have customers all over the world in Education, Media, Government, Research, and just plain folks who like to watch the weather.

WhatsUp, Doc?

I’m filing this post under humor — because I think the charge of conflict of interest against Watts is as nearly as unserious as his charges against Gore and Pachauri, because I think that Watts, like Morano, is mostly a performance artist, trying to see how many people he can sucker with posts whose transparent outlandishness grows exponentially with time:

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18 Responses to Anti-science blogger Anthony Watts keeps attacking Al Gore and IPCC head Pachauri for supposed conflicts of interest, but does he have his own conflict?

  1. caerbannog says:

    Slightly off-topic (but not too much)….

    Well-known windbag AGW denier John Coleman is going to have his own hour-long primetime special on San Diego’s KUSI TV channel tomorrow (1/14) at 9PM, where he claims that he’s going to blow open another “Climategate” scandal right here in the USA.

    Coleman was interviewed by wingnut talk-show host Rick (spelled with a silent ‘P’) Roberts yesterday. This is what Coleman said (transcribing as literally as I can here):

    “We are going to break open a climategate scandal in the United States. I am very excited about this. We are going to reveal how the top two climate centers in this country have been distorting the data to pretend as though the global warming is continuing when in fact the Earth has fallen into a cold spell.”

    The Roberts/Coleman interview is available for a limited time at: http://media.worldnow.com/kfmbam/podcast/rick_roberts_1095.mp3

    From the content/tone of the interview, I see the possibility that Coleman might engage in some legally-actionable slander of climate scientists on his “special”. (I’m going to record it for posterity on my DVR.)

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    From One Of My Favorite Bugs Bunny Episodes

    Bugs Bunny, speaking to a witch: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, roasting children?”

    Witch: “Call it a weakness.”

    __________

    It’s funny, yes, but that is essentially the question that climate change deniers should be asking themselves at this point.

  3. Watts is part of the cadre of delayers, without which we would be far along in mitigating carbon emissions. We are 10 years, maybe 20 years behind where we should be… we have been misdirected and deluded for more than a half century.

    Thanks Joe, you show him to be horrifically short sighted. He goes on to the list of climate villains.

  4. caerbannog – I hope someone takes careful notice of who the sponsors are for this particular show.

  5. Ana says:

    FYI. The NOAA paper is now in press at Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres

    Menne, M. J., C. N. Williams, and M. A. Palecki (2010),

    On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record,

    J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2009JD013094, in press.

    [PDF] (accepted 7 January 2010)

  6. Would Watts be allowed to answer in this comment area, if he wished to?

  7. Nick says:

    Golly,twawki,you could try increasing the point size of your font…

  8. Bob Wright says:

    One could even accuse James Hansen of conflicts. A new satellite for NASA, a new supercomputer for GISS, fellowship money for Columbia grad students…, and the denialists will believe it.

    There are a whole lot of true believer tea party types who have simplified reality to Limbaugh, Hannity and Glenn Beck are always right, and Obama is always wrong. These disinformers only have to show off someone like Watts or Monckton or spin a stolen e-mail every now and then, and the damage is done.

  9. Joe -

    I’ve just read the part of Jim Hansen’s new book where he talks about the need to take a single, very simple chart into a White House meeting with non-scientists. I think he’s dead right. The average non-scientist doesn’t have the time or sophistication to understand most of the data out there. But if you don’t reach the average non-scientist pretty soon, it’s game over for the climate.

    I’ve also been thinking about how the typical chart of annual global temperatures may include too much noise in the data, because it averages over all seasons and all latitudes, leaving lay readers confused and allowing deniers to misinterpret them.

    I wonder if disaggregating the averaging in the data might give a clearer picture of climate change. For example, would a simple chart of only annual average winter minimum temperatures over time, with separate lines for each specific latitude (Equator, Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic/Antarctic Circles) show a clearer picture? Or the same type of chart plotting just maximum average summer temperatures by latitude? Or how about a chart of annual Arctic ice area (or better yet volume, if you’ve got it) showing on one line just the annual maximum data point each year and on a second line just the annual minimum data point? This type of chart could have a simple caption explaining just what data is shown, but without further explanation, letting the chart speak for itself.

    Someone (I nominate you) could start a series of these simplified charts, labeled “Climate Change Chart of the Week,” which would be released weekly to the general media. Perhaps the chart could be placed as a 1/8th page ad in a few major newspapers through funding from foundations. The lay reader would only have to look at the chart for about a minute to understand it, but by reading a different chart each week the understanding, and hopefully concern, would grow. Deniers would have a more difficult time rebutting these simple charts that just show data.

    I think scientists better do something like this to get the message out before it’s too late.

    Bill Waterhouse

  10. Stuart says:

    Bill, I second the idea of a series of easy to interpret charts. I would particularly love to see one showing the increase in winter low temperatures, since they are the limiting factor for many insect pests like bark beetles.

  11. Dano says:

    If LowWatts was serious about the surface stations, his undereducated minions would go to the sites with thermometers and thermographs and take comparative temp measurements to try and accurately asses bias.

    Since they don’t do that, it is a PR stunt.

    Nonetheless, nice post Joe. Use their tactics exactly. Turnabout and all that.

    Best,

    D

  12. Neven says:

    Does anyone seriously believe that WUWT and the traffic it generates does not constitute some financial benefit for Anthony Watts, either through donations, through increased sales of weather gadgets or through think tank money?

  13. Deech56 says:

    RE Ana:

    Menne, M. J., C. N. Williams, and M. A. Palecki (2010)
    On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record
    J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2009JD013094, in press.

    So before the Surfacestations thing is even finished, a rebuttal is published in the peer-review literature. Priceless. Maybe blog science does have an up side to it.

  14. Doug Bostrom says:

    Dano says: January 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

    “If LowWatts was serious about the surface stations, his undereducated minions would go to the sites with thermometers… ”

    Or they could just buy records from meteorological data vendors. For instance, lots of griping on WUWT about missing Bolivia, but historical data for that country is for sale. If you’re prepared to do some work you can even glean records for a couple of decades back, for free. I did, and I suggest that Watts’ minions not bother doing so because the results will not help their case.

    And no, I’m not going to provide the stuff I did find. Watts can do the work or spend the money himself.

  15. Doug Bostrom says:

    Maurizio Morabito says: January 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    “Would Watts be allowed to answer in this comment area, if he wished to?”

    Probably. Could he park his wagon and hawk elixir here?

  16. Neven says:

    “And no, I’m not going to provide the stuff I did find.”

    You don’t have to provide it. We will just hack your server and find whatever it is we want to find in it. If it’s not there, we’ll make something up. We’ll call it ehhhh… ehhhhh… BOSTROMGATE!

  17. Doug Bostrom says:

    Neven says: January 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    On a semi-related note, I wish somebody could come up with a catchy replacement for the “XGate” thing. It’s been what, 38 years we’ve been using that term? “ContraGate” is the only scandal that rose to that level in the intervening years, now it’s used as hyperbole to attract attention to non-events. This was the doubter’s chance to innovate, and they blew it.

    My suggestion: TomskTwaddle.

  18. Jim Prall says:

    Dang it, how are we supposed to complete our scheme to impose world government if that pesky Watts discovers the critical keystone in our cover-up plan – the suppression of temperature data from BOLIVIA! If only we’d been able to keep that inconvenient Bolivian data under wraps, our scheme could have duped the whole world!

    Drat you, Watts!