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Anthony Watts urges WattsUpWithThat readers to disrupt Forbes blog: “shout them down in the comments section”

By Joe Romm  

"Anthony Watts urges WattsUpWithThat readers to disrupt Forbes blog: “shout them down in the comments section”"

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Watts comments

Yes, discredited former TV weatherman Anthony Watts can’t stomach even a couple of scientists posting reasonable comments about an error-riddled piece from Heartland on a blog already over-run by the pro-pollution crowd.  He must marshall his readership to “shout them down in the comments section.”

Watts has, perhaps more than any other leading anti-science blogger, viciously smeared scientists — and tried to get his followers to game online voting  and pile onto other people’s comments sections (see Scientific American “horrified” by “the co-opting of the poll” by users of “the well-known climate denier site, Watts Up With That”).

In a new post, he reprints another piece smearing climate scientists by Joe D’Aleo.  By way of history, Watts and D’Aleo coauthored a “report” accusing top U.S. scientists of various kinds of misfeasance and malfeasance in the global temperature record.  It was utterly debunked last March (see Wattergate: Tamino debunks “just plain wrong” Anthony Watts).  As Tamino wrote, “your use of false claims to accuse NOAA scientists of deliberate deception was not just mistaken, it was unethical.”

Watts never retracted the attacks.  Instead, last Memorial Day, Watts directly questioned the patriotism of both Tamino and Rabett (see “Peak readership for anti-science blogs?“) leading Tamino to write, “This just might be the most loathsome thing Watts has yet done with his blog.”

Watts often feigns a demeanor of reasonableness, as when he had the chutzpah to write in June:

Overall there’s too much pointless bluster and sniping in climate science. I wish there was a volume control.  Kids, can we just all “get along”?

Seriously, a volume control — but only for others, as it turns out.

Later in August he demanded others “dial back the rhetoric.”

But by September, he was back to ‘normal’.  When the demented, violent James Lee held people hostage with a gun and bombs strapped to his body at the Discovery Communications building in Silver Spring, MD, Watts wrote his most offensive headline to date:

WattsWarmista

And the first line of that post is “Well, you filthy readers, see what happens when we don’t acquiesce?“  And then amazingly, after being widely criticized, Watts wrote that he stood behind his offensive post and comments.

And that brings us to the D’Aleo post:

“Scientists” Pull a Snow Job on Reporters in Teleconference

It’s is just another excuse to smear climate scientists and spread disinformation.  Watts had previously attacked NSIDC director Mark Serreze.  Now he reposts D’Aleo writing about a “teleconference yesterday with a very confused Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, opportunist Mark Serreze of NSIDC” in a piece that doubles down on the smear: “Before Serreze took over NSIDC seeing the huge grant funding windfall opportunity….”  Yes, scientists are just in for the money.

By way of background, for years, Watts has been at the forefront of trying to push the anti-science meme that big snowstorms disprove global warming.  But whenever scientists have pushed back, explaining how big snowstorms are entirely consistent with climate science, he then launches another error-riddled smear.

What’s especially funny about this post is that Watts can’t even decide if climate scientists have always predicted global warming would increase extreme precipitation events or whether this is something new.

The D’Aleo post asserts:

Now the alarmists have flipped their position claiming warming means more snow….

And the Taylor post that Watts claims it supports his position is headlined, “Global Warming Alarmists Flip-Flop On Snowfall.”

But Watts leads his post with the cover of a 1996 Newsweek issue, “Blizzards, Floods & Hurricanes:  Blame Global Warming,” and Watts’ own caption is “Some things never change.”

Watts is a simultaneously attacking climate scientists for, supposedly, flip-flopping on whether global warming will lead to more severe snowstorms — and for always saying it would!

For the record, the Newsweek headline was, as you might expect, not what the stories inside were actually about.

One of the articles, about the big January 1996 blizzard added a question mark “This Is Global Warming?” and didn’t talk about global warming.  The other piece was by science reporter Sharon Begley, about James Hansen, “He’s Not Full Of Hot Air,” which actually does a pretty good job of explaining the state of the science in this area:

Meaner storms: … one alarming prediction seems to be coming true: the expectation that, in a warmer world, extremes of wet and dry will intensify. As Earth’s surface warms, more moisture evaporates. Over arid regions, where there’s little to evaporate, turning up the thermostat would exacerbate droughts. Rainfall would thus increase over moist areas, like the coasts, and be rarer in the interiors of continents. “The odds of getting drought years will increase markedly,” says Jerry Mahlman, director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hurricanes, too, should get more intense. “The warmer the ocean gets, the meaner the tropical storm,” says A. E. (Sandy) MacDonald of NOAA’s lab in Boulder, Colo.

Last week’s blizzard can’t be blamed on the warming world. No storm or drought or heat wave ever can be so neatly diagnosed. “You can’t connect a given weather event on a particular day in a particular place with long-term climate change,” says physicist Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund. The snows of yesteryear prove that. The record Northeast blizzards of 1888 and 1947, after all, hit when the only greenhouse effect anyone cared about was the one that forces lilies to bloom for Easter. Extreme weather is connected to global warming more subtly. “All that long-term climate change can do is affect the probabilities,” Hansen explains. Instead of equal chances that any one storm will be heavier or lighter than normal, or any one day hotter or colder than normal, the climate dice are now loaded. The greenhouse effect, says Hansen, “has changed the odds” on extreme weather.

Whatever its proximate cause, the blizzard of ’96 is just what a greenhouse world would whip up. The storm was born when cold air blew down from Canada. The arctic air happened to smack into a warm, moist air mass hovering over the Atlantic Ocean. In a warmer world, those chance circumstances could be more common. “Global warming has made the Atlantic an even greater source of moisture” from evaporation, Hansen says. And when water vapor condenses, becoming liquid again, the process releases heat. So warm moist air that feeds blizzards is more likely to be parked over the Atlantic, just waiting for the delivery of a cold mass. “The greenhouse effect alters the probabilities [of having the ingredients of a massive snowstorm],” says Hansen. “In that sense the greenhouse effect is changing our climate now.”

Basic stuff, well explained, which some editor mangled with the cover story headline.  Just adding a question mark to that headline would have made it much better for a news magazine.

Yes, it’s true that, as Heartland and D’Aleo point out, the IPCC’s Third Assessment said of North America, “Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms.”  It would have been nice if the IPCC had been clearer about when exactly they thought that would happen.  In general, the science always been pretty clear that the snow line would gradually move north, but the increase in moisture would lead to more extreme precipitation events of all kinds, with those events being snow when it was cold enough.

In any case, while Heartland and D’Aleo quote a now 10-year-old (!) assessment, the scientific literature since then has said again and again that we would see more extreme winter storms thanks to human-caused global warming (see An amazing, though clearly little-known, scientific fact: We get more snow storms in warm years!).  I’m sorry to repeat myself, but that’s what you have to do when the disinformers trot out 10-year-old reports.

Let’s look at the results of an actual, detailed study of “the relationships of the storm frequencies to seasonal temperature and precipitation conditions” for the years “1901-2000 using data from 1222 stations across the United States.”  The 2006 study, “Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States“  (Changnon, Changnon, and Karl [of National Climatic Data Center], 2006) found we are seeing more northern snow storms and that we get more snow storms in warmer years:

The temporal distribution of snowstorms exhibited wide fluctuations during 1901-2000, with downward 100-yr trends in the lower Midwest, South, and West Coast. Upward trends occurred in the upper Midwest, East, and Northeast, and the national trend for 1901-2000 was upward, corresponding to trends in strong cyclonic activity”¦..

Results for the November-December period showed that most of the United States had experienced 61%- 80% of the storms in warmer-than-normal years. Assessment of the January-February temperature conditions again showed that most of the United States had 71%-80% of their snowstorms in warmer-than-normal years. In the March-April season 61%-80% of all snowstorms in the central and southern United States had occurred in warmer-than-normal years”¦. Thus, these comparative results reveal that a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more snowstorms than in 1901-2000. Agee (1991) found that long-term warming trends in the United States were associated with increasing cyclonic activity in North America, further indicating that a warmer future climate will generate more winter storms.

The definitive recent report on the subject from the United States perspective is the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) U.S. Climate Impacts Report from 2009.  It reviewed that literature and concluded:

Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent.

Large-scale storm systems are the dominant weather phenomenon during the cold season in the United States. Although the analysis of these storms is complicated by a relatively short length of most observational records and by the highly variable nature of strong storms, some clear patterns have emerged.112 [Kunkel et al., 2008]

Storm tracks have shifted northward over the last 50 years as evidenced by a decrease in the frequency of storms in mid-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, while high-latitude activity has increased. There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes.112 [Kunkel et al., 2008] The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights.68 [Gutowski et al, 2008]

Snowstorms

The northward shift in storm tracks is reflected in regional changes in the frequency of snowstorms. The South and lower Midwest saw reduced snowstorm frequency during the last century. In contrast, the Northeast and upper Midwest saw increases in snowstorms, although considerable decade-to-decade variations were present in all regions, influenced, for example, by the frequency of El Ni±o events.112 [Kunkel et al., 2008]

There is also evidence of an increase in lake-effect snowfall along and near the southern and eastern shores of the Great Lakes since 1950…

It Is also worth noting that the recent Nature study on the subject, which looked at the extreme precipitation data, including snow, found “human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”

The bottom line is that scientists predicted that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases would contribute to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events, and the data now finds, with extremely high confidence, that this is true.  And when it is cold enough, the intensified precipitation will come down as snow.

The extreme anti-science, pro-pollution bloggers like Watts may try to shout it down, but science, unlike right-wing politics, is not determined by who shouts the loudest.

‹ Carbon Nation is a great documentary on clean energy solutions

DeMint Rails Against ‘Massive Salaries’ . . . At PBS ›

32 Responses to Anthony Watts urges WattsUpWithThat readers to disrupt Forbes blog: “shout them down in the comments section”

  1. anon says:

    Are you saying the science is not settled? You just directly contradicted the unequivical scientific consensus. The debate is over, go back to denying the Holocaust like your best at.

  2. Mike says:

    Also note the paranoia, Watts says: “A number of alarmists have been organized to team up…” What evidence is there of this? It is classic paranoid thinking. Because he thinks there is a conspiracy, he thinks his tactics are justified.

  3. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I think Anthony Watts relishes his position as a climate thug.

  4. climate undergrad says:

    I’m not sure I follow your logic anon; it would seem to me the holocaust deniers and the climate change deniers certainly have a lot more in common.

    “The warming of the climate system is unequivocal” is not contradicted in this piece. Nor is the fact that most of this warming is due to human influences.

    I’m going to take the high road here and respond politely even after your completely unwarranted, unsupported, and unreasonable statement.

  5. talonpoint says:

    Anthony “Shout them Down” Watts. If that doesn’t just sum up the entirety of anti-reason, anti-logic, anti-science, anti-civility in this country. A strategy having been used by Rush Limbaugh and wingnut bullies for many years now that has no rational response or recourse.

  6. Scrooge says:

    Looks like the nutters are reaching the tipping point of instability. Anthony needs a refresher course in weather 101. The poster child of D-K.

  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    As disgusting as Watts’ statements are, I strongly urge everyone to take a deep breath, ease back a few inches from the keyboard, and think about it for a few moments in the context of everything we’ve seen the deniers say and do.

    Upon even minimal reflection, it’s quite clear that this absurd (non-)debate really is all politics, as I keep saying. Yes, it’s a travesty that deniers of well established science have stooped to such a level and turned what should be a rational discussion of science and public policy into something that would make even Jim Carville cringe, complete with death threats, cyber sock puppets, and no end of highly-paid-for lies. Again, if you haven’t read Merchants of Doubt or Climate Cover-Up, do so, NOW. And if you have read them, then go read them again as soon as you can make the time.

    My point is NOT to say we should stoop to their loathsome, repellent level, but to keep the proper perspective so that we can do a better job of anticipating and responding to the endless torrent of outrages that the deniers so delight in employing.

    We have the facts and the science on our side, and yes, I’ll say it, we also have morality on our side. (Anyone who doubts the morality part is invited to review the parade of “it’s worse than we thought” discoveries from the last few years and explain to all of us why sticking to a BAU path isn’t consigning future generations to hell and high water.) We must, we can, and we will win this “debate”, and the smarter we are about it, the sooner that will happen.

  8. Ben Lieberman says:

    Not sure how this is different from what deniers do all the time anyway: attempt to clog up all comments sections all the time while employing Pseudonyms.

  9. Sometimes I wish that the “Anonymous” group (not to be confused with “anon” above, of course) had managed to get hold of Team Themis’s super-secret list of sockpuppets and Internet addresses, and published them to the world. Then blogs can simply block those addresses.

    And perhaps voting services can block them too, and we can see whether Watts will still be able to retain his ‘Best Science Blog of the Year’ or whatever other title without the help of his automated brethren.

    frank

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    Deconstructing Watts must have been a painful exercise, Joe. Something like detailing a botched surgery by a doctor who turned out to be an imposter. In Watts’ case, the damage will be far greater.

    Within about five years Anthony will turn out to be too bizarre even for the oil companies. He’ll be sending in his resume to Channel 7 in Chico.

  11. Dano says:

    That’s what they do. Human or software bot storm, either way. News at 11.

    Best,

    D

  12. Mike says:

    The advantage of Anthony “Shout them Down” Watts’ moment of candor is that when genuinely undecided people wonder who is a denier and who is a true skeptic, we now have a clear concise example that shows what the difference is. It shows how meaningless his recent blog aware is. It shows how naive Curry’s efforts to reach out to them are. It puts him in the same class as Morano.

  13. Gord says:

    #7 Lou … good advice.

    The books you recommend are excellent.

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    Huh? Are the HBGary Bots down, Wooot????? o.0

  15. K. Nockels says:

    Bad Karma Mr Watts, I’m greatful that choice is one of the rights in this country, so even though it means you have the right to speak such cruelty’s I have the right not to listen.

  16. Crowing over the loss of Glory? Karma indeed! It will be bad for them.
    I wonder why Watt’s site gets so many comments.

  17. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Mr Watt’s website needs to be renamed “Watts Wrong With My Thought Process”

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    Just to note that Watts didn’t invent any of this, rather these tactics were all invented in the early days of wingnut blogging. “Freeping” e.g., the term for comment mobbing, is named after the “Free Republic” blog. Of course Watts is a wingnut, so no surpise to see him doing this.

  19. dorlomin says:

    Watts is very much the Eric Cartman of the climate blogs.

    He almost pushes people out the way to be offended on occasions such as this article by Jeffrey Sachs were he points out that many of the early accademic supporters of denialism were also tobacco lobyists.
    Watts had to twist and turn to find a reason to be insulted but by god was he insulted.
    Wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/22/the-most-slimy-essay-ever-from-the-guardian-and-columbia-university/

  20. realist says:

    Watts is one of these weathermen who has to be called out over and over again. Unfortunately, there are people who read his blog who don’t read anything else. We have a local group of “atmospheric scientists” who claim to be experts on climate science. They are weather types who can’t distinguish weather from climate!

  21. Frankie says:

    Must free speech encompass views and behaviors that are demonstrably detrimental to mankind?

    If the justices, most especially the R.A.T.S. at the Supine Court weren’t so anti-science themselves (ie. reasonable people uncontaminated by partisan politics) Watts could be submitted to a test comparable to the Westboro Church, who, as odious as they are, do not try to kill all life on this planet.

    Why can’t we have our own Cuccinelli too?

  22. Sou says:

    Watts doesn’t convince any reasonably well educated person. He cons the willing ignorant and provides a platform for the more educated who know the damage we are doing, but who are ideologically opposed to reducing carbon emissions (the latter make no rational sense, but it’s clear they exist).

    @ Mike #12 – Curry is not naive. She knows exactly what she is doing and is following the Watts’ denial/ridicule formula to increase her blog readership. In a recent article Curry is joined Watts in attempting to make fun of Dr Serreze (though her ridicule is empty, it still brings out the deniers). (I won’t provide a link, but it was in a ‘harry potter’ post of hers for those who can stomach her blog.)

  23. Bruce says:

    They think snowstorms contradict global warming theory? But snowfall has been decreasing for 13 years, by the same logic that says the globe has been cooling since 1998. You see, the world record for seasonal snowfall (Mt. Baker, 95 feet) was set in the 1998-1999 winter, just after the year 1998 that they claim we are cooling down from.

  24. Susan Anderson says:

    Sou is right. My friends, you are too innocent. Rabett is one of several who have posted a prediction from one lawyer Carey that is right on the money – made in November.

    As to claiming conspiracy, people who are in a conspiracy can’t imagine that others aren’t just like them. Closed-minded people can’t imagine open-minded people. It’s not a question of dreaming it up, it’s already there.

    Just look at any new idea and watch how it’s turned to reverse its meaning within hours.

    And Lou Grinzo is also right. We have to use logic and not insult. Coals of fire, my friends.

  25. Susan Anderson says:

    Sorry, that’s Eli Rabett, here, good stuff:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/02/l-cary-plays-karnak.html

  26. Why does watts get so many posts? …
    search personna management software
    search astroturfing
    search hbgary

    The govmt advert:
    http://www.seankerrigan.com/docs/PersonaManagementSoftware.pdf

  27. Marion Delgado says:

    I’ll bring up the patriotism thing like I did at Tamino’s and Rabett Run at the time:

    What IS patriotism, anyway, that we should feel it’s kind of a low, mortal insult to be accused of not having it?

    1. The whole point of NAFTA, the GATT, the WTO, Walmart, the proliferation of no-cause H1-Bs, the endless registrations in the Caymans and Bermuda and Bahamas and Switzerland, etc. are that patriotism is outdated, and only obedience to the “natural” will of capital as it flows freely is a positive value, right? The people attacking science now are loyal to the market, period. If your patria’s Constitution hinders the market, amend it. If your democracy votes against the market, so much the worse for democracy. Send as much capital and resources as you can to some undemocratic capital-friendly haven. You’ll still get, at least in the US, at least as favorable a treatment as country-bound, old-fashioned, “patriotic” businesses.

    2. What is patriotism if not the last refuge of a scoundrel (Samuel Johnson) or even the first (Twain)? I.e., even in the Good Olde Dayes, people were skeptical of ostentatious patriotism, and for good reasons.

    3. Finally, is patriotism our master, or something which is of mutual benefit? That is, I’d like to maximize the populist, protectionist benefits and minimize the xenophobic, warmongering, McCarthyite detriments.

    All of this leading up to, even if they do question the patriotism of scientists and science advocates – who are they to throw stones, and what sort of slur is that, anyway? Science is pretty darned international – there aren’t really Russian facts or Kiwi facts or American facts or Egyptian facts. When people made claims against Bertrand Russell, he said some were true, and he nonetheless had the right to academic freedom, and that being a maverick wasn’t some fatal illness.

    I’d much rather someone called me lacking in patriotism all year than shoot my dog even once. It neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket. I think over-reaction gives that dog-whistle accusation far too much power. I always ask, what is patriotism? And how do you square it with pledging allegiance to the flag but serving amoral, stateless, uncaring, multinational self-profit machines that have hollowed out most of the societies that so championed them?

    It has to be added that, like questioning masculinity, questioning patriotism is, as Goering said, one of the chief tactics in the war-monger’s repertoire.

  28. John Mason says:

    Lou Grinzo is right IMO. The important thing to remember is that hardcore anti-science types will never be convinced otherwise: you will never get them to back down. However, and it is a big however: calmly setting out the science and showing where they are 100% wrong CAN have an influence on undecided members of the public – if you make assertions that they can go and check out for themselves and verify, then the credibility of the science is better supported and the verbal flailing of the anti-mob is shown to be just that – verbal flailing!

    Cheers – John

  29. Dutton says:

    Can’t find the open thread?

    The Australian newspaper reprinted an article from standpoint magazine by Clive James. Discussing Dorethea Mackellar’s poem ‘My Country’ as evidence that there is ‘nothing new about floods and droughts despite alarmists claims’. This inspired me to have a go at my own version based on some climate progress comments.

    A sunburnt county in the 21st century;

    I love a dying planet
    our mother in despair and pain
    her beauty lost in terror
    a place where no hope remains

    I love her decaying trees
    I love her acid seas
    I love our sturdy fortress
    holding out against the refugees

    I know we should have saved her
    if we had acted in earlier times
    but like junkies and their heroin
    we refused to change our lives

    The generation who could have saved us
    from the merciless blue skies
    let the flat-earthers and deniers condemn us
    to see the proof of their ignorant lies

    Now it breaks my heart to see
    how we have boiled our sons and daughters
    and cast them to their fate
    into hell and high waters.

  30. Mike Roddy says:

    I’m not sure I agree that the best tactic to defeat Watts is to quietly cite studies that refute his points. While necessary, the problem with relying on that approach is that Watts will cite contradictory data, and laymen won’t know that his numbers are false or compromised.

    The average person will, however, relate to Watts being exposed as the charlatan and liar that he is. Humor and humiliation are good weapons here. This is not “stooping to his level”. It’s another form of communication, on a visceral level.

  31. Steve Metzler says:

    When Deep Climate exposed the Wegman Report for the utter sham that it was:

    Replication and due diligence, Wegman style

    (if you haven’t already, you *really* need to read that. McIntyre debunked)

    The WUWT denialati picked up on the story and shouted it down in their usual fashion… without reading it. You cannot get these people to even read a blog or paper that has actual scientific/reality-based content. WUWT is an echo chamber from which there is no apparent escape, for those with a selfish and short-sighted ideology.

  32. realist says:

    Watts is not a scientist. Weathermen are not climate scientists. Unfortunately there are those people that only read certain blogs and visit conservative sites. They are not interested in science and wouldn’t know the scientific method if it bit them!