Autumn equinox takes place at around 2.12pm today. This marking point in the solar year occurs when day and night length are equal. Northerners start thinking about laying in winter fuel and pulling heavy jackets off wardrobe tops – if they didn’t already this cold summer. Southerners start spring cleaning and buying beach towels. But today we should pause to think about a different kind of balance apart from day and night length being equal. We’ve seen a storm in the media and blogosphere this last week over Anthony Watts interview on PBS, the american public service broadcaster. It’s not that he said anything particularly controversial:
I agree with him [Muller] that global warming exists. However, the ability to attribute the percentage of global warming to CO2 versus other man-made influences is still an open question.
No, the problem for the AGW zealots was that he was allowed to say anything at all. That upset those who believe in man-made catastrophic climate change who don’t want joe public to hear any contrary views. Outrage was mobilised in the alarmosphere and petitions dropped on the toes of PBS ‘ombudsman’ Michael Getner, along with a lot of spittle flecked email, most of it from familiar names.
“Watts is funded by Big Oil” (He isn’t, but the smear is standard CAGW believer boilerplate rhetoric)
“Watts isn’t a scientist” (As if you need to be a scientist to perform simple stats and analysis)
“Watts the climate denier promotes false uncertainty” (Do these people realise just how uncertain climate change attribution really is?)
“PBS should be ashamed for giving Watts a platform for his lies” (But keep pumping out untruths we approve of)
And so on ad nauseum. Running anything with political overtones in the States near election time gets the screen shouters and window lickers out in force. Journalistic balance requires more than bending to the mob’s wishes.
I commented on PBS’s site:
Anthony Watts has legitimate concerns about the surface network and the adjustments which have been applied to the data, particularly in Africa and South America, where population change is not well measured and station history patchy.
Scientific evidence shows climate has always changed, sometimes much faster and by more than it is changing now. A 1 degree Kelvin change in 100 years is around 0.3% of Earth’s surface temperature. A change in cloud cover of less than 1% could cause that 1 Kelvin change, and cloud data is poor and difficult to collect. As a result there is no strong evidence that the late C20th warming was mostly human caused, if there was, there would be no ongoing need for further research or debate.
Considering the amount of taxpayer funds at stake, the energy question, and economic issues, an open public debate is essential, and all viewpoints should be heard and rationally considered.
Anthony Watts allows people from all sides to discuss the issues with lighter control than most, more partisan websites. He is doing a good job supporting freedom of speech and openness of debate. PBS is following his lead. Well done PBS.
But this comment, although it appeared, is now lost in the barrage. And Michael Getner, the PBS ombudsman, is backpedalling the role PBS played in allowing Watts to speak to their viewers. But as they say, when you are taking flak, it means you’re over the target. Anthony Watts, through ordinary careful data collation and analysis, threatens the standing of NOAA’s assertions about the integrity and accuracy of U.S. temperature records, and that has the alarmosphere in apoplexy.
Of equal importance is the opening of debate, something Anthony Watts has been leading the way on for years. As I said on his own site
Re-reading the measured, steady, honest and respectful tone with which Anthony conducted himself in his PBS interview, and comparing it with the hate filled invective of the baying mob who are attacking him, it’s easy to see who will be coming out of this with his head held high.
Stand fast Anthony, we’re right with you.