Anthony Watts: Interviewed on PBS channel

Posted: September 18, 2012 by tallbloke in Blog, climate, media, Philosophy, Politics, weather

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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 climates have 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.

  1. oldbrew says:

    PBS is a good channel, it’s on Sky 166 if you happen to be a subscriber.

    Today at 12:30 – ‘Mountaineers and scientists explore Antarctica’s highest peak, the Vinson Massif, and geologist Dan Stone conducts a study to determine whether Antarctica is shrinking or growing’

  2. Caz says:

    Anthony sounded like a politician.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Caz, I think it would be fair to say Anthony sounded like a tactician, but tactics isn’t purely the realm of politics. When you know you’ll be edited down to a few soundbites, but are interviewed for two hours, you have to be very smart to avoid getting drawn into saying such a wide range of things that the editors can make a monkey of you in the final cut. I think Anthony did very well on the whole.

  4. Doug Proctor says:

    It is either difficult or impossible not to sound like a politician when you are in a political argument.

    The CAGW, CO2 debate passed from a science-based debate long before the statement that the science is settled and the future, certain. The Hockey Stick has not really gone away as it was a position graph rather than a data graph in how it was presented and used. The court cases of the New Zealand Science Coalition against NIWA’s 0.9C temperature rise, ATI’s attempt to open up Mann’s e-mails were about the same thing as Watts’ attempts to get NASA/Hansen to admit that some, at least, of the fundamental warming trends are questionablly base, that observational data has been tortured to produce the levels of officially claimed warming not for scientific reasons, but for political ones. Politics is not just about Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Republicans or Democrats. It is about what people do outside of making widgets and cutting their lawns. Politics in the climate debate is the stuff of personal career, socio-ideological beliefs, government policies, anti-consumerist agendas and other pieces of the social human pie.

    It is difficult to understand outside conspiracy theories why so much of the debate is about the warmist refusal to “show us the money!”. ATI wants to see e-mails because ATI believes they show Mann manipulating his findings and his support group to backup the Hockey Stick graph for reasons of personal and financial gain. The Coalition wants the analysis style, along with the BOM review, to demonstrate that more widely accepted and scientifically prudent methods will knock the alarming rate of temperature rise from 0.9C of the last century to something like 0.34C/100 years. Watts wants an analysis of NASA/Hansen’s temperature records to more fully account for the UHIE (and other factors) because, when done, the apparent temperature record shows more of a 0.5C rise than the 0.85C rise as claimed. If all three of the above groups simply showed the data (of which e-mails are a type), the debate should be over in the warmists’ favour in light of their “settled and certain” claim. The skeptics would be hoisted on their own petards, as it is said. The refusals are what keep the skeptics talking in this scenario, so one is left to wonder why.

    Except the warmists don’t wonder why. And is that because of the liberal thought that one is innocent and proved guilty, and no one has to testify to demonstrate his innocence in our democratic world? Or is it because the debate is not about science but politics, about the political ramifications of man’s impact on the physical, human and non-human biological world?

    Of course it is. Remember the “nuclear winter” outcome of a global nuclear war? The science was dodgy at best behind the fear that enough dust would be raised into the upper atmosphere to induce a planetary ice age (after massive flooding from heat in the higher mountains melted all snow and ice). Didn’t matter: the point was to create a groundswell of the educated masses against nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear threat as a legitimate defense of state. Arguments against the Sagan-science were not material. Same here with “global warming” through CO2. Those who use the CO2 threat are not concerned about the correctness of CO2-inspired atmospheric science any more than those who used the nuclear winter outcome to bolster their case were about how much dust would go how high and stay up for how long. Anti-CO2 positions are tactical, not strategic. The object is all about reducing consumption on the planet, not CO2. Even the population-is-too-large is just about consumption, not population, as more people consume more even if the per capita amount decreases.

    All of our work on science-based objections is necessary because the politics uses it as a foundation on which to stand and preach. The rhetoric is political and cannot really be won – or lost – because the rhetoric addresses values, not objects. Values have no intrinsic element that can be weighed independently and then measured against the claims of one side or the other. Value-based rhetoric can only be discredited if its foundation – in this case, that a) temperatures have risen and are rising out of all proportion to “natural” causes, and b) that fossil-fuel CO2 is the cause – can be shown to be false.

    So Watts and others can sound like politicians when arguing with warmists. Suzuki, Gore, Hansen and Strong, Connelly, Romm, Gleick and others ARE politicians when they speak (when they aren’t our grandmothers lecturing us teenagers on living clean, God-fearing lives).

    Scientific debate is all the skeptics have, but it is like being guys with knives entering a gunfight. How can you argue with a Muller or Lewandowsky when they are not scientists but activists, that is, politicians in action? Any debate with warmists is an occassion in which two concurrent monologues are presented as a dialogue. Politics? Again, of course.

    There are only two ways that this CAGW debacle will be over. The first is that the world goes into a serious cooling phase that has no obvious cause, or that the anti-CAGW, Inhofe-Romney-Ryan power asserts itself. The science is not strong enough to stand without machinations, but not weak enough to fall without assistance. The skeptical position is not politically based and is therefore at a real disadvantage. Skeptics are more like grit in the bearings than wrenches in the works, unfortunately. And whatever they do will occur in the political arena, not in the scientific.

  5. tallbloke says:

    Spot on Doug.

    Another comment submitted to PBS:

    It looks like the new Anthony Watts et al paper will pass peer review, so I suggest everyone calms down and awaits the outcome. There are some important findings in it, and if verified by the peer reviewers, there will be important issues to discuss regarding the extent of the warming indicated by the temperature record as it is currently adjusted.

    You don’t need to be a scientist to be able to conduct statistical studies and make logical deductions from the results. What is important is the correct treatment of input data.

    I thank PBS for their continued commitment to the fair and balanced reportage of issues of importance in the public interest.