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The 2011 Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards

Posted on 6 January 2012 by Peter Gleick

[*B.S. means “Bad Science.” What did you think it meant?] 

The Earth’s climate continued to change during 2011 – a year in which unprecedented combinations of extreme weather events killed people and damaged property around the world. The scientific evidence for the accelerating human influence on climate further strengthened, as it has for decades now. Yet on the policy front, once again, national leaders did little to stem the growing emissions of greenhouse gases or to help societies prepare for increasingly severe consequences of climate changes, including rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea-levels, loss of snowpack and glaciers, disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and much more. 

Why the failure to act? In part because climate change is a truly difficult challenge. But in part because of a concerted, well-funded, and aggressive anti-science campaign by climate change deniers and contrarians. These are mostly groups focused on protecting narrow financial interests, ideologues fearful of any government regulation, or scientific contrarians who cling to outdated, long-refuted interpretations of science. While much of the opposition to addressing the issue of climate change is political, it often hides behind pseudo-scientific claims, with persistent efforts to intentionally mislead the public and policymakers with bad science about climate change. Much of this effort is based on intentional falsehoods, misrepresentations, inflated uncertainties, or pure and utter B.S. – the same tactics that delayed efforts to tackle tobacco's health risks long after the science was understood (as documented in Naomi Oreske and Erik Conway’s book, Merchants of Doubt).

Last year, we issued the first ever “Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards.” I am now pleased to present the 2nd Annual (2011) Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards. In preparing the 2011 list of nominees, suggestions were received from around the world and a panel of reviewers -- all climate scientists or climate communicators -- waded through them. We present here the top nominees and the winner of the 2011 Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards

The 2011 Winner: 

Climate B.S.* from all of the Republican candidates for President of the United States 

Is it really necessary to be anti-science in general, and anti-climate science in particular, in order to be nominated to lead the Republican Party in the United States? Apparently, yes, at least in the minds of the Republican presidential candidates or their advisors. These candidates can be split into three groups: those ignorant or uninterested in science and its role in informing policy; those who intentionally distort science because it conflicts with deeply held political or religious ideology; and those who blow with the wind, giving their allegiance to whatever ideology seems most expedient at any given moment. There is some overlap, of course: some candidates, such as Rick Perry, have been in all three groups at various times. The third group includes candidates who have at one time or another held positions more or less consistent with scientific understanding, but who in 2011 adopted anti-scientific positions during their primary campaigns.

For example, Gingrich, Romney, and Huntsman, at some point in the past all expressed at least a partial understanding about the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change. Yet all three have now retreated from the scientific evidence to faulty but ideological safe positions demanded by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In October, Romney caved in to conservative pressure and changed his stance on the issue. Just days ago, Gingrich cut a chapter on climate science from a book of environmental essays he had previously agreed to produce after pressure from anti-climate-science activists. Ironically, that chapter was to have been written by an atmospheric scientist (Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University) who happens to be a Republican and evangelical. She was also targeted by these activists for personal abuse – a tactic often pursued by climate deniers and contrarians. (For a few of the craziest things the top GOP candidates have said on climate change, see Joe Romm’s recent essay at Think Progress.) 

In short, the choice among the Republican candidates on the issue of climate change is scientific ignorance, distain for science, blatant misrepresentation of facts, or naked political expediency, any one of which would make the Republican candidates strong contenders for the 2011 Climate B.S. Award. Combined? They win hands down. 

[For comparison, while the Obama Administration has made little progress (and some would argue insufficient effort) on climate change, the President’s stated position on climate change is clear and in line with scientific evidence. And here is his unequivocal comment on scientific integrity: 

“Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world’s leader in science and technology…the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources. It’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth, and a greater understanding of the world around us…” 

Second Place: Disinformation from Fox News and Murdoch’s News Corporation 

In this year’s competition, we award Fox News second place – up from their fifth place finish last year. This year, the award is extended to the entire News Corporation empire of Rupert Murdoch because of its apparent efforts to synchronize anti-climate science reporting among the different Murdoch outlets in the UK, the U.S., and Australia. Among the bad climate science promoted by Fox News is that snowy weather disproves global warming (while ignoring or inaccurately reporting record high temperatures recorded around the world); biased and misleading reporting about the content of emails stolen from climate scientists; incorrect claims that El Niños are responsible for global warming; and inaccurate reporting about fundamental scientific principles. 

Other Murdoch empire assaults on climate science? The editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal routinely dismiss or ignore all climate change science. Glenn Beck incorrectly tells viewers that there has been no warming in the past decade – the hottest decade in over a century. Sean Hannity says "global warming doesn't exist." Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon officially directed his journalists to cast doubt on climate science. Brian Kilmeade, of Fox & Friends, joked,  "Sorry global warming people, we have too many polar bears." And of course, Bill O’Reilly has stated incorrectly, “For every scientist who says there is [climate change], there's one that says there isn't." [Thanks to MediaMatters for tracking these statements.] As a 2011 story in Rolling Stone noted, "[n]o one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch."

In an analysis of network news reporting on climate change, Feldman, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, and Leiserowitz concluded that Fox News is consistently the most dismissive about climate change and is highly biased toward choosing climate change doubters to interview. Nearly half of their guests dismiss climate change compared to 9 and 15% at CNN and MSNBC. In the scientific community, 97 to 98% of climate scientists accept human-caused climate change. This misinformation has an effect: a study from Stanford University shows that Fox viewers are far more likely to be fundamentally misinformed about climate change than others. In short, frequent exposure to Murdoch news reporting can be hazardous to your understanding and knowledge of the real world. 

Third Place: Spencer, Braswell, and Christy for their lack of climate “sensitivity” 

Third place goes to Roy Spencer and William (Danny) Braswell for a research paper on climate sensitivity, and John Christy, for an astounding piece of misleading testimony at a Congressional climate change hearing. Both the paper and the testimony received lavish attention from climate contrarians (including an especially absurd piece from the Heartland Institute, published as a Forbes blog post) and both were extensively and surgically debunked by the scientific community. The key scientific issue here is “climate sensitivity” – how much the climate will change in response to natural and human influences. Spencer and Christy have argued for many years that the sensitivity of the climate is low, and their science has been constantly, regularly, and convincingly disputed. In 2011, Spencer and Braswell published a paper in the journal Remote Sensing that turned out to contain serious scientific errors according to experts working in this field. What makes a scientific paper ‘bad’? A bad paper makes substantive errors in the analysis, misrepresents or ignores conflicting data or conflicting research, fails to address alternative explanations, or draws conclusions logically inconsistent with the results. Critics argued that this paper suffered from all of these problems (see the Dessler analysis, a video describing the flaws, the Trenberth and Fasullo assessment, and a formal response published in Remote Sensing).

In an astounding event, Wolfgang Wagner, the editor of the journal that published the Spencer and Braswell paper, resigned for having failed to spot the paper’s scientific flaws during peer review. As he stated in his resignation letter

“After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing… With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements.” 

Similar flawed scientific arguments about climate sensitivity made in the paper were repeated, along with other incorrect or misleading arguments about climate science, in testimony of John Christy at the March 8, 2011 hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, called by the Republicans to try to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. In Christy’s testimony, he repeats arguments that many in the climate science community consider to be myths and errors, including continued reliance on a scientific article that other climate scientists have argued is flawed. Here is a comprehensive summary of Christy’s errors. Finally, two new studies (here and upcoming by Po-Chedley and Fu in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology) also identify analytical errors in papers and pronouncements by Spencer and Christy – adding to a long line of errors that have required corrections to their work for more than a decade. 

Fourth Place: The Koch Brothers for funding the promotion of bad climate science 

Fourth place goes to fossil-fuel billionaires Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, Inc., who provide substantial funding to groups and politicians who deny the science of climate change. As noted in a New Yorker story, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outspent even ExxonMobil in funding a network of anti-climate science groups. A partial list of groups funded by the Koch brothers includes a veritable who’s who of groups that put out misleading science or tout bad science on climate change. Tim Phillips, president of the super-PAC funded by the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, brags outright about their political influence on Republican candidates: “If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there’s been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political. We’ve made great headway.” This may be good for their business, but it is bad for America, bad for science, and bad for our climate. 

Fifth Place: Anthony Watts for his BEST, and worst, climate hypocrisy 

Anthony Watts runs a blog popular with the anti-climate science crowd. He ran into a brick wall this year when he voiced support for an ongoing climate study (the “Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature” or “BEST” study) that he thought would prove his anti-warming beliefs to be right because it was being done by someone he thought was in his camp ("... I'm prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong."). Unfortunately for him, that study proved his premise wrong and instead reconfirmed what climate scientists have been saying for decades: the Earth’s surface is warming and at just the rate that numerous previous studies had shown. Watts then proceeded to tear down the paper, ostensibly because it hadn’t been through peer-review, despite the fact that Watts, his guest posters, and commenters routinely and consistently produce or cite non-peer-reviewed science (often later shown to be wrong) to support their claims.

Runners Up: Other Noteworthy Climate B.S. of 2011 

Some voters felt that the following entries submitted for the 2011 Climate B.S. competition deserve recognition though they win no awards from us. 

Harrison Schmitt and the Heartland Institute for “Arcticgate” 

As the Arctic ice disappears before our eyes, we must call attention to former Senator Harrison Schmitt’s refusal to correct persistent errors and “cherry picking” of data in denying the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and for the Heartland Institute’s promulgation of – and refusal to correct – those errors when they were uncovered.

Rush Limbaugh for his consistent falsehoods about climate science 

We would acknowledge Rush Limbaugh for his blatant and stunningly high level of climate B.S., but he has already been awarded the “Climate Change Misinformer of the Year” award at MediaMatters.org.

Steve McIntyre 

And finally, the “dishonorable” mention of the year goes to Steve McIntyre for his despicable smear of climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University (and to Anthony Watts for amplifying that smear) by drawing a parallel between the Penn State pedophilia investigation and their separate scientific investigation of questions about climate research (in which Professor Mann has been completely and repeatedly exonerated). Joe Romm discusses this disgusting case here.

The 2011 Climate B.S. of the Year Award was prepared by Peter Gleick with an independent group of climate scientists and communicators serving as nominators, reviewer, and voters. Thanks to all who participated this year. See you next year. 

Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. This post was cross-posted from Huffington Post.

Update: Ben Webster of the Times of London felt that his inclusion in the original list of bad science purveyors from Fox News and News Corporation was inappropriate. After discussion and further review of Mr. Webster’s body of work, we agree and have modified the post to remove him. 

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Comments

Comments 1 to 41:

  1. As far as the OP goes, Rush maybe deserved a climate B[ad]S[cience] award (although it would be a close thing between him, Watts, and Spencer/Christy/Braswell) on account of the size of his listenership.
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  2. I think I'd have put Lord Lawson's 'Global Warming Policy Foundation' -- a charity -- further up the list.

    I haven't included a link because I don't want to give them the oxygen of publicity. Instead I'll link to one of the many articles rebutting their activities.
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  3. I was really hoping someone would ask the Republican Presidential candidates during the Iowa caucus the following question: "If there's no such thing as global warming, why does Iowa now generate 20% of its electricity from wind power? Have these largely Republican corn-growers just naively swallowed the AGW propaganda?"
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  4. Excellent choices for the awards! I wish we had a public ceremony to give these to their recipients.
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  5. Ubrew. No subsidies and money are always welcome...
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  6. Memo received!
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  7. The folks you've awarded First and Second places to are really one and the same. I'd have put J Curry up for an award for such BS* gems as 'Wow,' the 'uncertainty monster' and 'there is no scientific basis for saying the trend hasn't paused.'
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  8. Ubrew12, as DrTsk implies, the acceptance of wind power in Iowa is largely driven by economic rather than environmental concerns. Indeed, if promoted as a way to oppose global warming, many Iowans might have opposed it. However, the area is part of a major wind corridor (which also contributes to the prevalence of tornadoes) and thus wind power is more economically viable here than in most other parts of the world.

    Ironically, I am in Iowa at the moment and 60+ degree (fahrenheit) temperatures in Adair county are setting a new record high for the day... yet, while this has been endlessly discussed, absolutely no one I have talked to thinks it has anything to do with global warming.

    All that said, I think the fact that even my 'Republican corn-grower' relatives are backing things which do work to reduce global warming is a hugely positive sign. If wind and solar power become inexpensive enough we may be able to beat global warming despite the misinformation campaign. Indeed, once they lose on the economic front most of the deniers will likely move on and it is likely that scientific reality will then be allowed to filter through to most people. Just as all but the lunatic fringe of the 'tobacco smoking does not cause cancer', 'acid rain is fake', and 'fixing the non-existent ozone hole would bankrupt the world economy' deniers have given up the ghost, so too will most of the AGW deniers once the underlying economic battle has been won one way or the other. The wind mills I can see all over the countryside here demonstrate that economic battle can be won independently of the fight against misinformation.
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  9. DrTsk@#5 and CBDunkerson@#8: I hope this isn't too far afield of this thread, but why are windmills white (unless as a gift to the fossil-fuels industry)? Why not earth-tones/dark blues and purples (with prominant flashing lights on top that can't be seen from the ground)? Why do people hire landscape architects for homes and buildings and not alt energy projects? Just wondering...
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  10. ubrew12, presumably windmills are usually white so that they can be seen easily. You seem to be suggesting that this is a bad thing, but I don't believe that is the case. While some complain that windmills are 'eye sores', most seem to like the way they look. In any case, being visible is important for aircraft and birds to be able to avoid them. A light on top wouldn't necessarily be sufficient, and would require that those lights be monitored for failure and maintained.
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  11. From Slate.com : Why Are Windmills Always White?

    "The white paint, which many localities require by ordinance, is also a matter of aesthetics. City planners seem to think white windmills are less of an eyesore. The white also reflects sunlight, which minimizes expansion and cracking of the gel coat that protects the fiberglass composite rotors. Not all windmills are white, though. Some Midwestern turbines are yellow to match the grain. (This doesn't work so well in the spring, when the crops are green.) German windmills are sometimes painted dark green at the bottom to blend into the forest. European rotors usually have a red stripe to make them visible to aircraft. Engineers once tried painting the rotors black to absorb sunlight and prevent icing, but it didn't seem to help much."
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  12. If you are interested in learning more about the scientific views of the current crop of Republican Presidential candidates, you will want to check out:

    “Gingrich Tops Scientific American's Geek Guide to the 2012 GOP Candidates”, Scientific American, Jan 3, 2012

    To access this timely and informative article, click“here.
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  13. Another blog about the Republican Presidential candidates worth checking out:

    “Still Searching for Republicans with Climate Concerns” by Andrew Revkin, DOT Earth, New York Times, Jan 5, 2012

    To access this timely and informative article, click“here.

    Note: Revkin cites Gleick’s Climate BS awards in his post.
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  14. I think the media should be first. While Fox leads the way, every single article which presents the "other side" as if it were intellectually equivalent, as if this is a matter of opinion, rather than science, feeds this whole monster. Every single article in the main stream press seeks to achieve "balance" - but whereas the balance should be "is it better to institute a carbon tax, or a trading scheme?" - we get "global warming is not without controversy, climate researcher Steve McIntyre says peanuts will bloom in the new deserts (or whatever"

    This is one of the root causes of the idiocy we are seeing in policy, in public opinion, in the actions of society as a whole.
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    Moderator Response: [Rob P] All caps edited. No more please. Use bold tags.
  15. The B.S.* Awards make a light relief from the serious business of studying and publicising AGW.

    As a non-scientist, I spend some of my time at Australian fora like ABC's The Drum and News Corp's The Punch, correcting AGW myths by posting rebuttals with links to SkS debunking articles. It is boring work and never-ending, but it is all a foot soldier like myself can do and it does give me the dubious pleasure of attracting hilarious incoming fire from the worst bigots.

    Good to see that Michele (CO2 is plant food) Bachmann has dropped out of the Republican race for the White House, although not for AGW-related reasons. Can we hope that more evangelical arm-waving anti-science candidates founder quickly? Any reason at all will do: I don't mind if the worst of the worst fail because of mundane incompetence.
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  16. More BS, this time from Newt Gingrich and his man-behind-the-curtain:

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has canceled the climate change chapter in his upcoming book of environmental essays after Rush Limbaugh and other commentators targeted its author, atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

    Dr. Hayhoe is a Texas Tech University atmospheric scientist with impeccable science credentials and a Christian faith-based outlook on climate change issues. Apparently even she was too much of a radical.

    And then came the harassment:

    Following the December 8 L.A. Times article identifying Hayhoe as a contributor to Gingrich’s book, Marc Morano, former spokesman for Senator Inhofe, spent the past month attacking her on his blog, Climate Depot. Morano also encouraged his readers to contact Hayhoe directly by repeatedly posting her email address.

    Chris Horner’s American Tradition Institute also filed a request with Hayhoe’s employer, Texas Tech University, requesting any emails she sent or received about the book.
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  17. Doug H wrote: "Can we hope that more evangelical arm-waving anti-science candidates founder quickly?"

    The press will continue pretending otherwise for a couple more months, but Mitt Romney has essentially wrapped up the GOP nomination at this point. While Santorum got nearly as many votes in the Iowa caucuses that was largely due to a 'last evangelical extremist standing' effect... all the other fervently anti-science candidates had already enjoyed their moment in the spotlight, and had some of their many many flaws exposed thereby. Santorum is getting his turn now, and frankly he's the worst of the lot. He'll be abandoned within a week or two. Perry is already looking for a graceful way to bow out and the other briefly popular candidates likely aren't far behind.

    As for Romney, he has sung the GOP denial line while chasing the nomination, but in the past he made reasonably sane statements about AGW. He might be a halfway decent president if the congress were controlled by the Democrats. The real danger zone is congress. If the GOP continues to accumulate power there, the U.S. won't do anything worthwhile about global warming (or various other important issues) for many years to come regardless of who wins the presidency.

    So yeah, the worst of the GOP anti-science brigade are going down... though largely due to other issues. Unsurprisingly, they're irrational and alarming on many other topics as well.
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  18. CBDunkerson@#10 "being visible [i.e. white] is important for aircraft and birds to be able to avoid them" The evidence is that purple is the best color:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1320763/Why-painting-wind-turbines-purple-protect-birds-bats.html

    and DrTsk@#11: "German windmills are sometimes painted dark green at the bottom to blend into the forest" I don't want aircraft to be endangered, but I think white windmills are as much an eyesore as white houses, and wonder if that particular part of their anatomy should be rethought.

    Thanks for your responses. I don't want to hog this thread with a triviality, however.
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  19. Anthony Watt is busy hustling up votes to get the 'Best Science Blog' victory ... again. It's stunning to think that he could only place 5th in the BS Award, given his target-focus, persistence, and buzz that would make a cottage mosquito green with envy.
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  20. There is no cherry picking involved in the "Significant Events in Climate for Nov and Autumn 2011" report. Further, picking just one seasons data from just one country, a common tactic of those in denial, is clearly cherry picking. The appropriate data set is global temperatures, and the effect of global trends can clearly be seen in the recent paper by Hansen et al, 2011:



    However, those points have been adequately covered above. What I really want to point out is that the chosen data set of those in denial also shows warming. This can clearly be seen by looking at the area between the smoothed line (black dashes) and the 1971-2000 average. Clearly the area above the 1971-2000 average is much greater in more recent years than they where in the early 20th century, indicating an overall positive trend.

    Indeed, I digitized the data to confirm that. Overall the data shows a positive trend of 0.03 degrees C per decade; and a positive trend of 0.33 degrees C per decade since 1970. It is well known that it is only since 1970 that a clear global warming signal has emerged due to the restricted growth of anthropogenic aerosols since then.

    Mean Temperature:


    [Source]

    So, even a data set especially cherry picked to show no warming in fact clearly shows the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Nothing could more aptly demonstrate the intellectual poverty of climate change denialism.
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  21. With regards to the #1 climate B[ad]S[cience] award winner (the Republican presidential hopefuls), I really don't see much chance of either their presidential hopefuls or their congressional representatives altering their positions on climate science unless and until there are similar shifts in:

    (1) The hard-core "Tea Party" GOP electoral base (I have read elsewhere surveys suggesting that large proportions, perhaps even majorities, of GOP voters have saner views on climate change and the necessity of increasing renewable/carbon-free energy sources - however they do not appear to be vocal enough, or as committed to electoral victory to attenuate the extremist factions)
    (2) The agencies which are the primary donors to GOP electoral campaigns

    And I don't see either of those happening soon.
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  22. Of note to those who worry about the impact trolls have on a thread - after removing the troll comments, and the responses to troll comments, this thread went from 50 to 20 comments. And some of the 20 were inspired by the troll (not in response, but in the spirit of lets return this thread to the original subject (which I am obviously not doing here).

    And, having wandered into the forbidden land of questioning the moderators - yesterday I posted the phrase "those who claim more warming than is supported by the science..." The words "more warming" were snipped with no reason given. This has me scratching my head.

    Thanks for what you do.
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    Moderator Response: [Rob P] - You were previously asked not to use all caps. Check out the HTML tips on the comments policy page for how to use bold tags. The use of all capitals (ie. shouting) is something we wish to discourage.
  23. Apologies. Had I known that before cleaning up the thread I could have learned an answer for you.
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  24. So why are the deniers doing it? I suspect that an explanation - additional to those usually cited (money?) - lies in the immensity of the revolution that is involved in doing anything significant about AGW. Get rid of the carbon economy? What, long before the immense investments of the worlds richest corporations have paid off? Thats big enough. But it involves some aspects of 'World Government' And its in the context of a growing realisation that we inevitably face an end to 'Growth', and with that, the collapse of capitalism.

    Beyond the consequences of drought and storm and shortage, which, despite denial they can see as well as we, lies the challenge to the established hierarchies of government, religion and social order. The basis of denial lies in its terror and confusion at this prospect. Of the final triumph of the enlightenment, perhaps?
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  25. Mond from Oz,

    You do realize that the largest company in the oil industry isn't privately owned. It's Saudi Aramco. The estimated worth at $781bn is over half again as large as Exxon Mobil at $454bn. In fact, nine of the top ten largest unlisted corporations are state owned oil companies which control the vast majority of proven reserves.
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  26. Well done for giving Murdoch second place. Believe it or not, many "skeptics" are not happy with the media, thinking that they follow the party line too much, and don't give enough space to their loony views.
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  27. Above says Anthony Watts "thought [BEST] would prove his anti-warming beliefs to be right because it was being done by someone he thought was in his camp".

    The following quote comes from the same piece where the attached quote ("I'm prepared to accept...") is sourced:

    "But here’s the thing: I have no certainty nor expectations in the results. Like them, I have no idea whether it will show more warming, about the same, no change, or cooling in the land surface temperature record they are analyzing."

    Those are the words from the horses mouth, so to speak. How does one then conclude that Anthony thought BEST would prove his anti-warming beliefs?
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  28. RyanStarr wrote: "How does one then conclude that Anthony thought BEST would prove his anti-warming beliefs?"

    You remember the part where he also said that he would accept whatever result they came up with, right? And then... didn't?

    See, some of us take things like that to indicate that not everything Anthony Watts says is true. I know... it's a head spinner, but just roll with it for a minute. If we look at this silly thing called 'observed reality' instead of just accepting everything he says we find that he frequently says things which conflict with reality... and even with other things he has said. Observed reality, on the other hand, tends to be fairly consistent with itself.

    So, citing Anthony Watts as saying something doesn't really make quite as a compelling case for it being true as you seem to think... especially as it was part of a statement where he first said he would do one thing... and then later did the opposite.
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  29. He made a bet, lost the bet, then claimed he was cheated and welched on it. It appears to me that he thought the bet to be a sure thing.
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  30. "How does one then conclude that Anthony thought BEST would prove his anti-warming beliefs?"

    Quite easily. One only has to look at his words and actions after the BEST results were published. They say everything one needs to know on what his expectations, or hopes, truly were before publication.
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  31. The claim that Mr Watts "thought [BEST] would prove his anti-warming beliefs" is pure speculation. Anthony provides grounds for his concerns and acknowledges his stance is at odds with his previous statement,

    "I would accept their findings whatever they were, but that was when I expected them to do science per the scientific process."

    "When BEST approached me, I was told they were doing science by the regular process, and that would include peer review. Now it appears they have circumvented the scientific process in favor of PR."

    And more specifically in relation to BESTs 60 year time period,

    "I see this as a basic failure in understanding the limitations of the siting survey we conducted on the USHCN, rendering the Muller et al paper conclusions highly uncertain, if not erroneous."

    He adds he would accept the result (one result?) if they used a 30 year period.
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  32. RyanStarr#31: A bogus criticism at best.

    What peer-reviewed evidence do you and/or Watt$ present for BEST not 'doing science by the regular process' (whatever that even means)? And under what bizarre set of rules is the use of a 60 year period 'a basic failure'? That would seem to be the case only among those who raise cherry-picking to a fine art.

    No, what neither Watt$ nor you (apparently) accept is that BEST has made his petty objections of station siting and urban heating moot. Even a reputable science blog would have accepted that he was wrong and moved on.

    But when you don't get the answer you want, criticize the methodology and/or the people who did the study. What makes this award-winning behavior is that it is pure unvarnished hypocrisy.
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  33. RyanStarr @31:

    1) Anthony Watts problem with release before peer review consists entirely in the fact that he did not like the results. We know this because he has very happily trumpeted results from other papers which have been released without peer review without complaint, so long as they give a message he likes. Indeed, he regularly posts "scientific" articles on his blog which have not, and will not even be submitted for peer review on his blog. If he truly believed in the value of peer review, where those articles disagreed with peer reviewed science (as they nearly always do), he would insist that they be submitted for, and pass peer review before he published.

    2) His objection to the 60 year time period is also almost certainly spurious. BEST have released all their data, and Anthony certainly has all the surface station data, as he collated it. It follows that he could easily either repeat the BEST analysis over 30 yrs himself, or persuade somebody with sufficient mathematical skill (such as Jeff ID) to do so, thereby establishing the basis of his objection. That he has not done so is a tacit admission that the 60 year time period does not significantly effect the results. It follows that he has merely seized on that as an excuse to ignore results he does not like.
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  34. What you have to realize is that Watts is he can't accept the BEST findings. Regardless of what he said he'd accept he really can't accept the BEST findings because his entire "business" is based on not accepting them. Think about it. What would happen to his website and his following if he up and said, "Dang, it seems I really have been wrong all along." He doesn't have a business. He's hitting the streets looking for new employment.

    I think he made that statement because he was arrogant and deluded enough to believe that the results would turn out his way.
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  35. Does anyone know if the BEST paper is going to be peer reviewed? I've seen lots of comments saying it isn't peer reviewed but it's not clear if that's a temporary status.
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  36. Sapient Fridge @35, all four BEST papers were submitted to a peer review with the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmosphere" in October, 2011. That means they are currently undergoing review, but have not yet been published in their final reviewed form. That can take a year or more, but I suspect it will be much quicker in this case. Somebody who has published with JGR-A may be able to give you a better idea of the likely time from submission to publication.
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  37. What harm would there be in asking the BEST authors to reanalyze the data over a 30 year cycle.
    If the warming trend is clear, as we expect, then shutting WUWT up is well worth the trouble.

    Giving Watts a way to weasel out of keeping his word only emboldens the contrarians.
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  38. DMarshall - if that happened the goalposts would simply be shifted. Remember Watts said he would accept the results of BEST and now he doesn't. The fake-skeptics are too psychologically invested in denial to accept the 'inconvenient truth.'
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  39. DMarshall, in addition to Rob's point, why should professional scientists waste time debunking the latest misinformation in the long line from Watts, especially when the data is available for anyone to carry out the experiment? After Menne et al, Fall et al (which Watts was a co-author), and now BEST, Watts' surface stations ideas are utterly dead in the water, scientifically. Watts just fails to accept that.
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  40. There are so many candidates, so I understand that they could not all be included. however, the ongoing plagiarism Wegman scandal should have been in there IMHO.

    From Deltoid.
    "The Wegman scandal has made The Scientist's list of the top 5 science scandals of 2011:

    A controversial climate change paper was retracted when it was found to contain passages lifted from other sources, including Wikipedia. The paper, published by climate change skeptic Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Computational Statistics and Data Analysis in 2008, showed that climatology is an inbred field where most researchers collaborate with and review each other’s work. But a resourceful blogger uncovered evidence of plagiarism, and the journal retracted the paper, which was cited 8 times, in May."


    For those of you unfamiliar of Wegman, he is apparently a serial plagiarist and author of the infamous (and plagiarized) Wegman report (see also here) that that deniers of AGW and 'skeptics' like to claim demonstrate that the hockey stick is "broken". George Mason University has been investigating other charges of plagiarism made against Wegman for over 20 months now with still no resolution in sight. You can imagine the howls of indignation had it taken officials that long to wrap up investigations in the the stolen CRU emails.

    And who is Wegman also very close to? The contrarian, professional slanderer of climate scientists and cherry picker Steve McIntyre.
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  41. Thank you so much John Cook and others who have worked on this. I really appreciate the fact that you have waded through all the B.S. and put together these awards and the entire site. As an Environmental Science student I am trying to find facts to battle the ignorant masses with and this website is just what I need!
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