Watts Up With That?

Last updated

Watts Up With That?
Watts Up logo.jpg
Type of site
Blog
Created by Anthony Watts
Website wattsupwiththat.com
Alexa rank27,425 (on 2015-09-05)
LaunchedNovember 17, 2006

Watts Up With That? (WUWT) is a blog [1] promoting climate change denial [7] that was created by Anthony Watts in 2006. [2] [3]

A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject or topic. In the 2010s, "multi-author blogs" (MABs) emerged, featuring the writing of multiple authors and sometimes professionally edited. MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanks, advocacy groups, and similar institutions account for an increasing quantity of blog traffic. The rise of Twitter and other "microblogging" systems helps integrate MABs and single-author blogs into the news media. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Climate change denial Denial, dismissal, or unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on the rate and extent of global warming

Climate change denial, or global warming denial is denial, dismissal, or unwarranted doubt that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, including the extent to which it is caused by humans, its impacts on nature and human society, or the potential of adaptation to global warming by human actions. Many who deny, dismiss, or hold unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming self-label as "climate change skeptics", which several scientists have noted is an inaccurate description. Climate change denial can also be implicit, when individuals or social groups accept the science but fail to come to terms with it or to translate their acceptance into action. Several social science studies have analyzed these positions as forms of denialism, pseudoscience, or propaganda.

Anthony Watts (blogger) American television meteorologist

Willard Anthony Watts is an American blogger who runs Watts Up With That?, a popular climate change denial blog that opposes the scientific consensus on climate change. A former television meteorologist and current radio meteorologist, he is also founder of the Surface Stations project, a volunteer initiative to document the condition of U.S. weather stations. The Heartland Institute helped fund some of Watts' projects, including publishing a report on the Surface Stations project, and has invited him to be a paid speaker at its International Conference on Climate Change from 2008 to 2014.

Contents

The blog predominantly discusses climate issues with a focus on anthropogenic climate change, generally accommodating beliefs that are in opposition to the scientific consensus on climate change. Contributors include Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer as guest authors. [8] In November 2009, the blog was one of the first websites to publish emails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit controversy, and a driving force behind its coverage. [8]

Scientific consensus on climate change Evaluation of climate change by the scientific community

Scientific consensus on climate change is the consensus of climate scientists regarding the degree to which global warming is occurring, its likely causes, and its probable consequences. Currently, there is a strong scientific consensus that the Earth is warming and that this warming is mainly caused by human activities. This consensus is supported by various studies of scientists' opinions and by position statements of scientific organizations, many of which explicitly agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis reports.

Fred Singer American skeptic

Siegfried Fred Singer is an Austrian-born American physicist and emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia. Singer trained as an atmospheric physicist and is known for his work in space research, atmospheric pollution, rocket and satellite technology, his questioning of the link between UV-B and melanoma rates, and that between chlorofluoro compounds and stratospheric ozone loss, his public downplaying of the health risks of passive smoking, and as an advocate for climate change denial. He is the author or editor of several books including Global Effects of Environmental Pollution (1970), The Ocean in Human Affairs (1989), Global Climate Change (1989), The Greenhouse Debate Continued (1992), and Hot Talk, Cold Science (1997). He has also co-authored Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years (2007) with Dennis Avery, and Climate Change Reconsidered (2009) with Craig Idso.

The Climatic Research Unit email controversy began in November 2009 with the hacking of a server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) by an external attacker, copying thousands of emails and computer files, the Climatic Research Unit documents, to various internet locations several weeks before the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.

In the early months of 2010, it was reported the site might be "the most read climate blog in the world," [9] and in 2013 Michael E. Mann referred to it as the leading climate change denial blog. [3]

Michael E. Mann American physicist and climatologist

Michael Evan Mann is an American climatologist and geophysicist, currently director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, who has contributed to the scientific understanding of historic climate change based on the temperature record of the past thousand years. He has pioneered techniques to find patterns in past climate change, and to isolate climate signals from noisy data.

Content

Watts Up With That features material disputing the scientific consensus on climate change, including claims the human role in global warming is insignificant and carbon dioxide is not a driving force of warming. [10] It hosts several contributors, such as Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer, in addition to Watts. [11] It is among the most prominent climate change denial blogs, [5] [12] [13] [14] and is described by climatologist Michael E. Mann as the most popular, having surpassed Climate Audit. [15] Columbia Journalism School writer Curtis Brainard has written that "scientists have repeatedly criticized [Watts] for misleading readers on subjects such as the reliability of the U.S. surface temperature record." [1]

Global warming Current rise in Earths average temperature and its effects

Global warming is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. It is the most prominent component of current climate change, and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming. The term commonly refers to the mainly human-caused increase in global surface temperatures and its projected continuation. In this context, the terms global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes in precipitation and impacts that differ by region. There were prehistoric periods of global warming, but observed changes since the mid-20th century have been much greater than those seen in previous records covering decades to thousands of years.

Carbon dioxide chemical compound

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations. However, at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Climate Audit is a blog which was founded on 31 January 2005 by Steve McIntyre.

Temperature records

In 2007 WUWT readers alerted Stephen McIntyre to a discrepancy in temperature records published by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) based on data from United States Historical Climate Network. [16] In August 2007, McIntyre notified GISS about the problematic numbers, which GISS acknowledged and promptly corrected. The change did not affect global temperature trends, but did have the marginal effect of changing the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States to 1934, rather than 1998 as had previously been shown. [17] In a formal acknowledgement, GISS stated that the minor data processing error had only affected the years after 2000, and noted that the contiguous United States represents only 1.6% of the Earth's surface. The result was a statistical tie between the years 1934, 1998 and 2005 as the warmest years to date for these U.S. states, with 1934 warmest by only around 0.01 °C which was well within the margin of uncertainty. [18]

Goddard Institute for Space Studies laboratory in the Earth Sciences Division of NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center and a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is a laboratory in the Earth Sciences Division of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute. The institute is located at Columbia University in New York City.

Contiguous United States 48 states of the United States apart from Alaska and Hawaii

The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states on the continent of North America. The terms exclude the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all other off-shore insular areas, such as American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. These differ from the related term continental United States which includes Alaska but excludes the Hawaiian Islands and unincorporated U.S. territories in the Caribbean.

Involvement in the Climatic Research Unit email controversy

In 2009, Watts Up With That was involved in popularizing the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, [11] [19] wherein emails of several climatologists were published by a hacker. The story was initially broken on WUWT and two other blogs when the hacker posted a link to a Russian server containing emails and documents from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, and subsequently reproduced on the WUWT blog. Because of WUWT's high traffic count, this was the catalyst which broke the story to the media. [20] The term "Climategate" was originally coined by a commenter in a post on WUWT. [21] [22]

University of East Anglia Public research university in Norwich, England

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is a public research university in Norwich, England. Established in 1963 on a 320 acres campus west of the city centre, the university has four faculties and 26 schools of study. The annual income of the institution for 2016–17 was £273.7 million of which £35.6 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £262.6 million.

Watts argued that the emails showed the scientists were manipulating data, and while a series of independent investigations cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing, [23] public accusations resulting from the event continued for years. [19] The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged throughout the investigations, [24] [25] however, the reports may have decreased public confidence in climate scientists and the IPCC, and conclusively altered the Copenhagen negotiations that year. [26] [27]

In a 2010 interview with the Financial Times , Watts said that his blog had become "busier than ever" after the incident and that traffic to the site had tripled. [28]

Reception

According to Alexa internet statistical analysis, What's Up With That? is ranked No. 14,882 in the U.S. and No. 40,090 world-wide. [29] It is reported to receive between half a million and 2 million visits per month between 2010 and 2014. [9] [30] [31] It was described by climatologist Michael E. Mann in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars as "the leading climate change denial blog," [3] [4] [5] [6] having surpassed Climate Audit in popularity.

Watts's blog has been criticized for inaccuracy. The Guardian columnist George Monbiot described WUWT as "highly partisan and untrustworthy". [32] Leo Hickman, at The Guardian's Environment Blog, also criticized Watts's blog, stating that Watts "risks polluting his legitimate scepticism about the scientific processes and methodologies underpinning climate science with his accompanying politicised commentary." [33]

Between 2008 and 2013, WUWT asked its readers to vote in several internet voting-based awards, and it won "best science blog" and "best blog" from the Bloggies [34] and the conservative Wizbang Weblog Awards. In 2013, Leo Hickman wrote in The Guardian Environment Blog that 13 of the 17 blogs nominated for the Science or Technology category for the Bloggies "were either run by climate sceptics, or popular with climate sceptics". The Bloggies founder acknowledged in 2013 that "climate sceptic" bloggers had influenced voting. He said "Unfortunately, I have no good solution for it, since they follow proper voting procedures and legitimate science blogs don't want to make an effort to compete." [35] He discontinued the science category in 2014. [36] WUWT did not win "Best Topical Weblog of the Year" 2014 as Watts claimed, but did enter the Hall of Fame that year. [36]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Brainard 2015 , p. 172: "At the other end of the spectrum are influential sites for "climate skeptics", such as Watts Up With That?, a blog run by meteorologist Anthony Watts, whom scientists have repeatedly criticized for misleading readers on subjects such as the reliability of the U.S. surface temperature record."
  2. 1 2 John Grant (2011). Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality. Prometheus Books. ISBN   978-1616144005 . Retrieved 26 May 2015. * The blog Watts Up With That? is a notorious hotbed of irrational AGW denialism * the massively trafficked denialist site Watts Up With That * Watts is best known for his very heavily trafficked blog Watts Up With That?, began in 2006, which provides not just a megaphone for himself but a rallying ground for other AGW deniers.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Mann, Michael (1 October 2013). The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. Columbia University Press. pp. 27, 72, 222. ISBN   9780231152556. Since then, a number of other amateur climate change denial bloggers have arrived on the scene. Most prominent among them is Anthony Watts, a meteorologist...and founder of the site "Watts Up with That?" which has overtaken climate audit as the leading climate change denial blog.
  4. 1 2 Manne, Robert (August 2012). "A dark victory: How vested interests defeated climate science". The Monthly: 22–29. More importantly, it was becoming clear that the most effective denialist media weapon was not the newspapers or television but the internet. A number of influential websites, like Watts Up With That?, Climate Skeptic and Climate Depot, were established.
  5. 1 2 3 Dunlap, Riley E.; McCright, Aaron M. (2011). "Organised Climate Change Denial". In Dryzek, John S.; Norgaard, Richard B.; Schlosberg, David (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press. p. 153. ISBN   978-0199566600. In recent years these conservative media outlets have been supplemented (and to some degree supplanted) by the conservative blogosphere, and numerous blogs now constitute a vital element of the denial machine...the most popular North American blogs are run by a retired TV meteorologist (wattsupwiththat.com)...Having this powerful, pervasive, and multifaceted media apparatus at its service provides the denial machine with a highly effective means of spreading its message.
  6. 1 2 Farmer, G. Thomas; Cook, John (2013). Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis: Volume 1-The Physical Climate. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   9789400757578. One of the highest trafficked climate blogs is wattsupwiththat.com, a website that publishes climate misinformation on a daily basis.
  7. See: [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
  8. 1 2 "Meet The Climate Denial Machine". 12 November 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  9. 1 2 Pearce, Fred (2010). The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming. Guardian Books. p. 165. ISBN   978-0-85265-229-9.
  10. SchneiderNocke 2014 , p. 171: "Despite the well-known facts under discussion, the original graph, based on a single outdated study published in 1991, continues to reappear again and again in climate skeptical media, trying to prove that the sun, not anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, is causing global warming. The original curve appears, for example, on Anthony Watts' climate skeptical blog "Watts Up With That?" in an article posted in 2011."
  11. 1 2 Grant 2011 , p. 302: "Watts is best known for his very heavily trafficked blog Watts Up With That?, began in 2006, which provides not just a megaphone for himself but a rallying ground for other AGW deniers, notably Christopher Monckton. The blog played an important role in the Climategate fiasco, through its dissemination of the hacked CRU emails."
  12. Farmer 2013 , p. 462: "One of the highest trafficked climate blogs is wattsupwiththat.com, a website that publishes climate misinformation on a daily basis."
  13. Manne 2012: "More importantly, it was becoming clear that the most effective denialist media weapon was not the newspapers or television but the internet. A number of influential websites, like Watts Up With That?, Climate Skeptic and Climate Depot, were established."
  14. KirilenkoStepchenkova 2014 , p. 9: "The most authoritative climate change skepticism web sites included Watts Up With That? and Climate Depot"
  15. Mann 2013 , p. 72: "Since then, a number of other amateur climate change denial bloggers have arrived on the scene. Most prominent among them is Anthony Watts, a meteorologist...and founder of the site "Watts Up with That?" which has overtaken climate audit as the leading climate change denial blog."
  16. Christopher Booker (16 December 2009). The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with 'climate Change' Turning Out to be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History?. A&C Black. pp. 198–199. ISBN   978-1-4411-1052-7.
  17. Gramling, Carolyn (August 16, 2007). "Error in NASA climate data sparks debate". Geotimes . American Geological Institute . Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  18. "Global temperature trends: 2007 summation". Goddard Institute for Space Studies . NASA . Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  19. 1 2 Hansen 2015 , p. 172: "In 2009, an unknown party acquired a large cache of private emails between climate scientists...and published them online. Cherry-picking quotes in order to make the scientists appear as though they were discussing data manipulation, bloggers such as Watts whipped up a pseudo-scandal that reverberated for years despite the fact that a series of nine investigations in the U.S. and the U.K. cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing.
  20. Fred Pearce, "Search for hacker may lead police back to East Anglia's climate research unit", The Guardian , 9 February 2010.
  21. "Climategate: how the 'greatest scientific scandal of our generation' got its name". The Daily Telegraph . London. November 29, 2009. The person who really coined it was a commenter called "Bulldust" on the Watts Up With That site.
  22. David Norton (2010). "Constructing "Climategate" and Tracking Chatter in an Age of Web n.0" (PDF). Two days passed before links to the stolen data were suddenly posted to two other conservative blogs: The Air Vent and Watts Up With That. Within hours of the breaking news, commenters on Watts Up With That coined the phrase “climategate” and even began to call for its strategic deployment as a framing device. Soon thereafter, a prominent conservative blogger in the United Kingdom ran a headline referring to the incident as “climategate,” and Twitter users began to follow suit
  23. The eight major investigations covered by secondary sources include: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (UK); Independent Climate Change Review (UK); International Science Assessment Panel (UK); Pennsylvania State University first panel and second panel (US); United States Environmental Protection Agency (US); Department of Commerce (US); National Science Foundation (US)
  24. Biello, David (2010). "Negating Climategate". Scientific American. 302 (2): 16. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0210-16a. ISSN   0036-8733. In fact, nothing in the stolen material undermines the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that humans are to blame
  25. Lubchenco, Jane (2 December 2009) House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (House Select Committee). "The Administration's View on the State of Climate Science". House Hearing, 111 Congress. U.S. Government Printing Office. "...the e-mails really do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus and the independent scientific analyses of thousands of scientists around the world that tell us that the Earth is warming and that the warming is largely a result of human activities." As quoted in the report published by Office of Inspector General.
  26. AnshelmHultman 2014 , pp. 154–156: "Climategate fundamentally damaged confidence in the IPCC climate reports and decisively changed the conditions for the Copenhagen negotiations...Climategate and the failure of Copenhagen coincided with a widespread decline in public acceptance that global warming was happening, was caused by humans, and was a serious threat...Climategate can also explain the erosion of public trust in scientists as sources of information on global warming after 2010."
  27. Dunlap 2013 , p. 153: "Having this powerful, pervasive and multifaceted media apparatus at its service provides the denial machine with a highly effective means of spreading its message, as reflected quite recently by its success in turning a tiny and highly unrepresentative sample of thirteen years worth of personal e-mails hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia into a major scandal that has generated a decline in public belief in climate change and trust in climate scientists...despite the fact that several investigations have concluded that the e-mails neither demonstrate unethical behavior nor undermine climate science."
  28. Harvey, Fiona (8 March 2010). "E-mail leaks that clouded climate issue". Financial Times . Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  29. "Alexa Site Information: Watts Up With That?". Alexa Internet . Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  30. Phelan 2014 , p. 123: "Watts Up With That was created in 2006 by Californian meteorologist Anthony Watts...From its modest beginnings, Pearce suggests it is now "perhaps the most visited climate website in the world...with more than two million unique visitors a month"
  31. MooneyKirshenbaum 2010 , p. 114: "Anthony Watts is an extremely popular blogger, drawing hundreds of comments per post and well over half a million visitors per month. Yet his blog contains highly questionable informationpresented very "scientifically" of course, replete with charts and graphsbut all directed toward the end of making the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming seem faulty (in fact, it's extremely robust)
  32. George Monbiot (15 May 2009). "How to disprove Christopher Booker in 26 seconds". The Guardian . Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  33. Leo Hickman (24 February 2010). "Academic attempts to take the hot air out of climate science debate". The Guardian . Retrieved 3 April 2010.
  34. MooneyKirshenbaum 2010 , p. 109: "With just days to go until voting closed, the 2008 weblog awards - an annual online popularity contest in which nearly 1 million voters pick their favorite opiners across forty-eight topic categories-featured a tight race for Best Science Blog...In the end, Watts Up With That defeated Pharyngula by a vote of 14,150 votes to 12,238."
  35. Hickman, Leo (1 March 2013). "Climate sceptics 'capture' the Bloggies' science category". The Guardian environment blog. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  36. 1 2 "The 2014 Bloggies" . Retrieved 5 February 2015.

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References