Watt about the irony?

I started this blog because I had become somewhat disappointed with what was being said on the Watts Up With That (WUWT) site run by Anthony Watts. It also seems quite clear that it’s not really possible to engage with WUWT through the comments, as anyone who writes anything that appears to support Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is very quickly “attacked” by one of the many commentators who are clearly very skeptical of AGW and the discussion quickly degenerates into a slanging match.

I intended to comment on WUWT every now and again when they made claims that seemed to be unsupported by current scientific evidence. I didn’t really expect to write something every day, let alone more than once a day. However, so much of what is said on WUWT is questionable that it is hard not to respond to almost every post. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep this up, but aim to at least try for the moment.

Today Anthony Watts posted an item called Dilbert becomes skeptical of climate change disaster. This is based on comments by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, who was suggesting that we should be careful about taking claims of impending doom too seriously as, historically, we have typically managed to avoid major disasters (although, presumably he would not suggest that we’ve avoided all of them). His examples are Malthus’s claims of overpopulation, the threat of nuclear war, the impending oil crisis. He finishes by saying “Can anyone give me an example of a potential global disaster that the general public saw coming, with at least a ten year warning, and it actually happened as predicted?”.

This, however, is precisely the point. We dealt (by and large) with increasing population numbers by using technology to improve how we provide food. We avoided nuclear war by not having a nuclear war. The oil crisis didn’t happen because we’ve developed technology that allows us to extract oil more easily and cheaply (or to extract oil that we once thought couldn’t be extracted). We “closed” the ozone hole by changing what was use as a refrigerant. We avoided many potential crises by addressing what could lead to the crisis. We didn’t avoid them by closing our eyes, sticking our fingers in our ears and pretending that nothing could possibly go wrong. Those who are concerned about AGW are not saying that there’s nothing we can do to avoid a crisis. They’re saying the opposite. They’re saying that we should do something to make sure that the continued release of CO2 through burning fossil fuels doesn’t lead to rising surface temperatures that could lead to major problems in some parts of the world. It’s those who are skeptical who seem to be suggesting that we don’t need to do anything, which seems – in some sense – the opposite of what Scott Adams was actually suggesting.

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