When I started blogging about climate science, I mainly focussed on addressing what was said on Anthony Watt’s blog, Watts Up With That (WUWT) (and often started my post titles with the word “Watt”, as I’ve done again – for old time’s sake – here). I did it for a bit less than a year and then changed the name of the blog and have largely ignored WUWT for the last couple of years. I, therefore, almost missed – a couple of days ago – the 10th Anniversary of Anthony starting his blog.
In his post, Anthony thanks various people, including some who have not been very nice to him. I’m included in the latter list which, given that I’ve largely ignored his blog for the last couple of years, is maybe a little odd (although, that might be why). I have to say, though, that I’m mostly pleased with the company with which I’m associated. Also, if some people have been rather unkind to Anthony, the manner in which he has chosen to thank them might illustrate why. If his online persona is a fair reflection of his character, then he would appear to not be a very nice person.
What I found remarkable was Roger Pielke Sr posting a comment in which he says:
Congratulations! You have significantly and positively contributed to climate science. All the best for the next ten years!!!
I was sufficiently amazed that I emailed Roger to ask him how he could possibly regard the above as true. Apparently we simply disagree and Anthony has apparently done some very good work. I have yet to discover what this really is and, even if he has done some really good work, I still find it hard to believe that his contribution to climate science has been significant and positive. I would guess that his contribution to climate science itself is negligible; most climate scientists are probably unaware of what he says and does. On the other hand, his contribution to public understanding of climate science may well be significant, but it’s almost certainly not positive. That anyone who publicly argues for improved dialogue, and criticises the conduct of others, can regard Anthony’s contribution as significant and positive is utterly bizarre.
However, rather than ending there, I thought I would mention a recent article of Roger’s that he highlighted in our brief email exchange. It’s about Land’s complex role in climate change. It argues that land use changes can play a significant role in climate change and that, by focussing on global emissions, we’re not paying enough attention to this issue. I don’t know enough about the specifics to really say much about whether what is suggested is reasonable, or not. However, it mostly seems okay; I can well believe that there are anthropogenic factors – other than our emissions – that are influencing climate change.
What’s confusing, though, is that I thought a lot of this was being considered. The IPCC radiative forcing estimates certainly include albedo changes due to land use. Many of the negative emission ideas relate to changes in land use. I’m aware of people who consider the role of forests and de-forestation. There are also many studies that consider the urban heat island effect and how it might exacerbate heatwaves in cities. So, I’m not quite sure what aspect of this is being ignored, or what aspect should be focussed on more than it is now.
I suspect that one issue is that we don’t need to develop global agreements in order to deal with regional issues. Countries/regions are able to do so without developing global treaties and can do so without calling meetings that involve most of the countries in the world. So, I suspect that we simply don’t hear as much about things that happen on a local level as we do about things that are global. Dealing with emission reductions is almost certainly going to require some kind global approach, while dealing with regional factors does not.
Also, it seems that some of the regional factors that Roger mentions in the article are also related to global warming (sea level rise, precipitation,….). It seems to me that we really need both a regional and a global approach and, as far as I’m aware, this is indeed what is being considered (adaptation is more regional than global, while emission reductions is more global than regional). It is, of course, possible that there are regional issues about which we’re not giving due consideration. Alternatively, maybe it’s simply that people aren’t taking things that Roger regards as important, seriously enough. If so, it might be worth considering that it’s difficult to take seriously someone who thinks Anthony Watt’s contribution to climate science is significant and positive.
Sou has a post about Anthony Watt’s 10th Anniversary. In fact, I’m surprised that Anthony didn’t thank Sou as Sou has done far more for him than I have.
Russell also has a post describing how Anthony has embraced unrelenting pig-headedness, a box of rocks, and an invisible rabbit.