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Friday, May 16, 2014

The desire to not look stupid is pretty strong...

Sou | 4:06 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Noticed at WUWT today (archived here):

I urge others to follow my lead: when ridiculous claims are made in the media, challenge them with supportable facts. You may not get an acknowledgment, but the desire to not look stupid is pretty strong, and will have an effect.

His article was about a big blooper by the Governor of California, talking about LAX being flooded by rising seas, though it's apparently more than 30 metres (100 feet) above sea level. Anthony got up at half past five in the morning to send a missive off to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times to tell him what a duffer he and the Governor were.

This was the second article by Anthony on the subject. In his first article (archived here), Anthony had some big bloopers of his own. So I'll do as he urged and follow his lead and challenge what he wrote with supportable facts.

Anthony's ridiculous claim

Anthony made the ridiculous claim that Suzanne Goldenberg was wrong when she wrote that "The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise". He reckons she meant four feet, not four metres. Anthony was wrong! Suzanne Goldenberg was right.

Challenging Anthony Watts with supportable facts

Anthony copied a quote from a NASA article about the recent paper by Eric Rignot (which I wrote about earlier):
The Amundsen Sea region is only a fraction of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which if melted completely would raise global sea level by about 16 feet (5 meters).

He followed this up with:
Here is where I think Brown went wrong:
He listened to the Guardian’s Susanne Goldenberg, who conflated 4 feet to 4 METERS (13 feet), which would affect SFO airport, but not LAX.
...And the error is still in her story, a day later. 

This is what Suzanne Goldenberg wrote in the Guardian:
The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise

Obviously it's Anthony who is wrong.  And this even with him copying Suzanne's comment and highlighting it in yellow. I've remarked before (and Anthony confirmed it) that he doesn't read what he writes about on his blog. In this case he didn't bother reading two pieces of information he selected himself, from different sources.

The melting of western Antarctica would cause a very large rise in sea level. In a 2009 paper in Science, Jerry X. Mitrovica,1 Natalya Gomez,1 Peter U. Clark have estimated the melting of western Antarctica would result in a sea level rise of five metres  - and effectively much more in some parts of the world (and less in others). In another paper in Science in the same year, Jonathan L. Bamber and colleagues estimated a rapid collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheets at 3.3 metres, but 25% higher in some regions, specifically the along the Pacific and Atlantic seaboard of the United States. So that would make it about a four metre rise in those regions. (The latter calculation allows for the fact that not all the ice would go into the sea in a "rapid collapse", among other things.)

Anthony's four foot rise is only 1.2 metres. This is the expected rise in sea level just from the ice sheets of the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE). As explained in Rignot14:
The ASE is a dominant contributor to the mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet at present, with losses driven almost entirely by increases in flow speed (Mouginot et al., 2014). This sector is of global signi cance since it contains enough ice to raise global sea level by 1.2 m (e.g. Rignot, 2008).

Will Anthony change his article so as to not look stupid? I doubt it. No-one else picked him up on his ridiculous claim about the volume of ice in western Antarctica.

From the WUWT comments

ZombieSymmetry says:
May 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm
There isn’t even that much water on the planet, is there? I mean, if all ice, everywhere melted, how high would the sea level go?
NASA says it would rise 75 metres, which is 246 feet. That would put LAX under 45 metres of water (nearly 150 feet of water).

Col Mosby says:
May 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm
Now, irregardless of your beliefs about climate, does anyone out there actually believe we
will still be filling our vehicles with gasoline a hundred years from now? Or burning coal or natural gas to make electricity? These people that predict well into the future always assume things won’t change much in the next hundred years (we’ll be on the iPad CLMXXV by then). That’s the most idiotic assumption I’ve ever heard. Nobody believes that. Not even the alarmists, which is quite illogical considering their beliefs. That’s the strongest argument I can think of for not doing anything.

Steven Mosher is rambling and says:
May 13, 2014 at 10:16 pm
It is 200 ,years worst case and then 1mm would be added per year. So its ,200 ,years until the onset of a ,1mm rise per year. Best case 1000 years until the onset

tty says:
May 14, 2014 at 1:15 am
“There isn’t even that much water on the planet, is there? I mean, if all ice, everywhere melted, how high would the sea level go?”
About 70-80 meters (250 feet). But that won’t happen. Neither the Ellsworth mountains (4900 meters), the Transantarctic mountains (4500 meters), the Executive Committee Range (4300 meters) nor Fimbulheimen (3100 meters) are going to become ice-free until Antarctica moves away from the pole or the sun turns into red giant, whichever comes first.
The Ellsworth and Executive Comittee ranges are in West Antarctica by the way. 

markstoval is a fake sceptic, he doesn't compute that Anthony gets so much wrong and says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:41 am
It is nice to win one once in a while. I am glad that Anthony forced this retraction. (misspoke indeed)
The problem is that the mainstream media is all on-board with alarmist scaremongering and we are fighting people who “buy ink by the barrel” (need an updated saying there I guess). How do we get the facts out while the alarmists spread lies, misinformation, and delusions through a compliant mainstream media? 

Why not finish with a comment by Leo Geiger, who says:
May 15, 2014 at 3:52 am
when ridiculous claims are made in the media, challenge them with supportable facts
Absolutely. Same thing applies to ridiculous claims made in blogs.

E. Rignot, J. Mouginot, M. Morlighem, H. Seroussi, B. Scheuchl. "Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica from 1992 to 2011".. Geophysical Research Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060140

Bamber, Jonathan L., Riccardo EM Riva, Bert LA Vermeersen, and Anne M. LeBrocq. "Reassessment of the potential sea-level rise from a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet." Science 324, no. 5929 (2009): 901-903. DOI: 10.1126/science.1169335 

Mitrovica, Jerry X., Natalya Gomez, and Peter U. Clark. "The sea-level fingerprint of West Antarctic collapse." Science 323, no. 5915 (2009): 753-753. DOI: 10.1126/science.1166510


  1. So there are two different authors on that post?

    Anthony writes clearly about the difference between Amundsen and WAIS in the first half; see the part that starts "NASA even calculates for the worst case scenario:"

    Watts then writes some text in red and accuses a reporter of messing up imperial/metric in the second half.

    1. It's all Anthony. His brain doesn't communicate with his eyes.

  2. He's like a poster child for the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  3. Evan Jones gloating regarding the upcoming, soon to be released paper regarding corrupted climate temperature station readings:

    "I've done my part by delivering the smoking gun. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon has run the numbers through the mill to confirm I'm dead-on right (to his mild surprise, I think). Now I'm just kicking back and waiting for the others on the team to pick up the bits."

    Waiting more likely for the right moment to cause the MOST publicity in the mass media (i.e. Fox News). Wanna bet it will be at a critical moment during climate treaty negotiations?
    They are on a mission...a mission to STOP any agreement to curtail emissions.
    Evan Jones is a Moderator at WUWT, will he correct the above article?

    1. Well it will be interesting to see climate scientists' evaluations of the paper to see if it holds water, when and if it ever gets published in a peer-reviewed journal.

  4. Latest update on Evan Jones and his soon to be released paper:

    "Ah, yes. A lowly masters in history and a meteorologist deal a body blow to the US Historical Climate Network.

    And it was such a flimsy house of cards, so easy to blow over. Makes you wonder about the rest of the science. #B^)"

    Evan Jones

    1. So its game changing like Wattses last paper was and then wasn't.

  5. "The desire not to appear stupid is pretty strong..."

    A desire which Anthony and the WattWitlessTwatts regulars find easy to resist.


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