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Monday, May 11, 2015

Denier weirdness: Plant food and ice ages at WUWT

Sou | 2:29 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

WUWT is stuck for ideas so is working its way through the denier memes listed at SkepticalScience. That's good, because I have a lot to do and I can let SkS respond. I've written a bit about the two recycled memes current at WUWT, provided a plot to ponder, and linked to SkS explanations.

The last few days WUWT has had:

CO2 is plant food - but that won't help

Tim Ball wrote (archived here) how plants evolved when CO2 was higher. What he didn't say was plants continued to evolve when CO2 was much lower than it is today. In fact, some plants will not survive in a warmer world.

CO2 is not always the limiting factor in outdoor crops. They need macro and micro-nutrients, and they need water, which is why so many crops are fertilized and irrigated. Left to their own without added water and nutrients, CO2 would not be the limiting factor. Heat and cold are also limiting - particularly heat for summer crops, but unseasonal cold snaps are causing crop failures too, with some crops being sown earlier than in the past because global warming is extending the seasons, then getting hit with a bad frost. It's getting trickier year by year for farmers to work out what to grow and when to plant it.

In time, many food crops will not survive the droughts, floods, fires and heat waves as the world warms.

Not only that, but we humans evolved when CO2 was much lower than it is today. Is Tim arguing that the world was meant for tropical plants but not cold climate plants and not people?

Here's the link to SkS "CO2 is plant food"

An ice age cometh and "it's the sun" - Not!

This is the other main meme that WUWT is pushing. David "funny sunny" Archibald (see here) and now Paul Driessen of the CFACT denier lobby group (archived here) are arguing an ice age is coming. Paul's main argument is "it's the sun" and he reckons the sun is going cold. What he doesn't acknowledge is that despite the fact that the sun has been sending a bit less energy our way for quite some years, at the surface it was the hottest year on record last year. And fourteen of the hottest fifteen years on record have been since 2001.

Data source: GISS NASA

Because so many deniers cannot read a chart and only consider anomalies above a zero baseline, I've plotted the anomaly from the 1901 to 1930 average, so they can't miss just how hot the world has become since the beginning of the twentieth century.

The dotted line at the top of the chart is the surface temperature anomaly for last year, 2014.  The column to the right only goes for five years, from 2010 to 2014, and is still the hottest. The full decade is likely to remain the hottest on record. If anyone is silly enough to think an ice age is coming, they've got rocks in their head.

Here's a link to the Skeptical Science page on "it's the sun".

From the WUWT comments

The comments are, with a couple of exceptions, too silly even for HotWhopper. You can read them here if you want to. It looks to me that almost no-one except the most intransigent of deniers reads WUWT anymore. Anthony Watts and his playground monitors (such as Smokey and RichardSCourtney) have chased all reasonable people away.

There are more than 3.5 billion people in the world who have an IQ of 100 or less, so you could argue that Anthony Watts has a huge potential market. However, there is no correlation between intelligence and rejection of science. Science denial is driven by emotion, world view and ideology, not intelligence or education.

In the USA, 8% of people are Dismissives (such as right wing authoritarian followers). Extend that to the world, and Anthony Watts has a potential market of more than 560,000,000 people. A long way from his hoped for 3.5 billion, but a hefty number just the same. These 560,000,000 people don't have a lot of choice when it comes to finding people who will tell them what they want to hear. WUWT is one of only a few dozen places on the internet where they can read and write stupid stuff about climate with little fear of contradiction.  (People who like advanced pseudo-science can go to Judith Curry's blog. Those who prefer squirrels mixed with mathturbatory nonsense, can visit the Canadian miner.) There are also blogs like Prison Planet and InfoWars where they can indulge their conspiratorial paranoia.

The rest of the 6.5 billion of us have a lot more options. Many of us are keen to learn more, not have our brains stuffed full of ideological claptrap. There are oodles of scientific websites we can get information from. Consider yourself fortunate.


  1. He really did say "cometh" LOL

  2. OK, my favorite exchange is this with Leif Svalgaard:
    lsvalgaard May 10, 2015 at 8:19 pm
    Your link says:
    “we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades”, so solar variability does not seem to be a dominant climate driver, at least according to you and your reference. Or perhaps you disagree with your link?

    And then after William Astley responds:
    lsvalgaard May 10, 2015 at 8:21 pm
    There are hundreds of papers linking solar cycle changes to planetary climate change.
    There are hundreds of papers linking CO2 to planetary climate change…


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