Anthony Watts doesn't agree with climate scientists. In his latest effort (archived here) he thinks that the biggest threats to humanity are: "the threat of nuclear war, asteroid and comet impacts, a super volcanic eruption, robot overlords, or a global pandemic". I've no doubt that some of these are potential threats, but none are as big a threat as global warming.
This is the YouTube clip to which Anthony Watts objected. We can overcome this biggest of challenges, but will we?
The certainty of climate change compared to other risks
Climate change is a certainty. That's what makes it the arguably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced (outside of Inhumans). We are able to lessen the damage given today's technology. It's a matter of willingness. Anthony Watts isn't willing to reduce this threat.
I don't know what the next biggest risk is, whether it's a nuclear war or a super-volcanic eruption. Both would trigger massive climate change. A nuclear war would be human-caused climate change. If there was a massive volcanic eruption, it probably wouldn't be triggered by our activity, although changes to precipitation patterns are having an effect on seismic events. From Wikipedia:
It has been accepted that the eruption of Toba led to a volcanic winter with a worldwide decrease in temperature between 3 to 5 °C (5.4 to 9.0 °F), and up to 15 °C (27 °F) in higher latitudes. Additional studies in Lake Malawi in East Africa show significant amounts of ash being deposited from the Toba eruptions, even at that great distance, but little indication of a significant climatic effect in East Africa.Our actions could increase global mean surface temperatures by more than 5 °C, though that wouldn't happen as quickly as the drop in temperature caused by the Toba eruption. If a supervolcanic eruption happened today and surface temperatures were to plummet by 5 °C within a few months, it would have a devastating effect on food production, which would result in world-wide food shortages. People living in less developed countries would suffer the most, just like they will with human-caused global warming.
Asteroid and comet impacts are much less likely though it would be catastrophic if a comet or large enough asteriod hit Earth. A global pandemic like the Spanish Flu was catastrophic in the normal meaning of the word, but not as potentially devastating as an increase or drop of five degrees in global surface temperature would be.
As for the threat of robot overlords, let's assume that's just Anthony's idea of a joke.
The article that Anthony Watts was complaining about was about one of the world's leading experts in climate science, Professor Raymond Pierrehumbert. He is formerly of the University of Chicago, and now Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. He's a universe away from the ex-tv weather announcer, Anthony Watts, owner of the climate conspiracy blog WUWT. Professor Pierrehumbert is a graduate of Harvard and MIT. Anthony Watts is a graduate of the University of the Illiterati in Deniersville.
About the only sensible thing Anthony wrote in his article was this:
But it’s the climate skeptics who are labeled the crazy people, not esteemed paragons of “sensibility” like Dr. Pierrehumbert.
From the WUWT comments
March 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm
At least if there is a sudden demise of AGW science the esteemed Oxford proff, Dr. P might earn decent living by basking at the Oxford Circus tube station (btw not in Oxford)
Rather than think that the honours bestowed on Professor Pierrehumbert signify expertise, markstoval chooses to denigrate Oxford:
March 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm
“Raymond Pierrehumbert has been named the new Halley Professor of Physics at Oxford University.”
Looks like Oxford is not much of a university. (as most these days are not)
Goldrider might have hit the nail on the head:
March 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm
The biggest threat to humanity is WILLFUL STUPIDITY.
RockyRoad is a good example of Goldriders' "thought":
March 18, 2016 at 7:57 pm
The biggest CLIMATE threat to humanity will be when the next Ice Age returns, not some popular, highly funded meme flag-poled by some crazy prof from the U. of Chicago.
Marcus sinks to silliness in his exuberance:
March 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm
..Didn’t we use to put these people in asylums at one time ? For their own safety, of course ! D’oh !
Judging by his spelling, jimheath could never hope to get a job above janitor status with anyone, let alone the guvmint.
March 18, 2016 at 7:32 pm
This is a man that has never been off the public teet.
DavidS wants to add superbugs:
March 18, 2016 at 11:59 pm
If the ‘climate challenge’ is to be humanities final exam exam it is logical to assume we are going to fail, otherwise it wouldn’t be our final exam.
Humanities current exam which is very real and much scarier than AGW, is antibiotic resistance and it is happening now. Interestingly it isn’t on the list from The Washington Post. So ok I agree it isn’t going to be global killer like an asteroid impact, but a truly post antibiotic world won’t be the same world we live in now and there will be fewer people living in it.
References and further reading
Oxford's Halley Professor on How the Climate Challenge Could Derail a Brilliant Human Destiny - article by Andy Revkin in DotEarth at the New York Times, February 2016
Global Catastrophes in Perspective - article by Dr Mark Boslough at Huffington Post, February 2013
Global Catastrophes in Perspective: Asteroid Impacts vs Climate Change - AGU poster (2008) from Mark Boslough and Alan Harris
From the HotWhopper archives