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Monday, April 25, 2016

Raucous stupidity at WUWT with Charles G. Battig

Sou | 1:34 PM Go to the first of 17 comments. Add a comment

While Anthony Watts is away there have been some articles at WUWT. The latest one was a copy of a letter by a conspiracy theorist called Charles G. Battig. He's appeared here before in an hysterical frame of mind. Charles retired some time ago to take up science denial. In his letter to the Editor (archived here), he starts by claiming that stupidity is not a handicap in politics. That may be the case or not. It's a handicap when trying to make points that contradict all known science, which is what Charles Battig does. He wrote:

Behind these claims is the unsubstantiated assertion global climate change is driven primarily by manmade CO2, and that there is a magic CO2 knob to set climate to a Utopian level. 
First of all, science shows that global temperature, and hence climate, is controlled by the amount of atmospheric CO2. That's been known for a very long time. Back in the 1800s there were even newspaper articles in remote rural Australia, that informed people of this known fact. As for his "Utopian level", Charles just made that up. The fact is that for all of civilisation the global mean surface temperature varied only slowly and over a small range. We are now pushing it way above anything we as humans have experienced before, since we evolved. Whether or not Charles or anyone else regards civilisation as Utopia, we're moving out of it.

Contributions to the greenhouse effect: water vapour 50%, clouds 25%, CO2 20%, other 5%

Charles goes further and make an unsubstantiated, and wrong, assertion. It's been estimated that water vapour contributes about 50% to the greenhouse effect, clouds 25% and CO2 20%. That's just to the greenhouse effect itself. No warming. What adding CO2 does is make things warmer, which means there is more water vapour in the air, so the temperature rises from both the increased water vapour and the increased CO2. Both still make the same relative contribution to the effect at any point in time, and both contribute to an increase when they increase in the air. So Charles Battig was wrong when he wrote:
The fact is atmospheric water vapor drives about 90 percent of the greenhouse gas effect. Scientists cannot differentiate natural from manmade climate change.
That's two things wrong, one in each sentence. Atmospheric water vapour provides around half the greenhouse effect, not 90% of it. And scientists can differentiate what is contributing to the warming. That is, I'm now talking about the increase in temperature, not to the greenhouse effect itself at any point in time. The chart below shows what has forced the warming in recent decades:

Radiative forcing of climate between 1750 and 2011. Bar chart for RF (hatched) and ERF (solid) for the period 1750–2011, where the total ERF is derived from Figure 8.16. Uncertainties (5–95% confidence range) are given for RF (dotted lines) and ERF (solid lines). Source: Figure 8.15: IPCC AR5 WG1

The biggest forcing is from atmospheric CO2, followed by other well-mixed greenhouse gases (eg CH4, N2O, halocarbons), then ozone, black carbon and land use, contrails, offset by aerosols. There was also a small forcing from increased solar irradiance.

Climate is weather, but weather change is not climate change

Charles Battig's letter was full of hyperbole and rhetoric. He talked about New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman "insulting readers". Yet A-G Schneiderman would have been reporting science. It's Charles G. Battig who is trying to insult the intelligence of people but, as in most cases when disinformers spout nonsense, he ended up just spouting nonsense. For example, he confuses weather and climate, writing:
...climate change is the norm for all of geological time. Climate change reality was the impetus for commodity futures hedging by providing financial cushions for unexpected crop failures.
Climates do change locally and globally. Saying climate change is "the norm" is arguing that the Holocene is abnormal, because globally the climate has changed very little over this period, until recently.  Geological periods are defined in a large part by climate, meaning that over millions of years, global "climate" remained largely the same, then shifted. To confuse climate change with weather variability (a good year vs a bad year weather wise for farmers) shows his ignorance, or denier desperation. When farmers have to switch what they do permanently, rather than just have a good harvest or poor, because of a long term change in heat and precipitation, that's when they know their local climate has changed. If farmers keep trying to produce the same thing the same way under a new climate, and fail, then people will say they should have expected that crop failure. It won't be unexpected, it will be expected.

Is Charles G Battig a teetotaler?

Toward the end, Charles add this bit of silliness. He wrote:
While supporting plans to lower CO2 emissions, Herring neglects the CO2 emitted by Virginia’s beer and wine industries.
Er what? Is Charles G Battig a teetotaler? What has he got against Virginia's wine and beer industries I wonder. Herring presumably also neglected to mention the cattle, tobacco and peanut farming in Southside Virginia. He may have neglected to mention tomatoes and soy. I wonder did he mention software, communications, consulting, and defense contracting. And did he mention people, a lot of people, most using fossil fuels as one of their sources of energy? Herring also neglected to mention that Charles G Battig is a science denier and ignoramus, and that has just as much to do with the investigation into whether ExxonMobil funded disinformation campaigns to mislead the public about climate change.

Charles G. Battig doesn't seem to know that the USA is a republic either, operating as a democracy. He thinks he's living in a feudal system. Or maybe he's an anarchist, because he closes with: "Whether it’s lying or stupidity, we suffer under the current ruling class."

From the WUWT toddler tantrums

As is usual at WUWT, deniers come out in force. They claim that the science is wrong, or the mainstream media is wrong with the science it reports, or the politicians are wrong for accepting the science reported by the mainstream media. Yet almost no-one says just what they think is wrong. It's nothing but a torrent of empty protests. A howling at the moon, probably thinking it's made of cheese (and that NASA faked the moon landing). There is also talk about fighting, which is rather alarming given the proclivities of extreme right-wingers of the type that congregate at WUWT.

Bob Weber and the demerits of Joe McCarthy
April 24, 2016 at 11:21 am
… they will go down in history as the new environmental McCarthyites!

Marcus and the merits of Joe McCarthy
April 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm
..Some of his methods were wrong, yes, but he had the greatest good for the country as his goal, not it’s destruction !

Tom Halla and women's studies
April 24, 2016 at 11:17 am
Easy. They have a reasonable expectation that the mainstream media will endorse their ignorance and lies, which is where the stupid and ignorant politicians probably got the meme in the first place. Journalism majors are as fact-free in their education as women’s studies or english literature majors, so the daisy-chain goes on and on.

markl and the deniers' cause:
April 24, 2016 at 11:22 am
Actually all this bloviating by politicians may help the skeptic cause. It’s obvious the media war is lost and the courts may be the only line of defense a la the Barbara Streisand effect.

Marcus and fighting
April 24, 2016 at 2:54 pm
..Aphan, Fight to win, or don’t fight at all !!

John Harmsworth and weighty evidence
April 24, 2016 at 5:24 pm
They say auditors show up after the battle to bayonet the wounded. Politicians are a similar animal that figures out which way the crowd is going and jumps out in front. When the weight of evidence begins to tip our way the politicians will change their stripes without blinking.

ristvan and stupid
April 24, 2016 at 11:35 am
Concerning the headline, lying or just stupid. Don’t rule out both as the likeliest conclusion.

jipebe29 and lying
April 24, 2016 at 11:45 am
Are these politicians lying or just stupid?
They are lying AND stupid, of course!

Chris Hanley and his tragic economics
April 24, 2016 at 3:42 pm
The tragedy of the commons has nothing to do with allegedly dangerous climate change™, in fact there is nothing alarmists would like better than for fossil fuels to run out.

Marcus vs reality
April 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm
It has gotten to the point where liberal “Greenies” can no longer tell the difference between their lies and reality !

TG and the mafia
April 24, 2016 at 2:38 pm
Warmist are the newest incarnation of the Mafia, silk suits and all!

WUWT is like a hundred two-year olds in a confined space, all having a tantrum at the same time.

References and further reading

Schmidt, Gavin A., Reto A. Ruedy, Ron L. Miller, and Andy A. Lacis. "Attribution of the present‐day total greenhouse effect." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 115, no. D20 (2010). DOI: 10.1029/2010JD014287 (open access)

Lacis, Andrew A., Gavin A. Schmidt, David Rind, and Reto A. Ruedy. "Atmospheric CO2: Principal control knob governing Earth’s temperature." Science 330, no. 6002 (2010): 356-359. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190653 (pdf here)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. I particularly liked the concept of the 'weight of evidence' tipping their way. But when will this evidence - as opposed to childish garbage appear - and what will the vehicle for its appearance be? Is the OAS journal - that promised scourge of conventional science - about to make its world shattering debut with articles of such scientific rigor that they will survive scrutiny by the world's leading climate experts?

    Or is denial at WUWT reaching such heights that its deluded readers need to be packed off to bed under heavy medication?

  2. "Whether or not Charles or anyone else regards civilisation as Utopia, we're moving out of it."

    Humon Comics commented on this.

    1. Well, yeah, but we're taking a lot of other species with us. And a bunch of poor bastards who never even had a chance to enjoy the riches the carbon boom bought to the elite of our own species. Nature will continue, sure, but that ain't going to be much of a consolation to the Barrier Reef and its inhabitants.

    2. Indeed Bill, and they are two points that I often make.

      The nihilisticly-inclined might argue that if humans aren't around to appreciate it, then it doesn't matter if we extirpate a significant chunk of biodiveristy, but our destruction of the potential for human generations to have what we've enjoyed can never be defended.

      In no sane universe can I accept that our destruction of the habitability of the planet is in any way morally justifiable, but it seems that most Western (and many non-Western) governments and corporations have no issue with it in their ongoing quest to satisfy their own selfish ends.

      I find little consolation in anything these days, given the way the numbers stack up, and my hopes for a good future for my young children are rapidly fading to a grim forboding.

  3. First word in title appears to be misspelled.

  4. Off topic but interesting.

    I'd imagine they won't be bothering to grade WUWT articles, but we might expect WUWT to claim some kind of McCarthyite persecution.

    1. Pretty cool, Millicent. Thanks for that.

    2. looks like a similar tool to

      which can be a useful tool, especially with the plugin installed

  5. And meanwhile, in the real world, the Great Barrier Reef is dying in front of our eyes.

    Article in Science.

    Report in Climate Central.

    I feel sick.

  6. Thanks for the article.
    Quite timely to a certain conversation at my favor discussion board CFI, so I shared it - "HotWhopper considers the raucous disregard for geophysical facts at WUWT"
    Keep up the good work. Spring jobs have kept me busy so not too productive lately. But I'm thinking about it.

  7. Battig was one of "300 scienitsts" signers of Happers letetr to Lamar Smith to help harass NOAA.

    "BATTIG, Dr. Charles G, M.S. E.E.; M.D, Life member IEEE, American Society of Anesthesiologists; President, Piedmont Chapter, Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment;. Policy advisor, Heartland Institute"

  8. Off-topic, please delete if you wish.
    WUWT has a new post: "Mann’s new study finds human activity is a major factor driving wildfires". Only it's a different Michael Mann.
    Not sure whether Anthony is deliberately sowing confusion, or just didn't read the press release before copying it.

    1. See the note he added. He's trying to sell it as being deliberate.

  9. Off topic, but I hope Sou is okay. I don't think she's posted anything in a while.

    1. She is probably okay, just busy. Sou retweeted a tweet of mine several hours ago.

      The tweet was about our friends of the GW Policy Foundation and the first anniversary of their "review" of climate data.


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