I said a short while ago how surprised I am that wacky science deniers are not getting any less wacky now that climate science deniers are running the show in the USA. I'd have thought they'd take a step closer to reality and relax and bask in their glory. Instead they've continued to attack reality with a vengeance.
It's Anthony Watts turn today (archived here). He thinks that the fact that the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge was three times as likely because of climate change should have meant that it would never again rain in California. He launched a misplaced attack on Bill Nye, under an article with the wrong headline: "With record rainfalls in California, another Nye-Lie bites the dust".
Going by his article, Anthony Watts thinks that if scientists said that the drought in California was exacerbated by human-caused global warming, then it would never get any reprieve. Once a drought always a drought and not a drop of rain would be got.
In other words, it's not just the drought that might be breaking, the brain of Anthony Watts is broken. But that's not all that's wrong with his article - read on for more.
No, Anthony, it wasn't Bill Nye you quoted
In this weird article at WUWT today Anthony Watts singles out Bill Nye for attack. He referred to an article from October 2014 on a website attn.com, where Lindsay Haskell put up a video by Bill Nye.
Yet it wasn't a quote from Bill Nye that Anthony used to twist into his binary thinking article, it was an exchange between Lindsay Haskell and Ben Schneider. From the article at attn.com:
We also asked an expert: Ben Schneider, Communications Director of Defend Our Future, a non-profit with a mission to persuade politicians to protect our environment.In that exchange was the quote that Anthony derided:
And in the case of the California drought, a recent study suggests that there is 95 percent confident that human-caused climate change tripled the chance of the development of a persistent high pressure system in the Northern Pacific Ocean, which is the cause of the California drought because it deflects precipitation away from the region.
Anthony Watts quoting Daily Caller and Attn.com quoting Bill Schneider quoting the Daily Mail quoting Daniel Swain and BAMS
Climate conspiracy theorists rely on other climate conspiracy theorists to justify their conspiracy theories. One of Anthony Watts' two sources was the Daily Caller (a bigoted, right wing, climate-science denying website), which mentioned the following tweet from Bill Nye, where he posted a picture about the California floods and implied climate change is a danger:
Perhaps the US should stick with the Paris Agreement, oui? pic.twitter.com/dTbrpg36J6— Bill Nye (@BillNye) January 10, 2017
Anthony's other source was, as I said above, the article at attn.com, from where he filched the misattributed quote. Anthony copied the quote, including the link, which went to an article in the Daily Mail. That article in turn was about research by Daniel Swain et al, which discussed the impact of climate change on the Californian drought and, in particular, the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. That paper was published in the October 2014 Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) on extreme events.
At the time, Anthony Watts protested that article, too, making out that the drought wasn't as bad as all that (and he lives in California for heaven's sake). The researchers found that the conditions causing the current drought are three times more likely to occur with global warming than without. (The authors had a previous article on the subject, published in ScienceAdvances.)
Nowhere did the authors suggest that it would never rain in California again. Nor did they suggest that the Pineapple Express would never appear again. On the contrary, in the BAMs article they wrote:
California typically experiences strong seasonality of precipitation, with the vast majority coinciding with the passage of cool-season extratropical cyclones during October–May (e.g., Cayan and Roads 1984).
Yet to say a drought means it will never rain again is exactly what Anthony Watts is trying to pin on Bill Nye (when it wasn't even him, it was Ben Schneider who said the words that Anthony Watts put in Bill Nye's mouth).
Now if Anthony Watts was the type of person who went back to original sources, rather than attributing quotes to the wrong person so he could launch a misplaced attack on them, he might have attacked Daniel Swain instead, for doing research on the weather in California.
A couple of days ago on his blog, Daniel Swain wrote about the rain event that brought floods to California (which Anthony referred to as "record rain"). In case you missed it, California has just had another extreme event - this time rain and snow:
A very warm and wet “Pineapple Express”-type atmospheric river (with origins in the subtropics) brought widespread rainfall to California over the weekend, even at very high elevations in the Sierra Nevada. Flooding, mudslides, and avalanches shut down most major travel corridors through Northern California on Sunday for at least some period of time, and a number of larger rivers have approached or exceeded flood stage.The interesting thing is that the swings between dry and wet may get bigger. In an article about the recent downpouts, by Tara Lohan at UPI a short while ago, Daniel Swain is quoted:
And while the storms may be welcomed now, it's also something the state may need to start getting used to. Swain said that there is still uncertainty about how precipitation in California may change as the climate warms, but the research is stronger when it comes to understanding atmospheric rivers, the kind of storms that have just walloped the state.
"It now appears likely that California will see stronger atmospheric rivers in the future, with an increased risk of extreme precipitation events and flooding," said Swain. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that we're likely to get wetter overall; there's also increasing evidence that we'll actually experience wider swings between drought and flood."
Can a broken brain be mended?
Does that mean Anthony's brain will never work again? Maybe. Then again, to say that Anthony's brain being broken this time means that it would never work as designed ever again, would be to use the same illogic as Anthony does himself.
Nevertheless, it's a chronic problem. Some deniers cannot accommodate the slightest nuance. If something is not black then it must be white. It cannot be anything in between. (I looked up this affliction. A similar dysfunction is referred to as splitting in psychology in relation to self. In logic, this binary thinking fallacy is referred to as the false dilemma. In both cases one could regard it as a cognitive malfunction.)
Now that's not to say that the denier brain cannot accommodate the notion that something can be both pure black and pure white at the same time. We know that's true as well, particularly when it comes to conspiracy theories.
Does jealousy cause brain farts?
What prompts someone like Anthony to have such an extreme and wrong reaction to an extreme and dangerous event like the one that's been taking place in California? What prompts him to launch an attack on Bill Nye like this, based on something he didn't say? What causes Anthony Watts to demonstrate with such clarity his cognitive disability of binary thinking (it was dry therefore it can never be wet again).
I can't help thinking that he's a teeny bit jealous. Bill Nye is a successful "science guy", known throughout the USA. Anthony Watts isn't on television any more, and was only ever a minor weather announcer. Nowhere near as well-loved or respected as Bill Nye the Science Guy. He's only known in science denying circles as a climate conspiracy blogger. And while his blog appears popular in those limited circles, he's not exactly a household name. Most scientists would never have heard of him. He's popular in conspiracy land but is not known in the mainstream.
(I mentioned brain farts - but I don't know if that's accurate. A brain fart is a temporary lapse in cognitive function.)
Has the California drought ended? (Not yet)
The map shows the state of the California drought as at January 10, from the US Drought Monitor website. I've added the map I had on hand for just over 12 months prior - 29 December 2015.
The drought has eased a lot. The northern part is now drought free, but the south west has not emerged from severe drought with a small section still in extreme drought.
From the WUWT comments
Sorry that this article is not highly polished. I hope it makes some sense, even if Anthony Watts doesn't. I've got to go out now. No time to peruse the comments. You can do that yourself here.