Scroll To Top

Saturday, March 11, 2017

WUWT conspiracy theorists think Scott Pruitt can change physics

Sou | 10:18 PM Go to the first of 40 comments. Add a comment

Greenhouse Effect. Credit/Source: NASA
The crazies at WUWT are still out in force. I'd say they've taken over Anthony Watts' blog, WUWT.

After EPA administrator Scott Pruitt admitted on television that global warming is happening, but all but rejected that it was caused by an increase in greenhouse gases, the crazies at WUWT went berserk (archived here). A chap who writes nonsense there from time to time, David Middleton, wrote how "of course" the EPA website still has science on it. His theory was that it was only because Pruitt hasn't yet got to it on his "to do" list. He thinks that soon enough Pruitt will replace any science on EPA's website with quackery.

Here is the excerpt verbatim (or as close as) from CNBC, where Scott Pruitt said that he doesn't believe the last two centuries of scientific evidence and the explanation of how things work:
CNBC interviewer: One other thing. Just to get to the nitty gritty. Do you believe that it's been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

Pruitt: No I, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

CNBC: Okay.

Pruitt: But we don't know that yet. As far as, we need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.

CNBC: It's it's a. I agree. When I hear that the science is settled, it's like I. I never heard that science had actually gotten to a point where it was a - that's the point of science, you keep asking questions, you keep asking questions. I don't want to be called a denier, so um, you know. It scares me. That's a terrible thing to be called. Anyway, Administrator Pruitt, I know you don't want to be called that either. Um. Thanks for being with us this morning. I appreciate it.

One thing I noticed is that Pruitt does not dispute the fact that the world is getting hotter. The people at WUWT don't seem to have cottoned onto that part. The other thing I noticed is what everyone else did - that Pruitt disputes an increase in greenhouse gases as the cause. He doesn't say what could have caused it. He's a typical denier, not a rational thinking human being.

Pruitt's now in charge of an agency that has a mandate to keep the USA safe for people, including trying to limit the adverse effects of climate change, but he rejects the advice of his own experts.

The EPA has a budget of around $8.3 billion and has a ceiling of around 15,400 full time equivalent staff. It costs the equivalent of around $26 per person a year to try to keep the air safe to breathe and the water safe to drink and play in. That's too high a price to pay for potable water and breathable air for the current US President and for Mr Pruitt. They are thinking of chopping funding by 25%. Now the current budget hasn't changed in six years, and is quite a lot lower than it was from 2005 to 2010, and that's in nominal (actual) dollars not in real cost terms. Climate change only gets about 14% of the budget so the vandals will have to cut a lot more work than that.

How about some comparisons. Donald Trump would rather spend up to $25 billion or more on his wall to stop Americans escaping into Mexico (or whatever). Spread that over three years and that's the same as three years of clean air and water.

Trump also wants to spend another $54 billion a year on the military. I think he wants to start another war, so that's a very conservative estimate. That would get you almost seven EPAs. Some hawks want to increase the military budget by another $37 billion, making it almost eleven EPAs.

Remember, Americans are going to have to fork out more for health insurance, and if their water and air quality declines they'll be forced to spend even more. $26/year per person pales into insignificance beside the cost of health insurance in America, and is way cheaper than what a sick person has to pay to get their health back, if they need health care.

Pruitt doesn't care about that. Like most of his political party, he's as bad at arithmetic as he is at science. And, like most in his party, he'd rather Americans who get sick or have an accident just curled up and died. They seem to think that if you're not rich enough to pay for health insurance then you don't deserve to live. And even if you were at one time rich enough, if you can't stay that way despite being sick and spending all your savings on hospital bills and medications, then you aren't well enough organised to meet the requirements for life in the USA.

It's worse than that, though, isn't it. The Republicans don't just want sick people to fall off the perch. They want to make people sick by polluting waterways, destroying air quality, and have more frequent weather disasters by bringing on climate change more quickly. (Perhaps they think there are too many people in the USA but they are too cowardly to overtly state they've adopted decimation policies.)

David Middleton is hopeful that Mr Pruitt will find someone in the EPA to tell lies about climate science. He wrote about an article by Chris Mooney at the Washington Post, and, twistedly, said:
Mr. Pruitt has been on the job for about three weeks.  To my knowledge, he is the only Trump appointee in the EPA so far.  Why is Chris Mooney shocked that Mr. Pruitt hasn’t had time to revise every bit of nonsense on EPA websites?  He’s the EPA Administrator.  He has a job to do, running the EPA.  Erasing 8 years of propaganda from EPA websites is probably not at the top of his “to do” list. But, thanks to English major and former AGU board member, Chris Mooney, Mr. Pruitt knows which bit of propaganda the IT folks should tackle first.
IT folks don't write articles. They can set up the web pages, but they wouldn't normally provide the text. That's the job of the communication people, who base it on information from the in-house experts. The inhouse experts are not likely to write that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. Nor are they likely to write that greenhouse gases aren't causing global warming. Nor are they likely to write "we don't know", when "we" do know.

From the WUWT comments

As I said, Anthony Watts is just feeding the utter nutters, who he needs to pay his mortgage. They are coming out in droves to show that the American education system hasn't been all good everywhere over the years.

ferd berple gives quite a good illustration of a particularly thick denier whose cognitive function is quite inelastic. Ferd builds a strawman. No-one at the EPA would claim the atmosphere works like a closed greenhouse. Ferd cannot conceive that a word can survive more than a century, even though it turns out that the way a greenhouse gets warm is not the same as the way greenhouse gases warm the planet.
March 10, 2017 at 7:53 am
The EPA and other government websites regularly make the claim that CO2 warms the atmosphere by the same process that warms real greenhouses. Thus the name Greenhouse Gas and Greenhouse Effect.
However, real greenhouses warm not by radiation, but by limiting convection. Thus, the EPA and other government institutions are contradicting themselves, because the CO2 greenhouse effect is believed to be due to radiation.
So which is it? Does CO2 warm the atmosphere by the same process as real greenhouses or not? And if the process is different, why is CO2 called a greenhouse gas.
This is a very fundamental question. If CO2 does not warm by limiting convection, then why is it called a greenhouse gas? Why is “radiation” called a greenhouse effect, when greenhouses do not warm as a result of radiation. Rather they warm as a result of limiting convection.
How can it be science, when the same term is used for two different effects with two different causes? How does it advance scientific understanding to use confusing and imprecise labels. Should we now call typhoid and influenza by the same name, because they both cause a fever in the patient? 
Well, it might be a fundamental question, but Ferd should know the answer by now. He's been commenting on climate at WUWT for years and years. (Okay, there's the answer to the puzzle right there. WUWT isn't about science, it's a conspiracy blog. Ferd needs to learn how to use Google search, and get out more.)

Dave_G mistakenly thinks that CO2 from burning fossil fuels and chopping down forests will behave differently from CO2 from other sources. It's the same molecule, Dave.
March 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm
The BBC are fake-newsing this article on the grounds that Pruitt discounts *CO2* as contributory to global warming when he was clearly referring to MAN-MADE CO2.
Reverend richardscourtney has been appearing at WUWT again lately, minus his usual shouting. He's a hard core science denier who refuses to accept any and all evidence of the last 150 years. He's been commenting at WUWT for years, too. I guess he missed this WUWT article by, of all people, "Steve Goddard" (before he became an inveterate liar).
March 10, 2017 at 12:46 am
It is worse than you say.
On its main news programs the BBC is saying, “Much scientific evidence shows CO2 is causing most global warming.
That is clearly wrong because there is no scientific evidence – none, zilch, nada – which shows CO2 is causing ANY global warming. There is only an hypothesis that CO2 may be causing global warming and models constructed to show what effects of that hypothesis may be.
There is no reason to wonder why the BBC is not citing any of the “scientific evidence” it is proclaiming: they cannot cite it, nobody can because it does not exist.
Meanwhile, the BBC is NOT reporting the petition from Lindzen et al..

As richardscourtney wrote to Griff (who accepts science), at WUWT it's considered a mistake to attempt to use your brain. I doubt Griff could practice not using his brain if he tried. He's a thinker, unlike all of Anthony's adoring fans:
March 10, 2017 at 9:29 am (excerpt)
You have again made the mistake of trying to think.

Pamela Gray is another whacko who, despite being a long-time WUWT commenter, hasn't ever bothered to read any science about climate change. Or if she has, she rejects physics and chemistry. She rejects experimental data showing that CO2 absorbs infrared radiation. She even rejects the fact that this evidence exists and that the wavelengths have been measured. She's just another WUWT crank.
March 10, 2017 at 8:55 am
Warming is warming is warming. There is no factual attributable evidence as to the cause in the temperature data. Natural and man made warming does not have distinguishing markers that sensors can detect. We have only correlations which as you know cannot by themselves determine cause and effect. Therefor everything you read regarding anthropogenic warming is more often than not speculation, occasionally conjecture, and very rarely theoretical.
More importantly, it is supposed to be warm as we are in an interstadial period. The null hypothesis must continue to rule if we are to abide by classical research methods.

I don't know if it's possible for Scott to get "dumber". He had a bizarre thought about some elementary science from an article at Yahoo news - water expands as it warms. I'm guessing that he thinks the oceans are expanding by pure magic. (Does he know how a bulb thermometer works?) Update: Numerobis has an eagle eye and pointed out the part that I missed. Scott was probably picking up on the "CO2 enters the ocean" part, not the "warm water expands" part. It's the cause attributed (CO2 in the ocean) that makes the sentence wrong.
March 10, 2017 at 5:24 am
Exact quote before they delete it … not even bothering on other whoppers in the article … “CO2 is also a contributor to sea level rise because as CO2 enters the ocean, it warms up the water and the water expands, and when it expands it has to go somewhere meaning the ocean will get bigger and our beaches will get smaller.”
And we will get dumber. I’m just amused by the liberal brain, and its ability to be like a child and creatively make up bs stories.
I skipped over a lot of the comments. Deniers are gleeful, mistakenly thinking that Scott Pruitt will change the behaviour of greenhouse gases by decree. (Like I said, WUWT-ers are nuts.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Like I said, WUWT-ers are nuts.)
    True but it now appears that most or all of the US cabinet and other senior appointees are nuts too.

    1. jrkrideau, I have wondered if the whole world is going nuts. Then I saw the results of today's Western Australian election. A massive swing against the sitting Liberals (conservative party), who did a deal with the fascist/conspiracy theorist One Nation party (Malcolm Roberts/Pauline Hanson).

      There's still room for some hope for the world.

    2. That is interesting. Also the Dutch and German racist climate change denying parties are going down in the poll since Trump started actively destroying America. This could be explained with local effects, but if it happens at more places it could be that people see what a catastrophe it is to have corrupt and often criminal leaders that cannot get to terms with reality.

    3. So Trump may be useful for something, after all.

    4. Well Erdogan has picked up support of the Dutch extreme right. Still two days out this election is full of black swans really.
      Best to hope for is another typically Dutch centre-right cabinet, which will again be climate revisionist as hell.

      Meantime, it is all merely end game. Paradise is around the corner.

  3. I must thank Anthony for preparing me for Trump. Without the understanding gained from watching denial at WUWT descending ever further into lunacy I would never have realised the limits of human stupidity until now.

    1. Do you think there are limits, Millicent? I used to think that, but they keep getting broken.

    2. If they were standing at the edge of an actual cliff they would not jump off it. Because they have no means by which to deny the cliff exists.

      But yes, if the existence of the cliff can be denied by any means, then off they will jump. The limits are sufficiently low that these people are willing to destroy both themselves and us. So in a practical sense there are no limits.

    3. The limit is paradise and it will be attained.

  4. The Republic of California stands ready to flip off the US.

    In the Face of a Trump Environmental Rollback, California Stands in Defiance

    Wharf Rat

  5. The quote that "Scott" copied is indeed messed up: "as CO2 enters the ocean, it warms up the water" -- this is false. The CO2 that enters the ocean doesn't warm up the ocean; it's the CO2 that stays in the atmosphere that does.

    But bad science reporting is as old as the hills. This is the only error in that report, which is better than what I often read. Typically the only accurate bits in a science story are the ones they quote directly from scientists, and even then they manage to mangle some of those quotes through misleading context.

    1. Oh, yes. I missed the part about CO2 entering the ocean. That's wrong, or there's a missing comma or something. I thought he was arguing that water doesn't expand as it warms up. I'll make a note.

    2. The heat of solution of CO2 into pure H20 at 15C is exothermic (−19.4 kJ/mol). I don't know if that is what the original source is getting at.

  6. By the way, I'm having trouble commenting on my mobile. If a captcha comes up, I have to scroll sideways to see it. But scrolling sideways often (not always) loads the previous/next story.

    If you can remove that scrolling behaviour it would make me quite happy -- I often trigger it accidentally while reading normally (I use my thumb to scroll, and my thumb doesn't go perfectly straight up/down the page). It also stops me from looking at most of your graphs (which are wider than the screen on the mobile, so I'd have to scroll sideways... but that often loads the next post).

    1. Is that happening on the mobile site or the desktop, numerobis?

    2. The mobile site.

    3. Thanks - and I'm sorry, numerobis. I'm afraid it's not something I can easily change (without risking site stability). I'll see if anyone else has found a solution but am not hopeful.

      I'll probably upgrade the site at some stage, but that won't be for a while yet. (Blogger is about the best option for blogs like this, but it doesn't have suitable responsive templates at this time. Hopefully that will change.)

  7. Apologies for the triple-post, but I suddenly remembered what I'd tried to write on my mobile that the swiping destroyed.

    I recently read Fourier 1824. It's a review of his past 15-20 years of research on planetary temperatures. He cites an experiment using a greenhouse as proof that air can hold temperature.

    He starts with the postulate that the natural state is to be cold like the void of space, and that you need some energy source to warm things up. He assumes there are basically three sources of energy: the centre of the Earth, warm but cooling from its creation; the Sun; and other stars.

    He shows that the centre of the Earth isn't heating up the surface much anymore. Until you dig rather deep into a mine, the average temperature through the year at the surface or at depth is the same -- it just doesn't vary as much at depth as on the surface.

    He also claims that the heat from stars isn't warm enough (he just cites that, doesn't really back it up in the review paper). So what keeps the surface warm at night? Fourier's answer: the atmosphere!

    And then he wheels out the "greenhouse" experiment. His greenhouse is a pair of glass plates, nothing else inside. How does that stay warm at night? Answer: the air! He skips too many details in his review to really support the conclusion, but he cites prior work.

    He mentions convection as well; he's not ignorant of that, mentioning that winds and ocean currents spread heat around the Earth. But he was working on a more basic problem: how does heat get stored at all. After all, convection can't move heat if the thing it's moving doesn't store heat. Basically, Fourier is just looking at heat capacity.

    Tyndall 1861 shows that CO2 and water in the atmosphere that can retain heat that would otherwise be radiated away. That completes Fourier's theory: just on the heat capacity of the atmosphere it would still cool too fast at night, but if you add in emissivity constraints it works out.

    Anyway, so these deniers are acting like it's the early 19th century and these basic concepts are still worth publishing and debating. I wonder if they have though of the atom yet? Tyndall 1861 spills some ink on that debate: he is for Dalton's theory. He also assumes the existence of the ether, which didn't work out so well.

  8. I followed Sou's URLs to Western Australia's state election results. It looks like WA has similar weird party nomenclature to British Columbia here -- the "Liberal" party is the conservative party.

    What happened to the Conservative Party? Don't ask, or I will have to give a history of Social Credit ...

    1. Liberal as in classical liberal. Quoth wikipedia:

      This led classical liberal politicians at the time to pass the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, which limited the provision of social assistance, because classical liberals believed in markets as the mechanism that would most efficiently lead to wealth. Adopting Thomas Malthus's population theory, they saw poor urban conditions as inevitable; they believed population growth would outstrip food production, and they regarded that consequence desirable, because starvation would help limit population growth. They opposed any income or wealth redistribution, which they believed would be dissipated by the lowest orders.

    2. Also in Germany and The Netherlands the liberal parties are the right wing wing parties.

      Nowadays it actually fits, now that the US political parties have become so extremely right the last years, the US Democrats would be right-wing parties in most of the world. I cannot imagine a European conservative party being against healthcare as a right for every citizen.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. liberal means very different things to most of the world than it in the usa.
    Rational wiki has a good post on the differences and why.

    PS. The Griff that sometimes comments here is not the Griff at WUWT.
    I do have an immense amount of respect for anyone who bothers to enter that cesspit of stupidity and ignorance.
    If any of the Griffs read this thanks brothers WUWT Griff,eGriff at the guardian and Griff at the WOPO for your climate change realist comments .

    Yours Kiwi Griff...

  10. There's an article about Pruitt at the NYTimes (h/t JR), which is quite depressing, but ends on the hopeful note that he might be moving on fairly soon. If he does, his replacement could be even worse I suppose.

  11. Here is the UK, it seems that Theresa May is poised to trigger Article 50. Is this Peak Stupid or is there worse to come?

    1. I'd love to think that it's the peak but given the way the political parties pander to newspapers that make Breitbart seem soft-left I fear it's just another marker on Britain's road to perdition.

  12. Unfortunately with the newspeak era we are all in there is a large number of the population who are totally disconnected from reality.
    Hence there are web sites that portray them selves as the only information service to the reader.
    So put into place is a person who is going to in earnest destroy the EPA.
    Just look at the other men and one i think lady in the administration.
    One of who was editor of an off the planet website that had very little connection with reality.
    These people make up the administration of the USA.
    All i can surmise is that very shortly "The Leader" will be impeached because some parts of the Republican Party realise that the present make up is deplorable and do not represent in any way a decent or sane stance.
    If this does not happen then I honestly think there is a huge problem with the direction of society.

    1. Republicans in Congress will only impeach the Unpresident if he gets in the way of their agenda (unlikely) or if his actions and unpopularity become so excessive as to undermine their chances of re-election. "Decent" and "sane" are not part of their values; neither, apparently, is the "common good".

  13. Thank God, you're back. At this point in the US we need all the Hotwhoppery you can throw our way!

    1. Well actually all the stuff NOT in the Hotwhoppery :-o !!! But I agree with your sentiments.

    2. On a similar note, Tamino over at Open Mind has gone quiet. Hope he's just having a break.

    3. Tamino just commented on Realclimte, so he might just be busy with work. He regularly has periods where he's really busy with projects.

  14. The toadying CNBC interviewer did not help one bit.

  15. With the proviso of the distinction between weather and climate, whilst the east coast of the US is enjoying a late winter storm, my locale is enjoying a midnight temperature of 24 °C. This is about 10 °C over the usual temperature for this time of day and year, and it must be quite a few standard deviations out of the range for a March midnight (I'm trying to track that statistic).

    The last few days have been bizarre. I planted my Galanthus and Fritillaria bulbs today, at what would normally be a nicely conducive time of year, and it felt as though I was four to six weeks early. Plants that I would normally expect to go dormant now are breaking new buds, and I am concerned that this growth will be damaged if it doesn't harden off before winter arrives: it's the late frost thing in obverse.

    Some of the horticulturists around are hoping that this doesn't presage a serious dip in the cumulative chill hours for the season. I'm wondering if my tulips will get enough for sufficient growth to set new bulbs after flowering.

    The climate has already changed... and it's showing no signs of stopping it's current trajectory.

  16. Interesting paper out:

    It seems that the "publish or perish" meme is overblown. This won't sit well with deniers who claim that climatologists are churning papers because of the pressure to do so, rather than because the science is correct...

  17. Richard's comment is written in a standard boilerplate denier template. As in, his comment with the change of a word or two is indistinguishable from any other science denial. Here, let's have fun ...

    It is worse than you say.
    On its main news programs the BBC is saying, “Much scientific evidence shows evolution is causing most of life's diversity."

    That is clearly wrong because there is no scientific evidence – none, zilch, nada – which shows evolution is causing ANY of life's diversity. There is only an hypothesis that evolution may be causing life's diversity and models constructed to show what effects of that hypothesis may be.

    There is no reason to wonder why the BBC is not citing any of the “scientific evidence” it is proclaiming: they cannot cite it, nobody can because it does not exist.

    Meanwhile, the BBC is NOT reporting the petition from The Discovery Institute..




Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL or OpenID. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.