Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fossil fuel-funded climate action - plus Anthony Watts has no cause to worry...

Sou | 7:13 PM Go to the first of 41 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has posted a "guest essay" by Eric "Eugenics" Worrall (archived here).  Eric is writing about a new climate fund set up by a US hedge fund billionaire, Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor. Huffington Post describes it as a climate victim relief fund. However at the same time, it reports it as a Climate Disaster Relief Fund, for which the:
...first order of business will be providing grants to firefighters, nurses and other first responders to the catastrophic fire season plaguing the west.

You can read about it here at Huffington Post. Sounds like a worthy venture. Eric Worrall is amused or bemused by a CBS report that Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor liquidated their holdings in Kinder Morgan, an energy company, to finance the venture.

Eric also noticed that Tom Steyer is spending a huge amount ($50m of his own and $50m from other donors) to fund nationwide political campaigns to "shape climate policy". Eric idly wonders:
Is it OK for large amounts of oil money to be expended influencing American politics, as long as the oil money is spent on helping Democrat candidates?

First of all, it appears to be idle speculation on Eric's part that there are large amounts of oil money being spent on helping Democrat candidates. There was nothing in either of the two articles I looked at to suggest that Tom Steyer's $50m is "oil money". Though that doesn't mean it's not. Secondly, it's cute that Eric thinks that "shaping climate policy" helps Democratic candidates. He's probably correct though, given that most Republican candidates want global warming to continue untrammeled at a great rate.

Oiling Democrats for climate action

What do you think. Is it okay for "large amounts of oil money" to go towards helping Democrat candidates? Does it depend on the source? For example, from liquidating assets previously tied up in oil stocks versus ongoing proceeds from going concern oil companies.

I'd say it wouldn't hurt for shareholders to consider shifting their investments from fossil fuel companies to renewable energy companies and I doubt you'd hear too many people complain. Or they could stick with their investment and use it to mobilise shareholder power and urge fossil fuel companies to progressively shift to renewable energy. In fact that's what some energy companies themselves are doing - albeit some more quickly than others.

Anthony Watts can rest easy - deniers don't stray from his herd

Incidentally, at the bottom of Eric's article Anthony wonders if he can get paid from a climate disaster relief fund for "being a victim of daily climate abuse" here at HotWhopper.  Is the HotWhopper rain dance working too well? Is it causing climate disaster at WUWT?

Not really.

Apart from the fact that demolishing some of the daily disinformation peddled by deniers at WUWT and elsewhere doesn't constitute "daily climate abuse", someone should tell Anthony he has no need to worry. Google stats show that barely any of his audience strays here.

Anthony, can breathe easy. He's safe with his loyal denier crowd. Very few of them visit science blogs.

Even when Anthony mentions HotWhopper in one of his main articles, like today, if his webstats are correct, then of his reported 50,000 plus visits a day, barely 0.03% 0.04%of his readers venture beyond the borders of denierland - even when prompted by Anthony to do so. (To compare, it takes almost two weeks for HotWhopper to get 50,000 page views. Not visitors mind you, just page views. HotWhopper is a minor player, a small irritation to WUWT. An itty bitty thorn in the flesh.)

Yep, out of his 50,000 plus reported daily visitors, so far only twelve twenty-one, that's right - a mere 12 21, have followed his link through to HotWhopper. (Updated around nine hours after the WUWT article was posted).

That's an infinitesimally small number compared to the rush of visitors if someone like Phil Plait links here.  Barely a spec of dust on planet Earth by comparison. I also get way more hits from a mention at ClimateProgress and heaps more visits from the sidebar links at Moyhu and RabettRun, or a retweet by Michael Mann. Even mid-sized discussion boards beat WUWT hands down when it comes to visits.  (He he, it's all true, but I only wrote it to rub salt in Anthony's imagined wound.)

I conclude that deniers don't like to travel. After all, why would Anthony's mad crowd want to be confronted with science when they can get all the pseudo-scientific reassurance they can handle at WUWT?

HotWhopper demolishes disinformation. It's for a completely different audience to Anthony's anti-science blog. It's for:
  • people who are interested in climate science and can tolerate a bit of snark
  • people who want to keep up with denier antics, or are looking for solid science with which to rebut denier nonsense on discussion boards and elsewhere
  • climate hawks and scientists, to give them a chuckle or groan at the idiocy that goes on at denier websites - with the bonus that they add a huge amount to the information here, keep me on the straight and narrow and otherwise are a very affable, friendly and knowledgeable lot.

Another solution for Anthony Watts

There is another solution for Anthony if he's really feeling abused by climate. It's simple, ethical and very easy - but I doubt he'd consider it. He could stop his daily abuse of science and scientists and not fill his blog with disinformation and pseudoscience, ripe for demolition.

PS Since observing/writing about WUWT over the past year and a bit, I have noticed a drop in the scientist-bashing recently, which used to be almost a daily feature there. It still happens of course, but not nearly as often.  I'd guess it's because scientists have started standing up to personal, libellous attacks. I haven't noticed a drop in paranoid conspiracy theories though.


  1. I don't like people wielding excessive influence because they are wealthy: that's not how democracies should work. But does WUWT ever object to the activities of people like the Kochs or Gina Rinehart?

    1. They aren't class-traitors like Steyer.

    2. Quebec has a $100 contribution limit for individuals, and corporations are banned from contributing to elections. Until recently the limit was $1000, which allowed some campaign-contribution corruption: at $1k you can quite easily gather a few dozen people and give out real money to buy influence (and then reimburse said people, which is illegal), but at $100 to do the same requires a large conspiracy.

      The real solution though is to more equitably share the economic resources around the population. It's hard to get democracy when there's a class that inherits power.

  2. This is not a science blog...it's not even academic.

    1. I agree Anonymous. But why the comment? I've made no such claim.

      I'd not call it a science blog either and it's far from academic. If anything, you could classify it as a climate blog, and say that it communicates climate science (among other things).

      Who am I to judge, though. Nature has listed HotWhopper as a "scientific blog" :) (I wouldn't have classified it as such)

    2. I expect Anonymous is comparing it with WUWT which thinks it is a science blog. (Perhaps he does too! Guffaw.)

    3. "Google stats show that barely any of his audience strays here.Anthony, can breathe easy. He's safe with his loyal denier crowd. Very few of them visit science blogs."

      I say again, this isn't a science blog. There isn't anything informative about climate or climate science.

    4. You must not be familiar with this blog, Anonymous. Here's just a few of the hundreds of HotWhopper articles about science:

      About ENSO
      About how volcanic activity in what is now Australia caused a mass extinction event in the Early-Middle Cambrian
      About how the big wet in 2010-11 caused a temporary massive uptake of CO2
      About the melting of Western Antarctica
      About temperatures during the Holocene - here and here - plus plenty more.
      Lots about the recent global warming

      And plenty more. Use the search bar for a climate-related topic of your choosing.

    5. @Anonymous

      To say that there isn't anything informative is just being unnecessarily dismissive. You can learn quite a lot on this blog even if it is only to take advantage of the links to informative articles. It is also useful at demonstrating how misinformation is presented and the tricks used to pull the wool over some peoples' eyes.

      I am not sure why you cannot accept the blog for what it is. It does not pretend to be anything else.

    6. Here are some of the best general science bloggers, IMO - by no means a complete list and not necessarily in this order:

      National Geographic - Carl Zimmer
      ArsTechnica  - John Timmer and others
      Slate - BadAstronomy - Phil Plait
      National Geographic - Ed Yong

      For climate science blogging - realclimate.org is the ultimate resource, with skepticalscience.com ranking way up there as well. Of course there are lots and lots of climate websites around that aren't blogs, like NASA etc. And there are lots and lots of other excellent general and specialty climate blogs, like Neven's Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

    7. No, no, no, Sou. You don't understand the rules of ClimateBall (TM), as played by folks such as our Anonymous here. Since realclimate disagrees with their ideology, it's *not* a climate science site. Nuh uh. It's a 'liberal propaganda' site. Category errors can be useful...

    8. Gosh darn it anonymous, you are so right. All Sou does is provide a detailed critique of the mind bogglingly obvious (and all too numerous) errors posted at WUWT. Now if she really wanted to post devasting criticism she'd write something like:

      "WUWT is not a science blog...it's not even academic."

      Now that is just so eloquent and so on the nail: how I wish I had thought of it.

    9. "WUWT is not a science blog..."


      Oh, no!

      Now where am I going to get my science from then?

  3. ~(: >) I seriously wonder why you allow Anonymous comment , As a full on denier I am more than happy to reveal my name here and have been treated with courtesy when I have been courteous or even a tad mischievous.
    Anyway , to the point , who is Steyer and why is he/she a class traitor ,did she /he inform the headmistress of devious doings in the classroom?

    1. What does it matter what my name is? Seems most use some form of pseudonym anyway.

    2. One reason is it gets confusing if there is more than one Anonymous. Suggest you use a pseudonym or sign your posts with an identifier.

    3. Oh, come on - this isn't confusing at all. Everyone can tell who's talking and who's not.

    4. I can tell who's talking and who's not even if no-one else can. Who cares anyway. A comment is a comment.

    5. It's hard to tell which anonymous wrote what above - anonymice tend to talk to themselves. I say let them.

    6. "...anonymice tend to talk to themselves. I say let them."

      Did you/I/we mean:

      "I say let me" or "I say let us"? Surely not them? Oh bother. Having a debate with myself.

  4. “I conclude that deniers don't like to travel.”

    Not necessarily true. Sometimes they travel in herds. Posts that refer to consensus or that critically examine denialism can be swarmed. My impression is that a nod from one or more septic blogs can set off a stampede. Also, they may be more likely to travel to blogs that allow the kind of comments that most deniers write. Hot Whopper doesn't seem to allow such comments, so it challenges them without offering the self-congratulatory confirmation they seek.

    On Watts:
    “He could stop his daily abuse of science and scientists and not fill his blog with disinformation and pseudoscience, ripe for demolition.”

    If he did he would lose his following and his livelihood. He came perilously close to that by committing himself to accepting the BEST study, no matter what the results.

    I very much consider this to be a science blog and I enjoy intelligent snark. I've noticed that Hot Whopper isn't just read by eager-to-learners like myself, but by genuine climate scientists, and I think that's a seal of quality. But if one comes here rejecting the science and believing s/he knows everything, then any alternative to ignorance is a waste of time.


  5. Which genuine climate scientists are those? What degrees must one possess to be a climate scientist? What field must one work in to be a climate scientist and how long must they work in their field to be considered a climate scientist?

    1. Hopefully better qualified than Christopher Monckton, Anthoney Watts etc. Why don't the "skeptics" apply their critical thinking skills to most of the stuff they come out with on WUWT?
      This is a serious point by the way. Presumably like most at WUWT you accept their claims but cannot accept mainstream climate science which as R. Toll has shown the vast majority of scientific papers support?


    2. This must be a different Anonymous to the one who pretended to be so knowledgeable about climate science that they thought this blog didn't write about it :) Now they are asking what climate science is and for some names of climate scientists. It really does pay to put a name to the comment.

      A climate scientist is a person who does scientific research relating to climate. The term is general as there are many specialist fields that can be described under the general catch-all of climate science. It can include a lot of areas relating to the earth system in general, but would mainly be applied to people who do research that is related to climate - though they may do other related research as well.

      A person can enter the broad field from a wide variety of disciplines. Often their doctorate or post-doc dictates the particular area in which they will end up working, but not necessarily. As with any scientist (or academic or any professional), a person may change fields early in their career or even later in their career.

      There are thousands of climate scientists working today in a wide range of areas. Some examples of a few you may or may not have heard of are Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, Isaac Held, Victor Venema, Andrew Dessler, Steve Easterbrook, Matthew England, David Karoly, James Hansen, Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Eric Steig, Sophie Lewis, Ray Bradley, Stephan Rahmstorf, Keith Briffa, Phil Jones, Richard Alley, Michael Oppenheimer, Ben Santer, David Archer, Wallace Broecker etc etc. A few of those people (and other scientists) read and have commented at HW.

      A good place to find names of climate scientists is the IPCC reports, which lists IPCC authors as well as thousands of scientific papers, with the authors listed along with them.

      I wish you well in your journey to learn about climate.

    3. R. Toll is a genuine climate scientist and regular reader of this blog, is that a correct interpretation of your answer?

    4. Who is R. Toll?

      Do you mean Richard Tol? (Don't worry, before I knew much about him I misspelt his name on occasion, too.)

      Richard's not a physical or biological scientist he's a climate economist. You could stretch the point by arguing that economics is a science - but to the layperson, no - he'd be considered an economist who specialises in climate-related economics.

      Generally the term "climate scientist" is reserved for people who study the earth systems or observe and analyses changes relating to climate. Examples are climate modelers, paleoclimate researchers, atmospheric scientists like Antarctic researchers measuring ozone and analysing the impact of changes to the climate and earth system.

    5. Is that you, Richard?

    6. Here's a video showing people who say "I'm not a climate scientist but..." that also features a whole bunch of young Australian climate scientists - poking fun at all the climate scientist bashing that goes on at places like WUWT. (Warning - language!)


    7. "Richard's not a physical or biological scientist he's a climate economist."

      Tol is most definitely not a scientist. And if he's a climate economist he's not a very good one, or he'd not have made the very public, very embarrassing, and very serious mistakes that he has.

      And this is not snark, it's just a trivial observation.

    8. To be fair, Bernard, Richard's biggest most public mistakes were when he ventured outside his own field to take potshots at John Cook and co's paper. It was Richard who chose the high profile public route too, leaving himself wide open.

      I know he's been picked up on mistakes in his own work too, but everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Richard just happens to choose to air his mistakes very publicly, drawing attention to them. Not just with the Cook fiasco, but with his IPCC tantrum as well. I'd think that most people fix their mistakes quietly when they realise they've made one - or when someone else points it out to them. Richard tends not to go that route. That's just him.

    9. Sou, I think a couple of the scientists in your list do not deserve the title of scientist. Even if once they were scientists, they have, in my view, forfeited the status of that title for losing objectivity and promoting misinformation.

      But then you have always tried and be inclusive. :)

    10. If Richard Tol is not a scientist , climate scientist, garnished in climate academia , then how come he was a lead writer on so many IPCC reports?

    11. Is he? I searched his name in the 2013 WGI report (physical sciences) and he has two papers in the bibliography. One of them is cited in the report a few times. Not a lead author or contributing author. In which specific IPCC reports is he a "a lead writer?" -- Dennis

    12. @Ernest

      I do not know exactly what the remit of the IPCC is but I am sure it includes hearing from other disciplines such as economics.

      Now, whether Richard Tol is a good choice of economist for that role is another question. Perhaps the one you are asking? In my opinion no, a very poor choice.

    13. Ernest, there are three volumes of the IPCC reports, with three different "working groups".

      WG1 is the physical science basis - and that's where you'll go to for climate science itself.

      WG2 is Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

      WG3 is Mitigation of Climate Change

      As an economist, Richard has been involved in both WG2 and WG3 I believe.


  6. Tol is a professor of economics. He contributed to "The Summary for Policy
    Makers" and in part of chapter 10 regarding economic some of the costs and benefit of changes in climate - as far as I know, that is it.

    He is an economist not a climate scientist.

    Of course, some people consider economics a science ;)

  7. apologies, he contributed to the draft to the summary and some controversial data from a 2013 paper of his was cited in chapter 10

  8. Hate to see good people being taken in by time-wasting denier fuckwits, like the anynomous poster pretending to not know what a climate scientist is. You shouldn't have bothered with your considered and patient (albeit wasted) response.
    Surely the poster is not so dimwitted that they can't work it out for themselves.

    I'm quite sure he/she is just a troll, a WUWT-er who's miffed because you have the temerity to expose his/her infamously clueless leader, the great Anthony Watts, for what he is _ a dumb idiot.

    And so he/she comes here to waste your time as a sort of payback. These people are like brainwashed cult followers _ expose their leader as a fraud and they won't become liberated and thank you for it, they'll attack you instead for saying bad things about their guru.
    Good job, btw. I'm only a relatively recent lurker. Love your snarky sense of humour.


    1. You are probably right Jp. Say 19 out of 20 denier visitors get nothing out of their visit there is one who maybe just notices the ethos here is slightly different and makes more sense.

      One saved sinner! Hallelujah.

      Even Ernest above, as a full blown denier, admits he is treated relatively civilly here. (Though smacked down when he gets too cheeky!) :)

    2. Not a WUWTer, though I do read the odd article there, as I do elsewhere. The question was sincere. Among all of the chemists, physicists, biologists, engineers, mathematicians, meteorologists, and so on, what defines them as a climate scientist or climatologist? Regardless of their employer in their chosen field, do not all possess, more or less, the same fundamental understanding and background of that field.

    3. All of us with some science education share fundamentals - conservation laws and thermodynamics, for instance. A geologist whose field is magmatic chemistry may know no more about climate; one who studies ice-ages presumably will. People who specialise in climate science obviously do.

      I'm not convinced Tol understands thermodynamics let alone anything more relevant to climate. A climate scientist he certainly isn't. On the evidence, he does show every sign of being a bit of a dick.


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