Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Anthony Watts and WUWT move into UFO territory with the Daily Mail

Sou | 10:14 AM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

Source: Daily Mail as promoted by WUWT

You may have noticed that Anthony Watts blog is getting more Jesse Ventura-like every day. (I'd not heard of Jesse Ventura before coming across the conspiracy crowd.)

Today is no exception. Anthony's written about an article in the Daily Mail about a mysterious hole that appeared in northern Russia - on the Yamal peninsula (archived here).

The Daily Mail (archived here) speculates that it could be any number of things. In the headline it suggests it was a UFO landing site, presumably aliens from outer space, or a meteorite crater.

UFO landing site? Meteorite crater? Scientists baffled by gigantic 262ft hole that has appeared at Siberia's 'End of The World'

The Daily Mail writes: "There has been web speculation about the crater indicating 'the arrival of a UFO craft'."

Does Anthony scoff at the thought it could be a UFO? Oh, no. He elevates that notion to the same category as dendrochronology and paleoclimatology.

Does he reject the notion it could be a meteorite crater? Not at all.

But when it comes to speculation from a research scientist who specialises in permafrost research - that's what Anthony calls "climate craziness of the week".

Now getting science from the Daily Mail is weird enough, but what's weirder still is thinking that a "UFO landing site" is more plausible than an underground gas explosion. Well, I call that really weird.

The Siberian Times reports that scientist, Dr Anna Kurchatova from Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre (Tyumen State Oil and Gas University) speculates that the crater may have been formed:
...by a water, salt and gas mixture igniting an underground explosion, the result of global warming. She postulates that gas accumulated in ice mixed with sand beneath the surface, and that this was mixed with salt - some 10,000 years ago this area was a sea.
Global warming, causing an 'alarming' melt in the permafrost, released gas causing an effect like the popping of a Champagne bottle cork, she suggests.
Given the gas pipelines in this region such a happening is potentially dangerous.

Anthony Watts isn't kidding. He refers to scientific speculation as unprecedented craziness, writing:
I kid you not. The level of stupid here is unprecedented. 

Whatever caused the hole to appear, I guess the investigators will figure it out. The Siberian Times reported that soil was thrown out of the hole, which could suggest an explosion under the surface.

The Daily Mail article was a beat up for its tabloid audience, suitable fodder for gullible readers, with it's UFO landing site speculation. While the Daily Mail wrote of "Teams of scientists are rushing east...", and "An urgent expedition will leaves tomorrow...", the Siberian Times instead wrote that the hole has probably been there for a couple of years:
Initial reports and images were suspected to be fakes, but the hole is a real phenomenon and it is believed to have been formed around two years ago.
Engineer Konstantin Nikolaev from Yugra is one of those to have filmed it from a helicopter.  

From the WUWT comments

Not everyone at WUWT agreed with Anthony Watts that it was more likely to be a UFO landing site and the scientist was "crazy". philjourdan, although tipping his hat to global warming denial, says that "methane explosions happen all the time":
July 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm
I did not read the entire article, but what the Russians said did not seem to be so crazy:
But one Russian expert says the cause is more likely to be global warming releasing gases under the surface
Global warming releasing to me (and I am no expert at how the Russians phrase things) means that the gasses released by the crater are a part of the global warming cadre. Which is not unheard of. Methane explosions happen all the time.
And then on second thought, it could be they are saying that global warming released the gas. I guess you have to read it a couple of times. in that case, we do not have to worry about fracking. Global warming is now skynet and is self sustaining.

Curious George says:
July 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm
If this is not caused by global warming – what is?

Elmer approves of the wacky direction WUWT is taking and says:
July 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm
The good news is global warming is now being lumped in with things like UFOs.

GeologyJim says that permafrost can't melt below the surface:
July 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm
Impact crater? – most certainly not. Search “Gene Shoemaker USGS”
Gaseous vent? Possible. The venting velocity appears quite gentle, as nothing is thrown far from the throat. No ejecta rays indicating high velocity exhaust.
Jumbled appearance of ejecta may indicate permafrost blocks that subsequently sublimed.
But global warming? Anyone who has worked in shallow underground shafts, caves, or (even) basements knows that the temperature is nearly static below about 10 feet, regardless of outside air temperature.

Jim Clarke analyses the situation carefully from his ergonomic chair in his lounge room and sagely says:
July 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm
Here’s my theory. There was no explosion. It’s a sinkhole. Based on the evidence in the video there’s not enough material around the hole to indicate an explosion. Instead it looks like a deposit of debris from water flowing into the hole. I think the sink hole formed under a large shallow lake and the water flowing into the whole washed it clean. It looks like a natural cavern in the bottom of the sinkhole. It is difficult to tell the size, but there could be a massive underground cavern complex there. If we knew the exact coordinates of the hole we could google earth it and see if there was a lake there before. 

Matt isn't so keen on Anthony Watts going to the Daily Mail for "science" and likens the WUWT audience to the target audience of the Daily Mail, and presumably other UFO websites, and says:
July 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm
Why crazy? After all, the Corvette museum also disappeared in a hole due to climate change only recently :)
The comments are also true to Daily Mail’s form: somebody asking where the millions of tons of soil have gone to… WTF.
Let’s see… It is 80m wide, so the area is 3*40*40, and 80meters deep gives 400.000 cubic Meters. That’s 400K tons, not millions. As a side note, of course there wasn’t that much soil in the first place, or else where was the exploding gas hiding? Other Daily Mailers like to see the result of a nuclear explosion. Please stop posting DM “news “… 


  1. The good news is global warming is now being lumped in with things like UFOs.

    Oh, that began some time ago ... http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/01/01/monckton-in-nexus/

    1. That's worth more than its weight in gold (microparticles), Phil. It's priceless! :)

  2. Read The Siberian Times here

  3. Occam's razor says that it's all the Yamalian trees that didn't show a hockey stick trend in temps. The Russian scientists had managed to dig a huge hole and bury them all, but were afraid the AGW denier conspiracy theorists (who happened to be right about there being conspiracy just this one time) would eventually find out about them. So they blew them up to destroy the evidence once and for all.

  4. The Very Reverend Jebediah HypotenuseJuly 16, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    The Daily Mail speculates that...



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