Sunday, September 18, 2016

Don't make promises you can't keep...

Sou | 8:52 PM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment
Occasionally I've made promises that I haven't kept, including some here on this blog. On rare occasions I've promised to write about something at some point in the future and haven't. In the past few months Judith Curry hinted that she would be paying more attention to her blog. Or that's how I've interpreted Judith. She doesn't write much herself, apart from long lists of links to what she finds interesting on the internet. Her blog is mainly a notice board for denier tripe. Even the articles Judith posts under her own name are usually large slabs copied from somewhere else, with a short note from Judith at the bottom saying as little as possible.

Anthony Watts is the same. It does look as if he's at least reading his blog from time to time now, but there's little sign that he's going to write much himself in the future, any more than he has in the past. Which is probably a good thing.

The Broken Society Promise

As Millicent pointed out recently, it's now more than two years since Anthony Watts announced with great gusto at WUWT his new denialist society: The Open Atmospheric Society. He'd hidden it for two years prior to that, having set it up in 2012, four years ago. He got lots of people to send him lots of money by way of subscriptions. I've not seen anyone complain that they've not got what they paid for, which probably isn't surprising since they may have known they paid for nothing at all.

In April 2015, the OAS managed to get tax exemption status as a 501 C 3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, though Anthony didn't announce the fact till June last year. There are rules in place for this. The rules must be interpreted in a very lax manner. I say this because he used the lack of tax exemption as an excuse to not meet the requirements of the charter of the OAS.

It wasn't until July last year, about three years after he created the organisation, that he called for nominations to the board. Fifteen months further on and there's still no announcement of Board members. In other words, from July 2012 when the OAS was established, to now - four years and three months have passed and the organisation seems almost as dead as the day it was started.

The Broken Paper Promise

That's not the only promise that's taking a rather long time to be kept. Remember back in July 2012 when Anthony Watts hopefully put out a press release about his "paper" that "proved" that it wasn't warming in the USA? (I don't think the "press release" was published anywhere in the mainstream media. It was just for show at WUWT.) He wanted to take the limelight away from the Berkeley Earth team, when it announced that their analysis showed that all the other analysis of global surface temperature since the 1800s were right after all. The only thing Anthony has managed since finding out that his early analysis had a fatal flaw (it didn't allow for the changes in time of observation), was to have a poster at AGU15.  He didn't let on to his fans that practically anyone can show a poster at AGU Fall Meetings, no matter whether they are "right" or "wrong".

Nothing much since, except a hint of a promise.

The Broken Prophecies and Predictions

There are also lots of broken prophecies on denier blogs. Remember Judith promoting Marcia Wyatt's stadium wave hypothesis? That was touting the following back in 2013:
  • The current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s (link) - since then we've had two-in-a-row hottest years on record and this year will break both those records;
  • It was said by Judith to be in contrast to a prediction of an "imminent resumption of the warming" and a rise of between "0.3 C and 0.7 C" from 2016 to 2035. (link) - It turns out that last year was 0.2 C hotter than 2013, and so far this year it's on average 0.4 C hotter, though that will drop as the year goes on. I don't think there's much chance of the temperatures of the next two decades being the same as they were in 2013.
  • About the Arctic sea ice, the stadium wave hypothesis predicts "future decades will see the North Atlantic Ocean begin to cool and sea ice in the Eurasian Arctic region begin to rebound" (link) and "a reversal of this trend of declining sea ice" (link). - Contrary to the reversal expected by Judith and Marcia, this year was the second lowest ice extent in the record, second only to 2012. 2014's minimum was a bit below that of 2013. 2015 was lower still and this year it was even lower. It's too soon to say what future years will bring, but it's not very likely that Arctic sea ice will expand any time soon.

Then there are all the ice age cometh predictions from WUWT and elsewhere. None of which, needless to say, show any sign of coming true.

The moral of this story...

Anyway, the moral of this story is, which I will try to take to heart - don't make promises you can't keep. Unless you're a denier, that is. If you're a science denier you're not held to the same standards as the rest of us mere mortals. Deniers don't care about broken promises made by other deniers :(

Oh, and be wary of making predictions that go against mainstream science.

References and Further Reading

Wyatt, Marcia Glaze, and Judith A. Curry. "Role for Eurasian Arctic shelf sea ice in a secularly varying hemispheric climate signal during the 20th century." Climate dynamics 42, no. 9-10 (2014): 2763-2782. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-1950-2 (pdf here)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. Excellent summary, and a good warning to us all.

    Deniers do still trot out the "climate predictions keep failing" meme. The sad thing is that it is the deniers' predictions that keep failing. The forecasts made by actual climate scientists (not predictions--climate scientists don't make predictions) have "failed" only in that they sometimes turn out to be too conservative.

  2. IIUC they don't even make forecasts: they make projections.

  3. My favorite broken promise was when he said he would accept the results of Muller's Berkeley (my alma mater) Earth work.

  4. Isn't it wonderful how Anthony's fanboys know better than to enquire as to what is happening with the OAS?

  5. The article also brings to mind the Cool Futures Fund that you wrote about back on June 21. It's likely to be another failed initiative from the deniers.

    1. You're right. I'd forgotten about that one.

    2. BTW Cool Futures is going great guns. It has raised another $9,000 in the past 3 months. At the rate they are going they'll reach their target in about nine years, if they can maintain this strong demand :) After they've reached their target (which is just for setup costs) they promised to start raising money for the Cool Futures fund itself.


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