UPDATE:  Watts has posted two comments below that contain a disingenuous admission of error and several more outrageous falsehoods.  While Watts asserts below, “I was not aware of the issue until Dr. Muller communicated with me,” the truth is that Watts has known for six days that his post was in grave error — but it is only my post here that forced him to concede the mistake.

It was fairly obvious the discredited denier Anthony Watts made a false statement and egregious blunder last week when he attacked the initial findings of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project.  Of course, that’s true of most posts on WattsUpWithThat, but this fabrication stands out because Watts usually attacks climate science, not the confusionists.

Here’s the hilarious story of Watts’ self-inflicted implosion, what Shakespeare called being hoist with his own petard.

Last week, the deniers were unhappy that climatologist Ken Caldeira emailed me that BEST’s initial results “confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU.”

As I hoped, my post led the discredited denier Anthony Watts to blurt out in a blog post his close involvement with BEST and his intentions to try to twist the results.  But what I didn’t expect was that Watts would go so far as to make stuff up in order to attack BEST.

Watts noted that “the Initial Findings statement from BEST, written by lead scientist Robert Rhode,” states:

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has not yet done the analysis of the full data set with the corrections to produce a global surface temperature trend. We are first analyzing a small subset of data (2%)….

A preliminary analysis of 2% of the Berkeley Earth dataset shows a global temperature trend … broadly in sync with the temperature records from other groups such as NOAA, NASA, and Hadley CRU.

… the preliminary analysis includes only a very small subset (2%) of randomly chosen data …

Then Watts immediately attacks:

That 2% subset they refer to is some weather stations in Japan. They chose Japan because it made for a compact insular test case for the code, combining rural, urban, and airport stations under one organization’s output to keep it simple. Like Ken Caldeira, I’ve seen that preliminary 2% output. I’ve also seen a lot of other things, some things Caldieira hasn’t seen that the BEST team has shared with me. So has Zeke and Mosher, but neither they nor I are screaming “exclusive” and jumping to conclusions like Romm is doing over Caldeira’s general statement on that 2% sample run to test the code.

What’s even funnier is that whenever we mention USHCN trends for USA stations, AGW proponents are quick to point out that the USA has only about 6% of the land surface area of the Earth (USA: 9,629,091 km2, Earth: 148,940,000 km2 source), but they are now willing to go with the weather station data from 377,930 square kilometers of Japan’s land area which is 0.25% of the Earth’s surface area, as enough for “confirmation” of a global trend.

No.  Not even close.  The exact opposite of the truth, in fact.

It was pretty obvious then that BEST — no matter how screwed up it is thanks to Muller and Curry and the input of deniers like Watts and Steven Mosher — would never claim that a bunch of Japanese weather stations

  • could possibly show “a global temperature trend”
  • could possibly be called “randomly chosen data”

And now, in fact, Dr. Rohde himself has directly confirmed that the 2% sample refers to the whole globe:

“The 2% samples are a random selection of stations (i.e. from a list of all stations). They have the same spatial characteristics as the 100% sample in that regions which are heavily oversampled (or undersampled) in the whole set would be expected to be similarly over sampled (or undersampled) in a 2% subnetwork.”

Only former TV weatherman Watts could imagine any group of scientists and statisticians would publicly claim that data taken from 0.25% of the Earth’s surface area could be random and determine a global trend.  But why he fabricated this attack on BEST’s initial findings — and, more bizarrely, why he called the Berkeley team “AGW proponents,” when it includes the likes of Richard Muller and Judith Curry (!) — is anyone’s guess.

Here’s my theory.  Watts is the person on the Internet most responsible for viciously smearing scientists and spreading disinformation on global warming, particularly disinformation on the surface temperature record (see Watts urges WattsUpWithThat readers to disrupt Forbes blog: “shout them down in the comments section”).

Watts infamously coauthored a “report” accusing top U.S. scientists of various kinds of misfeasance and malfeasance in the global temperature record.  It was utterly debunked last March (see Wattergate: Tamino debunks “just plain wrong” Anthony Watts).  As Tamino wrote, “your use of false claims to accuse NOAA scientists of deliberate deception was not just mistaken, it was unethical.”

Along comes the Berkeley group, which Watts starts working with.  But Caldeira then explains what the preliminary results are, which disagree with Watts’ disinformation.

Watts then claims he has seen things that Caldeira — a project funder and one of the country’s top climatologists — hasn’t seen.  He then reveals his true agenda in the post:

The issue hasn’t been the slight warming over the past century, we’ve always conceded that there is some. The issue has always been magnitude, uncertainties, and cause. With the BEST project, we’ll get closer to the ground truth of magnitude and uncertainties….

His goal is to try to reduce the magnitude and push up the uncertainties in the final report.  He repeats a claim he wrote earlier:

I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.

But now Caldeira explains the analysis supports “in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and H
adCRU.”  Even Mosher, another denier working with BEST, says, “I believe BEST will confirm … the answers given by CRU and GISS are largely correct.”

And finally project chair Muller himself has stated in a public talk what the main findings are:

  • “We are seeing substantial global warming”
  • “None of the effects raised by the [skeptics] is going to have anything more than a marginal effect on the amount of global warming.”

That directly contradicts Watts.  Indeed, it directly contradicts the core premise of WattsUpWithThat.

So the question is, will Anthony Watts keep his word and concede, finally, that there has been substantial warming in recent decades and that the results given by CRU and GISS are largely correct?

Or will he find a way to change the final results?

Or perhaps he’ll just make more stuff up and try to pass it off as the “insider” truth of what really happened.

To update the old saying, people who live in glass houses don’t actually like transparency.

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