Skewering Anthony Watts' Anti-Science

  • Published on March 31st, 2013
John Abraham
John Abraham

It’s been awhile since we posted any takedowns of global warming deniers (or science deniers in general). However, I ran across one this week that really deserves a share.

If you’re not familiar with Anthony Watts, he’s one of the leaders of the anti-science crew that thinks global warming isn’t happening (I know, it’s hard to believe anyone is still in that boat). Peter Sinclair writes: “Mr Watts is  known as a reliable supplier of denialist helium to residents of GlennBeckistan.”

Peter recently reshared an interview with Professor John Abraham about Mr Watts that was published on It’s a must-read for anyone at all interested in the whole “facts versus total BS debate” that goes on in one small corner of the global warming world. So, here it is:

John Abraham: The fact is that Mr. Watts is not a pragmatic sceptic. Real scientists are sceptical by nature. We don’t believe what our colleagues tell us until we verify it for ourselves.  Scientists honestly develop views of how the world works and they test those views by experimentation. As a result of approximately 150 years of climate science, the vast majority of scientists are convinced that humans are a major cause of climate change. Mr. Watts, on the other hand, dismisses evidence that is counter to his viewpoint. That is not scepticism–that is plain denial.

Let me expand on this by going back to his interview. Mr. Watts’s claimed that:

“’Global warming’ suggests a steady linear increase in temperature, but since that isn’t happening, proponents have shifted to the more universal term “climate change,” which can be liberally applied to just about anything observable in the atmosphere.”

First, scientists have never predicted a linear increase in temperature–we are not that naive. Things are much more complex than that.

Mr. Watts also argues that “proponents” have shifted from using the phrase global warming to “climate change”. He didn’t bother telling you that this was actually suggested by a conservative consultant, Frank Luntz, as a way to reduce public concern. Ironically, “climate change” is a better description of what is happening, and climate scientists use it to be more accurate. Let me give you some examples….

•         We are causing the ocean chemistry (pH) to change–that isn’t warming or cooling.
•         We are causing some areas to become wetter and others to become drier–again, not warming.
•         We are increasing humidity in the atmosphere.
•         We are cooling the upper part of the atmosphere (the stratosphere).
•         We are making weather swings more severe.
•         We are losing polar ice at a rapid rate.
•         Warmer oceans make hurricanes more severe here and here.

Mr. Watts and others who deny that humans are a major cause of climate change have helped to create an environment where scientists are attacked mercilessly for their science. I have been attacked numerous times on Mr. Watts’s website, as have my colleagues. How can we encourage young scientists to go into this field when they are promised personal attacks and vilification? Fortunately, young bright scientists go into this field anyway and I am excited about the new crop of young minds that are rising through the ranks.

James Stafford: Watts spends a great deal of time discussing the “heat sink” effect in urban areas. Can you offer us an alternative view on what this means in terms of climate change?

John Abraham: This issue has been the calling card of Mr. Watts. Unfortunately, he did not disclose much in his comments.

•         He didn’t tell you that he actually published a paper on this subject a few years ago where he concluded that temperature sensor siting had no impact on temperature trends.
•         He didn’t tell you that other groups have looked at this issue and made similar conclusions.
•         He didn’t tell you that recently a Koch-funded study looked at this issue and concluded that the real climate scientists were right: locations of temperature sensors didn’t matter.
•         He didn’t tell you that he initially supported the Koch-funded study until the results were made known.
•         He didn’t tell you that measurements of the atmosphere made by weather balloons and satellites agree the Earth is warming.
•    He didn’t tell you that measurements of the ocean show a significant and long-term increase in temperature.
•    He didn’t tell you that the vast majority of glaciers are losing ice, as are Greenland and Antarctica.
•         Finally, he didn’t tell you that in the last 30 years, approximately 75% of the Arctic ice which remains at the end of the melting season has disappeared.

It isn’t surprising that Mr. Watts disagrees with all of these other researchers. What I was surprised by was the fact he seems to disagree with his own research.

By the way, Peter also has a great video that features Mr Watts that you might want to check out:

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.
  • Dusty McDustin’

    This is a poorly done smear.
    How can you say Anthony Watts is “anti-science” in one sentence and then go on to criticize the peer-reviewed scientific journal article that he wrote, in another? I think it would be more accurate to say that he is a scientist who disagrees with the common viewpoint. I think you should focus more on the studies he has conducted instead of using ad hominem attacks to discredit him.

  • Froi Vincenton

    Watts is a scientist, while you are? Yes, a climate propagandist.