“Watts Up With That” descends from climate change denial into conspiracy lunacy

  • Published on July 31st, 2018

After taking something of a break in mocking the deniers, Sou at HotWhopper is back with a vengeance. She took aim at a string of posts at climate denial central – Watts Up With That – over the last week that encapsulate the ever-more conspiratorial and unhinged rantings found at the site – a sad decline in quality for the blog that was once home to slightly more sophisticated pseudoscience and not simply rank conspiracy-mongering. How times have changed.

June 2018 heath map GISTempBy Climate Denier Roundup

First up on Sou’s WUWT docket last week: a pretty typical-for-WUWT guest piece by Larry Hamlin disputing the implications of the current heat wave. In the original post, Hamlin claims the LA heat wave wasn’t a big deal because there have been other hot Junes in the US in the past. Sou zooms out a little for her rebuttal, looking at the global temperatures and finding that, surprise! Global warming is real and this heat wave was a big deal.

“…when you put Larry’s USA/Californian June temperatures in the global context, it highlights the ridiculousness of deniers. Early last century the world as a whole was much colder than it is today. This century we’re really getting a taste of what’s to come. This past few weeks we’ve been getting a horrific taste of what’s to come much more often, with deadly fires, drought, killer heat waves and floods widespread over the northern hemisphere, not to mention the drought back here in Australia. It isn’t just hot in California and the USA, it’s hot in lots of places…”

After ignoring the big picture and focusing on the local, the next guest post, also by Larry Hamlin, does the opposite: complains about a local story on emissions in California ignoring the global context. Again, Sou’s there to point out the hypocrisy and deception on display at WUWT. Why is it that Hamlin focuses on the hyper-local when downplaying a global heat wave in one post, but then goes global to try and counter a story specific to how California’s reducing its emissions? Is a little consistency too much to ask? Yes, apparently.

“There are fires raging in Greece, where at least 74 people are feared dead.

There has been a killer heatwave in Japan that broke high temperature records, has claimed at least 77 lives and sent more than 30,000 people to hospital.

This follows the tragically disastrous floods that killed upwards of 200 people.

Then there was the horrific tragedy in Laos, where monsoon rains led to 5 billion cubic metres of water flowing from a busted new hydro dam, killing who knows how many people and with hundreds missing and leaving 6,600 people homeless.”

Then, still obsessing over ways to dispute the importance of the global heat wave, Watts made a post accusing NASA GISS of lying with its maps. They’re not, of course, as Sou explains in her rebuttal. She also reminded us of the time Watts claimed two people in a temporary camp were influencing Antarctic thermometer readings thousands of miles away.

Calling thermometers and the scientists who set them up liars is par for the Watts course though. What’s indicative of the fact that there’s no bottom on how low deniers will sink is a WUWT post that cites Prison Planet. As Sou describes in her rebuttal, Prison Planet is an Alex Jones site–you know, the infamous conspiracy theorist who has ranted about how nefarious forces are using tap water to achieve their goal of “turning the freaking frogs gay.” (Oh, and Jones was also big on the pizzagate conspiracy and claims the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.)

“WUWT has recently reinvigorated its crusade to libel or solicit libel of prominent climate scientists and climate hawks. In the last couple of days there have been articles about Michael Mann and Ben Santer, for example. When all else fails, disinformers turn to lying smears.”

A real class act. (“Act” being the operative word, as in the custody battle for his children, a lawyer for Jones has claimed his shtick is just that–a character.)

With posts that cite Prison Planet, it should be no surprise that Google’s algorithm changes to devalue low-quality sites has pushed WUWT down in the search results. Nevertheless, WUWT ran a guest post alleging that there may have been a big conspiracy theory at Google to intentionally bias their search algorithms against climate skeptics.

No, as the post itself described, Google is working to fix the fake news problem by pushing low quality content further down the search results. That means content that, like WUWT, presents misleading information and cites insane conspiracy theorists as though they’re factual.

“You probably noticed that, as climate science deniers tend to do with temperature charts, Kip’s 30% measurement started at an unusually high point. (He may not have been able to get much earlier data because WUWT moved to a new server at the end of May this year and Anthony Watts might not have kept stats the same way on the old server. Who knows?)”

Maybe Watts is going down the Jones route, and has fully embraced his role as a performance artist? Maybe he’s not a denier after all, and is instead just acting as one? After all, as a recent NYT op-ed points out, it’s largely politics, not science, that spurs denial. If Watts were only acting as a denier, and is actually a caricature of one as part of a performance art piece, it’d certainly explain some things…

(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)

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