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Discussion > Reliable sources?

Having read Christopher Booker's and Václav Klaus's books on climate change and dipped into a few blogs, I've only recently started taking an interest in the wider range of views on climate change and am still getting my bearings.

Does anyone have any thoughts on John Abraham's comments about Anthony Watts' opinions, which was posted on Tom Nelson's blog.

I had got the impression that Watts was a source of reliable information. Should someone looking for truth in all of this mire be wary? Has anyone else detected Watts' blinkered view that Abraham discusses?

Mar 27, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Furniss

In a word, no. In slightly more words, not everyone who comments on Anthony Watts' blog What's Up With That? is as open to evidence of all kinds as Anthony himself is. And we no doubt all have our blind spots. But Abraham's use of the epithet 'denial' (originally concocted in a disgraceful allusion to Holocaust denial) and his other introductory remarks suggest to me you should be wary of whether he's going to guide you towards truth or just increase the mire.

Best wishes with your journey!

Mar 27, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Most of the article you link to appears to repeat the old well-worn warmist arguments — which doesn't necessarily make them wrong, of course — which have been challenged by others with climate qualifications somewhat better than Dr Abraham whose CV does not suggest any particular expertise in that area.
The examples he quotes have been circulated so often and so widely that they are almost capable of doing the rounds on their own — ocean acidification, increased hurricanes (in the face of the evidence that hurricane activity is at a low ebb), loss of polar ice (only in the Arctic and then for all sorts of reasons and anyway the "record" they keep talking about only goes back to 1979), etc, etc.
Being a sceptic of long standing I might be accused of bias but WUWT certainly allows all views to be aired, as does Bishop Hill (barring the occasional deliberate thread derailment by the odd troll).
You could be setting out on a long trip, but as Richard Drake says 'good luck'.

Mar 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I've recently put my faith in two reliable sources, Professor Snow and Dr. Jack Frost. I'd hoped for a contribution from Dr. Fahrenheit, but he hasn't put in an appearance.

Mar 27, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Read Anthony's own reply.

Mar 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thanks for your replies. Can anyone recommend any other books that give a good balanced view?

I am particularly interested in the way in which information is presented to the public. I work part time for a magazine as a sub editor and was writing a caption for a picture of a polar bear apparently stranded on a chunk of ice.

Having read about the amount of spin used by some environmentalists, I was nevertheless amazed to see it in action:

Compare this story about polar bears (which I'm sure isn't news to those in the know):

with how WWF depict the situation:

Mar 27, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Furniss

My own two penneth.

Nobody can tell you what the climate will be in the future. As sceptics have said all along, it’s complicated. To the best of my knowledge Anthony Watts hasn’t come out with a figure for the effects of CO2 on temperature, he just opens your eyes to what is being done or not done in the name of climate change. What you do with that information is up to you. Not a single sceptic will stop you from insulating your loft, getting a more efficient boiler or turning down the heating. We just don’t want other people to make decisions for us, especially decisions based on hugely biased information.

On the one hand I can see that CO2 could be a problem, on the other I know that cutting CO2 is next to impossible. To deal with CO2 would require extraordinary proof which is so far unforthcoming. I’m more than happy that Mr Watts does a great job needling the warmist side because they desperately need to raise their game… or CO2 isn’t much of a problem and the sceptic position is the right one.

Everything Anthony Watts writes is consistent with being a reasonably smart guy who’s noticed climate science is less than it should be. He doesn’t dismiss the problem or tell you everything is fine. He tells you his opinion but doesn’t sell it. He even has solar panels, an electric car and low energy lighting so as an agent for fossil fuels he’s a mole for the other side.

Do I trust him? Absolutely. Is he right to bring the faults of climate science to public attntion? Absolutely. Will CO2 lead to catastrophic warming? Who knows.

Mar 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Anthony Watts is not a "denier" - he is routinely slandered with this unpleasant term, when he has frequently and publicly stated the opposite. He does believe that CO2 and other "greenhouse" gases have an effect on the climate. What he questions is the quantum of the effect and the assumptions about sensitivity and forcings.

One of the reasons his blog is so phenomenally successful is that he encourages a range of views from guest posters and commenters. Far from being an echo-chamber, his site is often ablaze with controversy over a particular issue.

His integrity is another big selling point. He admits his mistakes promptly and openly, and has several times resisted opportunities to score points by using what he regards as unethical tactics. For example, he found out that a site which regularly reviles and abuses him had a security breach. He told them about it privately, rather than posting it on his blog as a 'gotcha.'

Nobody's perfect, but it is telling that despite years of attacks from the pro CAGW crowd, Watts' reputation and success are if anything, growing.

This aversion to sharp practice is also a characteristic of bloggers like Steve McIntyre, Hilary Ostrov, Donna LaFramboise, Rog Tallbloke and of course our distinguished host, among others. They don't agree with each other about everything, by any means - but whatever they post is done in good faith, and if errors creep in, they are corrected.

After several years of following these and other bloggers who have built up a reputation for integrity and sanity, it is their critics that I now regard with a very sceptical eye.

Mar 28, 2013 at 12:23 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Charlie, Watts is a more reliable source than Abraham, but it makes sense to be wary and use your own judgement since most people are firmly in one trench or the other. Rgearding books, there are two excellent ones from Andrew Montford, perfectly balanced of course!

The amount of spin is indeed amazing. But what's even more shocking is that a lot of this spin comes from the scientists themselves, not just the enviromentalists like WWF.

Regarding the polar bear story, look at the Polar Bear Science blog , near the end of the blogroll list on the right. She does a good job of exposing the spin. Also, look up the shocking story of Polar Bear expert Mitch Taylor who was told he was no longer welcome at research meetings because he did not support the alarmist storyline.

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Charlie, Watts and Booker are well regarded only by the sceptic community. Consider also reading blogs on the other side of the argument. There are many blogs listed down the sidebar at BH, some sceptic some not; others have recommended a few. As a persona-non-grata here, if I may, I'll suggest a few too: Science of Doom (physics focus), Tamino (statistics), Stoat, Rabett Run, Neven's Sea Ice blog and Skeptical Science

Mar 28, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I like you BitBucket, you've never been persona non grata for me. But you've gone massively down in my estimation for linking to Stoat for anything apart from vitriol and nastiness.

Mar 28, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ, I disagree, I would recommend reading Stoat, Rabett and Tamino to anybody trying to figure out who's a reliable source and who isn't :)
Reading them certainly helped me make my mind up.

Mar 28, 2013 at 4:06 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Stoat is on the receiving end of plenty of vitriol and nastiness, so I cut him some slack. And his line of insults can be amusing. That rules out many of the folks on the Humourless Hill, but James you seem to me to be capable of seeing the funny side.

Mar 28, 2013 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Charlie Furness ( or am I talking to Stephan Lewandoski in one of his tricks?). It's simply really, look at what you're being told, look for the empirical evidence to support it. If you find it take it on board.. If you can't see any empirical evidence don't believe the theory. If you can, share it with us here and at the other sceptic (denialist) websites, because we're suffering an empirical evidence deficit..

Mar 28, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Charlie, our host's first book would bring you right up to speed.

Mar 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

I can put up with most of your suggestions for balancing Charlie's reading — even Stoat (and you've forgotten RealClimate!) — but SkepticalScience? Come on.
Even C(r)ook's friends don't trust him to be honest.
Starting with the title of his blog.

Mar 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Well almost everyone reading here will have read articles at SkS at some time. Should Charlie be the exception? You could always put together a collection of rebuttals of his myth-rebuttals if you feel that they are too seductive.

Mar 29, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket