No More Minnesota Nice: John Abraham Tears into Anthony Watts

March 28, 2013

John Abraham

John Abraham, a professor at St Thomas college in St. Paul, Minnesota, is best known for his utterly devastating takedown of His Splendiferous Weirdness, Lord Monckton.

Now, Abraham has responded to a high profile interview with climate denier and high school graduate Anthony Watts. Mr Watts is  known as a reliable supplier of denialist helium to residents of GlennBeckistan.

Abraham’s response is factual, thorough, and, well, rather brutal. As for the interview with Watts, I’m not going to give him the attention he craves, find it yourself if you have time to waste.

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.

See more about the unraveling of Watt’s pet theories here – skip to 3 minutes if you  are pressed.

19 Responses to “No More Minnesota Nice: John Abraham Tears into Anthony Watts”

  1. Nice video explaining the science behind jet stream and rossby waves is here:


  2. MorinMoss Says:

    I imagine Prof Abraham will soon displace Al Gore as the favored hate object over at the Denialist Clearinghouse that Weatherboy Willard calls home.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      No. Most deniers voted for G. Bush junior twice.
      Being thus responsible for such terrible harm being done to this country, which they claim to love, it is mandatory for their shaky psyches that Gore, who we all know won in 2000, be forever demonized.

  3. […] John Abraham, a professor at St Thomas college in St. Paul, Minnesota, is best known for his utterly devastating takedown of His Splendiferous Weirdness, Lord Monckton. Now, Abraham has responded t…  […]

  4. usJim Says:

    Warped; takes no account of edits/clippings left on the editing room floor.

    Highly misleading on that basis.

    Everyone should checkout both side of this story before siding with one party or the other.

    Nulla in verbis.


    • Tried to read both sides, and found out that only one side (the side that knows we are toasting ourselves) is practicing objective science. The other side is trying to convince themselves that mother nature can be fooled, but only end up fooling themselves.

      • usJim Says:

        You think so huh?

        You can’t even address the issue at hand, John Abraham mistaken attempt at some sort of rebuff (he’s shooting at bogey men, essentially, constructing a strawmen argument; a better classification to describe his actions), and you’re going to divert attention instead and claim by simple assertion CAGW’s ‘truthiness’ instead? Are you acquiescing the point that Abraham’s attempt at a ‘takedown’ was deficient and ineffective?

        One must assume that since you’re moving onto your ‘end goal’ as it were disregarding the logical steps you should be taking to get there.


        • MorinMoss Says:

          Why should we rehash old trash for your amusement?

          Potholer54 / Peter Hadfield has a fine set of videos that skewer Monckton’s high-falutin’ nonsense and spin.
          Or if you prefer, check out the Hadfield vs Monckton online debate that was graciously hosted by Willard the Weather Wizard Watts, until it was clear that His Lordship’s gishgalloping wasn’t going so well and he suddenly became far too busy joining the Birther Bandwagon and filling out the paperwork to get a Hawaiian birth certificate.

          Tonyboy Watts was very relieved when GreenMan interviewed Potholer54 as he had a pretext to cancel the debate over some imagined slight and could avoid conceding that his pet pumped-up peer had abandoned what was supposed to be a easy win.

          Or look for Abraham’s initial rather polite trashing of His Viscountness, to which Brenchley the Wretched could only threaten a lawsuit, attempt to insult Prof Abraham by calling him a boiled prawn, clearly having never seen a reflection of his own bug-eyed florid face and them attempt a weak long-winded rebuttal on the CFACT YouTube channel.

        • Jim, seriously? You think these debates are just some proxy for reality, like a sporting events where know one knows the score until the refs tell us decades later? Sure, you cheer, and you are entitled to your own opinion about who the victor is. So what. Physics is the only one with an opinion that matters.

          You are likely as smart as you sound like are, so try devoting that intellect towards objectively understanding of the physics and less to refining your skill in web rhetoric.

      • usJim Says:

        When you’ve lost The Economist, well, what is there to say, really, pumpkin kennedy:

        Killer lead-in, Kock (ha!) inspired, no doubt:

        OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar.


        PS. Have a good evening.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          Only a twit who didn’t bother to read beyond the 1st paragraph would think say something as blindingly stupid as “lost the Economist”.

          If you have more than 2 brain cells that can work simultaneously, try reading the entire article.

        • andrewfez Says:

          “When you’ve lost The Economist, well, what is there to say, really, pumpkin kennedy..”

          Ahh, yes The Economist – the world’s premiere scientific journal.

          I loved their article on the topic of arsenic stress, regarding the molecular mechanics of such.

          Jim, you seem like a person that reads a lot of The Economist, and therefore are pretty scientifically literate. Would you be able to compare and contrast the molecular aspects of arsenic induced stress versus that of the heat shock response?

          The particulars I would like to know about are 1) Oxidative stress and 2) the production of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, extracellular regulated kinase (ERK), c-jun terminal kinase (JNK) , and p38. Is there a clear signal concerning these, that one could use to discriminate between the two pathologies? Would you consider the presence of chromosomal aberrations, secondary to the confounding of the mitotic spindle, more evidence for heat shock or arsenic exposure?

          The Economist also had a cute little article on time dilation. Jim could you walk us naive folks, that huddle around junk science because we just don’t know any better, through the derivation of the Lorenz Transformation using nothing but a little Pythagoras, similar to Einstein’s approach in his original thought experiment?

          It’s finally nice to have a science expert in the house willing to reference a prestigious scientific source. I’ll go ahead and get out of your way professor, and let you fill in the details….

        • No need to be insulting.

          Consider the following, or don’t:
          -increase in atmospheric aerosols (with a cooling effect) due to more coal burning in China.
          -increase in average air temperature over past 15 years among El Nino years, La Nina years and also ENSO-neutral years. [I have seen these plots in numerous places, but need someone to volunteer a link]
          -steadily increasing rate of ocean heating over the past decades.
          -increase in atmospheric aerosols (again, with a cooling effect) due to volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 2006.

  5. kbjohnson888 Says:

    Here is the bands name for the music “Dumb It Down” – the Ugly Duckling

  6. Since you asked in the credits: according to the internet (which is never wrong), the song “Dumb it Down” is performed by _Ugly Duckling_.

  7. […] 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 […]

  8. Jack Gabel Says:

    video commentary is so ‘mature’ and absolutely ‘scientific’ – clearly you deserve tenure, professor, and grant funding forever for your ‘research’

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