Absolutely Amazing! A Climate Scientist Writes a Blog Post about…

Please put down your coffee before reading any further.  You wouldn’t want to spritz your keyboard and screen.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I have a confession to make.  I am one of the very few remaining people around the globe who continue to regularly visit the blog RealClimate.  It’s a curiosity thing mostly, kind of like watching the Titanic sink in slow motion.  I stop by to see what the alarmist wing of the climate science community feels is important enough to spend time blogging about.  Much to my amazement a few days ago, there, sitting at the top of the RealClimate main page, was a blog post about…

…a widget.

A widget? you ask.

Yup, a widget.  Not just any widget, the WattsUpWithThat widget.

The RealClimate post by Stefan Rahmstorf here begins (their boldface):

The “World Climate Widget” from Tony Watts’ blog is probably the most popular deceptive image among climate “skeptics”.  We’ll take it under the microscope and show what it would look like when done properly.

See, I told you…a widget.

Imagine you’re a climate scientist; you’re one of the founding members of the website RealClimate; but more importantly, you’re Professor of Physics of the Oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research of Potsdam University.

Got that? Now, imagine at the top of your high-priority daily to-do list you do NOT find something like help fix climate models, which double the warming rate of the global ocean surfaces over the past 33 years.  See Figure 1.  Nope.  You don’t find that topping the priority list.Figure 1

Figure 1 (from the blog post here)

And you do NOT find something like help fix the spatial patterns of ocean-surface warming in climate models so the models might be useful at simulating future climate patterns (temperature and precipitation) on land. See Figure 2.

Figure 2 model-data-trend-map-comparison

Figure 2 (from the blog post here)

Imagine…what you do find at the top of your high-priority daily to-do list is Write a Blog Post about the WUWT Widget.

It’s mind boggling.

Have I written a blog post about a widget?  Of course. It’s here. And if you click on that link, you’ll find I even produced a video about a widget. And there’s a reason I wrote an article and produced a video about a widget.  My role in the climate-science debate is that of a science reporter for WattsUpWithThat, the World’s Most-Visited Website on Global Warming and Climate Change.  I’m not a climate scientist, like Stefan Rahmstorf. Climate scientists are entrusted with providing scientific support for what has been called the greatest threat facing the world.   Must not be too high a priority if one of the faithful spends time writing a blog post about a widget…and others take time out of their day to comment about that widget on the thread at RealClimate.

A few other thoughts about Stefan’s post, before you happily take over:

Stefan writes in his paragraph 1 (his boldface):

It is better to plot the surface air temperature.  That is what is relevant for us humans: we do not live up in the troposphere, nor do natural ecosystems, nor do we grow our food up there…

I suspect Stefan Rahmstorf will regret that statement, because he’s likely to be reminded of it every time he wants to claim ocean heat content is important.  (Stefan, we don’t live to the depths of 2000 meters in the oceans. Remember what you said…)

He ends the same paragraph:

… Let us thus use the GISTEMP global annual temperature record from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (all surface data sets agree to better than 0.1 °C, see comparison graph).

Unfortunately for Stefan, the GISS LOTI data is made up mostly of sea surface temperature data, not the “surface air temperature” data for the oceans, the latter of which is known as Marine Air Temperature.  And most of us don’t live on the surface of the oceans…though I wish I did from time to time.

You’ll also note that Rahmstorf spent a lot of time adding notes to an older version of the WUWT widget. See Figure 3.  It ends in 2009.

Figure 3 Watts_world_climate_widget1

Figure 3

Why didn’t he use a more up-to-date widget, shown in Figure 4?  I’ll let you speculate about that.

Figure 4 world_climate_widget_sidebar

Figure 4

And now for the truly bizarre:

The RealClimate post includes a link to the October 2009 WUWT post New WUWT feature: World Climate Widget.  That introductory post at WUWT was a short time before ClimateGate, when the popularity of WUWT began to soar.  Anthony had to put the widget on the back burner, never really promoting it. You can run through the comments on the WUWT widget thread here or use the search feature of WUWT to see if he made an effort to promote the widget.  Anthony updated it a while back.  But when he changed the WordPress theme at WUWT back around the first of September to “The Expound Theme”, the widget seems to have disappeared from the sidebar. (An oversight by Stefan?)  So, Anthony’s never really promoted the widget, and it might’ve disappeared from the sidebar about 3 months ago, but Stefan Rahmstorf calls it “The most popular deceptive graph”, resurrecting it.  I think Stefan Rahmstorf is about to discover that the WUWT widget will now become a whole lot more popular in the wake of his blog post.  I suspect Anthony will be promoting it—and I’ve got a few good reasons to believe that.

Google Trends reveals that the number of searches for the blog “RealClimate” continues to drop, while those wanting links to the blog “Watts Up With That?” continues to rise.  How bad has it gotten for RealClimate? See Figure 5.  Occasionally, the blog Hot Whopper, run by the former WUWT troll Sou (Miriam O’Brien), nearly catches up with RealClimate.

Google Trends Real Climate-Hot Whopper-WUWT

Figure 5

If they continue to write blog posts at RealClimate about WUWT widgets, mimicking what Sou does at HotWhopper, who knows how far that decline in interest for RealClimate will go!


I’m sure you’ll have a fun time discussing the rest of Rahmstorf’s post at RealClimate about a widget.  Afterwards, if you would, please consider adding the WUWT widget to your blog. It only takes a few minutes. Anthony has instructions for doing so here.  I’ve added the WUWT widget to the sidebar at my blog ClimateObservations.  It makes me feel good knowing that it’s there—knowing that it tweaks certain members of the alarmist wing of the climate science community.

Stefan Rahmstorf (and the others at RealClimate), on the other hand, must not have been too impressed with the widget he suggested using.  As of this writing, it has not been added to the sidebar at RealClimate.


About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in RealClimate. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Absolutely Amazing! A Climate Scientist Writes a Blog Post about…

  1. Bob thanks for highlighting that.

    I’ve written an “unusual” blog post based on it: http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/12/10/interpreting-graphs-blurred-vision-lewandowsky-and-unreal-climate/

    Unfortunately, I imagine that only me and Lewandowsky will find the subject interesting and only one of us will support what I’m saying.

    But on the widget, I was frankly disappointed by their effort. I could have done a better job without trying and Even if I were an alarmists I’d not bother putting it on my website.

  2. Thanks, I think that actually His time is better spent fighting widgets than helping fix the climate models.

  3. Pingback: Interpreting graphs, blurred vision, Lewandowsky and unReal Climate | Scottish Sceptic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s