I’ve sort of dreaded writing a post for this day, mainly because it brings out a lot of emotions when I look back over 5 years. I started this blog under the auspices of the local newspaper, the Chico Enterprise Record, 5 years ago today. Originally I told the editor that I wanted to do a broad based gee whiz sort of science blog, and that’s what I set out to do.
I do remember saying that “I’ll try to keep the posts on global warming balanced with other topics”. We all know how that worked out. As a result, I branched out from the newspaper to a better publishing platform than the kludgey Moveable Type the newspaper used, to WordPress and my blog now does more traffic than all the newspapers, radio, and TV stations in my little town combined. Here’s my very first blog post on my old newspaper blog 5 years ago today. A summary and thoughts follow that.
There’s lots I could say, in way too many words, so I’ll just go on a series of bullet points as I think about things.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- I’ve learned a tremendous amount about climate science that I did not know before. Every day here is an education.
- I’ve broadened my horizons – my opinion and ideas are sought regularly, WUWT is cited worldwide. I find this remarkable and humbling.
- I have friends all over the world now, something I never had before I started blogging. I wanted a pen pal in grade school, now I have thousands.
- WUWT regularly beats all other climate related blogs on the planet, I’m particularly fond of the fact WUWT beats RealClimate every day of the week and twice on Sundays in traffic and reach. WUWT is almost always in the top 5 blogs worldwide on WordPress and on Wikio.
- WUWT has won two “Best Science Blog” awards for which I’m revered by some, reviled by others.
- Cartoons by Josh – I never thought I’d have a talented cartoonist help me get the word out. Thank you Josh for the laughs and for the biting satire.
- WUWT has 94.6 million page views now, and will reach 100 million page views soon. This is the 6120th story, there are 705,385 approved reader comments as of this writing.
- I have people who see this blog important enough to want to help me with it, moderators, guest posters, people who leave tips and email me stories. I’m forever grateful to you all.
- I’ve written two publications on station siting, one peer reviewed in JGR, the other published by Heartland, which made NOAA react to it because it exposed just how poor their climate network was. A second peer reviewed paper is coming. A federal GAO report this summer confirmed what I discovered; the climate surface observing network is a mess.
- I’ve seen more of the USA and the world than I ever thought possible. I’ve surveyed hundreds of weather stations in the USA, toured Australia, and seen Belgium to attend a conference.
- I regularly converse with scientists world wide, and they kindly offer guest posts and articles here. I’m humbled.
- I’m friends with Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison Schmitt and aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, heroes of my youth, and now intellectual supporters of my work. I’m humbled even more.
- WUWT broke Climategate – that was a exhilarating moment, writing that simple post and hitting publish at Dulles airport just before the door closed to my flight to California, then the terror of wondering over a 5 hour flight if I did the right thing and how it would be reacted to.
- While many won’t admit it, logs and emails show me that scientists, media, bloggers, and some former politicians worldwide read WUWT. While they may hate what I and others have to say here, they can’t ignore it.
- Al Gore
and Bill Nye The Science Guy are(Nye recently responded here) is still mum though, about this: Replicating Al Gore’s Climate 101 video experiment shows that his “high school physics” could never work as advertised.
- My proudest moment over the last five years? Being mentioned by Matt Ridley in his epic RSA speech just a couple of weeks ago. That was emotional for me.
- While there’s a lot of good people out there, I’ve realized that there’s a lot of really angry and irrational people out there too that will do everything in their power to see me and this blog denigrated and reviled whenever possible. You know who you are. I have enemies all over the world now, something I never had before I started blogging. It is a strange realization for me.
- As a result of the first point, sometimes I let my humanity get the better of me, and I’ve written a few things I’m not proud of. To those I’ve inadvertently offended, you have my sincerest apologies. To those who deserved it, you have my regret that I wasn’t more succinct.
- This blog has taken a measure of my life that I could have spent doing other things. For example, I used to own a fishing boat I’d use on weekends and I used to take real two week vacations where I wasn’t trying to scout out weather stations. My wife and my kids see less of me than they should as I spend way too much time keeping up to date on the latest in climate science and the hoopla surrounding it, relaying it to you all.
- Running the blog has affected my health; too much keyboard time has added girth, blood pressure, and stress.
- Running the blog has affected my business, mostly with time and focus, but there’s some ugly parts too.
- The 10:10 video, Hansen’s death trains, Greenpeace’s “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.” commentary, and Grist’s “Nuremberg style trials for climate skeptics” – ’nuff said.
- I’ve had a number of incidents where the ugly side of the climate debate has confronted me and my family. This includes a mentally imbalanced woman from Nevada City who has stalked me and interfered with my business and livelihood and a host of cowards who work in the shadows prying into my life because I write things they disagree with. They look for imagined “big oil” connections everywhere, because well, “he just couldn’t be doing this on his own”. Heh.
- I have evidence that my trash has been collected at my office by somebody other than the trash service. All trash is shredded now, because it really is none of your damn business. If you try it again, please do smile for the new cameras at my home and office and I’ll make you a star right here the next morning.
- Last year somebody in Toronto setup a fake website just one letter off my business domain name to mirror my own company website, and made a shopping cart that appeared to take orders but delivered no product. It took me months to discover what was going on and to get it shut down. Meanwhile, it damaged my business.
- Also in Toronto, about the same time my business website was fake mirrored, a former geology student, male model, ladies man, celebrity cook, marathon runner and Mac repairman setup a mirror WUWT blog, also just one letter different than the WattsUpWithThat.com domain name, to regularly write denigrating and juvenile things about me and the people who contribute here. While I can’t yet make a legally binding connection between the two spoof websites that popped up at about the same time from the same city, and it could be coincidence, it is very suspicious. I hope I’m wrong.
- For daring to ask for a factual correction to a slimy article, it was suggested that I have sex with farm animals, see here and scroll down to the bottom.
In retrospect, while the ugly side of the bizarre world of climate activism is something I’d rather not have experienced, it does tell me one thing: WUWT is being effective, because if it weren’t, there would be no need for these people to do these illegal and juvenile things.
Factoid: I used to be a climate alarmist, but now I’m a skeptic.
Back in 1990, I used to be just like some of the climate activists today. Inspired by what Dr. James Hansen said to congress in his famous speech in June 1988, I felt like I had to “do something”. That culminated in nationwide project with the National Arbor Day Foundation working with TV weathercasters and meteorologists nationwide to convince their viewers to plant trees to offset CO2. In 1990 and 1991, I delivered a video graphics presentation for local TV weathercasters and meteorologist to narrate on this subject for the benefit of their viewers. It was delivered nationally via satellite courtesy of CBS Newspath, where I had done some work and had connections. I can remember browbeating TV people then to carry the program I developed because “it really is the most important thing you can do right now”. A 1990 National Arbor Day foundation report showed that 174 TV stations participated and they mailed out over 240,000 Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings to viewers as a result. Truly, I felt as if I had “done something”, and I can relate to how many people who feel motivated to “save the planet” must feel today.
Then, in 1996, I saw this graph. And I said to myself, “how does CO2 know which counties to heat more than others”? After that I was no longer much worried about CO2 and climate, but I did become worried that science was ignoring the measurement environment. It wasn’t until ten years later that I did something about it.
Then much later I discovered that Dr. Hansen’s scientific position was so weak in 1988, he resorted to stagecraft. So much for my “save the planet” inspiration from him.
About my experiences with professional climate scientists:
I’ve had interactions with professional climate scientists though these five years, and I’ve taken them for face value in what they told me. In 2008 I visited NCDC at their invitation and in the spring of 2011, I visited BEST in Berkeley. My biggest regret is that I put too much trust in these scientists, because quite frankly I couldn’t believe (at the time) they’d do the things they did related to the station data gathered by myself and by volunteers of the surface station project. Apparently, it was so threatening that in each case, my trust had to be publicly abused so that these scientists could pre-empt my own work. I won’t trust them again, and I won’t be so quick to trust anyone else on the opposite side of climate science again, especially where money and prestige is involved.
I have another paper coming, with a broader perspective, and there’s no way I’m going to share that data ahead of time with these people again. Everybody will have to wait until publication.
What’s to come?
I have ideas for a peer reviewed version of this blog, as well as a new format that will open it up more and allow for a greater variety of publications and interactive media. Look for that in the coming weeks and months. I’m also planning a “letters to the editor” feature, but with a twist. I also hope to take a vacation where I have no electronic tether of any kind that is on my person or can be reached. I really need to unplug for awhile.
I wish to thank all of you that have helped me, encouraged me, sent me letters of support, and who have offered kind comments. There’s way too many of you to list individually, but know that dozens of people are in my thoughts as I write this. I wish to thank all of the people who visit here every day, and who comment and link WUWT elsewhere to help spread the word.
I must name a few special people though. Please take no offense if you aren’t named. I thank David Little for giving me a start with the local newspaper blog, Steve McIntyre for inspiration, Dr. Roger Pielke Senior for his trust and encouragement, Dave Stealey for keeping the faith, Evan Jones for making lemonade with the Rev’s special Holy Water, Willis for being Willis here, Mosh, Charles The Moderator for keeping me on the straight and narrow, and James Goodridge for helping me see beyond the data. There’s also a very special person I can’t name, but I hope you enjoyed the WUWT mugs and T-shirts I sent.
Most of all I thank my family and friends for enduring my path through the ugly side of climate blogging.