Anthony Watts (blogger)

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Willard Anthony Watts
Watts in OZ 2010.jpg
Anthony Watts speaking in Gold Coast, Australia, June 2010
Born 1958 (age 56–57)
Nationality American
Watts Up With That?

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an American meteorologist[2][3] (AMS seal holder, certification retired by AMS),[4][5] president of IntelliWeather Inc.,[6] and founder of the Surface Stations Project, a volunteer initiative to document the set up and maintenance of weather stations across the United States.[7] He is editor of the blog Watts Up With That?,[8] a prominent platform for those opposed to the scientific consensus on climate change.


Anthony Watts attended Purdue University.[9][10] According to writer John Grant, there is no record of him graduating and he has been unwilling to discuss his education.[11] He does not have a degree in climate science.[12]


Anthony Watts began his broadcast meteorology career in 1978 as an on-air meteorologist for WLFI-TV in Lafayette, Indiana and then joined KHSL-TV, a CBS affiliate based in Chico, California in 1987.[5][13] He stopped using his first name "Willard" to avoid confusion with NBC's The Today Show weatherman Willard Scott.[5] Watts temporarily resigned from KHSL in 2001 but was able to negotiate more personal time to use for his private business, ITWorks.[14] In 2002 he left KHSL to devote his full-time to ITWorks.[15] He returned to KHSL part-time in 2004.[16] Watts has been the chief meteorologist for KPAY-AM, a Fox News affiliate based in Chico, California since 2002.[9][17][18] In 2002, Watts won a Chico News & Review "Readers' Best Of" award for "Best Local Personality".[19]

Watts has been the director and president of IntelliWeather Inc. since 2000,[6] and the managing member of Zev2Go LLC, an electric vehicle company since 2008.[20][21] Innovative Tech Works, Weathershop and ITWorks are all alternate business names for IntelliWeather.[22]

Watts was a member of the Chico, California school board from 2002 to 2006.[23][24][25] In 2006, he was briefly a candidate for county supervisor, to represent Chico on the Butte County Board of Supervisors, but withdrew his candidacy due to family and workload concerns.[26]

In 2010, Watts went on a speaking tour to 18 locations around Australia.[27]

View of climate change[edit]

Watts has expressed a skeptical view of anthropogenic CO2-driven global warming, believing the Sun, not man, is the driver of climatic change.[28][29] He has said that in 1990 he had "been fully engaged in the belief that CO2 was indeed the root cause of the global warming problem," but that he later changed his thinking after learning more about the science and "found it to be lacking."[30] Watts more recently expressed his position as: "Now I'm in the camp of we have some global warming. No doubt about it, but it may not be as bad as we originally thought because there are other contributing factors." He further avers that what most bothers him about scientists and others who claim global warming is serious, is that, "They want to change policy. They want to apply taxes and these kinds of things may not be the actual solution for making a change to our society."[31] Watts is a signatory to The Heartland Institute's Manhattan Declaration which calls on world leaders to "reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" and abandon "all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2".[32] In spite of his climate change skepticism, Watts says that he is "green in many ways",[33] mainly to get the United States "disengaged from Middle East Oil."[34]

Watts Up With That?[edit]

Watts established the blog, Watts Up With That? (WUWT?) in 2006. The blog focuses on the global warming controversy, and in particular on Watts's skepticism about the role of humans in global warming.[33] Fred Pearce has described WUWT? as the "world's most viewed climate website".[33] In 2008, WUWT? won an internet voting-based Wizbang Weblog Award for the "Best Science Blog".[35][36] The Wizbang Weblog Awards are billed as the conservative response to the Bloggies, which are also internet voting-based, and which WUWT? has also won. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, WUWT? took first place in the Bloggies Best Science Weblog category, and in 2013 won overall best blog, beating Pintester, The Bloggers, Cowardly Feminist, People I Want to Punch in the Throat and Marriage Confessions.

Watts's blog has been criticized for inaccuracy. The Guardian columnist George Monbiot described WUWT as "highly partisan and untrustworthy".[37] Leo Hickman, at The Guardian's Environment Blog, also criticized Watts's blog, stating that Watts "risks polluting his legitimate scepticism about the scientific processes and methodologies underpinning climate science with his accompanying politicised commentary."[38] Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki prefers other sources for climate information: "There are many credible sources of information, and they aren't blog sites run by weathermen like Anthony Watts".[39]

Surface Stations[edit]

In 2007, Watts launched the Surface Stations project, whose mission is to create a publicly available database of photographs of weather stations, along with their metadata, in response to what he described as, "a massive failure of bureaucracy to perform something so simple as taking some photographs and making some measurements and notes of a few to a few dozen weather stations in each state".[40][41] Watts informed radio and television host Glenn Beck that he began the undertaking, wondering if the composition of weather shelter paint had "made a difference" to thermometer readings and, consequently, the U.S. temperature record.[42] The project relies on volunteers to gather the data.[40] Volunteers estimate the siting, usage and other conditions of weather stations in NOAA's Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) and grade them for their compliance with the standards published in the organization's Climate Reference Network Site Handbook.[40][43]

By 2009, the project had documented more than 860 stations using more over 650 volunteers. In a report entitled Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?, published by the Heartland Institute, Watts concluded that "the errors in the [U.S. temperature] record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature [...] during the twentieth century."[13] Watts also suggested that the adjustments made by scientists to the raw data tended to expand the problems caused by the siting issue.[13]

In response to the issues raised in Watts' report, researchers at the National Climatic Data Center analyzed the temperature trends derived from stations that Watts had identified as poorly sited and compared these data with stations Watts had identified as well-sited. Their paper, titled "On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record" was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres in 2010.[44] The researchers concluded that average temperature trends were not artificially inflated by station site quality, however they did find, "a mean bias associated with poor exposure sites relative to good exposure sites". This bias was apparently due to the data adjustments Watts had criticized but the bias did not show the expected artificial warm trend (from the photographic and eyewitness evidence gathered in Watts report).[45] In fact, the poorly sited stations showed a significant artificial cool trend in maximum temperatures. The researchers noted, "instrument changes have led to an artificial negative (“cool”) bias in maximum temperatures and only a slight positive (“warm”) bias in minimum temperatures....[T]his bias is consistent with previously documented changes associated with the widespread conversion to electronic sensors in the USHCN during the last 25 years."[44] The researchers concluded:

"Given the now extensive documentation by [Watts, 2009] that the exposure characteristics of many USHCN stations are far from ideal, it is reasonable to question the role that poor exposure may have played in biasing CONUS temperature trends. However, our analysis and the earlier study by Peterson [2006] illustrate the need for data analysis in establishing the role of station exposure characteristics on temperature trends no matter how compelling the circumstantial evidence of bias may be. In other words, photos and site surveys do not preclude the need for data analysis, and concerns over exposure must be evaluated in light of other changes in observation practice such as new instrumentation."[44]

In February 2010, Joseph Abrams of Fox News reported that Watts by then had compiled data from 80% of the National Climate Data Center's weather station network. Watts argued that the Menne et al. analysis was conducted using data from only 43% of the stations and that a more complete data set would furnish different results.[46]

As a co-author with climatologists (including John Christy and Roger A. Pielke, Sr.) on a paper with Souleymane Fall as lead author, Watts conducted further analyses of temperature trends reported by weather stations. Using data from 82.5% of the North American surface stations, they found, "Temperature trend estimates vary according to site classification, with poor siting leading to an overestimate of minimum temperature trends and an underestimate of maximum temperature trends, resulting in particular in a substantial difference in estimates of the diurnal temperature range trends."[47] While, overall mean temperature trends were found to be nearly identical between poorly sited and well-sited stations, "The opposite-signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications."[47]

Watts has continued his analyses of the Surface Station Project data, and has made available on his blog site a "pre-print draft discussion paper", intended for submission to a journal. The draft, titled An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends, was announced in a press release posted on WUWT on July 29, 2012.[48] Jeremy Kaplan of Fox News reported that Watts claimed that his results show the planet warming at just 0.155 degrees Celsius per decade, rather than the 0.309 C per decade cited by the government.[49] Graham Lloyd of The Australian said that according to Watts, the new analysis shows reported 1979-2008 US temperature trends had been spuriously doubled and more than 92% of the over-estimation was due to erroneous upward adjustments by NOAA of well-sited stations.[50] Andrew Revkin of the New York Times noted that the satellite data that Watts had previously stood behind indicated a warming over the U.S. closer to NOAA’s estimate.[51] Climate Audit blogger Steven McIntyre said he was puzzled about being listed as a co-author of the paper, qualifying his involvement as "very last minute and limited" and admits to not having "parsed" parts of the Watts study.[51] Both McIntyre and Howard University chemistry professor Josh Halpern commented that Watts had not made TOBS [time of observation] bias corrections.[51]

The same week that Watts released his analysis,[49] University of California, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller released an update to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study. Leo Hickman of The Guardian writes that Watts was consulted on the methodology of the study and had stated, "I'm prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong."[52] Watts had furnished Muller's team with data accumulated by volunteers. "As a reflection of my increased confidence, I have provided them with my dataset to allow them to use it to run a comparisons against their data."[53] Chair of the BEST group, Richard Muller, responded to Watts' concerns, "First, there were issues around station quality - Watts showed that some of the stations had poor quality. We studied that in great detail. Fortunately, we discovered that station quality does not affect the results. Even poor stations reflect temperature changes accurately."[54] Watts has since backed off his position, saying the study is of no value because its parts have not been peer reviewed, "When the science and peer review is finished, the results are likely to look different."[55] Watts said that much of the BEST data should be thrown out, "...there is no adjustment procedure in place to fix this, [...] BEST tries to solve it, and I applaud them for the attempt. But without knowing the history of the station, even their methodology doesn't deal with it".[49]

Affiliation with Heartland Institute[edit]

The Heartland Institute published Watts' preliminary report on weather station data, titled Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?.[13] Watts has been featured as a speaker at Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change, for which he acknowledges receiving payment.[56]

Documents obtained from the Heartland Institute and made public in February 2012 reveal that the Institute had agreed to help Watts raise $88,000 to set up a website, "devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA's web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public."[57][58][59] The documents state that $44,000 had already been pledged by an anonymous donor, and the Institute would seek to raise the rest.[56] Watts explained the funding by stating, "Heartland simply helped me find a donor for funding a special project having to do with presenting some new NOAA surface data in a public friendly graphical form, something NOAA themselves is not doing, but should be. I approached them in the fall of 2011 asking for help, on this project not the other way around."[60][61] and added, "They do not regularly fund me nor my WUWT website, I take no salary from them of any kind."[60][62]

See also[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


Peer-Reviewed Papers[edit]


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  34. ^ Anthony Watts. Pipe Dream or Viable Energy?, October 19, 2007.
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