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Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Posters on the alarmist Tamino's blog have accused Wattsupwiththat of suppressing critical comments (See )

dean  // May 11, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Reply

jbar asks:”So why aren’t y’all trying to shine some light in the comment-sphere at WUWT? At least a few people there are trying to learn something and are susceptible to scientific argument (even if Steve isn’t).”

Because they edit out critical responses. Please post this remark: “The fact that the atmospheric pressure is the same in the Sahara desert in midsummer and the Antarctic in midwinter is the same shows that surface temperature is not proportional to pressure.” Let us know how many diogeneses see the truth.

But but but!!!!!

The antarctic MUST have a higher pressure because it’s at the BOTTOM of the earth! And we all KNOW that things at the bottom are under greater pressure! Just look at the water behind the Hoover dam!!!

Therefore it’s not perporshunal… its INVERSELY perporshunal!!!

dhogaza // May 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm

The antarctic MUST have a higher pressure because it’s at the BOTTOM of the earth!

Naw, you’re forgetting all of the CO2 that’s not in the atmosphere down there because it’s all precipitated out in those massive CO2 blizzards Goddard’s mentioned earlier.

In short, the anonymous blogger Tamino's commenter dean has accused Wattsupwiththat of suppressing critical comments. As well as that, the general tone of nastiness displayed here seemed to me typical of a great many comments on the Tamino site. But I'll get back to that later. On the main point, having read hundreds of critical comments on Anthony Watts' (not anonymous, note!) blog, I was doubtful. But I want the truth, wherever it may be, so I took up the challenge given by dean and posted the exact words he used in his challenge onto Wattsupwiththat. And, as you can check for yourself, the comment was accepted and posted, here.

So the accusation against Anthony Watts failed. Let me say something about this particular passage that constituted the challenge. As I copied it into the comment box on Wattsupwiththat, It gave me a distinctly unclean feeling. It is abrupt, and after having the emotions of actually submitting it for Anthony's reading "pleasure", I came to the opinion that it contained considerable hidden passive-aggressiveness. I was sorely tempted, simply from the feelings of spite and meanness which it infected me with, to tone it down a little, to say the same factual point but in a more friendly way. But that would not have met the conditions of the test, so I forced down my revulsion and submitted it; and it was posted. Anthony did allow the contradictory comment to appear on his site.

So I went back to Tamino and posted the following comment:

I posted your remark on wattsupwiththat, and it was accepted. You can see it here. I did not warn them in advance, it was a genuine test of their openness to criticism and they seem to have passed. See:

This was also posted. But this comment on Tamino's blog did not criticise the actual blog article, it only contradicted a commenter, so in the interests of even-handedness I decided to test Tamino just as I had tested Anthony Watts. I sent Tamino the following comment:

I see two problems with your article:

(1) The point you highlight is not critical to Goddard's argument, as there is a sun in this solar system shining on both Venus and Earth, and

(2) Goddard's comment is correct anyway. You seem to have assumed he said pressure was proportional to temperature. He didn't, he said that as temperature approached absolute zero there would be almost no atmospheric pressure. How many gases are there at absolute zero? None. So there cannot be an atmosphere at absolute zero, hence zero atmospheric pressure. As one approaches that temperature (for one can never actually get there), atmospheric pressure will be almost zero, as stated.

I think Goddard inserted this comment as an afterthought to deal with pedants who might otherwise criticise him for not recognising that if the Sun disappeared, planets would start to cool off. He was probably careless in not dealing with all the other extraneous factors such as tidal heat, internally generated heat and so on. (And yes, even after remembering these, Goddard is still correct in stating that temperature would indeed approach absolute zero if you wait long enough, as radioactive heat and frictional dissipation must eventually die down.)

This comment is (a) polite, and (b) IMHO at least, not passive-aggressive, although it does rather demolish Tamino's article. It did not appear. To be sure that it had actually reached Tamino, I submitted it a second time and kept note of the details: Second submission 8:55pm US Eastern time

Once again, Tamino suppressed this comment. Here is the proof, as a snapshot of the Firefox debugger Firebug's analysis of the Tamino page. As you can see, comment number 41842 is   missing, but the comment number was used, indicating a suppressed entry rather than some slipup of mine failing to send the comment:

Tamino's blog has a missing comment

 So Tamino suppresses critical comments, but Anthony Watts does not. But hang on! Maybe the test comment I sent to Wattsupwiththat just wasn't critical enough? Well take a look back upstairs at those derisive remarks on Tamino's blog about Wattsupwiththat. For those not in the know, Wattsupwiththat posted a mistaken article that claimed that CO2 would precipitate out  as a solid at temperatures obtained in the Antarctic. We need not go into the details, but the claim is quite wrong for clear reasons any physicist should know.

You can still read the erroneous story - it has been corrected but not hidden - here:

And the critical comments came thick and fast. Here's a sample:

Please Goddard can we have no more of this scientific illiteracy, look at the phase diagram of CO2!

Glen, when you find air at 100C dropping dew, then you can believe that rubbish about CO2 condensing at the South Pole. That is science so bad that it’s worthy of the Global Warmmongers.

Steven Goddard, please apologise and remove this nonsense from this website about CO2 freezing out of the atmosphere at the Earth’s South Pole. Then please go and read, as a matter of some urgency, about the subject of vapour pressure. This is even more misguided than your previous nonsense about CMEs destroying electronics.

In short, the whole episode was a debacle for Wattsupwiththat, and what's more, one which the alarmists never intend to let Anthony live down, as the ridicule I quoted earlier from Tamino's site shows. But the whole sorry episode is still up there on Anthony's own site embarrassing Anthony, including attacking comments both polite and rude. Nothing is clearer, to me at least, than that Anthony Watts does not suppress intellectual debate on his site, whether it supports or contradicts the site's message.

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Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Many thanks for the scientific approach. To test a claim is the basis of science. It is course instructive to see who preaches and who practises.

I admit I was sceptical that Anthony would block critical comments or even scientifically foolish ones, if that is what the poster sincerely believes. I don't pick info from Tamino's site because it is too much like RC with endless personal attacks mixed in if you are suspected of 'thinking wrong thoughts'. We have had enough Torquemadas for one Millennium.

In my experience WattsUpWithThat has to be read with a thinking mind and a knowing eye, just like all other open discussions, say: Town Hall meetings. Grown-ups can handle discussions which do not try resolve 'everything' with a single post or phrase and don't need to go personal because someone missed a physics class.

Perhaps we need to put more things to the test. How about placing bets on the temperature of, say, the USA (land) in 2015. It will be won by the best modeller. From what I have seen so far, I wouldn't be surprised if it was won by Farmer's Almanac. They apparently include planetary and solar influences, and their prediction of the huge just-post-mid-February snow storm one year in advance knocks the socks off any GCM I have read about.


Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Thanks for this.

For the record, the freezing point of CO2 is -109F, and it does freeze below that temperature, just as water vapour freezes below 32F (regardless of humidity.)

There seems to be a lot of confusion on all three sites about the difference between the dew point and the freezing point. The freezing point is where things freeze, and the dew point is where sublimation and freezing are exactly balanced. The freezing point is not significantly affected by vapour pressure in the atmosphere above it.

Yes, CO2 molecules do freeze directly out of the air at -113F. The temperature where it starts to accumulate (freezing > sublimation) is lower, which would effectively be the dew point.

Using water as an analogy, the freezing point is identical in the Sahara Desert and the Amazon Jungle.

Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Thanks Steve.

I'll try to give my understanding (not necessarily correct) of your explanation. By analogy with water, if we had H2O at 100C under an atmosphere made of 100% gaseous water at 1 atmosphere, the liquid water would be in equilibrium with the atmosphere. If more heat were pumped into the liquid, it would evaporate as it absorbed the latent heat of evaporation. If the proportion of water in the atmosphere were less than 100%, then the equilibrium would happen at a lower temperature. But whatever temperature, there is some partial pressure of water in the atmosphere that represents equilibrium. If there were very little partial pressure of H2O, then we would have to go way below 100C to get to the point at which water would start condensing as liquid. My understanding is that this is the dew point.

Now translating the case to CO2, with a gas/solid phase change, above -78C, CO2 cannot exist in 1 atmosphere as a solid. (Blocks of "dry ice" at room temperature must evaporate to nothing, even in pure 1-atmosphere CO2, as the surface layer inevitably receives heat from the hotter air around it.) Below that point, there will be some partial pressure at which solid and gas are at equilibrium, and evaporation or freezing depend on input or removal of heat to supply or withdraw latent heat and thus drive a phase change. As the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is very small, the equilibrium temperature will be much lower than the sublimation point.

I agree that it is a tricky concept to get one's heat around.

Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Hi Crispin,

I admit I only got goaded into "testing" Anthony because the stuff I was reading  on Tamino seemed so very grotesque, and I recalled reading a great many highly disrespectful and critical comments on WUWT. How, I asked myself, could Anthony be censoring criticism if he didn't censor the nasty attacks I had personally read on WUWT?

I am not so sure I want to bet on outcomes of actual weather, as I don't necessarily think I understand it better than anyone else. But I do know that models predicting a tropospheric hotspot must be wrong if there is no hotspot. I do know that if CO2 is absorbed within ten feet of the surface, then it must already be saturated insofar as its greenhouse effect goes. That tells me the AGW theory is wrong, regardless of whether I myself know what is really happening.


Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat


Correct. I live in Colorado where the air is dry. Depending on the humidity, you might not have frost accumulate at temperatures well below 32F. That doesn't mean that water vapour isn't freezing, it just means that molecules are sublimating as rapidly as they are condensing and freezing. Until you get below the dew point, there won't be accumulation.

Same story for CO2. The vapour pressure of CO2 on earth is much lower than the atmospheric pressure, so there won't be accumulation of dry ice until a temperature much lower than the freezing point.

Below was my entire statement from the article, which is correct. Some people took that as "dry ice snowstorms" etc. I tend to be quite literal with a lot of subtle sarcasm in my posts, and people don't always pick up on it.

How cold is it in Antarctica? According to Weather Underground, Vostok, Antarctica is forecast to reach -113F on Friday. That is four degrees below the freezing point of CO2 and would cause dry (CO2) ice to freeze directly out of the air.

My point was that it is "still" very cold in Antarctica, and that it is a bit ironic that the temperature occasionally dips below the freezing point of CO2.

Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Thank you for this neutral test of honesty. I am always dumbfounded by the smear campaign against a wonderful science site like WUWT. It solidified my feelings that AGW was about power and money. Climategate validated those feelings.

Re: Testing Openness - Tamino, Wattsupwiththat

Thank you for this neutral test of honesty. I am always dumbfounded by the smear campaign against a wonderful science site like WUWT. It solidified my feelings that AGW was about power and money. Climategate validated those feelings.