Unless you haven’t been paying attention, you’ll be aware that I’m writing this blog anonymously. There are a number of reasons why I’ve chosen to do so. I don’t enjoy some of the unpleasant exchanges that appear quite common when discussing climate change/global warming, so feel much more comfortable being anonymous (I don’t want to have to deal with unpleasant emails coming to my work address for example). You may think that sounds cowardly, but I believe that it is my right to remain anonymous if I wish to do so. I do try very hard, however, not to use my anonymity to attack those who are not and also try very hard not to say anything that I wouldn’t have said were I not anonymous. I may not have always succeeded, but I do try.
Another reason is that I’m not doing this to promote myself. I’d rather what was judged was what I said, rather than who I am. You could argue that, by the same token, I’m trying to avoid embarrassing myself. It could, however, be true that knowing something about me would be useful in order to judge my credentials. That doesn’t require that you know who I am though (although it does require that you trust what I say I guess). Just in case you don’t know, I’m a physical scientist with a PhD in physics. I work as an academic at what would be regarded as a good research university. I teach and do research. I have been publishing for the last 20 years and have a reasonably good publication record, and a reasonable number of citations. I am, however, not a climate scientist and my research is not related to climate science. Just for completeness, I also have no other form of income and do not benefit financially from writing about climate change/global warming.
So, why am I writing this now? Well, recently Dana Nuccitelli and Andrew Neil have been involved in a debate about Andrew Neil’s recent interview with Ed Davey. As part of the exchanges, Andrew Neil exposed who Dana worked for. This was then covered in a Watts Up With That (WUWT) post and covered in James Delingpole’s Telegraph blog. I appreciate that I am clearly on one side of the debate so can’t claim to be completely unbiased or objective, but my personal view is that this is a vindicative and malicious attack on an individual. Seeing such an attack has made me feel that my decision to remain anonymous was probably wise. I’m clearly not having the kind of impact that Dana has been having and don’t really have any desire to advertise what I write more than I have done, so I may well be safe from such attacks. I do, however, know that I would find what Dana is currently going through very difficult, even if I was convinced that nothing that I had done was in any way questionable.
You may argue that similar things have happened to others in the past. James Delingpole highlighted that Dana had mentioned in one of his Guardian columns that 40% of Patrick Michaels’ funding comes from the oil and gas industry. There is, however, a fundamental difference. Patrick Michaels works for the Cato Institute. The 40% presumably is the fraction of the funding that the Cato Institute is spending on Patrick Michaels’ research. This isn’t fundamentally about Patrick Michaels as an individual. This is about who funds the organisation that pays Patrick Michaels to do the work that he does. That is relevant as far as I’m concerned.
As it stands, Dana Nuccitelli writes on climate change and global warming in his own time. There is no evidence to suggest that his employer encourages, or funds, him to do so. Therefore, other than knowing something about Dana Nuccitelli’s background or his credentials, it’s not relevant. In some sense what I’m suggesting is that knowing about the employer is only relevant if there is some reason to suspect that the employer is benefiting from someone’s role in the climate change debate. Fundamentally, it’s about the employer, not the employee. It’s not even really fair on the employer who may want nothing to do – either way – with the climate change debate. It’s also not fair on the individual who now may feel that they’ve put their employer in an awkward position.
Unless someone can convince me that there is some reason why we should know who Dana Nuccitelli’s employer is, I have to conclude that the WUWT and James Delingpole posts are simply malicious attacks on someone with whom they disagree. It’s not even that we now know who Dana’s employer is (it wasn’t really hidden as far as I can tell), it’s what’s being made of it that is the problem. It appears to me, at this stage, that it is irrelevant and that some are making a big deal about it reflects more poorly on them than on Dana Nuccitelli.
To conclude, and for balance, I thought I’d finish with part of a comment made by Joseph Bastardi on the WUWT post.
who cares who pays him? I really don’t. If he is truthful and accurate, that is all we should care about, trusting the art, not the artist. So the pursuit of the truth as far as what is going on is what we should be after. I get accused of this krap all the time, but the only money we make is based on the merits of our ideas competing against other excellent meteorologists in the private sector, and yes in the government which is funded by the taxpayer. So the crucible is who is right and who is wrong. This whole demonization is a distraction.