Tag Archives: AGU 2015 meetings

Science Denier Anthony Watts Wants Your Financial Help

Anthony Watts, the famous climate science denier, is all a titter that he is presenting at the upcoming American Geophysical Union meetings.

First, I want to say, good for you, Anthony. Nothing wrong with a science denier going to a major international meeting that includes a lot of climate science and giving a poster. That is how these things work, this is a place to challenge the science. The establishment will not attempt to keep you away because they want you to be there, to make a contribution. I hope you get a lot of great feedback, and enjoy your trip to San Francisco.

Also, climate change is a pretty important issue in San Francisco.

“A slow-moving emergency” is how state assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) describes the threat of rising seas in the Bay Area. According to Inside Bay Area, Gordon authored California’s first report on climate-related flooding, and his findings reveal a region woefully unprepared to manage water damage.

Per Inside Bay Area, San Francisco Bay rose 8 inches over the past century and could rise another 16 to 55 inches by 2100. Torrential storms and “king tides” could overwhelm infrastructure that’s not designed to withstand major flooding. Making matters worse is California’s own gradually eroding coastline. Coastal communities such as Pacifica have become media flashpoints thanks to images of houses literally slipping off of cliffs.

Anthony notes that he is a “member in good standing” of the AGU. That is nice. I am unaware of a “member not in good standing” category for the AGU, but maybe there is one.

Anthony is asking for donations to help him go to the AGU meetings. Previous years, he attended the AGU’s as a member of the “press” so he did not have to register. But this year, as a presenter, he has to pay the registration fee. He notes:

The cost of registration is $455, and the deadline is November 12th at 1159PM EDT to get that rate.

Add a hotel for 5-6 days at the typical $150-250 per night rate in SFO, plus incidentals, parking, etc. and the cost to attend easily tops $3000.

So, here’s the math:


I’m only kidding, of course, about the hookers. The chocolate makes sense, tho. Plus attending a couple of San Francisco’s great venues, taking a cab around the hilly city, maybe a trip up to Marin county for the redwoods. One could easily spend a thousand or two beyond food and shelter, and the registration costs. Certainly, if you support the idea of Anthony Watts attending AGU as a presenter and having his say, go and donate! And don’t begrudge him the extra cash to make the best of the trip.

Anthony makes some hay of the fact that his poster was accepted, indicating that this gives his poster some sort of credibility. However, posters are not especially vetted, and are certainly not peer reviewed. The AGU is huge, there are thousands of posters presented (this year, more than 23,000 oral and poster presentations, probably more than half are posters), and there is virtually no selection process. This is how it generally works with posters at huge meetings, and that is appropriate. It does not serve science in general to be too picky about these things … let the ideas abound! But also, let’s not assume any sort of stamp of approval, because there isn’t one. Indeed, sometimes a proposed talk is not accepted and instead you get to give a poster as a consolation prize.

Anthony also says he was “invited” to the conference. I’ve not done AGU, but I’ve heard that if a poster is accepted (and generally it will be), you get an “invitation,” probably by email, to the conference. The reason for the invitation is to bring a document to your academic department or employer to justify your time and possibly expenses, so your trip to the conference is not counted against your vacation time, or so you can dip into this or that pool of travel money to help cover your costs.

There are actual “invited” speakers. This is limited to a small number and are generally high level people talking about current important research. They usually get more minutes for their talk. Although I think posters could be “invited” in this sense, I understand that to be very rare. Anthony is not giving an “invited” poster, even if he happens to have a gracious email or letter of some kind.

Also, Anthony claims to be the only denier at the conference. That just isn’t true. Of the thousands of people attending the conference, there will be three or four deniers.

I’m being bit cynical here, for good reason. I do support Anthony’s attendance and I’m sure he’ll have a good time. But a lot of people who read Anthony’s blog have little actual conference experience and may not know how utterly routine giving a poster at the AGU is, and about the invitation bit. And about the chocolate.

By the way, his poster abstract can be seen on his blog post (linked to above). It is about heat island effects.

The featured image is from here.