Climate Blogger Accused of Being Responsible for Eight Deaths

Leading global warming skeptic Anthony Watts, known for his popular blog Watts Up With That?, has recently been accused of being responsible for the deaths of eight people as well as the injuries of another 41. Global warming skeptics have been accused of vague things things like "dooming the planet" before, but this may be the may be the first time specific deaths have been laid at a single skeptic's feet before.

The accuser is a blogger who goes by the name Sou, at the blog HotWhopper. Given she's accused Watts of being responsible for eight deaths, and one is entitled to confront their accuser, I feel it is fair to point out her real name is Miriam O'Brien. This is what she said:

At one point recently, Anthony branched out into national security and went all alarmist. He warned his readers to watch out for terrorist attacks on the Independence Day weekend, so quite a few of them unholstered their guns. This was the result. (Only a couple of readers said his article was crap.)

As it happens, the article was BS. The source Watts relied on was full of it. The post at Watts Up With That? needlessly frightened people, involved no fact-checking or meaningful investigation, and ultimately was no better than a chain-letter you might see on Facebook or in your e-mail's spam folder. That merits criticism. It merits mockery.

However, according to O'Brien, it merits far more. According to O'Brien, it wasn't some harmless piece of drivel meriting scorn - it got people killed. According to O'Brien, "the result" of the article was:

Eight dead, dozens injured in Independence Day weekend shootings in Chicago

Miriam O'Brien is clearly accusing Watts Up With That? readers of having caused shootings over the Independence Day weekend, because of an article Anthony Watts posted, resulting in eight people dying and 41 people being injured.

Neither O'Brien nor Watts was immediately available for comment, but one reader pointed out it has been reported:

The warm weather and the fact that it was a holiday weekend was believed to partly explain the spike in gun crime.

So it is possible O'Brien would further blame Watts for these deaths as he has not encouraged people to take steps to reduce humans' impact on the planet's temperature.


  1. Eight over the 2014 4th of July weekend in Chicago?

    Eighty-two people were shot, 14 of them fatally, over the long Fourth of July weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune. The string of incidents kicked off in the afternoon on Thursday.

    Eight deaths is six fewer than last year. If Anthony's post has some cause-effect relationship, it looks like his warning saved lives.

  2. lucia, maybe, but I think someone needs to do some regressions to see if we can find a "statistically significant" correlation between global warming and violent crimes.

  3. Well, they way I read what she wrote is the 8 deaths were resulted from Anthony's readers unholstering their guns. So the correlation would have to be between number of death's on 4th July weekends regressed on "Anthony's readers unholstering guns" vs "Anthony's readers leaving their guns in the holster".

    Honestly, I find it a bit difficult to believe Anthony's readers read his post and then unholstered their guns. It's one thing to decide to carry the gun to an event after following advice; it's another thing to be sitting in front of the computer with a holtered gun, read a post and draw the gun. (And then what? Shoot your laptop?)
    The former is not "unholstering"; the latter is.

  4. Oh, I know. But Sou's idea is insane, even by climate science standards. I was thinking more of something like the Forster and Rahmstorf approach, where you'd find a "plausible" relationship with a methodology that builds the relationship into your assumptions. The joke is I bet you could find a "statistically significant" correlation between global warming and violent crimes, and I bet you could convince a lot of people it's real. And a reason we need to combat global warming.

    It wouldn't make what Sou said any less insane though.

  5. Thanks for that link Anthony. I'm actually far more bothered by something else about it than the reason you offered it. I'm bothered enough by it I'm going to write a post about it. I'm sure most people won't care, but... I spotted it immediately, and it is driving me batty. I'll give you a hint, oh is not oh.

    Anyway, that post is about violence in general, so that's something. At least it's including theoretical deaths from wars and whatnot. That makes it a little less obnoxious than one just claiming crime would be caused by global warming.

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