Opinion piece, soapbox, etc; stepping away from clouds for a minute

I was disturbed last evening (Dec. 13th) by a piece on the California wildfires, and their cause during the venerable PBS news hour.  As with so many cases when opinions differ, PBS usually interviews those with differing opinions.

Not so last night.

It would seem that issues in climate have been removed from debate and critique except in the more or less underground blog world; bad for the public and bad for science.

Differences of opinion should be addressed head on in the most public of places, not hidden as though they don’t exist!

So I feel those alternative opinions  on the cause and frequency of Cal wildfires omitted in the PBS news hour should be exposed:


These opinions are contained in the Washington Times, a counterpoint newspaper to the liberal-oriented, Washington Post. (We need objective news so BAD!)

Perhaps the PBS producers should listen to the FTC statement on fraud, which reigns in advertisers statements that can mislead consumers.  I post this FTC statement because this is what happened last night on PBS, IMO.  If what they presented last night on wildfires was a “product”, in effect,  one “harming consumers” due to not having proper warnings (balance), you would see the injury lawyers lining up:

“Certain elements undergird all deception cases. First, there must be a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer.”   —FTC Policy Statement on Deception

Yep, that’s what happened in the PBS news hour last night.  Shame on you,  PBS.    You can do better.

Disclaimer 1.  Two of the scientists quoted in the Times article are friends and ones I greatly admire; they are first rate scientists with numerous peer-reviewed publications;  Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, and Roger Pielke, Sr., emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

Disclaimer 2:  The writer is firmly of the opinion that the world will be warmer in the future.

Disclaimer 3:  I am corrupted in a sense about scientific literature published in polarized domains due to having seen hundreds of pages of peer-reviewed literature describing ersatz cloud seeding results.  I have a fair body of literature published on those, in essence, “corrections.”  The bogus published cloud seeding results led to an erroneous scientific consensus on cloud seeding skill in the 1970s and 1980s.

Why did that happen?

The experimenters responsible for those faulty results knew beforehand what they would find and made sure they found it (sound familiar?), and  due to inadequate and/or “pal” peer-reviews that let faulty literature into peer-reviewed publications (also sounds familiar).

The End

(Thanks to Mark Albright, I guess,  to alerting me to that Washington Times article; I lost sleep over that and whether the Geminid meteor shower, peaking last night,  would destroy the space station, killing all on board.)

By Art Rangno

Retiree from a group specializing in airborne measurements of clouds and aerosols at the University of Washington (Cloud and Aerosol Research Group). The projects in which I participated were in many countries; from the Arctic to Brazil, from the Marshall Islands to South Africa.


  1. You might find this of interest: Is climate change the culprit causing California’s wildfires?


    It gives the opinion of quite a few climate scientists on this important question, reviews the research about the historical rates of wildfires in the US and the world (recent, 20th century, and long-term), plus giving links and abstracts to some research.

    It’s been reposted by Dr. Curry and Anthony Watts at their websites. I’d appreciate seeing your review.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Larry.
      Judy Curry is also an admired friend, she worked in our lab briefly in the 1980s. I admire her courage in the climate domain and feel that whatever she has posted has been filtered by the best of the best, Judy C. I will check those posts out; not sure if I have seen them since I mainly avoid the climate bruhahas, though I get e-mails from interested parties like Mark A. Also, I have to get pretty worked up about something before I deviate from cloud discussions. It was really only an accident that I even saw the PBS piece I commented on!

      I just read your piece: excellent well worth reading for anyone who wants all of the perspectives (balance) on wildfire occurrence. “Two thunbs up.” a

  2. The snow has come here, Art! It’s going to clear off by tomorrow morning and the weekend before Christmas Day is looking sunny and cold. (A bit like the way it was when I had that picture taken of me in the park)

    1. Snow? Is the city going crazy, like Seattle does when it snows?
      Good that its going to clear off… Here, we’re anticipating a lot wind and sharp cold front with temperatures dropping into the upper twenties, at least at the elevation we are.


      1. Yes, Art. This city goes crazy, all right when it snows. I only have to think back a year ago. “The salt wars” were happening!

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