Farewell Max

Posted by TonyN on 08/06/2014 at 12:52 pm Uncategorized Add comments
Jun 082014

Yesterday afternoon I received the very sad news from Tony Brown that the prolific commenter on climate sceptical blogs that we knew as ‘Max’ has died at the age of 82.

Reading each and every comment is one of the less well-recognised duties of a conscientious blogger, a task that can become very time-consuming and demanding. Moderation is of course one of the reasons for this, courtesy another, but also learning from others is a very important part of it, and Max’s comments always came under that heading. I must have read tens of thousands of words that he contributed from his home in Switzerland and always with interest and respect. I never needed to fear that moderation would be necessary because his tone was always courteous, even in face of the most severe provocation. His approach to any discussion, however heated and controversial, was calm, friendly, well informed, and utterly rational. One always knew that any argument or assertion that he put forward could be well supported with references and I do not remember any time when what he said was effectively overturned by others. Such characteristics as these must have done much to promote rational climate scepticism among those who had the good fortune to come into contact with Max.

As a blogger, I was always happy when a post passed muster with Max, and must admit that when drafting a new post it was not unusual to be assailed by the thought, ‘Max won’t let me get away with that’, and then settle down to further revision. It’s remarkable how the web can bring people into one’s life and allow them to become part of it to an extent that you would not think possible when you have never seen them, spoken to them, or come to know anything about their real lives.

At this sad time our thoughts and sympathy will be with Max’s wife. He will be remembered with respect and affection by many, and of course all those comments will live on as a very durable contribution to the great climate change debate.

UPDATE 08/06/2014 17:30

Robin Guenier has just reminded me of a time when two Harmless Shy contributors – with very different views on climate change and also very different blogging styles – decided that they should put their money where their mouths were. This is what Max told Robin, who had been involved in the discussion, in an email he received last year:
I recall our exchanges with P—- M—– (now tempterrain), and remember how certain he was that global warming would resume “with a vengeance after 2009”. We started off with a bet of $1,000 on whether or not the next 3 years (after 2009) would exceed the 1998 record temperature, using the HadCRUT3 surface temperature record. In our off-line exchanges, Peter then asked for the amount to be reduced to a token amount of $100, and we agreed that the loser would pay this amount to the charity selected by the winner.

I haven’t checked in a couple of days, but the last time I did the December 2012 figure still wasn’t published.
Robin tells me that a later update confirmed that $100 (Australian I suspect) was duly paid to the Salvation Army by the looser at Max’s request. In view of what I might be able to deduce about tempterrain’s views on organised religion from the many comments of his that I have read, I suspect that Max had a great big grin on his face when he chose that one.

9 Responses to “Farewell Max”

  1. Sad news. And a fine and well deserved tribute, Tony. I too learned a lot from Max. Thank you – I hope his wife sees what you’ve said.


  2. I’ve been a regular poster on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc blog since 2010. Max Anacker posted there regularly, and I felt that he was the nearest thing to a kindred spirit to me on the blog, in terms of shared views, outlook and style. Thanks, Max, your contribution has been greatly appreciated by many.

  3. Very sad to hear the news – Max’s incisive and shrewd comments on Harmless Sky and Climate Etc were always a joy to read. He will be missed.

  4. Tony

    Thanks for the nice eulogy to Max and the kind comments from others.

    His wife has been made aware of all of them and those at Climate Etc. We shall all miss Max

    Tony Brown

  5. Another reader of blogs who will miss Max’s comments.

    I take it that English was not his first language? If so, even more kudos. His crisp, precise and readable prose was an example to us all. And he always had something worthwhile to say.

    Vale, Max.

  6. I feel very sad……………..

  7. May I add my condolences. I’ve been commenting on climate blogs for seven years now, and this is the third time I’ve had to express my regrets at the loss of someone I never knew, but whom I considered as a colleague and a friend.

    Our opponents love to point out that many of us are not young. (Retirement liberates us from certain constraints, and gives us the time to express our opinions).

    I’m convinced that a part of the explanation of climate hysteria lies in man’s inability to face the fact of his own mortality, once he has renounced the comfort of religious belief. In my regular confrontations with warmists I frequently encounter the opinion that “tomorrow belongs to us” (or them) based on the unspoken sentiment that scepticism will cease to exist once the last of us wrinklies has popped his clogs.

    The existence of HarmlessSky keeps alive the memory of Max, and of his ideas. We won’t let it die.

  8. Geoff

    Your observation about climate science and temporal perceptions mirror my own exactly. In an age before science displaced deism most people could cope with the concept of eternity quite effortlessly. When I was at school history started with the Ancient Britons, but not forgetting the Neanderthals and the Stone Age peoples and all those who preceded them.

    Any metrological phenomena that hasn’t been repeated within the last century or so is now treated as though it is unprecedented and ‘real science’ is based on vanishingly short data sets.

  9. TonyN
    Yes, I too am old enough to remember the Ancient Britons ;-) And climatology that took seriously the work of those like Le Roy Ladurie who sifted through ancient archives to find the dates of the grape harvest in mediaeval monasteries. The replacement of human written records by thickness of tree rings as reliable proxies for temperature is one of the most bizarre intellectual events of recent times. Who decided that tree rings were more trustworthy than monks, and why?

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