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.