WUWT not even going through the motions of fact-checking any more

I have been quiet of late in part because of real world obligations, and in part because I’ve been trying to do a little “communications outreach” at social media sites like Reddit. Over at their anything but skeptical “climate skeptics” sub-message board, a handful of people spam links from the same handful of denialist websites day after day (though some discussions are more productive than others). Today, I noticed a link from WUWT that was terrible even for Watts’s incredibly low standards. So much wrong packed into so few sentences. What follows is a brief fisking I undertook in the Reddit comments, that might be useful to anyone looking for a rebuttal.

It follows that temperatures must have been higher than those of today’s during that first settlement of Greenland which lasted from approximately 900 until the mid-1400s AD, when these settlements died out.

No. It follows that temperatures were probably warmer for longer than the modern period until recently, but it does not follow that the recent warming, which is unearthing the items described, has not exceeded the medieval warming of Greenland. And in fact, we can look at the Greenland ice core record to see that it has:

This plot was from the last time WUWT tried to promulgate BS about warmer than present Greenland temps, showing the GISP2 ice core and GRIP updates scaled to GISP values for the modern warming.

Yet the whole reason for the existence of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPPC)

The IPPC is it?

is to thrust upon the world’s population the idea that industrialisation in the West over the last 100 years and our profligate use of fossil fuels is producing a run-away heating of the planet

This is a strawman on several counts. We’re not worried about a “run-away” warming like that on Venus. We’re worried about changes to climatic norms that will prove more detrimental than the cost of limiting emissions to avoid those changes.

through the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, which unless checked will lead to [the planet's] — and humanity’s — death.

I’d like to see the cite for that from any of the ARs. Again, strawman.

So the possibility that temperatures were higher in the past in any part of the world was a thorn in the sides of those Climatologists who are wedded to the whole idea of Anthopogenic Global Warming (AGW), also known as Climate Change.

Again, this is false. Warmer than present temperatures undeniably took place in Earth’s geologic past, this has no bearing on the reality of anthropogenic warming or its potential to disrupt climatic norms.

Unfortunately for them, an English Climatologist, Hubert H Lamb, first formulated the idea of a Medieval Warming Period (MWP) in 1965 and other surveys have found that this warming did not just occur in the northwestern hemisphere but was global (6).

Lamb’s maximum warming took place hundreds of years after (i.e. 1100-1300) the peak warming of the NH is now recognized to have taken place (prior to 1000).

The IPCC FAR curve, based on Lamb, along with the updated CET instrumental record in blue with the same 50 year smoothing (Jones 2009).

NH paleoclimatic reconstructions from Mann 2008, Moberg 2005, Ljungqvist 2010, and the NCDC instrumental record, courtesy of Zeke Hausfather at The Blackboard

Lamb did not believe that the Medieval Climate Anomaly (or “Medieval Warm Epoch” as he originally called it) was a period of continuous temporally and spatially coherent global warming, but rather that it was more pronounced in the Atlantic Northern Hemisphere. You can see Lamb’s own discussion of the subject here (note, I haven’t read the other contents of that page beyond verifying that the quotes from Lamb’s writings are correct and in context. I’m in a hurry and couldn’t find a publicly accessible version of Lamb’s texts. If the guy starts talking about Lizard people, disregard his comments and stick to what Lamb says).

Much like Lamb, modern paleoclimate scientists believe the MCA was characterized by a warm North Atlantic, giving rise to unusual warmth in Western Europe and Eastern North America. Like Lamb, they believe that the MCA was marked by cooling of much of the North Pacific and Asia.

Unlike Lamb, they have a wealth of paleoclimatic and physics-based modeling data that has only become available in past several decades. The MCA seems to have been dominated by persistent La Niña-like and positive NAO conditions, similar to but differing in origin and some specific consequences than Lamb’s proposed proximate causes.

But Dr David Darning (University of Oklahoma College of Earth and Energy) in his recent testimony to Congress (7) said ‘…I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. It said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”’

Where is this email? Why quote this “Darning” instead of the email itself?

Possibly because it’s an apocryphal quote, based on the innocuous comment by Phil Jones indicating a desire to reconstruct temps far back enough to capture the entirety of any MCA: “it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back”.

Note that “Darning” does not actually appear to exist, and this claim should be attributed to David Deming, apparently from back in 2006.

In 1998 a graph was produced by geophysicist Michael Mann, known as the Hock Stick Graph’, which managed to almost air-brush out of existence the Medieval Warming Period .

Mann et al. 1998 only went back ~600 years, and said nothing about the time of the MCA.

This was published in the eminent scientific magazine Nature and also in several places in the IPPC Report of 2001 and created a world-wide sensation. Here was proof positive the world was overheating and it was All Our Fault.

As has been pointed out exhaustively, the millennial NH reconstructions say very little on the issue of attribution, and indeed if you throw out all of our late Holocene reconstructions, that would have virtually no impact on the evidence for attribution of the present warming to human causes.

However, investigation of the graph by historians and climatologists who doubted the existence of global warming, brought criticism centred around the statistical method used and the associated computer programme. It was eventually called the most discredited study in the history of science

The author of this article was eventually called the dumbest person in the history of dummies. I was eventually called the tallest matador in all of Spain. Gee, this is fun!

and quietly dropped by the IPPC from the latest 2007 IPPC report for policy makers.

Mann et al. 1999  was plotted along with other paleoclimatic reconstructions published between the TAR and the AR4:

IPCC AR4 Figure 6.10: Records of NH temperature variation during the last 1.3 kyr.


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11 responses to “WUWT not even going through the motions of fact-checking any more

  1. Daniel Bengtsson

    Perhaps the fact that the “Greenland was green”-argument recently fell to position 37 of the most popular denier arguments (at Skeptical Science) was disturbing to Watts? Not many deniers used it anymore.

    Ps. I also noted that “It’s the sun”-argument has left the top position whereas the more diffuse “It’s cosmic rays” climbed. My bet is that Watts soon re-discovers the role of the sun.

  2. Good luck finding David Darning at Oklahoma. You might want to ask David Deming the same question.

  3. Slight quibble: the “contain the MWP” statement came from Mann, and was well after the year Deming claimed he received the e-mail (which was 1995). Of course coming from an unnamed source, Deming knows he’ll be hit with a lawsuit and can’t provide the evidence for his claim.

  4. A. Semczyszak

    Are many doubts about the MCA – we have no clear answers. Latest – concentrated (in the context of simulations by climate models) – “description of the situation” – is here: Medieval Climate Anomaly to Little Ice Age transition as simulated by current climate models, González-Rouco et al., 2011.:
    “Information derived from proxy records suggests the following picture of the MCA in comparison to the subsequent colder period, the LIA, that involves quasi-coordinated climate shifts across different regions of the globe (e.g., Seager et al., 2007; Mann et al., 2009; Graham et al., 2010): evidences of an increased zonal gradient in the tropical Pacific produced by La Niña-like conditions in the eastern Pacific and anomalous warmth in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, and a broad expansion of the Hadley Cell with associated northward shift of the zonal circulation that might have led to a more positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) type of signature in the North Atlantic.”

    Please also look at the figure (in this paper) as very different models – for range (global – regional) changes in the MCA – LIA.

    “No. It follows that temperatures were probably warmer for longer than the modern period until recently, but it does not follow that the recent warming, which is unearthing the items described, has not exceeded the medieval warming of Greenland.

    The first part of the sentence – agreement. The second part of the sentence – a total lack of consent. There are physical facts (fossilized trees and shrubs) that, during the MCA Greenland (at least part of it) was certainly warmer than today. Where does not even grow grass, lichen and moss – formerly grown shrubs and trees!

    If someone manipulates the temperature graphs – combining “apples with oranges” – let him take pictures of that document (page: 7 – 11) will hang over desk work … – so to see them all the time …

    • Funny we should put pictures from a presentation above our desk, while we apparently are not allowed to put, from that same presentation, the “+/-warmer than today” above our desk, since Arkadiusz is certain that during the MCA “Greenland (at least part of it) was certainly warmer than today”.

  5. Captain Pithart

    Sonya Jay Porter is a member of the UK Independence Party UKIP btw (the party that tried to get monckton elected: http://ukipscotland.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/print-your-own-ukip-posters-leaflets/ )


    • There’s Klingons on the Starboard Bow Captain !

      I don’t know what sort of innuendo you are implying here Cpt. Pithart, but perhaps you (and other readers may like to read this recent short essay by Sonya Jay Porter?

      “Done at Brussels”
      SONYA JAY PORTER on the ever-expanding, rarely-asking EU
      “EU cooperation agreements were re-launched in 2008 under the name of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Along with the 27 EU member states, 16 southern Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern countries are now members of UfM – Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. This partnership aims to turn the Mediterranean into :
      “a common area of peace, stability and prosperity through reinforcement of political dialogue.” …… read more >>>

  6. David Deming.
    See further description. Lindzen claimed Deming wrote it was Jon Overpeck. Montford then falsified Lindzen’s claim into a confirmation of a key poiont early in the book.

    Deming’s quote was from favorite dog astrology journal, JSE, and from a review of Crichton’s State of Fear.

    Deming’s quote is fairly important to the key source for the Wegman Report., the May 11, 2005 presentation by M&M, in which JSE, cited correctly a few weeks before by McK, magically became Science.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      I still prefer sheep strangling, but then I always liked alliteration. Funny how a shoddy journal such as JSE morphs into Science.

  7. Always the sun …..
    original version

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