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Index of Editorials
Global Warming Hockeystick


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  • 23-Mar-13 The continuing battle over Marcott et al.
  • 31-Oct-09 The rebirth of the hockey-stick?
  • 10-Oct-09 UNEP updates IPCC and brings back the 'Hockeystick' (Part 2)
  • 03-Oct-09 UNEP updates IPCC and brings back the 'Hockeystick' (Part 1)
  • (in TWTW Mar 23, 2013)
    Guest Editorial by Gordon J. Fulks, (PhD (Physics))

    The continuing battle over Marcott et al.

    Mar 18, 2013

    Technical fields, whether they be climate science or physics or meteorology or medicine or engineering or law, require some measure of training and competence. Practitioners are supposed to know more than just some of the technical jargon. That is why many are licensed. The public needs to be protected from charlatans. In many fields, it is illegal to claim expertise if you have none.

    Unfortunately, it is impractical to license scientists because our field is so broad. Hence, we use education as the rough equivalent, because that is the first requirement in most licensing processes. It is not a foolproof substitute but then neither is licensing. There are still accomplished physicians and those not so accomplished.

    Many complete amateurs post on popular blogs, substituting personal attacks, sarcasm, and 'cut and paste' for knowledge of a subject. With climate science, you can find material to back up just about any position you want to take. A real scientist (on whatever side of Global Warming) will usually be careful to choose those positions that have some validity.

    For instance, I have been surprised to find myself in agreement with the famous Global Warming Guru James Hansen on some topics, not to include carbon dioxide. On closer inspection that is not really surprising, because we are both PhD astrophysicists from well-known astrophysics groups at the University of Iowa and University of Chicago. In other words, we evaluate each subtopic in climate science separately, based on our personal knowledge and our ability to critique the logic and evidence. That leads to many agreements on, for instance, the overall cooling trend during this interglacial period we call the Holocene, caused by an advancing Milankovitch cycle.

    I have not heard Hansen weigh in on the Marcott et al. paper. He will surely like the conclusions that resurrect Michael Mann's Hockey-Stick graph but may be leery of Marcott's strong temperature upturn in the 20th century, if he looks at the proxies used by Marcott. They show such a confused mess that no one (especially an experienced scientist) would want to risk his reputation by claiming to be able to make something out of the mess. Marcott's re-dating of other researcher's temperature proxies is a huge red flag. If he were to read Steve McIntyre's analysis that demonstrated the upturn to be an artifact of the analysis and heard Marcott's admission that his 20th century results were "not robust," he might avoid getting entangled in such a bad paper.

    After all, however much of a partisan Hansen is, he must realize that the peer-review process at both Science and Nature is broken and many incompetent papers are being published.

    Hansen does not display good scientific judgement in many instances, as one would expect of a PhD astrophysicist, but he is far from a total loss BECAUSE HE HAS THE REQUISITE EDUCATION.

    Those who wish to express an opinion on the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming not only need to understand the relevant science but also how science works. Although climate science may seem like a purely political exercise, real scientists realize that all science rests on logic and evidence - and nothing else.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #34-2009
    (in TWTW Oct 31, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    The rebirth of the hockey-stick?

    Oct 31, 2009

    The hockeystick is attempting a comeback - and instead of relying on tree rings, it now relies on ancient midge larvae in lake sediments. It's all part of a determined effort to show that the 20th century is 'unusual' -- and therefore supports the IPCC claim of AGW.

    Here is the press release:

    WASHINGTON (AFP) Oct 19, 2009: Sediment cores from a small Arctic lake in Canada stretching back 200,000 years show unprecedented gains in global warming since 1950, indicating human activity is the likely cause. "The past few decades have been unique in the past 200,000 years in terms of the changes we see in the biology and chemistry recorded in the cores," University of Colorado glaciologist Yarrow Axford said in the study by Canadian and US researchers. "We see clear evidence for warming in one of the most remote places on Earth at a time when the Arctic should be cooling because of natural processes," added the chief author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    One suspicious item is the fact that the editors of PNAS, in their obvious desire to publish this paper, assigned its review to an editor [Mark Brenner, U of FL] of their own choosing. So the paper has not been peer reviewed in the usual sense; this depreciates its credibility and also that of the PNAS, particularly in a contentious area like climate science.

    It is difficult for a non-specialist on midges like me to judge the quality of the data. But it would have been reassuring if similar results were to be published from other lakes in the Arctic, of which there are many thousands, rather than from just a single one. Obviously, even if there is a warming, one cannot identify its cause from the data presented. Actual temperature data of the Arctic, taken with thermometers, show a peak in 1935 followed by a cooling trend that reversed only in the 1970s.

    Of course, there has been warming since 1950, a low point in temperature. First, we had the sudden temp jump in 1976-77 (certainly not caused by CO2); then the large El Nino warming of 1998. How can the authors possibly claim a human influence? In addition, their claim that there should have been a significant 'cooling' trend over just 50 years from astronomical causes makes no sense either.

    Of interest, below, is the abstract of what appears to be a very similar study (May 2004), complete with diatoms and chironomids (midge larvae), but with dissimilar results

    Similarities and discrepancies between chironomid- and diatom-inferred temperature reconstructions through the Holocene at Lake 850, northern Sweden.

    A quantitative temperature reconstruction using chironomids and diatoms has been attempted from a high-elevation lake in northern Sweden (Lake 850). Since 7000 cal. years BP, both chironomids and diatoms recorded similar temperatures (in the range of present-day estimates) but the correspondence between chironomid and diatom-inferred temperatures was highest in the recent Holocene (2500 cal. years BP to the present). Between ca. 9000 and 7000 cal. years BP, inferred temperatures from chironomids were warmer than today (ca. 12°C), in accord with other climate reconstruction using pollen, plant macrofossils and oxygen isotope analysis in lakes of northern Scandinavia. In contrast, diatom analysis did not infer warmer temperatures during this period. The insensitivity of diatoms to temperature in Lake 850 between 9000 and 7000 cal. years BP could be attributed to other environmental factors affecting the diatom assemblages through time, especially lake-water pH. Diatom-inferred pH showed a gradual decrease (0.5 pH units) between 9000 and 7000 cal. years BP, while it remained more or less constant since 7000 cal. years BP. Changes in lake-water pH acting on diatoms seem to mask the effect of climate, leading to temperature reconstructions that are inaccurate. Ways of disentangling climate and other environmental factors when attempting climate reconstruction should be further investigated.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #31-2009
    (in TWTW Oct 10, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    UNEP updates IPCC and brings back the 'Hockeystick' (Part 2)

    Oct 10, 2009

    Well, it seems that UNEP has now removed the Hockeystick graph (on page 5 of its report, which claims to 'update' IPCC - I wonder, however, if IPCC agrees). They must have been greatly embarrassed when it was revealed that they copied the graph from an obscure Norwegian biologist, who found it on Wikipedia! "Those damn dirty bloggers muck up the reporting of science to the masses yet again." Climate Report

    See also: "UN climate reports: They lie." The hockeystick flap again; this time by UNEP not IPCC Climate Reports They Lie

    But this is not the end of the story: There is also a problem with the new graph on p.5 of this 'modified' UNEP report (that supposedly updates IPCC-4) at www.unep.org/compendium2009/: It uses the problematic GISS data for global surface temperature, which shows post-1998 temp that are warmer than 1998 -- in contradiction to Hadley-CRU and to NOAA-NCDC!** And of course, the satellite MSU data (both UAH and RSS) disagree with GISS also. So we willl just have to get after UNEP until they change the graph again. Stay tuned.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #30-2009
    (in TWTW Oct 3, 2009)

    Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    UNEP updates IPCC and brings back the 'Hockeystick' (Part 1)

    Oct 3, 2009

    The UN's Environment Program has released a report that claims to update IPCC-4. It is edited by Catherine McMullen and Jason Jabbour and can be downloaded at More on UN Climate Report

    A few gems from the UNEP Report are shown below. Report My comments are in the square brackets [&]:

    "The pace and scale of climate change may now be outstripping even the most sobering predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), according to the findings of a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)." [Just shows that the IPCC cannot be trusted]

    "This analysis of the very latest, peer-reviewed science indicates that many predictions at the upper end of the IPCC's forecasts are becoming ever more likely."[Meanwhile, the climate has been cooling and will likely continue to cool]

    "Some scientists are now warning that sea levels could rise by up to two meters by 2100 and five to ten times that over following centuries." [That's more than ten times the NIPCC estimate; we'll soon see whos right]

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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