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Monday, June 30, 2014

Tim Ball is busy re-writing science at WUWT (again) and regurgitating his paranoid conspiracies

Sou | 8:06 PM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is back to the dregs of deniers again with another "essay" by uber-conspiracy theorist Tim Ball (archived here). Tim just recycles his hogwash from previous "essays" as a typical Gish gallop, so there's no need for me to go through this one bit by bit, if I could be bothered. I'll pick up on this sentence though. He wrote:

The 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report included evidence in the form of a “hockey stick” graph, showing that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. Less prominent, but just as wrong, was erasure of the Little Ice Age (LIA). 

Tim for some reason has a fixation on the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age. He probably thinks that if climates changed anywhere in the past without being caused by greenhouse gases, then the current warming can't be caused by greenhouse gases. That's a logical fallacy of course. Just because bushfires get started from lightning strikes doesn't mean that they can't be caused by humans.

Here is the relevant section of the 2001 IPCC report. Both the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age were real. What Tim is objecting to is that science now shows that neither of them were global in effect. Not everywhere got warm and cold during those periods and those that did didn't get warm and cold all at the same time.

More studies have been done since 2001, not surprisingly. The latest IPCC report has this to say (TS.2.2.1 Surface):
Continental-scale surface temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multidecadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century. With high confidence, these intervals were not as synchronous across seasons and regions as the warming since the mid-20th century. Based on the comparison between reconstructions and simulations, there is high confidence that not only external orbital, solar and volcanic forcing, but also internal variability, contributed substantially to the spatial pattern and timing of surface-temperature changes between the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age.

Tim would like science to have stopped short in the 1960s, going by the ancient drawings in his article.  He also thinks that temperatures on an ice sheet on the top of a summit in Greenland make a good proxy for global surface temperatures. He's a real nutter. Nuttier even than Denier Don Easterbrook, who we haven't heard a peep from in ages.

Oh, and in case you think Tim wrote a coherent article, he didn't. As well as the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age, Tim jumped from one topic to another with no rhyme or reason. I've listed below most of the topics he covered and provided links so that you can compare facts with Tim's paranoid ramblings, if you can stomach them:

If you want to find out more about Tim Ball's "science" and his paranoid conspiracy ideations, you can do so here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Goodness me. Have I really wasted that much cyberspace on that despicable little man? Perhaps in future I'll just link back to here as a ready reckoner.

From the WUWT comments

Tim Ball is an unsavoury character and he tends to bring out the same characterics in others. The more reasonable deniers (if there is such a beast) generally avoid commenting on his articles. It's mainly the weird and wacky who do so. Like knr who says:
June 30, 2014 at 12:58 am
IPCC is a parasitic organisation whose existence relies on AGW , with Mann and his gang are merely parasite facilitators who have done very well out of their ‘work’ , without its ‘host ‘ like any parasite its it would be dead through starvation.
With that in mind, is anyone surprised to find its acts in the way it does?
The saddest part is the very people that should have acted has gate keepers to such behaviour have either played the three wise monkeys or deep their own snouts in bucket of funding slops no matter how much ‘filth’ they had to clog their eyes , ears and mouths with . And for that we may all pay the price as the people start to view all science through the dishonest, hypocritical , poor scientific approaches used by climate ‘science’ .

Bloke down the pub says:
June 30, 2014 at 12:29 am
Maybe one day there’ll be a presidential inquiry into who said what and when, but there again presidents don’t like asking embarrassing questions about previous incumbents, as they don’t want to set a dangerous precedent. 


  1. I must admit that I have never understood how climate change deniers can calculate global temperatures using proxies such as the viking settlement of greenland. The settlement grew during a period of overpopulation, and petered out after the black death made better land in gentler climates vacant throughout Europe. No temperature variation of any kind is required.

    1. It's well documented the North Atlantic really did get warmer at that time.

      The settlement worked for a couple centuries despite very infrequent contact with the mainland; it petered out synchronously with the temperature falling, and the ruins bear the mark of famine.

    2. Greenland was settled synchronously with the Arab conquest of North Africa, which cut off supplies of elephant ivory and created great demand for walrus ivory. The settlements collapsed synchronously with the Portuguese reopening the elephant ivory trade from West Africa. Ain't synchrony great? ;)

      When the Greenland settlements disappeared the first Basque and Icelandic fleets were fishing the Grand Banks so the weather can't have been that bad. Archaeology indicates that inappropriate farming practices degraded the soil, reducing yields and leaving the population vulnerable to one bad year.

    3. The ivory thing is new to me; cool!

      But I wasn't aware there was much controversy here. The story I've always heard is that the norse colonies were able to survive with the warmer weather, but were always marginal (even Iceland was marginal). When it cooled, that would have been a major stress -- one of a few that led to the collapse. Can you point me to sources indicating that climate change had nothing to do with it, that their farming practices would have collapsed at the same time regardless?

      And what does the fishing of the grand banks have to do with an agricultural settlement in another location? I am missing the connection here.

    4. There's much more to the story of the Greenland Norse than the common understanding that "it got cold and they all died," or that the silly Norse clung to their old ways and failed to adapt. The Norse adapted quite successfully to their new environment. Isotopic analysis shows that their diet shifted from about 80% terrestrial and 20% marine in the early stages of the colony to nearly the reverse percentages in the last century or so.

      Numberosis is recounting the story of farm V54 from Jared Diamond's book "Collapse." Diamond's chapter on the Norse colony is deeply misleading. V54 is the only farm showing evidence of such a squalid demise, and Diamond makes other misleading or misinformed interpretations in that chapter. But the popularity of the book has given his views wide currency.

      More to the current point, the regional climate was indeed historically mild around the time of the initial settlement (ca. 985 AD), most likely because of an intensification of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). But it was still far from benign. The sagas recount that of 25 ships that set out with Erik the Red to establish the original colony, only 14 reached Greenland. The sagas also tell stories of severe winters in the early period of settlement. So while the climate did deteriorate to some extent there were climate challenges from the very beginning. It's not like they settled in idyllic circumstances and eventually were frozen out.

      The modern consensus is closer to what Millicent and Cugel have described. The Greenlanders lost their export markets for luxury goods with the opening up of African ivory supplies along with political upheaval in Norway that cut them off from regular trade. Farmland also became available with the massive decrease in population due to the black death. The archeological evidence points to a gradual, orderly evacuation rather than famine or war. There are few women of childbearing age among the later skeletons that have been found, so that natural decrease would have hastened the depopulation of the colony.

      The situation brings to mind what has happened even in modern times to small, isolated settlements, in the midwest U.S. and eastern Germany and elsewhere. The young people move away for better opportunities leaving few stalwarts behind, and eventually the community just peters out instead of going through a dramatic collapse (pace Jared Diamond).

      I like the way that anthropologist Niels Lynnerup put it: "I imagine this old Norse man standing in his sodden, graying field with a couple of scrawny cattle and saying to his son, 'One day, this will all be yours.' And the son gets on the next ship to Reykjavik."

    5. The Greenland settlements were on the Labrador Sea, which gets warmed by the Gulf Stream; that's the connection with the Grand Banks, if a slender one. Cold conditions would probably be good for the fishing industry.

      Climate did change but I doubt it was beyond the capacities of the Norse to cope. Even in warm periods they'll have had extreme winters and been prepared for it. I think the settlements just decayed for lack of interest from the young, as Don Brooks suggests.

    6. Don Brooks: thanks for the info.

      I was recounting the story we all learned in grade school, which rather predates Diamond's book. Namely, that Greenland was horribly cold, but was slightly less cold for a while in the middle ages.

      My childhood also included a family trip to L'Anse aux Meadows, aka the norse settlement in Vinland; the park literature there was telling the same story I'd heard in school (or maybe the school told the same story as the park; I can't remember the order). What struck me most was that it was barren tundra -- those explorers were embellishing like mad. I'll have to read more about the newer theories.

      Diamond's Collapse book didn't really convince me of much; I couldn't really tell why he named one society a failure while another was a success.

  2. Hmmm ... how does that saying go? Oh, here it is: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

    So here we are in this thread discussing ideas again ... no, wait ...


    1. Irony meter goes beserk.

    2. Jim cannot think of anything intelligent to add to the discussion. The poor man seems to have some kind of issue with ideas.

    3. Aha! So that explains the fixation fake sceptics have with Michael Mann.

    4. What kind of mind thinks in slogans, Jim?

      This site is dedicated to evidence-based mockery; I suggest you work harder on concealing the evidence. And before you ask, Sou doesn't do plea-bargains.

  3. Fascinating reading. The resilience and self-deception of the climate cynics, and those who are predisposed to believe them, continue to amaze. Thanks for exposing the nonsense. - Dan Johnson

  4. Robert in VancouverJuly 21, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. The statement "the science is settled" is too vague to be meaningful.

      Some parts of the science are settled beyond reasonable dispute:

      - Since 1750, atmospheric CO2 has risen from ~280 ppm to ~400 ppm.
      - This increase in CO2 is entirely due to human activity.
      - Increased atmospheric CO2 will acidify the oceans.
      - CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
      - Adding CO2 will produce a long-term rise in surface temperature.
      - The rise in surface temperature will produce a range of other effects such as sea level rise and intensification of the hydrologic cycle.

      Other parts are very nearly settled, and some are quite uncertain (such as specific regional trends).

      Also remember "uncertainty is not your friend": some things could turn out better than expected, but others could turn out much worse.


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