Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oodles of hockey sticks on display for WUWT

Sou | 11:49 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

Poor old WUWT is in the doldrums. Now that temperatures are shooting to unprecedented heights again, deniers don't know what to say or do. So they've fallen back on an old faithful.

Just when I was thinking it's been a while since WUWT took a shot at Professor Michael Mann, he makes another appearance. This time in an article by climate disinformer Doug L. Hoffman. Doug mistakenly thinks that the days of hockey sticks have passed. I'm here to tell him he's wrong - and to show him oodles of hockey sticks.

Doug's article is very long considering the point he is trying to make. He's arguing that the MBH98 hockey stick chart, which shows that modern temperatures have shot up suddenly from what they were for most of human civilisation, is "dead".  He's dead wrong!

Figure 5 Time reconstructions (solid lines) along with raw data (dashed lines)....b, for Northern Hemisphere mean temperature (NH) in 8C. In both cases, the zero line corresponds to the 1902–80 calibration mean of the quantity. For b raw data are shown up to 1995 and positive and negative 2σ uncertainty limits are shown by the light dotted lines surrounding the solid reconstruction, calculated as described in the Methods section. From MBH98

I expect Doug doesn't really think that. What he's doing is playing a game of gotcha, which doesn't work for any thinking person. Since readers of WUWT don't know how to think, it will probably work there.

As you know, all that deniers at WUWT need to see are two words "Michael" and "Mann" in juxtaposition and any capacity they might have had for reasoning deserts them. It doesn't matter what other words are on the page or whether the other words have any meaning. They've seen red and will rally to form the lynch mob that's expected of them. I don't think there is another name on the planet that will rouse WUWT deniers in the way the name "Michael Mann" does.

I don't know how many WUWT readers are aware that the first hockey stick paper was authored not just by Michael Mann, but also by Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. I wonder how many WUWT readers have ever read the paper - or any science paper.

Doug L. Hoffman doesn't mind playing the fool and looking really stupid. He's happy to bask in the glow from denialati at WUWT. It matters not a whit to him that normal people would see him as either unscrupulous or as just another dumb denier. Most of his article was building up to a supposed grand finale. But neither the build up nor the finale was grand.

Doug's build-up falls down

I'll not dwell on Doug's claiming that the disgraced plagiarist and statistician Wegman (not a climate scientist), who misled the United States government, somehow disproved the entire body of paleoclimatology in one miserable paper. He didn't.

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars
Nor will I dwell on the fact that Doug seems to think that defamation is an heroic action.

And I'll not go into details about Doug's ludicrous suggestion that a jaded, faded climate disinformer obsessed over core tops and proved the scientists were wrong because what the scientists said was right. Yep, it never made sense to me either.

As for the instrumental record, here is what Doug and other science deniers are up against:

Data source: NASA GISS

They can't explain that away.

The clincher fails to clinch

Doug was triumphant in claiming that the following comment refuted Mann1998.

JoNovace  November 3, 2014 at 5:27 am
“….trees actually started to show a sharp decline in temperatures…..”
Tree rings don’t show temperature, what is your source for this? Tree ring may correlate with temperature if other factors are removed.
“1960 a period the alarmists are largely basing their AGW hypothesis on the trees actually started to show a sharp decline in temperatures.”
…but we know the temperatures were rising so this is nonsense. This is why tree rings dont “show temperature” as you put it.

Why he thinks that the comment refuted the hockey stick, he doesn't explain. All Doug wrote was:
So there you have it. Mann’s tree rings crushed in just two completely logical sentences, the Hockey Stick graph unceremoniously dumped into history’s dust bin by an erstwhile defendant of the CAGW meme itself.  Confronted with Michael Mann’s “science” but without the pomp and ceremony and media spin to give it credibility derives from context and appeal to authority, even a novice to the debate could see the truth. Which is why they (apparently) aren’t including the Hockey Stick graph in Warmist Troll 101 classes anymore.

Oodles of Hockey Sticks

There we have what, exactly? Exactly! Doug doesn't explain. Here are some Hockey Stick graphs that are used in Warmist Troll 101 classes these days. Oodles of hockey sticks. More hockey sticks than you could shake a (hockey) stick at. Just take a look at all these hockey sticks - c'mon Doug - try to explain all those away by tree ring divergence. You can't!

Figure 5.7 IPCC AR5 WG1 Reconstructed (a) Northern Hemisphere and (b) Southern Hemisphere, and (c) global annual temperatures during the last 2000 years. Individual reconstructions (see Appendix 5.A.1 for further information about each one) are shown as indicated in the legends, grouped by colour according to their spatial representation (red: land-only all latitudes; orange: land-only extra-tropical latitudes; light blue: land and sea extra-tropical latitudes; dark blue: land and sea all latitudes) and instrumental temperatures shown in black (HadCRUT4 land and sea, and CRUTEM4 land-only; Morice et al., 2012). All series represent anomalies (°C) from the 1881–1980 mean (horizontal dashed line) and have been smoothed with a filter that reduces variations on timescales less than ~50 years.

About that divergence

About those tree rings. As JoNovace indicated, tree rings don't show temperature directly. Careful analysis of tree rings provide information about a number of things, one of which is temperature. And it's true. Some tree rings did stop mirroring temperature in the 1960s. It's known as the divergence problem.

Since there were some trees that stopped being useful temperature proxies in the 1960s, some deniers reckon that means that trees were never able to be used as an indicator of temperature. But that doesn't follow. Not only that, but there are many other temperature proxies that have been used in temperature reconstructions.

Tree rings apparently comprise two parts as explained here:
"a low density ring, which forms early in the growing season, and a high density ring that forms late in the growing season. In colder parts of the world, the dense latewood rings tend to be denser during warm years. Temperature records inferred from Arctic tree rings do a good job of tracking temperature up until the 1960s, but subsequent Arctic tree-ring densities did not keep pace with increases in temperature, a discrepancy that is called the divergence problem."

Now as you know, we have thermometers these days, so scientists don't have to rely on analysis of rings in trees from the Arctic to determine surface temperature changes. These days they use thermometers, which are quite handy. A recent paper by Alexander Stine and Peter Huybers, published in Nature, suggests that global dimming in the 1960s, before clean air regs came into force, affected the light reaching some of the stands of trees in the Arctic, but not all of them. They were able to distinguish between trees that were light limited and trees that weren't. From the article:
Their analysis for seven different tree species suggests variations in light intensity caused by volcanic eruptions and global dimming both affect tree-ring density, and this impact is greatest in the darkest Arctic regions. In the brightest areas, the divergence problem essentially disappears, and tree-ring density is most closely linked to temperature instead. 

What has all this got to do with the 1998 paper by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes, you ask. Well, that paper used data from tree rings where it diverged from observed temperature in the 1960s. What science disinformers try to argue is that if it diverged in the 1960s, it means that the data is not reliable for any other time either. However that does not necessarily follow. Particularly if the reason for the divergence can be explained and is shown not to have applied in the past.

The main thing that hits on the head that notion that the hockey stick is dead, though, is that there are numerous other temperature proxies around that have been used to determine what past surface temperatures were. These days there are many, many other temperature reconstructions that don't rely on rings from trees in the Arctic. And all these reconstructions point to the same thing. That temperatures of the past few decades have been shooting up at an alarming rate.

The paper that was published back in 1998 was a real wake up call for the whole world. It's been vindicated over and over again. So deniers and disinformers don't have a leg to stand upon. Not even a wooden leg.

From the WUWT comments

As you can imagine there are lots of dumb denierisms at WUWT, though so far there are only 22 comments.

Stephen Richards says profoundly:
November 15, 2014 at 1:14 am
It’s walking dead !

Will Nitschke is indulging in wishful thinking after the hottest August, September and October and probably year on record
November 15, 2014 at 1:26 am
Well there is progress of sorts. For years and years it was boldly declared that the atmosphere continues to warm. Now they seem to be admitting to themselves that the atmosphere has stopped warming for a while, because they are quick to point out that they believe that the warming has switched to the oceans instead.

Doug UK  thinks people are melting away. Must be the heat.
November 15, 2014 at 1:55 am
This is happening more and more on social media and discussions “down the pub”. Those of the alarmist persuasion try to bully and bullshirt their view at people – and then when people politely but firmly point out the facts – they melt away.
There will be lots of mutual admiration society meetings where they try to prop themselves up by excluding any dissenting voices – but the wheels are definitely coming off the gravy train.

ConfusedPhoton is under the delusion that temperature reconstructions are designed to "wipe out" their precious Medieval Warm Period. They'd never have heard of any Medieval Warm Period were it not for scientists looking at past temperatures. ConfusedPhoton would be much more confused if he knew about the papers Michael Mann has written (like here and here) on the Medieval Warm Period!
November 15, 2014 at 2:32 am
Although the Hockey Stick was an attempt to wipe out the Medieval Warm Period, you could accept that it was borne through sheer incompetence. Some may consider it fraud but seeing Mann’s lack of p anything remotely scientific, I would give him the benefit of the doubt.
However, “Hide the Decline” cannot be viewed in that way and I believe that was a deliberate attempt at deception. 

Umm, no. It would be pretty stupid and would "deceive" no-one if you were to claim that, contrary to thousands of thermometer readings world wide, the temperatures in the 1960s suddenly fell a lot.

Mann, Michael E., Raymond S. Bradley, and Malcolm K. Hughes. "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries." Nature 392, no. 6678 (1998): 779-787.


  1. See The Resilient EARth by Simmons & Hoffman.
    Don't bother buying it, my copy lives on the "quarantine" shelves where I don't let science books go.
    They're big fans of McIntyre and Wegman.


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