Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Senator Inhofe's Medieval Warm Period deception - by John Mashey

Here's a slight digression.  While Jim and I are engaged in our little "climate science horror story" altercation, the big boys running our country are playing the same intellectually dishonest juvenile games as Mr. Steele does.  For instance, Oklahoma's Senator Inhofe, now Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, a force not to be dismissed.  This man has real power and yields it with brutal efficiency.

Tragically for our children this Senator Inhofe is an absolutist with open contempt for serious science (see here and here) and anyone who disagrees with him on anything.  

I mean this is the Senator who brought in a writer of pulp thrillers to testify on climate science!  Worse, Inhofe's fiction author was in the middle of a book-selling campaign for his most recent yarn.  But than, that was no coincidence, was it?  Farcical though it seems this paperback writer was put in front of a US Senate committee that was charged with learning about what professional climatologists were discovering - a fiction story peddler!  And Republican's are good with that.

Then Inhofe used this storyteller's words to justify ignoring what actual professional scientists, who have dedicated their lives to understanding these processes, were trying to convey.  What up with that? 

And now this powerful Senator has repackaged another fable, the infamous Medieval Warming Period's "Lamb Graph" - of no purpose but to waste yet more precious time - rather than getting down to business.

Wikipedia has organized many of Sen. Inhofe's shenanigans.  For example:

In a continuation of these themes, Inhofe had a 20-page brochure published under the Seal of the United States Senate reiterating his "hoax" statement, comparing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to a "Soviet style trial", … In a Senate Floor "update", he extended his argument against Mann's work by extensively citing Michael Crichton's fictional thriller, State of Fear, mistakenly describing Crichton as a "scientist".[54] On 28 August 2005, at Inhofe's invitation, Crichton appeared as an expert witness at a hearing on climate change, disputing Mann's work.[48](oh, but there's more and worse:

Senator Inhofe, Mr. Steele and that whole Republican/libertarian crowd refuses to grasp that this is supposed to be about learning. 

Concepts such as biosphere, environmental stewardship and understanding our climate system, (that is our global heat distribution engine) are received with hostility as though learning about our one and only fantastic Earth was a sin.  What's up with that?

Why no interest in good-faith learning about our incredible world, 
the one our children are depending on?   
Why such contempt for the evidence?
Why all that effort spent on confusing?    

Our global heat distribution engine is a fairly straight forward matter, anyone can understand it, if they want to.  But instead it's nonstop political self-interests driving our public discussion featuring one charade after another.  

In the following John Mashey has done a masterful job of exposing one chapter in this relentless Republican/libertarian attack on science.  It belongs in my collection and I thank Brendan DeMelle for permission to mirror the following.

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Medieval Deception 2015: 
Inhofe Drags Senate Back To Dark Ages

At DeSmogBlog - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:22

On January 21, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK
again displayed the same deception/incompetence 
that pervaded his book, The Greatest Hoax (2012).

In this video segment (3:00-5:20), he presented a poster on the Senate floor that matches the image below from “Kyoto by Degrees,” an anonymous Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Opinion piece, June 21, 2005.  Both contained claims plausibly called academic or journalistic deception, created for public confusion.

Regardless of ancient temperatures, modern temperature rise is human-caused, not just natural variation: you damaged your furnace so it now ignores the thermostat.  Heat varies erratically, room by room, and day by day,  but each week the house  is overall wamer than the last. Your attic Arctic fridge's ice cubes are melting and even the basement freezer is starting to struggle. The furnace will take months to fix, and you need to start, whether or not you believe rumors that some previous owner experienced warmer weather.

Following is the WSJ image Inhofe used without mentioning that source:

"Trend in average” : Deception.
The original curve was sketched in 1965 by Hubert Lamb, who grafted estimates of 900-1680AD with 1680-1961AD measurements compiled by Gordon Manley.   It covered  a 21x34-mile patch of England.
“exactly as shown”: Falsification. false citation. Real science uses captions and caveats,  ignored here by cherry-pickers who plucked the graph out of context and even altered the image.
“mean”: Fabrication.  See below.

Lamb MWP curve never global, real science improves

The attached 4-page excerpt from IPCC(1990) includes the real p.202 image in context, shown below for easy comparison with this altered version.  Someone changed “Years before present” (sic) to “Year,” deleted (c), capitalized all words and  converted sans-serif to serif font.  The resulting image was copied along murky paths, including onto p.33 of Inhofe's Greatest Hoax book, where it is cited as “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change, the IPCC Scientific Assessment 202 (1990).  His story there is clearly refuted by IPCC's surrounding text pp.199-203. Perhaps he never read that.

The real image was clearly captioned a schematic, i.e., a sketch. The 1990 scientists said the LIA was global, but they stated clear reservations about MWP as global and synchronous.  IPCC(1992) had other curves, not this. By 1993 real reconstructions were being published, reservations had evolved into strong doubt, and leading experts explicitly disavowed the graph as anything broadly representative.
The dotted line “nominally represents” the start of the 20th century.
WSJ's “mean” was total  fabrication to explain an unprovenanced image.

Jones, et al(2009) Appendix A, p.36 gave the long history behind Fig.7.1(c), and their p.34 Figure below is instructive.  The blue line was an up-to-date Central England measured series. Lamb(1965, 1982) used  rainfall and botanical information to estimate everything earlier (red), including all of the putative MWPIPCC(1995) Fig.3.20, p.175 combined a much better 1993 reconstruction with modern measurements.  It is good science to put both on a graph, clearly labeled, to compare overlaps, and it is done often.  Inhofe(2012) p.32-33 fiercely denigrated Mann for it, while using a schematic that did the same thing, but with far less accuracy and no visual distinction. Lamb was clear in his texts, but obviously many people never read them.  Even if his estimates were accurate … it is already now warmer in England, not that it actually matters to human causes of modern temperature rise.

Normal real science kept creating better approximations to reality.   Reconstructing the past greatly helps scientists better understand climate processes and improve models, as per IPCC(1990), p.xxv.  It helps bound climate sensitivity and improves insight into important regional variations.  Regardless of 1000AD's temperatures, the human cause of modern warming is a fact, as per Stefan Rahmstorf or Gavin Schmidt.  See also Skeptical Science list of commonly-repeated false memes, #2 (Climate's changed before), #18 (The hockey stick is broken), #56 (Medieval Warm Period was warmer). Actually, humans may well have been altering climate for thousands of years, as per Bill Ruddiman, but we are certainly doing it much faster now.

False narratives to be exposed in detail

Over the same decades, climate deniers created a false narrative, often based around variants of this graph, 25 years after IPCC(1990) or 50 years after Lamb(1965), or as William Connolley calls it, Adoration of the Lamb

This post starts a series (hashtag #MedievalDeception) to expose the decades of abuse of this graph, starting with Richard Lindzen (1991), John Daly (2001), Fred Singer and Dennis Avery (2007),  Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick (2005, at least 3 times), Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said (2006), Andrew Montford (2010), and many others. 

Even as they usually got the curve correct, the not-quite-right images are almost certainly false citations or misrepresentations, depending on the claims.  Either they had no IPCC(1990) to copy, or they did and altered it, but ignored and thus misrepresented the surrounding text. For some, cherry-picking text or graphs seems a way of life, but it is not science.

John Daly(2001) even cited the same image as WSJ,  but as IPCC(1995).  So did McIntyre and McKitrick(2005, 3 times), showing none had either IPCC report.  The latter's false 1995 date helped make a never-supported tale by David Deming(2005) slightly less silly, later involving Inhofe.  Fred Singer and Dennis Avery(2007) invented a nonexistent IPCC(1995) Fig 22, copied but unattributed in books by Ralph B. Alexander(2009) and Steve Goreham(2010, 2013). This process illustrates the intellectual bankruptcy of pseudoskeptics who eagerly seek and repeat unchecked falsehoods that confirm their views.  That brings us back to Inhofe's talk for a few more examples of such behavior.

More examples from Inhofe Senate Video

03:20 Discusses hockey-stick, says “what they forgot was to put these two things (MWP and LIA) in the hockey stick, supposed to be level.”  False. The hockey stick in Mann, Bradley and Hughes(1999) has a sloping regression line from warmer around 1000AD to cooler during LIA. It is not and never has been level, despite the false horizontal line on the cover of The Hockey Stick Illusion.  There is good evidence for a warm MWP in a few areas, especially around the North Atlantic, a small fraction of Earth. Credible reconstructions of large areas usually show modest MWPs, unlike the Lamb(1965) curve. Conspiracy theorists not only cling to that curve, but decry any scientific progress as a plot to hide the truth. Anyone who actually studies IPCC(1990, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013) knows better.

03:33 “Medieval Warming Period between 1000 and 1500. … left off the charts.” False.  The hockey stick covered the Northern Hemisphere, rather more than Lamb's 1965 estimations for the rectangle below.  Larger areas vary less quickly, because some local temperature changes are caused by ocean oscillations that just move heat around,  warming and cooling different areas.

04:00  “This actually is IPCC's chart. …” False.  This was WSJ's chart, they certainly did not scan it from IPCC(1990), and it likely passed through someone who couldn't recall where he got it, as will be seen later in this series. Inhofe made this long-obsolete, dubiously-provenanced graph the centerpiece of his Senate talk.

04:05 “They're (IPCC) the ones who dreamed up this whole idea.”  False.  Lamb considered the MWP issue decades earlier.  I think Lamb(1965) was heroic work, and  I own a copy of Lamb(1982), but I'd guess few deniers have studied either.  Inhofe and many others have seriously misrepresented the work of this fine scientist, who was quite clear his curve described a small area of England. He may have thought the MWP to be more widespread, but was careful to report counter-examples to a global synchronous MWP. and explain how much was then unknown. Perhaps may be an accident of England's N. Atlantic location and leading early role in climate research.

Area for Central England Temperature series,  the longest measured series in the world, but no earlier than 1659 at best.  Gordon Manley updated this series for years.

Improved reconstruction of the world's temperature is a great scientific detective story. It is hard work by thousands.

It is much easier to invent deceptive stories.

The Lamb curve is a flat-Earth map, but some cling to it, without ever reading  IPCC(1990) pp.199-203.Some actually cite p.202, but perhaps they copied the citation without reading it.

Even with acknowledged Medieval warmth around the North Atlantic, Vikings in Greenland and grapes in England (but not as far North as today), this rectangle is not the world or even the Northern Hemisphere, no matter what some Senators think.  Why would Senator Inhofe spend so much time on this deception?  Why does he promote an ill-informed anonymous WSJ Opinion as though it were science? Why might he not want your furnace back in control, using less fuel?

Perhaps a hint is found at OpenSecrets' James Inhofe Career Funding:

(If browser has trouble with images, see PDF of this post.)

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Thank you John Mashey for collecting and organizing this information and getting it out there.
Thank you Brendan DeMelle and DeSmogBlog for permission to mirror this article.
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Just to remind folks what this is all about:

National Geographic 2014 Earth From Space Full HD 1080p
National Geographic Worldwild

Program Description
"Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the Sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.

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I was just lured into an interesting new blog IZEN meme, by a title that caught my eye, "Climate is Beautiful." Sure enough it led me to a beautiful and great data animation project that anyone interested in understanding the global nature of climate, as opposed to the reactionary "think local, ignore the globe" school of thought our man Steele is advocating, will want to check out.
IZEN explains the details at

This is a wonderful bit of software that generates an animated picture of wind speeds at various altitudes while also showing a selection of other parameters like temperature pressure and humidity. Click on the word EARTH at the bottom left to get at the menu of extensive options. Most have an explanation if you hover over them with the mouse. Now there is surpassing cleverness in taking the realtime weather station and satellite data and feeding it into a computer model,- yes is is using modeling to interpolate the data – to give a record, realtime and future prediction of wind speed and weather conditions at any point or altitude on the globe. … (IZEN's description and review goes on another few, worth reading, paragraphs.)
Check out animation tool at

h/t to Sou at HotWhopper

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