March 17, 2011 | Graham

Dating the decline

Perhaps the apex in the global warming debate was when Al Gore used a scissor lift to take his pointer to the top of the “Hockey Stick” graph in his movie, and the IPCC featured the same hockey stick on the cover of their Third Assessment report.

After that it has tended to be downhill for the public acceptance of the so-called “scientific consensus”.

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge in the area knew that the graph had to be wrong as it over-turned the existing scientific consensus of the magnitude of the climatic fluctuations over just the last thousand years on the basis of just one slender line of proxy evidence.

The graphing process was quickly shown to be statistically incompetent, but subsequent revelations has shown it to be at best sleight of hand (what those involved “charmingly” refer to as a trick) or at worst fraudulent.

The Hockey Stick graph is the best litmus test of whether someone is honest or knowledgeable about global warming. If they defend it, then they are either not one nor the other, and possibly not both.

This video of Professor Richard A Muller lays the fraud issue out much better than I can. (H/T Roger Pielke Jr).

Posted by Graham at 8:07 pm | Comments (33) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. When will you people give up on the denial?
    It is now getting beyond a joke the garbage that you come up with to deny facts that are happening in fron of your eyes. What do you get out of it?
    Money, Kudos?
    A perverse satisfaction of arguing that black is white?
    Do go off and find another axe to grind and leave the real World to cope with the problem as best it can.

    Comment by Bob Manton — March 17, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  2. The consensus among climatologists is the climate change is occurring and there’s also plenty of evidence from the biological sciences that supports climate change.So, until the consensus amongst climatologists changes,I’ll accept the reality of AGW. As it’s a very complex subject, it’s best left to the experts(scientists who are not climatologists, are not experts).I’ll bet if there wasn’t so much capital invested in CO2 emitting industries,there’d be a lot less ‘scepticism’.

    I doubt if there’s a single litmus test that proves the hypothesis one way or the other.

    Climate change is not a political debate,it’s a scientific hypothesis that, so far, has not been refuted.

    Comment by Russell W — March 18, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  3. How about this as a refutation.
    Hypothesis: Global warming is occuring, which is being caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which is being caused by man consuming fossil fuels, so we should have a carbon tax.

    There is considerable debate whether global warming is occuring (viz Muller’s video) and if it is, it is just part of very long term secular trends. However let us accept global warming is occuring and it is being caused by greenhouse gases.

    There are 4 greenhouse gases water vapour (H20), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrous oxide (N20) and Methane (CH4)which together represent 1% of the earth’s atomosphere. H20 is by far the largest constituent of Greenhouse gases and causes about 95% of the global warming effect. Unless you drain the oceans you can do nothing about it. Methane causes about 0.4% and nitrous oxide about 1%. The remainder 3.6% is caused by CO2. However about 97% of the CO2 in the atomosphere occurs naturally and about 3% is caused by man. In otherwards 0.1% of the greenhouse gas effect is caused by anthroprogenic means.

    Given the smallness of the effect and the minute proportion of Austalian manmade CO2 in the atomosphere 0.001% it is a joke that the Australian govenment is considering placing a $6 billion tax on its people.

    Comment by Chris Golis — March 18, 2011 @ 4:00 am

  4. Graham even more interesting (if you have the time) is the entire presentation that Richard Muller gave

    Comment by Michael — March 18, 2011 @ 5:02 am

  5. I’m getting around to watching it Michael.

    One of the significant things is that Muller is not skeptical about climate change, he’s part of the “consensus”. It should also be noted is that I believe the globe is getting warmer because of emissions of CO2.

    So the comments from Bob and Russell above are way off beam. This isn’t an issue of global warming, it’s an issue of honesty and integrity.

    What reawakened my interest initially in global warming was fraudulent claims like the Hockey Stick, because a general rule in political argument is if you have a strong case you don’t need to be dishonest to push it.

    It is only people with weak cases who resort to dishonest tactics. They also generally resort to smear, as Bob and Russell do, to discredit opponents when the logic is against them.

    So, if people can’t understand the science behind climate change (and it’s not really that difficult), then they should use these telltale rhetorical signals to work out who is on the side of the angels.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 18, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  6. Chris Golis
    The joke is:
    There will be no economy to tax, if something is not done SOON about AGW.
    I remember some politicians (yes Australian) saying with out an economy it does not matter about global warming. The cart before the horse perhaps?
    A tax will be the last of the worries of our descendents.
    By the way with my limited mathematics, I calculate that your $6billion tax spread over the Australian population comes to $272.72 a head and of course that would not be in one hit so if it was over a year it would come to the $5.24 a week. Not a lot when you think it could helpto save the planet

    Comment by Bob Manton — March 18, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

  7. @Bob Manton
    Currently Australia’s population is around 22.5 million.
    The proportion under 15 (the children) is 19%, so say there are 4.275 million children.
    When Labor took government in November 2007 the Australian Government was in credit to the tune of $30 billion.
    Last year’s deficit was $55 billion; this year’s is projected to be $42 billion.
    Best independent estimate I could find is that total Australian Government Debt will reach $190 billion (and that assumes that the Labor government will achieve a budget surplus in 2013 which is a total joke.)
    This represents $44,500 debt for every child in Australia.
    The only countries that escaped the 2008 GFC were those that were relatively debt free.
    Howard left a true legacy to Australia’s children; all this government is leaving is onerous debt.
    Forget the cloak of pious sentiments about saving the world for our children, the carbon tax (like the Flood levey) is just a desperate attempt to raise taxes to hide Labor’s wasteful expenditure.

    Comment by Chris Golis — March 19, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  8. “Howard left a true legacy to Australia’s children; all this government is leaving is onerous debt.”

    Hahaha – and Howard’s clone in the West, one Colin Barnett has now incurred a state debt of $9.9 billion (June 2010) which is expected to rise to $14 billion within three months. A few weeks before Barnett became Premier, the debt was $3.6 billion.

    And Treasury figures show a 250 per cent jump in debt from the “general government” sector between now and 2013-14, from $1.4 billion to more than $5 billion.

    Then you have eco-predators such as Clive Palmer weasling out of paying a $45 million environment bond thanks to a duplicitous state government who is chewing the ass out of Mother Nature in the dirtiest state in the nation.

    Mr Barnett says that little old men and women who can’t afford to pay their energy bills don’t need air-conditioning in the hottest state in the country. So let’s turn off the AC in Parliament House and watch Barnett sweat like a pig – which would be most fitting for a member of the porcine species eh?

    Comment by Dryblower — March 21, 2011 @ 3:45 am

  9. It is interesting to listen to scientists talk about earthquakes.They are very guarded about making predictions, admit to their ignorance and how complex the science is.

    Climate scientists of the IPCC ilk seem to know everything and are 100% sure AGW is happening.The more I listen and read about climate change caused by CO2 the skeptical I become.

    The ETS will just become another derivative that sucks wealth from the poor to the few.

    Comment by Ross — March 21, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  10. Well unlike you erudite youngsters, when I was an undergraduate in 1967 and onwards I became convinced the world was heading towards another ice age. If you go to the data and stop it before 1970 you will see what I mean. (Incidentally thats called cherry picking the data). Michael Mann was one of the people who convinced me. He wrote apocalyptic warnings and I read them and the data.
    Then he changed cooling to warming. I did not agree. Further I could see that the infrared spectrum in which CO2 was able to absorb photons was critically limited. Photons of most infrared light would be free to escape, and after some time I thought it likely that the CO2 spectrum would be absorption saturated before serious anthropogenic effects were dominant. Even if we could produce enough CO2 to maintain a high enough and long enough atmospheric concentration.
    What frustrated me most was that I could not get my analysis through a filter that the “believers” had developed on the journals. They got to approve what was printed. Even letters get lost.
    In a tour of the vatican once my guide explained to the audience that the church had decided Mary must be a virgin, furthermore some even insisted that to be pure she had to be the daughter of a virgin, so they declared it so. This was Dogma you had to believe, otherwise was heresy. Thats how I feel now. The science, my colleagues, my life, my religion, has been taken over by people who are dogmatic, not true scientists. True scientists accept there may be contrary views, they are not shrill deniers of alternate hypotheses.
    In the next couple of decades when the word does not burst into flames people will turn with a vengence on all scientists and blame them all for this false alarm. The cause of science will be put back 2 centuries or more.
    These days I rely on my medical degree to continue my university teaching, though there are many thousands of scientists who agree with my views. There are so many erudite, educated, and highly informed journalists who know more about climate change than I do. (Though I have never met one who could explain what a computer climate model was).
    Thank you for allowing me to contribute

    Comment by Oldscientist — March 21, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  11. Chris Gollis and others.The debt problem can be solved if we stop private banks creating money in their computers to equal increases in our GDP.Under the present rules we have to borrow 30% of our mortgage money to buy our own land.Once upon a time we had Govt banks like the Commonwealth,and Stae banks of NSW,WA,SA,Vict who created money as a tax credit.Now all our new money is borrowed into existance and thus the debt can never be paid back without severe austerity and low growth or lots of resources sold to China which provides 80% of its new money debt free via Govt banks.Howard was not an economic genius.Keating was a fool who sold the Commonwealth.

    Comment by Ross — March 21, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  12. So when did you start to “believe the globe is getting warmer because of emissions of CO2”, Graham? What persuaded you?

    Comment by CJ Morgan — March 23, 2011 @ 2:00 am

  13. Ummm, I think somewhere around 1968, although I’m not sure what my relative precocity on the issue has to do with anything. And I was persuaded because it is a greenhouse gas, although I doubt that at that age I had much understanding of IR absorption.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 23, 2011 @ 3:46 am

  14. So why is it that you’ve been doing more than most people to promulgate doubt and denial about AGW among the hoi polloi?

    Comment by CJ Morgan — March 23, 2011 @ 4:43 am

  15. CJ I’m going to cut the conversation off after this comment. I have better things to do than argue with a cyber stalker.

    You won’t find anything from me anywhere disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and I would regard anyone who said it wasn’t a greenhouse gas as a nutter.

    Like any good journalist I’m always concerned that people make accurate statements, and you’ll find plenty of posts from me pointing out all sorts of things about global warming where people have made mistakes.

    I made a point earlier about the rhetorical tricks that people use to try to win an argument when they don’t have a case. Accusing someone of “denial” because they disagree with some of the things you believe is one of those rhetorical tricks.

    You don’t have a case, so you resort to abuse. End of story. Your comment above is the last I’ll be accepting on this blog.

    Comment by Graham — March 23, 2011 @ 5:41 am

  16. But Graham, the “Hockey Stick” is sound – it has been replicated independently by everybody doing temperature reconstructions. There was no fraud and there were no glaring errors. In the years since then (if you ever plan to stop obsessing about yesterday’s science) the uncertainty has decreased as the precision increased – all without Michael Mann being found to have been drastically wrong.

    If there is “fraud”, it exists on the part of those who scream “fraud” in the face of the facts that prove them wrong.

    Comment by Vince whirlwind — March 23, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

  17. 952 studies say you are wrong Vince. That’s a pretty big margin or error:

    Comment by Graham Young — March 23, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  18. Graham, when you say “The Hockey Stick graph is the best litmus test of whether someone is honest or knowledgeable about global warming”, which hockey stick graph do you mean?

    There are so many of them these days, derived by differnt groups of scientists, using different statistical techniques and different combinations of physical proxies, and they all say pretty much the same thing?

    So what makes you think one of them, which had used a statistical technique that may have been debatable but made little difference to its overall conclusions, is a litmus test of anything?

    Comment by Gaz — March 24, 2011 @ 3:16 am

  19. 952 studies say you are wrong Vince.

    That’s a pretty swift move of the goalposts Graham. I thought your problem was:

    The graphing process was quickly shown to be statistically incompetent

    Tell me, which of all the other graphing processes has been shown to be statistically incompetent, or are are you just going to hide in your new set of goalposts?

    Comment by Chris O'Neill — March 24, 2011 @ 3:22 am

  20. Please can you tell me which of those lines is the accurate one. They are vastly different from each other.

    Comment by Oldscientist — March 24, 2011 @ 4:28 am

  21. Please can you tell me which of those lines is the accurate one.

    I can get to that once you understand what the term “moving the goalposts” means.

    Comment by Chris O'Neill — March 24, 2011 @ 4:35 am

  22. No no, I am not Graham, I am just interested in your graph and which of the lines is accurate. They cant all be correct and I was looking for guidance.

    Comment by Oldscientist — March 24, 2011 @ 4:44 am

  23. I think you prove my point Chris. You want to move goalposts so you accuse everyone else of doing it. Do you accept that Mann’s graphing process was incompetent? That’s not my only criticism. The post is about the “hide the decline” trick where he substituted instrumental records to hide the fact that the proxy records didn’t support his case. Do you agree that this is dishonest and fraudulent?

    You and Vince are the ones trying to shift the goalposts, and then you object when I move to your field. Cute, but nowhere near cute enough.

    Now you’re trying to fob-off Oldscientist.

    Comment by Graham — March 24, 2011 @ 5:09 am

  24. Graham said:

    You want to move goalposts so you accuse everyone else of doing it.

    I was talking about your response to Vince, actually.

    Do you accept that Mann’s graphing process was incompetent?

    I accept it was as inaccurate as later accurate methods showed it to be.

    The problem is you keep referring to it as “the” hockey stick graph when there is no such thing as “the” hockey stick graph. There are lots of them and you have an obsession with one of the few that has an inaccuracy (that doesn’t cause much inaccuracy as it turns out).

    That’s not my only criticism. The post is about the “hide the decline” trick where he substituted instrumental records to hide the fact that the proxy records didn’t support his case.

    Where is the hiding being done here, for example, or here. I wouldn’t have thought putting your proxy reconstruction in figure 1 of the Third Assesment Report’s WG1 SPM is a very good place to hide anything but obviously you think it was well hidden.

    You and Vince are the ones trying to shift the goalposts

    I like your projection.

    Comment by Chris O'Neill — March 24, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  25. Oldscientist:

    Please can you tell me which of those lines is the accurate one. They are vastly different from each other.

    I’m not sure I’d call a maximum low frequency difference of 0.7 deg C “vast” but there’s a very good lecture given by Gerry North, chairman of the NAP committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 years, here (40.6 Mb). He goes into a lot of detail about how to get long term tree-ring proxy records for particular locations and where those variations you’re worried about come from.

    Comment by Chris O'Neill — March 24, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  26. The more I follow this and other global warming debates the more I am convinced by the 1897 quote from Leo Tolstoy:

    The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

    Comment by Chris Golis — March 25, 2011 @ 2:09 am

  27. Chris, I’m not so sure your quote is apt – there is no evidence of Graham being paticularly intelligent: he seems unable to grasp that one, now very old, “Hockey Stick” reconstruction made with a less-than-optimum statistical technique was nevertheless reasonably accurate and numerous subsequent “Hockey Stick” reconstructions all agree with it.

    In addition, he has probably had several years to figure out what Michael Mann’s divergence problem actually was and yet he is clinging to incompetent accusations of fraud.

    Comment by Vince whirlwind — March 25, 2011 @ 4:07 am

  28. Vince, it’s amazing how people like you want to impose your prejudgments on the facts, and that’s what Chris is suggesting in his quote. He’s not on your side of the argument.

    You’ve made up your mind that it’s unusually warm now when the vast preponderance of evidence says it’s at the cooler end of the Holocene and is on a par for warmth with the Medieval and Roman Warm periods.

    Yes, I knew what Mann’s trick was some time ago and labelled it a fraud at the time. You can’t just splice one data set onto another, particularly to hide the fact that the first dataset doesn’t support your case even when properly analysed.

    You’re not doing your case much good.

    Comment by Graham Young — March 25, 2011 @ 4:26 am

  29. A simple question.We have seen expodentional increases in CO2 by both China and India because they are now the centres for industrialisation,but there has been no commensurate increases in temperatures predicted by the IPCC and their supporters.So why the rush? Could it be the rush is all about their theories being laid bare as an utter falsehood?

    Nothing we do in this country will change the acceleration of CO2 concentrations,nor influence the largest polluters on the planet to change their policies.So why are we,the selected sacrificial lambs being ordained to die economically for no result?

    There is no method in the madness,but method in an agenda of Corporate Global Domination.

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  30. Vince:

    Chris, I’m not so sure your quote is apt – there is no evidence of Graham being paticularly intelligent: he seems unable to grasp that..

    Maybe it is apt. Graham may be intelligent in some ways but even though it is absolutely obvious that the proxy reconstructions in this graph are not being hidden he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, that they are actually hidden.

    By the way Graham, I had a look at one of your 952 studies that supposedly say that Vince is wrong and according to that:

    as best we can determine from the six scientists’ graph of the reconstructed temperature data shown in the figure below, we estimate the peak warmth of the Current Warm Period to have been about 0.27°C greater than the peak warmth of the Medieval Warm Period.

    And 0.27°C is according to the biassed writers at that website. How is it that being warmer now than during the MWP supposed to say that Vince is wrong, exactly?

    Comment by Chris O'Neill — March 26, 2011 @ 1:35 am

  31. “So why are we,the selected sacrificial lambs being ordained to die economically for no result.”

    Hah hah – If you knew what was coming out of general revenue to remediate the environmental carnage caused by polluters on rampage in Australia, you may see things differently. Alas, some of the carnage is beyond repair.

    And “Environmental damage caused by human activity in 2008 was estimated to be $6.6 trillion, equivalent to 11% of global GDP, calculates a United Nations study released today. Global in scope and covering a wide range of environmental impacts by all industries, the new report is an ambitious attempt to estimate environmental externality costs”:

    And one eco-vandal, Mr Colin Barnett in the wild west (you know the guy who said he had not received any correspondence from Clive Palmer?) has increased energy costs by 50% in the last two years. Further, he asserts that Western Australians don’t need air-conditioning in the hottest state in the nation.

    I recommend that all air-conditioning in parliament house be banned outright as well as in Barnett’s lavish new parliamentary digs near Kings Park.

    Comment by Dryblower — March 29, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  32. Dryblower.I’m talking about global CO2 of which we add 1-2%.The science is never settled.This is a carbon dioxide tax.10% of this money is ordained for the UN,an unelected body who want world Governance via the Global Reserve Banking system.

    The greatest polluters on the planet are the world’s shipping industries.They produce 5 times more SO2 and other toxic chemicals than all the motor vehicles on the planet.Why has not the Green movement taken these companies to task? The Green movement is financed by large corporate interests and have to choose their agendas.If we produce our goods here instead of importing,real reductions in pollution will occur.

    The ETS is a corporate innovation for another derivative to make money and aggregate power in fewer hands.It will do nothing for the environment.If CO2 is the problem,then tax it as it comes out of the ground.No,the Corps do not want to pay tax nor reduce their sales.

    Comment by Ross — March 29, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  33. Ross

    Who are these “large corporate interests” financing the Greens? Link please? The issue of shipping pollution is not a new phenomenon and there has been much debate about filthy sludge fuelled ships for years. Perhaps you’re a new kid on the block?

    The moral and environmental debate of shipping live animals from Australia has been raised by the “Greens” for decades. Just one tub load of live animals (some 100,000) are on the oceans for about three weeks to the Middle East transported by stinking tubs that fly the flags of convenience, spewing their hazardous fuel emissions over ports, communities, air and into oceans.

    Millions of diseased animals (dead and alive) have been dumped overboard. Recently the Maritime Union of Australia announced they want the Federal Government to crack down on these dodgy ships sailing under flags of convenience. Hah! Just watch the fossil fuel industry switching to squawk mode.

    The volumes of animal manure fed to marine life from live exports would be incalculable which raises the topic of ocean dead zones? These animals are fed growth hormones and antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to reach the dinner plate.

    These animals could be slaughtered in Australia and exported by air, value adding to the economy. The cultural and religious hubris peddled by agriculture’s live export greed barons is a myth. The ME has sophisticated refrigeration and modern supermarkets that sell chilled and frozen meats to its Muslim people. There are plenty of Halal abattoirs in Australia that adhere to cultural requirements.

    And do you know the industry that’s presented all obstacles to banning bunker fuel? No? The petroleum industry of course. Where else would they be able to flog the filthy dregs from the bottom of the barrels? So you may think twice before you embark on your next ocean cruise eh – a major polluter with guests unwittingly dirtying up our environment with impunity.

    Next you may consider the massive ocean pollution of our coal and iron ore exports, shipped by ocean. Simply unimaginable.

    The highest emitters of SO2 in Australia are the electricity generators, basic non-ferrous metal manufacturing, metal ore mining and the fertiliser and pesticide industry. Shipping ranks 6th (Source: National Pollutant Inventory).

    Comment by Dryblower — April 9, 2011 @ 2:36 am

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