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More Tree Ring Oops

Another doozy of a suppressed e-mail from the climategate shenanigans …

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 21:47:57 +1100
From: “John L. Daly”
To: Chick Keller
CC: “P. Dietze”, mmaccrac, Michael E Mann, rbradley, wallace, Thomas Crowley, Phil Jones, McKitrick, Nigel Calder, John Christy, Jim Goodridge, Fred Singer, k.briffa
Subject: Re: Hockey Sticks again
Dear Chick & all

[I think Chick Keller wrote:]

the first is Keith Briffa’s rather comprehensive treatment of getting climate variations from tree rings: Annual climate variability in the Holocene: “interpreting the message of ancient trees”, Quaternary Science Reviews, 19 (2000) 87-105. It should deal with many of the questions people raise about using them to determine temperatures.

Take this from first principles.

A tree only grows on land. That excludes 70% of the earth covered by water. A tree does no grow on ice. A tree does not grow in a desert. A tree does not grow on grassland-savannahs. A tree does not grow in alpine areas. A tree does not grow in the tundra We are left with perhaps 15% of the planet upon which forests grow/grew. That does not make any studies from tree rings global, or even hemispheric.

The width and density of tree rings is dependent upon the following variables which cannot be reliably separated from each other. sunlight – if the sun varies, the ring will vary. But not at night of course.

cloudiness – more clouds, less sun, less ring.

pests/disease – a caterpillar or locust plague will reduce photosynthesis

access to sunlight – competition within a forest can disadvantage or advantage some trees.

moisture/rainfall – a key variable. Trees do not prosper in a droughteven if there’s a heat wave.

snow packing in spring around the base of the trees retards growth temperature – finally!

The tree ring is a composite of all these variables, not merely of temperature. Therefore on the 15% of the planet covered by trees, their rings do not and cannot accurately record temperature in isolation from the other environmental variables.

In my article on Greening Earth Society on the Hockey Stick, I point to other evidence which contradicts Mann’s theory. The Idso’s have produced more of that evidence, and a new article on Greening Earth has `unearthed’ even more.

Mann’s theory simply does not stack up. But that was not the key issue. Anyone can put up a dud theory from time to time. What is at issue is the uncritical zeal with which the industry siezed on the theory before its scientific value had been properly tested. In one go, they tossed aside dozens of studies which confirmed the existence of the MWE and LIA as global events, and all on the basis of tree rings – a proxy which has all the deficiencies I have stated above.

The worst thing I can say about any paper such as his is that it is `bad science’. Legal restraint prevents me going further. But in his case, only those restraints prevent me going *much* further.

John Daly

5 Responses to “More Tree Ring Oops”

  1. Harry says:

    Well, that nails it.

    Everywhere there are crickets hoping for the next lull to resume their song.

  2. Harry says:

    I will beat jb to the punch by pointing out Michael Mann is not the same guy who directed and produced “Twin Peaks” and John Daly is not the same guy who won the Open by hitting a golf ball past those pesky bunkers at St. Andrew’s.

  3. Harry says:

    I hate to bother WC with more work, but, having gotten past tree rings and ice cores, may we talk about physics?

    A few years ago Jim Manzi wrote a piece in National Review where he said something to this effect: anybody who understands the first thing about particle physics knows…and here and I get into dangerous ground…that you have to be an idiot if you do not accept that carbon dioxide molecules allow in certain types of photon particles and prevent other types of photon or other radiation from escaping Earth, and that therefore anybody arguing that United States Cadillacs and SUVs is an ostrich sticking his head in the ground, so we should propose our own program that will be less injurious than the program proposed by the Unabomber and the IPCC. Get with the program, Ronald Reagan is dead, and it is time we accept the laws of particle physics.

    Now, WC took more physics courses than I, which is one reasons why I look to him for some understanding. But anyone having taken any course and having Scientific American knows something about muons, bosons, et cetera, although all of us have forgotten whatever the mass of all of those particles, except for a photon, which is zero. Those numbers used to be in the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, along with the sine tables.

    Yet there are many writers and pundits, including the able Rameesh Ponnuru of National Review who have dismissed arguments questioning the effect of our cars causing catastrophe as rants from know-nothings. As he did in a single sentence, he dismissed sunspots as if the discussion were between L. Ron Hubbard and Ron Paul. You do not get invited to parties in Georgetown if you are not in the scientific mainstream.

    I would not be questioning the conventional wisdom if it passed the logic test. Anybody who has slept under the stars on a clear night knows it gets a lot colder than it would if the night were cloudy and there were no stars for a Gallileo to observe. Thank goodness we have had an atmosphere, with its clouds, that has kept the world warm for long.

    Where are the crickets to advance a credible physical theory that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from A to B means anything? All I have heard is the sound of their clammy greedy legs rubbing.

  4. Harry says:

    Just so none of WC’s students get offended if in a lecture he appeals for a thoughtful challenge, he is not referring to the big crickets I refer to. He just does not want any of you to become a big cricket. If I have mischaracterized Dr. WC’s views or challenges to his able students, the offense is mine.

  5. Rod says:

    Whatever physicists might say to support hockeystickism, the fact is that none of the dire predictions pushed ten years ago have proved true. Remember how Al Gore and Prince (What, me worry?) Charles said ten years ago: that we have ten years or maybe even less to transfer wealth from the United States to Ghana in order to prevent an increase of two to six degrees centigrade (or was it Fahrenheit?) and the drowning of the Maldive Islanders (or was it the Long Island Islanders?) Heavens to betsy, Mount Kilimanjaro will lose all of its snow and ice, and the Weather Channel will be overloaded with weather disaster news!

    So it appears that skepticism regarding climate change BS does not imply a denial of the laws of particle physics after all.

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