Birth of a Climate Crock. Scientist Disavows Daily Mail Story on MWP
March 27, 2012
“The reporter of that Daily Mail article published it anyway, after we told him the angle that he chose misrepresents our work. “
That’s the whole of the reply I received from Dr. Zunli Lu of Syracuse University after I queried him about the way his study was (mis)represented in the Daily Mail.
UPDATE: Dr. Lu’s full statement now available, discussed here.
The blaring headline “Is this finally proof we’re NOT causing global warming?” is catnip to the yokels of climate denial-dom, and guarantees the story will get linked by all the usual suspects. Then the Mail lures more hits with the cleavage and leg shots of models and actresses on the right side of the page. It’s classic form so familiar to Fox news watchers – boobies for boobs.
I’d been getting queries all day long from people who were confused by the article, and finally decided to check. ( gets tiresome asking these questions, especially when you already know the answer)
The gist is that there is a recent study out of Syracuse, that uses an interesting mineral as a new climate proxy, (an indirect method of indicating temperature from places and times where there were no thermometers) and has found some comparable samples in Europe as well as in the West Antarctic peninsula.
Then, out comes the straw man – ” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe – therefore that the warming we’re experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon.” The implication is that if there was anyplace on the planet that experienced temperatures close to 20th century warmth, anytime during that extended Medieval period, then by gum there ain’t no climate change, just like Rush said.
The truth is that the medieval period covers anywhere from 800 to 1400 CE, and within that period there were temperature fluctuations in all parts of the planet just as there are today. The IPCC points out that
“Local temperature fluctuations, even those over just a few decades, can be several degrees celsius, which is larger than the global warming signal of the past century of about 0.7°C.”
Because there are a number of records of these local temperature fluctuations, climate deniers often use this or that data set to obscure the more important global perspective.
That perspective was well stated by the National Academy of Science, in its 2006 evaluation of the paleo-temperature record –
..the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.
and added, significantly –
Not all individual proxy records indicate that the recent warmth is unprecedented, although a larger fraction of geographically diverse sites experienced exceptional warmth during the late 20th century than during any other extended period from A.D. 900 onward
I have another message in to Dr. Lu, asking for a little more clarification. I would imagine he sensibly wants to keep his distance from the crazies on this, but I’m hoping he’ll provide some perspective.
So, the anwer, if anyone asks is, OF COURSE the story is wrong. It’s the Daily Mail. If you want to see how the Daily Mail interacts with the climate denial media, watch the video below, a perennial favorite.