Global Warming and Walnut Trees: a Case Study in Deception

Guest post by Dr. David Deming

The science of global warming is allegedly “settled.” The American Physical Society has declared that “global warming is occurring” and that the “evidence is incontrovertible.” According to environmentalists and advocacy organizations, unchecked global warming will lead to an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions. Polar icecaps will melt and rising seas will inundate coastal cities. Species will become extinct. Green pastures and sylvan glades will be transformed into deserts of scorched and desiccated sand.

But the science of global warming is not settled. And there is scarcely any unambiguous scientific evidence that significant future harm will occur to either human beings or the natural environment. People have been systematically deceived by a coalition of environmentalists, governments and institutions that feed off a stream of funding for climate research. This essay documents in specific detail one example of how this deception has been promulgated.

On November 28, 2011, Purdue University issued a press release titled “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change.” Subsequently, the material in the press release was recycled by various media outlets under headlines such as “Walnuts are super-sensitive to climate,” and “walnut industry may crack under climate pressure.” One writer asserted that the genus Juglans could be “pushed to the verge of extinction within a few decades,” explaining “this is the conclusion of a recent study issued by Purdue University.” Walnut trees were vulnerable because “they can’t handle low or high temperatures.”

By now, we’re all used to seeing everything imaginable either linked to, or blamed upon, global warming. The list is long and ludicrous. But I was taken aback by the claim that walnut trees were somehow especially sensitive to climate change. From personal experience, I knew walnut trees to be hardy, not fragile.

I have about half a dozen Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) trees on my property in central Oklahoma (see photo).

Oklahoma has a harsh climate. Record temperature extremes range from a low of -31 degrees F to a high of 120 degrees F. Droughts, heat waves, ice storms, hail, and high winds are common.

According to the Oklahoma State University agricultural extension, “severe weather is a fact of life in Oklahoma” with “storm-related damage a major impediment to maintaining healthy trees.” But my walnut trees thrive under these conditions. And in 2011, my Black Walnut trees survived one of the hottest and driest summers in recorded history.

During the summer of 2011, the southcentral US experienced severe heat and drought. Average statewide rainfall in Oklahoma from October 1, 2010, through July 30, 2011, was 16.7 inches, 14 inches below average. The Oklahoma Climatological Survey described this as an “one of the worst short-term droughts in state history,” the “driest on record.”

The heat in Oklahoma over the summer of 2011 was exceptional. The average temperature for Oklahoma in July of 2011 was 89.1 degrees F, “more than 7 degrees [F] above normal.” It was the hottest July on record for Oklahoma, exceeding the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. It was also the hottest month ever recorded for any state in the conterminous US.

August of 2011 was also exceptionally hot in Oklahoma. The statewide average temperature for that month was 87.7 degrees F, 7.3 degrees above average, and the hottest August on record for the state of Oklahoma.

Altogether, the months of June, July, and August 2011 were the hottest summer Oklahoma has experienced in recorded history. My walnut trees endured months of drought and extreme heat. The thermometer on my back porch commonly registered temperatures above 105 degrees F and sometimes exceeded 110 degrees F.

Two of my walnut trees compensated for environmental stress by dropping branches. Abscission in walnut is a common response to drought. But the trees survived. And they did more than just survive. They produced a large number of walnuts (see photo).

Photo taken December 2011 by Dr. David Deming

As a scientist, I understand the difference between anecdotal data and systematic empirical investigations. It is possible that my six trees may not be typical of Juglans nigra specimens in general. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s  Silvics of North America, “Black Walnut contains great genetic variation for growth and survival.” Of course, the very existence of genetic variation in Black Walnut implies that it is not a fragile plant, but a hardy tree capable of enduring and surviving environmental stress.

Contrary to what the press release from Purdue asserted, my experience in Oklahoma over the summer of 2011 suggested that walnut trees were hardy, not fragile. So I decided to do what people rarely do: I read the scientific research article upon which the press release was based. What I found was shocking. The press release issued by Purdue University was not just tendentious and misrepresentative. It was plainly deceptive.

The Purdue press release alleged that walnut trees are especially susceptible to damage from climate change. It stated that “warmer, drier summers and…climate changes would be especially troublesome–possibly fatal–for walnut trees.”

But the research paper read (page 1270) “there is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not.” Remarkably enough, the research paper also stated climate change could be beneficial for walnut trees. Buried in the text (page 1286) is the statement that there is “evidence suggesting walnut growth and distribution may remain stable or increase in the twenty-first century.”

The Purdue press release claimed that walnut “has an extremely narrow range.” But it doesn’t. The genus Juglansis found worldwide. The range of the species Juglans nigra alone extends over most of the eastern US. According to Silvics of North America, the natural range of the Black Walnut extends from Florida north to Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. Juglans nigra is found on the east coast of the US westward to the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

A genus or species with a wide geographic range must have an inherent ability to withstand the climatic variations found within its range. The wider the range, the hardier the tree. If a person wanted to portray a tree as fragile or especially susceptible to climate change, they would necessarily have to describe its range as limited.

The text of the press release asserted that “almost all climate change models predict that climates will become drier.” But the text of the research paper stated (page 1285) that “in North America and northern Europe, mean annual temperature and precipitation are expected to increase.”

The Purdue press release described walnuts as being “sensitive to cold.” This is partly correct. Like many other trees, walnuts can be damaged by late spring frosts. But spring frosts are a symptom of global cooling, not global warming. And Juglans nigra is remarkably resistant to winter cold. It can withstand winter temperatures as low as -45 degrees F. It survived the Pleistocene Ice Ages. The very fact that the genus Juglans is not extinct is evidence that these trees have survived all the climatic variations and extremes that have occurred on the planet Earth since their evolutionary origin about 60 million years ago.

Purdue’s press release stated that “walnuts would have difficulty tolerating droughts.” My experience over the summer of 2011 was anecdotal, but demonstrated that at least some Black Walnut trees could shrug off droughts, even extreme ones. One reason that Juglans nigra is resistant to drought is foundSilvics of North America. The root system of Juglans nigra is described as “deep and wide spreading, with a definite taproot…[and the tree is] able to rely on the deeper soil layers for survival during times of drought.”

Critical information was omitted from the press release. The text of the research paper stated that carbon dioxide and global warming may actually prove to be beneficial for the walnut tree. But these statements were completely absent from the press release.

Carbon dioxide fertilizes trees. Trees grow faster and larger when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases. The research paper reported (p. 1280) that “a five-fold increase in CO2…generated growth increases of 70%.” The authors concluded (p. 1286) that “productivity gains associated with increased atmospheric CO2 in walnut appear to be greater than average.”

The research paper also stated (p. 1286) that global warming could benefit walnut trees by extending their range. “Milder winters may actually increase walnut establishment,” and “areas that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth.” But the press release stated that climate change could be “fatal” for walnut trees, not beneficial.

The press release from Purdue repeatedly emphasized the economic value of walnut trees. Purdue was right. Walnuts and walnut wood are valuable. If you want people to give you money to conduct research on walnuts you have to convince them that there is a crisis at hand, and that you’re going to save them from it. You can hardly state that climate change is likely to benefit the walnut. You have to convince the public that there is some tangible benefit to be derived from the money they are giving you. So the propaganda you want politicians and the public to read is placed in a press release while the truth is buried in the scientific literature. After all, hardly anyone reads the scientific literature other than a handful of specialists.

It is not difficult to understand why people and institutions exaggerate the potential dangers of global warming and omit any mention of the probable benefits. There are billions of dollars available for climate change research. Obama’s 2011 budget allocated $2.6 billion for the “global change research program.” This stream of cash has created a monstrous industry that produces junk science that feeds demands for even more money. It is a scam.

In summary, this is a sad example of how money and ideology have corrupted contemporary science. Everything has to be tendentiously linked with climate change in order to obtain money. The public is being swindled, and the respect people have for science and scientists is being eroded. I feel especially sorry for the gullible activists who have a sincere concern for environmental quality. They’re being played for fools.

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David Deming is associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma. His book, Black & White: Politically Incorrect Essays on Politics, Culture, Science, Religion, Energy and Environment, is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

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I add this to Dr. Demings essay. The black walnut is common throughout California, even perrenially dry southern California. The Wikipedia entry on the tree says:

Juglans californica, the California black walnut, also called the California walnut, or the Southern California black walnut, is a large shrub or small tree (up to 30 feet tall) of the Juglandaceae (walnut) family endemic to California.

J. californica is generally found in the southern California Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, and Peninsular Ranges, and the Central Valley. It grows as part of mixed woodlands, and also on slopes and in valleys wherever conditions are favorable. It is threatened by development and overgrazing. Some native stands remain in urban Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains and Hollywood Hills. J. californica grows in riparian woodlands, either in single species stands or mixed with California’s oaks (Quercus spp.) and cottonwoods (Populus fremontii).

It seems development is a bigger threat than drought/heat.

English Walnuts are also widely cultivated where I live, and they routinely experience 110F + temperatures in the hot summer of the Sacramento Valley.

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196 thoughts on “Global Warming and Walnut Trees: a Case Study in Deception

  1. The ruddy walnut trees I have here in France, must have doubled production this year. Is that because it is warmer, cooler, just the same, or because they felt like it?

  2. “I feel especially sorry for the gullible activists who have a sincere concern for environmental quality. They’re being played for fools.”

    Why? They’re fully equipped to seek the truth rather than aggressively reject anything that challenges their desperate belief in any half-baked drivel that damns thier own species.

  3. If they can survive Oklahoma & Colorado, I agree they cannot be that fragile. 20 years or more ago my Grandfather thought my Mom would like a Walnut tree so he brought one from Oklahoma. I don’t know how much my Mom likes it but the squirrels don’t seem to mind.

  4. Wasn’t the all time low temp in Oklahoma just set earlier this year (February) in a town near Miami?Yes, I’m too lazy to look it up.;-)

  5. U. of Oklahoma, huh? Don’t they have oil in OK? You must be on Exon’s payroll. Sorry, could not resist.

    But seriously, very nice article. I am a scientist myself, but not in the area of climate, and I get so fed up with seeing stuff like this in the newspaper. I was glad to see the link to alarmist news stories. I am surprised that what was in the press release was the exact opposite of what the paper actually said. I expect exaggeration, but not outright misrepresentation.

  6. Few trees are better than black walnut (like Amer sycamore) at colonizing stream-banks & floodplains, at least here in the Appalachian valleys. The nuts are picked up by flooding, float, and deposit downstream as the water recedes. The large food-reserve in the nut allows the seedling to put down a massive taproot quickly and resist washing away during the next flood.

    English walnut-meat is much easier to extract, but the strong, “wild” taste of BWs is much superior IMO. Ditto for the taste of domesticated European cherries to the N Amer “wild” black cherry, which unfortunately doesn’t put out dependable yearly crops, as my 50′ specimen demonstrates.

  7. For what it is worth, I am a physicist, and I and a fair number of my colleagues were actively offended by the APS “conclusion”. It was completely inappropriate, and besides, its statements are not true. I know a bunch of physicists who are far from convinced that CAGW is true, even as most of them are perfectly happy to concede that CO_2 is a factor in global temperature.

    The physics per se is far from settled. Physics has little (that is predictive) to say about climate sensitivity. Physics has a great deal to say about the role of the Sun in climate, but much of it hasn’t yet been definitively said yet, as the research is ongoing. Even the simplest parts of the physics — the actual greenhouse trapping by atmospheric CO_2 in the ~0.03-0.04% concentration range — is open to debate because how it works depends on things like atmospheric mixing and Lorentzian broadening of the absorption lines, and because the actual trapping and feedback is impossible to measure even from satellites, so far.

    Besides, physics has seen more than its share of complete revolutions in thinking. Things that were “obviously true” have been brought crashing down in the history of physics over and over again. Most physicists are iconoclasts, and truly do not believe what they are told, especially when their bullshit detectors reveal a strong vested interest underlying the published work.

    I, and my colleagues, do not need the APS to tell us what to think about climate research! Any more than we need it to tell us what to think in any other arena in physics. How dare they! There is damn little science in the world that is “settled”. Gravity? Not settled. Magnetism? Not settled (do monopoles exist?). The speed of light as a true upper bound? Sure, probably, but not settled — if the neutrino result had held water, what then? If we discover some other transluminal particle, what then? The experimental evidence in all of these is far more settled than it is in climate — an openly chaotic non-equilibrium system with multiple timescales, unknown couplings, and a long history of enormous climate fluctuations, fluctuations that are far larger and longer lasting than those currently observed.

    Physics more than any other science knows better than to publicly accept any conclusion, especially a conclusion as politically weighty as CAGW, supported by such ambiguous and often self-contradictory evidence.

    rgb

  8. Eisenhower’s caveat: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded. “

  9. “Polar icecaps will melt and rising seas will inundate coastal cities. Species will become extinct. Green pastures and sylvan glades will be transformed into deserts of scorched and desiccated sand.”

    Gee, that’s never happened before.

    Black walnuts will grow just about anywhere, for any reason, but they aren’t the walnuts responsible for adding all the calories to banana splits. That would be the regia walnut. You can’t crack a black walnut with dynamite, and the fruit they come in leaves walnut stains on your sidewalk.

    I’d recommend planting black walnuts all over if you have kids. When they are ready for college, you can harvest the trees and sell them, depending on the market in your area. We had a local veneer mill up in Illinois, and some big ones would go near a thousand, most for half that.

  10. Walnuts are good for eating,furniture,gun stocks, and their natural beauty. Also, some really old trees will sell for many thousands of dollars if harvested properly and not just cut down and allowed to fall. They are messy around a house or driveways.

  11. Dr. Deming, your post did not distinguish between wild eastern black walnut trees and cultivated (often hybridized) walnut trees; the mowed lawn in your photo tells me that yours are the latter.

    Consider for example these two facts: (1) in my front yard (on the West Coast) there grows a vibrantly healthy American chestnut tree (castanea dentata), whereas (2) in the wild American chestnut trees are nearly extinct.

    These two facts in no way contradict one another. Similarly, wild populations of eastern black walnuts could suffer greatly from climate change, without notable effects upon cultivated black walnuts.

    Thus, the relevance of your anecdotal post to the long-term viability of wild populations of eastern black walnut trees is (AFAICT) near-zero.

  12. My Dad and I planted a couple of hundred black walnut trees in 1970, in Southern Minnesota. We put some hay on them the first winter, and just herbicided them twice a year while they were small. No irrigation, nothing else… The ones that haven’t been cut for wood are huge. They seem to grow fine with no real problems. It does get a bit cold in Minnesota on an empty field in the winter…, and very hot and muggy in the summer…

  13. Robert Brown says….”There is damn little science in the world that is “settled”. It is nice to have a scientist confirm what I, a non-scientist, have believed for a long time. For several decades I have heard statements that “scientists once believed such and such but now believe this and that.” You pick the field and they have said it. To think otherwise shows how naive you are or how young you are. I wish more scientists would come out as Mr Brown has and give the public the straight scoop.

  14. I think you meant to say that the press release was junk and not the science, as you seem to agree with that all throught the peice.

  15. A well-written and extremely useful article. Another vain attempt by alarmists to mislead the public bites the dust. Thank you Dr. Demming!

  16. The most obvious sign that climate science isn’t settled is easy to spot: they’re still asking for funding.

  17. A physicist:
    “the mowed lawn in your photo tells me that yours are the latter.”

    Really? How does it do that? It usually takes a horticultural expert and direct observation of the tree in question to be able to definitively tell the difference – it would be interesting to know how looking at the surrounding lawn tells you that the tree is a hybrid of any sort.

    There are over 400 “natural” black walnut cultivars, found over the last century or so. This is because black walnut trees are pretty diverse, genetically. You mostly find hybrid black walnuts in tree farms and in urban and suburban neighborhoods – selected for height and nut flavor characteristics.

  18. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Dr. Deming, your post did not distinguish between wild eastern black walnut trees and cultivated (often hybridized) walnut trees; the mowed lawn in your photo tells me that yours are the latter.

    Some scientist you are, if you’ll draw a conclusion like that from a “mowed lawn.” I have several eastern black walnuts planted right next to my “mowed lawn.” The only reason they aren’t actually on the mowed lawn is that the black walnut is one of the messiest trees you can put in a lawn because of the nuts dropping all over the place. Plus, the walnut tree will kill a lot of other plants growing under it’s crown. It’s a lousy yard tree, in other words. (And by the way, Dr. Deming based most of his criticism on the conflicting information in the paper itself…his own experience apparently led him to check the paper to see what was up.)

    My walnut trees do indeed suffer from the occasional late frost. In those years the buds die back and have to regenerate, so the early growth suffers some. But otherwise the trees are very hardy. We have an annual temperature range of -40 to +100 here in our part of Wisconsin, and I’ve yet to see a walnut tree killed by anything other than a buck rub in the wild. I’ve planted a few thousand nuts, given them no further attention, and have walnut trees sprouting all over various portions of my land. With red oaks dying of oak wilt, and the ash trees about to succumb to the ash borer, and elm trees done in by dutch elm disease, the black walnut is one of the few trees I can plant and feel reasonably comfortable that it will still be around 80 to 100 years from now, when it’s ready to be harvested. (Better to plant them when you’re young, and figure maybe they’ll put your grandchildren through college, not your children, by the way.)

    As for the article, I suspect a news release of that sort does a far better job of putting you higher on the funding priority list than one that said “Walnut trees have nothing to fear from global warming.”

  19. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:59 am
    Thus, the relevance of your anecdotal post to the long-term viability of wild populations of eastern black walnut trees is (AFAICT) near-zero.

    I guess you missed the below which is not anecodal but a quote from Silvics. Please read what is written not what you want to read.

    Dr. Deming wrote:
    According to Silvics of North America, the natural range of the Black Walnut extends from Florida north to Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. Juglans nigra is found on the east coast of the US westward to the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

    A genus or species with a wide geographic range must have an inherent ability to withstand the climatic variations found within its range. The wider the range, the hardier the tree. If a person wanted to portray a tree as fragile or especially susceptible to climate change, they would necessarily have to describe its range as limited.

  20. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Dr. Deming, your post did not distinguish between wild eastern black walnut trees and cultivated (often hybridized) walnut trees; the mowed lawn in your photo tells me that yours are the latter.
    ………………………………………….
    Thus, the relevance of your anecdotal post to the long-term viability of wild populations of eastern black walnut trees is (AFAICT) near-zero.
    ============================================================
    Do they not teach context to physicists? Consider this backdrop which Dr. Deming included in his post…….walnut industry may crack under climate pressure.” One writer asserted that the genus Juglans could be “pushed to the verge of extinction within a few decades,” explaining “this is the conclusion of a recent study issued by Purdue University.” Walnut trees were vulnerable because “they can’t handle low or high temperatures.”

  21. The key to all propaganda is incessant repetition,
    with no acknowledgement whatsoever of the truth,
    no concession to reality, just doubling down of the lies.

  22. David,

    Are you this David Deming?

    If so would you care to state on record who the ‘major researcher in the area of climate change’ was who emailed you to state ‘We must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period!’. Do you still have a copy of the email? If so could you post it here on this thread with email addresses redacted etc.

    Regards

    KevinUK

  23. phake physicist is specious, disingenous and misleading:
    “American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.) once dominated the eastern deciduous forests of the USA before nearly all trees throughout the range were annihilated by the introduced pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.)”

  24. Dr. David Deming we know what you are up to and the true believers in the cause will refuse to be swayed by confusing facts and messy reality. Mike McMillan, your wrong, my Grandmother not only managed to crack those tough nuts will into her eighties but made a very delicious candy out of them as well, just seeing black walnut stains on someones hands is enough to trigger a Pavlovian response in me.

  25. This kind of thing is pretty common, I’m afraid. When I applied for PhDs I worked on a virus which many respected publications said was ‘an economic problem in cattle’. I was roundly humiliated when a practicing vet, also a PhD student flatly contradicted me on this at a PhD seminar.

    Mantras grow in academia like anywhere else. And if you challenge them you’d better damn well be right or your employment prospects go downhill fast.

    Everyone talks about ‘trusted sources’. My experience is you shouldn’t trust any source, anywhere, until experience tells you that it is mostly sound, most of the time.

  26. For ‘A physicist’
    American Chestnuts succumbed to the Chestnut Blight, an introduced disease, not climate change.
    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chestnut_blight )
    So I’m not sure what your point is.
    Black walnut is grown primarily for timber and has not had much attention from the plant engineers. Also, afaik, no walnut cultivar has been bred for temperature insensitivity, as the species is very hardy, so hybrid or all natural should not differ greatly in their temperature response.

  27. I know this is anecdotal and not completely relevant, but I had a huge pecan tree in my yard in Mesa AZ. It was ancient. During the late 80s there were a few very hot years, some days busting 120F. The nut yield from my tree those years was incredible. BTW, English walnuts do ok in the Phoenix area.

  28. “As a scientist, I understand the difference between anecdotal data and systematic empirical investigations. It is possible that my six trees may not be typical of Juglans nigra specimens in general”.
    —————————
    He is way ahead of the warmunists who claim a few hand-picked trees on Yamal Peninsula stand as climate proxies for global conditions.

  29. Here in Churchville, Maryland, we also had a hot summer (record number of weeks over ninety), and our black walnut trees produced tons of nuts. More than in previous years. The squirrels could not even make a dent in them. But we also had a colder than usual winter, and the spring was likewise cold – summer was kinda late getting here. So anecdotally, the big production increase was due to what – cold winter, cold, late spring or hot summer? Take your pick. Now I’m just an accountant, not a “climate scientist”, but my direct observations are the trees are doing well, the squirrels are happy, and I still have one heck of a mess to clean up around the yard.

  30. The usual paper and press release:

    could be sensitive to change, often isn’t, might be able to withstand warmer, or colder, the data suggests, but some data doesn’t, but more research required to make yet more inane conclusions.

  31. This is absolute nonsense. Those people need to look at this:

    That is the change in climate over the past 60 million years. Black Walnut have experienced temperatures much warmer over the period of their existence and have experienced CO2 levels over 10x today’s levels, too, during the PETM.

    This article is absolutely nuts.

  32. @ A physicist: You may be a physicist but you are not much of a biologist or you wouldn’t have posted. I don’t even know where to begin and I struggle to keep my response short. Well, first ….. because a tree is in someones yard it is cultivated (or hybridized)??? You can determine this from a fuzzy photo? Second, American chestnut has largely been wiped out in the east …. it’s natural range ….. by an introduced disease. You may have a human planted survivor due to your location on the west coast or it could be a chinese elm or possibly even a hybrid American/Chinese elm. In any case, your facts are empty and your “cultivated” comparison is nonsense. Please, post no more on biological systems.

  33. Regarding my previous post in response to “A physicist”: As I pondered the trees of the United States in my previous post …. thinking about American Ash, American Elm, and American Chestnut being wiped out by foreign diseases and pests …… I inadvertently wrote “elm” instead of “chestnut” in my response. I’m getting too old.

  34. It seems to me that Dr. Deming’s conclusions could fairly be summarized as follows:

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    Oh wait … that’s the conclusion of the article that Dr. Deming is criticizing.

    Whoops … it appears that the outrage being expressed here on WUWT has zero factual basis in the scientific literature.

    There *is* quite a bit of literature on ecosystem change associated to climate change … NASA foresees that these shifts will be dramatic.

    Which is hardly surprising, and completely consistent with Dr. Deming’s conclusions.

  35. I have both sorts of walnut trees living here on the eastern outliers of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Precipitation is about 9 inches annually (so I water them) at our elevation of 2,240 feet.

    My trees were well leafed-out by late March of 2010 but in early April we had 2 nights of freezing temperature. Most all plants were effected – Arrowleaf Balsamroot – in bloom – were laid low. That one is native. The leaves of the walnuts turned black and fell – every branch was bare. Apples and cherries lost all their fruit but not their leaves. Conclusion: My walnut trees are more sensitive to spring frosts than my apple and cherry trees.

    Five weeks after the loss of their leaves my trees grew a new covering and, in fact, managed to produce a handful of nuts. This year (2011) did not present serious problems, except it was a bit cool – according to the tomatoes. However, September and October saved the season. Some tomatoes even ripened on the vine. The walnut crop was excellent. I shelled and froze many pounds of Carpathians and gave most of the black walnuts to others.

    To: A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:59 am
    “ . . . there grows a vibrantly healthy American chestnut tree

    There are many such trees around the country – far removed from others and the source of blight. I grew up in western Pennsylvania where the dead Chestnuts still stood and some still suckered some nut producing shoots. Hickory trees were common and Butternut less so. University researchers and others are still trying to develop a replacement.

  36. From the “physicist’s” link:

    Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., investigated how Earth’s plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries as Earth’s climate changes in response to rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. Study results are published in the journal Climatic Change.

    NASA can see three centuries into the future?? Anyone who believes that is a credulous fool. James Hansen tried to see three decades into the future and was 100% wrong.

    NASA is simply engaging in climate alarmism to protect its budget. No one on this planet can see changes in the biosphere three hundred years into the future. Get real. And remember that the “Team” has taken over the agenda in the journal Climatic Change, among others. It’s all in the Climategate 1.0 emails, if a clueless physicist cares to look.

  37. Most people have no idea of the scale of drought that California has seen in just the past 2000 years:

    http://www.sierranaturenotes.com/naturenotes/paleodrought1.htm

    There have been times when Lake Tahoe was below its outlet for CENTURIES at a time. Today’s period has been an unusually wet one for the Holocene in California. That said, he is concerned that Black Walnut will not survive global warming in California and that is probably because the trees are not native here. They probably wouldn’t survive without irrigation in the state anyway.

    This article shows the native range of the Juglans nigra. It is not native to California. It wouldn’t survive TODAY’s climate without artificial irrigation because we have a period from May to October (and sometimes longer) with no rain whatsoever.

    The article does not put Purdue in a good light. It makes the institution look silly.

  38. The biggest threat to walnut trees – is man’s love of the wood! It is one of the most beautiful. And that fact alone means it has to be hardy to have outlasted the colonial furniture industry! ;)

    That being said, Dr. Deming is going to be getting a lot of hate mail for using the studies actual facts to debunk the hysteria of the press release.

  39. The known cultivars of American Black Walnut are legion and their very diversity indicates that the species incorporates an incredible survival response to growing conditions in it’s genetic makeup.
    Oklahoma not only has an exceedingly temperate climate, but is known to have the most diverse topographies and subsequently diverse ecosystems in the United States with everything from cypress swamps, mixed hardwood and evergreen forests, tall grass and mixed grass prairies, several mountain ranges and high Rocky Mt. plateau. Only within the highest and driest areas Are Black Walnuts not wonderfully abundant, and the walnut cultivars found within those regions are equally diverse.

    A physicist‘s implication that the discussion should focus only on native wild Eastern Black Walnut is wholly without merit, as is the Purdue study which A physicist attempts to defend.

  40. A physicist says: “ . . . there grows a vibrantly healthy American chestnut tree”

    John F. Hultquist says: There are many such trees around the country – far removed from others and the source of blight. I grew up in western Pennsylvania where the dead Chestnuts still stood and some still suckered some nut producing shoots. Hickory trees were common and Butternut less so. University researchers and others are still trying to develop a replacement.

    John, you are 100% right. My own family’s American chestnut tree was grown from a chestnut that I harvested personally, from a huge and still-healthy American chestnut tree, growing far outside its natural range, that was planted by pioneers circa 1880. Perhaps in another century or so the blight will die out, and/or resistant trees will be developed, so that the chestnut forests can return to the east.

  41. Even if your Oklahoma trees do die, that would not be unnatural. Eastern Oklahoma is just at the edge of the tree’s natural range anyway. Dieback at the edges of a tree’s natural range is common, that is how the edge of the range is established and that edge varies over time.

  42. Interstellar Bill says: The key to all propaganda is incessant repetition …

    True and this was well understood by Hitler and his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Another part of the premise is that the larger the lie – the easier it is to sell it to the entire country which makes sense when you consider how information gets digested among the masses. A slight lie means that it something close but not quite the truth thus allowing the recipient to at least suspect something is not quite correct. The outrageous lie, the one with no basis in fact leaves them shocked and defenseless. They may initially thoroughly dismiss it but then, considering WHO is telling it to them find that it is much easier to just accept it with absolutely no inner guilt because they are unable to find any reason not to believe it. The underlying driver is that they do not want to appear stupid if challenged by someone else about it – IF THEY THINK EVERYONE ELSE BELIEVES IT.

    That part is an exact match with the CAGW propaganda I keep hearing – “everybody knows that the consensus is”… “the debate is over”, etc. Getting doubters to think they are in a severe minority is right out of the Nazi playbook. I shudder to think how far CAGW policy would have decimated our economy and standard of living by now if there was no Internet and only newspapers (and a few government controlled radio stations) like back in 1930’s Germany.

    These CAGW alarmists don’t fool me one bit and yes I do think some of them are evil.

  43. According to family legend, shortly after the family moved to the farm where I grew up, we were visited by an elderly lady who claimed to have planted the “walnut” (later identified as actually butternut — close relative) tree in our front yard. When I was a kid (10-20 years after that incident), that tree was still standing, easily 60′ tall. One of its branches was supported by a heavy rope — which the tree had grown AROUND, so that the rope was now part of the fabric of the tree. That branch, BTW, supported a swing used by half the family.

    That tree is still there. It survived the winters of ’76, ’77, and ’78 — the years that gave the Coming Ice Age their weight, and which saw ice standing in the family dog’s water dish — which was in the kitchen. It survived a tornado that ripped roofing off the barn and the house that flank it. It’s survived multiple droughts, and multiple “unusually wet” years. It appears to have been diminished since I was a kid — that monstrous, rope-supported branch appears to have been trimmed, and the whole tree seems shorter, as if it’s lost its top. But it’s still there. Still putting out leaves and blooms and nuts, despite being a minimum of 80 years old.

    And they think a few degrees either way will destroy the entire species?!

  44. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

    It seems to me that Dr. Deming’s conclusions could fairly be summarized as follows:

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut.

    In other words “we really have no idea what impact what impact climate change will have on walnut but we thought we would scare people about potential impacts anyway because it is such a trendy topic”.

    The criticism is for nonsensical articles that are self-invalidating by stating right at the outset that they have no idea what they are talking about and are speculating on a scenario that may never come to pass. What is the purpose for publishing such an article? Why do so many climate articles say there is “considerable uncertainty” and then fail to quantify “considerable”?

    I will tell you why. Due to the “precautionary principal” of “sustainable development” they don’t actually have to show any cause/effect. The purpose of the article is to give further justification for mitigation of “climate effects” that may never come to pass.

    Under the current policies in place, one may completely fabricate a scenario out of thin air, apparently according to the “it could happen” principal and that then becomes the basis for policy. THAT is what we are objecting to. It is junk science. If there is “considerable uncertainty”, then keep the conclusion to yourself until you are more certain. There is “considerable uncertainty” that a meteor will land in my living room in the next 10 minutes and wipe out my neighborhood and destroy the environment for miles around, but it could happen. So I demand a “meteor shield” be built immediately above my house.

    I am dead serious, that is exactly the level of zany thinking we are talking about here. These people aren’t scientists. They are no better than Madam Sofia and her palm reading parlor up the street. They have wasted the time and money of their learning institution and the results of their research makes them look like complete idiots. There is very little “uncertainty” of that.

  45. I’m shocked to see “A Physic” chiming in, still. His peculiar mix of propaganda techniques and fallacies didn’t work on the Climage Gate II thread — why does he think it will work anywhere else?

  46. Gosh … maybe some of the posters on this topic should “tell the truth and shame the devil” … regarding whether they actually took the trouble to read the Annals of Forest Science article in question?

    Frankly, to me it seemed like a terrific article — reasonable and balanced in all its conclusions, with all of its sources thoroughly documented.

    Recommended! :)

  47. I’ve always thought of walnut trees being a tough nut to crack (ouch).

    “A woman/wife, a dog, and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be.”
    English, Russian … proverb late 16th century
    (Please note: I do not beat my wife or my dog.
    In the PC atmosphere of the UK I’m not sure if I can even beat walnut trees …)

  48. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

    It seems to me that Dr. Deming’s conclusions could fairly be summarized as follows:

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    Oh wait … that’s the conclusion of the article that Dr. Deming is criticizing.
    ===============================================================

    And the point sails so far over “a physicist”s head that it achieves orbit.

  49. I’m shocked to see “A Physic” chiming in, still. His peculiar mix of propaganda techniques and fallacies didn’t work on the Climage Gate II thread — why does he think it will work anywhere else?
    ========================================================================

    The disconnect from reality and williness to show it off still has me wondering if “A Physicist” is part of “the Team”.

  50. The issue here is not whether walnuts are or are not going to be affected either by Global Warming or Climate Change. The issue is that it appears that University Public Relations Departments are playing fast and loose with peer-reviewed scientific papers to the point of being plainly deceptive.

    Dr. Deming wrote this essay to “document in specific detail” this one instance where the public is being deceived by a press release that misrepresents, through commission and omission, statements in the underlying peer reviewed paper. Nice job, Dr. Deming.

  51. Wow, “A Physicist” is every bit as dishonest as the Perdue press release, which was criticized by Dr. Deming for systematically contradicting the research paper that it claimed to summarize. A Physicists’s reply? He >pretends that Deming was criticizing the reasearch paper:

    It seems to me that Dr. Deming’s conclusions could fairly be summarized as follows:
    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. …”

    Oh wait … that’s the conclusion of the article that Dr. Deming is criticizing.

    Whoops … it appears that the outrage being expressed here on WUWT has zero factual basis in the scientific literature.

    The paragraph that A Physicist quotes is not from the criticized press release, but from the paper that Deming cites to criticize the press release. See “research results” (not the conclusion) here:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/t627t525763203x8/fulltext.html

    Guess we know why Physicist posts anonymously. He’s a total fraud, pretending that the paper used to criticize the press release is what was being criticized. Really, this was the entire point of Deming’s expose, and Physicist intentionally mixes it up.

    Come to think of it, that could actually be good to have on his resume. The IPCC might want to bring him on as a lead author. Come on Physicist, tell us your real name. You have your share of billions to gain, and no integrity to lose.

  52. @ A physicist

    Did you even READ the article before posting something so out of touch?

    The purpose of this article is not to criticizes the scientific paper, but the Purdue press release which MISREPRESENTED the scientific paper in the extreme. We should always seek to pursue and cast down any press releases that so horrendously distort the science they are purporting to be reporting. If you are indeed a scientist, would you not agree? Would you want your research mischaracterized and sensationalized?

  53. “By now, we’re all used to seeing everything imaginable either linked to, or blamed upon, global warming.”

    People simply roll their eyes when (in sarcastic jest) I tell them that my wretched ingrowing toe nail is a result of AGW…… well it might as well be! everything else is…………..

  54. Anecdotal data versus systematic observations of representative samples:
    Black Swan.
    If I claim that a black walnut cannot survive a drought, and you show me a black walnut that survived a drought, the one case disproves my claim.

    Sure, I might have watered the walnut tree, etc., but outside of those types of confounders, you don’t need more than one observation to invalidate some claims.

    If I identify one life form on Mars, then there is life on Mars.

  55. Stephen Rasey says: Dr. Deming wrote this essay to “document in specific detail” this one instance where the public is being deceived by a press release that misrepresents, through commission and omission, statements in the underlying peer reviewed paper. Nice job, Dr. Deming.

    Stephen, your assertion is factually incorrect with respect to “document in specific detail.”

    Dr. Dening’s most inflammatory quoted passage is “pushed to the verge of extinction within a few decades,” and “this is the conclusion of a recent study issued by Purdue University.” Yet these two quoted passages (AFAICT) appear (1) nowhere in the literature, (2) nowhere in any Purdue press release, and (3) nowhere on any web page indexed by Google.

    Neither does Dr. Deming’s WUWT post “document in specific detail” his source for these quotes.

    WUWT, indeed!  :)

    On further investigation, the source of the Dr. Deming’s (mis)quote appears to be a one-page Softpedia summary which (uniquely in all the Internet!) contains the phrase:

    “Rapidly expanding deforestation correlated with extreme drought could make this tree population extremely vulnerable or even push it on the verge of extinction within a few decades. Walnut forests can’t cope with a high level of humidity or dryness.”

    The two taken-home lessons both are simple: (1) the Purdue scientists’ published article is scientifically sound and well worth reading, and (2) the Purdue University press release is a fair summary of this fine work.

    So thank you very much for the pointer to this outstanding science, Dr. Deming!   :)

  56. We have a very large English walnut that a local forester says is over 100 years old, at 1700 ft in the mountains in N. CA. Obviously it has survived cold, heat, drought, etc. over that time. Late frosts often keep it from producing nuts, but in a warm year it still produces..

  57. Perhaps in another century or so the blight will die out, and/or resistant trees will be developed, so that the chestnut forests can return to the east.

    There’s hope for the chestnut tree. Crossbreeding with a Chinese variety has produced a tree with more resistance to Asian blight, and there’s a virus that can be used to treat infected trees. A Washington Post article has more information on this.

  58. @A physicist says: December 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Well, at least the criticisms of your apparent inability to read a post have struck a chord. You are now trying to attack Deming’s portrayal of the article instead of merely demonizing him for your perception of reality. Maybe in a few years, you might even be able to follow links he provided in the critique. There is hope.

  59. Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory investigated how Earth’s plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries as Earth’s climate changes in response to rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. Study results are published in the journal Climatic Change.

    Smokey says: NASA can see three centuries into the future?? Anyone who believes that is a credulous fool … No one on this planet can see changes in the biosphere three hundred years into the future. Get real.

    Smokey, seedlings from the American chestnut tree that my sons and I planted in my front yard will (with luck) reach their maturity in that third century.

    Hmmm … perhaps if you too planted some long-lived trees, then planning three centuries ahead might not seem so foolish?

  60. This is an unimaginably foolish argument on the face of it. Are we to believe that all these species threatened by minor temperature changes evolved in the latest decades of moderate weather, or is it possible that they have survived past climate variations?

    A lot of people within and outside the “climate community” seem to have some sort of severe attention deficit disorder.

  61. The two taken-home lessons both are simple: (1) the Purdue scientists’ published article is scientifically sound and well worth reading, and (2) the Purdue University press release is a fair summary of this fine work.

    I’m not sure how the fact that Dr. Deming may have slightly misquoted the Softpedia article (without changing the meaning) leads to the “taken-home lesson” that ” the Purdue University press release is a fair summary of this fine work.”

  62. Mike M says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

    File under: “Whatever doesn’t kill a walnut tree probably makes it stronger.. in the long run.”

    Nah. In the long run they’re all dead.

  63. gnomish says: December 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

    phake physicist is specious, disingenous and misleading:
    “American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.) once dominated the eastern deciduous forests of the USA before nearly all trees throughout the range were annihilated by the introduced pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.)”

    Thanks. So now we know that “A physicist” is not just a bad scientist, he also broadcasts information that turns out to be totally misleading and therefore is under suspicion of having been cultivated for propaganda purposes.

    So is “A physicist” learning anything from the open, informed discussion here? Or is it just a troll, intent on repeating propaganda to trip up the unwary?

  64. ****
    MJW says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    There’s hope for the chestnut tree. Crossbreeding with a Chinese variety has produced a tree with more resistance to Asian blight, and there’s a virus that can be used to treat infected trees. A Washington Post article has more information on this.
    ****

    OIKOS Tree Crops:

    http://www.oikostreecrops.com/

    offers chestnuts (originally Chinese/Amer hybrids that have been backcrossed 4-5 times w/pure Amer chestnut. So the resulting hybrids are 95+% Amer chestnut genes. From each generation, the healthy survivors (all are constantly exposed to the blight) were the parents of the next.

    One of mine is 7 yrs old, about 15′ tall & 10′ wide & unaffected so far. A few wild surviving sprouts in the nearby forest are blight-infected, so the blight is present.

  65. crosspatch says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    … That said, he is concerned that Black Walnut will not survive global warming in California and that is probably because the trees are not native here….

    One of the more confusing aspects of Juglans is that while popular names such as “black walnut” are wide spread, the names disguise considerable biological variation. California’s native walnut is a black walnut, but not J. nigra. Odder still, the type species is a shrub in southern California, while the large – extremely large in some cases – tree of northern California and Oregon is considered a variety of the shrub. The tree, rather than the shrub, is the source of root stock for grafting English walnuts for orchard stock, since it is resistant to soil organisms that kill the English walnut. The tree, rather than the shrub, is also a source of “claro walnut” which is important as a wood in musical instruments and furniture. Until the 1970s, it was thought by many that no walnut was really native to California.

    The short of it though, is that walnut species have weathered the vicissitudes of California’s climatic history since the Pleistocene. There is no reason short of direct interference (over harvesting the wood) that would place the California walnut at any risk from the climate’s vagaries.

  66. A Physicist: Smokey, seedlings from the American chestnut tree that my sons and I planted in my front yard will (with luck) reach their maturity in that third century.

    Yes, predicting what will happen a century from now to a seedling is exactly like predicting what will happen a century from now to the climate. Except we know what happens to trees based on millions of prior examples, while there’s no evidence at all that future climate changes can be predicted.

  67. The title of the press release: “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”
    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome – possibly fatal – for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University. (this is the first paragraph of the press release)

    A physist, since Dr. Deming was being critical of the press release where exactly is he wrong? The word “fatal” appears which I read to mean wiping out the species. So Dr. Deming’s critizism that some items associated with climate change should be and are over hyped seems sound.

  68. So, Bad Physicist, you found that Deming’s “most inflammatory quote” was indeed the product of other media outlets recycling the Perdue press release in their own concocted language, just as Deming said, yet you leave in place your accusation that Deming was mis-quoting the bit about Walnuts possibly being pushed to the brink of extinction in a few decades. What a fraud.

    My criticism of Deming’s piece is that he fails to note that the person who is directly responsible for the Perdue press release’s misrepresentation of Douglass Jacobs’ research on Walnut trees is DOUGLASS JACOBS. From the press release:

    “Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range,” said Jacobs, whose findings were published in the December issue of Annals of Forest Science. “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.”

    As Deming notes, this is contradicted by Jacob’s own paper. Deming leaves the implication that it is the Perdue press office that is responsible for the disinformation, when it is clearly Jacobs.

    On the question of how warming affects precipitation, here is how Deming compares the press release with the underlying research:

    The text of the press release asserted that “almost all climate change models predict that climates will become drier.” But the text of the research paper stated (page 1285) that “in North America and northern Europe, mean annual temperature and precipitation are expected to increase.”

    If David had fully quoted the press release, readers would know exactly who is to blame for this misrepresentation:

    “Changes in moisture could restrict its ability to survive without irrigation,” Jacobs said. “Almost all climate change models predict that climates will become drier.”

    So, a very nice bit of fact-checking by Dr. Deming, but he really ought to name names. Jacobs is the bad guy here, not the Purdue press office. As Bad Physicist shows, dishonest academics very much want to escape personal responsibility for their dishonesties, but it is better for the public know the names of these people who cannot be trusted.

  69. beng says: One of mine is 7 yrs old, about 15′ tall & 10′ wide & unaffected so far. A few wild surviving sprouts in the nearby forest are blight-infected, so the blight is present.

    Good on yah, beng! Future generations of Americans will benefit plenty from foresighted citizens like you! :)

    On investigating, it appears that your and my young American chestnut trees, and also Dr. Deming’s young black walnut trees, have life-spans that can range up to five centuries and more … which is easily long enough that these trees will experience the full effects of whatever climate change we humans are inducing on our planet.

    A thought that is both mighty sobering and mighty hopeful, eh? :)

  70. PhilJourdan says of ‘a physicist':

    “Well, at least the criticisms of your apparent inability to read a post have struck a chord.”

    That is the modus operandi of ‘a physicist’, and setting up & knocking down his own strawmen is his stock in trade. Note that he is off an running about seedlings now, instead of addressing the fact that James Hansen’s GISS couldn’t get any of their three predictions right over three decades – but they expect us to believe they can predict the biosphere three centuries from now. As if.

  71. Smokey, to speak plainly, Dr. Deming’s assertion “I was taken aback by the claim that walnut trees were somehow especially sensitive to climate change” refers to a claim that appears nowhere in the Purdue scientific article or in the press release associated to it.

    The Purdue article itself is outstanding science. I encourage everyone to read read it … and to think about our children, and their children, and the planet they will live upon … and then go forth and plant long-lived trees. :)

  72. ****
    SteveSadlov says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I see lots of Black Walnut orchards in the hot, hot inland areas of California.
    ****

    I’d wager those’d be Carpathian aka “English” walnut, Juglans regia, the commercial walnuts in grocery stores.

    However, I’ve seen plantations of B walnut in southern PA that were planted for wood.

  73. Actually, I believe this posting exposes an opportunity for another semi-regular feature here at WUWT. Examples of environmental propaganda that rely on an ignorant public to simply swallow it as “true” without questioning.

    The Goebbels Files or something.

  74. Someone let David out of the basement again? Given he has zero background in atmospheric science, it was always amusing to read his misinformed rants at OU, much like this one. So you’ve contributed to disproving AGW by picking apart a single press release, rather than doing any actual science? Deming never fails to disappoint, LOL!

  75. A physicist: Smokey, to speak plainly, Dr. Deming’s assertion “I was taken aback by the claim that walnut trees were somehow especially sensitive to climate change” refers to a claim that appears nowhere in the Purdue scientific article or in the press release associated to it.

    “How can you possibly say that, given the first three paragraphs of the press release?”

    Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome – possibly fatal – for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University.

    Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under Jacobs who is now a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec, studied the physiology of walnut trees, which are economically significant in Indiana for their lumber and veneer, and in other areas for their nuts. They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates.

    “Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range,” said Jacobs, whose findings were published in the December issue of Annals of Forest Science. “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.”

  76. A physicist says: December 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm …

    Here’s an analysis of troll-like behaviour. The subject of this article is (1) the distortions of Purdue University’s press release, and further distortions by the Press, led by the press release, compared with the (good) article itself – and (2) how those distortions are typically what gets lodged in most people’s minds because most do not [have time to] check the paper itself. To most people here, this piece is a clear story of why balanced press releases are essential – and how the AGW scare has corrupted this essential part of science. But this is what you said:

    Stephen Rasey says: Dr. Deming wrote this essay to “document in specific detail” this one instance where the public is being deceived by a press release that misrepresents, through commission and omission, statements in the underlying peer reviewed paper. Nice job, Dr. Deming.

    Stephen, your assertion is factually incorrect with respect to “document in specific detail.”

    Dr. Dening’s most inflammatory quoted passage is “pushed to the verge of extinction within a few decades,” and “this is the conclusion of a recent study issued by Purdue University.” Yet these two quoted passages (AFAICT) appear (1) nowhere in the literature, (2) nowhere in any Purdue press release, and (3) nowhere on any web page indexed by Google… …

    Rubbish statement. “Specific detail” refers to what’s given through the WHOLE story. Dr Deming reports an easily-verified storyline, starting from his queries over the press release, then his own observations from life that support his doubt, leading towards a more thorough scientific investigation. Heck, this is how science HAPPENS, and if one is a real scientist, one recognizes the pace of appropriate observations and references from one’s own experience. Deming clearly states your “most inflammatory” quotes to be from one “media recycler” and only used them to make his point about media hyping. I found them in 30 seconds Googling – and they were quoted correctly – or do you want to split hairs, troll-style, over “correct”? Now here’s the Purdue press release (all relevant parts):

    WALNUT TREES MAY NOT BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND CLIMATE CHANGE

    Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome – possibly fatal – for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University. …They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates. “Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range,” said Jacobs… “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.” Specifically, walnuts would have difficulty tolerating droughts that could be associated with a changing climate.

    I’ve bolded the statements that most obviously turn the more balanced evidence of the paper into alarmism and scare. But really, the whole piece is aimed at alarmism. All this is crystal-clear obvious to most people here. You end by saying

    The two taken-home lessons both are simple: (1) the Purdue scientists’ published article is scientifically sound and well worth reading, and (2) the Purdue University press release is a fair summary of this fine work.

    but you have missed the point. The press release is NOT a fair summary. Press releases and reports have a duty to pass on the same balance as is in the paper itself. Moreover, all the evidence of commenters here shows that the statements are not simply alarmist, they are wrong. Walnut is not “restricted” to an “extremely narrow range” if it can stand Oklahoma extremes of temperature and precipitation, if it has a wide genetic base, and if it is found globally in very differing climates.

    That’s the first and last time I analyse in detail what I and others here probably grasped in about ten seconds flat. I shall therefore bookmark it for future troll guidance. But I shall be delighted if you now show you can improve the quality of your observations and science and ability to learn from commenters here.

  77. Are black walnuts as difficult to extricate from their shell, but just as tasy, as brown walnuts?

  78. Dr Deming, thank you.

    I followed your story, your speaking out about the (then unknown) warmist who had said to you “we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” and the horrible context of that remark – to covertly use IPCC flagship statements like Mann’s fraudulent hockey stick (false statistics) to promote alarmism and the debasement of science. We now know, from the emails of Climategates 1 and 2, that even if the statement was not made by the suspect in question, it is of a piece with the whole attitude of “The Team”. I remembered hearing how you had been dismissed from your post (IIRC) on account of your views, and how at that point you appeared to have disappeared from mainline Climate Science, like most of the other good scientists, Tim Ball and so on. I remembered your name because the sense of injustice rankled me.

    I’m so glad to see you publishing here, and moreover publishing a whole book of “politically incorrect” good science etc.

    Please people, buy copies and do reviews! Don’t let this book get “deleted” from Amazon as it seems Vaclav Klaus’ book has, at least at Amazon.co.uk

  79. Lucy, my point is simpler than yours. Namely, skepticism that ignores the science in question, and instead cherry-picks quotes-of-quotes-of-press releases, is not useful skepticism. Is it?

    Judge for yourself. Here’s a (hopefully) working link to the science in question. Doesn’t this article provide precisely the kind of balanced coverage that solid skepticism ought to strive for?

    It’s interesting that the most soundly, scrupulously, and transparently skeptical actors in this whole drama are … the Purdue scientists themselves!  :)

  80. A physicist says: December 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Lucy, my point is simpler than yours. Namely, skepticism that ignores the science in question, and instead cherry-picks quotes-of-quotes-of-press releases, is not useful skepticism. Is it?…

    I disagree. Go back to what I said. Deming cherrypicks an extreme example, deliberately and openly, to help make a point that is relevant to his thesis. You, in quoting him, missed the context with its crucial nuance of “deliberately and openly”. Moreover, Deming does not “ignore the science in question” in his article. Perhaps you need to re-read that too. He likes the paper. But we need to always remember the point of Deming’s whole story, about irresponsible hyping in press releases that stick in the folk memory because people have little time to read the full paper.

    Your “point” is a “simple” diversion from Deming’s central point.

  81. The following mail was sent. I am eagerly waiting for the answer.
    ____________________________________________________
    from: Peter Berényi
    to: Brian Wallheimer
    cc: Douglass Jacobs, Martin-Michel Gauthier, Keith Robinson
    date: Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 1:28 AM
    subject: Questions related to press release “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”

    Dear Mr. Wallheimer,

    I have read your article Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change, published on November 28, 2011 by Purdue University News Service, with concern.

    The press release is apparently based on the following research paper:

    Annals of Forest Science, 2011
    Volume 68, Number 8, 1277-1290
    DOI: 10.1007/s13595-011-0135-6
    REVIEW PAPER
    Walnut (Juglans spp.) ecophysiology in response to environmental stresses and potential acclimation to climate change
    Martin-Michel Gauthier and Douglass F. Jacobs

    In relation to this I have questions and it would be exceptionally kind of you to provide the answers.

    1. Have you submitted your article for review to Prof. Jacobs and Dr. Gauthier before publication?
    2. If yes, have they endorsed it as a faithful representation of their ideas as expressed in the research paper referenced above?
    3. If not, please describe the standard procedure at your institution, routinely followed before issuing a press release.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

    Sincerely yours,
    Peter Berenyi

  82. It was fast. I still wonder what “source checked” is supposed to mean?
    _________________________

    from: Wallheimer, Brian J
    to: Peter Berényi
    date: Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 1:44 AM
    subject: Re: Questions related to press release “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”

    All releases at Purdue are source checked prior to distribution. This was no exception.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  83. Meanwhile, down under the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre at the University of NSW suddenly discovers more interesting climate change-

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/waterbirds-flourishing-due-to-flooding/story-e6frea83-1226226192339?from=public_rss

    “Like many plants and animals, reproduction and recruitment of waterbirds coincides with widespread flooding on rivers,” he said. [particularly after long General Droughts]

    “We are increasingly realising that waterbirds can reflect what is going on in rivers.” [Hallelujah, deck the halls!!!]

    “We have seen a response that we thought might never happen again,” Professor Richard Kingsford said. [stick around long enough prof and you never know your luck]

    “Earlier surveys have regularly shown a long-term decline since 1983, but now overall bird numbers have bounced back, well above the long-term average.” [we only got funding for flying around in fossil fuelled aircraft in 1983]

    “We haven’t reached the previous heights of the early 1980s but this result highlights the importance of … floods over a large part of the continent.” [what good environmental news would come without the usual disclaimer, despite sample bird counts being as reliable as recent polar bear observations?]

  84. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm
    Lucy, my point is simpler than yours. Namely, skepticism that ignores the science in question, and instead cherry-picks quotes-of-quotes-of-press releases, is not useful skepticism. Is it?
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    A physicist, did you even read the post? The entire messsage conveyed in the post was how the Purdue press release misrepresented the paper, which then percipatated more misreprentations throughout the media. It therefore follow that your sentence above is nothing but misrepresentation of David Deming’s post; a classic strawman. In the future please endevour to keep your comments cogent to what the post actually states.

  85. Lucy Skywalker says: Deming cherrypicks an extreme example, deliberately and openly, to help make a point that is relevant to his thesis.

    Lucy, cherry-picking extreme examples is the practice of politics and demagoguery, not science and skepticism.

    To my mind both the article and the press release were commendably even-handed, as (IMHO) anyone who reads them side-by-side will agree.

    As for web sites that “cherrypick extreme examples” (in Lucy’s phrase) … well, such web sites scarcely ever contribute anything substantial to science or skepticism, eh?

  86. Another mail was sent.
    ____________________________________________
    from: Peter Berényi
    to: “Wallheimer, Brian J”
    cc: Douglass Jacobs, Keith Robinson
    date: Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 2:07 AM
    subject: Re: Questions related to press release “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”

    Dear Mr. Wallheimer,

    thank you for your prompt reply. However, I still wonder what “source checked” is supposed to mean exactly in this context. The perceived precariousness surrounding this expression may be the fault of my deficient English.

    Was the check performed by the authors themselves or someone else?

    Sincerely yours,
    Peter Berenyi

    On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 1:44 AM, Wallheimer, Brian J wrote:
    > All releases at Purdue are source checked prior to distribution. This was no exception.
    > Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  87. beng says:
    December 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    ****
    SteveSadlov says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I see lots of Black Walnut orchards in the hot, hot inland areas of California.
    ****

    I’d wager those’d be Carpathian aka “English” walnut, Juglans regia, the commercial walnuts in grocery stores.

    However, I’ve seen plantations of B walnut in southern PA that were planted for wood.

    You’ld be half right. The English walnut is grafted on to a J. hindsii root stock in California. Unlike the southern Califrornia species, which is a shrub, Northern California Black Walnut is a big tree and also the source of “Claro Walnut,” which is really beautiful wood, if you can get it. The chief source used to be when walnut orchards were cleared. The English walnut wood was to subject too much reaction (warping, bending, crooking, and bowing) to be worth much, but the B/W trunks were good for a small fortune. For some reason practices have changed, the grafts are much shorter and yield far less timber than they used to.

  88. @Robert of Ottawa

    Black walnuts have a strong, distinct flavor, not as subtle as the English varieties. You will find them in the baked goods aisle.

  89. @Peter Berenyi, thank you for pursuing this. If indeed the authors approved the press release, this is, in my view. perciesely the kind of “potential fraud” Cristopher Monckton would like to consider potential legal action on for willful misrepresentation of science for the purpose of “the cause”

  90. Stephen Rasey says: The issue here is not whether walnuts are or are not going to be affected either by Global Warming or Climate Change. The issue is that it appears that University Public Relations Departments are playing fast and loose with peer-reviewed scientific papers to the point of being plainly deceptive.

    IMHO, it’s a good idea for folks to read for themselves (1) the Purdue article, and (2) the Purdue press release.

    All citizens who do this common-sense reality check will learn plenty about walnut trees and about climate change! For example, I had not appreciated that bud break now is coming steadily earlier in the spring, in consequence of warming global temperatures, and that this exposes walnut trees to higher risk of frost damage.

    All-in-all, the accompanying press release is a pretty fair & reasonably well-balanced 420-word nontechnical summary of an exceedingly rich 12,000 word scientific article … so it’s kind of hard to understand why WUWT folks are so exercised by it.

    But don’t take my word for it. Read the article for yourself. Then go plant trees! :)

  91. My email to the writer, authors and the Purdue Newsroom management:

    ————————————————————————————————-

    Global Warming and Walnut Trees: a Case Study in Deception

    EXCERPT:

    [Excerpts from David’s excellent commentary were included here]

    How do you respond to this well presented, and factually supported indictment of your press release regarding the Black Walnut study?

    It notes your PR piece was a gross misstatement of the overall findings in the report – little more than anthropogenic global warming propaganda and puffery unsupported by the scientific facts, largely refuted by direct quotes from the report itself?

    It would seem you lose all integrity and credibility when you resort to the formulaic global warming scaremongering, especially when the claims are largely not supported by the actual research in the paper quoted. I understand full well this is a concerted, purposeful plan by the warming advocates, to use PR to win the battle that science cannot, but is that how you want your institution to be seen in the public eye? That, as a public institution, you will misrepresent scientific findings to promote a political agenda?

    Had the author of this anthropogenic global warming PR piece even read the “Results” section of the Abstract he attached, he could have seen the headline, and overall content of the PR piece, is inappropriate to the findings:

    “Results: There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    Further – the included Jacobs quotes, such as “Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range” and “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.” are demonstrably largely false, based on the report itself, and real world examples.

    Black Walnuts survive and thrive in most parts of the US, including, as the writer at the link provided noted, in the central plains. They also thrive here in my state – Minnesota – with some of the harshest winters in the continental US. Real world facts show they do not have a narrow growing range, and are readily able to and have adapted to a wide variety of environments, including locations with wide climatic extremes annually.

    You don’t need a goal “to find walnuts that may be able to stand up to the heat or cold stresses that trees could be subject to in a changing climate” … simply gather seeds from trees ALREADY GROWING and thriving in those environments today. Unlike anthropogenic global warming, here the science IS settled – black walnut tress already HAVE adapted to both heat and cold extremes and are doing just fine, even in extreme range climates – like those in Minnesota, or in the heat and drought of the central plains like Oklahoma.

    Add that the actual report, showed the authors found that increased CO2 was significantly beneficial to black walnuts, and in fact that black walnuts were one of the highest growth species under increased CO2 conditions:

    “Among temperate hardwoods, black walnut ranked third behind sugar maple (11th) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh., 14th) but higher than northern red oak (25th) and white oak (Quercus alba L., 53rd).”

    This finding is directly contrary to the tone and perception of the PR piece and the statements of the authors quoted therein. In the PR piece Jacobs was quoted:

    “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.”

    The most significant warnings about anthropogenic global warming, which has been transmuted into the much more convenient “climate change,” is regarding the increase in CO2. In fact increase in CO2 is ironically one of the only things about the climate debate that is largely agreed on.

    The author Jacobs is quoted that climate change is going to have a real impact on the walnuts, yet his own report shows that the most significant part of “climate change” – the increased CO2 – is good for the walnuts, and in fact they are one of the highest ranked beneficiaries of this change of all temperate hardwoods.

    This is exactly the reason – the apparently flimsy excuse for a scientific study (which in this instance seems to mostly be a recycling of other research), to investigate something that already is well known and settled (black walnuts do – in the real world – grow quite well across many climate extremes), and then worse, to write a press release that attempts, in direct opposition to the facts in the report, link to anthropogenic global warming – is the reason a rapidly growing consensus of the ‘real public’ and the scientific community, is determining that the global warming “science” is largely just “hot air” – strong on arm waving and scary rhetoric – and very short on facts. As with this PR.

    You should be ashamed. You are supposed to represent a fact based, academic approach. Not political, cause promoting grandstanding rhetoric.

    Can there be any better example of the old adage “Can’t see the forest for the trees“?

    Here the scientists are too busy spending presumably public dollars doing alleged “science” – looking for global warming goblins affecting the forest, when all they had to do was look at the trees actually in existence right in front of them – growing just fine in the extreme climatic ranges they claim could be the downfall of the species.

    I would ask for and suggest a retraction of this clearly erroneous and purposely deceptive press release, but sadly, I’ve found it to be too often the norm – supported and encouraged in the ongoing quest for more of the public “pie” of global warming research funds.

    A. Scott

  92. Now we do know it for sure. According to Mr. Wallheimer “The authors approved all information contained in the release.”

    Therefore if “The press release issued by Purdue University was not just tendentious and misrepresentative. It was plainly deceptive.” indeed, it was a deception said to be endorsed by the authors themselves.

    Still, it would be nice to hear their side of the story.
    _______________________________________
    from: Wallheimer, Brian J
    to: Peter Berényi
    date: Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 2:48 AM
    subject Re: Questions related to press release “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”

    The authors approved all information contained in the release.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  93. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    IMHO, it’s a good idea for folks to read for themselves (1) the Purdue article, and (2) the Purdue press release.

    All-in-all, the accompanying press release is a pretty fair & reasonably well-balanced 420-word nontechnical summary of an exceedingly rich 12,000 word scientific article … so it’s kind of hard to understand why WUWT folks are so exercised by it.

    But don’t take my word for it. Read the article for yourself. Then go plant trees! :)

    I red the entire report – as clearly did David. The press release is a sad parody – the majority of the points and claims are refuted by the paper itself.

    Worse – the “paper” is most a recycling of other works with little apparent actual science being done. Its conclusions show that Black Walnuts are largely not adversely affected by either warming temperatures or increased CO2, but to the contrary benefit from both.

    Also in direct contradiction with the press release – the paper mostly shows global warming would be beneficial to the black walnut population – in growth rates and growing ranges.

    It is absolutely clear the author set out with a clear agenda as shown in the press release and in the authors comments in the paper. That agenda and comments however are not supported by the overall weight of the conclusions in the paper.

  94. Robert of Ottawa says:
    December 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm
    “Are black walnuts as difficult to extricate from their shell, but just as tasy, as brown walnuts?

    If by “brown walnuts” you mean the English type (also Carpathian) then I think you have them confused. Black Walnuts seem designed to frustrate those that would harvest and consume them – explaining why I give most of mine to others. The English type (found in stores, shelled or not) naturally separate from the green husks and can easily be extracted from the shells – about 80% unbroken halves. Husks can get maggots and need to be controlled. Interesting report here:

    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/hort/news/hortmatt/2004/28hrt04a8.htm

  95. A. Scott says: … This apparently flimsy excuse for a scientific study (which in this instance seems to mostly be a recycling of other research)

    Scott, the authors and editors are likely to be baffled by your criticism, since this is more-or-less what a “Review Paper” — as the article is prominently labelled — is supposed to be.

    Perhaps if you reread it — this time appreciating it as a review article — you will agree?

    Frankly, it seemed like a reasonably thorough, balanced, well-written review article to me (taken as a whole) and the press release too was a pretty far summary of the article (also taken as a whole).

  96. Robert of Ottawa @3:55

    Black walnuts have hard, thick shells and it is hard to get the meat out. I usually leave it to the squirrels unless my wife needs some for a particular recipe. The black outer covering makes a good brown stain – especially on your carpet if you’ve walked on one or more with your boots. Really drives your wife nuts.

  97. And thus shows the success of the science by PR process:

    Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change
    Nov 29, 2011 … Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under …
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129103312.htm – Cached – Similar

    Walnut Industry May Crack Under Climate Pressure : Discovery News
    Dec 1, 2011 … “That, on top of the increase in temperatures, would be a problem for walnut,” study co-author Martin-Michel Gauthier said in a press release. …
    news.discovery.com/…/walnut-trees-may-crack-under-climate-pressure-111201.html – Cached – Similar

    Climate shifts spell trouble for walnut trees
    Dec 1, 2011 … Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a research …
    http://www.worldweatherpost.com/…/climate-shifts-spell-trouble-for-walnut-trees/ – Cached – Similar

    Extreme weather events fatal for walnut trees
    Dec 4, 2011 … Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin- Michel Gauthier, a research scientist in the Ministry of Natural …
    thewatchers.adorraeli.com/…/extreme-weather-events-fatal-for-walnut-trees/ – Cached – Similar

    Walnuts trees face climate obstacles – UPI.com
    Nov 28, 2011… by Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University, and former doctoral student Martin-Michel Gauthier, …
    http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/11/…/UPI-67291322534280/ – Cached – Similar

    Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change …
    Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under …
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az…all... – Cached – Similar

    Walnut Difficult To Survive Against Warming
    Nov 30, 2011 … Over five years, Douglass Jacobs, a professor of forestry and natural resources, and Martin-Michel Gauthier, a former doctoral student under …
    http://www.threelas.com/2011/11/walnut-difficult-to-survive-against.html – Cached – Similar

    And interestingly one of the authors and several other email addresses from the release or Purdues site are wrong.

  98. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm
    “Then go plant trees! ”

    I live in the “edge” of two zones: shrub/steppe and Ponderosa Pine forest. I’ve planted 7 needle-leaf type trees. The Ponderosa do in fact, do best here. Still the others grow well enough – if I get enough water on them. As a volunteer for our local county conservation district I have helped sort and tag thousands of trees over a 10 year period. So, I’ll add that if one doesn’t have the space or ability to plant trees and shrubs there is still something you can do.

    All the various comments are entertaining – but I had to get the popcorn out.

  99. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Frankly, it seemed like a reasonably thorough, balanced, well-written review article to me (taken as a whole) and the press release too was a pretty far summary of the article (also taken as a whole).

    Please share how the PR piece – which is entirely biased towards AGW scare mongering – that the black walnuts are in mortal peril due to climate change – accurately reflects the findings – the “Results” from the paper:

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    It does not. Not even remotely. And many of the assertions are outright false – in the PR piece and the paper. These trees do not have a narrow growing range – they grow in all type climates across most of the US. They are not threatened by global warming – the paper shows increased CO2 is significantly beneficial to the trees, and that increased temperatures would increase their growing range.

    It is a poor paper and an even worse PR piece. Designed for exactly the purpose achieved – an alarmist PR headline, almost diametrically opposite to the results found in the paper, used to promote the AGW agenda.

    It is a well defined and purposeful plan – that the AGW proponents have hatched up to counter the success of the skeptics – to use blatant PR puffery, unsupported by the science, to do what the science can not.

  100. When you are in a deep hole, then for goodness sake, stop digging.
    You have misjudged your audience.
    You are creating new converts for realism and anti AGWism, every time you post.
    Time for bed now, there’s a good boy!
    Sleep tight.
    Happy dreams good night and good bye.
    Don’t forget your tablets.
    you may feel better in the morning.

  101. I’ve got a couple of English Walnut trees here in Western Washington (Whidbey Island). I’ve never seen them in distress from either heat or cold. The produce copiously every year. And I have to prune the lower branches off constantly so I can mow under them without getting decapitated. They’re great shade trees.

  102. AusieDan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm
    @Ausie, I guess your post is directed at A physicist. If so I must agree. I wonder if he is a physicist. At any rate, from his childish remarks, I can only summize that his academic career has been quite unremarkable.

  103. > the natural range of the Black Walnut extends from Florida north to Massachusetts,

    Natural, I suppose that’s right. There are cultivated (and often forgotten) black walnuts around home (just north of Concord NH). A couple trees aren’t doing too well, but others are fine. There are also some I’ve found next to a baseball field in a park south of Concord.

    I generally don’t take the time to harvest the meat, but I’ve collected several fruits when my wife was experimenting with natural dyes, and black walnuts are a strong natural dye. (Another reason to not harvest them!

    We don’t have the extreme weather of the plains, but we have variable weather that presents its own challenges.

  104. While I do agree with a good portion of this article, there are a number of significant flaws in the writer’s logic.

    For one the writer states: “But spring frosts are a symptom of global cooling, not global warming.” This is false. Global warming can cause greater turbulence in weather patterns leading to both warming and cooling spells greater than what is expected on average. Heat is energy, and more energy equals greater variance in temperature, both warmer and colder.

    Second, the writer states “Two of my walnut trees compensated for environmental stress by dropping branches. Abscission in walnut is a common response to drought. But the trees survived. And they did more than just survive. They produced a large number of walnuts.” I hate to tell him this, but a larger nut (or fruit) crop on a tree can and usually signifies stress. It is survival-of-the-species for a tree to produce more when the tree itself is threatened and may be in danger of expiring. Also, abscission refers to the dropping of leaves or young fruit to conserve moisture and/or ward off pests. Abscission does not include branches. Abscission describes parts that are normally shed like leaves and fruit at different stages then what is the norm for the plant.

    While it is true that walnuts can handle a wide variety of climate conditions, what the author has neglected to understand is that climate change is about what is occurring over many years and not just one year. The idea premises that walnut trees are in danger is due to continuous stress that occurs over many seasons, leading to damage to the species as a whole.

    I wish this writer good luck with his trees. I suspect that he has jumped the gun with his assumptions and it will be next spring and summer that will ultimately show proof of how the trees faired. I hope my suspicions are incorrect and this writer does not find that he has sick trees next year, or even dead trees. It would be interesting to hear back on how things turned out.

    Regardless, the writer has a poor understanding of science. He jumps to obvious conclusions through simple observance without taking into consideration the complexities of the world around him. For example, he draws the conclusion that walnut trees are hardy because they have “survived the Pleistocene Ice Ages.” What the writer fails to understand is that large sections of North America were able to support walnut tress even during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, most likely his very own state of Oklahoma. He also may fail to understand that ice ages occur over thousands of years, encroaching and receding slowly, not suddenly, allowing a species like the Black Walnut to survive beyond the reaches of glacier impact.

  105. What A Scott said +1
    The PR release is monumental exercise in subjectivism, everything is left to the reader to judge what ‘warmer’ ‘drier’ and ‘extreme’ are supposed to mean. There is no quantification whatsoever – what on earth is ‘possibly fatal’ supposed to mean; the state of anything actually being ‘alive’ is always, permanently and totally fatality – nothing lives forever. What actual ‘work’ went into this?

    What I see in the press release is the workings of a guilt ridden and chronically depressed mind – (maybe lay off the booze for a few months eh mister?) How it can foretell increased frost risk in a ‘warming world’ is just bizarre. Yet we’re expected to nod sagely and agree with it because he’s ‘a scientist’. For fear of not appearing foolish, many folks do just that. Wow, just look at the extreme quality of stitching on the Emperor’s new coat!!!
    I can only conclude that there’s been a spelling mistake in the name of the university – isn’t it Purgatory University? – (and if I’m the first to ever crack that joke then I am The New Emperor, and claim my £5)

  106. Another Walnut tree story: I moved a walnut seedling from the old family farm in Southeastern Ontario (near Kingston) to my home in Vancouver, BC about ten years ago. Nicknamed “Wally” it is doing just fine in a pot in the back yard of my current house, having survived it’s moving experiences of the past tens years: 1st the move from Ontario to BC (2500 miles west, about 6 degrees further north), and planted in the front yard of my then house. Five years later it was dug up and put in a smallish pot when I sold the house and moved to new digs – where it sat in the pot in the back yard, then two years ago, again moved (and into a somewhat bigger pot) to another house where it sits in the backyard on a concrete pad in its larger pot. All these houses are in a five block radius of my first house (same climate).
    I usually completely forget to water it – and we have summertime dry spells that can last for weeks, and I do nothing to protect it from freezing in the winter (we get to -10C in the winter) yet it is still going strong.
    Not exactly a weak-hearted tree!

  107. Pete – what you are seeing is in my opinion, clearly the work of a purposeful, premeditated plan – as clearly defined by the “climate rapid response team” … who decided since science was no longer working, that they would win the war with Press Releases, where they can frame the issue as they choose, without the pesky constraints of facts, or actual science.

    They know full well the web, along with the main stream media, who are too lazy to follow up with researched, let alone well researched, stories will rush off based on the headlines. You can see this effect clearly in the Google search results I showed above.

    From an LA Times story: John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who last May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate change skeptics, is also pulling together a “climate rapid response team,” which includes scientists prepared to go before what they consider potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk radio and television shows.

    “This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

    The American Geophysical Union plan has attracted a large number of scientists in a short time because they are eager to address what they see as climate misinformation, said Jeffrey Taylor, research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and manager of the project.

    A rapid-response team, however, is willing to delve into politics. In the week that Abraham and others have been marshaling the team, 39 scientists agreed to participate, including Richard Feely, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

  108. “A Physicist” goes nuclear,
    it appears that workplace hazards for “A Physicist” are on the rise,. It has been reported that “Nuclear Physicist syndrome ” ( over exposure to subject material ) shows delusions of grandeur, inventive fantasy, and a abnormal degree of ignorance, and a non Physicist repertoire, when observing a colleague with any of the above, please report same to the nearest Psychiatrist .

  109. There’s good news for all WUWT readers who love trees, and want to know more about the science of forests and climate change. Namely, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) has placed online the 2011 SAF Task Force report “Managing Forests because Carbon Matters”, as a special supplement to the SAF’s flagship publication, the Journal of Forestry.

    Please let me commend to WUWT folks especially the Task Force Report Section 3: Climate-Forest Interactions. It was mighty interesting (for me) to find that the Purdue science and press release, that has aroused so much passion here on WUWT, is in very reasonable accord with the national and global trends that the SAF Task Force document summarizes as follows (omitting the extensive references that the SAF provides):

    Climate–Forest Interactions

    Climate change will bring disturbances that affect tree mortality and forest regeneration. Drought and species range shifts are mentioned as critical processes associated with climate change, but in western North America two processes dominate the discussion: wildfire and bark beetle outbreaks: … Researchers predict at least a doubling of the area burned annually for western forests under moderate climate change scenarios. … Massive and ongoing mountain pine beetle outbreaks have dramatically increased in the past 10 years as a result of climate change. … These effects are not limited to western North America: climate change–related mortality driven by water stress affects forests globally.

    Judging by the SAF Task Force Report, it sure seems to me that what the Purdue scientists are saying, about walnut trees specifically, pretty accurately reflects the consensus opinion of America’s professional foresters, regarding climate change and forests in general.

    By the way, the SAF Task Force includes plenty of industry-employed scientists. Given that the consensus opinion of these hard-working, experienced, expert forestry folks is that climate change is a mighty serious issue for America’s forests … hmmm … maybe WUWT’s rational skeptics ought to be … well … convinced of it, eh?

  110. The thing is that when they come out with this kind of stuff which flies in the face of what even a part-time gardener can appreciate is WRONG, they expose their arrogance in believing the “man in the street” knows nothing and at the same time shred their credibility.

    Basically they come across as nutty.

  111. David says
    This stream of cash has created a monstrous industry that produces junk science that feeds demands for even more money. It is a scam.
    ————-
    Seems to be a bit if double think here.

    David reports favorably on a research paper on the walnut. And then claims all that science is junk.

    Maybe David is having a senior’s moment and confusing the press release with the actual research.

    Or maybe he is straining really really hard to find some way to build a chariot for his political message.

  112. Nice crop of nuts. You obviously do not have any squirrels. My walnut trees produce nuts every year but the squirrels take them before they fall.

    i am afraid that research from many areas purport to prove a climate problem when the reader knows of no such problem. Ocean acidification is one are that has produced a forest of papers all ‘proving’ that more atmospheric CO2 will kill molluscs and corals when the fossil record shows that at times of high atmospheric CO2 these thrived.

  113. Edmond says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm
    This is false. Global warming can cause greater turbulence in weather patterns leading to both warming and cooling spells greater than what is expected on average. Heat is energy, and more energy equals greater variance in temperature, both warmer and colder….
    .
    Storms and weather in general are driven by temperature differences, so a warmer world will not automatically be more stormy or more variable. Most likely the opposite is true.
    Most global warming tends to occur in night and winter temperatures, and also towards the poles. All of this leads to smaller temperature differences which would probably lead to more stable and less stormy conditions.
    .
    Many temperature records going back thousands of years clearly show more short-term variation during the cold periods compared to the warm. During the Little Ice Age there were a number of storms in Europe that each killed around 100,000 people, and one monster storm may have killed 400,000 (from H.H.Lamb). Compared to that we are fortunate to live in a warmer world that is far less stormy. And, as we know, the overall intensity of hurricanes globally has been falling over recent decades.
    Chris

  114. Another point about the Little Ice Age….
    During the LIA there were many dramatic and devastating weather events, for example hail storms that killed all unprotected animals. Because these events were too extreme to be natural, many innocent people were accused of the crime of “weather cooking” and subsequently executed. Some sceptics had the courage to point out that this was irrational nonsense. But they had to be very careful, otherwise they too would be accused of working for the Devil.
    Fortunately, since then we have evolved….or have we?
    Chris

  115. Edmound states…”But spring frosts are a symptom of global cooling, not global warming.” This is false. Global warming can cause greater turbulence in weather patterns leading to both warming and cooling spells greater than what is expected on average. Heat is energy, and more energy equals greater variance in temperature, both warmer and colder.”
    ———————————————————————————————————
    Edmound, this is mere suppostion on your part. CAGW expects less change in humid areas (to much overlapping H2O) and progressively more warming as one moves poleward to areas of the globe with less water vapor, thus likely limiting extreme weather events due to a lessening of the interaction between heat and cool. However both thoughts are merely speculative and thus far unobserved in reality. However the author is quite correct, in a CAGW world of on average warmer temp, there would be less frost as the early am time is predicted to be warmer as then GHG plays a greater percentage of the overal temp due to the fact that the sun is not then a factor in the temperature. (possibly there is no temp difference, just the bottom of the temp curve is less steep and slightly later) At any rate, observations are not supporting yur presentation.

    ——————————————————————————————————
    Edound cont… (my comments in brackets within Edmounds statement)
    Regardless, the writer has a poor understanding of science. He jumps to obvious conclusions through simple observance without taking into consideration the complexities of the world around him… (No, actually he commented that his anecdotal statements needed far more support within the scientific literature, which he gave) …For example, he draws the conclusion that walnut trees are hardy because they have “survived the Pleistocene Ice Ages.” What the writer fails to understand is that large sections of North America were able to support walnut tress even during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, most likely his very own state of Oklahoma… (Edmound, there is no contention here, your statement supports the authors writing????) He also may fail to understand that ice ages occur over thousands of years, encroaching and receding slowly, not suddenly, allowing a species like the Black Walnut to survive beyond the reaches of glacier impact ( Actually science indicates that we may enter and exit ice ages exceedingly fast, they just last many thousands of years.)

    As to your other comments regarding the authors particular trees , just not my area of expertise so I will only comment that the author backed up his “own story” with the literature quite well, weather abscission includes shedding branches as well as trees is not germain to the purpose of the article, as such your comments in this regard are not cogent.

  116. Ryan says: The thing is that when they come out with this kind of stuff which flies in the face of what even a part-time gardener can appreciate is WRONG, they expose their arrogance in believing the “man in the street” knows nothing and at the same time shred their credibility. Basically they come across as nutty.

    Please let me break it to you gently, Ryan: America’s amateur gardeners (including me!) definitely do appreciate that climate change is real:

    “Climate change is having an undeniable influence on gardening because it is altering the traditional range and garden adaptability of plants,” says American Horticultural Society (AHS) Executive Director Tom Underwood. “The AHS will make it a priority to stay informed on this issue and help increase awareness of how gardeners and the plant industry can play an important role in slowing the pace of climate change.”

    Nowadays, American citizens who are passionate about their gardening, fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking, farming, etc. all have zero doubt that climate change is right here, right now. Because for all who have “eyes to see”, the effects of climate change are very plainly seen.

  117. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 2:08 am

    A Phys, please just stop. you never anwered requests, directly made to you, which showed how the actual paper differed dramatically from the extreme press release, so you entered troll territory. Now you bring in an unrelated generalization about bark beattles. ( may I suggest you look within the archives of WUWT so that you have a chance to read both sides of the issue), as this is old territory to most, but a chance for you to actually learn. ( a snowballs chance in a CAGW world perhaps, but a chance to actually learn you have)

  118. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Lucy Skywalker says: Deming cherrypicks an extreme example, deliberately and openly, to help make a point that is relevant to his thesis.

    Lucy, cherry-picking extreme examples is the practice of politics and demagoguery, not science and skepticism.

    To my mind both the article and the press release were commendably even-handed, as (IMHO) anyone who reads them side-by-side will agree.

    As for web sites that “cherrypick extreme examples” (in Lucy’s phrase) … well, such web sites scarcely ever contribute anything substantial to science or skepticism, eh?

    Ha. You yourself have done here the very thing you are complaining of. And you’ve done it all along. Hoist by your own petard. You’ve cherry picked me – as well as the article – by omitting salient facts that keep the balance ie my discussion of the context in which this “cherrypick” of Deming appeared. I don’t think you want to understand the difference between minor cherrypicks that heighten the point to make it more visible in the context of a storyline (Deming), and key cherrypicks that are used to arrive at a false scientific conclusion (eg Mann’s Hockey Stick statistics).

  119. David, there is no way a 400-word press release can cover all the material in a 12,000 word scientific review. Both the Purdue article and the Purdue press release are in reasonable accord with the often-stated consensus opinion of America’s foresters and gardeners (a consensus that has been thoroughly documented in my posts): climate change is already exerting major and often harmful effects upon America’s plant life.

    In light of that sobering reality, which is plainly evident to every serious forester and gardener, aren’t WUWT’s quibbles about press releases a pretty weak form of skepticism?

  120. @A Physicist

    Never in all my 63 years have I come across anyone who can so stubbornly resist seeing the point that has been made by so many people as to the error of the statements you made.

    You definitely deserve an accolade for the ultimate in obtuseness.

  121. MJW says:
    December 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    A physicist: Smokey, to speak plainly, Dr. Deming’s assertion “I was taken aback by the claim that walnut trees were somehow especially sensitive to climate change” refers to a claim that appears nowhere in the Purdue scientific article or in the press release associated to it.

    How can you possibly say that, given the first three paragraphs of the press release?

    Because he is a troll? His comments have no basis in fact, reality or subject matter. They are just amusing to see how cowards like to conduct their misinformation campaign.

  122. Here in the Mid-Atlantic states, not only are black walnuts hardy, they’re damned-near indestructible. You can often cut them down to just a stump, only to have them come back the next year to start all over again.

    They are also one of the messiest trees you can find, and a bitch to grow other plants under – you have to do your research to find juglone-tolerant plants.

    Fabulous wood, though.

  123. There appear to be some serious gardeners here, and to these people I commend the organization Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BCGI), which is a world-wide coalition of more than 700 botanical gardens.

    Frankly, it is inexplicable to me that any brand of climate skepticism that calls itself “serious” can ignore the consensus opinion of organizations like the BGCI (and the American Horticultural Society, the Society of American Foresters, etc.), namely, that climate change is real and already is seriously impacting plant life around the world.

  124. a physicist says:

    “…climate change is real and already is seriously impacting plant life around the world.”

    Nonsense. And let me point out several things wrong with that one little sentence.

    First, ‘climate change’ is natural. It happens continuously, and it impacts plant life no more or less than usual. In fact, the past couple of centuries have been especially benign, despite the red faced, spittle-flecked, wild eyed arm waving of the alarmist cult. ‘a physicist’ improbably claims that ‘climate change’ is ‘seriously impacting’ plant life around the world. How can that be, when the global temperature has risen only ≈0.7°C over the past 150 years?? Will a change of 0.7°C ‘seriously impact’ plant life? Only in the fevered imagination of a climate cultist.

  125. A physicist says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:32 am
    “It seems to me that Dr. Deming’s conclusions could fairly be summarized as follows:…

    Whoops … it appears that the outrage being expressed here on WUWT has zero factual basis in the scientific literature.”

    You have managed to increase your ideological bias from a glowing ember to a raging fire. Dr. Deming did not criticize the article but praised it as good science. Dr. Deming criticized the press release. The outrage is directed toward the press release, those who wrote it, and those who signed off on its publication.

  126. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:19 am
    “David, there is no way a 400-word press release can cover all the material in a 12,000 word scientific review.”

    The writers of the press release lied about the content of the scientific article. That is the topic under discussion. You refuse to address it. Are you one of those hype artists who write press releases? I know that such hype artists are ubiquitous in academia.

  127. A Physist says: “Frankly, it is inexplicable to me that any brand of climate skepticism that calls itself “serious” can ignore the consensus opinion of organizations like the BGCI (and the American Horticultural Society, the Society of American Foresters, etc.), namely, that climate change is real and already is seriously impacting plant life around the world.”

    You and they are correct it is wonderful that as glaciers retreat more land is available for plants to grow. As the warmth moves north Canada etc can grow more grain to feed the worlds hungry. The fruit trees we grow will grow farther north giving folks access to vitamins to help survival. It is serious to know that your fellow man can be fed better and live longer because of the impact climate change has on plants.

    Good job A Physist.

  128. If you want to study the canary in the mine, study cool weather row crops. Any amount of change one way or the other freezes these sensitive plants or dries them up before peas can be produced. The production of peas in NE Oregon is cyclical and matches trends, not on CO2 but on the oceanic/atmospheric teleconnection that produces long term trends in …wait for it… weather.

  129. mkelly says:
    December 20, 2011 at 6:36 am

    “You and they are correct it is wonderful that as glaciers retreat more land is available for plants to grow. As the warmth moves north Canada etc can grow more grain to feed the worlds hungry. The fruit trees we grow will grow farther north giving folks access to vitamins to help survival. It is serious to know that your fellow man can be fed better and live longer because of the impact climate change has on plants.”

    In the magical world of fantasy, this is called wishful thinking. Unfortunately, trees cannot uproot themselves and move with the climate at which the speed of change is possibly or could be occurring.

  130. Edmond,

    You know what you can do with that Pseudo-Skeptical Pseudo-Science horse manure. It is an indisputable fact that hurricane ACE has been declining. There is a good reason that “Skeptical Science” blog is listed on the right sidebar as “unreliable”. John Cook is on Fenton’s payroll, and his blog is propaganda, not science.

    Get reliable information here at WUWT if you want to learn the science. Or get your bogus climate propaganda spoon-fed to you by PSPS if you prefer. It’s up to you.

  131. “A physicist”-

    Are you a paid troll? Because no one can be so dense as not to see Dr. Deming’s point: The Purdue press release inaccurately described the paper. Media outlets then took the press release and added sensationalism with headlines such as “Walnut industry may crack under climate pressure.” see:

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/walnut-trees-may-crack-under-climate-pressure-111201.html

    AusieDan @ December 19, 2011 at 8:03pm said it best. You have misjudged your audience. A number of commenters have read (1) the paper, (2)read the press release, and (3) read the media outlets. All agree with Dr. Deming.

    That said, a note to Dr. Deming. Since many folks here DO check the quotes to see that are real, it would be helpful to reference all quotes. For instance it was easy to find the “Walnut industry may crack under climate pressure.” in a google search, but I couldn’t find “pushed the verge of extinction in the next few decades” in a google search. It just gives fodder to trolls such as “A physicist” not to be able to easily identify the source of the quote.

  132. Edmond says:

    “Unfortunately, trees cannot uproot themselves and move with the climate at which the speed of change is possibly or could be occurring.”

    You’re kidding us, right? You really can’t be that stupid.

  133. Just for information sake, I teach arborist a shade tree short course at our state college’s and universities. The fact that your Juglans nigra (Black Walnut Tree) produced so many fruit after the extreme weather conditions of 2011 is quite common. Most North American trees are programmed during a high stress growing season to produce a much greater amount of seed to propagate them selves in case of catostrophic loss. The seed is much more resiliant to withstand periods of unforgivable weather conditions, to propagate once condition improve to a sustainable condition, which could be several years. I have read a study that Black Walnut Seed can withstand up to 12 – 15 years of being dormant. The majority of tree geno’s will out last all of us during all climate changes we can dream up.

  134. Edmond,
    Trees ‘move’ at the speed of the rate of dispersal of their seed.
    Since information has been given here that in just the state of Oklahoma, walnut trees are perfectly capable of coping with huge hail stones, tornadoes, massive ice storms, temperature ranges from – 30F to plus 120F and miserable drought which lasts for years, how is it that walnut trees are threatened?

  135. old engineer says: That said, a note to Dr. Deming. Since many folks here DO check the quotes to see that are real, it would be helpful to reference all quotes. For instance it was easy to find the “Walnut industry may crack under climate pressure.” in a google search, but I couldn’t find “pushed the verge of extinction in the next few decades” in a google search.

    Second the motion! Although it must be admitted that cherry-picking and then criticizing quotes-of-quotes-of-press-releases is (perhaps) not the strongest form of skepticism.

    It was gratifying to learn too from WUWT arborists that the branches dropping from Dr. Deming’s tree were not normal dry-weather abscission (in which leaves drop, but not branches), and that Dr. Deming’s large walnut crop was a last-ditch attempt by his walnut trees to propagate seeds that would survive through a drought, even if the trees themselves did not survive.

    Perhaps you ought to water your walnut trees in 2012, Dr. Deming, especially if Oklahoma experiences another dry hot summer! It would be a shame if a few months of drought and heat were to kill beautiful trees that otherwise could live 250 years and more — long enough to that these trees will experience more fully the effects of the climate change that we humans are visiting upon our planet.

    And finally, Dr. Deming’s post did stimulate me to verify for myself that America’s professional associations of arborists, foresters, and horticulturalists are unanimous in their opinion — consistent with the Purdue research and press release — that climate change is affecting, and sometimes substantially harming, plant life both in America and around the world.

    For which new understanding, thank you Dr. Deming!

  136. Edmond may have fallen into A Physicist’s latrine.

    And that planetsave.com

    just wow. eg the “article” on 2011 having $10billion flooding costs due to …. wait for it (you already guessed didn’t you)

    wow (even allowing for the Joe Enron link) – makes me want to sandpaper my eyeballs and turn back time.

  137. For folks living in Oklahoma and Texas, the Haskell County Extension Educator has put together a fact sheet titled “Summer Heat Stress Affecting Local Trees“:

    Very little rain, 100 degree temperatures, intense sunlight and high winds. Sounds like a typical Oklahoma summer to most, and yet the trees seem to be taking this recent string of scorching weather worse than usual.

    Recently I have received many calls on trees that are prematurely losing their leaves. It seems to be more apparent on oaks, but is occurring on all species. So why are these trees dying? Well, the majority of them are actually not dead! They have entered a state of dormancy, the same process that happens to deciduous trees every fall.

    How can we tell if a tree is in dormancy (still alive) or dead? We need to conduct the snap-scratch test. Start by selecting the tip of a twig the size of a pencil. Grasp the twig and bend it sharply back on itself. A living limb will bend easily and eventually the stem will split showing moist wood within. A dead limb will snap cleanly with very little pressure and appear dry within.

    Dr. Deming, it seems that the symptom you report that your walnut trees are “dropping branches” may be a very serious sign that their twigs are becoming dry and brittle … it might be a good idea to seek your county extension agent’s advice as to whether your walnut trees are at-risk, not of dormancy, but of death outright. Especially if Oklahoma and Texas experience in 2012 yet another year of extreme heat and drought.

  138. Edmond says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:34 am
    In the magical world of fantasy, this is called wishful thinking. Unfortunately, trees cannot uproot themselves and move with the climate at which the speed of change is possibly or could be occurring.

    Shirley you jest?

  139. Not a nut on my walnut trees this year, 100lbs usually, global warming? Naw, late frost, no cherries, no plumbs, no sloes, no apples. Pity the poor furry creatures this winter.

  140. I really enjoyed your post, Robert Brown. Congratulations on an informative, well argued script, and I hope to read more from you from time to time.

    Surely the APS will come to its senses in due course. They seem to have forgotten how science progresses, and has progressed for a couple of hundred years. Their current attitude is truly infantile.

    Robin

  141. Robin Edwards says: Surely the APS will come to its senses in due course.

    I have good news for you, Robin. It took only twenty-nine months for the APS to “come to its senses”, between the November 18, 2007 APS statement:

    “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

    and the updated April 18, 2010 APS statement

    “Given the significant risks associated with global climate change, prudent steps should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now while continuing to improve the observational data and the model predictions.”

    As always, it’s helpful to review the facts for yourself.

    It’s good to see skepticism helping the science become stronger; that’s the right dynamic.

  142. The function of university press releases is to provide important information to the public from university research that will otherwise only be found in specialist journals. Mis-representing the content of a scientific paper in a press release is certainly a form of academic misconduct that tarnishes the reputation of the university that issues the press release. Dr. Deming could share his concerns with Purdue University. Such practices will surely continue until someone does.

  143. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Although it must be admitted that cherry-picking and then criticizing quotes-of-quotes-of-press-releases is (perhaps) not the strongest form of skepticism.

    Branch-picking is OK, however, and misunderstanding – or misstating – what you’ve quoted is even better, I take it.

    Dr. Deming, it seems that the symptom you report that your walnut trees are “dropping branches” may be a very serious sign that their twigs are becoming dry and brittle.

    Or not.

    Trees lose branches for a variety of reasons, including ice and wind, but they have a very simply and effective mechanism for branch loss: they grow new ones.

  144. Dear Physicist,

    How’s that job at 7-11 going?

    I know, I know … you’re in between consulting gigs.

    But look at it this way, once in a while it’s good to do an honest day’s work.

    All the best,

    rw

  145. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Please let me commend to WUWT folks especially the Task Force Report Section 3: Climate-Forest Interactions. It was mighty interesting (for me) to find that the Purdue science and press release, that has aroused so much passion here on WUWT, is in very reasonable accord with the national and global trends that the SAF Task Force document summarizes as follows (omitting the extensive references that the SAF provides):

    Climate–Forest Interactions

    Climate change will bring disturbances that affect tree mortality and forest regeneration. Drought and species range shifts are mentioned as critical processes associated with climate change, but in western North America two processes dominate the discussion: wildfire and bark beetle outbreaks: … Researchers predict at least a doubling of the area burned annually for western forests under moderate climate change scenarios. … Massive and ongoing mountain pine beetle outbreaks have dramatically increased in the past 10 years as a result of climate change. … These effects are not limited to western North America: climate change–related mortality driven by water stress affects forests globally.

    Judging by the SAF Task Force Report, it sure seems to me that what the Purdue scientists are saying, about walnut trees specifically, pretty accurately reflects the consensus opinion of America’s professional foresters, regarding climate change and forests in general.

    By the way, the SAF Task Force includes plenty of industry-employed scientists. Given that the consensus opinion of these hard-working, experienced, expert forestry folks is that climate change is a mighty serious issue for America’s forests … hmmm … maybe WUWT’s rational skeptics ought to be … well … convinced of it, eh?

    Really? Seems to me if you read the “Results” from the Purdue report, paired with real world knowledge, they say say nothing of the sort:

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    How you can reach ANY kind of conclusion from that wishy-washy statement is astounding.

    Are your legs getting tired yet? That’s a lotta fancy dancing around the issue to try a twist facts to support your conclusion ;-)

  146. Steve P says: Trees lose branches for a variety of reasons, including ice and wind, but they have a very simple and effective mechanism for branch loss: they grow new ones.

    Hmmm…. as you say, Steve, “or not”:

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) The Texas Forest Service said in a statement Monday that its foresters estimated that 100 million to 500 million trees died in the 2011 drought.

    So the science is clear: Dr. Deming has sound reason to be concerned for the health of his trees. Of course, most likely, this massive tree die-off is not the beginning of the desertification of Texas/Oklahoma.

    Unless, it is.

  147. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm
    “Of course, most likely, this massive tree die-off is not the beginning of the desertification of Texas/Oklahoma.

    Unless, it is.”
    _________________________________
    So, are you attributing last year’s drought to AGW? Is that what you are saying?
    Could La Nina have any effect, (as most agree is the root cause of the drought)?
    Desertification of Texas and Oklahoma? That is a stretch. Much of Texas and parts of OK are already considered arid/desert. This most recent drought is nothing new.

    All you are doing is trying to confuse the original thrust of this thread.
    You aren’t convincing anyone of anything.

  148. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 9:19 am

    “Dr. Deming’s post did stimulate me to verify for myself that America’s professional associations of arborists, foresters, and horticulturalists are unanimous in their opinion — consistent with the Purdue research and press release — that climate change is affecting, and sometimes substantially harming, plant life both in America and around the world. ”

    This conclusion invites the question whether the “professional associations” can point to any period in Earth’s history during which climate change was NOT affecting and sometimes substantially harming plant life. In other words, what’s new now?

  149. More sobering climate-related news. Texas water managers have begun preparing for one more year of severe heat and drought, an eventuality that would wreak unprecedented disaster upon Texas:

    With conditions on their way to potentially being worse than during the drought of the 1940s and 1950s, the state [of Texas] has given the LCRA [Lower Colorado River Authority] permission to deviate from the Water Management Plan to take extra drought relief measures if dry conditions persist next year.

    Basically the state of Texas is throwing away the LCRA playbook, because what’s happening in Texas just plain isn’t in the playbook.

    It’s plainly evident that if a dryer and hotter climate ever becomes the norm, then both Texas and Oklahoma will be mighty different places than they are now.

  150. a physicist says:

    “It’s plainly evident that if a dryer and hotter climate ever becomes the norm…”

    It is plainly evident that there is nothing like an educated fool. Texas is in the Southwestern U.S. – it is a regional climate. There is no drought to the east, or to the north, or to the west. California went through a drought in the 1980’s, but now the state has ample water. Regional climates change; they always have and they always will.

    Fot the umpteenth time, there is nothing unusual happening globally. Weather patterns shift and regional climates change, but the globe has been extremely static in its temperature, only varying by about 0.7°C in over more than a century. That is very unusual during the Holoccene, and it is extremely unusual over the past several hundred millennia.

    ‘a physicist’ is just a Chicken Little [UK: Chicken Licken], scared of his own shadow. If people took that kind of wild-eyed raving seriously, we would soon be back to paying witch doctors to cure diseases.

  151. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:19 am

    David, there is no way a 400-word press release can cover all the material in a 12,000 word scientific review. Both the Purdue article and the Purdue press release are in reasonable accord with the often-stated consensus opinion of America’s foresters and gardeners (a consensus that has been thoroughly documented in my posts): climate change is already exerting major and often harmful effects upon America’s plant life.

    In light of that sobering reality, which is plainly evident to every serious forester and gardener, aren’t WUWT’s quibbles about press releases a pretty weak form of skepticism?

    Since you keep repeating the same inaccurate comment, I must again comment, this time in my most incredulous Jimmy J. Walker voice: Say what!!?

    You simply refuse to acknowledge the words directly from the paper that sum up the “Results” of the paper :

    “There is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of potential effects of climate change on walnut. Some studies tend to indicate walnut could be negatively impacted by climate change, while others do not. Walnut may be at a disadvantage due to its susceptibility to drought and frost injury in current growing regions given the projected increases in temperature and extreme climatic events. Other regions that are currently considered cold for walnut growth may see increased establishment and growth depending upon the rate of temperature increase and the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events.”

    Compare with the overall tone and the specific comments from the press release. The press release was clear – AGW, or “climate change” was likely to cause significant impact to the black walnut – including being potential fatal to the trees:

    “Walnut trees may not be able to withstand climate change”

    “Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome – possibly fatal – for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University.”

    “They found that the trees are especially sensitive to particular climates.”

    “Walnut is really restricted to sites not too wet or dry. It has an extremely narrow range,” said Jacobs, whose findings were published in the December issue of Annals of Forest Science. “We suspect and predict that climate change is going to have a real impact on walnuts. We may see some type of decline of the species.”

    “That, on top of the increase in temperatures, would be a problem for walnut,”

    The more accurate version of these comments, if they were based on the “results” from the paper, should be:

    There is considerable uncertainty of the effect of climate change on Walnut trees

    There is considerable uncertainty that warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would have any effect – let alone possibly fatal – on walnut trees, according to a paper from Purdue University.

    [The paper] found that the trees are somewhat sensitive to cold events and drought conditions, however their research also clearly shows that warmer temperatures and increased levels of CO2 associated with global warming are significantly beneficial to these trees, providing enhanced growth and an expanded growing range.

    Walnut trees survive in many zones with widely varying climatic conditions. They grow in a large range, across much of the US. We found considerable uncertainty that climate change is likely to have a real impact on walnuts. We found walnut trees to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of increased CO2 and warming temperatures of all the temperate hardwoods. We found little concrete evidence of climate related decline of the species.

    We found an increase in temperatures would not likely be a significant problem for walnut, to the contrary they would see increased establishment and growth, and an expansion of their growing range.

  152. A physicist says: “Dr. Deming’s post did stimulate me to verify for myself that America’s professional associations of arborists, foresters, and horticulturalists are unanimous in their opinion — consistent with the Purdue research and press release — that climate change is affecting, and sometimes substantially harming, plant life both in America and around the world. ”

    sky says: This conclusion invites the question whether the “professional associations” can point to any period in Earth’s history during which climate change was NOT affecting and sometimes substantially harming plant life.

    The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history. So if there’s even hotter and/or drier drought conditions to come — as some climate-change science predicts — then we had best avert these disasters if we can, and prepare for them if we cannot.

    This is a good reason to strengthen climate-change science as rapidly as feasible. Because passive waiting and deliberate ignorance have never been America’s way.

  153. Smokey says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    “…there is nothing unusual happening globally.”

    Agreed. You wouldn’t know it, however, from the recently released version 3 of GHCN, wherein urban stations all across the globe that DID NOT manifest strong upward long-term temperature trends have had their data adjusted so that they now DO. Take a look, Smokey, at what has been done to the Salta, Cuiaba, Vilnius, Vladivostok etc., etc. historical records. These fabrications make the basket of USHCN snakes that you have flash-compared elsewhere look harmless by comparison. When such data changes occur overnight, it’s a small wonder that “unprecedented disaster” is just around the corner in the minds of the gullible.

  154. ‘a physicist’ says:

    “So if there’s even hotter and/or drier drought conditions to come…”

    You just don’t give up on the “what ifs”, do you?

    Incurable cognitive dissonance.

  155. A. Scott asserts: [the Purdue commentary should have been] We found an increase in temperatures would not likely be a significant problem for walnut, to the contrary they would see increased establishment and growth, and an expansion of their growing range.

    Scott, perhaps the Purdue authors didn’t write what you suggest, because they knew it would be wrong?

    The low-end official estimate of Texas tree deaths this year was 100 million. The high-end official estimate is 500 million. As for what one more year of heat and drought might bring, the possibility of one billion trees dead of heat and drought in 2012 cannot be excluded.

    That is why no responsible scientist is likely to endorse your assertion that “an increase in temperatures would not likely be a significant problem”, whether that statement applies to walnut or to any other tree species.

  156. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    “The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history.”

    Compared to the time scales over which Holocene climate has varied, US rainfall time-series are quite short. Unlike supra-millenial records, short-term records are very likely to be broken in any given year.

  157. Frank says:
    December 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm
    The function of university press releases is to provide important information to the public from university research that will otherwise only be found in specialist journals. Mis-representing the content of a scientific paper in a press release is certainly a form of academic misconduct that tarnishes the reputation of the university that issues the press release. Dr. Deming could share his concerns with Purdue University. Such practices will surely continue until someone does.

    Frank – several here including myself HAVE responded to Purdue. The responses have been – paraphrased (snark added):


    ‘Nothing to see here, move along now – we’ve worked closely with the authors and the press release says exactly what we and they intended it to say’

    Here is the specific response I received to my detailed email posted above:

    Mr. Scott

    The authors of the study worked in cooperations with me to devise a news release. They approved the release as reflective of their scientific work.

    The paper mentioned highlights years of work aimed at a better understanding of the potential effects of changing climate on a specific species of tree. The release reflects that work.

    Differing views, while always welcome, should be presented in as considerate a manner as those expressed in the study and release.

    Brian Wallheimer
    Research writer
    Agricultural Communications

    While I thought my email was pretty straightforward and not terribly inflammatory, the last sentence seems a subtle (or not) shot across my bow ;-) … it is clear though, at least to me, they see nothing wrong with their release.

  158. A physicist says: “The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history.”

    sky says: Compared to the time scales over which Holocene climate has varied, US rainfall time-series are quite short. Unlike supra-millenial records, short-term records are very likely to be broken in any given year.

    Sky, if you’re suggesting that we Americans should stand by passively and ignorantly while our coastal cities drown and our farmlands turn to dust, on the grounds that (in your phrase) “records are very likely to be broken”, then I must respectfully disagree with your policy of passivity.

    If your intent was to suggest that America should strengthen its climate-chance science as rapidly as feasible, then I am inclined to agree.

  159. ‘a physicist’ goes off the deep end:

    “Sky, if you’re suggesting that we Americans should stand by passively and ignorantly while our coastal cities drown and our farmlands turn to dust…”

    Sea levels are rising by only a couple of inches per century – and the rise is slowing. And while some areas are going through natural, cyclical drought conditions, other areas are having higher than normal rainfall. It all averages out globally.

    Folks with common sense and basic scientific understanding will say: that’s the normal ebb and flow of natural, regional climate change. Others who are not grounded in reality will label folks with common sense and scientific understanding ‘passive’ and ‘ignorant’.

    Cognitive dissonance – Orwell’s “doublethink” – infects the victims of climate alarmism, and causes them to blame human activity for every weather blip. Their mental derangement is sad to behold.

  160. A physicist: The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history. So if there’s even hotter and/or drier drought conditions to come — as some climate-change science predicts — then we had best avert these disasters if we can, and prepare for them if we cannot.

    Since the phrase “the most severe in US history” was a hyperlink, I assumed it was to an article declaring the present drought “the most severe is US history.” All I found was a map showing the current drought conditions. I know the current drought is said to be the worst one-year drought in Texas history, but even in Texas there was a worse drought from 1950 to 1957. Imagine what you’d be saying if that drought or the 1930s dust-bowl drought were occurring today. Oddly enough, I can imagine exactly what you’d be saying.

  161. A physicist says:
    December 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm
    A. Scott asserts: [the Purdue commentary should have been] We found an increase in temperatures would not likely be a significant problem for walnut, to the contrary they would see increased establishment and growth, and an expansion of their growing range.

    Scott, perhaps the Purdue authors didn’t write what you suggest, because they knew it would be wrong?

    The low-end official estimate of Texas tree deaths this year was 100 million. The high-end official estimate is 500 million. As for what one more year of heat and drought might bring, the possibility of one billion trees dead of heat and drought in 2012 cannot be excluded.

    What I wrote was directly from the paper – the same paper you claim is such a good piece of work.

    Regardless, perhaps you could share with us exactly what part of a small (compared to global scales, or even US scales) localized drought has anything to do with global climate change?

  162. MJW says: I know the current drought is said to be the worst one-year drought in Texas history, but even in Texas there was a worse drought from 1950 to 1957. Imagine what you’d be saying if that drought or the 1930s dust-bowl drought were occurring today. Oddly enough, I can imagine exactly what you’d be saying.

    There’s no need to imagine MJW, when you can read for yourself about the science and the history of Texas droughts.

    Particularly if Dr. Deming lives in the Texas-Oklahoma panhandle region, he has grave reason to be concerned that his walnut trees are dropping branches because the drought is killing them.

  163. I live in southern Indiana, a short distance from Purdue University. We lost several large black walnut trees in the tornado a few years back. I still have many black walnut trees and they are doing just fine. I also have several Paw Paw trees. They are a tropical fruit tree. I wonder how Indiana grew tropical fruit. Could it be that the weather was much warmer before we entered the ice age. And will this area again warm up when the current Pleistocene Ice Age that we are in, comes to its final end in a few million years from now.

  164. A physicist wrote: December 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history

    (my bold, in place of link, qv, original post)

    When challenged by MJW (December 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm), you provided another link (below) to support your claim that the current Texas drought is the most severe in U.S. history:

    http://www.c2es.org/blog/huberd/2011-texas-drought-historical-context

    But that link doesn’t support your claim, either.

    The 2011 Texas Drought in a Historical Context
    Texas climatologists have recently stated that the ongoing dry spell is the worst one-year drought since Texas rainfall data started being recorded in 1895.
    [..]

    Most of us know that official U.S. history starts around 1776, or so, and – lest we forget – successful European colonies have been maintained in N. America only since about 1600-1650, a period of time not substantially different from the length of time successful Viking colonies were maintained on Greenland.

  165. More background and historical context on Texas droughts, From the NYT:
    Assessing Climate Change in a Drought-Stricken State

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26ttdrought.html?_r=1

    Also, there is some disjuncture between climate predictions and recent patterns. For example, as difficult as it is to believe given the current dry conditions, rainfall across Texas has actually been increasing over the past 100 years, contrary to the models, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon said.
    […]
    La Niña was present for four years during the 1950s drought, which still ranks as the worst in Texas history due to its longevity. Unusually high surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean also helped cause that drought, and those have also been present in recent years.
    […]
    Tree rings suggest that some past droughts that occurred well before records began in 1895 were even worse than the one in the 1950s.

  166. Smokey says:
    How can that be, when the global temperature has risen only ≈0.7°C over the past 150 years?? Will a change of 0.7°C ‘seriously impact’ plant life? Only in the fevered imagination of a climate cultist.

    Especially considering that the plant in question has an expected lifespan of 150-400 years…

  167. A physicist says:

    The present drought appears to be the most severe in US history.

    It’s perfectly possible that there are walnut trees in what is now the US which are older than the country. A few hundred years isn’t that long when considering some of the longest lived organisms on the planet. It would be more meaningful to consider if present conditions are more severe than those experienced by the ancestors of the trees around now.

  168. A physicist: There’s no need to imagine MJW, when you can read for yourself about the science and the history of Texas droughts.

    The article says pretty much what I said in my first reply — the current drought is the worst one-year drought in Texas history. That doesn’t satisfy your original claim that it’s the most severe drought in US history. And it certainly doesn’t address the point you were replying to, that there have been really bad weather events in the past, which if they were occurring today, you’d gleefully cite as evidence of climate change. You’re like those religious doomsdayers who point to every international conflict as one of the wars and rumors of wars foretelling an imminent Armageddon.

  169. MJW says: You’re like those religious doomsdayers who point to every international conflict as one of the wars and rumors of wars foretelling an imminent Armageddon.

    The C2ES page The 2011 Texas Drought in a Historical Context provides a fair synopsis of my own views, and in particular, it certainly provides Dr. Deming with ample grounds for concern regarding the health of his walnut trees.

    Recommended to all, skeptic and scientists alike.

  170. A physicist says:

    “The present drought appears to be the most severe in US Texas history.”

    There. Fixed.

    Texas is not the U.S., nor is it North America, nor is it the Northern Hemisphere, nor is it the globe. Texas is a very small region of the planet. But when that’s the card the wild-eyed alarmists were dealt, that’s the card they have to play. Pathetic argument, though.

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