Paging Mike Mann – your dendrochronologist will see you now

Tom Nelson has another Climategate 2 email well worth reading

Dendrochronologists get spanked by guy with expertise in tree physiology and wood anatomy

ClimateGate Email 1738

“However, there are bounds to dendrochronology, as there are to every field of investigation, and the discipline has spilled over way outside of those bounds, to the point of absurdity.”

“What troubles me even more than the inexactness attending chronological estimates is how much absolute nonsense — really nothing but imaginative speculation — about the environment of the past is being deduced from tree rings and published in dendrochronology journals.”

“…but dendrochronology has persistently rejected walking the hard road, that of understanding the fundamental genetic and environmental factors controlling wood formation. As I see it, the peer review process in dendrochronology must be fundamentally flawed to allow such publications. Physiologist remain to build any real confidence in their ideas of how environmental factors influence tree ring formation, and dendrochronologists therefore are not at all justified in pretending that they do.

The bounds of dendrochronology will be extended, as will confidence in dendrochronological reports, when your group stops pretending that it knows the answers before it has done the needed research. Again, I am troubled by your group that it shows little humility, no genuine desire to discover the truth.”

The writer of this email:

UNB | Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management | Rod Savidge

Areas of expertise

Tree physiology
Wood anatomy
Plant
cell biology

==================================================

This, IMHO, is why Mann’s rendition of the hockey stick is unsupportable, its all speculation based. Anyone who knows Liebig’s Law understands this.

Mann’s tree reconstructions are known to be statistically crap, and even if they weren’t, the assumption that these trees primarily measure temperature is an absurd speculation.

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148 thoughts on “Paging Mike Mann – your dendrochronologist will see you now

  1. From a very aptly named Dr Savidge…
    Future generations will refer to the act of being called academically to account as “to be savidged” :)

  2. Yet when these people try and speak up the response is inevitably “but he’s not a climate scientist”

  3. I was given A.W.Montfords ‘The hockey stick illusion’ for Christmas, a cracking good read for anyone who doesn’t have it already. What with that, and the above post,it’s hard to imagine how there’s anyone left in the world who doesn’t know that the hockey stick is a stinking crock of…

  4. HNY everyone! I hope everyone who comments here had a wonderful, peaceful, & happy holiday season with their family & friends :-)

    This is a very interesting post, & has enlightened me further on tree ring data. It’s nice to see such forthright opinion being expressed to a colleague!!!!

  5. Here’s my question: Did Rod Savidge ever say any of this out loud? Did he make his views known publicly?

    I don’t know the answer to my question but I’ll make the general observation that it seems like too many scientists have been too quiet when they see the warmists trashing real science. Statistics and dendro would be two obvious areas. The consensus would seem a lot less consensusy if all of the objections to and problems with the shoddy science of the Team would be aired in public. It shocks me that they’ve gotten practically a free ride for 20 years. Other scientists need to stick up for their disciplines in public and call out shoddy science when it appears. The stakes are too high not to.

  6. Healthy skeptical opinion from a professional scientist, I bet that didn’t go down well at the time.

    I’ve always thought that the climate science community have been using dendrochronology in much the same was as a drunk uses a lamp-post, more for support than illumination.

  7. Like building a Caribbean Cruise Ship with ice blocks. What a fantastic sight–what a spectacular and inevitable demise.

  8. Tree runs rings round Mann.
    What a sap.

    Sorry, it’s all the whisky at ne’re’day ……………………. .

  9. All Warmists reading this will be doing so with their heads deeply buried in the sand!

    Sadly no rebuttals will be seen because the Manns, Jones’ and Hansens are in denial in order to gain their beloved Grant monies.

  10. Interesting that the recipient of the ire is the owner of a company, DendroPower, which develops software for modelling relationships between climate change and tree growth.

    I wonder whether a few folks would comment on whether historical proxy data can distinguish between the following:

    EXAMPLE:
    Winter temperature 0C
    Spring temperature 12C
    Summer temperature 18C
    Autumn temperature 10C

    Average annual temperature 10C

    and:

    Winter temperature 4C
    Spring temprature 10C
    Summer temperature 16C
    Autumn temperature 10C

    Average annual temperature 10C.

    if plant growth is affected by:
    i. A need for winter cold to rechargethe batteries.
    ii. A mild/warm spring to promote pollination
    iii.A warm and sufficiently rainy summer to promote growth.

    I am asking these questions not because I know the answers but because it is important to make folks aware if seasonal temperatures, as opposed to annual ones, are critical for growth; as well as seasonal, not annual, rainfall.

    After all, if these spats are going to take place publicly, best if the contextual information is also made equally available, eh?

  11. MIchael Mann, Briffa and co.should have taken the legitimate criticisms by John L Daly of the Cook et al study of the Tasmanian Huon Pine as an early warning to be far more diligent and circumspect before they tried on their “hide the decline” Hockey Stick tree ring shenanigans!

    “This CO2-enhanced growth is quite independent of temperature.

    Personal communication with three of the authors, (Trevor Bird, 20-Jan-93, Mike Peterson and Brendan Buckley 24-Jan-93), confirmed that no allowance or correction had been made for CO2 enrichment. Cook et al attributed the recent huon pine growth entirely to greenhouse-induced warming and no part of their paper made any mention of the strong likelihood that the recent growth may have been caused wholly, or even partly, by increased CO2 fertilization from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    The Cook et al study was interesting in it’s treatments of climates over the last 1,000 or so years, but by pandering to the global warming scare in such an unscientific manner, the rest of their work was largely overshadowed. It is not only the Cook team who lacked scientific rigour in their tree study (insofar as it related to the late 20th century), but part of the blame for such bad science should also attach to the reviewers of the paper and to the editors of `Science’ journal itself for accepting such fashionable, but also unsupported, claims so uncritically.”

    http://www.john-daly.com/huonpine.htm

  12. Ouch. Spanked with a very big wood thing with leaves.

    This has a ring of truth to it. Sorry. Bad pun.

  13. It always seemed weird to me that the climate reconstructions I saw from 1960 until Mann et al showed an MWP and an LIA. Then Mann comes along with an entirely rewritten history of civilization, and no one is supposed to notice. I have been stunned by the accepting naivete of scientists who assume the peer review process was due diligence in vetting the rats from the system. Mann et al belong in prison.

  14. That is the central reason why the Hockey Stick Theory is utterly unsupportable. Trees != thermometers from the past. Additionally trees from one small location != representation of global conditions of climate.

    The whole proxy temperature record taken from measuring tree rings is completely bogus and not even worthy of serious consideration as a high school science project. The fact that entire national budgets, at a time of USA + EU austerity, could be collapsed on the back of this crap is truly terrifying.

    Are there any rational adults left? How have we become so dumbed down, and so passive as to have allowed these extremist reality deniers get a grip on power?

  15. Wow. Interesting find, thanks for bringing it to our attention: “Climategate 2 – the gift that keeps on giving… ;-D

    So again – this is an answer expressed to a few people – but thereafter we’ve heard nothing in the public on this topic (the lack of a fundamental basis for these assertions) for whatever reason….. I wonder what this guy thinks now following release of these emails?

    If there is even a half-decent journalist out there, here’s a great story… Just interviewing the guy would be a great start….

  16. I seem to recall numerous comments here over the years questioning the validity of using tree ring width as a proxy for atmospheric temperature. Many commenters proposed that other factors were probably more important to the growth of a tree…like rainfall for example, or even wild animals relieving themselves on the base of the tree.

  17. After clicking on the link and reading the email thread, near the bottom is this chestnut from the alarmist,

    “Surely that is a good thing to do, but while you are going about doing
    >that, we have wonderful opportunities to help people manage our earth
    >more kindly and realistically. We think these kinds of questions are
    >equally important, if not more important as we are likely to destroy our
    >planet unless we learn quickly what the trees have to say about our
    >past. Even though you disbelieve that we can read the earth’s history
    >from tree rings, we have our part to play in the scientific world. Yes
    >we need to learn from people like you, but fortunately few scientists
    >consider us as ignorant and out of communication with “true” science as
    >you.”

    Which basically means,

    “No we haven’t done the actual experimental research and that would be neat, but there are other uninformed scientists who already believe our crap, so we do not have just justify ourselves to a real tree expert who can see through our crap.

    Good day.”

    The Hockey team should do jail time for fraud!

  18. To the tune of ‘Modern Major General’
    By Gilbert and Sullivan (Pirates of Penzance)

    I am the very model of a modern climatologist
    I’m partly statistician, partly palaeo-phrenologist
    I’ve temperature readings from thermometers coniferous
    my data are the same (or not, well, maybe) as Keith Briffa has
    I bought them from a bloke who brought them hotfoot from Siberia
    and mixed them with some algae from the mud in Lake Superior.
    When counting different isotopes I’m really in my element
    and sucking up to journalists from Guardian Environment
    I know what makes the treerings from Siberia to the Rockies tick
    And I can make spaghetti and transform it to a hockeystick.
    My data’s got dark matter that would shatter a cosmologist
    I am the very model of a modern climatologist

    H/T Geoff Chambers

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/4/9/the-modern-climatologist.html

  19. This email could be hugely significant, as it blows away Mann’s hokey schtick in just a few sentences.
    I hope someone could ask Savidge for his permission to shout his email from the rooftops – it needs to be sent to that useless idiot Chris Huhne for a start, as he’s determined to ruin our economy here in the UK with his useless ‘green’ initiatives.

    Oh, one more thing: c’mon Rattus, how can you wriggle out of this slaying of The Team(tm), their useless ‘science’, and therefore the whole AGW crock?

  20. I too am a plant physiologist by training and raised these issues back in 2009

    http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=6363

    Subject: Yamal and paleoclimatology
    Dear Professor Briffa, my apologies for contacting you directly, particularly
    since I hear that you are unwell.
    However the recent release of tree ring data by CRU has prompted much
    discussion and indeed disquiet about the methodology and conclusions of a
    number of key papers by you and co-workers.
    As an environmental plant physiologist, I have followed the long debate
    starting with Mann et al (1998) and through to Kaufman et al (2009).
    As time has progressed I have found myself more concerned with the whole
    scientific basis of dendroclimatology. In particular;
    1) The appropriateness of the statistical analyses employed
    2) The reliance on the same small datasets in these multiple studies
    3) The concept of “teleconnection” by which certain trees respond to the
    “Global Temperature Field”, rather than local climate
    4) The assumption that tree ring width and density are related to temperature
    in a linear manner.
    Whilst I would not describe myself as an expert statistician, I do use
    inferential statistics routinely for both research and teaching and find
    difficulty in understanding the statistical rationale in these papers.
    As a plant physiologist I can say without hesitation that points 3 and 4 do
    not agree with the accepted science.
    There is a saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
    Given the scientific, political and economic importance of these papers,
    further detailed explanation is urgently required.
    Yours sincerely,
    Dr. Don Keiller.

  21. HarryG says:
    January 3, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Yet when these people try and speak up the response is inevitably but he’s “not a climate scientist.

    These days, I would take “not being a climate scientist” as a compliment…

    Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that massive government climate “science” funding will continue into 2012 in a big way, as described in detail in this government document.

    Of note is that NASA by far gets the most Climate Ca$h(tm) – $1.33 BILLION(!!) – which represents a 20% increase over 2010.

    Again, please remember this when you are asked to pay higher energy prices, fund “green” initiatives, and make sacrifices in the name of “global warming”. The climate scientists and green activitsts are NOT the ones who are sacrificing…

    Happy New Year!

  22. In my opinion Climategate 2.0 is even more explosive than the original. I wonder if we’ll ever get the remaining emails un-encrypted? And will they blow the lid off completely? One lives in hope.

  23. Hardly a surprise. I have been saying the same thing for years, as have others. Steve M. chose to concentrate on the statistical manipulations themselves, admittedly more interesting than simply refuting assumptions (and, mathematically, more convincing as refutation), though always admitted that such things were important, too. There are so many things wrong with the treemometer approach it is difficult to choose a starting point for fear you may miss something even better.

    Mark

  24. Dave N says:
    January 3, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Thwack!

    Next up: Alarmists start investigating whether Savidge is connected to Big Oil.

    ===============

    No they won’t. Why would an investigation be needed? They operate from the assumption that anyone who disagrees with them is connected to Big Oil, it becomes the burden of the individual to prove the negative.

  25. For the sake of this discussion, I consider only tree growing in temperate and boreal zones. Ring width is primarily influenced by available resources during the growing season and density of stocking. When resources are plentiful (but not excessive), trees generally grow better = more radial growth. The key resources are soil moisture, nutrient availability, solar radiation, photoperiod, and length of the growing season (or frost-free days).

    Density of stocking is also important. As a stand of trees grows, individuals increasingly come into competition with one another, ultimately causing a slowdown to near shutdown of radial growth. Carried to the extreme, stands become moribund and decadent and thus, more susceptible to environmental stresses such as drought. This is clearly what we are seeing in the large areas of lodgepole pine in the inter-mountain west, hit hard by bark beetles. The decadence of these stands IS largely the result of mans (in)activities – the failure of federal agencies (Forest Service and BLM) to manage the forests under their “care.”

    Soils are also important. Trees growing on poor soils (lacking depth, nutrients, e.g.) will never have wide rings, although there can be some minimal year to year variation because of changes in available resources. Trees growing on good soils will show more variation in ring width, again because of the variation in availability of seasonal resources.

  26. Bloke down the pub says:
    “I was given A.W.Montfords ‘The hockey stick illusion’ for Christmas, a cracking good read for anyone who doesn’t have it already. ”
    ——————————————–
    Seconded. It’s a page turner even for those of us whose eyes glaze over when the numbers with funny squiggles appear.

  27. Ken Hall says:
    January 3, 2012 at 4:43 am

    After clicking on the link and reading the email thread, near the bottom is this chestnut from the alarmist,

    “Surely that is a good thing to do, but while you are going about doing
    >that, we have wonderful opportunities to help people manage our earth
    >more kindly and realistically.

    ==============================

    Ken,

    What it actually says is – “we don’t really care that our study is nonsense because it can be used to do a good thing and that overrides concerns about veracity or the validity of the science behind our study.” In short, the end justifies the means.

    It’s the same nonsense I hear from lots of my friends when I show them evidence that the AGW thesis is flawed. “We don’t care if it’s true or not, as long as it allows us to accomplish something in the best interests of all of us its okay for them to falsify the science and lie about it.”

  28. Re: Don Keiller says:
    January 3, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Dr Keiller, did you ever get a response from Professor Briffa?

  29. This is another example of the debate that always occurs between basic research and applied science. The problem comes from the isolation of disciplines from each other and that applied science must rely on disciplines in which has limited expertise. The solution it seems is multi-disciplinary projects rather than the assumption that you know enough of the basic science to get by. The biologists (and statisticians) should have been been collaborating with the climatologists from the beginning.

  30. I think its time to move this treemometer from an indictment of the individual, to an indictment of the journals who published them. Mann knows what he did was a buggery of math and science, as does the other cloners of such garbage. We know it, they know it, they know we know it….. there isn’t much to do with that except point and laugh.

    But, now, I think we’ve enough to move this forward as an indictment of the various journals, and most importantly, an end to the belief that published material is a euphemism for truth.

  31. I have said this before on other sites when comments about tree rings come up

    Trees grow fastest at an optimal combination of factors – some things to consider:

    1 Rainfall regularity (time interval) and quantity. (do dendrochronologists assume this is constant year to year?)
    2 Moderate temps give optimum growth of tree rings (not too hot and not too cold – if it is colder than optimum then tree ring growth is slowed – if it is warmer than optimum then ring growth is slowed compared to ideal temps usually because of reduced moisture availability)
    3 Nutrient Levels (did an animal defacate regularly on this specific tree? did an animal die under this tree? Does Mann know which trees had this activity and which didn’t 500 years ago?
    4 Sunny days (opportunity for photosynthesis but not too many in a row to deny the plant moisture!!!)
    5 position within the forest and genetics of the individual tree, some grow fat others frow tall and thin genetically better.
    6 exposure to pests and tree feeding animals ().
    7 exposure to disease
    8 death of one tree due to some factor above or damage and loss of the top of a tree due to wind damage or if an animal eats the top of the tree or strips many leaves off branches it will impact growth of both the attacked tree and nearby trees by exposing the competing nearby trees to additional sunlight and increases growth rate of those other trees
    9 micro geography – a natural small depression of say 2ft diameter and 6 inches depth in the ground will pool moisture after rainfall. Trees near this will do better than trees on a mound in dryer areas in the growth season.

    I hope those analysing tree rings as a temperature proxy took all those factors into account for every ring year of the tree in question and not just “temperature” !!!!!! I cant see how they did it. I manage research within a forest industry.

    In one forest you can have dramatic variation in tree ring growth from tree to tree right next to each other due to all of the variables. Lots of noise, I am very skeptical of this as a good proxy of temperature unless you assume everything else is steady state.

  32. I am amazed, I had not realised that dendrochronology had become such a ‘precise science’!

    The following website has lots of pretty pictures of tree rings: http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/pub/dpl/

    One of these pictures

    is accompanied by the comment: “Note how very sensitive the ring widths are of this species, despite its young age. indicating it is ideal for reconstructing climate.” Well, I can see there are a few years that were obviously hotter and/or wetter than most others, but I am not sure what else I can tell from this picture.

    I started to become intrigued and then found this chart on tree rings from the ACIA (described below). The good Dr Mann must have missed it or if he didn’t, he then used his unique system of mathematics to destroy a very obvious MWP.

    The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) is an international project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) is an international project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability, climate change, and increased ultraviolet radiation and their consequences. The results of the assessment were released at the ACIA International Scientific Symposium held in Reykjavik, Iceland in November 2004.

    The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum. The members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) is a non-governmental organization that facilitates cooperation in all aspects of arctic research in all countries engaged in arctic research and in all areas of the arctic region. climate variability, climate change, and increased ultraviolet radiation and their consequences. The results of the assessment were released at the ACIA International Scientific Symposium held in Reykjavik, Iceland in November 2004.

    The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum. The members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) is a non-governmental organization that facilitates cooperation in all aspects of arctic research in all countries engaged in arctic research and in all areas of the arctic region.

  33. I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or just more obfuscation?

  34. I’ve been following the AGW, Tree ring, CO2, Hansen-Mann et al discussion for a bunch of years now, and the same question keeps popping up. “Why do so many people still believe in CO2 AGW?”
    I think I may have a similar case that may enlighten.
    Pluto is no longer a planet. NASA made the announcement two or so years ago. The story behind the announcement is quite interesting. It starts with the discovery of Pluto in the 1930’s. At that time the optical equipment was not as refined as today so the visual picture of Pluto suggested a small planet some 4K miles in diameter. What astronomers didn’t know is they were seeing an image of both Pluto and Charon, Pluto’s moon as a single object. The “true” picture wasn’t found until the 1950’s when better telescopes allowed the two to be seen as inidviduals, not a single object. Pluto’s 1.4K mile diameter is just too small to be a planet.

    OK, so now the soup really gets hot. NASA tries to get the word out, but elementary school teachers gave a huge pushback because they’d been teaching their students about a 9 planet solar system for some 20 years. It took another 40 some-odd years for the “official announcement” to be heard in schools throughout the nation.

    Same is true here. Science and Social Studies teachers have been telling their students about man’s dirty CO2 habits. The internet’s ability to trumpet anything, true or not, adds to the fray. Evidence of truth is considered by most people (not trained in science) to be a numbers argument. The largest number of posts wins. Coupled with Hansen’s unprofessional antics and the Hollywood star application, the results are in. AGW wins.

    Simplistic, sure but I think it gets at the heart of the belief issue.

    Mike

  35. James Sexton says:
    January 3, 2012 at 6:39 am
    ……….
    “But, now, I think we’ve enough to move this forward as an indictment of the various journals, and most importantly, an end to the belief that published material is a euphemism for truth.”

    An excellent point, made in the email quoted above (as a comment on peer review, but could be seen in a wider context) and illustrated many times by the press releases journals put out prior to publication. In the same way that TV news is now just a ratings competition, “scientific” journals are now competing for headlines to sell advertising.

    I probably sound like an old fogey, but it wasn’t all that long ago when I was doing my PhD that a journal article really felt like an achievement – now it just feels like a scam. I have lost faith in the system of science – and it will take a lot to restore it!

  36. Drs Biffa, Osborn and Melvin are working through a £230k NERC grant on:-

    “The Dendroclimatic Divergence Phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction”

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/grants.htm

    More detailed description of the project can be found here:- http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/
    Scroll down through “Current Projects”

    The project is due to finish in 2012, the project description says May, the grant description states October.

    The findings should be of interest to an ever growing number of interested parties.

    For info:-
    NERC – Natural Environment Research Council – http://www.nerc.ac.uk/

  37. Savidge also wrote similar comments in 3219.txt:

    I have made sufficient observations on tree rings and cambial growth to know that dendrochronology is not at all an exact science. Indeed, its activities include subjective interpretations of what does and what does not constitute an annual ring, statistical manipulation of data to fulfill subjective expectations, and discarding of perfectly good data sets when they contradict other data sets that have already been accepted. Such massaging of data cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered science; it merely demonstrates a total lack of rigor attending so-called dendrochronology “research”.

  38. Stephen Pruett says: January 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or just more obfuscation?

    Here is a non-tree ring reconstruction by Craig Loehle with Mann’s tree rings overlaid, without the thermometer record.

    If you go to Climate Audit, you can follow the history of this cluster f—. Not only did Mann mangle stats, he obviously cherry-picked the most unreliable samples, and did whatever it took to torture out the results he got. I suspect an honest selection of tree rings would give a more honest result, though with its own reliability issues. Trees aren’t thermometers, they do record good vs. bad growing conditions.

  39. It looks to me like both parties were hitting hard. It isn’t possible from the message to know who is more right. I didn’t see Rod as being the spanker – Harold kicked his butt pretty well down in the thread.

  40. An excellent refutation of a ridiculous notion that the history of the world is written in tree rings. Everyone with any familiarity with history knows that there are other methods for understanding both the past and the future that have just as ligitimate basis in science as the reading of tree rings. These methodolgies, which have not a few decades of active use in providing people with the information with which to make informed decisions, but centuries, have been callously shunted aside and consigned to the trash bin of history in order to serve a pre-determined agenda. Perhaps now that the reading of tree rings has been exposed for what it is, those more ligitimate methods with their longer history will see a resurgance.

    Tea leaves for example…

  41. “I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or
    just more obfuscation?”
    ===========

    Good question. Can anyone answer that?

  42. This, IMHO, is why Mann’s rendition of the hockey stick is unsupportable, its all speculation based. Anyone who knows Liebig’s Law understands this.

    I’m no dendrologist myself, but anyone who knows much about biochemical and biophysical processes knows about the concept of “rate limiting steps”, nutrients, and other factors.

    But wild trees also each have the problem of dealing with their own wild microclimate both above and below ground, which includes quite a multiplicity of events and topography throughout their possibly significantly unique histories that are simply still unknowns to this day. In other words, these are not plantation trees where such factors can be normalized so as to reveal the effect of the chosen nutrients and growth factors. Therefore, I don’t even accept the idea that in wild trees, ring widths or densities are a proven proxy for the total yearly mass accumulation of a tree. Then it seems to me that with stripbarks there’s also the problem that it appears that more and more of an individual’s tree rings measure “zero” for everything involved, including temperature, at the same time the rest of the tree was growing and is still growing.

  43. Kcom says: “It shocks me that they’ve gotten practically a free ride for 20 years.”
    You’re missing the fundamental point though: this is not science, it is and always has been politics. Different game with different rules and standards of behavior. You see, the reason The Team is finally losing ground these past years is Climategate 1.0. They broke a basic political rule; they got caught on the record. In politics you can do as you please so long as there isn’t a record of it, there’s plausible deniability. The good Dr S is likely playing a bit of politics himself to preserve his career and not have Green Peace drones sifting through his trash. It’s becoming less and less necessary, but I’m not surprised nor necessarily overly judgmental of people who have tried to cover their political asses while also trying to keep The Team honest. They do have bills to pay and families to support like the rest of us.

    The key is now that the email is found and public, and given The Team’s diminished status in general, will he stick to his guns and say the same thing publically? Someone should contact him and ask him to guest write a post perhaps outlining his views on the subject.

  44. DCA says:
    January 3, 2012 at 7:37 am
    “I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or
    just more obfuscation?”
    ===========

    Good question. Can anyone answer that?
    —————————————————————————————————————-
    Which studies do you mean DCA?
    Besides Craigs study, which uses more proxies from more locations, check out these studies, all of which show a MWP, all of which were published in the last two years.

    The Medieval Warm Period in Southern South America (14 December 2011)
    The Medieval Warm Period in the Karakorum Mountains of Northern Pakistan (13 December 2011)
    Millennial Climate Variability Along the Coast of the Northwestern Iberian Peninsula (30 November 2011)
    Late Holocene Water Balance in the Experimental Lakes Area of Canada (29 November 2011)
    Three Thousand Years of Climate Change in Central Iceland (9 November 2011)
    The MWP and LIA in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica (8 November 2011)
    The Medieval Warm Period (and Little Ice Age) in Coastal Syria (2 November 2011)
    The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age on Southampton Island, Nunavut, Canada (18 October 2011)
    Is Western North America’s Water Supply Imperiled by the Mere Maintenance of Earth’s Current Climate? (27 September 2011)
    A 2300-Year History of the South American Summer Monsoon (21 September 2011)
    The Medieval Climate Anomaly (7 September 2011)
    Summer Temperatures in the Northern French Alps (21 June 2011)
    The Medieval Warm Period at Lake Joux, Swiss Jura Mountains (15 June 2011)
    Experts Rebut IPCC on Its Analysis of Medieval Warm Period (14 June 2011)
    Two Millennia of Temperature and Precipitation Changes in Arid Central Asia (17 May 2011)
    The MWP, LIA and CWP on the North Icelandic Shelf (11 May 2011)
    The Climatic History of the European North Atlantic Seaboard (19 April 2011)
    Nine Centuries of Warm-Season Temperatures in West-Central Scandinavia (5 April 2011)
    The Uniqueness of British Columbia’s Medieval Warm Period (30 March 2011)
    Advances and Retreats of Alaska’s Tebenkof Glacier (16 March 2011)
    Medieval Droughts of Northern Europe and Beyond (8 February 2011)
    The Roman, Medieval and Current Warm Periods in the Northwestern Italian Alps (2 February 2011)
    Temperatures of the Past Six Millennia in Alaska (25 January 2011)
    Climatic Conditions in the Fjord Area of Southern Chile (11 January 2011)
    A 1600-Year Temperature History of Tropical South America (11 January 2011)
    Tree-Trunk Tombs Tell Tales of Temperatures Past (11 January 2011)
    The Medieval Warm Period in Southern Greenland (28 Dec 2010)
    A Two-Thousand-Year Temperature History of the Extra-Tropical Northern Hemisphere (15 December 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea (14 December 2010)
    An Environmental History of Yellowstone National Park (14 December 2010)
    Holocene Climatic Change in the North American Great Plains (24 November 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period on the Antarctic Peninsula (24 November 2010)
    A Review of Mid- to Late-Holocene Climate Change (23 November 2010)
    Millennial Cycling of Climate in Northeast Japan (23 November 2010)
    The Medieval Climate of the Atlantic Coast of France (11 November 2010)
    A Millennium of Climate Change in Western Canada (4 November 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in San Francisco Bay (3 November 2010)
    Using Magnetism to Study the Medieval Warm Period (28 October 2010)
    Buried Peat Layers in a Japanese Subalpine Snowpatch Grassland (21 October 2010)
    A 1300-Year History of West-Central Mexican Cloud Forest Climate (14 October 2010)
    Climate and Fire in Sonoran Grassland and Desert Scrub (14 October 2010)
    Two Thousand Years of Icelandic Climate (14 October 2010)
    A Millennium of Reconstructed and Simulated Temperatures for Eastern China (13 October 2010)
    The IPCC Spaghetti-Diagram Reconstructions of Paleoclimate are Incoherent With Each Other (13 October 2010)
    Rapid Ice Loss on the Antarctic Peninsula (13 October 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period in Kyoto, Japan (7 October 2010)
    Northern Hemisphere Temperature Reconstruction Clearly Shows the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age (Plus a Whole Lot More) (23 Sep 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period at Lake Silvaplana in Switzerland (22 September 2010)
    The Case for a Global Medieval Warm Period Grows Ever Stronger (15 Sep 2010)
    The Medieval and Roman Warm Periods in Southeast Italy (9 September 2010)
    Mann and Company Still Malign the Medieval Warm Period (3 September 2010)
    Greenland Temperatures of the Past Millennium Based on Nitrogen and Argon Isotopic Ratios (2 September 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in Northern Patagonia (6 August 2010)
    Millennial Cycling of Climate in West Africa During the Holocene (5 August 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in Arid Central Asia (28 July 2010)
    Characterizing the Mayan Terminal Classic Period (22 July 2010)
    A Holocene History of Floodplain Occupation on the Upper Reaches of the Zapadnaya Dvina and Volga Rivers (22 July 2010)
    Coherent Detection of the Medieval Warm Period in Multiple Data Sets (21 July 2010)
    Two and a Half Millennia of Fram Strait Sea-Surface Temperatures (15 July 2010)
    Fifteen Hundred Years of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones (7 July 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period in Northwest Lithuania (24 June 2010)
    Fifteen Hundred Years of Climatic Oscillations in Southern Poland (21 May 2010)
    Floods of the Guadalentin River, Southeast Spain (12 May 2010)
    The Medieval Warmth of China (28 April 2010)
    The Medieval Warm Period in Greenland (21 April 2010)

  45. DCA says:
    January 3, 2012 at 7:37 am

    “I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or
    just more obfuscation?”
    ===========

    Good question. Can anyone answer that?
    ================================

    They are all calibrated, mostly to each other….and some work better when you flip them around or upside down……. ;)

  46. @ Mike Bentley says: January 3, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I couldn’t agree more Mike. I would only add/throw the news media into the mix. A news media which has all but abandoned investigative journalism in favor of reflecting pop culturalism….sadly, much like supposed climate science.

  47. Doesn’t this thread contain a lot of confusion between the science of dendrochronology and that of dendroclimatology? Isn’t the former much more firmly established, since the process of dating by counting tree rings is relatively precise compared to infering temperature and other growth factors based on tree ring widths, densities, etc. ?

  48. One word:

    TAXES

    It is all about TAXES, it is not about tree rings, it is not about research, it is not about facts.

    TAXES, MORE TAXES, MORE POWER FROM TAXES.
    TAXES = POWER, that is their math.

  49. Frank K. says:
    January 3, 2012 at 5:54 am

    “…Of note is that NASA by far gets the most Climate Ca$h(tm) – $1.33 BILLION(!!) – which represents a 20% increase over 2010.”

    And to think, they can’t even put a manned mission into space.

  50. [Anthony] …the assumption that these trees primarily measure temperature is an absurd speculation.

    While I fully agree with you that trees do not necessarily primarily measure temperature, I think that “absurd speculation” is not quite correct. It IS reasonable to consider that tree-rings do measure temperature – and even “primarily” do. As a first step. All scientific understanding has to start with a speculation of “what does this phenomenon mean?”

    The absurd part comes in when they don’t understand that “primarily” does not mean solely. Of course, tree-rings also measure precipitation. They probably also are affected by other factors (some perhaps significantly, in specific cases), but measuring (separating out) other forcings may be impossible. Measuring either temperature or precipitation using the rings (whether density or width) is a fool’s errand, though, since both affect ring formation, and are not the only factors. It comes down to the question of, “Which one contributes how much growth?” and that cannot be measured. In a particular tree is precipitation more or less than temperature?

    But each can be correlated, statistically. Having said that, though, correlation is not measuring.

    It might be hard to find a more appropriate peer-reviewed paper than this:

    Bednarz & Ptak [Tree-Ring Bulletin, vol. 50, 1990] “The Influence of Temperature and Precipitation on Ring Width of Oak (Quercus robur L.) in the Niepolomice Forest Near Cracow, Southern Poland”

    (http://www.treeringsociety.org/TRBTRR/TRBvol50_1-10.pdf)

    Abstract

    Analysis of the relationship between ring-width indices of pedunculate oaks (Quercus robur L.) in the Niepolomice Forest with average monthly temperatures (1826-1980) and total monthly precipitation (1881-1985) in Cracow revealed a strict relationship between tree-growth and the precipitation of June-July, May-July, and June-August. These relationships are described by a high percentage of agreement, at or around 70%, and coefficients of correlation (r-subxy) of 0.40 (June-July), 0.36 (May-July) and 0.30 (June-August). The group of 10 oaks with the highest coefficients between growth and precipitation yielded still higher correlations: 0.50, 0.50, and 0.412, respectively. High total monthly precipitation in June and July favors radial growth, while low precipitation reduces radial growth. The influence of air temperature on oak ring-width indices is less significant. The highest positive correlation occurs for January to April of the preceding year. Correlations for the years of radial growth have values close to or below (June) zero except for August. [emphasis added]

    So, precipitation in this study means more to tree-ring growth than temperature. There goes the “primary” status of temperature in tree-ring growth. 0.40 for precipitation (the highest of the values) is, to my understanding, not a high correlation, though it does mean that some relationship does exist. Well and good. But when “influence of air temperature on oak ring-width indices is less significant,” well, that should raise some eyebrows. But from Table 1, the temperature-ring-width correlation in the study was only 0.01, at its highest, and negative in most cases. This is no correlation at all.

    Yes, the speculation that temperature affects tree-ring growth is true. That is not absurd, as a starting point speculation. But for climate temperature studies the question is really, “Can we glean any precise temperature from the correlation of tree-rings and temperature?”

    Correlation in itself – even when it is significant at the 0.40 level – cannot give specific measurements when worked backward. Even if temperature were the only factor, that would not be true. But with precipitation being at least as great a factor, working backward from tree-ring width to temperature – now THAT is absurd. Temperature is NOT the primary factor in tree-ring growth. That is what this paper clearly shows. Other studies may show evidence that temperature outweighs precipitation. Fine. But this paper still has to be considered, and as long as it is, the formula W(tree-ring width) = T(temperature) cannot be invoked without accompanying laughter.

    So as to not cherry pick, from the paper there is this:

    The inverse relationship between growth and temperature is emphasized by the percentages of agreement (Figure 3, Table 1). This relationship contrasts with that in the British Isles where high temperatures during the growing season favor oak growth (Pilcher and Gray 1982).

    So, some studies argue temperature is a significant factor. With climate proxies using Siberian trees, one would ask which is closer to a Siberian climate – Poland or the British Isles.

    In the southwestern part of the Sanomierz Basin, in which the Niepolomice Forest lies, the transitional character of Poland’s climate — between maritime and continental — is most apparent.

    The consensus would be that Poland is more like Siberia than the UK. In any event, which is more a factor – temperature or precipitation – is not as big a final issue as the question of how much temperature projection can be gotten out of tree-rings that are as much (or more) affected by precipitation.

    With the tree-ring proxy “divergence problem” (DP) in the instrument period that is the best-documented, one would suggest that the DP is not a problem at all. One might argue that the DP is, in fact, the norm. One might argue that there never was a correlation, except as a matter of random convergence for a few decades prior to 1940.

    The speculation was not absurd, but it has not held up when put to the empirical test.

  51. Stephen Pruett says:
    January 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or just more obfuscation?
    ===========================================================
    The others have their own problems as well. (Upside-down and whatnot.) IMHO, it mostly comes down to the definition of “similar”. Can we get a general view of our climate through proxies in the distant past? Sure! Can we get to the precision to state the MWP was 0.x warmer or colder than today? Not a chance. That goes for gases and little critters in sediments. Why? Because we don’t know if there has been or hasn’t been micro changes in the way things respond to external forcings. And, even if we did know, we still don’t have the precision to make absurd statements to the 1/10th or 1/100th degree. My favorite being the little sea critters that only live in exactly XX.XX degree water. Or, conversely, “we know the critters live in sea temps of XX, +/- 3 degrees, and then we invoke the law of large numbers.”

    That said, we shouldn’t make much fuss about all of this until someone makes a big deal about creating another hockey stick. Its good entertainment to let them babble first and then correct them.

  52. James of the West says:
    January 3, 2012 at 6:43 am

    “I hope those analysing tree rings as a temperature proxy took all those factors into account for every ring year of the tree in question and not just “temperature” !!!!!! I cant see how they did it. I manage research within a forest industry.

    In one forest you can have dramatic variation in tree ring growth from tree to tree right next to each other due to all of the variables. Lots of noise, I am very skeptical of this as a good proxy of temperature unless you assume everything else is steady state.”

    Spot on. I hope it is clear to everyone that Professor Savidge is not criticizing Climategaters for carelessness or poor statistical techniques but for a total failure to practice science. He asserts that their claims about proxies go beyond anything known to the science of tree physiology. Briffa, the clearest example, did not do empirical research on any of the factors listed by “James of the West” on the trees that he used as proxies. Even after the proxies diverged from thermometer measurements, even then, he did no empirical research on the trees to discover an explanation for the divergence.

    It must be said again that Climategaters accepted tree ring data at face value and never did any science to learn the actual value of tree rings as proxies. On top of that, they cherry picked the data and invented fantasies about special trees having “teleconnection to global climate.”

    Professor Savidge writes: “As I see it, the peer review process in dendrochronology must be fundamentally flawed to allow such publications.” Dendrochronologists ghettoized themselves. If this happened in the hard sciences, such as Plant Physiology, that scientific community would be up in arms and would put an end to it. But “Climate Science” exists apart from the hard sciences or any science. This is not something new in academia though it is the first time that it happened so close to the hard sciences. Back in the Sixties and Seventies, academia saw the creation of “Studies Departments.” At birth these departments were pre-ghettoized with their own journals and professional associations. They remain so today.

    There is a great opportunity for a serious journalist to reveal the ghettoization of Climate Science and its journals and professional associations. It would go a long way toward explaining to the public why Climategaters have not been slapped down by the communities of genuine scientists.

  53. David says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:09 am
    DCA says:
    January 3, 2012 at 7:37 am
    “I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or
    just more obfuscation?”
    ===========
    “Good question. Can anyone answer that?”

    Yes, and the answer is clear as crystal. All studies that use proxies are subject to the same criticisms that have been raised against using tree ring width as a proxy for temperature.

    A million proxy studies that are as weak as the Hockey Stick are as valuable as the Hockey Stick; that is, worthless. A million flawed studies equals one flawed study.

    There might be some good scientific studies that use proxies. But those studies will show the necessary empirical research as part of the study. At this time, no tree ring studies contain the necessary empirical research to support the claim that the proxy in question is a valid proxy.

  54. Green Sand says:
    January 3, 2012 at 7:02 am
    “Drs Biffa, Osborn and Melvin are working through a £230k NERC grant on:-
    “The Dendroclimatic Divergence Phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction”
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/grants.htm

    Important info. Thanks. I wonder if it will contain empirical research? If so, will it explain why this research was not undertaken back in the Nineties before it was used to support the Hockey Stick.

    It must be a rich grant because Briffa could have a best selling book if he came clean.

  55. Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 09:55:08 -0500
    Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
    Sender: ITRDB Dendrochronology Forum
    From: Ed Cook
    Subject: Re: Fwd: History and trees
    Comments: cc: [log in to unmask]
    In-Reply-To:
    Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed

    Rod’s comments are remarkably ignorant and insulting. I suggest that he stick to what he knows best and not claim that he understands dendrochronology and its methods. That way he would not sound so stupid. To suggest that dendrochronology does not embrace the scientific method and is as biased as he claims verges on libel. Of course, Rod has the right to his opinion. It is just a shame that he chooses to expose his ignorance of dendrochronology in such a negative way. >To the Editor, New York Times > >Further to the message below, I want to assure you that not everyone agrees >with the representations by David Lawrence. As a tree physiologist who has >devoted his career to understanding how trees make wood, I have made >sufficient observations on tree rings and cambial growth to know that >dendrochronology is not at all an exact science. Indeed, its activities >include subjective interpretations of what does and what does not >constitute an annual ring, statistical manipulation of data to fulfill >subjective expectations, and discarding of perfectly good data sets when >they contradict other data sets that have already been accepted. Such >massaging of data cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered >science; it merely demonstrates a total lack of rigor attending so-called >dendrochronology “research”. > >I would add that it is the exceptionally rare dendrochronologist who has >ever shown any inclination to understand the fundamental biology of wood >formation, either as regulated intrinsically or influenced by extrinsic >factors. The science of tree physiology will readily admit that our >understanding of how trees make wood remains at quite a rudimentary state >(despite several centuries of research). On the other hand, there are many >hundreds, if not thousands, of publications by dendrochronologists >implicitly claiming that they do understand the biology of wood formation, >as they have used their data to imagine when past regimes of water, >temperature, pollutants, CO2, soil nutrients, and so forth existed. Note >that all of the counts and measurements on tree rings in the world cannot >substantiate anything unequivocally; they are merely observations. It >would be a major step forward if dendrochronology could embrace the >scientific method. > >sincerely, >RA Savidge, PhD >Professor, Tree Physiology/Biochemistry >Forestry & Environmental Management >University of New Brunswick >Fredericton, NB E3B 6C2

    http://listserv.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0211&L=itrdbfor&T=0&P=1262

  56. It’s time to give names to the various rings in the tree trunk cross section Dr. Michael Mann holds in his hands In his iconic picture. My candidates are:

    The Arrogance Ring
    The Ignorance-(Tree Growth)-Is-Bliss Ring
    The Upside-Down-Tiljander Ring
    The Precautionary-Principle Ring
    The Ain’t-Grant-Money-Sweet Ring
    The No-Show-Data/Methods Ring
    The Flawed-Statistics Ring
    The Superior-Smirk Ring
    The Hide-The-Decline Ring
    The Whitewash Ring
    , and
    The Ego-Run-Amok Bullseye

  57. Tree rings were employed “dendrochronologically” (dc) originally in southwestern (US) archaeology to get precise dates for the construction of Anasazi structures. Since the buildings incorporated timber beams, often of whole trees, the years the trees used in the building were felled could be fairly easily estimated by ring counting and matching between trees, especially after a database of tree-ring width variance patterns was developed. Since there was good regional consistency in this, dc was considered a remarkable tool. With the advent of radiocarbon dating investigators noted some serious discrepancies between the C-14 and dc dates especially in dates derived from marine shell which draws carbon from a different reservoir. These days an RC (C-14) date is isotopicly adjusted using delta-O18 and carbon 12/13 isotope ratios from the samples submitted for dating. Delta-O18 is the most commonly used tool in geology for estimating temperature. Carbon isoptopes ratios reflect plant metabolic effects as well as reservoir characteristics.

    The point here is that these data are generally published. Has anyone bothered to look at the other isotopic data associated with tree rings and C-14 data? The width:temperature argument used by Mann was simple minded at best, and reflected profound ignorance of the available associated data, which if submitted for C-14 dating work would be returned with other potential climatic data attached.

  58. Ken, I didn’t get a reply, but my email stimulated some internal debate (email 1625- see below) – basically how to “shoot the messenger”.
    I also love the line from Phil Jones “I do feel strongly about academics moving outside their area of expertise.”

    cc: “Mcgarvie Michael Mr (ACAD)”
    date: Thu Oct 29 14:20:25 2009
    from: Phil Jones
    subject: RE: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request
    to: “Ogden Annie Ms (MAC)” , “Colam-French Jonathan Mr (ISD)” , “Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)”

    Annie, Dave,
    Thanks for the thoughts. Still undecided but I probably won’t. Aware of academic
    freedom and aware that I might not get such a reply as I got from Hull. It will likely just inflame matters more, but I do feel strongly about academics moving outside their area of expertise.
    Cheers
    Phil
    At 12:46 29/10/2009, Ogden Annie Ms (MAC) wrote:

    Dear Phil,
    Do you know the heads of department at Oxford and Anglia Ruskin? Are you sure that they would dissociate themselves from their colleagues who have written? I know how frustrating you must find all of this so can understand why you feel you want to do something. But if you do decide to write, I would be cautious about how such a message is phrased – along lines of written more in sorrow than in anger… We want to avoid any accusation that you are trying to get people fired because they disagree with you.
    Best, Annie

    Annie Ogden, Head of Communications,
    University of East Anglia,
    Norwich, NR4 7TJ.
    Tel:+44 (0)
    [1]www.uea.ac.uk/comm
    From: Phil Jones [[2]]
    Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:26 PM
    To: Colam-French Jonathan Mr (ISD); Palmer Dave Mr (LIB)
    Cc: Ogden Annie Ms (MAC); Mcgarvie Michael Mr (ACAD)
    Subject: RE: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request (FOI_09-128;
    EIR_09-19) – Response
    Dave,
    I am also happy with this response. There is a mistake in your Oct 29 letter in
    the Code of Practice link. The ! should be a /
    As an aside, this same person (Keiller) has emailed Keith Briffa since he put a
    web page up this Wednesday on the Yamal chronology.
    [3]http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/yamal2009/
    Annie is aware of all this.
    The email to Keith is requesting responses to an earlier email and is slightly
    threatening. In it Keiller states that he finds Keith’s responses lack scientific
    rigour! So instead he accepts the word of Stephen McIntyre who has hardly any
    academic publications and has never produced any tree-ring chronologies in his life!

  59. No one seems to have noticed that Rod Savidge is debating none other than Hal Fritts in that email. Harold (Hal) Fritts is the founder of analytical climatology. His 1976 book Tree Rings and Climate, introduced to the larger world the numerical methods of tree ring appraisal that he had been developing over the prior 15 years. They are now the standard in dendroclimatology. Hal Fritts is really the father of modern dendroclimatology.

    I’ve consulted Fritts’ book, and was impressed with his work. But I always wondered why he didn’t speak up to defend his field from the false science of dendrothermometry. From that email, however, one can see that he’s a believer in “the cause:” “we have wonderful opportunities to help people manage our earth more kindly and realistically. We think these kinds of questions are equally important, if not more important

    It’s interesting to note that the entire exchange, apart from polemics, is about whether tree rings can be dated accurately. Not one word is expended about the basic failing that there is no falsifiable physical theory that provides a method for extracting a true temperature from a tree ring. This failure obviates the entire Mannian field.

  60. I’d like to point out to all of you commenters that the email exchange by Savidge is from November, 2002. It would appear that it has had no effect at all.

  61. @tallbloke

    Superb rhyming and meter. Thanks. It’s elementary that Tom Lehrer would be proud!

  62. Steve Garcia says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

    [Anthony] …the assumption that these trees primarily measure temperature is an absurd speculation.
    ………………..

    The speculation was not absurd, but it has not held up when put to the empirical test.
    ========================================================
    Steve, I hate to seem to nit-pick, but I think you guys are talking about two different things. Temps only partially correlate with tree rings during the growth season. In the case of the laughable temp reconstructions, they were using trees with a typical growth season of 8-12 weeks. This is where the absurdity comes in.

    Suppose we examine a(or many) tree ring. And suppose just for a minute, we somehow know the moisture, sunlight, nutrient….etc. makeup of the past tree environment. Given all of this knowledge, we then determine the average temp for the growth season was 55°F. What does this tells us about the rest of the year? Well, absolutely nothing. This is what is absurd. We can’t possibly know those things which are required to determine the temps. But even if we did, we couldn’t possibly know what it says about the rest of the year. It is laughably absurd.

  63. So, if I have this right, data gleaned from one tree in Siberia is equal to that which can be obtained from one Argo buoy?
    Exactly nothing of any consequence?
    That can’t be right, can it? ;-)

  64. Dr. Rod Savidge, another Canadian (hurray for us), gets spanked in this exchange:

    http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=5582

    From: John Ogden
    To:REDACTEDREDACTED
    Subject: Re: Fwd: History and trees
    Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 16:15:25 +1300
    Reply-to: REDACTED

    Dear Professor Savidge, Hal Fritts’s comments were, as always,
    to the point and gracious. I
    have much less patience with your ignorance and arrogance. The
    sampling and statistical procedures involved in the production of a
    cross-dated chronology are of course quite different to those used in a
    randomised experiment, but they are none-the-less logical,
    rigorous, science. We have been through all those arguments so many
    times – you are wasting everyone’s time.
    John Ogden.

    On Wed, 13 Nov 2002 13:16:20 -0700 “Harold C. Fritts”
    wrote:

    > Dear Ron,
    > I respectfully disagree with you. We have reached out to you many times
    > and find little but judgmental response. I have worked with this group
    > for many years now and they are just as exact scientists as you. They
    > are interested in what the tree tells us about the earth and its history
    > and not as interested and experienced as you in how the tree works. I
    > agree with you to the extent that we must understand how the tree works
    > but I fear you have “created the reality that dendrochronologists are
    > stupid and beneath your greatness” and that it will not ever change.
    >
    > People like you in the past such as Waldo Glock and Sampson at Berkley,
    > CA made similar statements. When I was a young man, I set out trying to
    > examine their criticism objectively with both physiological
    > investigations and statistical analysis. I found that these criticisms
    > could be met with data from solid physiological tests and even though
    > those practicing the science at that time were astronomers, not
    > physiologists. There are talented and insightful people in other
    > sciences outside of plant physiology.
    >
    > I am sorry for all of our sakes. as the future holds many possibilities
    > with many experts contributing to the future of science. If you could
    > only get outside the judgmental ideas that you hold about us, I think
    > you might be very surprised and pleased.
    >
    > Yes, I think many in this group oversimplify the response of the tree,
    > but in the same way you oversimplify the practice of dendrochronology.
    > We all have much to learn from each other, but calling each other names
    > doesn’t further anyone’s science.
    >
    > I believe science is embarking on a course of greater cooperation among
    > different disciplines. This implies respect and cooperation in both
    > directions. We welcome your interest in dendrochronology but are
    > saddened that you have so little respect for our integrity and honesty.
    > It would be more appreciated if we could together work for a better
    > future, not just quarrel, call each other names and delve on what is
    > wrong with the past.
    >
    > Sincerely, Regretfully and Lovingly,
    > Hal Fritts
    >
    > P.S.
    > One other comment to my fellow scientists. I agree with Frank that I
    > have made only a start at understanding the basis for tree ring
    > formation. It will take much more work in physiology and modeling. In
    > current discussions and debates on the importance of physiology and
    > process modeling in dendrochronology, understanding plant processes
    > often takes secondary impotence in the eyes of many
    > dendrochronologists. I think this will change because I believe in the
    > integrity of my colleagues, but I sometimes wonder how long this will
    > take. I had at one time hoped that I might see it happen. We can
    > answer such criticism, but not until we investigate further how the tree
    > responds to its environment and how the tree lays down layers of cells
    > we call the tree ring. Physiologists outside dendrochronology have
    > little inclination to do it for us as this message reveals. We can and
    > must do it ourselves by including, welcoming and funding physiological
    > investigation in tree-ring research.
    > HCF
    >
    >
    > Rod Savidge wrote:
    > >
    > > To the Editor, New York Times
    > >
    > Indeed, its activities
    > > include subjective interpretations of what does and what does not
    > > constitute an annual ring, statistical manipulation of data to fulfill
    > > subjective expectations, and discarding of perfectly good data sets when
    > > they contradict other data sets that have already been accepted. Such
    > > massaging of data cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered
    > > science; it merely demonstrates a total lack of rigor attending so-called
    > > dendrochronology “research”.
    > >
    > > I would add that it is the exceptionally rare dendrochronologist who has
    > > ever shown any inclination to understand the fundamental biology of wood
    > > formation, either as regulated intrinsically or influenced by extrinsic
    > > factors. The science of tree physiology will readily admit that our
    > > understanding of how trees make wood remains at quite a rudimentary state
    > > (despite several centuries of research). On the other hand, there are many
    > > hundreds, if not thousands, of publications by dendrochronologists
    > > implicitly claiming that they do understand the biology of wood formation,
    > > as they have used their data to imagine when past regimes of water,
    > > temperature, pollutants, CO2, soil nutrients, and so forth existed. Note
    > > that all of the counts and measurements on tree rings in the world cannot
    > > substantiate anything unequivocally; they are merely observations. It
    > > would be a major step forward if dendrochronology could embrace the
    > > scientific method.
    > >
    > > sincerely,
    > > RA Savidge, PhD
    > > Professor, Tree Physiology/Biochemistry
    > > Forestry & Environmental Management
    > > University of New Brunswick
    > > Fredericton, NB E3B 6C2
    > >
    > > >X-Sieve: cmu-sieve 2.0
    > > >X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook, BuildREDACTED
    > > >Importance: Normal
    > > >Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 23:24:03 -0500
    > > >Reply-To: REDACTED
    > > >Sender: ITRDB Dendrochronology Forum
    > > >From: “David M. Lawrence”
    > > >Subject: History and trees
    > > >Comments: To: REDACTED
    > > >To: REDACTED
    > > >
    > > >I was rather horrified by the inaccurate statements about tree-ring
    > > >dating that you allowed to slip into print in the interview with Thomas
    > > >Pakenham today. Tree-ring science is an exact science — none of the
    > > >data obtained from tree rings would be useful if the dates were
    > > >inaccurate. Dendrochronologists don’t say much these days about how old
    > > >trees are because they are interested in more important questions —
    > > >such as “What can the tree rings tell us about our planet’s past?”
    > > >
    > > >You at The New York Times should know something about tree rings. A
    > > >check on Lexis-Nexis shows that since 1980 you have run more than 100
    > > >stories in which the words “tree rings” appear in full text. Some of
    > > >the stories are irrelevant. But most are not, such as the July 13,
    > > >2002, story in which you misspell the name of Neil Pederson at
    > > >Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, or the March 26, 2002, story about a
    > > >medieval climate warming detected in tree-ring data. I do not remember
    > > >tree-ring dating being labeled an “inexact” science in stories like
    > > >that.
    > > >
    > > >Did Walter Sullivan, who wrote a story about tree rings and drought on
    > > >September 2, 1980, ever question the “exact” nature of tree-ring dating?
    > > >He didn’t seem to question it on June 7, 1994, when he wrote a story
    > > >about ash from Santorini and said that the ash cloud may have “persisted
    > > >long enough to stunt the growth of oak trees in Irish bogs and of
    > > >bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of California, producing
    > > >tightly packed tree rings.” You really do have to know when those rings
    > > >were laid down before you can associate them with a specific volcanic
    > > >eruption.
    > > >
    > > >I tell you what. I am a member of the National Association of Science
    > > >Writers as well as a working dendrochronologist and occasionally paid-up
    > > >member of the Tree-Ring Society. If you feel the need for a refresher
    > > >course on tree-ring dating, I’ll be more than happy to try to introduce
    > > >you to knowledgeable practioners in you neighborhood, such as Neil
    > > >Pederson (not Peterson) at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. (It’s
    > > >actually a local phone call for youse guys.)
    > > >
    > > >Sincerely,
    > > >
    > > >Dave Lawrence
    > > >
    > > >REDACTEDREDACTEDREDACTED
    > > > David M. Lawrence | Home: (804) 559-9786
    > > > 7471 Brook Way Court | Fax: (804) 559-9787
    > > > Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | Email: REDACTED
    > > > USAREDACTED | http: http://fuzzo.com
    > > >REDACTEDREDACTEDREDACTED
    > > >
    > > >”We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Pogo
    > > >
    > > >”No trespassing
    > > > 4/17 of a haiku” — Richard Brautigan
    >
    > —
    > Harold C. Fritts, Professor Emeritus, Lab. of Tree-Ring Research
    > University of Arizona/ Owner of DendroPower
    > 5703 N. Lady Lane, Tucson, AZREDACTED
    > Ph Voice: (520) 887 7291
    > http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/~hal

    REDACTED—–
    John Ogden

  65. @Theo Goodwin 8:47 am:

    I hope it is clear to everyone that Professor Savidge is not criticizing Climategaters for carelessness or poor statistical techniques but for a total failure to practice science. He asserts that their claims about proxies go beyond anything known to the science of tree physiology.

    Theo, just to make sure it is understood, if you read the entire email, you will see that Hal, the dendro man is taking Rod Savidge to task for his high and mighty attitude. Hal defends the dendros staunchly, though much of his defense is an appeal to authority. Neither Rod nor Hal goes into technicalities in this email, though Rod seems to think the ARE playing WAY loose with the science. Both sides are arguing strenuously, and in such a case, I always look at it that the science is not settled – even though Hal seems to thank so. I give credit to both of them for fighting tooth and nail and yet keeping the lines of communications open.

    Ciao.

  66. Duster says:
    January 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Well said. I just want to emphasize that using tree ring data to estimate time is qualitatively different from using “growth in tree ring width” to measure temperature. “Tree ring numbers” are pretty good proxies for time measured in years. No one knows if tree ring width is a good proxy for anything because no one has done the necessary empirical research.

    Professor Savidge is spot on. Climategaters did not practice science.

  67. @Duster, not disagreeing, but just a reminder, A.E. Douglass’ work in NM was on giving dates to the trees, not on temperatures.

    In the process Douglass founded dendrochronology, but let us not forget that “-chronology” is the study of time, not temperature. That is dendroclimatology, and that is horse of another color.

  68. Duke C. says:
    January 3, 2012 at 9:01 am
    Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 09:55:08 -0500
    Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
    Sender: ITRDB Dendrochronology Forum
    From: Ed Cook
    Subject: Re: Fwd: History and trees
    Comments: cc: [log in to unmask]
    In-Reply-To:
    Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed

    “Rod’s comments are remarkably ignorant and insulting. I suggest that he stick to what he knows best and not claim that he understands dendrochronology and its methods. That way he would not sound so stupid. To suggest that dendrochronology does not embrace the scientific method and is as biased as he claims verges on libel.”

    Great post. I would like to see Ed Cook explain exactly what the methods of dendrochronology are and how they qualify as an example of scientific method. Specifically, I would like him to explain why dendrochronology is not required to undertake the empirical research that is a necessary part of scientific method.

    I wonder if Briffa’s next article will contain the needed empirical research? If so, how will he explain not having done it fifteen years ago and how will he explain using his original, non-empirical data to justify the Hockey Stick? Ooooh, that will be interesting.

  69. @kcom 3:40 am

    “Here’s my question: Did Rod Savidge ever say any of this out loud? Did he make his views known publicly?”

    kcom, if you read the email, Hal in there stated that Savidge had made himself a total nuisance at at least one conference with his views, and that it was Savidge and his high and mighty attitude against all the dendrochronologists.

    So, maybe he didn’t go public with it, but he sure made certain that the dendrochronologists got the message. According to Hal, though, no one listened to him.

  70. @Rhys Jaggar 4:05 am

    “Interesting that the recipient of the ire is the owner of a company, DendroPower, which develops software for modelling relationships between climate change and tree growth.”

    Yeah, I caught that. But I also noticed that he was using his arizona.edu email with that “/ Owner of DendroPower” plastered right there on his signature. Why does that impress me as unethical, if not outright illegal?

  71. Steve Garcia says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

    You cannot assume that different environments are comparable. Also, you cannot assume that the other factors in wood growth that have been introduced by other commenters do not matter. Finally, scientists must do a better job of describing the environments in which the particular trees exist. As any forester will tell you, trees that are 30 feet apart can be in very different environments.

    Serious scientists will create a canonical environment for a particular variety of tree. That canonical environment will be extremely well researched for all influences on tree ring growth. Comparing trees across Siberia, Poland, and Britain is nonsense without such a canonical environment.

  72. The thread and peer-reviewed literature together supports Mr. Savidge’s position that dendrochronology exhibits a lack of objectivity, lack of improvement, is based on supposition, and is replete with confirmation bias.

    Hal Fritts says: (to Rod Savidge)
    “You perceive them to be present today because you refuse to recognize the checks and balances used by dendrochronologist to assure that false rings and missing rings are located and identified. They are not located by their anatomical nature as you might think they should be but by a procedure of replication and further replication until there is sufficiently small uncertainty to call it true.”

    From the abstract of “Dendrochronology and Dendroclimatology” by Edward Cook:
    [bolds mine]
    “As is apparent from this discussion on crossdating, the discovery of locally absent rings requires comparing the ring-width patterns of several trees from a stand, the assumption being that not all sampled trees will be missing the same annual ring. So, Douglass was responsible for establishing the principle of replication in dendrochronology as well [15]. Only through sufficient replication is it possible to confidently declare that all locally absent rings, or other potential sources of dating errors, have been accounted for and the calendar year dates assigned to the tree rings are subsequently correct. This statement begs the question: What is ‘sufficient replication’? This question has no definitive answer. It can only be answered by the experience of dendrochronologists around the world who have dated hundreds of thousands of tree-ring series, including independent analyses of the same trees or wood specimens. Douglass and his protégé Edmund Schulman at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (University of Arizona, Tucson) often worked with fewer than 10 trees in their crossdating and climate analyses during the pre-computer days of dendrochronology. Today, 20 or more trees is a typical level of replication. Regardless, subsequent reanalysis of their crossdated wood has never found a single dating error.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470057339.vad013/full

    1: New and improved analysis can’t find even one error in old and outdated analysis. So what’s improved?

    2: We define what is “sufficient replication” therefore whatever replication we use will be sufficient. Why not?

    3: It is assumed that a “stand” of trees won’t all be missing the same rings. So, there’s never a drought that affects an entire “stand” (20 or more trees)?

    4: Mr. Fritts makes the statement: “We think these kinds of questions are equally important, if not more important as we are likely to destroy our planet unless we learn quickly what the trees have to say about our past.” The trees might say “more CO2 please”, but I think Hal has already decided what “they’re” going to tell “us” or as Mr. Savidge puts it: there’s ”no genuine desire to discover the truth”.

    Also, note Mr. Fritts’ attitude doesn’t seem to be anomalous in the field:
    ”However, dendrochronology adds a new “twist” to this principle: “the past is the key to the future.” In other words, by knowing environmental conditions that operated in the past (by analyzing such conditions in tree rings), we can better predict and/or manage such environmental conditions in the future.”

    http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/principles.htm

    So, like the oracles of our ancient past the dendrochronologists will divine from the tea leaves tree rings the future of the planet. Yea, right.

  73. @Ken Hall 4:33 am:

    “That is the central reason why the Hockey Stick Theory is utterly unsupportable. Trees != thermometers from the past. Additionally trees from one small location != representation of global conditions of climate.”

    Ken – They aren’t all from one location, but the bulk of them were chosen from the far north, nearly on the Arctic Ocean, because those were trees that gave the most pronounced “signal”, mostly, I presume, because the large summer-winter delta. Trees in tropical regions do not show a summer-winter variance, because there is no winter, to speak of – the trees grow all year long, and the only signal is generally rainy season or dry season. But that is precipitation, not temperature. And there is the rub. No one has separated out the temp signal from the precipitation signal. And they probably never will be able to. Even if they can identify it for the instrument period, that separation of signals cannot be reliably projected back to the pre-instrument period.

    But you are right. How can they project northern Siberian temperatures across the entire globe? I’d like to know what they are smoking…

  74. Oh that is much worse that spanked. That is either a grade A B*atch Slapping or just your good old arse punting.

    Imagine that, a scientist not suffering from hubris trying to get Mann et al to actually do real science! Wow. Hats off to the fellow for speaking his mind to them. Pity for them that they didn’t listen to his well reasoned arguments.

  75. @Theo Goodwin 10:29 am

    I absolutely agree with you on everything you said. Poland, Siberia and UK are very different. Poland is more like Siberia than it is like the UK, but that doesn’t mean squat. But the UK vs Siberia is almost like on different planets. My main point was that there already exists plenty of reason for thinking that the tree-ring-temperature proxy linearity is an invalid assumption. That science is not settled, and there is evidence in the peer-reviewed literature saying so. As long as tree-rings respond to precipitation (and other factors) in any significant way, and until a reliable way is derived to separate out the precip influence, the whole thing is imprecise, to say the least, and unusable, at worst. The uncertainty bars should be probably 20-100 times the signal they think they are extracting from the data. When there is even a negative correlation in some studies, temp=width or temp=density is useless.

  76. From the initial Climategate ‘leak’ we can see the ‘high regard’ that Rod Savage is held by the ‘Dendrochronologists’ and treemometer groups…..

    From: John Ogden
    To: ITRDBFOR@####.ARIZONA.EDU
    Subject: Re: Fwd: History and trees
    Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 16:15:25 +1300
    Reply-to: grissino@####.EDU

    Dear Professor Savidge, Hal Fritts’s comments were, as always, to the point and gracious. I have much less patience with your ignorance and arrogance. The sampling and statistical procedures involved in the production of a cross-dated chronology are of course quite different to those used in a
    randomised experiment, but they are none-the-less logical, rigorous, science. We have been through all those arguments so many times – you are wasting everyone’s time.
    John Ogden.

  77. Has anyone considered that the support for Mannian hockey sticks is largely the reverse of rules of evidence that the prosecution must present in a court of law?
    Consider DNA evidence v the Hockey Stick
    It is crucial to show the method in presenting DNA evidence. If the prosecution cannot show unambiguously where they got the DNA sample from, that it was not contaminated, and that they used laid down procedures to extract and evaluate the DNA, along with gaining a measurable sample size, then the evidence can be struck down. On every measure, Mannian hockey sticks not only fail to reach the fail grade of DNA evidence, but actively suppress the evidence of massaging the numbers, and are constantly finding new ways to misrepresent the flawed numbers.
    Even worse, if the prosecution tried to cover-up their flawed evidence by presenting the qualifications and experience of the forensics expert, along with a petition from every member of the local police department (including the cleaners and subordinates of the forensic expert) as the main validation of the evidence, rather than the validation procedures, would the judge not just dismiss the evidence, but the whole case as well?

  78. Ian W quotes:
    January 3, 2012 at 10:57 am

    “The sampling and statistical procedures involved in the production of a cross-dated chronology are of course quite different to those used in a randomised experiment, but they are none-the-less logical, rigorous, science.”

    The experimental work is necessary to validate your proxies. It is prior to any sampling and statistical work.

    “We have been through all those arguments so many times – you are wasting everyone’s time.
    John Ogden.”

    One should not be proud of imperviousness to critical input. One must respond to critical input.

  79. @saltspringson 9:50 am:

    “Dr. Rod Savidge, another Canadian (hurray for us), gets spanked in this exchange:

    http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=5582

    Not so at all. (…but thanks for bringing email #5582 into this.)

    Both Hal Fritts and Dave Lawrence did nothing but throw a red herring/straw man into the fray. Both of them argue about dating using tree-rings. But that is not what Rod Savidge was addressing at all. He was accusing the dendrochronologists of going beyond dating and telling the world that they could definitively say the (width or density of) tree-rings meant certain things, without ever having any understanding of what causes tree-rings to grow at the biological, cellular level.

    Go back and read the email again, and you will see what I mean.

  80. @Ian W 10:57 am:

    From the initial Climategate ‘leak’ we can see the ‘high regard’ that Rod Savage is held by the ‘Dendrochronologists’ and treemometer groups…..

    From: John Ogden
    To: ITRDBFOR@####.ARIZONA.EDU
    Subject: Re: Fwd: History and trees
    Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 16:15:25 +1300
    Reply-to: grissino@####.EDU

    Dear Professor Savidge, Hal Fritts’s comments were, as always, to the point and gracious. I have much less patience with your ignorance and arrogance. The sampling and statistical procedures involved in the production of a cross-dated chronology are of course quite different to those used in a randomised experiment, but they are none-the-less logical, rigorous, science.

    As I just pointed out to saltspringson, John Ogden is also throwing up a straw man. Ogden is arguing about dating, not what Savidge is pointing out as their error. And that error hsa nothing to do with dating. It has to do with tree ring formation at a cellular level. Savidge is telling them they can’t go beyond the dating issue (which it appears he is not questioning) unless they know what causes tree-rings to be formed in the first place. Savidge is telling them they cannot say, “This tree ring, having this width, means _____,” since they don’t know what the biology is.

    Savidge is talking about biology, the underlying science. Ogden is talking about dating. It appears that Savidge’s points are over Ogden’s head, since Ogden has no audience to convince (in which case it would be a red herring/straw man situation).

  81. Steve Garcia says:
    January 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

    “Neither Rod nor Hal goes into technicalities in this email, though Rod seems to think the ARE playing WAY loose with the science.”

    Consider what the professor says here:
    “Physiologist remain to build any real confidence in their ideas of how environmental factors influence tree ring formation, and dendrochronologists therefore are not at all justified in pretending that they do.”

    That is a claim about scientific method. As such, it is as accurate and damning a claim as can be made. It is the claim that Climategaters have gone beyond all available evidence in their claims about tree ring widths. The professor is working at the metalevel, the level at which scientific method is the topic. Scientific method does not present evidence for scientific claims; rather, it sets the standards that evidence must meet if it is to be acceptable.

  82. @Pat Frank 9:16 am

    No one seems to have noticed that Rod Savidge is debating none other than Hal Fritts in that email. Harold (Hal) Fritts is the founder of analytical climatology. His 1976 book Tree Rings and Climate, introduced to the larger world the numerical methods of tree ring appraisal that he had been developing over the prior 15 years. They are now the standard in dendroclimatology. Hal Fritts is really the father of modern dendroclimatology.

    Thanks for the info on that, Pat!

    But one thing has me stumped then. If Fritts is the father of dendroclimatology, why do all of his arguments to Rod Savidge only talk about dating [see saltspringson at 9:50 am – re http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=5582%5D and not reading climate out of the tree-rings? One can only guess that Fritts knew he had no foot to stand on. Fritts did, though, acknowledge that someone in dendro work should be doing the work that Savidge said needed to be done to transform dendroclimatology into a real science. Other than that, Fritts only talked about dating, which was a straw man argument, since it wasn’t Savidge’s point at all.

    So, Fritts is the man we should all be questioning! Interesting…

  83. On things that do last millions of years.

    Rocks.

    They need to study rocks.

    Temperature seems sure to be important in cracking rocks over time.
    Rocks do not move around. Rocks do not need or care for water, Rocks come in pebbles and in mountain sizes. Easy to study seems.

    Therefore Mann etal need to set up studies of temperatures effects on rocks, of all sizes, types, locations on the earth. They should report these studies back to us via their decendants not sooner than 100,000 years from now.

    In the meantime we should pay the taxes about like we do now for thing things we pay taxes for now.

  84. kcom says:
    January 3, 2012 at 3:40 am

    “Here’s my question: Did Rod Savidge ever say any of this out loud? Did he make his views known publicly?”

    Quote:
    Consider also the frustration of Rod A. Savidge Ph.D. Savidge is a professor of tree physiology/biochemistry, Forestry, and Environmental Management at the University of New Brunswick. He vented the following interesting comments regarding the science of dendrochronology, published in a Letter to the Editor in the New York Times, November of 2002:

    “As a tree physiologist who has devoted his career to understanding how trees make wood, I have made sufficient observations on tree rings and cambial growth to know that dendrochronology is not at all an exact science. Indeed, its activities include subjective interpretations of what does and what does not constitute an annual ring, statistical manipulation of data to fulfill subjective expectations, and discarding of perfectly good data sets when they contradict other data sets that have already been accepted. Such massaging of data cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered science; it merely demonstrates a total lack of rigor attending so-called dendrochronology ‘research’ . . . It would be a major step forward if dendrochronology could embrace the scientific method.” 25

    http://64.91.228.42/~rational/showthread.php?s=50a0a88275113f8785947ee098981abb&p=1478262#post1478262

  85. Cool app just waiting to be applied to climate.

    http://creativemachines.cornell.edu/eureqa

    The above link is to a free software download from Cornell that is just aching to have climate data fed into it. It searches for a function that describes your input data up to 255 variables with a simple user interface.

    For example, and if I wsn’t working on a novel, I would do this myself, you can load the solar insolation data and ice core data over the past couple hundred thousand years and see if it can rediscover Milankovitch.

    They claim it rediscovered Kepler’s laws of motion, when fed observational data. A million climate apps come to mind to hand over to a dispassionate piece of software that doesn’t even care what the numbers mean.

  86. A E Douglass was an astronomer whose major work involved showing the correlation between tree rings, precipitation, particularly midlatitude drought cycles, and sunspot cycles.
    http://ltrr.arizona.edu/sites/ltrr.arizona.edu/files/bibliodocs/Douglass, AE_Evidence of Climatic Effects in the Annual Rings of Trees_1920.pdf

    I used his work to compare with the 22 year drought cycle that showed up through spectral analysis in the almost 200 hundred year precipitation record for York Factory on Hudson Bay.

    It was an alien idea even then (1982) as my doctoral committee initially rejected its inclusion. Landscheidt later found similar correlations.

    http://www.john-daly.com/solar/US-drought.htm

    I distinguished between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ midlatitude droughts in a peer-reviwed paper;
    “Climatic Change, Droughts and Their Social Impact: Central Canada, 1811-20, a classic example.” In C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

  87. I like the parapraxic typo Hal Fritts made in the PS to his Wed. 13 Nov 2002 email to Ron Savidge: “understanding plant processes often takes secondary impotence in the eyes of many dendrochronologists. (my bold)”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Of primary impotence in dendrochronology, of course, is the extraction of bogus temperature numbers from tree rings.

    Steve G, I don’t know the answer to your question, either. Ron Savidge is clearly worried about the pulling of highly specific climate information out of tree ring series, when no one knows how specific aspects of climate affect the production of tree rings. Hal Fritts seems to be talking past Ron Savidge, and possibly doesn’t realize that Ron’s criticisms are not an attack on Fritts’ methods, but on the modern abuses that pretend dendrothermometry is a branch of physics.

  88. A. E. Douglass was an astronomer whose main interest was dendroclimatology, particularly the relationship between midlatitude precipitation patterns, especially drought cycles.
    http://ltrr.arizona.edu/sites/ltrr.arizona.edu/files/bibliodocs/Douglass, AE_Evidence of Climatic Effects in the Annual Rings of Trees_1920.pdf

    I used his work because I found a similar 22 year drought cycle in a spectral analysis of approximately 200 years of precipitation data for York Factory on Hudson Bay that appeared correlated with sunspot activity. It was an alien idea even then (1982) as my doctoral committee initially rejected that portion of the work. I risked failure but insisted on its inclusion, which, to their credit, they approved.

    Theodor Landscheidt later developed the relationship between solar activity and midlatitude droughts.

    http://www.john-daly.com/solar/US-drought.htm

    In a later peer-reviewed paper I explored the distinction between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ droughts.
    “Climatic Change, Droughts and Their Social Impact: Central Canada, 1811-20, a classic example.” In C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

  89. Continuing my occasional meta-commentary: Firstly, it seems to me that the biggest problem we are having in this debate is that we are arguing facts with people for whom facts are secondary. This is a daily problem and a source of much frustration in the world in general. We’ve seen it directly in the quote from Fritts, not to mention several other pull quotes from Climategates 1 & 2.

    Getting the facts out is not only difficult, it’s also not sufficient in itself because that’s not how a lot of people are making their decisions, and that includes the scientists involved who have emotional / financial investments in “the cause,” to the extent that they’re willing to “cheat on the homework” to “win.”

    Secondly, as I have been trying to point out (again occasionally) scientists are not magically different from other people, no matter how much you may talk about peer review or the process. These e-mail exchanges have been as rancorous and petty in their own way as any teenage popularity contest.

    Scientists are as human and flawed as anyone else, and must not be allowed to shut down debate by waving the “science flag.”

  90. Duster says:
    January 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

    “The point here is that these data are generally published. Has anyone bothered to look at the other isotopic data associated with tree rings and C-14 data? The width:temperature argument used by Mann was simple minded at best, and reflected profound ignorance of the available associated data, which if submitted for C-14 dating work would be returned with other potential climatic data attached.”

    There have been efforts to use O18 in tree rings as a proxy for temperature, but they took a big hit with the paper discussed in this post

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/06/13/surprise-leaves-maintain-temperature-new-findings-may-put-dendroclimatology-as-metric-of-past-temperature-into-question/

    The paper is here.

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/earth/pdf/nature07031.pdf

    The proxy method was based on the notion that the tree canopy,where photosynthesis was occurring, was at ambient temp. Since apparently it isn’t, the isotope ratios in tree rings don’t necessarily track the trees environment.

  91. I think Orr’s theory of hockey sticks is infinitely more believable than Mann’s Hockey Stick theory. And Orr’s went through significant and really tough peer review for many years.

  92. It seems to me that very detailed micro and chemical examination of the rings, vs. just measuring them with calipers, would add to their value as diagnoses of various conditions. It stands to reason that while various combos of factors can result in the same width, there may/must be other distinctions within the rings, as the tree achieved the growth volume/mass using different resources.

  93. tim in vermont;
    Yes, that’s a very intriguing tool. I’ve been really wondering what such a totally objective pattern-finder would come up with, vs. the confirmation-bias pattern picking of the current disputants. Seems to me that a data-pattern-fiend like Bob Tisdale would be all over it.

  94. Where, pray, are the trolls?
    Infestation by troll normally appears quite rapidly.
    They, obviously, concede defeat.
    Treemometers? Pah!

  95. manicbeancounter says:
    January 3, 2012 at 11:17 am
    Has anyone considered that the support for Mannian hockey sticks is largely the reverse of rules of evidence that the prosecution must present in a court of law?
    Consider DNA evidence v the Hockey Stick
    It is crucial to show the method in presenting DNA evidence. If the prosecution cannot show unambiguously where they got the DNA sample from, that it was not contaminated, and that they used laid down procedures to extract and evaluate the DNA, along with gaining a measurable sample size, then the evidence can be struck down. On every measure, Mannian hockey sticks not only fail to reach the fail grade of DNA evidence, but actively suppress the evidence of massaging the numbers, and are constantly finding new ways to misrepresent the flawed numbers…

    One would need to be able to quantify the rate of false Hockey Sticks.

  96. saltspringson says:
    January 3, 2012 at 9:50 am
    [...]
    > Dear Ron (sic),
    > I respectfully disagree with you. We have reached out to you many times
    > and find little but judgmental response. I have worked with this group
    > for many years now and they are just as exact scientists as you. They
    > are interested in what the tree tells us about the earth and its history
    > and not as interested and experienced as you in how the tree works.

    Absolutely amazing. We don’t care how these treemometers work, we’re just interested in their results.

  97. GISS = 0.1656 + 0.6833*RSS + 0.0005592*Time

    The above is a formula with a .99+ R^2 to find the GISS from the RSS where time is in elapsed months discovered by the tool.

  98. ChE says:
    January 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    “Absolutely amazing. We don’t care how these treemometers work, we’re just interested in their results.”

    Absolutely. Unfettered self absorption and arrogance: their “interest” in a topic justifies their scientific production on that topic.

    Blinding stupidity: we are not interested in how the tree works.

    This was a parody, right?

  99. Savidge is right, you need hands-on, feeling, commonsense understanding of all the factors at work – if not the biology itself. But he refers to “dendrochronology” where he should say “dendroclimatology” or “dendrothermometry“. Fritts raises a straw man, not noticing.

    Steve McIntyre launched a dangerous (/sarc) expedition into the fastnesses of these terribly remote forests to show how easy it was to take samples. Heck, Mann used all the bristlecone series for his hockey stick, but Graybill had collected them to prove – via the 20th century – that CO2 fertilization overrode temperature signals. Mann was IMHO making nonstop fraudulent claims right from the start.

    I think the Idsos’ website goes into a lot of the real science – is the species sensitivity for CO2, moisture, temp? etc. Graybill worked with them.

    I looked at lots of bristlecone pine pics until I could show their leery ruggedness and extraordinary individuality in my “no AGW” presentation (slides 41-46).

  100. That the professor argues that statistics overcomes all (not to mention that he has to save the earth) reveals the flaw – one has to have a fundamental basis for making such assertions. And ‘hide the decline’ revealed all of that nonsense. Statistics may be necessary – but are not sufficient to their argument

  101. As I have said on this site many times, the whole concept of dendrochronology is flawed to the core.

    How can you compare a ship’s timber to a control sample, when the rings on that ship’s timber were more influenced by a local pest and an overbearing neighbour tree, than they were by either global or local climate?

    The whole idea of dendrochronology working – is farcical.

    .

  102. >>D Johnson says: January 3, 2012 at 8:33 am
    >>Doesn’t this thread contain a lot of confusion between the science
    >>of dendrochronology and that of dendroclimatology?

    The one is dependent on the other.

    Dendroclimatology says that world climate effects tree rings through average temperatures, and that this can be measured at almost anypoint on the Earth’s surface. And that[ ]one sample can be compared to another, with no local effects acting.

    But dendrochronology depends on the above being true, for it to work. If tree ring widths depend more on local climate, then you cannot compare a ship’s timber with a control sample that may have grown many hundreds of miles away. And if tree ring widths depend more upon micro conditions, like a large neighbour and a local tree-eating moth, then again you cannot compare a ship’s timber with a control sample that does not have the same micro conditions.

    Dendrochronology is pure pseudo science, to be favourably equated with homeopathy.

    .

  103. Theo Goodwin says:

    “‘Climate Science’ exists apart from the hard sciences or any science. This is not something new in academia though it is the first time that it happened so close to the hard sciences.”
    ________________________________________________

    The Climategate emails expose climate science as China Town as compared to the hard sciences – -if you recall the meaning given China Town by the movie of the same name.

  104. This response by Hal is simply priceless…

    >You perceive them to be present today because you refuse to recognize
    >the checks and balances used by dendrochronologist to assure that false
    >rings and missing rings are located and identified. They are not
    >located by their anatomical nature as you might think they should be but
    >by a procedure of replication and further replication until there is
    >sufficiently small uncertainty to call it true. This particular point is
    >a statistical point that I realize you cannot appreciate or accept. All
    >science is based on likelihood and probability. That is why it is so
    >important that things be replicated by other scientists. But you can’t
    >replicate our experiment because you really do not understand what
    >procedure and checks we use.

  105. Anyone know how far the Yamal trees grew in relation to the closest river? If within a couple of hundred meters the growth could be influenced by salmon cycles which in turn are often linked to ocean cycles. The spawning salmon carry the marine derived nutrients (MDN) into freshwater spawning areas. The salmon are then predated/scavenged upon by bears, fox etc and the nutrients deposited inland with the scat.

    REPLY: Yamal trees were gathered on a river boat expedition, see this WUWT story and photo taken by the expedition:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/30/more-yamal-tree-ring-temperature-data-this-data-is-flat-as-roadkill/

    – Anthony

  106. Commenting simply on the structure and general content of the Hal Fritts response, I must say that I am astonished (truly amazed) that Hal Fritts can be a prominent, accomplished scientist. Going simply from all the ad hominem comments and near-total lack of rigor in his response, it is a mystery to me that he could be a major figure in the field. But then I have have the same reaction to reading a lot of the emails of “The Team” etc. These slovenly minds are supposed to be leading scientists dictating worldwide policies involving billions of humans and trillions and trillions of dollars?

  107. Richdo says:
    January 3, 2012 at 6:09 pm
    This response by Hal is simply priceless…

    Yeah, it’s statistics all the way. Never a thought to how the events are described or whether they can be described consistently.

  108. APACHEWHOKNOWS says: “They need to study rocks.”

    I’m sure they already have rocks in their heads.

  109. “Ken Hall says:
    January 3, 2012 at 4:33 am
    That is the central reason why the Hockey Stick Theory is utterly unsupportable. Trees != thermometers from the past. Additionally trees from one small location != representation of global conditions of climate.”
    Nothing explains the logic more to me than the 80 cypress pines saps I planted on a spare patch, I used to have to mow, near Bundaberg in Queensland, 8 years ago. On a slight slope, they were all planted in the same method.
    Looking out a window right now I recon they now stand between 3m – 6m high with widths between 100cm – 250cm.
    Aristotle could have suggested the only way you can get a truth in that instance is to measure every tree.

  110. Theo Goodwin says:
    January 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

    This is the same Ed Cook that, in the original CRU email batch, said we know f*** all about climate variability >100 years. He’s as dishonest as the rest.

  111. Theo Goodwin says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:54 am
    David says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:09 am
    DCA says:
    January 3, 2012 at 7:37 am
    “I agree with almost all of these comments, but what about the response that reconstructions done using other proxies and excluding tree rings give similar results? Is that really the case, or
    just more obfuscation?”
    ===========
    “Good question. Can anyone answer that?”

    Yes, and the answer is clear as crystal. All studies that use proxies are subject to the same criticisms that have been raised against using tree ring width as a proxy for temperature.

    A million proxy studies that are as weak as the Hockey Stick are as valuable as the Hockey Stick; that is, worthless. A million flawed studies equals one flawed study.

    There might be some good scientific studies that use proxies. But those studies will show the necessary empirical research as part of the study. At this time, no tree ring studies contain the necessary empirical research to support the claim that the proxy in question is a valid proxy.
    ———————————————————

    Theo, I agree, and the point I was attempting to illustrate is that all the better studies, those using disparate proxies, with more samples, with their methods and data revealed, they all point to a warmer MWP, and combined, they shatter the hockey stick. It is just that the media is unaware of these other studies, and purposely so. IMV

  112. Don Keiller, Thank you for our reply. his comment,
    “I do feel strongly about academics moving outside their area of expertise.”

    Does not agree with his feelings about other academics, scientists, philosophers, politicians, media pundits or even poets, IF they happen to agree with him though, does it? Then they are all experts supporting the consensus I suppose!

  113. Anthony,
    Thanks for your reply. Trees in far northern climes are generally limited by nitrogen and soil drainage. The rivers in these regions also radically change course over time- changing the supply of salmon marine served nitrogen and changing soil drainage to any given set of trees. We would also expect to see a drastic decline in marine derived nutrients (MDN) in the second half of the 20th century as a result of the rise in the industrial scale high seas salmon fishery. Loss of MDN can explain why there is a disconnect with the paleo temp. record. Isotope analysis might show any changes in N supply between terrestrial and MDN sources.
    I’m going to try and find some time to see if the specifics of the Yamal series fit with any of the generalities I’ve outlined.

    Here is a brief overview on salmon MDN influence on tree growth– it is significant.

    http://www.fish.washington.edu/people/naiman/Salmon_Bear/salmon_veg.html

  114. Two weeks ago in the US a network televised a program reporting on the results of new extra deep drilling of core samples in the Antarctic. The lead-in implied that scientists came from the perspective that a total meltdown of the ice sheet had never happened…but would under current atmospheric conditions.

    Surprise! The new core samples showed that the ice shelf has melted and reformed at least 60 times due to temperature swings as great as +5 degrees C from today’s mean temperature. New discoveries of non-fossilized tropical vegetation remains reinforced the fact that major climate change has been the norm for eons.

    But, by the end of the program we were treated to the admonition that man’s continued green house gas emissions of CO2 will cause catastrophic rises in sea level beyond anything ever recorded. NYC will be inundated under 120 feet of ocean, Florida will largely disappear, etc. It was within man’s power to stop the coming catastrophe if we just banded together to save mother earth. Sigh.

  115. Ken, Phil Jones’s comment is deeply ironic- bearing in mind that I have a PhD in plant physiology!

    And he thinks I am stepping out of my area of expertise

  116. Don Keiller I know its amazing , is Phil Jones ‘expertise’ , providing scientific ‘cover ‘ for political goals ?
    But its not surprising in one way , under the ‘great’ Mann one thing climate scientists are not short off is ‘ego’ and ‘arrogance’ , which ironically in the end may be their downfall. And frankly when they fail I think a lot of people will be lining up to kick them on the way down , and whom some of these are, I think these are will surprise people.

  117. jorgekafkazar says:
    January 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    APACHEWHOKNOWS says: “They need to study rocks.”

    I’m sure they already have rocks in their heads.

    Take it for granite that they’re wacke and may be full of schist. (Ouch. That wasn’t a gneiss thing for me to say.)

  118. I agree, in this context, that the word “dendrochronology” or ‘tree-time-science’ technically should have been replaced by something like “dendrothermology,” ‘tree-heat-science’ or perhaps “dendrothermography,” ‘tree-heat-writing.’ Of course linguists say we are free to redefine words at any time. The word ‘prevent’ originally meant ‘come before’ as in “The Spartans prevented the Persians at Thermopylae.”

  119. I don’t have a PhD in plant physiology and even I know that wood grows best in the presence of alcohol and pretty ladies. So I conclude that alcohol and sex had something to do with that explosive hockey stick growth.

  120. Great, great finish to a good thread, Crusty, bravo, & from me, a respectful golf clap for an appropriate interval, a real classic. Thanks.

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