John L. Daly's message to Mike Mann and The Team

Ric Werme writes in comments:

When I realized the Climategate 2009 Emails went back many years, one of the first things that occurred to me was there might be Emails from John Daly. He died before I became involved in the online climate debate, and that’s one of my main regrets. I won’t repeat one of Phil Jones’ comments from then, except to note Phil’s a rather nasty guy.

Two interesting Emails mention Daly. One I’ll excerpt in Willis’ most recent post.

The other is the following Email from Daly about tree rings. A lot of his writing style reminds of Willis’ – simple, direct and informative.

I’ve reformatted things to post better here and deleted most of the long list of people Daly sent this to. I left a few of the more obvious or meaningful names.

3826.txt:

date: Tue Feb 13 09:05:58 2001

from: Keith Briffa

subject: Fwd: Re: Hockey Sticks again

to: wigley

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 21:47:57 +1100

From: “John L. Daly”

To: Chick Keller

CC: “P. Dietze”, mmaccrac, Michael E Mann, rbradley, wallace, Thomas Crowley, Phil Jones, McKitrick, Nigel Calder, John Christy, Jim Goodridge, Fred Singer, k.briffa

Subject: Re: Hockey Sticks again

Dear Chick & all

[I think Chick Keller wrote:]

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

Take this from first principles.

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

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

cloudiness – more clouds, less sun, less ring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

John Daly

John L. Daly

`Still Waiting For Greenhouse’

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It’s a crying shame that John Daly and Michael Crichton are not here today to see the castle walls finally falling down. RIP.

Ken Hall

Daly summed it all up perfectly right there.
How on earth can ‘the team’ exclude the MWP and LIA as global events based on sparsity of global evidence, and yet at the same time declare the hockey stick a valid method of global measurement of global temperatures based on a few tree rings? It is utterly without scientific or logical merit. It is not only flawed, but it is so massively and completely flawed as to be the worst kind of backwards, illogical, unfounded nonsense since the earth was considered flat! Trees do not measure temperature.

Madman2001

And isn’t it strange/funny that tree rings are generally wider — that trees grower better/faster — during periods of warmer weather? One would think therefore that we all would welcome a warmer globe

Christopher Simpson

Ken Hall says:
November 23, 2011 at 7:57 am
“…It is utterly without scientific or logical merit. It is not only flawed, but it is so massively and completely flawed as to be the worst kind of backwards, illogical, unfounded nonsense since the earth was considered flat!”

Actually, it’s worse — there was at least visual evidence for the flat earth theory.

Urederra

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

I would love to read that article. Linky anyone?
My guess on the other evidence is that CO2 levels also will modify photosynthesis. That is most of the Idso’s work demonstrate. http://www.co2science.com.

petermue

I wish, John Daly and many others of the honorable old-school scientists could be here today.
Really.
There is another uncertainty for tree rings… nutrient content of the soil.
That also depends on many factors, like wind carrying together/away nutrients in the form of loess or leaves. Or soil erosion/outwashing (thinking of all trees situated on a hillside, near naturally changing riverbeds, and many more).
So many reasons that make tree ring proxies a total crap.

JeffC

they of course love tree rings as a proxy right up to the point that they don’t prove AGW and then then they hide the decline … and stop using tree rings …

Stacey

Every now and then I visit John Daly’s site, which is a mine of information and a great legacy to his work.
If he were alive today I would have added that trees do not grow on mountains where there is a thin layer of soil over rock and I am sure if I was wrong John would have provided numerous examples.
http://www.john-daly.com/

geronimo

I hesitate to differ with John Daly, but the trees do show the MWP and LIA without the imaginative statistical procedures invented in Mann et al 1998. Provided you don’t use bristlecone pines!

Andrew

Rainfall? Probably the MOST significant for tree growth AKA WATER?

bacullen

Just had the “I get it” moment reading Daly’s email – “..INDUSTRY..”. He’s calling a spade a spade and I will from now on.
Thanks Ric

The redoupt is crumbling but they are moving to the keep now….
Never forget, this was NOT about climate but about power and politics.
As such it will never disappear but will submerge for a while and then surface in another guise.
The object of the scam was always global domination by unelected and unaccountable people.
It still is.
One defeat does not win or lose a war.
This is a war.

What a joy to read some simple and elegantly stated common sense from John. Isn’t his analysis getting to the heart of the problem? And without dendro where would the AGW team be?

Kev-in-Uk

This is exactly how I ‘read’ and interpreted tree ring proxies myself many years ago, but not just tree ring proxies – any flipping palaeo-proxy. I have maintained a similar stance on all such indirect analysis and proxy evidence because direct correlation of one variable to one effect is very very rare (I can’t actually think of one?). As a geologist, it’s one of the first things you learn – not only that the rocks deposited are ‘local’ but that they depend on climate variations and are probably highly ‘local’ features/events – and tlikely depend on many other things. So, for a simple example, the critters that form certain limestones (oolitic limestones) are not widespread, but occurred in distinct zones, and they were dependent on certain conditions, such as water depth and temperature. i.e. it was a combination of at least 2 variables that allowed their growth and death (obviously, there’s more variables, salinity, nutrient sources, etc, etc – I am just being simplistic here for the non-geo types) – and so we can never really say which variable was the more dominant at the time they formed and the variation on formation is thus indecisive as a proxy measurement of either variable…. It should be obvious to even the average layperson, that as the number of possible reasons for variation increase, the ‘pinning down’ of any variation to one primary variable becomes ridiculously improbable.
Don’t get me wrong, proxies are of course useful – but only when cross correlated with ‘other’ proxies, etc, etc – but the end result is the same – it’s only an idicator -not a real ‘measurement’. The majority of climate science related proxy measurements and papers I’ve seen never seem to fully explain the uncertainties in the ‘assumed’ cause and effect relationship used to ‘make’ the proxy measurement. Mostly, I think the error bars on such works must be drawn on as an afterthought and likely ‘fabricated’ to suit – there is no way real error bars can be drawn (I mean such as the standard error bars from a normal physical measurement process)…. funny how this is never fully explained……

Archonix

Peter Ward says:
“And without dendro where would the AGW team be?”
Stuck up a tree?

DocMartyn

Dear John, in the North American context there is a major omission with your analysis; introduced species. The arrival of the European colonists completely changed the North American biosphere, with the European Earthworm being the most important in this context.
A very good overview on the impact that earthworm colonization has is to be found in:-
Earthworm invasion into previously earthworm-free temperate and boreal forests
Lee E. Frelich, Cindy M. Hale, Stefan Scheu, Andrew R. Holdsworth, Liam Heneghan, Patrick J. Bohlen and Peter B. Reich
Biological Invasions Volume 8, Number 6, 1235-1245, DOI: 10.1007/s10530-006-9019-3
in
Effect of thinning, fertilization with biosolids, and weather on interannual ring specific gravity and carbon accumulation of a 55-year-old Douglas-fir stand in western Washington
Rapeepan Kantavichai, David G. Briggs & Eric C. Turnblom
Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 2010, 40:(1) 72-85, 10.1139/X09-168
they show how tree ring vary due to forest thinning and to biosolid fertilized; the latter being very much like the changes induced by the invasion of earthworms into a sterile area.
Unless you know if, and when, earthworms have been introduced to a North American forest region, then you have no idea if you have a true time continuous ecology.
You would see a ‘divergence’.

Ray

The interesting part is that not only skeptics deconstructed Mann’s theory but apparently the insiders too.
Dendrochronology is a shabby science (and I use science very loosely here) but a bunch of tree cuts on shelves in a lab looks pretty cool!

Old Forester

On top of all that Daly mentions, all of these factors interact with one another on a dynamic basis over large time periods. Andrew: you are exactly right. Any field forester can tell you that trees are much better water gauges than thermometers.

Also missing, CO2. How would you seperate growth from CO2 availibility from warmth? Especially when those folks are observationally biased to assume growth = warmth and they assume CO2 increases warmth.

crosspatch

Something as simple as a deer dying in the root zone of a tree would cause a growth spurt for several years. Tree rings are not really a good indication of much aside from drought years, in my opinion.

Warren in Minnesota

Stacey says:
November 23, 2011 at 8:29 am
…trees do not grow on mountains where there is a thin layer of soil over rock…
John Daly said:
A tree only grows on land. That excludes 70% of the earth covered by water. A tree does no grow on ice. A tree does not grow in a desert. A tree does not grow on grassland-savannahs. A tree does not grow in alpine areas. A tree does not grow in the tundra. We are left with perhaps 15% of the planet upon which forests grow/grew. That does not make any studies from tree rings global, or even hemispheric.

I think alpine covers your suggestion.

Kaboom

I refuse to call the global warming revenue mill an industry. That wrongly implies that it has some kind of beneficial output.

MangoChutney

i’d love to see TheTeams response

Stacey says:
November 23, 2011 at 8:29 am
> Every now and then I visit John Daly’s site, which is a mine of information and a great legacy to his work.
One thing that shows how important Daly is that his web site is still useful and still current. The Isle of the Dead sea level benchmark on his home page is a timeless reminder of the importance of good empirical evidence.
> If he were alive today I would have added that trees do not grow on mountains where there is a thin layer of soil over rock and I am sure if I was wrong John would have provided numerous examples.
You need to visit the White Mountains of New England! The area was pretty much scraped clean in the last glaciation, but our even and plentiful rainfall (hey, four of five storm tracks go through the area, gotta put a positive spin on it) makes for good tree growing conditions.
Our trees will grow in a couple inches of weathered granite soil. Root hairs do a decent job of hanging onto cracks in the bedrock. They don’t really like it, especially near treeline, but for the most part they’re what keeps the topsoil in place.

Adam Gallon

Ray – don’t confuse Dendochronology, with Dendroclimatology!

John West

For me this is the best part:
“What is at issue is the uncritical zeal with which the industry siezed on the theory before its scientific value had been properly tested.” – John Daly
I wonder what the factors were in said acceptance of the theory; climatology being relatively new therefore the average climatologist was younger, less experienced, & more naive; it told many exactly what they already “knew” (man is bad, burning fossil fuels is bad) and therefore played to their world view; makes for a profitable new commodity; allows for new taxes and regulatory oversight; excuse for more bureaucratic infrastructure (how many CC committees are there now); something scary (therefore important) to research; etc. etc.?

Latitude

Ric, I posted this for you on the long thread….
John missed one important point on trees
Ric Werme says:
November 23, 2011 at 7:38 am
==========================================
from: “Michael E. Mann”
subject: Re: WMO Climate Statement for 1999 – IMPORTANT !
cc: k.briffa, t.osborn
Hi Phil,
I’m attaching the plot you may remember that we (actually, the UK Met Office staff) prepared for the final version of the IPCC chapter 2 draft (in pdf format). To refresh your memory, we used the ’61-90 base period for the absolute anomaly scale, but we aligned the series based on an earlier (’31-60) interval of the instrumental record, which pre-dates (largely) the recent decline in the Briffa et al series. I think this leads to a similar picture, but if you think there are any significant discrepancies w/ what Tim is preparing, we should discuss.
cheers,
mike
==========================================
The effect of an increase in CO2 would be to increase growth, which mimics warmer temperatures. Mikey’s graph should have been adjusted downwards, not upwards.
http://www.real-science.com/mikey-hiding-decline

“Experimental evidence shows that carbon dioxide can be an important limiting factor in the growth of plants in this high-altitude environment. The greatly increased tree growth rates observed since the mid-l9th century exceed those expected from climatic trends but are consistent in magnitude with global trends in carbon dioxide, especially in recent decades. If correctly interpreted, these findings have important implications for climate studies involving tree ring observations and for models of the global carbon dioxide budget.”
(Source: Science Magazine: 7 September 1984:Vol. 225 no. 4666 pp. 1019-1021)
Makes you wonder if Mann and co. ever read the relevant scientific literature.

Ralph

And I shall say it again:
If tree-rings are responding mainly to local events, rather than to global climate, then how on earth can dendrochronology work? If you look at these two Yamal graphs, you will see a large difference in tree-ring growth between individual trees growing in the same region at the same time.
http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/yad.gif
http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/russ035w.gif
If we take a core sample from one of the trees in the top set (to discover its date), and were using the bottom set as the control (to divine that date), there would be no match whatsoever.
Even worse, if we were to take a core from an ancient Mediterranean ship (to discover its date), and compared it to control tree-rings from the Irish bog-oak set or the American bristlecone set (to divine that date), how on earth are we to derive a comparison? The Mediterranean trees (for the ship) were growing under Mediterranean micro-climates, with Mediterranean pests and Mediterranean light/moisture competitions; while the controls were growing in Ireland and America with completely different environmental and biological influences.
So how can we compare tree-ring widths, to derive a comparison (and a date), when the control tree’s ring-widths might have been largely influenced by the lesser-spotted-tree-ring moth?
.

Lawrence

John Daly was a hero who I followed from those early days of the internet. Then the AGW bandwagon hadn’t really got rolling and any sceptics were few and far between. I hope his daughter and son in law are aware of the high esteem he is held in. They tried to maintain his website for a while but never had the same drive and sheer doggedness that John had . I didn’t know him but followed him avidly in those early internet day and even emailed him a couple of times. John I believe saw the ‘madness’ and where it was heading long before the AGW bandwagon really got rolling and how he would have loved to see the wheels falling off.
And lets face it it has been like a madness where all rationalality and perspective had been strangled in those very early days.

SidViscous

From George
“Also missing, CO2. How would you separate growth from CO2 availability from warmth? Especially when those folks are observationally biased to assume growth = warmth and they assume CO2 increases warmth.”
Not to mention the fact that CO2 contributes growth directly. Trees grow from the air, not the ground, a tree is made up of CO2, more CO2 more tree.
That is not to say that ground conditions do not have an effect on growth, they do of course, but the tree’s mass comes from the air. More growth could simply mean that there was more material (CO2) to use, and that temperature was only a sideline.

It is utterly without scientific or logical merit. It is not only flawed, but it is so massively and completely flawed as to be the worst kind of backwards, illogical, unfounded nonsense since the earth was considered flat!”
http://mymoviesonlines.wordpress.com

kim2ooo

IMO There has always been a problem using regional proxies for global history – and even more problems for global climate reconstructs.

I would love to see the tree rings from the Michigan study of CO2’s effect on tree growth
http://sustainability.umich.edu/news/u-m-ecologist-future-forests-may-soak-more-carbon-dioxide-previously-believed-helping-buffer-cl

Nullius in Verba

In the documents folder of the CG-II archive there’s a document climex.doc that is relevant to the question of how climate affects tree rings.

Jenne

Tree rings tell you something about how happy a tree is. Nothing more, nothing less. I got that from Gerald Ganssen, former president of the European Geosciences Union (2007-2009).

meemoe_uk

Funny and telling that wiki-keepers idea of an encyclopedia entry for a person is name / lifespan / occupation / ( AGW believer or skeptic ) / details of AGW ( belief / skeptism ).
Details from the rest of the persons entire life are optional.
Is this the only narrow way AGWers and their AGWopedia can define \ view people ?

Spector

Dendrochronology is a word that originally meant tree-dating. It involved the correlation of tree-ring growth patterns from one tree to another to determine the date that the wood of a given tree was grown. Of course, we are always free to give and old word a new meaning. ‘Prevent’ originally meant to come or get somewhere ahead of someone else.
More correct formations for what is being spoken here might be dendrothermometry or dendrothermography, but adding a new meaning to an established word might be the path of least resistance, especially as dendrothermometry is highly questionable and dendrochronology is an established accurate dating method.

Ron

Your list of variables is only partial. Trees don’t grow much during drought even if the weather is cool. Here in the Pacific Nortwest, that is common. Early spring, late spring, early winter, lots of snow, not much snow, Also, animals browsing affect them. Thus, when there are more deer, elk, etc. smaller trees sometimes get smaller and don’t grow at all.
I am assuming the climate in my back yard is fairly consistant from one place to another. The fir trees I planted at the same time 10 years ago are wildly different from one another. Some are three times the size of others. I assume the larger ones have wider growth rings. Guess the climate there is milder than that 20 feet away. In short, tree rings do not measure temperature but variable growing conditions which covers a VERY wide range of possibilities. I could go on and on about variable growing conditions.
Never did trust the tree ring record theory, but then, maybe if I had finished high school……..

There is another factor that comes into play with tree rings. A short mild winter. Bigger rings with a longer growing season, even if the summer isn’t warmer than average.

mat

John Daley seemed a rare man who will be missed at this time when his concise and direct questioning would have been of great help !

Douglas DC

John was a E-mail friend of mine-I would talk about the weather in Tasmania VS the Oregon south Coast,-inverted but not a lot different. Personally I hope he and Crichton are aware of all this…
-and smiling…

John-X

Daly was great.
I can remember reading his website, “Still Waiting for Greenhouse” all the way back in 2000. (God that seems like a long time ago).
http://www.john-daly.com

Lars P.

Stacey says:
November 23, 2011 at 8:29 am
“Every now and then I visit John Daly’s site…”
Thanks Stacey for posting his site. I also go now and then there, what he said is still actual, being valid science – see his post on the satellite sea level rise measurement, on the arctic, CO2 measurements problems and many other.
http://www.john-daly.com/altimetry/topex.htm

Dave Dardinger

While I like everyone’s enthusiasm, we really should try to keep to the actual science (what there is of it) behind dendroclimatology. The reason why trees like bristlecone pines have been used is to try to isolate the temperature signal from, say, the precipitation signal. The concept is that by picking trees near the tree line, temperature will be the limiting factor on tree-ring growth. It’s assumed that there will be melting snow above which will keep water from being a major factor. Now this doesn’t totally work, which is discussed in many early threads on Climate Audit. But the particular problem with the early Mann work is that they used the strip-bark bristlecone pine cores. Stripbarked trees have a growth spurt after the initial injury for several reasons, which makes the cores problematic at best. In general it will result in the average growth rate increasing in modern times. Since the cores are calibrated with modern instrumental temperatures, they will be especially highly correlated and thus make it look like tree-rings are good temperature proxies.
I’ll add that the Yamal spruces have a similar growth spurt resulting from a switch from a trailing to an upright growth pattern. The result is thus also misleading.

Philip Peake (aka PJP)

Its actually worse than he said. Of the 15% of the earth’s surface in which trees actually grow, they restricted themselves to a particular species of tree that only grows in a very small percentage of the 15% of the earth’s surface.
Total lunacy.

Tom G(ologist)

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Daly blogging and still remember reverently the “Still Waiting fro Greenhouse” days. Anthony, you deserve more credit than I, or any collective, can possibly bestow, but I must admit that I still miss John Daly. And, of course, Douglas Adams. As Mel Brooks has noted, nothing can be taken seriously in the face of absolute, heart-felt hilarity and Adms was the one technically-minded comic who could really poke philosophical holes in nonsense science.

Skeptic

Dr. Tim Ball was right after all. [snip]

Spector

I believe the primary application of dendrochronology, per se, is the dating of archeological sites, especially in the South West USA where the tree-ring patterns of logs that were used in the construction of human habitations can be compared, just like a fingerprint, with an established complete, year-by-year, local growth pattern.

ECEGeorgia

What a wonderful website and time we live in! Thanks Anthony for a place of seeking truth and discovery. When I started reading everything here after climategate 1, and saw “Tree Ring proxy data” signaling numeric data to temperature’, my thought, was (as others here) “WTF” AIN’T no way!.
Ron says:
“Your list of variables is only partial. Trees don’t grow much during drought even if the weather is cool. Here in the Pacific Nortwest, that is common.” everything else you say is ‘well taken’
Also common to the Cascades is microclimate, fog favors some species not others!
I live on 1 acre of Southeastern US property which is terraced on a gentle slope. Corn and cotton were the 1946 row crop last planted. Southern Yellow Pine planted in 1947-48 +/-2 yr. In the 1990’s a tornado swept through and the timber jobbers came in and took about 35 trees out for no $ and hauled them to a local sawmill. As a curious biologist I really enjoyed a couple of days of looking at the stumps and few cut up trees. For the years I had been there (20 or so) the rings were a an almost perfect representation of rainfall. Branches also skew the ring data.
Thanks also to “Old Forester” – Right on the money!
Anthony – Keep it UP!
(also thanks to DavidMhoffer in other threads! I read it all and like folks who help other folks, crosscheck and understand!)
Eric