The truth about 'We have to get rid of the medieval warm period'

English: Average temperature of the Northern H...

The MWP: Average temperature of the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2000 years. The grey lines are the annual reconstructed estimates. The bold curve is the low frequency component (estimable between 133 and 1925). Colours indicate especially cold and warm periods. (Cold: Migration Period and Little Ice Age; warm: Medieval Warm Period and the Present.) The thin lines are the 95% confidence intervals (uncertainty due to the variance among the different proxies used). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the thread Intelligence and the hockey stick commenter “Robert” challenged a well known quote about the MWP from 2006 by Dr. David Deming in his statement before the Senate EPW committee which is the title of this post.

I thought it was worth spending some time setting the record straight on what the original quote actually was and point out that it has been paraphrased, but the meaning remains the same.

Robert says:

December 8, 2013 at 9:50 am

The quote is a fabrication. Jonathan Overpeck’s exact words are:

“I get the sense that I’m not the only one who would like to deal a mortal blow to the misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths in the literature.”

Christopher Monckton, like Andrew Montford before him, alters the text to instead read:

“We have to abolish the medieval warm period.”

My reply:

I checked for a citation, and the quote you state is correct: 

http://di2.nu/foia/1105670738.txt

From: Jonathan Overpeck

To: Keith Briffa , t.osborn@uea.ac.uk

Subject: the new “warm period myths” box

Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 21:45:38 -0700

Cc: Eystein Jansen , Valerie Masson-Delmotte

Hi Keith and Tim – since you’re off the 6.2.2 hook until Eystein hangs you back up on it, you have more time to focus on that new Box. In reading Valerie’s Holocene section, I get the sense that I’m not the only one who would like to deal a mortal blow to the misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths in the literature. The sceptics and uninformed love to cite these periods as natural analogs for current warming too – pure rubbish.

So, pls DO try hard to follow up on my advice provided in previous email. No need to go into details on any but the MWP, but good to mention the others in the same dismissive effort. “Holocene Thermal Maximum” is another one that should only be used with care, and with the explicit knowledge that it was a time-transgressive event totally unlike the recent global warming.

Thanks for doing this on – if you have a cool figure idea, include it.

Best, peck

Jonathan T. Overpeck

Director, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth

Professor, Department of Geosciences

Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Mail and Fedex Address:

Institute for the Study of Planet Earth

715 N. Park Ave. 2nd Floor

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 85721

As to this being a fabrication (as Robert claims), no, it’s a summation or a paraphrase of a long quote, something that happens a lot in history. Monckton and Montford aren’t specifically at fault in this, as the summed up quote has been around for a long, long, time and it appears to have originated with Dr. David Deming’s statement to the Senate. (see update, it goes back further than that- Anthony)

The conversion to a paraphrase maintains the meaning. “Mortal blow” certainly equates to “get rid of” (as it is often said) or “abolish” as you (and Monckton/Montford) state it, and “we” equates to “I’m not the only one”.

The most important point is that Overpeck thinks the MWP (misuse) should be gotten rid of so that people that don’t agree with his view can’t use it (as citations).

And that, is the real travesty.

[Added] And, by eliminating citations, he effective kills the the existence of the MWP in science, relegating it to an unsubstantiated claim. As we see in related links below, that has not happened.

UPDATE: The room is often smarter than me, and many have more historical experience than I, and for that I am grateful.  Dr. Tim Ball points out (as does David Holland) in comments:

With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

He later reiterated this in his presentation to the Senate on 12/06/2006 here

http://www.epw.senate.gov/hearing_statements.cfm?id=266543

Notice he didn’t say who sent the email, but rumours developed that it was Jonathan Overpeck.

As I recall Overpeck denied being the author of the e-mail , which precipitated extensive commentary by Steve McIntyre;

http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/

Steve McIntyre points out in his article:

Be that as it may, while Overpeck was concerned that Deming might produce a “fake email” purporting to show Overpeck seeking to “get rid of the MWP”, Overpeck hasn’t challenged the authenticity of the Climategate email in which he aspires to “deal a mortal blow” to the MWP.

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jeff

seriously? i’m on your side and think many of them are crooks, but he SPECIFICALLY SAYS get ride of the “MISUSE” , not the actual MWP. learn to read

REPLY:
I view it differently, as do many others, but I’ll edit for clarity. It is about the disappearing it in literature – Anthony

Michael in Sydney

One mans use is another’s misuse – what exactly is the context of the misuse he complains about? The fact that he uses the term ‘ supposed’ suggests he doesn’t believe there were historical warm periods even on a regional level.

Paul

to jeff:
But any use of the MWP would be a misuse in their opinion.

GaryM

Seriously? The “misuse” he is referring to is any “use” of the term.
“misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths”
He wants the MWP to disappear because he claims it doesn’t exist, hence “supposed warm periods”. To him the MWP is a “myth”, so ANY use of the term is a misuse.
learn to read – with comprehension.

He’s right, the PROPER use of the MWP is to show that the current TEMPERATURE TRENDS are NOT EXCEPTIONAL. And that statements to indicate that “we” understand climate and all the drivers are drivel. So I’m totally on this fellows side, philosophically. Problem is, his intent. I will agree, the intent was to signal efforts to “abolish” the MWP. Sort of LIKE THIS!!!
http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2010/04/uncertain-history.html

David Chappell

Likewise, I’m also on your side but I must agree with jeff. The paraphrase does not accurately convey the meaning of the original.
REPLY: It has to do with the literature, see my addition about that – Anthony

gene

Jeff – the quote is “misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths…”. Learn to read it all.

Kevin Kilty

I don’t see use of the word “misuse” as clarifying much of anything. Misuse is in the eye of the beholder and the full quotation in the e-mail suggests “misuse” in Overpeck’s mind means using historical warm periods to argue against the uniqueness of the present “warming.” Probably the worst sin of the academic proponents of glbal warming, AGW, or any other euphemism is their “contrary evidence be damned” attitude. It is utterly unscientific.

Bloke down the pub

Overpeck appears to start from an assumption that cagw is real and therefore the present warming must be of a different nature to that of the medieval period. Until he can prove this, the rest of us can carry on ‘ cit(ing) these periods as natural analogs for current warming too .’

Jeff, not the other jeff tho

Hey jeff,
You say ‘learn to read’ but I counter with ‘learn to interpret’. If I say the cat is fat do I mean a feline is fat or a man is fat? Depends upon the context, right?
p.s. cat = man in one american culture.

Jere Krischel

@jeff: I think the phrase that stands out for me is “supposed warm period terms”. The implication there is that these aren’t *real* warm periods, they are simply “supposed warm periods”.
The other odd assertion is that previous warming can be considered “time-transgressive”, but somehow we’re supposed to believe that modern warming isn’t also “time-transgressive”…it screams of “it’s different because we said so”.

davidmhoffer

My recollection is that Deming made the statement and Overpeck said he didn’t want to correct it for fear of Deming producing a “fake” email confirming it.
Now that is a rather odd statement to make. If someone claims I said something I didn’t, the natural reaction is to set the record straight and say in plain language, “no, I didn’t state that”. Who is reluctant to tell the truth for fear of being contradicted by a forged document? Which is more likely? That Overpeck didn’t want to refute the statement because he knew very well it was true, or that he didn’t want to refute the statement because Deming would forge correspondence?
Not to mention that showing that an email was faked is rather trivial for any competent IT shop, so Overpeck had little to fear on that score anyway. The only thing he had to fear was Deming having an email that said what Deming claimed it said. Overpeck’s fear of refuting the statement combined with his mind bogglingly lame excuse tells any rational person what they need to know.

son of mulder

“The sceptics and uninformed love to cite these periods as natural analogs for current warming too – pure rubbish.
I like this sentence since he clearly differentiates sceptics from the uninformed. Praise indeed.

And just how do the pedants interpret these words:
. . “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
Was this just ‘an expression’ or a figure of speech by a ruler in 12th century England?
.

It appears there is much confusion here. The comment about getting rid of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not come from the leaked CRU emails. It was already in the public forum from David Deming in this quote;
With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”
He later reiterated this in his presentation to the Senate on 12/06/2006 here
http://www.epw.senate.gov/hearing_statements.cfm?id=266543
Notice he didn’t say who sent the email, but rumours developed that it was Jonathan Overpeck.
As I recall Overpeck denied being the author of the e-mail , which precipitated extensive commentary by Steve McIntyre;
http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/

Joe

He also, to anyone who understands English, refers to “getting rid of it” – at least in its then-accepted form as a global phenomenon similar in magnitude to current warming – in his second paragraph:
——————————————————————————
So, pls DO try hard to follow up on my advice provided in previous email. No need to go into details on any but the MWP, but good to mention the others in the same dismissive effort
——————————————————————————-
A “dismissive effort” can’t really mean anything but “getting rid of”, it as it was understood in all the previous literature because, as long as it’s in the records in that form, it can’t be dismissed as an issue for AGW theory.

Leon0112

Watching Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles football game. Wondering if Al Gore is at the game. The snow is pretty deep.

I cannot believe these guys!!!!!. They will do almost anything to make sure the spin continues as to man as cause for the recent warming. There is some very interesting material presented in a book I read recently, that indicates within the Medieval Warm Period the Chinese actually sailed around Greenland. You cannot to my knowledge to that today…

[snip – Mosh, you are welcome to resubmit this comment sans the childish name calling – Anthony]

Anthony I think you are 100% right to pursue this, it needs to have more discussion I would question the motives of any “scientist” who wants data that interferes with his/her theory removed. I think that this would make the theory seriously flawed and the scientist in question fraudulent, because they are continuing to be paid for their research and have cost the lives of hundreds of people living in fuel poverty and the hard earned cash of people paying for wind farms and the other “carbon friendly” schemes

Leon0112 says December 8, 2013 at 11:15 am
Watching Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles football game. Wondering if Al Gore is at the game. The snow is pretty deep.

Wow .. thanks for the head up …

WARNING!!!!! I received a message on my computer telling me that the link starting BUMMER (stoptheaclu.com) will take me to a website that will infect my computer with malware.
Is this a new tactic of the warmists?
REPLY: those similar stories are automatically suggested by WordPress, I assumed they had been vetted. I’ve removed the link – Anthony

Fred

But the IPCC did get rid of the MWP. Between SAR and TAR it was disappeared from numerous graphics and charts.
Because it was not supportive of their case for the need to aggressive AGW.

Bernie Hutchins

None other than Steve McIntyre did an excellent summary on the Deming/Overpeck issue in a CA posting of April 8, 2010, 7:59 AM titled “Dealing a Mortal Blow to the MWP” (Google that title). Well worth reading of course.

DirkH

An FP article also contains the exact disputed wording.
http://www.financialpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=62e1c98e-01ed-4c55-bf3d-5078af9cb409
“Even before the Climategate Emails came to light, the problem posed by the Medieval Warm Period to this band was known. “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” read a pre-Climategate email, circa 1995, as attested to at hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. “

Hmm, I always thought that was a verbatim quote. Guess not, as Steve McIntyre explored in http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/
The best Climategate Email covering the issue appears to be http://www.assassinationscience.com/climategate/1/FOIA/mail/1206628118.txt where Overpeck is quoted with:
> > Hi Phil, Kevin, Mike, Susan and Ben – I’m looking
> > for some IPCC-related advice, so thanks in
> > advance. The email below recently came in and I
> > googled “We have to get rid of the warm medieval
> > period” and “Overpeck” and indeed, there is a
> > person David Deeming that attributes the quote to
> > an email from me. He apparently did mention the
> > quote (but I don’t think me) in a Senate hearing.
> > His “news” (often with attribution to me) appears
> > to be getting widespread coverage on the
> > internet. It is upsetting.
> >
> > I have no memory of emailing w/ him, nor any
> > record of doing so (I need to do an exhaustive
> > search I guess), nor any memory of him period. I
> > assume it is possible that I emailed w/ him long
> > ago, and that he’s taking the quote out of
> > context, since know I would never have said what
> > he’s saying I would have, at least in the context
> > he is implying.
> >
> > Any idea what my reaction should be? I usually
> > ignore this kind of misinformation, but I can
> > imagine that it could take on a life of it’s own
> > and that I might want to deal with it now, rather
> > than later. I could – as the person below
> > suggests – make a quick statement on a web site
> > that the attribution to me is false, but I
> > suspect that this Deeming guy could then produce
> > a fake email. I would then say it’s fake. Or just
> > ignore? Or something else?
> >
> > I googled Deeming, and from the first page of
> > hits got the sense that he’s not your average
> > university professor… to put it lightly.
> >
> > Again, thanks for any advice – I’d really like
> > this to not blow up into something that creates
> > grief for me, the IPCC, or the community. It is
> > bogus.

Jquip

Mosher: “That claim needs to
1. Verified Or
2. retracted.”
Indeed, if climate science held itself to the same standard we’d be rid of this pestilence at once.

Paul Westhaver

The actual quote is more diabolical and damaging than was was uttered by LCM.
I read “myth” and “supposed” as denials that the MWP actually occurred.
Seriously? “MYTH” and “SUPPOSED”?
Seems to me that they are,in fact, trying to abolish a historical record.
Monckton is off the hook because their intent is clear and even disturbing.

Careful. There’s no link between the Deming quote and that CG email.

Paul Westhaver

By the way, here is a link to today’s weather in my home town that has normal averages for warm an cold historical data. I see this as the most responsible way to show temperature for a given station.
http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/~rjh/halifax/halifax-weather-ll.html

davidmhoffer

Rick Werme;
I could – as the person below
> > suggests – make a quick statement on a web site
> > that the attribution to me is false, but I
> > suspect that this Deeming guy could then produce
> > a fake email.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Yup, that was my recollection. He says he didn’t say it, but doesn’t want to say so because Deming might produce a fake email. Right. Any competent IT shop can prove an email is fake in minutes, so Overpeck had zero to fear on that score. He’s essentially accusing Deming of lying in Senate testimony, and then refusing to back up his accusation on some lame excuse. The more reasonable explanation is that Overpeck in fact said what Deming claimed he said, and knew full well that disputing it would expose him for having done so, so he comes up with excuses to not address it.

davidmhoffer

Not to mention that regardless of who said what, disappearing the MWP is exactly what they did.
http://joannenova.com.au/2010/03/hiding-a-different-decline-and-rewriting-history/
http://knowledgedrift.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/national-geographic-1976-brittanica-1974/
I recall an article on wuwt regarding a comparison between AR reports but can’t find it at the moment.

The paraphrasing was close enough in context to justify itself, and so what if Deming did not save a copy of the original email, as the actions of the CAGW crowd speak for themselves – the MWP did “disappear” from their storyline.
Mosher – I am glad that your posts always keep us on our feet, but this time you are off base with your statement that this subject matter needs to be verified or retracted. Deming admits that he did not retain/archive the email. I once witnessed two antelope jumping a barb-wired fence (for those who are not familiar with antelope, that was a one-in-a-billion sighting, for antelope run under fences). Can I verify it? Nope! But it sure as hell happened.

I am most grateful to Anthony and others here for verifying the word-for-word quotation from Dr. Deming that I used. I took certain steps to verify the quote some years ago. It is genuine. It dates from 1995. In 1998/9 Nature printed the Mann/Bradley/Hughes hockey stick and the IPCC picked it up in 2001. That nonsensical graph has represented the “official” position ever since, even though hundreds of papers in the reviewed literature, using measurement rather than modeling, provide evidence that the medieval warm period was real, was global, and was warmer than the present.

Here’s the YouTube video of Deming’s testimony and “bonus material.” The quote is at 1:07 and repeated with graphics at 4:25. From YouTube:

Video of Dr David Deming’s statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on December 6, 2006. Dr Deming reveals that in 1995 a leading scientist emailed him saying “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”. A few years later, Michael Mann and the IPCC did just that by publishing the now throughly discredited hockey stick graph.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1rj00BoItw]
Transcript of the hearing is at http://www.epw.senate.gov/hearing_statements.cfm?id=266543
I assume someone must have asked Deming who sent that Email. There seems to be a general purpose assumption that it cam from Overpeck, but it seems to me it could have come from just about anyone. Especially anyone Michael Mann was in contact with.

John Greenfraud

A distinction without a difference, the meaning of the ‘quote’ from these so-called climate scientists is clear. Whether it gets hot, cold, or stays the same, their solution is always the identical, socialism masquerading as environmentalism. Kick these dishonest hacks, and their lackeys, out of the national policy decision loop. Go down with the ship climate comrades, we’ll be laughing at you all the way down, just take some temperature readings when you reach bottom, so we can pull you back up and start laughing at you again. You’ve earned it.

And just for fun, “Dellers” weighs with a 2010 update (a clandestine boondoggle to sunny Portugal) at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100060493/ convincingly titled Warmists plot secretly to kill off the Medieval Warming Period. Again.

Felix

Watts writes: “As to this being a fabrication (as Robert claims), no, it’s a summation or a paraphrase of a long quote, something that happens a lot in history.”
When someone puts quotation marks around a paraphrase they have created a fabrication. In this case the “summation” alters the meaning as other have noted. The key word “misuse” of ignored in the “summary”. Some here may think the paraphrase is what Overpeck really meant in his heart, and they may or may not be right, but the shortened paraphrase does not have the same literal meaning of the actual quote. Fabrications happen a lot in history, that does not make then true.

Laurence Clark Crossen

It is not as if the most recent cutting edge science can overthrow the glacial studies that show the global nature of very real and repeated cold and warm periods throughout the Holocene.
See:
Grove, J.M., Little ice ages : ancient and modern 2 Volumes. Routledge studies in physical geography and environment, 5. Vol. 2 Volumes. 2004, London; New York: Routledge

charles nelson

Jeff, seriously?
Are you seriously on the skeptic side but seriously defending Overpeck’s conspiracy?
And what’s with the no caps then all caps style
Is that meant to make your response look ‘spontaneous’…seriously?

Felix

Your Wikipedia graph was created by some Wikipedia user name “Hanno” based on a paper in Nature. Notice the trend line stops around 1950. Here, for comparison, is a figure from the referenced paper Hanno claims to have used.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v433/n7026/fig_tab/nature03265_F2.html#figure-title
And of course it is global data we should be looking at.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

John West

”“Holocene Thermal Maximum” is another one that should only be used with care, and with the explicit knowledge that it was a time-transgressive event totally unlike the recent global warming.”
How is recent GW not a time-trangressive event? I think Bob Tisdale’s posts establish its varied occurrence over time and place. Even their own declarations establish the last Santer (17 years) as being confined to the conveniently unmonitored portions of the world.

Tell me felix..where on mann’s hockey stick [graph] does he show
The mwp? The meaning is clear by what peck says and by the actions
Of ipcc.

Bruce Cobb

Mikey certainly seemed to think they meant to get rid of the MWP. Perhaps he misunderstood?

A time-transgressive event” wtf Orwell is green with envy

Alcheson

Actions speak much louder than words. Based on the actions that occurred in the months and years following 1995, it is obvious exactly what the “intent” was regardless of how it was phrased. As a scientist myself, nothing did more to convince me that CAGW was a scam than when the MWP and LIA magically started disappearing as if they had never happened. Their brazen attempt to get rid of the MWP and LIA, rather than deal with it, probably was the biggest miscalculation they ever made as I suspect it resulted in converting a huge number of people from “undecided” (myself included) about AGW to sceptic, even going so far as to give a lunch time seminar on the topic at my place of employment. I was driven at that point to start doing extensive searching for the truth, and I believe it has been found… CAGW caused by CO2 is clearly NOT a problem based on data. Actually, the data that is there so far indicates that the increased CO2 levels are actually BENEFICIAL to humans (and plants) at least up to current levels.

KNR

Words are one thing deeds another , and what the hockey stick did was .get rid of the MWP , and for that the IPCC and friends were so grateful they never thought to ask if Mann’s work was worth a dam in the first place.
And as we have seen a number of times , once something becomes part of ‘the causes ‘ dogma it must be defended regardless of its scientific worth .

M Courtney

I posted this on the last thread but it is more suited here. Sorry, I hadn’t got this far. And besides, all my posts are held up for moderation – don’t know why.
~~~
1 The MWP was real.
2 Some people wanted to lower the profile of the MWP.
3 Mann’s Hockeystick conveniently lowered the profile of the MWP and was welcomed by “mainstream” climatologists.
Does anyone doubt points 1, 2 or 3?
For me the quote under discussion is important because it exonerates the “mainstream” climatologists of a worse deception. The quote implies that the MWP was distracting from the current warming.
I think the MWP provides another source for the current rise in atmospheric CO2. The ice-cores show that CO2 follows temperature with about an 800 year lag.
And the “mainstream” climatologists knew that too.

Bernie Hutchins

Felix said at December 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm in part:
“When someone puts quotation marks around a paraphrase they have created a fabrication. “
Really! Surely Felix would not have us believe that the “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” (claimed by Deming in his 2006 Senate testimony, saying it was sent to him about 1995) is a paraphrase of the longer statement (as “Robert” suggests) from the Climategate emails of 2005 which none of us could have seen until 2009. Does Felix suppose that Deming in 2006 summarized/paraphrased (or fabricated from thin air) and put in the Senate record material from a Climategate email that was not public (or copied to Deming) until 2009? If not, anyone subsequently quoting that phrase is at minimum quoting a U.S. Senate record.

There is a Mann email where he talks about reconstruction/s to “contain” the MWP. Why would a scientist be putting the word in scare quotes? Because there are two meanings in play.