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.
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.”
I checked for a citation, and the quote you state is correct:
From: Jonathan Overpeck
To: Keith Briffa , firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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;
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.
- Intelligence and the hockey stick (wattsupwiththat.com)
- New paper shows Medieval Warm Period was global in scope (wattsupwiththat.com)
- BREAKING NEWS: CRU’s Jones admits climate data problems, and Medieval Warm Period (briefingroom.typepad.com)
- ScienceMag: Medieval Warm Period global, 0.65 °C warmer than present: ‘The largest ocean was 2 °C warmer than today when ancient civilizations exploded’ (climatedepot.com)