Guest essay by Jim Steele
I was recently notified, by a colleague familiar with my wildlife and restoration work in the Sierra Nevada, that a “whacko” was portraying my graph of temperature trends at Yosemite and Antarctica’s Dumont D’Durville as fraudulent. The skeptic basher had written, “A little research proved the numbers on this WUWT/Steele graph are wrong for “Yosemite.” Similarly, in an attempt to smear a segment of my IEEE presentation demonstrating the Emperor Penguins were not endangered, he sniped, ”Then Steele produces a homemade graph. The “real data“? I think not ! In fact, I have reason to believe it’s another one of Steele’s tricks intended to deceive the unskeptical.” Yet like a little bit of knowledge, a “little research” is a dangerous thing.
The “whacko” blogger turns out to be Peter Miesler. Anyone familiar with Miesler understands he is the most unlikely person to uncover global warming deception. Miesler is one of Anthony Watts’ blog spawn, (aka various versions of “CitizenChallenged,” many versions due to being banned from several sites for slanderous comments) and authors a small website from Durango CO called WhatsUpWithThatWatts et al., dedicated to assassinating the character of any and all skeptics. Slandering Sou is one of Miesler’s mentors and ally, and together they comprise the most rabid and dishonest of all bloggers I call the “Purveyors of Pernicious Prattle”. Miesler lacks any scientific training (and apparently lacks any scientific understanding) but is driven by politics writing, “Steele’s only intention seems to be feeding the Republican/Libertarian meme that scientists should not be trusted and that the under-educated should keep the “debate” alive, even though they don’t know or care for learning about the full spectrum of facts at hand.” (In truth my intention is to expose bad science, so we can be better advised by good science.)
Miesler’s helpful role in the climate debates is more analogous to Gollum in Lord of the Rings, whose demented obsessions accidentally turned the tide of evil. Like so many alarmists, any climate scientist who has suggested CO2 warming has been detrimental to wildlife becomes “Precious” to Miesler. Thus by presenting evidence that contradicts their precious gloom and doom, my analyses are uncritically viewed as lies sponsored by some rightwing conspiracy.
Below is the Yosemite graph under attack. I had published this graph in my book in 2013 and noted the data had been downloaded from the US Historical Network (USHCN) in 2012. I have linked to this graph in a few internet articles such as one I posted to Watts-Up-With-That, in which I debunked Camille Parmesan’s seminal paper in which she argued global warming had exterminated several populations of the Edith’s Checkerspot Butterfly. A cooling trend since the 30s in maximum temperatures for California’s montane regions was one of many pieces of evidence contradicting her global warming scenario. Nonetheless she was fast-tracked to be one of just 4 biologists on the IPCC. Since debunking Parmesan, Miesler has been obsessed with slandering me whenever he can.
I do not want to waste too much time on Miesler’s slander. But people searching for links to my work do see his tirades. He often tries to spam any serious debates at other websites. Hopefully for those similarly attacked, posting a link to this post will provide the proper framework and expose his vacuous tactics. Any risk of increasing traffic to his website will likely be more beneficial as his Gollum-esque traits have been readily apparent. For example, Dr. Paul Opler (the first invertebrate specialist for the Endangered Species Act) was included in an email discussing how to deal with “Steele”, sent by Slandering Sou and Miesler to Cook at SkepticalScience, Climate Progress, and Dr. Singer (who hoist Sou by her own petard). Opler forwarded the email to me simply saying, “You must be coming awfully close to the truth!”
I have referred to Yosemite’s temperature trend (in my IEEE presentation that Miesler has become obsessed with slandering) because it represented similar trends recorded in USHCN data throughout montane California, from the north at Mt Shasta in the Cascades, to Lake Tahoe (where my research was focused) and south to Death Valley. Likewise the peak warming in the 20s and 30s supported past analyses of California’s climatologist illustrating California’s rural counties had not experienced any warming that exceeded the 30s.
The poet William Shenstone wrote, “A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.” Meisler is now on a mission to transform any and all skeptic truths into a falsehoods. My Yosemite graph was created purely from data downloaded from the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) in January of 2012. Anyone (scientist or layperson), familiar with the climate data issues knows immediately that the USHCN data is a good place to compare temperature data, but Miesler’s “little research” apparently never looked in the most obvious place. So Miesler emailed the folks at the Western Regional Climate Center and their climatologist replied, “I can tell you this is not our graph nor is the data correct” and that was enough for Miesler to suggest the Yosemite graph was fraudulent. But the data is most definitely correct, if USHCN is to be trusted.
As seen in the Yosemite graph below, and downloaded from the USHCN website January 1, 2015, the trend is nearly identical to my “WUWT/Steele” graph. However because my Sierra Nevada research focused on snow pack and watershed effects, I had downloaded the USHCN data for the hydrological year, which extends from October of one year to September of the next. Thus the “year” in my graph refers to the later months (from January to September). The hydrological year slightly shifts temperature peaks and valleys seen in a January to December trend, which maybe why WRCC mistakenly thought my data was incorrect. Still the trend is very much the same, very accurate, and totally supports my assertion: Maximum temperatures have not risen since the 30s! If maximum temperatures have not exceeded that earlier peak, CO2 has not caused any regional “accumulation of heat” due to the hypothesized radiative imbalance; and Parmesan is still very wrong for suggesting global warming was extirpating butterflies.
The WRCC climatologists correctly noted Yosemite’s raw data was not available until 1907, but USHCN’s adjusted data always starts in the 1890s. Since those earliest temperatures are merely modeled from data presumably collected elsewhere, early temperatures are susceptible to the “modeling whim du jour” and in this case the 2015 model had created a steeper 20th century warming trend in just 2 years. I finally realized the USHCN is perpetually altering temperature trends.
I had naively assumed that after the publication of Menne (2009), that USHCN trends published after 2009 would remain fixed because data had been quality controlled for all known changes in location and instrumentation and further homogenized whenever Menne’s algorithm assumed a changing trend might not be natural. Anthony Watts, myself and many others have questioned the distortions created by homogenization and have warned about resulting warming biases. One reason for questioning Menne’s fsulting bias, is evidenced when his homogenization algorithm minimized/eliminated a well-documented 20th century cooling trend in the south eastern portion of the USA. It is ironic that while Menne’s algorithm slowly eliminates a cooling trend in the original data, simultaneously southern USA is increasingly setting more record lows and more record lows are predicted for 2015. (With freezing temperatures in Jacksonville Florida will mangroves “flee” southward contradicting a previous bogus publication that global warming was moving mangroves northward?)
As an ecologist, I never trusted homogenized USHCN data because it alters trends in local mean temperature and removes local variability in an attempt to extract a presumed “real” climate trend. As Menne writes, “although homogenization generally ensures that climate trends can be more confidently inter-compared between sites, the effect of relative biases will still be reflected in the mean temperatures of homogenized series.” But Menne’s algorithm is definitely not ensuring reliable trends! Historical trends are dramatically reversing from warming to cooling in just over 2 years. After re-reading Menne (2004) I realized that USHCN data is updated monthly and fully reprocessed and adjusted for shifts from the recent past. Although tampering with raw data in other scientific disciplines results in retractions and disciplinary actions, Menne’s brand of science boasts, “Daily adjustments are thus a promising area for future HCN development.”
The bizarre consequences of USHCN’s monthly homogenization adjustments are seen by comparing changes in Death Valley’s maximum temperature trends over the past 2 years (solid black line). Adjustments were inflicted despite the fact the data had been quality controlled and adjusted several years before. The graph below (on the right) was published in may book in 2013 and also used in a post discussing how natural weather dynamics created Death Valley’s world-record high temperature long before CO2 concentrations had any significance. The new graph on the left was downloaded on January 2, 2015. Like so many “pesky” warming-peaks of the past that defy CO2 warming theory, USHCN’s algorithm is slowly whittling away at original temperature data that otherwise would reveal a more cyclical nature to climate change.
By what possible logic, would 2 years of additional data suddenly reverse a cooling trend since the 30s and create a warming trend? I suggest we need to ask Congress for a full investigation. (Hat tip to Miesler)
I have also posted that the drop in Emperor Penguin numbers at the “March of the Penguin’s” colony (adjacent to the French research station Dumont D’urville and affectionately called DuDu by the locals) was likely due to researcher disturbance and there has been no evidence of “global warming.” I repeated that claim in my IEEE presentation illustrating the data downloaded from the British Arctic Survey in the graph below. But suggesting no climate doom for Emperor Penguins threatened Mielser’s “precious” beliefs and like so many alarmists, Miesler refuses to accept any documented facts that “global warming” is neither global nor harmful. All organisms act locally and the global warming statistic is a chimera of many local dynamics. Like monatne California and much of the eastern USA, there has simply been no warming since the 1930s. Yet in total denial, Mielser seeks refuge in the delusion that DuDu’s temperature trends are just a skeptic’s trick. Seeking solace Mielser queried Dr. Ainley. But like his mentor, he was hoist by his own petard. Ainley’s graphs had falsely suggested warming was killing the Emperors.
Not only is my graph (above) verified by data from the British Arctic Survey, but at my request, the data illustrated in my graph is the reason Dr. Ainley removed his erroneous illustration (below-left) with the fallacious rising temperature arrow (blue) from his website penguinscience.com. (Ainley has now removed that graph from a web page, but unfortunately it still persists in his educational power point.) In what will surely drive Mielser to greater Gollum-esque depravity, Ainley’s earlier publication in 2005 also reveals Ainley knew all along that winter temperatures had been declining since 1970 as seen in his published graph below on the right. Yet desperately trying to parry documented truths , Miesler then uncritically copied and pasted text and graphs to attack me, but only revealed more misrepresentations by Ainley’s “educational” website and further illustrated Mielser’s biological ignorance. (Hat tip to Miesler)
Mielser could not believe that DuDu’s Emperors had stopped declining once flipper banding ended. He seems to also deny satellite data that shows the number of known Emperors has doubled in recent years. Desperate for precious examples of climate doom, Miesler unwisely switched his focus to the Antarctic Peninsula on the other side of the continent. Apparently he was unaware that the declining Adelies on the peninsula are a different species, or that Adelies act very differently than Emperors. But like DuDu’s Emperors, declines in Adelie Penguins are rare local events, restricted to about 5% of Antarctica’s coastline and best explained by changes in the win direction. Furthermore the most recent survey data published in 2014 shows Adelies have thrived under climate change, increasing their abundance in Antarctica by 53% since 1993.
But Mielser will cut and paste anything that has a hint of his precious climate doom. He posted Ainley’s other graph suggesting a correlation with rising peninsula temperatures and Adelie penguin declines. Ignorant of Adelie penguin biology and Antarctic climate change, Mielser didn’t realize that rising western peninsula temperature happen almost completely during the winter. But Adelie Penguins winter on ice floes north of the Antarctic Circle during the winter, and Ainely agrees warming winter trends on land have no biological significance for Adelies. And as discussed in a WUWT post, Paul Homewood posted the data for 2 western peninsula research stations showing no summer warming, the time when Adelies are on land breeding.
Miesler further revealed his ignorance by mindlessly copying and pasting Ainley’s text that intimated dangerous warming. “In Antarctica’s far north (Anvers Island) air temperatures have become VERY warm and ice no longer forms on the sea.” Really??!!?? Lots of sea ice forms each year around Anvers Island. Researchers report that due to the changing winds, ice in that region forms a few weeks later and retreats a few weeks earlier, but there is still plenty of ice. So I dashed another email to Ainley requesting he correct that misinformation. Otherwise devotees of gloom and doom will continue to be misled. Although my constant corrections have strained our relationship, Ainley replied “I’m making changes to the penguinscience website to correct the sea ice persistence/prevalence issue along WAP”
The fallacious alarmism surrounding the Emperor Penguins “imminent extinction” can be found in one of Miesler’s link to the Center of Biological Diversity. The CBD is the environmental legal outfit that sued the USA to list the polar bear and Emperor as endangered species due CO2 warming. The CBD wrote, “The Emperor colony at Terre Adelie in East Antarctica ”featured in the Academy Award-winning French documentary, March of the Penguins” plummeted by more than 50% in the late 1970s during a warm period with little sea ice cover, when adults died en masse. Because the sea ice continues to disintegrate, and the prolonged blizzards cause ongoing chick mortality, the colony has yet to recover.” And “When sea ice breaks up before their chicks have matured and grown their waterproof feathers, chicks that are swept into the ocean are likely to die.”
Yet there is absolutely no evidence Emperors “died en masse” or were even stressed. Sea ice is expanding to record extent and satellite pictures show lots of ice along the peninsula. Furthermore there is absolutely no evidence of local ice breakouts sweeping chicks to their death. At DuDu, there is only evidence of beneficial breakouts that allowed the penguins easier access to open waters to feed. When I asked Barbraud for evidence to support his published suggestions that devastating breakouts were killing chicks, he admitted, “evidence is hard to find”. (I posted our full email exchange in the comments section here.) Because there is absolutely no evidence for drowning chicks at DuDu, I suggested to Ainley, he also remove references to such events, but he is holding strong. Ainley’s peer reviewed publications, connecting global warming to the lack of recovering Emperors at DuDu, used drowning chicks as a likely reason. So unless Barbraud publishes a retraction, Ainley is holding strong to that illusion.
Although there is no excuse for the lies, distortions and rudeness posted by Mielser or Slandering Sou, I must sympathize to a limited degree. Their delusions have been supported by bad science from the USHCN and elsewhere, and when skeptics reveal the truth, it surely drives them mad.
Mark Twain astutely recognized, “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other.” And while Peter Miesler and Slandering Sou are iconic examples of this failing, Twain’s remarks should be a warning to us all.