Dendro blatherskite

Dendrochronological drill

Let us talk about the NZ Herald again, Eloise Gibson (environmental reporter) again and Andrew Reisinger again, but more of Dr Reisinger than the others, who cannot be expected to know how he weaves that magic wool over their eyes.

Dr Reisinger, not unknown to readers of this Climate Conversation, who you might remember is close to Rajendra Pachauri (still clinging grimly to the leadership of the IPCC) and rumoured to be in a relationship with Pachauri’s younger daughter, Shonali, is this time treating us to a bunch of mysterious nonsense about tree rings. According to my information, he’s a highly skilled atmospheric physicist (which has nothing to do with tree rings, however).

He claims that trees have changed how they respond to the climate, but only in the last sixty years. Yeah, right! He briefed Eloise and now she writes:

Scientists are chipping away at a glitch in the climate records, hoping to explain why tree-rings that track temperature changes successfully until the 1950s suddenly veer off.

Researchers believe global warming or other man-made changes may be to blame for an unexplained slowdown in growth of some of the ancient trees used to track temperatures back more than 1000 years.

That’s a worry. The temperature apparently rises (good for growth) and the carbon dioxide goes up (good for growth) yet the growth slows down. Definitely a worry, unexplained — certainly deserves the “suddenly veer off” comment.

There’s a remarkable lack of detail, though, or evidence, in this story and there are clear signs of unscientific waffle.

For example, it’s a surprise to hear that “real measurements from thermometers do not [show temperature declining]”. That’s a surprise because NIWA’s own graph, available on their web site, shows no warming in New Zealand since about 1950. Have a look, you’ll see (ignore the straight line they’ve drawn, just check the last 60 years).

That’s a “statistically significant” length of time, 60 years, and NIWA says the country has not warmed. Odd, then, to hear Reisinger say the opposite.

But then he mentions Northern Hemisphere trees, saying they are behaving differently “in the past few decades”. Oh, golly. Then he waffles. Read it: what is he saying? A lack of rain stunted growth, or when temperatures reached “a certain point” trees “began to react differently”. Is that across the whole world, or just the whole Northern Hemisphere?

Andy: stop talking crap!

People of New Zealand: there’s a German-born naturalised scientist among us (also a famous photographer of our natural landscape, he’s no doubt very good at that, published by Harper Collins) who is talking unmitigated, unscientific hogwash! If you hear him, ask him for his sources. Insist on hearing some evidence.

Next, he really digs himself a hole, saying:

the relationships [between tree-rings and temperature] that we’ve developed for the last 500-100[0] years may not apply in the last 50.

He offers no evidence for that, leaving us scratching our heads. What fundamental variable affecting tree growth might have changed in the last 50 years? Has temperature gone up? No, it hasn’t been going up here, and it went down globally between about 1945 and 1980. Has rainfall gone down? Well, rainfall always goes down (!), but no, it hasn’t reduced, so droughts haven’t increased.

It’s waffle. It has no basis. There is no evidence for his stupid statements.

If the “relationships” between tree-rings and temperature have changed, how do we know they’ve changed? Andy isn’t telling us about that. We have to take his word for it.

He talks about “combining” the tree-ring records with modern thermometer records in 1961 (very precise date — what happened in 1961?), which he describes as a “common technique”.

Absolute bloody lies and nonsense! In any time series (and you’ll learn this in any high school science course), you cannot mix measurements from one device or one method with measurements from others. That’s precisely what is meant by comparing apples with oranges. It is not done! The results are meaningless, no matter how pretty the resulting graph! Andy, do you know the word “meaningless”?

Well, you might do it sometimes, but you have to take special care, and prove it thoroughly, overlap the two sets of measurements. Which obviously is a problem here, since he’s admitting the divergence and complaining they cannot explain it. So it’s even more mystifying that they combine the dendro and thermometer records!

Ok, I’m about to go back in my box and I promise to stop shouting, but I’ll first point out two more errors. Eloise writes (but it must have been informed by Reisinger):

Tree-ring records are often combined with other ancient reconstructions to form a “hockey stick” pattern, which shows late 20th century temperatures rising sharply from the long-term average.

Those reconstructions helped the IPCC conclude that the last 50 years of the 20th century were probably the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere in more than 1000 years.

The “hockey stick” pattern is the most thoroughly refuted and discredited temperature reconstruction of the millenium. It was so completely demolished that the IPCC, who had previously flaunted it very prominently in its main report, suddenly stopped using it. Responsible, credible scientists around the world don’t refer to it and don’t believe the temperature has behaved in the way claimed by that graph.

Reisinger claims tree-ring records are “combined” with other “ancient reconstructions” to form the hockey stick. But what do those ancient reconstructions have to do with it? Because the sharp upward rise of the “blade” of the hockey stick only occurs in the second half of the 20th Century — modern times. Wouldn’t you know it? Right at the time when Reisinger tells us the tree-ring reconstruction is “combined” with modern records.

Which is nothing to do with the tree rings. It’s the faulty surface temperature records. The ones that showed Bolivia is the hottest country on earth. Those faulty modern records make the hockey stick shape, not the ancient ones.

Reisinger has treated us to a non-stop exhibition of complete nonsense. Who’s paying him to do this to us?

Not to worry, though, because he’s obviously not very sure of it all. He says the last 50 years of the 20th Century were “probably” the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere in more than 1000 years.

So what? If the IPCC cannot be sure of that, how can they be so sure it’s all our fault? Of course, Andy fails to tell us that for about 500 of those 1000 years, we were in a little ice age (until about 1850).

So it’s not really surprising that we’re warming up a bit now, is it?

Tree rings

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