It’s not often in the crazy world of Climate Science that you find something wholly new, even crazier than the last crazy thing you read, and written by one of the most prominent climate crazies of all. I’m talking about “Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis: Volume 1 – The Physical Climate (2013)” by G. Thomas Farmer and John Cook. You can read extracts of it on Amazon or at Google Books.
If we haven’t heard more of this 600 page monster (or of volume 2, which was also due out in 2013 but doesn’t seem to have appeared) it’s possibly because of its price ($119).
Editors Springer describe it thus: (the punctuation is theirs):
Volume One of a two-volume treatment of climate change science designed for an introductory science course
Describes the discipline of Climate Change Science, and individual climate change scientists whose expertise spans Earth history, geology, geography, biology, oceanography, astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering and more
Examines evidence of global warming that has entered mainstream discussions of climate change
Discusses the ideas and tactics of climate skeptics and deniers
For a book entitled “Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis Volume 1 – The Physical Climate” you can see from the publisher’s blurb that it goes rather far off topic. In fact, after the words “Describes the discipline of Climate Change Science..” it’s difficult to see what’s on-topic, since the rest seems to be a description of “individual climate change scientists” whose expertise spans the whole of science, plus “evidence that has entered mainstream discussion”, plus “the ideas and tactics of climate skeptics and deniers.”
All in an “introductory science course.”
The weirdness of this book starts on the contents page. Chapter 1 is called “Introduction” and consists of an overview of climate science, covering the Greenhouse Effect, Climate Sensitivity, Carbon Dioxide, Energy and Climate Policy, and the Hockey Stick Controversy.
Having summarised climate science in 13 pages, Chapter 2 goes on to summarise the history of science in thirty pages. It’s called “Scientific Principles” and has sections (in this order, and among much else) on Internet Searches, the Warming Earth, the Laws of Thermodynamics, Climate Scientists, Scientific Laws and Climate Scientists, Scientific Jargon, Communication Between Scientists and the Public, The Concept of Time, From Hothouse to Icehouse, Reasons to Study Science, Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, Galileo, Bacon, Kepler, Newton, Empiricism, Inductive Logic, Deductive Logic, Models, the Nature of Science, the Science of Nature, and Chaos Theory.
Much as I love Pliny the Elder, and much as I could do with a half-page introduction to Inductive and Deductive Logic, I decided to stick to chapter one, which offered me a complete run down on climate science, from the Greenhouse Effect to the Hockey Stick Controversy, in a dozen pages. So I went straight to chapter 1.12, the Hockey Stick Controversy. It reads as follows, with my comments in square brackets:
The “hockey stick” is a diagram attributed to Michael Mann and colleagues drawn for a paper in 1998 from a variety of sources including proxies from dendrochronology that showed a sharp increase from temperatures during the final years portrayed on the graph (see Fig. 1.5 below). The graph and the research on which it was based were groundbreaking. No one had previously compiled these data and put them together so convincingly.
The Mann, Bradley, and Hughes (MBH) 1988 [sic: wrong year] paper was the first quantitative hemispheric-scale reconstruction going back in time to 1400. It was a landmark paper. In a 1999 paper, the authors extended the reconstruction back to 1000 and it was the later graphic that was prominently featured in the IPCC 2001 AR3 (TAR) Report (see Fig. 1.5).
So is Fig. 1.5 from MBH (1998) or (1999) or possibly (1988)? Who cares. The important thing is that it’s in IPCC 2001 AR3 (TAR).
Can you imagine the state of mind of some college student who’s laid out $119 in order to try and understand climate science and is already, on page 14, stuck deep in IPCC 2001 AR3 (TAR)? And he’s got Kepler and Chaos Theory coming up next.
After Fig. 1.5 the chapter continues:
Much criticism of the graph ensued and it became a favourite of the denialist group, but most subsequent scientific papers supported the basic message of the hockey stick; that the Earth is warming and a great deal of the warming has occurred in the last half of the twentieth century [and all of the rest in the first half of the twentieth century]. More than 12 subsequent papers, using various statistical methods and combinations of proxy records, produced reconstructions broadly similar to the original MBH hockey-stick graph, with variations in how flat the pre-twentieth century “shaft”” appears. Almost all of them supported the IPCC conclusion that the warmest decade in 1,000 years was probably at the end of the twentieth century.
The first decade of the twentieth century [sic: wrong century] was even warmer than the last decade of the twentieth century and scientists have seen a leveling off of the rise in temperature in the past several months of the year 2011, which ironically has been attributed to coal-fired power plants in China and India that emit sulphur aerosols that have slowed the warming trend. Of course, this is a temporary situation [what is? why?] and not a good environmental one, because the coal-fired power plants are using high-sulphur coal and emitting sulphur into the atmosphere which in turn is causing acid rainfall and adding to ocean acidification.
Actually, the appearance of “climategate” in web searches and the occasional article one hears about or comes across, is a relic or an anachronistic episode still being held on to by skeptics and deniers. In March of 2010, The British House of Commons Science and Technology committee released results of their investigation of the scandal that revealed nothing in the emails conflicted with the scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity.”
And that’s it.
Remember that this chapter on the hockeystick (and also on Climategate, though that wasn’t announced) is aimed at college students who have probably never seen the words “anachronistic”, “dendrochronology”, “proxy” or “IPCC” in their lives.
They will have already met the term “Climategate”’ which occurs under the heading “Affected Weather” in the paragraph preceding the Hockey stick chapter. That paragraph reads:
In 2009 a large number of emails between scientists were stolen and released on the Internet, many of them altered or selectively edited [really?]. This illegal act has been dubbed “Climategate” and because of its influence in the “debate” about climate change and global warming, warrants further discussion in later chapters.
What could a normal reader make of this? After a ten-page race through the physics of climate he suddenly comes to a story of “an anachronistic episode”, stolen emails, a graph that “became a favourite of the denialist group”, twelve more graphs “broadly similar to the original” graph, and a British House of Commons committee which announced that nothing was wrong.
Dendrochronology? IPCC 2001 AR3 (TAR)? Anachronistic? House of Commons? What’s that? What possible reaction could a normal American college student have except: “What are these guys hiding?”