American Elephants

The Battle of the Graphs Provides a Learning Opportunity. by The Elephant's Child
July 10, 2009, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Environment, History, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,


In the battle between the global warming warmists and the global warming skeptics, the center of the battle is well portrayed in these two graphs.  The UN’s IPCC climate models have been based on Michael Mann’s discredited “hockey stick” graph which shows global temperature going along without much change until we reach the 20th century when temperatures climb sharply, much as the blade of a hockey stick does.  (This is illustrated by the shadow of a hockey stick in the background).

Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demolished the hockey stick graph in a number of papers that established that almost any numbers would produce the same configuration.

The elimination of the Medieval Warm Period from around AD 800-1300 made the hockey stick graph produce it’s ‘alarming’ 20th century rise, but conflicted with known history.  It also eliminated the Little Ice Age of more recent history.  Historian Arthur Herman has written about the “killing time”, the years beginning in 1695 when Scots suffered three failed harvests in a row.

“The crops were blighted by easterly “haars” or mists, by sunless, drenching summers, by storms, and by early bitter frosts and late snow in autumn.  For seven years this calamitous weather continued… No one knows how many died during the famine of the Lean Years of 1697-1703, but they probably numbered in the tens of thousands.”

The lower graph represents the climatic changes in Europe over the past thousand years.  The problem with temperatures is that the first mercury thermometer was invented in 1724 by Gabriel Fahrenheit.  Beyond that we have to rely on proxy temperatures from such things as tree rings, ice cores and stalactites.  The American thermometer record was supposed to be the most reliable, but locations of stations have cast doubt on that record, as many are located surrounded by pavement, or next to air-conditioner outlets and other urban “heat island” effects that makes the recorded temperatures too warm and unreliable.

Unfortunately for the hockey stick graph, people in Medieval times wrote about their fine weather and the things that they grew.  The Vikings settled in Greenland and farmed.  Now a new study has indicated that the rapid expansion of the Inca from the Cuzco area of highland Peru produced the largest empire in the new world between approximately AD 1400-1532, and led to the success of Machu Picchu.

A team of English and U.S. scientists has analyzed pollen, seeds and isotopes in core samples taken from the deep mud of a small lake near Machu Picchu.  Their report says that “the success of the Inca was underpinned by a period of warming that lasted more than four centuries.”   At its zenith the Inca culture was bigger than the Ming Dynasty China and the Ottoman Empire, the two major contemporaries.

It is worth mentioning that the entire hoopla about the dangerous warming of the past century is only about one degree of warming.  Since 2002, the earth has been cooling again.  The dangerous warming that requires us to rearrange our whole economy exists only in computer projections based on false history.  GIGO.

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[…] is also a big thing. Take a look at “battle of the graphs” The top graph is the famous “hockey stick” – Northern Hemisphere mean […]


Pingback by On Global Warming « Starik Igolkin's Blog

The “Battle of the Graphs” has been dealt with numerous times; including VisionLearning’s section titled “Misuse of scientific images.”


Comment by Kevin O'Neill

You have been looking at a post from July, 2009, but the two graphs are clearly labeled as to what they represent. The larger point of the piece was Michael Mann’s fraudulent Hockey Stick graph, which point Vision Learning seems to have missed too. Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph was seized on by the IPCC and used in subsequent reports, though it has been thoroughly debunked. You can put random numbers in Mann’s program and still get the uptick at the end. The IPCC is a UN organization, founded to be a political group. It does not do science, it merely collects the work of some scientists, but much of their work has been found to be done by environmental activists. Mann is an embarrassment.

Here’s a list I ran across a couple of days ago from Patrick Moore at (of all places Moonbattery)but the list is accurate, and Patrick Moore is a widely respected climate scientist.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

“the rapid expansion of the Inca…between approximately AD 1400-1532…. Their report says that “the success of the Inca was underpinned by a period of warming that lasted more than four centuries.”

But but but, the MWP in the graph ends around the year 1400… it’s almost like the MWP and the Inca Warm Period are regional climatic changes, that don’t reflect global changes in climate, and are actually of very little relevance to our current situation, or the question of whether the current temperature is unprecedented in the recent past…..

“It is worth mentioning that the entire hoopla about the dangerous warming of the past century is only about one degree of warming.”

Funny you should say that – the temperature range on the MWP graph you put up is just slightly over 1° from the height of the MWP to the depths of the Little Ice Age. And yet that is apparently the difference between farming in Greenland and the ‘killing time’.


Comment by Danwolf

A few thoughts:

1/ The Hockey Stick has NOT been debunked, and every subsequent study that addresses the same turf has confirmed and expanded upon its findings.
2/ Your two graphs are apples and oranges. The bottom one is just Europe, and is therefore not helpful in understanding global, as opposed to local, climate patterns.
3/ For more, see:


Comment by claimsguy

Yes, the two graphs are apples and oranges, not because the bottom one is Europe, but because the top one is completely false. If the Europe graph is accurate, and it is, the top graph cannot be true, and is obviously not because it eliminates the MWP. You are missing the complete point of the article. Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick debunked the hockey stick graph. Their results are replicable and have been repeatedly shown to be true. Alarmist global warming is a cult, or a religion, but not science. But enormous amounts of money and careers rest on it’s being true.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

“Patrick Moore is a widely respected climate scientist.”



Comment by The Elephant's Toe

The problem with your assertion, and that is all that it is, that the top graph is completely false is simple. It is not completely false, it is an early effort to analyze global temperature proxy data with a method which tended to suppress annual and decadal scale variations. However, the original graph had very large error bars which led the original paper to state “the medieval warm period may have approached the mid 20th century in warmth” (paraphrase). As another commenter has stated pretty much every competent study (and at least one incompetent one after the boneheaded errors in it were corrected) have shown that the story told by the original Mann papers was essentially correct. And BTW, the top graph is a fairly inaccurate representation of the original graph as well as the version used in the IPCC Third Assessment Report.

Then you go on to make a fatuously incorrect statement that “IPCC climate models have been based on Michael Mann’s discredited “hockey stick” graph”. This is silly. The models used by researchers to produce projections for the IPCC are based on physics and not statistics. The processes that create an increase in global temperature with the addition of CO2 are not programmed into it — as you seem to imply — but rather are the results of known physics programmed into the model.

Next, the lower graph is a completely misrepresented version of a graph from the IPCC First Assessment Report, graph 7.1(c). This has been traced to a graph, really a sketch, from Hubert Lamb originally done in 1965 and updated in 1982:

The problems with the version you chose to use are twofold: first there is no temperature scale associated with the original, only a zero point, second the original ended in 1950, not 2000.

So, those are the errors in you first paragraph.


Comment by Rattus Norvegicus

Plus, the Y axis is different on the two, in terms of the space between each one degree increment. The Y-axis on the lower graph is clearly stretched relative to the upper graph, making the medieval warming look much bigger than the 20th century warming. The main learning point is to ignore this graphic.


Comment by Hautbois

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