Don Easterbrook knowingly misleads Washington State Senate

by Gareth on April 9, 2013

Don Easterbrook, the retired Western Washington University geologist who has made something of a second career out of misunderstanding the Greenland temperature record, appears to be happy to play a very public role in local politics, testifying on climate issues before a Washington State Senate committee last month (video here). His evidence was so far off the mark that his former colleagues at Western Washington University’s geology department felt compelled to go on record in an op-ed for The Bellingham Herald disowning Don’s presentation. Dan McShane has the full story, but here’s a telling little extract from the piece:

Easterbrook’s views, as exemplified by his Senate presentation, are a stark contrast to that standard; they are filled with misrepresentations, misuse of data and repeated mixing of local vs. global records. Nearly every graphic in the hours-long presentation to the Senate was flawed, as was Easterbrook’s discussion of them.

Quite a slap-down for Easterbrook. One of his most egregious misrepresentations was — as you might expect — of the Greenland ice core evidence:

Easterbrook’s definition of “present temperature” in the graph is based on the most recent data point in that record, which is actually 1855, more than 150 years ago when the world was still in the depths of the Little Ice Age, and well before any hint of human-caused climate change.

I watched that section of Easterbrook’s evidence with some interest (starts at 22:48 in the video stream). He points to one of his standard graphs of the GISP2 ice core temperature record, and explicitly tells the senate hearing that the last data point is “the present” — as noted by the WWU faculty above. Don gave this evidence on March 26th.

But on March 11th and 13th, Easterbrook posted articles at µWatts in which he explicitly acknowledged that some allowance would have to be made to bring the temperatures up to date. Amusingly, he not only gets the dates (and temperature allowance) wrong (as I noted at the time), he is inconsistent — referring in the first article to the last data point being 95 years ago, and in the second claiming it is 1950.

Set aside his incompetence and inconsistencies: what this means is that two weeks before he gave his Senate evidence, he knew that he should not refer to the end of that GISP2 temperature curve as “right now”, but he went right ahead and did it anyway. In other words, he knowingly misrepresented the data to the senate hearing. No wonder his erstwhile colleagues are so keen to distance themselves from him.

[See also: Hot Whopper notes that Denier Don is Angry, and refers to an attempt to support Easterbrook by David Deming at µWatts. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Deming's piece is rubbish, and Easterbrook's serial philandering with the facts is indefensible.]

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

John Mashey April 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

Ahh, David Deming. For some history, see False variants of IPCC 1990 Fig.7.1(c) and the Deming Tale.

If you are truly dedciated, you might read his book, but at least peruse his WIkipedia page or take a look at his testimony for Inhofe. Trust me, that’s wortth it, a clear compatriot for Easterbrook.

Thomas April 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for the pointers. The Wikipedia page paints a rather stark picture of Deming as a Sexist, gun promoting libertarian cornucopist who believes that sustainability is a chimera… (uh the logic… so we are dammed then to perish as we must be unsustainable in our practices??)
I guess he mistakes calls for a sustainable technology with developmental stasis. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact the drive for a sustainable future must surely begin with questioning and abandoning those practices with are evidently not sustainable and push for the development of those that can be. This is where the technological progress that Deming is so sure off must lead us. Fossil fuel consumption and dependency would rank top of the list of unsustainable practices, much to Deming’s dislike.

CTG April 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I would have thought it would be smart for the likes of Willard and Stevie to call Easterbrook out on such an obvious mistake. Surely it would give them some credibility as “auditors” to be auditing both sides of the ledger?

But then, they have spent such a lot of effort on the premise that the slightest, tiniest hint of an error in climate scientists’ work is proof of corruption and conspiracy, that they now cannot conceive of the notion of an honest mistake. If they were to point out that Easterbrook had made an error, they would, by their own standards, have to accuse him of fraud. And so they defend the indefensible.

bill April 10, 2013 at 10:43 pm

NAE: Never Acknowledge Error.

Either your own or your fellow-travellers!

This does make you look rather daft if an error is particularly glaring, and rather worse if the error is persistent-beyond-reason, but the target audience has a childishly-simple world-view, and is perfectly happy to settle for continual Manichean assertions – easier to muster than less accommodating evidence – of our sinlessness and their sin.

Thomas April 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

I guess this is in fact the explanation: All the lies and the fraud of the denier circus are dished up for the specific audience and segment of society who will pay anybody (speaking fees, travel tickets, lavish funding via anonymous donor trusts…) to tell them what they want to hear. Actually acknowledging that our consumer society is killing the planet is well outside anything these audiences can contemplate. So they are desperate to hear that its otherwise and market their skewed world view mostly to themselves. Denial has become a quasi religion where the disciples turn up to the sermon. Not much different to those who need their weekly affirmation that the world was created some 7000 years ago, dinosaur bones and all….

bill April 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Though if His Lordship’s congregations are anything to go by, the Church of Denial ain’t exactly booming! ;-)

Thomas April 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The downward trend of congregation membership seems to be a wider phenomenon… :-)

jh April 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

I see lomborg has special appearance on the david farrar show.
http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/04/lomborg_on_global_warming_costs.html

By the time anyone refutes it will be an old post but the aim is not to have any conclusion just to keep the idea out there.

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