Heartland’s Big Book Of Lies About Climate Change cuts no ice, thanks to Don Easterbrook

Over the weeks since the release of the first section of the IPCC’s Fifth Report, the Heartland Institute — the Chicago-based extreme right wing and free-market propaganda outfit that has done so much to promote climate denial — has been trying to get media traction for its latest Not-the-IPCC report (NIPCC: the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), Climate Change Reconsidered 2: Physical Science. Heartland describes CCR2 as…

… an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the current state of climate science.

The truth is somewhat more prosaic. CCR2, like its predecessors, is an extended effort in cherry-picking and misdirection designed to demonstrate that, as Heartland puts it:

…the human effect is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.

For a detailed take-down of the NIPCC’s main arguments, take a look at Graham Wayne’s Notes for Educators, prepared as a response to an effort by Heartland to push CCR2 to schools in the US. Wayne notes:

The NIPCC report is akin to a confidence trick. It is pseudo-science, badly presented, made difficult to assess or check, and depends on ‘blinding the reader with science’ that may look credible until you actually try to verify those claims against the peer-reviewed published literature.

Climate statistician Tamino was equally unimpressed, suggesting that the NIPCC would be better designated the ICP – for Intentional Cherry-Picking in service of a predetermined conclusion.

My interest in the latest NIPCC “report” was piqued by the discovery that Don Easterbrook, the retired geologist with a long track record of misunderstanding and misrepresenting the Greenland ice core temperature record, was the lead author of chapter 5, Observations: The Cryosphere [pdf]. The NIPCC is clearly not blessed with an overabundance of qualified authors if they have to rely on Easterbrook as an expert on the cryosphere. Worse, his co-authors are two other retired geologists with little or no domain expertise: Cliff Ollier from Western Australia, and Bob Carter, a marine stratigrapher and all-purpose climate denier who never saw an argument against warming that he didn’t like1.

My first reaction to a quick skim through the chapter was pretty much the same as everybody else: this was cherry-picking taken to an extreme. To make sure that I was on the right track, I asked two real ice experts — Greenland maven Jason Box, and glaciologist Mauri Pelto — to take a quick look. Their reaction was scathing.

Here’s Box:

Multiple independent lines of observation from satellite, aircraft, and ground surveys indicate a strong imbalance of land ice that results in the observed increasing rate of sea level. Easterbrook and co-authors lie about this fact among many others in the NIPCC report’s shameless mockery of earth science.

Pelto found a couple of amazing counterfactual statements:

NIPCC: “Research on mountain glaciers worldwide has failed to provide evidence for unnatural glacial retreat in the late twentieth century.” (p633)

Pelto: Twenty one consecutive years of global mass balance loss and the disappearance of so many glaciers, is hardly natural. See World Glacier Monitoring Service reports.

NIPCC: “Recent satellite-borne geophysical measurements suggest Greenland, like Antarctica, is in a state of approximate mass balance”. (p632)

Pelto: This is hardly borne out by Howat and Eddy (2011, pdf). “We find that 90% of the observed glaciers retreated between 2000 and 2010, approaching 100% in the northwest, with rapid retreat observed in all sectors of the ice sheet.”

So far, so bad. But what about Easterbrook? His fingerprints are all over several sections of the chapter, and many of the graphics. For example, Figure 5.12.1 (p709) bears a striking resemblance to earlier Easterbook efforts:


I first encountered that graph in an article of Easterbrook’s — Magnitude and rate of climate changes — posted at µWatts in January 2011. As I pointed out at the time, there are numerous errors in Easterbrook’s analysis of the GISP2 data — and one of them is made explicit in this two and half year old chart. If you want the full details, refer to my older post and its antecedents, but Easterbrook’s legend for the time series refers to “years before present (2000 AD)”. Unfortunately, the “present” in the time series he’s using is defined by long standing convention as 1950. This was pointed out to him at the time, both by me and in the comments under his article at µWatts. He can have no excuse, other than shoddy scholarship, for simply reusing the graph without correcting the error.

There are other interesting “parallels” between the µWatts article and the NIPCC report. Large chunks of the latter appear to be lightly edited versions of the µWatts “original”. Consider these two paragraphs:

µWatts 2011 original: The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was a time of warm climate from about 900–1300 AD when global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present. Its effects were particularly evident in Europe where grain crops flourished, alpine tree lines rose, many new cities arose, and the population more than doubled. The Vikings took advantage of the climatic amelioration to colonize Greenland, and wine grapes were grown as far north as England where growing grapes is now not feasible and about 500 km north of present vineyards in France and Germany. Grapes are presently grown in Germany up to elevations of about 560 meters, but from about 1100 to 1300 A.D., vineyards extended up to 780 meters, implying temperatures warmer by about 1.0 to 1.4° C (Oliver, 1973, Tkachuck, 1983). Wheat and oats were grown around Trondheim, Norway, suggesting climates about one degree C warmer than present (Fagan, 2007).

NIPCC 2013: The Medieval Warm Period (900–1300 AD) that followed was marked by global temperatures warmer than at present, as indicated by the flourishing of grain crops, elevation of alpine tree lines, and building of many new towns and cities as the European population more than doubled. The Vikings took advantage of the climatic amelioration to colonize Greenland in 985 AD, when milder climates allowed favorable open-ocean conditions for navigation and fishing. Wine grapes were grown about 500 km north of present vineyards in France and Germany, and also in the north of England (Oliver, 1973; Tkachuck, 1983). Wheat and oats were grown around Trondheim, Norway, suggesting climates about one degree C warmer than the present (Fagan, 2009).

The words highlighted in green are identical between the two pieces of text, and the exact sequence most of the other elements of the original are maintained in the NIPCC report version.

Most amusingly, given that the NIPCC is committed to presenting the Medieval Climate Anomaly as both global and warmer than at present, is Easterbrook’s change to his first sentence: in 2011 “global temperatures were apparently somewhat warmer than at present”, but by 2013 he has become much more certain.

However hard you look, you won’t find a reference to the µWatts original in the NIPCC report, only to Easterbrook’s 2011 remarkable2 Elsevier book, Evidence-Based Climate Science: Data opposing CO2 emissions as the primary source of global warming (Amazon listing), where the error-ridden graph appears as Fig 24 on page 24. A little later in the book, on page 26, we find the above text from Easterbrook’s µWatts article repeated in full3.

Apart from being too lazy to correct an error from the beginning of 2011 for his book published nine months later, or this year’s NIPCC report4, Easterbrook appears to be a serial self-plagiarist with little or no concern for the accuracy of the stuff he publishes.

Life is too short to dig much further into the NIPCC’s misrepresentation of the state of our knowledge about the earth’s cryosphere and its response to warming, but its reliance on the “work” of Don Easterbrook is a telling indication that it is far from being the “scholarly report” its publishers claim. It is a parody of the IPCC, an inversion of the scientific process. It is the Heartland Institute’s Big Book Of Lies About Climate Change, and will be deservedly ignored by the reality it so badly traduces.

[Thanks to Jason Box and Mauri Pelto for taking time to look over the NIPCC chapter. It’s time they’ll never get back…]

  1. Carter is also one of the lead authors of the full report. []
  2. See my post from October 2011 on the contents and authors, who include Monckton and blogger Steven Goddard! []
  3. See the Amazon listing for the book, then click on the “look inside” feature, and scroll down. []
  4. Or even for a blog post published at µWatts today! []

37 thoughts on “Heartland’s Big Book Of Lies About Climate Change cuts no ice, thanks to Don Easterbrook”

  1. The sad reality is that private individuals with no reputation left to lose can lie to their hearts content in which ever fashion they want – in contrast to real scientists with a valued reputation and being paid by public money.

    And the really sad story is, that we live in a time and age where rubbish such as this book will find open doors in a large number of gullible individuals, just as the heinous 3rd Reich propaganda fell on fertile grounds in the similar parts of the intellectually challenged right wing fraction of society last century.

    As the saying goes: “Although it is not true that all [right wingers] conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are [right wingers] conservative.”
    John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)

    The NIPCC reports, stupids, are made just for you! Enjoy!

  2. They really don’t care about lying. Just keep pumping it out there and even sensible people in the press and TV will continue to say that there is a lot of doubt. It worked with the tobacco industry and how many people did that kill? This time its not so easy to get away with it. Even a journalist can tap in a few questions on a computer and get some clues to what is going on.

  3. I think the truth lies somewhere between the IPCC and the NIPCC. There is a lot of talk about the slowdown in warming and how this may be related to sun activity. The IPCC does not appear to have a genuine explaination for this so the possibility the effect of co2 has been exaggerated. The IPCC also largely overlooks the many positives a warming globe and increased co2 might bring, particulary on food production. The NIPCC also appear to understate some issues. It’s a shame climate science is so polarised that they all can’t get in a room and discuss each others positions on merit. It’s a bit premature to accuse either party of lying unless you can prove that they know their research in incorrect. I suspect they just have a different view to you. Not a crime.

    1. Murray, you show not the slightest inclination to understand anything about this topic, so your self-satisfied musings are scarcely overwhelmingly persuasive. It doubtlessly seems ‘obvious’ to you that reality is constrained to be bound by the limits of your unstudied incredulity; some of us, on the other hand, rather doubt it.

      Likewise, some of us are less persuaded of the Solomonic character of those who, pitching themselves between the 2 schools – one of whom hold 2+2 to yield 4, and the other 5 – chuckle contentedly to themselves at the sagacity of their result, this being 4.5 (but always rather higher if pressed.)

    2. ” The IPCC does not appear to have a genuine explaination for this”…
      What complete nonsense Murray!

      Don’t make grandiose assertions about matters you evidently are clueless. The “so called slowdown in warming” is a mirage entirely. The heat accumulation of the planet has been marching along unabated and in fact accelerated over the past decade.

      This article explains it nicely to you: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/oct/18/global-warming-pause-meaning

      The NIPCC folk are simply cobbling together cherry picked nonsense so that their fellowship of deniers can have something to hang onto.

    3. I don’t think you understand what the IPCC is. It may be an UN organisation but it consists of 3500 individual scientists from many different countries and disciplines, all unpaid for their work. You seem to think it is like a government agency such as the CIA which can be manipulated to come up with a policy..

    4. Murray is wrong on just about everything he posts:

      The IPCC also largely overlooks the many positives a warming globe and increased co2 might bring, particulary on food production

      The SPM for the AR5 WGII has just been leaked and it does not support your nonsense about food availability. It paints a very bleak future if we continue to release huge quantities of GHG’s.


  4. So have scientists been recording deep sea temperature data for the last century or so? How could they have enough data or even thermometers to truly understand deep ocean temperature trends? This seems like a case of modelling being confused with actual evidence again.

    There are multiple views on which way the climate is going. Googling the below article describes a different perspective.

    Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists …

    1. Your link does not work but I suspect it is one of the many misunderstandings perpetrated in the media as a result of comments by a scientist name of Lockwood who was talking about the probability of another maunder minimum this century. Here is Lockwood’s actual position:

      “[T]he likely reduction in the warming by 2100 is found to be between 0.06 and 0.1 [degrees Celsius], a very small fraction of the projected anthropogenic warming.”

      That is the heat trapping power of greenhouse gasses greatly exceeds the influence of probable short term solar variability. That’s been known for a long time.

      Readers who want a better insight into this latest piece of media silliness could look at this story titled “Climate scientists don’t think we are heading for another “Little Ice Age””

  5. Murray is, of course, the exact audience for whom all this cherry-picked nonsense is being packaged in the first place. Donothingism relies precisely on his brand of ill-informed, faux-‘centrist’ complacency.

    What a shameful piece of denier chum would otherwise have been found at the Telegraph link Murray failed to properly make and test – google it, you’ll find it easily, because he’s just regurgitating it pat.

    This is one of these pieces of (dated) Dork Fodder that claims the UN was forced to hold a ‘crisis meeting’ in the face of the leaked IPCC reports, yada yada yada, and probably comes from a GWPF press-release – something of a staple at this ludicrous ‘newspaper’, the home of James ‘There Just Aren’t Enough Bullets’ Delingpole. It’s false. And anyone who’s been paying attention knows it’s false. Anyone who’s read a report summary knows it’s false.

    And you really have to be genuinely statistically ignorant to believe that the ‘recovery’ of Arctic sea-ice after the record low of 2012 heralds anything other than a short-lived regression to a steadily-declining mean, let alone some sort of ice-age!

    In fact, it was the endorsement of this staggeringly obtuse claim that made me realize that Murdoch really has imbibed just as much Kool-Aid as his minions, whereas I’d hitherto overestimated him – I thought he was a cynical manipulator who knew full-well the reality of the situation but was serving his own interests regardless…

    1. According to latest research our Galaxy contains at least 2 Billion habitable planets similar to Earth…. Gulp!

      That means that there are a few less excuses for the Fermi Paradox to come up without ‘contactable’ civilizations other than those we’d rather not contemplate. This makes the outcome that potential civilizations are likely crashing into some wall or the other when developing planet modding technology such as burning fossil fuels for the short term energy bonanza they provide much more likely.

      So in the end the ‘Murrays’ of the world are a plausible answer to the Fermi Paradox.

      Hooray Murray, you might become famous!

  6. The more I read on climate change the less concerned I get. The sceptical scientists and commentators do make a strong argument. Clearly media are reporting on the sceptical position much more too these days. Even governments are starting to roll back green policy as voters tire of excessive energy costs and job losses. If the momentum is with any side it is with those sceptic liars, so right or wrong they are winning. If I was to try and explain why, I’d have to simply say their arguments seem more plausible. Anyone suggesting 2m of sea level rise or 4 degree temperature rise by 2100 is in dreamland.

    1. “Anyone suggesting 2m of sea level rise or 4 degree temperature rise by 2100 is in dreamland.”….
      Well, that puts – according to Murray, who ‘knows’ all this by reading the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup – the vast majority of all experts into dreamland then.
      On politicians and climate change, perhaps you want to read President Obama’s speech on the matter.

      We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. (Applause.) Sticking your head [Murray] in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we [you too Murray!] will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.

      [implied consequences with regards to the little Murray trolls of our time mine]

  7. I think I would have to agree with Murray, the sceptics are winning. Even my work colleagues are pointing out to me things like, but the “Antarctic is gaining ice”, or the “glaciers started melting well before the industrial era, so we might just be going through a normal cycle…”. One wonders how they manage to pick all that up unless through the arduous efforts of the denialists at getting the message through far and wide on the net and through our hapless newsmedia, while the real scientists with the rebuttals hardly ever get heard or noticed.

  8. Yes, well, congratulations, Murray, on playing your small part in one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in human history!

    And yes, you’re right, Murray, just as soon as you and all the other ‘skeptics’ have voted in new laws of physics, all will certainly be well.

    Funny thing is there’ll be job losses galore and energy prices will mystifyingly continue to rise, but, never fear; no major media proprietor or corporate thinktank will be telling him he need care about that, so Murray may rest content…

    That for many for ‘thinking’ is merely a process of comfortably rearranging prejudices is not something anyone can do much about… it may, indeed, explain why if civilizations have risen time and again across the galaxy, we’ve never heard from them!

  9. ” It’s a shame climate science is so polarised that they all can’t get in a room and discuss each others positions on merit”


    Murray – do you think 3500 climate scientists around the globe haven’t already done this! That is why it take 5 years from one IPCC report to the next. It is a report based upon the CONSENSUS of specialists in their field, reviewing all the data, all the thousands of peer reviewed work, and coming to a position that can be accepted by them all. When you sit back and think about it calmly you can see that each Report must take an essentially conservative position – because it must be acceptable to many different people. that is the nature of consensus (which you advocate in your comment). That fact that the twits who call themselves the NIPCCare NOT taken into consideration is because by and large they are NOT practicing climate scientist and almost without exception have no peer reviewed publication on climate science between them. The are essentially a non-entity.

    1. Yeah, I know, it’s gobsmacking, isn’t it, Macro?

      How could we have failed to grasp that it’s the sheer, pulverizing inanity of Murray’s ludicrously facile take on impartiality that means he must be right?!

      Because if this kind of half-arsed, half-educated superficiality was as dangerous as it appears to be we’d be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t we? And that just couldn’t be true, now, could it?

      I shall now lie awake at night wondering how I could have been so stupid as to credit 150 years of atmospheric physics, 97% of the world’s qualified and published climate scientists, all the world’s academies of science, and the CSIRO, BoM and NIWA.

      When I could be believing, what, a few dozen aging conservatives assembled by a tobacco-lobby think tank? Silly me…

      I call on you too, Macro, to see the error of your ways, and to renounce the vanity of rationality. If only we were as level-headed and impartial as Murray, the world would be a better place.

      If ignorance is bliss – and who who has been burdened with knowledge his neighbours prefer to ignore can doubt it? – Murray has shown us the way to paradise… as our beloved new PM here in the Wide Brown Land says, repent!

  10. The only thing that changes peoples minds is cost and disaster. The droughts floods and the Sandy hurricane gave belief a bit of life but then we get a quiet period and the deniers gain ground. Hurricanes are apparently not caused by climate change but they are very spectacular and focus the mind wonderfully. We need three in the USA in quick succession to flood the oil refineries in the Gulf and then they will take it seriously for a few weeks.

    1. Sad but true Bob….

      Take this sad bit of commentary from the Boston Globe following the link Gareth provides on the Hot Twitter re Willie Soon:

      “Yet that global scientific consensus is changing few minds in Congress. By latest count, 127 US representatives and 30 senators believe that global warming is not happening or, if it is, that human activity is not the cause, according to a tally by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal advocacy group.

      Voter surveys also show a divided public. Gallup, the polling firm, said this year that 57 percent of Americans surveyed believe global warming is a man-made phenomenon, while 39 percent say it is due to natural causes.

      This muddled picture has made congressional action all but impossible.

      The Senate killed comprehensive climate-change legislation in 2010 after the House passed the bill, which was co-authored by then-representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts. Markey said the bill failed because “polluters manufactured a blizzard of industry-funded doubt. If not for that, the climate bill would have passed.””

  11. I challenge you Ian to give me any evidence why we should be worried about food production. Food production is increasing year on year as population increases. What is earths perfect tempreture anyway? Is it the current temperature, 1 deg cooler, or 1 degree warmer? Humans are doing better now than ever before and have prospered as the climate has warmed. It’s a very bold person to state that any further warming will lead to our demise. The IPCC is trying to convince us we are in peril while all other indicators point towards longer and more prosperous lives. Sometimes we have to pull our heads out of our scientific papers and just look around, the real world is doing great even if the models say it’s not.

    1. Sorry, Murray, but I’m sick of this.

      Your neural-outsourcing is tiresome. You dump a Denier/cornucopian meme, you get refuted, you make it clear you have no defence, you just dump something else.

      Here’s an idea! Why don’t you read the relevant IPCC document, especially if it’s been conveniently leaked for you?

      To my mind your pollyannaish arguments from personal incredulity are a waste of time and effort all ’round. Yes, yours too. Believe what you want – you clearly do, anyway.

      And we take the point there are a lot of people like you, hence you’re ‘winning’ – as I say, as soon as you vote in new laws of physics there won’t be any problems, will there?

    2. Murray, you are ignorant about science. Here is just one instance where global warming is hurting agriculture. There are many more if you were only smart enough to find them for your self.

      People like you are just despicable and are only interested in getting what they can for them selves and screw everyone else. Pathetic.


      Note these effects are happening now not some time in the future.

    3. Murray said: “I challenge you Ian to give me any evidence why we should be worried about food production”.

      Sorry Murray, you got that backwards: Its YOU that needs to be challenged to show us evidence that proves that the IPCC is wrong in its serious concerns about the ability to produce enough food in the times ahead. So where is any evidence that you could provide us with?

    4. Gosh, Murray, don’t they have Google where you come from?

      Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

      The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.

      Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5m people a year, the report found.

      The 331-page study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet and published on Wednesday, was carried out by the DARA group, a non-governmental organisation based in Europe, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. It was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments.

      By 2030, the researchers estimate, the cost of climate change and air pollution combined will rise to 3.2% of global GDP, with the world’s least developed countries forecast to bear the brunt, suffering losses of up to 11% of their GDP.”


  12. All I’m saying guys is that many of the more apocalyptic predictions run counter to current trends of increasing prosperity and well being around the world. I really can’t say what the climate will do in future, I can say however we will adapt and prosper as we have always done. If we can fly to to moon I’m sure we work out how to keep food on the table.

    1. We have worked out how to keep food on the table. You may be surprised to learn this but the answer is to minimise anthropogenic climate change through the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses. We know how to do this through the progressive adoption of lower and zero carbon power sources, and energy efficiency measures.

    2. Beaker got it nailed: We know what we would need to do to morph our current unsustainable ways towards a future where we can maintain what is most important to our well being and survival: A healthy and diverse ecosystem, a stable climate, and a stable ocean chemistry that promotes a productive ocean system.

      So how about Murray you begin to move your own position and that of your peers towards joining the move towards the vision of a sustainable future. Emitting CO2 at copious quantities will not be part of that future. The task is enormous and we have to make this transition during the coming decades. Humanity will need all hands on deck and backwards peddlers are not helpful and will be left in the dust.

    3. We didn’t always ‘survive and prosper’ – see episodes such as the Black Death, the Mayan collapse, the fall of Rome, and further back, population bottlenecks like from the Toba eruption, or when all of humanity was compressed down into southern Africa during the ice ages. And that’s only for the few million years ‘we’ have been around – climate excursions in the more distant past have been well outside anything hominids had to put up with.
      We can’t fly to the moon at the moment, either.

  13. Ooops, another denier talking point bites the dust!

    Comprehensive study shows cosmic rays are not causing global warming

    An analysis of more than 50 years’ worth of climate data has found scant evidence for a controversial theory that attempts to link cosmic rays and global warming. The theory suggests that solar variations can affect the number of cosmic rays reaching the Earth, which in turn influences climate by impacting on cloud formation. The latest study was done by Rasmus Benestad of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and he concludes that changes to the Sun cannot explain global warming.


    NB: Murray, if you read this article, you will see that real scientists look for evidence that disproves their theories. In this case, the data shows a possible correlation with temperature in one region of the Earth (Eastern Europe), and the researchers discuss possible mechanisms for this.

    This is the exact opposite of the desperate cherry-picking that deniers, such as the authors of the ‘NIPCC Report”, invariably engage in.

  14. On another often heard point that is contested by deniers: Are extreme weather events getting worse and more frequent?
    While one extreme Typhoon is not in itself prove of anything, this one that is just bearing down on the Philippines is regarded as the ‘Worst Typhoon on Record’ with record breaking wind speeds of over 300km/h….
    According to the opinion of reputable climate scientists we will need to brace ourselves for this type of events to become more frequent.
    This Typhoon is the 24th storm hitting the Philippines this year already!

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