Planetologist Of The Week
Monte Hieb, sometime West Virginia Office of Miner’s Safety chief engineer, can scarcely be accused of neutrality in the Climate Wars. Deservedly celebrated for his web site on the fossils of the coal measures of Appalachia, the amateur climate scientist has created a truly remarkable graph for The National Center for Policy Analysis "Global Warming Primer".
may have a case to make, but Hieb's peculiar history of palaeoclimate seems an improbable tool for recruiting scientists to the fossil fuel cause-- it rivals the Creation Museum's take on geochronology.
Hieb's Kindergarten approach to radiative forcing by water vapor had atmospheric science professionals laughing long before he tried his hand at finger painting palaeoclimate . The Primer's cut and paste counterfeits of curves generated by mathematical models are all too reminiscent of the statistical shenanigans that led to the 'Hockey Stick' affair being denounced by Center chairman Pete DuPont in his Wall Street Journal column.
The Primer asks "Is there a relationship between CO2 and global temperature over the Earth's history ?" but the graphic answer provided its rhetorical question wildly exaggerates some extremes of palaeoclimate while ignoring the climate record of today. Yet Dallas's NCPA deserves the thanks of all Texans-- The Global Warming Primer may temporarily drive Aggie jokes out of circulation.
This harsh judgment stems from the Primer's poor timing - the latest peer reviewed assessment of CO2 past by palaeoclimatologists who respect the data instead of playing statistical games with it appeared on the same day as Hieb's latest ,and most Orwellian, attempt to rewrite geological history :
Coupling of surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Palaeozoic era
- Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA
- Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario KIN 6N5, Canada
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Newfoundland A1B
- Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada
- Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Waquoit, Massachusetts 02536, USA
1, 2, 3. Given that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, it has been proposed that surface temperatures were significantly higher during the earlier portions of the Palaeozoic era1. A reconstruction of tropical sea surface temperatures based on the 18O of carbonate fossils indicates, however, that the magnitude of temperature variability throughout this period was small4, suggesting that global climate may be independent of variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Here we present estimates of sea surface temperatures that were obtained from fossil brachiopod and mollusc shells using the 'carbonate clumped isotope' method5—an approach that, unlike the 18O method, does not require independent estimates of the isotopic composition of the Palaeozoic ocean. Our results indicate that tropical sea surface temperatures were significantly higher than today during the Early Silurian period (443–423 Myr ago), when carbon dioxide concentrations are thought to have been relatively high, and were broadly similar to today during the Late Carboniferous period (314–300 Myr ago), when carbon dioxide concentrations are thought to have been similar to the present-day value. Our results are consistent with the proposal that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations drive or amplify increased global temperatures1,Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations seem to have been several times modern levels during much of the Palaeozoic era (543–248 million years ago), but decreased during the Carboniferous period to concentrations similar to that of today