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Oreskes and Dr Karl Part 2

Here is the second part of the BBC's show featuring Naomi Oreskes and Dr Karl.  This is extremely disreputable stuff - you will hear Naomi Oreskes say that the Medieval Warm Period was restricted to Europe (don't think so) and the current warming is greater in magnitude. You will also hear Oreskes engage in a particularly grubby smear of Henrik Svensmark and then, to add insult to injury, you will hear Dr Karl say that Svensmark's work was debunked a decade ago (in the week that it was experimentally confirmed!).

Even more remarkably, Dr Karl claims that the worst finding the CRU inquiries made was that scientists were not nice to each other - really!! Maybe he thinks a finding that "hide the decline" was "misleading" is just not serious at all. Amazing stuff. Do people in Australia find Dr Karl a credible source of information?

Oreskes & Karl Part 2

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Reader Comments (36)

Looking for honesty from Oreskes is a little like looking for toenails on a salmon.

May 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

D'you know, I really can't listen. My weakness is that I tear my hair out!

May 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

I wouldn't worry about it. As a regular listener to Dr Karl, I enjoy his programmes. Despite his acadaemic credentials, he doesn't use much more than an average 'A' level student in posession of enough chemistry, biology & physics to apply first principles to random problems. Nobody takes him that seriously - he's just another presenter but with a nice Ozzie accent. Probably a nice bloke to have a few tinnies with, too.

No, the main reason I listen is for the calls from such as 'Tony from Doncaster'. Some are quite thought provoking & others provide much laughter. Dr Karl's pronouncements are incidental.

To close . . . the best advice I was ever given by my late dad was; "Never argue with an idiot. People watching soon lose track of which is which". After much experimentation and suffering in the cause of science, I have discovered that he was right.


May 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRay

"The one important thing I have learnt over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking oneself seriously. The first is imperative and the second disastrous." - Ray Bradbury

I think these 'scientists' have it 180 degrees wrong -- they're so invested in their own egos that matters of professional truth and integrity have largely ceased to have meaning for them.

May 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

What birdbrained twitterings, you'd get more sense from two common or garden house sparrows.

May 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan


To close . . . the best advice I was ever given by my late dad was; "Never argue with an idiot. People watching soon lose track of which is which". After much experimentation and suffering in the cause of science, I have discovered that he was right.

Your father was a wise man.

May 22, 2011 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

DR Karl and 100m Robin Williams are a minor irritant. Today (Monday), the believer newspaper Sydney Morning Herald / The (Melbourne) Age have just released a tragic nonsense press release by Prof Will Steffen (CSIRO Chief Climate Change Clown), Tim Flannery (Climate Change Commisioner - Kommisar) and the relevant idiot Minister, Bill Shorten, telling the most alarmist nonsense yet - backed up by the paper's stupidest "Environment" reporter with a map showing how we'll all be drowned by metres of sea level rise!

It is truly scarry that these so-called educated experts (yet brain dead charlatans) have so much power to ruin our civilisation.

May 22, 2011 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lewis

These are the links which I hope I've placed correctly

Article URL is

and other is

May 22, 2011 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lewis

These are the links which I hope I've placed correctly

Article URL is

and other is


May 22, 2011 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lewis

Apropos the geographical extent of the MWP surely you can do better than linking to E&E. Missed the 'particularly grubby smear ' from Dr Oreskes, at what point was that ?

Pls could you direct me to the 'finding that "hide the decline" was "misleading"' (I think you're referring to muir russell but what page?)

May 22, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

"Apropos the geographical extent of the MWP surely you can do better than linking to E&E. "
If you think the article is incorrect then perhapse you could provide some evidence.

May 22, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

@Eddy I could provide some evidence that E&E follows a political agenda and that it doesn't command the undivided respect of the scientific community.

May 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Ah, the genetic fallacy! Logic aint what it used to be.

May 22, 2011 at 7:32 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Hengist wrote:

> Missed the 'particularly grubby smear ' from Dr Oreskes, at what point was that

Sorry to read about your deafness Hengist. For your benefit: When asked by a caller about Svensmark's theory Oreskes says:

"I think this is a really good example of the lengths that people will go to deny the fact that we have a responsibility here "

She is blatantly accusing Svensmark of having some motivation other than the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. She then goes on to confuse Svensmark's proposed cosmic ray - cloud link with the irrelevant lack of TSI variation.

May 22, 2011 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

I could provide some evidence that E&E follows a political agenda and that it doesn't command the undivided respect of the scientific community.
Go on then, Hengist. Do it. Like so many trolls, you're all mouth. "I could..." and "...some evidence..."
Let's see the evidence, if you have it.
And if Oreskes' comment quoted above is not a smear then kindly explain how we should interpret it.

May 22, 2011 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Thanks Chilli, IMHO that's not a remark aimed at Svensmark. Dr Oreskes uses people in the plural she's not directly criticising Dr Svensmark, rather she is criticising the way his kind of work is cited by lay people to cloud the issues.

May 22, 2011 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Hengist - I'm taking Ray's Dad's advice and agreeing with everything you say. But I have come across some studies which do sometimes make me wonder whether the MWP wasn't just a little local European phenomenon:

MWP - warmer 1000 years ago - Saragasso Sea:

MWP - just as warm 1000 years ago, Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, Nature 2009:

MWP and Minoan warmer - Ice cores - real science -

MWP - Scandinavian Scots pines tree rings study - Dendroclimatology - Improving a tree-ring reconstruction from west-central Scandinavia: 900 years of warm-season temperatures. Björn E. Gunnarson, Hans W. Linderholm and Anders Moberg - warmer/just as warm 900 years ago - abstract and pdf -

MWP - Canadian Rockies - Dendroclimatology - Summer temperatures in the Canadian Rockies during the last millennium: a revised record. B. H. Luckman and R. J. S. Wilson - abstract and pdf - "The reconstruction shows warm intervals, comparable to twentieth century values, for the first half of the eleventh century, the late 1300s and early 1400s. The bulk of the record, however, is below the 1901–1980 normals, with prolonged cool periods from 1200 to 1350 and from 1450 to the late 19th century. The most extreme cool period is observed to be in the 1690s. These reconstructed cool periods compare well with known regional records of glacier advances between 1150 and the 1300s, possibly in the early 1500s, early 1700s and 1800s. Evidence is also presented of the influence of solar activity and volcanic events on summer temperature in the Canadian Rockies over the last 1,000 years." -

And as they say, a good picture is worth a thousand words:

[Historical upper treeline (front) and actual treeline (back) in the Polar Ural, Russia. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL - source: Jan Esper - ]

May 22, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Not that you've ever misrepresented, misunderstood or otherwise 'clouded an issue' eh Hengist?

Shall we go back and look?

May 22, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

My son (who does not thank me) and I have laboriously transcribed a discussion on ABC TV last Tuesday. John Barron hosted a discussion with Waleed Aly, Chris Berg, Naomi Oreskes (spruiking her Merchants of Doubt) and Tom Switzer.
It features many logical fallacies as well as downright lies, and would be good viewing for a drinking game for those with strong stomachs.
It features this:

Naomi Oreskes: To say you’re agnostic about the science to me only makes sense if you in fact have not been paying attention or don’t understand the science, because the scientific evidence is now overwhelming, and anyone who’s paid attention to it, anyone who understands it, anyone who understands the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere knows that scientists predicted climate change from increased greenhouse gases and deforestation going back to the 1950s. They have built models—of course, models are representations of the natural world, they are not the world itself—so, of course, there will always be uncertainties about the details, but the overall picture is overwhelmingly clear, and it’s exactly what scientists have predicted. And if you talk about the IPCC forecasts—my graduates students and I have studied this—we’ve looked at what these scientists have predicted on this issue over the past fifty years, and we find that in most cases scientists have actually underestimated the change: we see sea-level rising faster than predicted; we see overall global temperatures rising faster than predicted; we see sea-surface temperatures in the Caribbean rising faster than predicted. So, if anything, scientists have been conservative on this issue. And now we are seeing the changes all around us.

May 22, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDeadman


Let's ponder an extract from this email exchange between Edward Cook (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) and Thomas Crowley at Texas A&M:

So, at this stage I would argue that the Medieval Warm Period was probably a global extra-tropical event, at the very least, with warmth that was persistent and probably comparable to much of what we have experienced in the 20th century. However, I would not claim (and nor would Jan) that it exceeded the warmth of the late 20th century. We simply do not have the precision or the proxy replication to say that yet. This being said, I do find the dismissal of the Medieval Warm Period as a meaningful global event to be grossly premature and probably wrong. Kind of like Mark Twain's commment that accounts of his death were greatly exaggerated.

There. And from the mouth of an honest-to-goodness climate scientist.

Earlier, in the same email thread, Cook says this:

I have always said that I don't care what answer is found as long as it is the truth or at least bloody close to it.

Admirable sentiments, wouldn't you agree?

May 22, 2011 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I set Dr Karl the following letter. I doubt if he'll Reply!

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki,
c/o ABC

Dear Dr Karl.

I have been entertained and informed by your programme over many years and have always had a high regard for you.

I was disappointed by your fairly prolonged recent series on climate change. You are too intelligent not to know that much of what you and your co-presenter said was misleading and at times simply untrue.

You know the rise in temperature from 1900 to 1940 was more or less the same as the rise between 1975 and 1988. We had no real rise in CO2 before 1945 and a considerable rise after, so CO2 cannot possibly be the whole story.

You discussed the inundation of Sydney as something that might happen next Thursday. You know that if this were to occur it would be many hundreds of years in the future. Consult the IPCC reports.

You know that in the last but one IPCC report there was the statement “We do not know the extent or even the sign of the feedback from clouds on warming.”
(Yes this was in the report. Didn’t make it to the executive summary, though.)

You know that the rotation of the earth (along with the trade winds) moves water vapour and its latent heat from the tropics to temperate areas. Lower latitudes get cooler. Higher latitudes get warmer. The temperature gradient between the poles and the equator lessens, and so does the probability of severe weather events.

You also know that an increased CO2 level spurs the growth of every plant species that has been studied. It also helps plants conserve water. Below 4%, CO2 is not a poison. It is a life-giving gas.

So why injure your reputation with this incredible outpouring of stuff which you can’t possibly believe?

All the best,

Yours sincerely

Jim Petrie

(Associate Professor XXXXXX XXXXXX, M.D., F.R.C.P.E., F.R.A.C.P.)

I am not a climate scientist. Neither are you.
I have authored or co-authored 54 papers in peer reviewed publications.
You have probably written many more.
We both know the difference between bad science and good science. So why do you talk rubbish on the radio?

May 22, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersargon

Bish writes:

Maybe he thinks a finding that "hide the decline" was "misleading" is just not serious at all.

This seems to be part of a standard pattern amongst activist-scientists (and their acolytes and lesser lights) - whenever they finally get around to acknowledging a problem, they will invariably downplay its magnitude, prevalence and/or significance.

This pattern also seems to have reared its head in the formulation of the (heretofore non-existent) IPCC's "Conflict of Interest Policy". In the "Purpose" section one finds (para 4):

The individual and the IPCC should not be placed in a situation that could lead a reasonable person to question, and perhaps discount or dismiss, the work of the IPCC simply because of the existence of a conflict of interest. [emphasis added -hro]

[more at IPCC and conflict of interest: tapping into the team-work side-step]

May 22, 2011 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

they will invariably downplay its magnitude, prevalence and/or significance.

See, for example, the above-mentioned episode of “The Drum” which includes yet another in a long line of “’twas but a typo” excuses:
Tom Switzer: In your book, do you focus on any kind of scandals that have been affiliated with the IPCC, such as the glacier-gate, do you talk about that?
Naomi Oreskes: Well, that happened after our book was finished. But I think the so called glacier-gate was a typographic error. The IPCC reports are thousands of pages long. In any human activity, in any human institution, of course, there will be some mistakes. I’m sure there are some mistakes in your work too, but you haven’t had teams of people—
Tom Switzer: Of course, but I’m not—
Naomi Oreskes: Excuse me, but you haven’t had teams of people scouring it. I actually think that the fact that the IPCC report is thousands of pages long, and the only errors that were found—
Tom Switzer: It was a pretty significant error—
Naomi Oreskes: No, it was a typographical error.
Tom Switzer: No, it was more than that; it was based on dodgy research, from a travelling document, c’mon—
Naomi Oreskes: No, studies have showed that in fact it was a typographical error—
Tom Switzer: Please—
Naomi Oreskes: So—no, not please—it was a typographical error—
Tom Switzer: The IPCC Chairman nearly resigned over the matter. This was a pretty serious issue, wasn’t it, Chris?
Naomi Oreskes: Excuse me, the IPCC chairman was the choice of the Bush administration—
John Barron: [seeing that Oreskes is losing, and resorting to Bush-bashing in her distress] Let’s take a time out on that particular point...

May 22, 2011 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDeadman

Oreskes engaged in an ugly smear against Freeman Dyson a few weeks ago. In CSPAN (US nonpartisan cable TV channel) coverage of a Los Angeles Times book festival, Oreskes was shown explaining Dyson's AGW views as just attention getting by an old man who misses being a focus of attention. "It's important to realize that he's now, 90? 92? ... I think it's important that journalists especially need to understand, scientists are people like everybody else. They get lonely, they crave attention and especially scientists who have been very famous in their earlier period of life and I think sometimes it's hard for them when they start to lose the limelight so I think we've seen that phenomenon here." 4/30/2011 ~11:35AM Pacific Time

Unfortunately, it's socially acceptable in her circles to smear older scientists for their age as long as they're being politically incorrect... don't expect anyone to explain away any of Noam Chomsky's babblling in similar ways and be able to get away with it. This may well echo her treatment of Dyson in print, but I can't imagine spending the time reading her book to find out.

Oreskes would be lucky to have had at some point in her life the intellect that Dyson has left at age 92, but alas, that appears not to be the case.

May 22, 2011 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Goodknight

Wow! Glaciergate was a typographic error!

You know, one can forgive journalists for not getting these kinds of things right. But Oreskes, supposedly, is a historian of science.

This Oreskes person will do more to drive away sensible people from the consensus than what any skeptic could do.

May 23, 2011 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

To answer you question about whether anybody in Australia takes Dr Karl seriously, the only time I ever saw 'Sleek Geeks" was a program on human waste elimation wherein Dr K happily informed the audience that "as a dedicated metrosexual" he always sat down to pee to avoid splashing the floor.

On the other hand, perhaps he was just taking the piss.

May 23, 2011 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterChriscafe

We have to put up with Dr Karl (Kruszelnicki) all the time here in Oz, on the ABC mainly; he is a populist science presenter, not unintelligent, a little polymathic, considered a bit lightweight but he considers himself an expert on almost everything. Bit like the science equivalent of Jamie Oliver – outstaying his welcome and very much over-exposed as a public figure. He is no expert on climate matters. He is with Ms Oreskes in sydney as part of the Sydney Writers Festival, considered a bit of a left-wing writers love-in, so she is flavour of the month on our left-leaning ABC. Oreske's language is not always clear -she speaks of a new piece of adcience - the "Meevil Warm Period"

We should all embrace Dr Karl – not so much an idiot as a sort of leftist savant with some ADD thrown in for good measure.

May 23, 2011 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Derrick

Dr Karl retired from radio for a short time. Founded a political party to fight global warming. Was ignored. Went back to radio.

May 23, 2011 at 2:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

Oreskes was also in NZ for the writers festival.

An article in the NZ Herald here (I counted 7 instances of the D word)

May 23, 2011 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

From the NZ Herald link:

"A sceptic, says Oreskes, is a person who challenges opponents to provide evidence for their beliefs - one who rejects articles of faith and positions that defy refutation in the face of facts. A denialist refuses to believe something no matter what the evidence."

So, with evidence from every continent that they did have something of a warm period corresponding to the MWP, and her apologist stance proclaiming 'glaciergate' to just be a 'typo' despite Pachauri's vigorous denunciation of a paper to the contrary by as "voodoo science" before it all blew up on him, leads me to conclude...

... by her own definitions, Oreskes is a denialist. She'll keep this up no matter what the evidence.

You might recall how AGW was blamed for the shrinking of Andean glaciers, allowing the mummified remains of Inca children sacrificed on the mountaintops to be discovered. I always thought it interesting that the reports didn't make the connection that they glaciers weren't there 500 years ago when the sacrifices were made. Who knows, maybe they were sacrificed to try to stop the cooling that was underway.

May 23, 2011 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Goodknight

Herr McStone's syntax sounds terribly original to me.

On the old topic of a local MWP:

First, it is actually regional climate that matters, not global averages, it's no comfort to know that earths global temperature is 14.5C (+/- 2.5C depending on which GC Model you choose) when you are freezing in Lapland

Second, There are so many papers showing a global MWP, and they are so easy to find, that ones wonder why anybody will keep insisting on the same topic again and again:

A good list here:
Classified by regions here:

May 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

@ Greg Goodknight

Further south in Patagonia, glaciers had buried large forests 250 years ago, during the LIA. One wonders if it never was so warm in the past, and the MWP was local, likely European, what were those forests doing there, in a place still covered in ice today.

You can find the evidence in this paper from some Chilean colleagues in a recent conference proceedings: (Abstract 191, page 72)

May 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

More on the MWP - physical evidence from caves in NZ and other evidence found in South America points to the MWP as being a significant climactic event in those lattitudes, one which probably enabled much of the great Polynesian voyages of exploration and migration from central Polynesia across and around the Pacific Ocean.
There was so much written during this era in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere and so much physical evidence available that it is beyond reasonable doubt. Written histories were not part of any culture in the Southern hemisphere until writing was introduced by Europeans and, unfortunately, early European explorers tended to regard the verbal histories of 'stone age' peoples they encountered as invalid as the Europeans placed huge faith in the written word. Because of this attitude, much of historical importance was lost as a consequence of European conquest of native peoples in the Southern hemisphere.

May 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

via WUWT

A 2,300-year-long annually resolved record of the South American summer monsoon from the Peruvian Andes

Broxton W. Birda, Mark B. Abbotta, Mathias Vuilleb, Donald T. Rodbellc, Nathan D. Stansella, and Michael F. Rosenmeiera

Decadal and centennial mean state changes in South American summer monsoon (SASM) precipitation during the last 2,300 years are detailed using an annually resolved authigenic calcite record of precipitation δ18O from a varved lake in the Central Peruvian Andes. This unique sediment record shows that δ18O peaked during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) from A.D. 900 to 1100, providing evidence that the SASM weakened considerably during this period. Minimum δ18O values occurred during the Little Ice Age (LIA) between A.D. 1400 and 1820, reflecting a prolonged intensification of the SASM that was regionally synchronous. [...]

Two questions:

1) Why was it OK to bash on Soon and Baliunas for their use of precipitation records as a part of their proxies ('warm, wet or dry')?
2) Why are other authors studying past precipitation metrics at all then?

May 23, 2011 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

It's time Hengist went back to his sheep.

May 25, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

a sure sign of people arguing nonsense is the constant and baseless character assassination.

Jul 18, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterian

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