Don Easterbrook is a retired geology professor from Western Washington University, a little out of step with his former colleagues in respect of his views on climate change. (They disagree with him here.) One of the reasons for their disagreement, no doubt, is his way with the evidence.
Among Easterbrook’s assertions—it hardly qualifies as a theory—is that global climate has been warmer than it is today for most of the last 10,000 years. For evidence, he references data from one location, central Greenland, and one study from 2000 by Richard Alley.
Okay, here’s a problem, Dr. Don. You don’t measure planetary climate change by taking the temperature in one place, whether that place is central Greenland or Topeka, Kansas. That’s why it’s called global warming, Don, not Topeka-Kansas Warming.
Or Central Greenland Warming.
To qualify as global, you see, warming has to happen all over the place, and the only way to tell that has happened is by looking at evidence all over the place.
But even getting past all that, Professor Easterbrook, what does the original study show about past temperatures in central Greenland as compared to present day warming?
The original dataset leaves out the modern period of warming altogether.
In Figure 5, Greenland GISP2 Ice Core Temperature Last 10,000 years, Easterbrook labels the bottom line of figures “Years Before Present (2000 AD.)” However, “present” in paleoclimate tradition does not mean now (or 2000, when the original study was published) but 1950. And the little line of figures on the bottom denote years previous to 1950, with the last data point clearly saying 95. If you subtract 95 from 1950, you wind up in 1855. Thus, the chart ends in 1855.
Nothing on the graph refers to or could conceivably refer to modern warming (even if we narrowed our discussion to Central Greenland Warming alone) because modern human-caused warming did not even begin until after that date.
Oops. That’s not very good evidence, Dr. Easterbrook.
Yet, He’s Still “Professor Chill”
Of course issues with the evidence are to be expected from a guy who continues to predict global cooling. He made that prediction back in 2001: cooling would start, he said, in 2007, plus or minus 3 years.
2007 plus 3 years was 2010, the hottest year on record.
Undaunted, global cooling was still the subject of Easterbrook’s lecture at the Heartland Institute’s annual Denial-A-Palooza conference in 2010.
But how, given the relentless evidence that the world is warming, can anyone insist that it’s cooling?
His graph does seem to show a dip in temperature, but a couple of things ought to immediately arouse suspicion. First, the green line showing the decline has more blue above it than below it. This tilts the line more than is justifiable statistically. Second, starting the graph in 2002 seems a little arbitrary. Why begin it then rather than, say, 2000?
A graph showing the entire temperature trend from 2000 to 2010 looks like this.
Like Easterbrook said it wouldn’t.
The 15,000 high temperature records broken in March in the USA don’t add much support to Easterbrook’s point of view, either. Or the continuing rise of the world ocean heat content as demonstrated in this graph from Science.
Climate denier credentials.
Despite having little support for his ideas, no training or peer-reviewed publications in the field, or any discernible understanding of his subject matter, Dr. Easterbrook is a darling of the climate denier crowd. He is a regular speaker at the Heartland Institute’s annual Denial-A-Palooza conferences. In 2008, he signed the Heartland-sponsored Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change. He is also associated with the Exxon-connected professional climate change denying Lavoisier Group from Australia.