Continuing vaguely along the theme of use and abuse of IPCC 1990 fig 7.1(c), its worth noting explicitly the worship of Hubert Lamb by some of the denialists. I don’t think I need to repeat what is said there, but make sure you read the comments, especially those from Willard, and me of course.
One interesting example of this, which illustrates the same problems, is Premonitions of the Fall (in temperature) at WUWT by David Archibald. Its a very silly post, but it adopts the usual policy of taking all of Lamb’s stuff uncritically, whilst ignoring recent work, in order to push the authors own views.
For a saner discussion that involves Lamb’s work Hughes and Diaz 1994, which recently fell my way, is a good example. It treats Lamb with respect, which he deserves, but not as gospel, which he also deserves.
I’m pleased to find a linkage back to the Goode Olde Dayes of sci.env: ah, those were the days. I kept it in the context of the “global cooling” meme, but it applies to fig 7.1.c too. mt can write well:
It is important to note exactly who made those predictions, (or more properly, who expressed those worries) about an imminent ice age, and who is now predicting rapid global warming. By and large these are not the same people. The first group was essentially the observational paleoclimatologists. Bryson still claims that “the proper tool of the climatologist is the shovel”. The compendium by Lamb which Tom Moore takes as his primary reference was essentially the pinnacle of achievement in that field.
With all due respect (I mean this quite seriously – the erudition and breadth of knowledge of these people, Lamb in particular – is enormously impressive) to that group, their grasp of mathematics and statistics was weak, and of physics weaker still.
For instance, Lamb’s prediction in particular of imminent and rapid cooling was based on, essentially, a crude Fourier analysis (best fits of sinusoidal curves to his record). Since one of the dominant features was a rapid rise over the last century, the *presumption* of a cyclical nature of the record forced a prediction of a rapid cooling *precisely because there had been a recent rapid warming*. And although the niceties of periodograms had all been worked out by that time, Lamb seemed blissfully ignorant of the need to take particular care when fitting sinusoids to a record with significant information at its termination.
In the 1970s, a separate discipline of physical climatology was just emerging from an infancy at the peripheries of mathematics and astrophysics.
* Early version of temperature history – me, from 2005.