The incorrigible Easterbrook

By Gareth Renowden 10/06/2012

There it was in my Google News feed — a headline saying Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling. As you might expect, it caught my attention, because the Earth is doing no such thing. Following the link led me to an an article at the Forbes magazine web site by a Heartland Institute person called Peter Ferrara. A few paragraphs into what is nothing more than an extended advertisement for Heartland’s recent climate sceptic networking event, Ferrara writes:

In 2000, the UN’s IPCC predicted that global temperatures would rise by 1 degree Celsius by 2010. Was that based on climate science, or political science to scare the public into accepting costly anti-industrial regulations and taxes?

Don Easterbrook, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University, knew the answer. He publicly predicted in 2000 that global temperatures would decline by 2010. He made that prediction because he knew the PDO had turned cold in 1999, something the political scientists at the UN’s IPCC did not know or did not think significant.

Don Easterbrook? The retired geologist who steals other people’s work and alters it to suit his purposes? The one who uses Greenland ice core data but misunderstands and misrepresents it?
Yup, that Easterbrook.

Being a diligent sort of chap and a keen follower of the great man’s thoughts, I downloaded Easterbrook’s Heartland presentation, and sat through all 15 minutes of it (which includes the introduction by another Forbes blogger, Heartland’s James Taylor). It is, perhaps, the essential Easterbrook, a handy summation of the mistaken view of climate that’s he’s been inflicting on the world for the last 12 years.

To save you the bother, I’ve grabbed Easterbrook’s concluding slides, and you may review them below:


Almost all of the past 10,000 years have been warmer than present? Not to put too fine a point on it: rubbish.


Cosmic rays! A new arrow to Easterbrook’s bow!


Future cooling is a “virtual certainty” and “assured”. An amazing hostage to fortune. And the audience actually applauded.

Here’s a handy guide to Don’s serial misuse of the data, and feeble grasp of reality. Four big errors that should really ensure he’s shunned in polite company1.

1: Easterbrook claims that the IPPC predicted “one degree warming between 2000 and 2010″

This is nonsense, because the IPCC has never made any such prediction. It turns out, thanks to some excellent digging by the team at Skeptical Science2, that Easterbrook has been fiddling with graphs again. He has taken an IPCC graph showing a “spaghetti” of individual model runs and selected one that suits his purpose, erasing the rest (which don’t suit his purpose). In effect, he looks through a haystack until he finds a straw man, then sets about abusing the poor fellow. This degree of chicanery and deliberate misrepresentation by a once-respected scientist is, frankly, unbelievable.

2: Easterbrook claims that the GISP2 core is “a good proxy for global temperatures”.

This is nonsense. The Greenland record is regional in nature, and therefore shows much more variability than the global record. Easterbrook’s justification, that glaciers around the world retreat and grow in sync with Greenland is also not supported by the evidence3.

3: He’s still using shonky Greenland graphs, and claiming that most of the last 10,000 years were warmer than now.

His graphs of the Greenland temperature record and interpretation of it were shown to be in error 18 months ago.

4: Still claiming cooling is to come (see 1)

Despite the fact that 2010 was the warmest year in the warmest decade in the long term record, Easterbrook wants us to believe that his predictions of cooling are coming to pass. The self-deception involved puts Easterbrook well out in the realms of severe cognitive dissonance. The only interesting thing will be his reaction when the next global temperature record comes along4.

Incorrigible means incapable of being corrected. Easterbrook shows every sign of being completely incorrigible. He refuses to acknowledge his errors5, and persists in his world view despite the evidence, not because of it.

There are four losers in this story. One old one, one columnist and one formerly prestigious magazine. The fourth loser is the rest of the world, left to suffer from the consequences of the lies and deceit being peddled by the first three.

  1. There are of course more than four errors, and I’m not offering prizes, but you’re welcome to point them out in comments.
  2. Notably Tom Curtis, who did the spadework on the IPCC graph.
  3. I’m being polite
  4. With the next El Niño, most likely. And there are signs that it may already be here.
  5. Though his presentation no longer includes graphs stolen from Global Warming Art, he has never acknowledged his theft or apologised for it.