What's up with El Reg?
Jan 22, 2016
Bishop Hill in Climate: MWP, Media

A few days back The Conversation published a moderately dull article about paleoclimate, written by a couple of postdocs at Bristol. Its title kind of gave the game away up front:

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

This introduced a temperature reconstruction that had been bodged together by an author at Wikimedia. It all seemed fairly pitiful to me, and hardly worth the bother, although I wondered for a time about whether I could get an easy laugh by noting that the authors had cited approvingly Michael Mann's 2008 carcrash paper:

So when was the Earth last warmer than the present?

The Medieval Warm Period is often cited as the answer. This spell, beginning in roughly 950AD and lasting for three centuries, saw major changes to population centres across the globe. This included the collapse of the Tiwanaku civilisation in South America due to increased aridity, and the colonisation of Greenland by the Vikings.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, some regions were warmer than in recent years, but others were substantially colder. Across the globe, averaged temperatures then were in fact cooler than today.

I for one am keen to know why exactly these two authors think that ditch digging is a reliable proxy for temperature.

I'm only writing about it now because I notice that the article has been republished at El Reg, of all places. A little Googling reveals that there have been some changes in the team there. Lewis Page seems to have moved on, although as far as I can tell Andrew Orlowski is still at the helm. I wonder what's going on? I can't recall this kind of copy-and-paste journalism from El Reg before, let alone the appearance of risible nonsense like this.

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