Your Lying Eyes

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09 February 2006

More on Climate Change

The BBC reports on a new study contending that recent climate is the warmest in the last 1,200 years. This contention is known as the "Hockey Stick" based on a temperature graph which is flat until the late 20th century when it starts to suddenly climb, resembling a hockey stick. The Hockey Stick allows climate change proponents to write off the "Medieval Warm Period" as only slightly warmer than average rather than dramatically so as many had considered it. This is important because global warming skeptics would typically point out that the world got much warmer before without high levels of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, implying the same could be happening now. With the Hockey Stick, climatologists have a new weapon to brandish against the skeptics. The metaphor is apt because this group (the Hockey Team) aggressively defends their position.

Unfortunately for the Hockey Team, they ran into someone they couldn't intimidate or even skate around. Steve McIntyre is a retired mining executive who has the native skills and, more importantly, the time to review their work. As so often seems the case with high profile studies (gun control, stem cells, abortion cuts crime), errors and questionable methods abound in the Hockey Stick work, which McIntyre writes about regularly in his blog, Climate Audit (the Hockey Team writes on RealClimate). More remarkable is the poor state of the documentation underlying the Hockey reconstructions, and the reluctance of the Hockey Team members to share data. While McIntyre is not a climatologist, these studies are really all about statistical methods, and McIntyre's partner, Ross McKitrick is an econometrician. They have produced two peer reviewed studies of their own questioning the hockey team's work.

At any rate, McIntyre has a response on his blog to this latest study (I don't have a link to the study itself). My own view on all this is that it sure seems plausible that the earth is warming due to fossil fuel burning, and it sure seems warmer that it used to. Unfortunately, the politics behind this are so strong that I can't help but think many scientists are swept along in it, not to mention the impact this work can have on a climatologist's career. It is also not clear that there's anything we can realistically do about global warming if indeed it is man-made. It doesn't sound like reductions on the order of 10% are going to have much effect. And so skepticism remains the order of the day around these parts.

3 Comments:

Anonymous gcochran said...

McIntyre and McKitrick are shills of Exxon, and dumb shills at that.

When they dealt with a temperature series with some missing data, they assumed that the temperature was zero Celsius, instead of interpolating. When they tried to calculate the cosine of the sun angle on the surface of the Earth, they didn't realize that the Fortran cosine fucntion uss radians, not degrees. I could go on.
Surely, there is whiteout all over their screen.

I kid you not. The English language is not powerful enough to express how dumb these guys are.

February 12, 2006 1:37 PM  
Anonymous gcochran said...

There are a lot of public issues in which one position is pretty much all lies. In fact, there are some in which _both_ sides of the quetion are pretty much all lies. I should make a list, but few would enjoy it - people _like_ lies.

February 12, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Greg, must you always be so circumspect in your opinions? Given your track record, though, I have no choice but to accept your judgement here.

But I think many would very much love to see your list - particularly where both sides are lying

February 13, 2006 9:18 PM  

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