WSJ: Hockey Stick "on ice"

The Wall Street Journal published this editorial last Friday, on the Hockey Stick controversy and the work of Steve McIntyre:

Hockey Stick on Ice
Politicizing the science of global warming.

Friday, February 18, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

On Wednesday National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season, and we guess that’s a loss. But this week also brought news of something else that’s been put on ice. We’re talking about the "hockey stick."

Just so we’re clear, this hockey stick isn’t a sports implement; it’s a scientific graph. Back in the late 1990s, American geoscientist Michael Mann published a chart that purported to show average surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 1,000 years. The chart showed relatively minor fluctuations in temperature over the first 900 years, then a sharp and continuous rise over the past century, giving it a hockey-stick shape.

Mr. Mann’s chart was both a scientific and political sensation. It contradicted a body of scientific work suggesting a warm period early in the second millennium, followed by a "Little Ice Age" starting in the 14th century. It also provided some visually arresting scientific support for the contention that fossil-fuel emissions were the cause of higher temperatures. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Mann’s hockey stick appears five times in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark 2001 report on global warming, which paved the way to this week’s global ratification–sans the U.S., Australia and China–of the Kyoto Protocol.

Yet there were doubts about Mr. Mann’s methods and analysis from the start….

Read on


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