Sir John Houghton and the Hockey Stick #1

Of all people involved in the promotion of the Hockey Stick, Sir John Houghton, head of the IPCC is probably the chief champion of MBH98 and MBH99 as the "scientific consensus" of how the global climate changed in the last millenium.

Here’s Sir John in front of that famous graph

Sir John Houghton and the Hockey Stick

Referring to the Hockey Stick, he lectured:

Global warming is a second and a more important example of this global pollution [other than the smog found in 19th Century London and most cities]. Carbon dioxide that I cause to be emitted, because I drive my car or use electricity or in many other ways, enters the atmosphere, and rapidly spreads around the whole atmosphere, much of it remaining in the atmosphere for 100 years or more. Now, because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, it causes the average global temperature to increase, significantly affecting the climate. So everybody in the world is affected. The Mann Hockey Stick given in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers

But you will see that the nature and rapidity of the change in temperature over the 20th Century is very different from that over the previous 1000 years. In particular the recent years have been the warmest over that entire period. 1998 was the warmest year in the global instrumental record, and a more striking statistic is that each of the first eight months of 1998 was the warmest of those months in the instrumental record – suggesting that the earth really is warming up.

So you see that Sir John links the results presented by the Mann Hockey Stick as key proof that

  • the Earth is warming due to build-up of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide
  • 1998 is the "warmest year of the millenium"
  • the 20th Century warming is "very different from that over the previous 1000 years"
  • that the change in climate is predominently caused by mankind.

Speaking in Shanghai and being pictured above in front of the Hockey Stick, Sir John opined:

prised at how little it turns out we need to do to the climate to produce a substantial change," he said. "To see the signal of human activity emerge above the noise of natural climate change is in a way a scientific surprise."

Yup, it’s a scientific surprise indeed. Especially since the report he chaired produced this zinger:

The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th century and that other trends have been observed does not necessarily mean that an anthropogenic effect on the climate system has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural.

from IPCC Working Group 1 – The Scientific Basis, section "Observing Anthopogenic Change" found at this link

He even had time to lecture the skeptics:

"They should look at the evidence which has been collected by some of the world’s leading scientists," he said. "I think there are very few scientists who’d disagree with the IPCC. And most of those who do disagree have not published much.

I’ve good news for Sir John. Somebody has looked more closely at the evidence collected by some of the world’s leading scientists. There are now very many scientists who disagree with the IPCC (including some of the IPCC’s own authors). And those who disagree are now publishing like crazy.

"John A."


  1. Posted Feb 12, 2005 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    Very good, Steve.

    Many journalists and various “concerned scientists” etc. often say that the hockey stick is just a small topic and those “evil skeptics” focus on this topic because all their other arguments failed.

    This viewpoint seems to contradict reality. When we’re trying to judge whether our civilization is sustainable or not as far as climate goes, we must be comparing our influence to the natural developments, in order to predict future and in order to know whether this predicted future will be a pleasant place for life (was it pleasant in the past?).

    There is obviously no reliable theoretical method to calculate the variations at all timescales. Climate reconstructions are completely essential in this respect. We seem to know that the temperatures were 10 degrees higher, and the CO2 concentration was most likely above 3,000 ppm when the mammals were getting started 100+ million years ago. It was not a problem for the early mammals.

    Also, the temperature was jumping between the ice ages and interglacials, together with the CO2 concentrations. So the fluctuations definitely existed on these longer timescales. The main question for practical purposes is what the fluctuations looked like in the last thousands of years, and the reconstructions are critical in judging whether our era is exceptional – as Sir John’s reasoning shows. I don’t see other equally important scientific questions that may affect our opinion about the hypothetical climate policies.

    Concerning the personal attacks on the skeptics: those people advocating the “consensus” seem(ed) to imagine that they are/were the leaders of a society that is able to impose its opinions on all the people – it’s enough to say that someone is bad and disagrees with the “Party” of consensus scientists – and perhaps even connected with the capitalists – 🙂 and the person is eliminated (and not allowed to publish). This worked in Germany and the Soviet Union for a couple of decades – but it only worked because the leaders had military and other tools on their side.

    On the other hand, we are living in democracy where we usually enjoy the freedom of speech and scientific inquiry – and it is absolutely clear that the tendencies to make the opposition silent without arguments just can’t succeed. It’s great that a more balanced set of papers is being published recently, and I hope that this development will continue and people will start to check the important statements – not just the Hockey Team, but also other things that could be comparably problematic. It was just very wrong if such important things such as the temperature record of last 1000 years were not checked by the people outside the “hockey team” until recently. Now the topic will get popular enough so that many people may jump on the bandwagon and investigate the available data and papers critically.

    All the best

  2. William Pearce
    Posted Feb 13, 2005 at 1:41 AM | Permalink

    To G.W. Fanatic’s. DEMONSTRATE:- DONT SPECULATE. Forget the
    we think, we believe, maybe, perhaps,etc, etc.”TANGIBLE

  3. William Pearce
    Posted Mar 10, 2005 at 4:55 AM | Permalink

    When ever Science is enlisted in a political cause, the result is always that the Scientists themselves become fanatics.

  4. Posted Nov 21, 2009 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    Sir John did not attend the last two International Conferences on Climate Change, I did. Consequently, he is apparently unaware that Mann’s hockey stick theory and Sir John’s 100 year CO2 lifespan have been scientifically been disproven!!! click on second or third international conferences for the real facts.

    Ding Dong the witch of anthropogenic global warming is dead.

    As recent hacked e-mails will prove Gore, the IPCC and UN pawns that wrote the junk science to suit the politically motivated energy slavery proposed by the dictators of the United Nations, will start to unravel.

    So much for settled science. Science without debate is propaganda.

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