Recently, as the hockey stick looks more and more splintered, some climate scientists have argued that the hockey stick graph was merely incidental in Kyoto promotion.
As someone with actual experience in business promotions, this proposition has seemed peculiar to me, since the hockey stick graph was displayed so prominently by IPCC. This view was re-inforced by an interesting essay by David Deming here.
To understand the role of the hockey stick in Kyoto promotion, one need look no further back than the IPCC
Second First Assessment Report in 1995 1990 [Update 2012: see discussion here where I diagnosed the provenance of the IPCC 1990 Figure 7c. At the time of my 2007 post, William Connolley, for example, had stated on his blog that it lacked a “good source”, a remark which occasioned my own subsequent analysis of its provenance in 2008. ]
The millennium temperature history portrayed in that report is shown in the diagram below.
Simply looking at this diagram shows the problems that IPCC promoters would have. You couldn’t sell the public with this graphic.
Deming’s essay summarize the problem for climate promoters at the time:
…With the publication of the article in Science, I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."
Deming goes on to discuss Nature‘s biased handling of an important paper by Huang in 1997.
In 1998, there seems to have been a bit of a race between the Mann, Bradley, Hughes group in the U.S. and the Jones, Briffa group in the U.K. to be the victor in getting rid of the MWP, with both groups publishing multiproxy studies.
Obviously, MBH98/99 got featured, with Jones et al [Holocene 1998], which offered less dramatic statements, getting shuffled to a secondary role, included in spaghetti diagrams, but not in the main promotional diptych. Of course, the other half of the main promotional diptych was Jones’ temperature history, so both groups got a piece of the promotion.
For me, the picture below – John Houghton in front of the hockey stick diagram – represents the end result rather nicely.
When I showed this picture to the Toronto Geological Discussion Group, all familiar with mining promoters, it was impossible to avoid comparing Houghton to mining promoters that we know.