Response to WSJ Editorial

As some readers have pointed out, there is a response to the WSJ editorial here.

One point that I’d like to re-iterate for the umpteenth time: our articles have been purely critical; they do not propose any view of climate history. I am intrigued by evidence of past warmth, but have not attempted to argue this position. On the other hand, I do not think that any of the supposed refutations of the existence of the LIA and/or MWP are valid.

This applies not just to Mann’s hockey stick, but to earlier work such as Bradley and Jones [1993] on the LIA or Hughes and Diaz [1994] on the MWP. I have not discussed these works on this site or elsewhere, but I’ve collected nearly all the data pertaining to these studies (which is always time-consuming), studied the articles in detail and find them very unconvincing. If I’m correct in my view that Hughes and Diaz [1994] (for example) does not refute the existence of the MWP, I do not jump to the opposite conclusion, that, ergo, the MWP exists. All it really shows is that the IPCC did not check Hughes and Diaz [1994] either.

As to the supposed impact of new data in changing views, if you actually look at the data used in the Mann hockey stick (or Hughes and Diaz, for that matter), they didn’t use much proxy data that wasn’t available in 1990. Remember that their proxy reconstruction ends in 1980 and we’ve heard this strange excuse from Mann that they must rely on proxy work done in the 1970s because the data has to be obtained in difficult and costly expeditions using "heavy equipment". It seems to me that the changing interpretations owed more to a desire to "get rid of the MWP" (as one climate scientist is reported to have said to Deming) than to any new data.


  1. Michael Mayson
    Posted Jun 23, 2005 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    There is further comment on the WSJ editorial here
    Clearly WSJ have struck a nerve.
    It is depressing to see that Real Climate must resort to denial and obfuscation, particularly in defence of Mann. Witness:

    “In fact, these claims have been demonstrated to be incorrect by an independent group of scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) . These authors have shown that the ‘alternative’ reconstruction promoted by McIntyre and McKitrick (which disagrees not only with the Mann et al reconstruction, but nearly a dozen independent reconstructions that agreee with the Mann et al reconstruction within statistical uncertainties) is the result of censoring of key data from the original Mann et al (1998) dataset. Unlike the original reconstruction of Mann et al (1998), the reconstruction that McIntyre and McKitrick produced using the censored data set fails standard statistical tests for validity, and, in the words of the NCAR group, is “shown to be without statistical and climatological merit”.

    which is all about a paper rejected by GRL!!!

  2. Doug L
    Posted Jun 23, 2005 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    As an amateur it’s been very tough to follow this debate. At first it looks like RealClimate is answering the criticisms. As you learn more, it looks they are stone walling. Look again and perhaps they are answering in the cryptic language of science.

    I posed the following to them last night on their response to the Wall Street Journal (this is the whole post):

    “I don’t see where you rebut the M&M claim that the flatness of the hockey stick shaft disappears without the use of Bristlecone pine trees (or perhaps the Gaspe Cedar)?”

    They did not post this as of now so I have to wonder if they have responded in some way to this.

    Could they be arguing that if you take out the Bristlecone Pines that the bump on the hockey stick shaft shows up in the wrong place?

    Could they be arguing that removal of Cedar Gaspe involves dumping a bunch of other data? (I think it’s used twice and perhaps in one case is bound up with other data)

    About the Bristlecone pines you seem to be saying that the location of the bump on the shaft doesn’t matter since you are not suggesting an alternative climate reconstruction.

    The Cedar Gaspe issue is a little more mysterious. Any pointers would be appreciated; especially about what they seem to be saying about it.

  3. John A
    Posted Jun 23, 2005 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

    Re #2

    Doug, try the “McKitrick: What is the Hockey Stick debate about?” in the Favorite Posts section in the top right.

  4. Peter Hartley
    Posted Jun 24, 2005 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    I think, Steve, that you might soon get your hands on the MBH code. Have you seen the following letters?

  5. Doug L
    Posted Jun 25, 2005 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    I was able to get Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate to respond on the issue of whether McIntyre and McKittrick are offering an alternative reconstruction in comment number 29 of their WSJ rebuttle.

    His response is in effect that the WSJ is making an error when they describe the M&M work as a reconstruction. He says:

    “[Response: I wouldn’t characterise the WSJ as ‘critics’ and yet they clearly think that M&M are offering an alternate reconstruction. It’s just one more thing they get wrong… -gavin]”

    I follow up on comment #33 with my interpretation, and they let it pass. They clearly do themselves call the M&M work an alternate reconstruction in the rebuttle.

  6. Doug L
    Posted Jun 25, 2005 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    Things are heating up!
    The WSJ editorial appears to have prodded a congressional investigation!

    Saw this posting over at UK weatherworld

    Pdf file of letters to Mann etc can be found here:

    Sounds worse than an IRS audit.
    Be sure to check out the pdf file of the actual letter, the letter to Mann specifically refers to the WSJ editorial.

  7. Doug L
    Posted Jun 26, 2005 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    correction to #6, the letters do not refer to the WSJ editorial, but to an article in the WSJ dated Feb 14, 2005.

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