Sunday, November 18, 2007

The end of the hocky stick

Often I am asked "what is the science of climate change that you are disputing?". This is a question frequently posed in a sense of exasperation, the query stemming from an adherence to the prevailing dogma I have gored in my presentation or comments. My answer is usually the same: it is in the public domain, it is most often posted in blogs but it is mostly in the interpretation of the science: science measures things, but it does not tell us what they mean. Meaning is supplied by the interpretation of facts and that interpretation is heavily influenced by ideology: most often we get the answer we are looking for.

Occasionally, ecomyths are not just about interpretation. They also are foundationed on poor science, selective science and/or incorrect science.

The major narrative in environmentalism over the past decade has been global warming. In large part, a fundamental part of that narrative has been the assertion that climate today is both unprecedented in its high temperatures and alarming in the rate of change in those temperatures. The selling of this narrative by global warming advocates relied heavily on the infamous hockey-stick graph.

That graph has been thoroughly discredited but proponents of global warming persist in denying this fact, variously reasserting that the graph is "basically still correct", "substantiated by other data" and/or seeking to downplay its role just as vigorously as they sought to promote its use when it was in vogue.

The graph that appears here comes from this post on ClimateAudit. It should forever conclude debate about the veracity of the hockey stick. For those not familiar with the issues, it comes to this:
  • the hockey stick relies heavily on one or two series of data
  • uses statistical methods incorrectly
  • presents a false representation
When the data are corrected, the false signals removed and the statistics calculated correctly, the graph that results both:
  • confirms a Medieval Warm Period comparable to today's temperatures, and
  • fails to suggest any alarming upswing in temperature this century.
The hockey stick is dead, and so is a very significant component of the AGW dogma fed to the public for the past decade.

Not only is the science not a self-evident as proclaimed, our experience does not seem to suggest catastrophic warming:
  • Global warming? Not in South America, not this year.
  • It is enough that people are beginning to question the IPCC and what it doing.
And so, finally, its not really about the science: it is all about the politics.