No one can possibly undo all of the damage to climate science and individual scientists done by the diarrhea of disinformation spewing out of the anti-science crowd. In large part that’s because of the reckless laziness of many in the status quo media, such as CBS, who prefer easy sensationalism to thoughtful journalism.
Few scientists have been more victimized than Michael Mann, Director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center. Than again, few scientists have been more vindicated than Michael Mann (see “Penn State inquiry finds no evidence for allegations against Michael Mann” and below).
That’s why I feel compelled to keep doing my small part in helping to set the record straight as often as possible — and to publicize the tremendous work of others doing the same, such as the blogger Deep Climate, who has uncovered previously unknown details of just how some of the most fraudulent charges against Mann and the Hockey Stick graph were trumped up by the anti-science crowd in the first place.
Remember the question scientists are trying to answer: Is the planet now as hot (or hotter) than it has been in a millenium? Try two millennia (see this 2008 PNAS study, which is the source of the figure above, and this “seminal” 2009 Science study).
The purportedly independent report that Dr. Edward Wegman prepared in 2006 for the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce was actually a partisan set-up, according to information revealed today.
Wegman, who had presented himself as an impartial “referee” between two “teams” debating the quality of the so-called Hockey Stick graph was, in fact, coached throughout his review by Republican staffer Peter Spencer. Wegman and his colleagues also worked closely with one of the teams (and especially with retired mining stock promoter Stephen McIntyre) to try to replicate criticism of the Hockey Stick graph, while at the same time foregoing contact with the actual authors of the seminal climate reconstruction.
The Hockey Stick refers to a graph (by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes [MBH]) [used in] the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It also became a target for Steve McIntyre and the Guelph University economist Ross McKitrick, who since 2002, at least, has been a paid spokesperson for ExxonMobil-backed think tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Fraser Institute.
According to a detailed analysis by the blogger Deep Climate, McIntyre and McKitrick’s criticism of the Hockey Stick graph was aggressively promoted and disseminated by an echo chamber of think tanks and blogs, all of which had financial or ideological associations with fossil fuel industry funders.
Then, in 2005 … Republican Rep. and Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton began calling for an investigation into the graph. But Barton rejected an offer from National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Ciccerone to conduct a formal and independent review in the highly professional manner typical of the nation’s foremost scientific body. Barton chose, instead, to engage a statistician (Wegman) from one of the most conservative institutions in the country (George Mason University) and to task him with setting up a team to dissect Mann’s Hockey Stick.
The result was predictable. Collaborating with McIntyre, Wegman’s team recreated and then endorsed the critical view of Michael Mann’s work. According to earlier revelations from Deep Climate, Wegman also cribbed … work from Raymond Bradley, lifting whole sections of his 1999 textbook, but periodically changing material or inserting information calculated to cast doubt on the reliability of tree-ring data (the source of the MBH climate reconstruction). In the most outrageous example, suspiciously unattributed, Wegman’s report actually suggested that tree rings might be affected positively by automobile pollution. (“… oxides of nitrogen are formed in internal combustion engines that can be deposited as nitrates also contributing to fertilization of plant materials.”)
All this could be dismissed as typical politicking except for two things. First, because this was presented as an independent and impartial review, it is reasonable to ask whether Barton, Wegman, et al, are guilty of misleading Congress, a felony offense.
Second, the same echo chamber that promoted Steve McIntyre’s criticism of the Hockey Stick is now fully engaged accusing scientists of manipulating data to increase global concern about climate change. The manipulation of both data and public opinion are certainly evident in this story. Science has most certainly been politicized. But (thanks to Deep Climate’s careful research) the record shows that the manipulation and politicization has been bought and paid for by the energy industry and executed by a sprawling network of think tanks and blogs – and by leading Republicans and their staffers.
This is, at the very least, fodder for a Congressional investigation as to whether the Energy and Commerce Committee was, indeed, intentionally and perhaps disastrously misled.
Not really a big surprise, I suppose (see Rep. Barton: Climate change is ‘natural,’ humans should just ‘get shade’ “” invites ‘expert’ TVMOB (!) to testify and ‘Smokey Joe’ Barton: Global Warming ‘Is A Net Benefit To Mankind’).
Yes, a Congressional investigation would be valuable to help set the record straight (see also this DeSmogBlog post).
Of course, the Hockey Stick graph was itself vindicated years ago in a thorough examination by a panel of the prestigious (and uber-mainstream) National Academy of Sciences (see NAS Report and here). Indeed, the news story in the journal Nature (subs. req’d) on the NAS panel was headlined:
Academy affirms hockey-stick graph
Even more important than the fact that the original analysis was defensibly correct, is that the conclusions were correct [which could be true even if the analysis had flaws in it]. Is the planet now as hot (or hotter) than it has been in a millenium? Try two millennia (see “Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years,” which discusses the PNAS study that is the source of the figure above ). See also “Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, ‘seminal’ study finds,” the source of the figure below).
That’s why climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said last year, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”
Sadly, the ridiculous is what passes for serious analysis by the anti-science crowd and the media echo chamber — and that means long nights for those in the science blogosphere trying to set the record straight.