A number of people asked me to reply to a blog post by Atlantic monthly columnist James Fallows in which he opines on a variety of climate-related subjects from Al Gore to the “Hockey Stick” graph.
Since I have known Fallows for a long time — we share mutual interests in rhetoric and the late Colonel John Boyd — I decided to zip him an e-mail, which he promptly turned into his first (of several) self-debunkings, “Climate pushback #1.” Let me expand on a few of those dashed off points:
1) Physics for Future Presidents. Fallows endorsed Richard Muller’s book. Earl Killian long ago doubly debunked that book here (see “Confusing Future Presidents, Part 1” and “Part 2“). ‘Nuff said.
2) The Hockey Stick. I wrote Fallows:
“The ‘hockey stick,’ was essentially vindicated by the National Academy of Sciences, and it is almost certainly correct.” Cite here.
Few things excite the deniers more than the Hockey Stick graph because it allows them to wade deep into the analytical woods and entirely miss the forest [or is that "entirely miss the deforestation"]. I was trying to answer two separate questions quickly. First, was the original analysis defensibly correct? Yes (see NAS Report and RealClimate.org). Second, were the conclusions 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“). See also J. Bradford DeLong commenting on Fallows here.
Perhaps more to the point, the Hockey Stick analysis is just the tiniest piece of our overall understanding of climate science, which is getting increasingly dire by the day. In a few decades, not only will no one remember the Hockey-Stick controversy, many people won’t even be using hockey sticks anymore outdoors- it will just be too darn hot (see “Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!“).
3) Al Gore. OK, one guy does excite the deniers more than the Hockey Stick. I wrote Fallows: