Perhaps no climate science icon is more recognizable than the “hockey stick” graph originally produced by Michael E. Mann and his colleagues in the 1990s and first published in the prestigious journal Nature in 1998. This icon quickly became the feature diagram in the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report summary document for policymakers. The graph was instrumental in convincing many in government to buy into the idea that human-related emissions of carbon dioxide were causing an unprecedented increase in global temperatures and so drastic action was needed to once again save the planet.
In a new book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines,” Mr. Mann, a Penn State University professor and director of the university’s Earth System Science Center, proffers a solid defense of the hockey-stick climate reconstruction of the past 1,000 years. In his book, Mr. Mann frequently stresses that numerous similar evaluations of proxy data produced the same tell-tale graph. He ably demonstrates that challenges to his work, whether from a statistical or selection-of-data approach, were feeble at best. And he relates in painful, personal detail how political attacks are so hurtful to free inquiry. So, from a general defense of academic scientific research into recent climate change, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” is terrific, giving ample peer-review science references and making reasoned arguments.
Mr. Mann’s book will undoubtedly be quoted and referenced for many years to come to support the current status quo in the academic world of climate science. But therein lies one of the book’s major weaknesses: It represents a limited perspective.
Throughout “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” there is the continuous resorting to childish, unprofessional name-calling. Mr. Mann seems to relish the phrase “climate change denier.” On one page alone (Page 193), he uses the silly phrase or some variant of it seven times. The phrase is obviously absurd because no one denies that climate changes.
Such childishness is related to a limited perspective and belies a narrow progressive political tactic to smear anyone who dares to challenge established orthodoxy. Mr. Mann relies substantially on progressive sources such as Media Transparency, Government Accountability Project, Sourcewatch.org, DeSmogBlog.com, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Prospect, Center for American Progress, and, without irony, Think Progress. More of these sources too numerous to mention are referenced.
The book’s unintentionally arrogant tone, all too typical of progressive academia, is perhaps a hint of what, unfortunately, irritates Americans. And maybe that’s why the current climate science officialdom is seeing such great resistance from mere mortals. To the rescue, though, Mr. Mann announces the deployment of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (aka “truth squad”), to quickly quash any threat to the institutional ideology from, say, practicing atmospheric scientists in the real world.
Regardless, even if Mr. Mann’s reconstruction of climate change from the recent thousand years is an actual reproduction of such change (which, based on understandably limited proxy data, is arguable), the climate science authorities’ insistence that human-produced emissions will lead to adverse meteorological mischief across the globe throughout the rest of this century and beyond is pure prognostic poppycock. The climate system is too complex. The role of the principal climate regulator, water, in all its forms - as solid in ice sheets, liquid in cloud droplets and oceans, and vapor in ambient air - is too unknown for predictive climate models to grant forecasting fortune to specially imbued foretellers.
I realize such heretical talk is not welcome in the climate of today’s science, but, as we all know, climate changes.
Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist with more than 30 years of experience in the atmospheric-science field. He specializes in air-quality issues.