An MMA-style fight may be the only way to solve this thing.
In this corner, wearing the red trunks of warming, Shaun Marcott!
Back in 1999 Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann released the climate change movement’s most potent symbol: The “hockey stick,” a line graph of global temperature over the last 1,500 years that shows an unmistakable, massive uptick in the twentieth century when humans began to dump large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s among the most compelling bits of proof out there that human beings are behind global warming, and as such has become a target on Mann’s back for climate denialists looking to draw a bead on scientists.
Now it’s gotten a makeover: A study published in Science reconstructs global temperatures further back than ever before — a full 11,300 years. The new analysis finds that the only problem with Mann’s hockey stick was that its handle was about 9,000 years too short.
To be clear, the study finds that temperatures in about a fifth of this historical period were higher than they are today. But the key, said lead author Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University, is that temperatures are shooting through the roof faster than we’ve ever seen.
“What we found is that temperatures increased in the last hundred years as much as they had cooled in the last six or seven thousand,” he said. “In other words, the rate of change is much greater than anything we’ve seen in the whole Holocene,” referring to the current geologic time period, which began around 11,500 years ago.
And in this corner, wearing the blue trunks of cooling, Lawrence Solomon and the Met Office of Britain!
That iconic “hockey stick” graph, showing temperatures recently shooting up into the stratosphere, may now have been discredited. But just as important have been all those graphs showing how temperatures have changed in recent decades. These have the effect of greatly exaggerating those changes, by narrowly focusing just on what are called temperature “anomalies”, showing how they have risen and fallen round their average level in the past 30-odd years.
What the graphs do not show is the actual level of global temperature, as it is measured above freezing point. In other words, they leave out by far the greater part of the total picture. So the respected Canadian environmental writer, Lawrence Solomon, recently had the bright idea of publishing in his Financial Post newspaper column a graph showing the temperature changes of the past 15 years in proper perspective, using figures from the most prestigious of all official temperature records, compiled by the UK Met Office and its Hadley Centre.
The result, as can be seen here, is startling. By including that huge part of the data usually left out, we see that the line looks virtually flat. The actual changes look relatively so small, compared with those rises and falls of several whole degrees the world survived in the past, that any idea that we are facing catastrophic warming pales into insignificance.
There’s no love lost between these two. Observe the Marquess of Queensbury rules, gentlemen. Shake hands, and come out fighting.