I’m in an interesting dilemma. I’m just finishing up a book on global warming and nuclear power. The premise is this:
A. Global warming is a serious problem that should be solved.
B. Nuclear power is the only way we’re going to solve it.
It’s a simple premise that defies both liberal and conservatives — fair enough. But ultimately it could get both on the same side. Then we might get something done in the country. Environmentalists hate nuclear but they worry about global warming more. Conservatives pooh-pooh global warming but they do like nuclear power. So maybe we could get going on a nuclear economy that would at least free us from coal (the worst polluter) and maybe eventually cut into our imported oil.
When I came to the chapter on global warming, the argument seemed fairly cut-and-dried. I employed the graph put out by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change in 2000. It shows global temperatures staying on a very even keel over the last 1,000 years until suddenly jetting upward into unknown territory since 1980. What could be simpler? Global warming is real.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, this graph is commonly referred, in good Silicon Valley fashion, to as the “hockey stick.”
Two months ago I tested the waters by writing a Spectator.org column called “Endorse Kyoto.” As I expected, a lot of people wrote in denouncing me for giving in to the liberals on global warming. What I didn’t expect was that many alert readers clued me in to something that has emerged over the last five years — the hockey stick is a fraud.
THE BIG PROBLEM FOR GLOBAL WARMING alarmists is a period called “The Medieval Warming,” which occurred from about 950 A.D. to 1350 A.D. It’s well known from the history books. The Vikings colonized Greenland in 982 A.D. and stayed until 1425 A.D., when the cold weather and permafrost drove them out. While there they mapped the northern coast of Greenland, which is now encased in ice (although it’s slowly melting). Leif Ericsson, blown off course while headed for Greenland in 1000 A.D., discovered “Vinland” — probably Nova Scotia — where he found wild wheat and grapes growing in abundance. Today the land is barren.
In fact, the IPCC had known about the Medieval Warming all along. In 1996 it published a temperature graph that clearly showed the Medieval Warming. There wasn’t any dispute at that point.
What happened? Somehow a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts named Michael Mann did some fancy things with some tree-ring data from California in 1998 and came up with the “hockey stick.” Such a blatantly ahistorical effort would have only raised eyebrows under ordinary circumstances, but it turned out to be just what the UN wanted — proof that global warming was unprecedented! The IPCC made the hockey stick the centerpiece of its 2001 Climate Report. Bill Clinton also used it as the centerpiece of his 2000 National Report on Climate Change. The government of Canada sent a copy of the graph to every household in the country. In the end, the IPCC appointed Mann editor of its Journal of Climate — not bad for a lowly Ph.D. student.
Slowly the criticisms trickled in. Two Canadian statisticians, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, examined Mann’s algorithms and found that any random data plugged into the equations produced the same hockey stick. The hockey-stick fraud was also the subject of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.
The Hudson Institute has just published an excellent book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, chronicling the whole controversy and more. Authors S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery present their own counter-theory — that the earth goes through regular 1,500-year cycles of warming and cooling, driven by the fluctuating intensity of the sun. There was a Roman Warming from 200 B.C. to 600 A.D. — and of course the well-documented Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850, when Europe nearly froze to death.p>All this is part of the guerrilla warfare that is going on between proponents and skeptics of global warming. Dennis Deming, a climate scientist at the University of Oklahoma, recently told the Senate about his experience in the field: br> /p>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?