Thursday, September 21, 2006

My thoughts on the hockey stick

A few people have asked me what I think about the hockey-stick debate. Here are a few thoughts.

(1) I never say whether the hockey stick is "right" or "wrong". Labels like that are ambiguous and misleading. I actually don't know whether it was wrong or not, but I do know that some of the best research has turned out, in the end, to be wrong; it's value was in pointing the community towards an interesting question.

(2) I adopt the NRC's party line that we simply cannot say whether the MWP was warmer or not than the present. I've seen a lot of people misinterpret this to mean that we can now say that the MWP was warmer than present. That's incorrect --- the uncertainty cuts both ways. We cannot say today is warmer than the MWP or that the MWP is warmer than today. We just do not know.

(3) The hockey stick plays little or no role in attribution of the recent rise in temperatures to human activities. For example, see this blog entry where I talk about why we think much of today's warming is caused by man. Note the absence of any reference to the hockey stick. Thus, the statement that humans are contributing to the present day warming remains unscathed.

(4) The scientific community should provide code and data to any interested party. Not being forthcoming with these things seems to me to violate the ethos of science, well summed up by the AGU's motto: "unselfish cooperation in research." And it makes us look bad.

1 comment:

chrisl said...

It does not sound as if you are a big fan of the hockey stick Andrew, especially given what you wrote in point 4.(where's the data?) The hockey stick was a very useful tool to alert(alarm?) people about global warming and will probably be pushed aside and replaced with computer models.Plenty of "data" there.