There’s a New Hockey Stick in Town!

Dr. Michael Mann’s famous 1998 six hundred year long “hockey stick”

Is bigger better?

Back in 1998, a young newly-minted climatologist published an article in Nature that rocked the global warming world. It reconstructed 600 years worth of temperature proxy data showing a dramatic 20th century rise in Earth’s temperature.

Because of it’s unique shape, it got dubbed the “hockey stick” graph. It’s expanded version achieved fame in the IPCC’s 2001 Third Climate Assessment Report (TAR).

Now, there is a new hockey stick come to town. In the words of western movie star, John Wayne, “Welll, this here town isn’t big enough for the two of us, so one of us has gotta go!”

Another young gun, Oregon State University’s Shaun Marcott, wants to prove he can outdraw the big dog, Dr. Michael Mann. Marcott created a bigger, better hockey stick than Mann’s and it hit the news this month like an atomic bomb.

The Atlantic, National Review and CNN all immediately ran dramatic doom-and-gloom headliner stories about it.

Yet, upon closer inspection, it still begs the immortal question… is bigger better?

The Marcott Hockey Stick

Dr. Shaun Marcott’s 11,300 year long hockey stick built from 73 temperature proxy databases

Take that, Michael Mann! Marcott’s paper includes zillions of temperature proxy databases and goes back 5 times further than Mann’s puny little hockey stick! On top of that, it shows a nearly straight up rise in Earth’s temperature that looks to boil away the oceans before you can say, “It’s hot outside!”

However, before you give away all your possessions to await the end of the world, you just might wanna take a little closer look at Marcott’s data. That is what Stephen McIntyre did.

McIntyre isn’t a climatologist. He isn’t a scientist. He is a retired mathematician. He is looking very closely at Marcott’s numbers. He’s had some very interesting findings so far.

McIntyre vs. Marcott

We can easily see Marcott’s earth temperature trend is DOWN, not up. If not for the giant rise on the far right we’d be talking cold, not hot.

If not for that big spike at the end there would be no dramatic global warming news stories. It is that spike that McIntyre is looking at.

In techy science lingo, Marcott’s is mostly a 100-year reconstruction. That means that each point in his graph represents the average earth temperature over 100-year increments derived from 73 proxy datasets. That means the 20th century is represented by one data point. All of Marcott’s main conclusions derive from that single point.

According to McIntyre, Marcott’s late centuries reconstructions are faulty. They are faulty, he says, for many reasons, including:

  • Marcott’s proxy source data cannot reproduce the dramatic jump in 20th century temps
  • Marcott appeared (by mistake?) to fudge icecore sample dates that support his conclusions
  • Only 9 of 73 proxy datasets contribute to Marcott’s most dramatic, quoted claims
  • Some late century data points that don’t support his conclusions were omitted
  • 10% of Marcott’s data fails his own criteria for inclusion
  • The big spike isn’t included in Marcott’s Ph.D thesis, but it is in the Science article
  • The giant jump is created with literally only a single actual data point reconstruction

McIntyre expresses surprise that Marcott’s paper passed peer review. His are some serious charges. McIntyre makes them in numerous technical reviews backed up with pretty solid evidence.

For example, here is McIntyre’s plot of the Marcott data points from the actual reconstruction:

McIntyre plot of Marcott’s data – single data point for 1940 generates all the dramatic conclusions

Republished from where they appear in an article titled “Where’s the hockey stick? The ‘Marcott 9′ show no warming past 1950, here are the 9 proxy databases generating Marcott’s 1940 data point:

Though the Agazzi-Renland result shows a jump, that should be compensated for by the 8 other datasets mostly showing temperature drops. Marcott’s results break down at the end.


The mainstream media, on the hunt for global warming disasters to report, were drawn to Marcott’s new hockey stick paper like flies to flypaper. Science published Marcott’s results. What it apparently failed to do was properly scrutinize the paper in peer review.

Something you will not hear about on CNN is the lonely efforts of a retired mathematician putting a reality check on iffy science. The NSF put out a splashy press release pushing the article. Given the publicity, it is unlikely Marcott will ever be withdrawn no matter how poorly supported it is.

But Stephen McIntyre’s one-man wrecking crew puts the “junk” into peer reviewed junk science.

Global warming proponents might be relieved to have the original Michael Mann hockey stick to fall back on. Whoops! Not so fast. McIntyre has plenty to say about that hockey stick, too.

But that is a story for another time.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Mar 27, 2013, in Climate, climate change, environment, Global Warming, IPCC, Life, news, Opinion, Politics, science. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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