How they must hate him! By which I mean how the HAFs (Hot Air Fanatics) must hate Stephen McIntyre. This retired geologist and master of statistical methodology has, from the quiet comfort of his retirement in Canada, picked up his computer and mounted a painstaking, unrelenting and forensic examination of the claims of several HAF scientists whose reports over the last 25 years have been swallowed whole by the United Nations, Al Gore, our Prime Minister, to name but a few. In particular, McIntyre has concentrated on the claims of Michael Mann of the University of Virginia whose research produced the famous 'hockey stick' graph purporting to show that global temperatures remained steady over the preceding 1,000 years but suddenly ticked upwards at the beginning of the 2oth century - thus producing a graph that resembles a hockey stick lying on its back edge.
This graph has become the icon, and the religious connotation of that word is most apt, for the HAF sect. Of course, prior to the 19th c. there were no scientific recordings of temperatures and in an effort to estimate them for earlier times the scientists, especially Michael Mann, were forced to use proxy indicators such as tree ring widths. In essence, the colder the weather the wider the tree rings. Papers published by 'Mann et al' confirmed absolutely that notions of a medieval warm period, attested to by written historical records, were completely wrong and no such 'warmer' period ever occurred.
As McIntyre discovered, there were two problems with this proposition. First, it is an unwritten but stern 'law' of science that the proposer of any theory must publicise his methodology so that others may repeat the experiment. All of McIntyre's efforts to discover Mann's original data and the codes used to apply statistical algorithms were more or less refused point blank. The scientific editor of Mann's papers which were submitted to the United Nations in order to produce the IPCC reports is employed by our very own Meteorological Office. Under threat from the Freedom of Information Act, he refused access to his papers on the grounds, first, that they had been destroyed and, second, that they were his personal property! Undeterred, McIntyre, by dint of much hard work and experimentation gradually reproduced what he reckoned must have been Mann's statistical methodology and he showed that it was so slanted that you could feed almost any set of data into it and still get the same result. The original information on tree rings came from expeditions undertaken in the 1980s - the trees used are of the conifer type found high up in the cold regions of mountain sides. Despite McIntyre's requests that these measurements be taken again in order to check what had occurred in the last 20 to 30 years, Mann refused on the grounds of the difficulties and expense of the expeditions required. Unfortunately for him, others decided to do it anyway and the results were mortifying for 'Mann et al', in general, and Al Gore, in particular. The latter, in his propaganda film, "An Inconvenient Truth", took some time to praise the 'hockey stick' and rubbish those who opposed it. However, the research carried out to update the tree ring data showed that in the last 20 to 30 years the rings had narrowed, not widened, as they should have done if the temperature had increased! This 'Divergence Problem', as it is called, has produced some red-faces here and there but absolutely no change in the frantic HAF campaign to convince us all that things are getting warmer even if the evidence to support is as hooky as a hockey stick!
McIntyre was invited to the World Federation of Scientists seminar in Erice, Sicily, this summer and he gave a presentation of his critiques of current HAF 'science' backed up by a published paper. This can and should be read, here. It is easily understood even by non-scientific types like me - and probably you! It is devastating to that part of global warming science that seeks to support a leap in temperatures in the 20th century by means of a comparison with previous centuries. It is also a devastating commentary on the ethics and reputation of so-called scientists who keep repeating their mantras without a shred of convincing evidence to support them.
Stephen McIntyre deserves the Nobel Prize for Services to Science, if there is one, and if there isn't, they should invent it now and give it to him anyway!