John Quiggin on the End of the Strongman
Department of "Huh?!": Irish Economy Edition

Joe Romm on Michael Mann and the "Hockey Stick"

Me? I had always thought that the "hockey stick" was more a measure of our ignorance of the pre-1800 climate--when you don't know much, your best estimate is going to be close to your sample mean and is not going to move around very much, while when you do know what is going on your estimates will track a quite possibly changing reality.

But since Mann and company first started their reconstructions, the evidence that we have now substantially exceeded past historic climate variability on a global scale has been piling up.

And now Joe Romm reports:

Climate Secret: NSF Quietly Closes Out Inspector General Investigation with Complete Vindication of Michael Mann: NSF Inspector General:  “Finding no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws discussed above, this case is closed.”

Two things we know with extremely high confidence:

  1. Recent warming is unprecedented in magnitude and speed and cause (so the temperature history looks like a Hockey Stick).
  2. Michael Mann, the lead author on the original Hockey Stick paper, is one of the nation’s top climatologists and a source of first-rate analysis.

We know these things because both the Hockey Stick and Mann have been independently investigated and vindicated more times than any other facet of climate science or any other climate scientist….  While the anti-science extremists who rule the Tea Party and the right-wing bunkosphere keep shouting lies about the Hockey Stick and Mann — and urging their followers to “shout down” science-based commenters on independent websites — the vindications of the science and the man are reported as quietly as if they came from the Whos of Whoville. And so after countless investigations — 3 in the U.K., 2 by Penn State, the EPA, the NOAA IG — that have all unanimously found the allegations against climate scientists and their research conclusions based on the hacked “ClimateGate” emails to be wholly unsubstantiated, a top GOP presidential candidate backed by the fossil fuel industry still gives voice to the Texas-sized lie (see “Denier Rick Perry Takes $11 Million from Big Oil, Then Claims Climate Scientists ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money“).

And so while Mann and the Hockey Stick were getting yet another full vindication (from Penn State) earlier this year, Fox News was trumpeting one final investigation:

But the final say will be in the hands of a skeptical inspector general at the National Science Foundation, the primary funder of the research into global warming. According to published documents obtained by, the IG must determine whether Penn State’s investigation was adequate. The Office of Inspector General confirmed that it will review the misconduct charges. A spokeswoman told that “in accordance with our research misconduct regulation, (45 C.F.R. part 689), when the OIG is provided with an institution’s investigation report, we review it for fairness, accuracy and completeness” — issues the investigation has already been faulted for….

The IG analyzed all of the charges “de novo” and concluded:

Finding no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws discussed above, this case is closed.

I have uploaded the full report here, but you can also go the NSF IG website here and insert “A09120086.”

Let me end with some key findings of the Penn State investigation:

“An Investigatory Committee of faculty members with impeccable credentials” has unanimously “determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.”

His work “clearly places Dr. Mann among the most respected scientists in his field…. Dr. Mann’s work, from the beginning of his career, has been recognized as outstanding.“

So Mann isn’t merely a competent researcher.  He is one of the leading climate scientists in this country, which of course is precisely why the anti-science crowd has gone after him, much as they have with other leading climate scientists, including Hansen and Santer.

And that’s one more reason why the major media outlets who smeared and defamed him owe him an apology and a retraction — loud ones!

Recent Studies Vindicating the Hockey Stick:

  1. Temperatures of North Atlantic “are unprecedented over the past 2000 years and are presumably linked to the Arctic amplification of global warming” — Science (2011)
  2. GRL (2010):  “We conclude that the 20th century warming of the incoming intermediate North Atlantic water has had no equivalent during the last thousand years.“
  3. JGR (2010):  “The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years.”
  4. Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds (2009)
  5. Unprecedented warming in Lake Tanganyika and its impact on humanity (2010)"