Last month the National Research Council report on climate reconstructions released its report and basically vindicated the hockey stick. This was widely reported in the media. But not in The Australian. I did a search through the archives of The Australian to see what they had published about the study. They did not report anything when the hockey stick study was published or when it was included in the TAR or publish anything supportive of it. They have, however, published several stories on how it was wrong or fraudulent.
For example, Soon and Sallie Baliunas’ badly flawed paper was touted as refuting the hockey stick. Mark Steyn was allowed to claim that Mann, Bradley and Hughes were guilty of fraud. And now, right on the front page, the hacks who put out The Australian claim that Global Warming is a fraud. (Next week the headline will probably be “The Fraud of Evolution”.)
If you’ve been following the hockey stick wars, you’ve probably guessed that The Australian is peddling the Wegman report. Because the Wegman report was commissioned for an obviously partisan purpose by Joe Barton, and because the non-partisan NRC report had already covered the same ground and then some, Wegman’s report has been ignored by the media. Apart from The Australian, the only other newspaper to mention this is the notorious Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Inside the paper we find Alan Wood writing:
[Wegman]’s report was released last Friday and supported McKitrick and McIntyre’s criticisms of the hockey stick, finding Mann’s statistical work flawed and unable to support the claims of the hottest century, decade and year of the past millennium.
The terms of reference for Wegman were carefully constructed to ask if there were flaws in Mann’s eight-year old paper but not to address the broader question of what effect such flaws have on the temperature reconstruction. This is so folks like Wood can declare the hockey stick broken if any flaw is found. Did Mann’s paper contain flaws? The NRC panel agreed that it did, but also found that they made little difference to the reconstruction. Wood, of course, doesn’t mention this.
However, it destroys the idea of an alarming escalation in global temperatures and, as the Wall Street Journal remarked on Friday, brings the present temperature rise within the range of natural historical variation.
Even if the hockey stick was broken this would not follow. Never mind the reconstructions, the instrumental record shows an alarming escalation in temperatures. And if we don’t have a reconstruction, then we don’t know whether or not the present temperature rise is within the range of natural historical variation.
But there is no escaping the damage done to the IPCC’s reputation. It has relied heavily on a badly flawed piece of work, produced by what Wegman discovered was a small, insular group of paleoclimatologists who incestuously peer review, reinforce and defend each others’ work.
The NRC panel concluded otherwise. Mann’s work was not badly flawed, but Wegman’s Social Network Analysis was.
Wood then continues to cherry pick his studies, citing the dodgy House of Lords Committee on Economic Affairs inquiry while ignoring the better Stern review, as John Quiggin explains.
Wood’s article and the front page headline appears in the Wednesday Australian, which has the Higher Educational Supplement, full of ads from Australian universities for academic positions. I think universities should find more effective means of using their advertising dollars than giving them to a newspaper that holds science, scientists and the scientific method in such contempt.