Hockey Stick

Perhaps the most extreme example of corruption in the field of climate science is the Hockey Stick of Dr. Michael Mann at the University of Pennsylvania.  See also 2 videos on this subject:  Link

Major problems for the AGW alarmists have been the existence of the Medieval Warm Period, covering the period from about 950 to 1250, during which temperatures were significantly warmer than today (with lower levels of CO2 during that time than recent levels), and the Little Ice Age, lasting from about 1550 to about 1700, (although abnormally cold periods extended from about 1400 to the late 1880’s). 


The Little Ice Age is a problem because global temperature has been warming since then due to natural causes, not related to CO2.  Enter Dr. Michael Mann with the “solution” – to eliminate these troublesome periods all together – with cherry-picked tree ring data along with other data falsification and a highly questionable computer program. 


He has steadily tried to restrict access to his data and program, and he has initiated two court cases trying to silence his critics, one of which, against Dr. Tim Ball, in British Columbia, has ended with Mann being cited for contempt of court for refusing to release his data and program, opening him up to criminal prosecution, both in Canada and in the US.  The second defamation suit filed in Washington DC, in 2012, is against Mark Steyn (another Canadian), but has still not yet been scheduled. 


Mann’s deception is so extreme that two books have been written, exposing his dishonesty:  “A Disgrace to the Profession – the World’s Scientists in Their Own Words”, 2015, compiled and edited by Mark Steyn, and “The Hockey Stick Illusion”, 2010, by A. W. Montford.


To illustrate the extreme degree of deception, consider the following two temperature graphs covering the time from 1000 AD to recent times, from two different IPCC reports, the first from 1990, and the second from 2001.  Note the large temperature swings for the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age for the 1990 Report, have been completely eliminated in the 2001 Report.  Mann did indeed accomplish his goal by eliminating these troublesome periods with his Hockey Stick graph. 



For comparison purposes, is the following graph for the last 2000 years’ worth of temperature data, bearing a very strong similarity to and reinforcing the temperature data shown in the 1990 IPCC Report:



Link to Picture Source


“This graph shows the average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007…. It clearly shows that natural climate variability happens, and these proxies coincide with known events in human history.”  (Bold emphasis added.)


Other, non-tree ring proxies include bore holes, coral bands, layering of stalactites and stalagmites, lake sediments, and the composition of gas bubbles trapped deep in the ice sheets.  These non-tree-ring proxies disagree with more suspect tree-ring temperature conclusions.


Tree-ring data is known to have a serious problem of correlation with temperature, known as the “divergence problem”: Wikipedia Link

“The divergence problem is an anomaly from the field of dendroclimatology, the study of past climate through observations of old trees, primarily the properties of their annual growth rings.  It is the disagreement between the temperatures measured by the thermometers (instrumental temperatures) and the temperatures reconstructed from the latewood densities or, in some cases, widths of tree rings in the far northern forests.

While the thermometer records indicate a substantial late 20th century warming trend, many tree rings from such sites do not display a corresponding change in their maximum latewood density. In some studies this issue has also been found with tree ring width.  A temperature trend extracted from tree rings alone would not show any substantial warming since the 1950s. The temperature graphs calculated in these two ways thus ‘diverge’ from one another, which is the origin of the term.”


There is a good discussion of both Climategate (see elsewhere in the website for more details), Mann’s Hockey Stick, and the divergence problem in: Article Link:

“One bona fide climate expert, Richard Lindzen of MIT, has gone on the record accusing Mann and others of data rigging and outright falsification.”


“For reasons researchers still can’t explain, those wood measurements track neatly with temperatures from the late 1800s to the 1960s. After that, they show temperatures going down while the thermometers show the opposite.”


“Scientists have been discussing this “divergence” problem in the open for years.

Opinions differ among scientists as to the importance of the divergence problem, but most say there’s enough other evidence to support the hockey stick. [After reading the remainder of this section, make up your own mind as to whether you agree that “most” scientists would be right.]  One exception is MIT’s Richard Lindzen.

‘Anyone familiar with these issues would say these [e-mails] explicitly refer to falsification and rigging of data.’


“Lindzen said the failure of the proxies to reflect temperature trends in the last few decades is a real problem. If the proxies don’t align with temperatures for the last 30 years, he said, how can we rely on them to tell us what the temperatures were for the last 1,000?”


Most of Michael Mann’s “data” was tree-ring based, and is therefore fundamentally suspect, but worse than that, he compounded credibility problems by cherry-picking only data from selected trees that supported his objectives, while purging conflicting data.  He used Bristlecone Pine data from the White Mountains in California, one tree of which is 5066 years old (as of 2017), but their growth is known to be sensitive to high elevation CO2 levels, as well as precipitation variations.  Mann’s team knew there were problems using these trees because of peculiarities in their recent growth, but they proceeded anyway.  Worse than that, Mann’s Hockey Stick used data up to 1421 that came from a single tree in Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, and only two trees from 1477 on.  To make matters still worse, he double-counted them in two separate data sets.  (Reputable dendrochronologists recommend using data from a minimum of 5 trees.)  Thus he was able to dispense with the Medieval Warming Period, and the Little Ice Age. 


However, world history and, interestingly, the art world, both independently confirm the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, in ways that AGW alarmists and Michael Mann cannot possibly hide, deny, or falsify.  In the graph above, the Vikings arrived in Greenland around 1000 AD.  There is an archeological excavation site in the extreme northern end of a peninsula in Newfoundland, “L’Anse aux Meadows, among other sites, populated by the Vikings during that time.  They called the area they settled, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Greenland, “Vinland”.  They were able to grown grapes for wine, but not so today, as it is considerably too cold.  Again, temperatures were higher during the Medieval Warm Period, but CO2 was at lower levels.  Settlements died out when the Little Ice Age arrived.  Paintings from this time show a very balmy climate.



Contrast that with paintings during the Little Ice Age.  European life still flourished on frozen canals in the Netherlands. People were skating on the ice and shopped in market stalls, which were established on the ice. It was a popular motif for several painters, the painting below, by Francis G. Maye.


Link to Source


In London during the Little Ice Age, Ice Fairs were held on the frozen River Thames, not possible today.  Painting by Abraham Hondius, 1684:


Picture Source


It is not at all likely that this sort of “data” will be manipulated!  So the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age are very well established, and cannot be hidden by the efforts of Michael Mann and others.


Returning to the books mentioned above, in “A Disgrace to the Profession…”, p. 27 there is a very appropriate quote from Dr. Jeffrey Foss:

“It is difficult to avoid the impression that the IPCC uncritically accepted scientific work that ‘repealed’ the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age because these two well-known features of the climate record place Global Warming Theory in doubt, at least for the global public.”


Later in the same book, p.34:  “But the work of Mann and his colleagues was initially accepted uncritically, even though it contradicted the results of more than 100 previous studies.  Other researchers have since reaffirmed that the Medieval Warm Period was both warm and global in its extent.”


“The Hockey Stick Illusion”, well worth reading, chronicles an extremely detailed account of the unbelievably persistent, drawn-out, and dedicated attempts of Steve Mcintyre and Ross Mckitrick to validate Michael Mann’s conclusions.  Throughout their endeavor, they were constantly deflected and obstructed by Mann in their attempts to gain access to his data and program.  The following excerpt from Mann’s reply to their inquiries exemplifies the lack of cooperation:

“Owing to numerous demands on my time, I will not be able to respond to further inquiries.  Other researchers have successfully implemented our methodology based on information provided in our articles [see e.g. Zorita, et al 1998].


I trust, therefore, that you will find (as in this case) that all necessary details are provided in the papers we have published or the supplementary information links provided by those papers.

      Best of luck with your work,

      Sincerely, Michael Mann”


Through extensive additional probing of others related to Mann’s work, and Mann’s FTP site, they were able to piece together a fair amount of the data.  Mcintyre and Mckitrick found numerous errors in the data, and there were many instances of unfounded attacks by Mann’s group of their attempts to reconstruct the data, a reliable submission of Mann’s data never having been provided.  With Mann refusing to release their computer program, through some sleuthing on Mann’s FTP site, they were able to reconstruct most of Mann’s Fortran computer program.  One of the things they found was that if random numbers were entered into the program, a Hockey Stick still emerged!


The amount of obfuscation and deception is breath-taking, particularly in light of the IPCC willingly accepting such obviously corrupt information and actually publishing it, in spite of the substantial contradicting information readily available, as a stunning display of the lure of money and power.


Maybe not surprisingly, in the face of ample criticism, Mann has lashed out at two particularly harsh critics, Dr. Tim Ball and Mark Steyn (both Canadians, interestingly), and has initiated defamation lawsuits against them, as mentioned above.  Following is a little more detail on the suit, recently concluded against Dr. Tim Ball from John Sullivan:  Courtroom Article Link



“The defendant in the libel trial, the 79-year-old Canadian climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball (above, right) is expected to instruct his British Columbia attorneys to trigger mandatory punitive court sanctions, including a ruling that Mann did act with criminal intent when using public funds to commit climate data fraud. Mann’s imminent defeat is set to send shock waves worldwide within the climate science community as the outcome will be both a legal and scientific vindication of U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that climate scare stories are a ‘hoax’.”


As Dr. Ball explains:

‘Michael Mann moved for an adjournment of the trial scheduled for February 20, 2017. We had little choice because Canadian courts always grant adjournments before a trial in their belief that an out of court settlement is preferable. We agreed to an adjournment with conditions. The major one was that he [Mann] produce all documents including computer codes by February 20th, 2017. He failed to meet the deadline’.”


“Mann’s now proven contempt of court means Ball is entitled to have the court serve upon Mann the fullest punishment. Contempt sanctions could reasonably include the judge ruling that Dr. Ball’s statement that Mann ‘belongs in the state pen, not Penn. State’ is a true statement of fact. This is because under Canada’s unique ‘Truth Defense’, Mann is proven to have willfully hidden his data and the court can rule on this because it is fake. As such, the court must dismiss Mann’s entire libel suit with costs awarded to Ball and his team.”


“Dr. Ball has been at the forefront of those scientists demanding more openness and transparency by government-funded researchers.”



“A bitter and embarrassing defeat for a scientist, self-styled as a ‘Nobel Prize winner’ and the epitome of virtue, this outcome leaves not only Michael Mann, but the climate science community in crisis. Mann has always been a publicity-seeking mouthpiece against skeptics who called him out for fakery.”


“But it gets worse for the litigious Michael Mann. Close behind Dr. Ball is celebrated writer Mark Steyn. Steyn also defends himself against Mann’s Washington DC SLAPP suit and claims Mann ‘has perverted the norms of science on an industrial scale.’ Esteemed American climate scientist, Dr. Judith Curry, has submitted to the court an Amicus Curiae legal brief exposing Mann.”


Since Mann’s defamation suit against Mark Steyn has not been scheduled yet, it is difficult to say much about it.   But Mark has been trying to accelerate the schedule since with the multi-year delay, as one of his key witnesses has passed away.  The following, quite entertaining YouTube video link of Mark Steyn, addressing the Heartland Institute on Climate Change, in which there are comments about Mann’s case being a First Amendment issue, is well worth watching:

YouTube Video Link


In conclusion, Mann’s Hockey Stick is a monumental travesty.



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