As you probably know, leading scientist Malcolm Hughes held a press conference today to announce what could be a game-changing result in paleoclimatology.
Flanked by coauthors Raymond Bradley and Michael Mann, Hughes said that thanks to new, better data, they’d finally succeeded in approximating a ‘hockey stick’ curve without the use of cheating—putting paid at last to denialist claims that the iconic temperature-reconstruction is somehow ‘fraudulent.’
Hughes et al. have written up their findings in HBM2015, due out next month. Here’s what the lesser outlets are saying about it.
The instantly-recognizable “hockey stick” graph made its debut in MBH’98, a seminal article by scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes that has been plagued by suspicions of monkey business ever since its publication last century.
That accusation, according to the authors of a major new peer-reviewed study, “is irrelevant.”
It turns out jiggery-pokery isn’t even necessary to get “essentially” the correct, hoccobacilliform curve for historic temperatures, Dr Malcolm Hughes explained at a media conference today. That’s the take-home conclusion of a paper Hughes authored with colleagues Raymond Bradley and Michael Mann, which goes to print next month under the title Millennial Climate Reconstructions are Robust to the Addition or Removal of Shenanigans.
After eliminating any disreputable or disingenuous steps involved in producing the original graph, said the authors, they found it was still possible to get “just about as good a hockey-stickish result as most recent studies”—all without straying an inch from accepted climatological practices.
The finding is just the latest in almost two decades of independent vindications of the work of Mann, Bradley and Hughes in 1998.
Lead author Hughes said he hopes the new facts will silence once and for all the ‘skeptics’ who allege—vocally if not outright vehemently—that the disturbing diagram presented in MBH’98 is necessarily the product of sleight of hand.
But one coauthor, Dr Mann, failed to share his optimism. He interrupted Dr Hughes to say that in his experience deniers, as they’re technically known, seldom learn from their mistakes. A roomful of journalists tittered in sympathy.
Today’s revelation won’t be official until it comes out in November’s issue of Sap (the journal widely considered the Bible of dendroclimatology). Because of the extraordinary public interest in the findings, however—a function of the sheer urgency of the climate issue in general—the researchers decided it was unethical to wait. This morning’s media event was their way of giving the world as much notice as possible, as far away as possible from the noisy scrutiny of self-appointed literary critics.
Science-by-press-release is frowned on in normal fields of inquiry, but such are the existential ramifications of global warming theory—and the toxic counterarguments of its doubters—that the practice has increasingly become a necessary evil for climate scientists.
Which doesn’t mean they have to like it. Hughes, Bradley and Mann weren’t entirely comfortable with today’s publicity, and it showed. Throughout their remarks they had the resentful, almost haughty bearing of pure intellectuals dragged into the political spotlight against their will. We’d rather be in the lab—said their petulant mien—enriching human knowledge by discovering the next killer argument against hockey-stick denial.