Unlike Al Gore, pulling numbers from wherever he’s stuck his char-broiled thermometer, Stephen McIntyre of Climate Audit likes to look ‘em over first. He’s profiled today by the Wall Street Journal Europe:
In September, he revealed that a famous graph using tree rings to show unprecedented 20th century warming relies on thin data. Since its publication in 2000, University of East Anglia professor Keith Briffa’s much-celebrated image has made star appearances everywhere from U.N. policy papers to activists’ posters. Like other so-called “hockey stick” temperature graphs, it’s an easy sell—one look and it seems Gadzooks! We’re burning ourselves up!
“It was the belle of the ball,” Mr. McIntyre told me on a recent phone call from Ontario. “Its dance card was full.”
At least until Mr. McIntyre reported that the modern portion of that graph, which shows temperatures appearing to skyrocket in the last 100 years, relies on just 12 tree cores in Russia’s Yamal region. When Mr. McIntyre presented a second graph, adding data from 34 tree cores from a nearby site, the temperature spike disappears…
Prior to the Briffa graph revelation, he had also caught a statistical error that undercut another exalted “hockey stick” graph prominently featured by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, this one by Michael Mann, head of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center… In 2007, Mr. McIntyre found a technical gaffe that forced NASA to correct itself and admit that 1934, not 1998, was the warmest year recorded in the continental U.S.
“The science is settled” means: The politics is settled. So the science has to follow.