This is for climate science and/or climate policy geeks only. Back on November 21st, 2005, Roger Pielke, Jr. wrote a post that (I think) nicely summarized the irrelevance of the tussle over Michael Mann’s hockey stick reconstruction of proxy temperature data. Roger began with this:
A few weeks ago we posed a challenge to both parties involved in the so-called “hockey stick” debate to explain why the rest of us ought to care about the debate. We asked, “so what?” We received responses from Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick while everyone on the other side declined to participate, though a few showed up in the comments. Here I’d like to offer a few assorted reflections on the responses and the subsequent discussion.
1. First, thanks to Steve McIntyre (SM) and Ross McKitrick (RM) for providing thoughtful responses. The responses motivated a healthy discussion and for me provided some greater insight into the dynamics of the ongoing debate within the climate community not just over the hockey stick, but broader issues as well.
2. Interestingly enough, the response from SM is completely in agreement with RealClimate contributors Stefan Rahmsdorf (SR) and William Connelley (WC) that the “hockey stick” debate is pretty much irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not greenhouse gases will affect the future climate. Consider:
SR: “The discussions about the past millennium are not discussions about whether humans are changing climate; neither do they affect our projections for the future.”
WC: “Why is this fight important to the rest of us? the answer is: you shouldn’t. It isn’t..”
SM: “I’m inclined to agree that, for the most part, the Hockey Stick does not matter to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2.”
This agreement is interesting because it means we can move beyond the often invoked assertion that the hockey stick is the keystone supporting the entire scientific basis of climate science. Others may assert that the hockey stick is a scientific keystone, but apparently not the principals involved in this debate.
There is much more detail, and exhausting nitpicking in the comments, so continue reading…