QUESTIONS HAUNT GLOBAL WARMING 'HOCKEY STICK'

Bob Tippee

In quick succession, the science of global warming has pushed its way into politics, and politics has pushed back.

On June 7, the national science academies of the G8 nations plus Brazil, China, and India issued a statement urging governments to act in response to climate change.

"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action," the statement said, calling for "cost-effective steps" to reduce net global emissions of greenhouse gases.

The statement obviously was timed to influence events at a G8 summit this month. Thus have the national academies become political institutions.

So politics responds. On June 23, US Reps. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent pointed inquiries to scientists associated with a politically crucial element of climate change research—the notorious hockey-stick record of abnormality in calculated global temperature.

On a plot of that record, temperature change is relatively flat from AD 1000 until a jump in the last century, when greenhouse gases have been building up in the atmosphere.

The hockey-stick curve seems to discredit temperature-proxy records indicating a period warmer than the present during 1000-1400, called the Medieval Warm Period, followed by a relatively cool period during 1400-1900, the Little Ice Age.

By flattening natural cycles, the hockey-stick plot makes the last century's gain in measured temperature look unprecedented and strongly correlated to the greenhouse-gas increase. Scientists of the G8 national academies obviously put great store in it.

But the hockey stick has come under attack. Analysts see flaws in the underlying mathematics. With the alleged flaws corrected, curves reappear in the hockey stick's handle, recent temperature changes no longer look unprecedented, and questions return about the extent to which the greenhouse-gas build-up contributes to apparent warming.

Scientists eager for political remedies to global warming have so far dismissed challenges to the hockey-stick findings as heresy unworthy of response.

Now, thanks the Barton-Whitfield letter, dodges won't work. As an answer to political questions, "How dare you ask?" just raises suspicion.

(Online July 2, 2005; author's e-mail: bobt@ogjonline.com)

Related Articles

Senate passes Defense bill with BLM drilling permit program provision

12/15/2014 The US Senate approved a Department of Defense appropriations bill on Dec. 13 containing a provision extending and making permanent a drilling perm...

Mitigating methane

12/15/2014

Among greenhouse gases, methane should be particularly amenable to deliberate cuts in emissions.

Study: To cool climate, eat less less meat, milk

12/15/2014

Meeting stated goals for Earth's climate requires not only using pricey energy but also spurning animal protein.

API: Producers reducing methane emissions already

12/15/2014 US oil and gas producers are reducing wellhead methane emissions already and don't need ill-conceived, overly prescriptive federal regulations, Ame...

A message from Oil & Gas Journal

12/15/2014

An important transition occurred during production of this issue of Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Small subset of wells accounts for most methane emissions, researchers say

12/09/2014 A small subset of natural gas wells are responsible for most methane emissions from US natural gas production, said a study from the University of ...

White Papers

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts



The Future of US Refining

When Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST


Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected