The one thing the 190 countries attending the Warsaw conference
do agree on is that the earth is getting warmer. But developing a game plan for their next move in tackling the problems resulting from the warming climate is what is keeping them from winning the game.
Climate change and global warming, either term will suffice, is not a game anymore. It's past the time of finger-pointing, name-calling and feigning ignorance of the problem. So what does any of this have to do with a hockey stick?
At issue is something called the Hockey Stick Controversy
. It is the one issue that has kept opponents of climate change believing that the whole global warming theory is a hoax perpetrated on an unwary public by fraudulent scientists and politicians.
Global warming has been researched and studied since the 1880's. At that time, the use of proxy indicators
, ice cores, tree rings, corals and lake and ocean sediments, were used to reconstruct graphs showing temperature changes occurring in the earth's past.
By the 1990's, reconstruct graphs were being disputed by everyone, except a few diehards who stuck to their theories and the evidence. Then in 1998, a little-known climate scientist, Michael E. Mann and his associates produced a reconstruct graph using an eigenvector-based climate field reconstruct, utilizing a square matrix. That's when the world was introduced to the now-famous Hockey Stick
Politicians and other deniers lambasted the graph and the scientists who made it as hoaxers and worse, and even Congress got into the fray. Virginia's Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli even took Mann to court over it. But after the National Academy of Sciences weighed in in 2006, Mann and his associates received the vindication they deserved.
"The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world."
The graph showed worldwide temperature changes over the past 2,000 years, including the Medieval Warm Period,
occurring from about AD 950 to 1250. Whether this period was selective to parts or all of the globe is still being debated, but it was an interesting fluctuation.
The reader will also notice there is a period labeled the Little Ice Age
. While not a true ice age, the term was coined in 1939 to describe a period of cooling that lasted from 1350 to about 1850. Climatologists describe the cooling during this time to be modest, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.
Anomalies not-withstanding, the hockey stick caught on, acquiring dozens, then hundreds of climatologists, scientists and governments over to their side. When you get down to it, the hockey stick graph is just one little piece of evidence
in proving the earth is warming. The real evidence is in the thermometer changes, rising sea levels, melting ice caps and greater intensity of the storms we are experiencing.
So hockey sticks aside, the Warsaw Conference needs to look again at the facts we have today, and use them to come up with a plan that meets with everyone's expectations in determining how we tackle the climate change problem.