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274 of 360 found the following review helpful:
hockey storyJan 25, 2010
By Amazon Customer
This is a superb review of the story of the hockeystick, the temperature reconstruction which was supposed to show that late 20th century temperatures were unprecedented for at least 1,000 years and which was highlighted in the third IPCC report in 2001. What Montford does in this book is take us through Steven McIntyre's attempt to reproduce the original result of Michael Mann and the controversy that followed. His account is very well written and it reads like a detective story. The technical details of the debate are clearly explained even though there is no heavy mathematics or statistics. He tells the story chronologically and gives a good feel of what people on both sides of the debate actually said at the time (and there are plenty of references as well as judicious quotes from all sides). I have been following this debate for the past five years or so. To my mind this gives as clear an account of the debate as we are likely to see. What is now clear is that the Mann conclusions, far from being based on coherent evidence across a geographical widespread range of proxies all showing similar patterns across the Northern hemisphere, were based on a tiny subset of proxies, bristlecone and foxtail pines, from California whose anomalous 20th century growth was almost certainly not caused by high temperature. The apparently broad evidence was an illusion created by an eccentric implementation of a standard statistical technique called principal components analysis. Mann's version of this (which appears to be his own creation) effectively mined his hundred plus proxies for any which had hockeystick shapes and then gave them huge weight in the analysis. What is worrying about all this is not so much the fact that a paper is wrong. It is the failure to admit this when it is perfectly clear that it is wrong. Montford documents the evasions of debate and the consistent misrepresentation of what McIntyre and McKitrick actually said, as well as multiple refusals of access to data and clear descriptions of what had actually been done. By the time of the 2006 Wegman report it was clear that the hockeystick was broken, but it seems too much had been invested in it for people in paleoclimate to admit outright that it was just wrong. Montford tells this story too and documents the shenanigans surrounding the fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. But rather than me attempting to condense the book into a paragraph I urge people to buy and read this excellent account. Note that it was largely written before the emails from CRU became public, though there is a final chapter dealing quickly with them. What is remarkable is how much of the story was already known to people who had been following the debate, but also the lengths people were prepared to go to try and stifle proper debate. For me the cover-up of the story has been a bigger influence in turning me sceptical than the mere fact of the hockey stick being wrong.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
Lifting the lid on a global conspiracy - a brave attempt.Apr 16, 2015
By Bruce Rapley
One of the most important books of modern times. A very erudite, well-read commentator on science and society, Montford demolishes the global warming scam, one lie at a time. This is one of the most important books to read if you are the least bit concerned about maintaining life on this planet. A very brave man, Monford stands agains the plethora of commentators who have been bought by governments and big industry to promote the myth of global warming as a thinly-veiled initiative to generate new income tax streams. This is book that is a MUST-READ.
3 of 4 found the following review helpful:
An Important book on Bad ScienceFeb 10, 2015
There's ample historical and temperature proxy evidence the world was warmer during the Medieval Warming period (1000-1300s) than today. Then, temperatures declined from 1300-1800s ("little ice age") before warming again in the late 19th century. This all happened at a time when CO2 levels were flat and much lower than today.
In the past century, global temperatures rose by ~1C (0.5C from the 1970s to 1990s) during a time when CO2 levels significantly increased due to industrialization. By itself, CO2 should warm the earth by ~1C per doubling of CO2 ("climate sensitivity"). Alarmists, though,hypothesize positive feedback will also kick in and magnify the sensitivity to 3-10C due to increased water vapor, which is the most powerful greenhouse gas. But this has never been proven and the real-world evidence is shaky at best (climate models don't count as real evidence). Since 1998, temperatures have been flat with slight random fluctuations. So it's both true that recent temperatures have been "flat" and also at "record" highs- unless you include the Medieval warming period. The MWP is significant then because it casts doubt on the AGW hypothesis- the notion that CO2 has high climate sensitivity. The simpler null hypothesis is that we're well within natural variation and that most of the 20th century warming was not due to CO2.
In 1998, Michael Mann et al published a temperature reconstruction of the past 1000 years with a "hockey stick" shape, which claimed to prove that the Medieval Warming period wasn't that warm (or global) after all and that late 20th century temperatures were at unprecedented levels. The hockey stick became the face of AGW and convinced the public (myself included) that AGW was a dire threat.
In 2002, Steve McIntyre, a semi-retired Canadian mining consultant with extensive statistical expertise tried to reproduce the Hockey Stick. Montford's book is a blow-by-blow account of his and economist Ross McKitrick's long struggle to obtain the source code and data used for the hockey stick. Other reviews cover the details of this- the important fact is that McIntyre and McKitrick eventually proved the Hockey stick and other "independent" temperature reconstructions used by the IPCC are completely invalid. Along the way, we get a tutorial on "how NOT to do science"- it turns out that alarmist climate scientists were determined to eliminate the MWP so they cherry-picked data and "tortured" the statistics in order to get their desired outcome. Also, peer review of papers is often a rubber stamp- very few if any reviewers actually try to replicate the paper. And nearly all climate scientists refuse to divulge their source code and data- which makes independent replication near-impossible. (These revelations are disappointing but hardly unique- these practices are also quite common in the pharmaceutical industry where billions of dollars are also at stake.)
Montford's superb and exhaustively researched book is essential reading for those interested in the climate debate and its neglect by mainstream media is shameful. I regret not reading it sooner. (I had no interest in reading it back in 2010 because I figured it was written by a right-wing nut*. Since then, I've done my homework and I realize now- like most people who dig into it- that the "emperor has no clothes").
Also highly recommended is "Neglected Sun"(2013) by the same publisher, which focuses on the sun as a driver of climate change. It's certainly true the sun hasn't been proven (yet) to be a major factor in climate change- but that applies more so to CO2.
*Note: Montford is on record of saying he doesn't necessarily think AGW is wrong- only that the evidence for it doesn't exist yet.
98 of 144 found the following review helpful:
Colombo's Verdict: GW Perpetrated by a Hockey Stick in the LibraryFeb 24, 2010
By George Gilder
The plot of the Hockey Stick Illusion will be familiar to any follower of the Colombo shows on television. In each case, we see the humble investigator initially ignored, brushed aside, stonewalled, disdained, doubletalked, waffled, red herringed, and evaded by lofty and complacent Establishment figures, citing their own authority, crowded schedules, sophisticated reasoning, advanced degrees, abstruse mathematics, and exalted ideals.
In this case, the Columbo figure is Steve McIntyre, a Canadian mining consultant. A.W. Montford's book tells the gripping and suspenseful details of McIntyre's pursuit of the self-denominated "hockey team" led by Michael Mann, who wrote the key chapters on his own work for the IPCC, and Phil Jones, who maintains the temperature record used by the IPCC to document the "Hockey Stick": showing unprecedented and anomalous anthropogenic global warming in the Twentieth Century while denying that any comparable or greater warming occurred in the Medieval period.
McIntyre relentlessly replicates and decodes the increasingly desperate devices used by the climatocrats to defend their findings. But parallel to this fascinating story is the amazing tale of the ascent of Mann. From an obscure newly minted PhD in 1998 at the U Mass department of geosciences, he became the Lead Author of the crucial Observed Climate Variability chapter in the IPCC report, contributor to several other chapters, 'Scientific Advisor' to the White House on climate change, pundit on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, BBC, NPR, PBS, and scores of Establishment newspapers and magazines. The ascent culminates in the Nobel Peace Prize for the team and a role as the very incarnation of a Consensus of science requiring the creation of a global apparatus to stigmatize as pollution, regulate and tax the very CO2 that sustains all of plant and animal life.
Explaining the science in detail, Montford's narrative climaxes with the dissolution of the hockey stick, the discomfiture of the Hockey Team, the eruption of Climategate, and the quiet and total victory of the humble mining engineer. The reader should know that the supposed email "scandal" is in fact rather trivial and defensible. Few people are at their best in emails. But the hockey stick's science is shoddy beyond easy belief. The hockey stick chart mostly reflects a defective algorithm that extends and inflates a few deceptive signals from as few as 20 cherry-picked trees in Colorado and Russia into a tendentiously rising graph that is replicated repeatedly through reshuffles of the same or similar defective and factitious data. These people apparently had no plausible case and were pressed by their political sponsors to contrive a series of Potemkin charts.
Make no mistake. This argument is conclusive: if temperatures were warmer in the pre-industrial Medieval period, the entire global warming case for CO2 suppression collapses. Don't miss this definitive book.
127 of 187 found the following review helpful:
500 Wonderful Pages of "Caspar" from the Bishop!Feb 07, 2010
By B. Hutchins
The "Bishop Hill" blog was well-respected, but not particularly remarkable until the posting of "Caspar and the Jesus paper" in August 2008. With this posting, we learned that the esteemed Bishop (now also revealed as Andrew Montford), the author of this new book, had a talent for putting scattered bits and pieces of information into a highly coherent presentation. It was remarkable enough that he was able to take myriad blog postings and figure out what they all added up to, and further remarkable that he was able to map this understanding into writing. Would it be possible to achieve this Casper-style in a more encompassing work? Too much to ask for? Well, HERE it is!
The narrative is highly readable, not mathematical, except that Montford does specifically give the official names of things. Instead of saying something like "they blew the math" he tells you how data were improperly normalized, or the use of SVD, and the consequences. In addition to describing the ill-advised technical issues, he describes appearance of the poor science (seeing what you want to see), other more common human foibles such as possible (or likely) "cherry-picking", and the suppression of contradicting evidence, all of which are not supposed to be in science.
While it would not be difficult, based on his blog perhaps, to discern the Bishop's views on AGW and its politics, the current book is basically impartial, except as it relates to the poor science and the overriding political motives of the AGW advocates. It deals rationally and fair-mindedly with the (illusion of the) Hockey stick graph. People commenting on the book are advised to direct criticisms, if any, on the basis of what he writes rather than what "camp" they perceive the author to belong to. This does involve actually reading the book however. Expect the usual reflex one star submissions from those who review just the title - and then go on to a few stock comment about the decline in the penguin population at the North Pole.
So, by the way, how DO you get to read the book. As of this writing, it does not appear to be widely available on Amazon in the US, and let's hope that will be directly available soon. I got mine from Amazon.UK, which was surprisingly easy - pretty much like this Amazon site. Shipping was about as much as the book, but I think it was only $26 with the shipping, and it arrived in 8 days by "Royal Mail". And it's a beefy book of almost 500 page-turning pages.
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