am 4. April 2010
This book covers an interesting part of recent science history and reads like a thriller. I strongly recommend it to people who are unprejudiced and are interested in all sides of the climate change debate. Clearly, this book only covers the McIntyre & McKitrick side of the story and there would be a different interpretation and focus if friends of Mann et al. were to write their version of the events.
Despite this, the author A. W. Montford does a superb job in telling the story in a rather fair and transparent way, I think. The language always stays on the polite side, contrasting with some excessively aggressive communication styles in several well-known climate blogs. In this book one learns about the history of the hockey stick curve, how it supported the anthropogenic climate warming model, why it was needed and how it was put together. One learns the crucial role of statistics that can change the meaning of a whole dataset. We hear about suspicious tree ring datasets that have been used in the making of the hockeystick curve. Some of these datasets have been used by many authors as temperature proxies, even though these tree ring data might not always record temperature. We hear how hockeystick shapes can be generated out of random data. One wonders why data is not made openly available by the Hockey Team for independent checking of the results (something that normal reviewers cannot do due to time constraints). It might have to do with the fact that the resulting temperature curve failed the R2-statistical test which was considered as unimportant. We are also told that the alleged later "independent" confirmation of the Mann et al. temperature curve was carried out by a former PhD student of one of the original hockeystick authors (Bradley).
The book also describes how complicated it is to publish articles that are critical of the established model in peer-reviewed journals, when most of the editors and reviewers are proponents of the established model. We also learn about the strange way the IPCC has dealt with critical reviewer comments in the report compilation phase. How much independence is there if the key hockeystick curve authors are also made lead authors of IPCC chapters?
Regardless of what affiliation the reader might have, whether it is "sceptic" or "believer", at the end of the book one gets the impression that the climate sciences are in strong need of some new, powerful and independent quality control mechanisms in order to avoid any such conflicts in the future. Openness and transparency are key if the climate sciences want to regain trust. No scientific papers should be accepted if data & code are not archived and freely accessible. This book shows in an impressive manner how international science cooperation should NOT function. We can only hope that after the current scientific storm, a fresh and new start in the climate sciences is to be initiated. How much of the billions of dollars of international climate science funding is currently wasted with accusations and counter-accusations in blogs and emails and elsewhere? It is necessary to put an end to the black-and-white thinking and listen to valid criticism, such as that brought forward by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.