Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hockey Stick and Effort to Discredit It

This is the famous hockey stick published by Michael Mann. It shows the rapid growth in global warming subsequent to the industrial revolution and the recent trend in warming which gains momentum and accelerates in the 21st century.

Joe Barton, a representative on the House Energy Committee from Texas, commissioned a study to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University to discredit the hockey stick. It is well known that many in the oil industry believed that the hockey stick graph was compelling evidence for global warming that the average person could understand. The Mercatus Center is funded, among others, by the Koch brothers who have been active deniers of global warming and very large contributors to ultra conservative causes. The Wall Street Journal editorialized on the data provided by the Mercatus Center to build its critique of the scientific evidence for global warming. It frequently uses experts at the Mercatus Center to provide academic cover for its positions.

Joe Barton picked a good place to find problems with the hockey stick. The Mercatus Center has been a vocal critic of government regulation and 14 of George Bush's targets for deregulation came from Mercatus Center input. The economics department at GMU is also known for its conservative approach to economics.

Unfortunately, the work of the Mercatus Center and other organizations with connections to the fossil fuel industry, has accomplished its goal. Global warming deniers in the Tea Party, and in other conservative organizations, have been given enough ammunition to make the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community on the human contribution to global warming to appear to be a subject of intense debate and uncertainty among scientists.

Tom DeLay, the former GOP majority leader in the House, who was recently convicted in Texas for money laundering, was often called the representative from Enron. Joe Barton, like many politicians from Texas, understands how his bread is buttered.

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