The Hockey Stick Illusion by A. W. Montford, published by Stacey International, 2010. 482 pp, £10.99
In the August issue of Prospect, Matt Ridley recommended this as one of the “must read” books of the summer. You need not bother—The Hockey Stick Illusion is a McCarthyite book that uses the full range of smear tactics to peddle climate change denial.
There is both clear evidence and general agreement that the earth has warmed up in the last 100 years, probably by about 0.8 degrees. The scientific consensus is that this has been caused by human activity, and that we need to take steps to prevent further warming. This view is not universally shared, even by scientists, and it is therefore important to put recent warming in context. That is why a number of scientists have sought methods to try to see how the earth’s temperature has varied in the time previous to good thermometric records becoming available. They have used a number of methods, including examining tree rings and ice cores.
In 1998 Michael Mann and co-workers published a paper based on tree ring studies, which claimed that the earth’s temperature has not changed much in the period from 1000 to 1900, when the warming started. Because of the shape of the temperature/time graph, Mann’s conclusion was dubbed the (ice) hockey stick. Mann’s graph has been one of a number of pieces of evidence used by the intergovernmental p…