Will New York Times environmental reporter Justin Gillis offer an addendum to his alarmist March 8 report, "Global Temperatures Highest in 4,000 Years," in the face of new information that discredits the underlying data?
In that story Gillis summarized a report (whose lead author is Oregon State University earth scientist Shaun Marcott) to declare without hesitation:
Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.
Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.
The modern rise that has recreated the temperatures of 5,000 years ago is occurring at an exceedingly rapid clip on a geological time scale, appearing in graphs in the new paper as a sharp vertical spike. If the rise continues apace, early Holocene temperatures are likely to be surpassed within this century, Dr. Marcott said.
But there was a major problem with the data that was only teased out after questioning from climate change skeptics, who found the study's claim for the 20th century temperatures baseless, and which was confirmed in a Q&A with Marcott.
The money graph from Marcott, courtesy of Ross McKitrick writing at the Financial Post:
...the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes...
Times environmental blogger Andrew Revkin also jumped on the alleged revelations on his blog "Dot Earth" March 7, "Scientists Find an Abrupt Warm Jog After a Very Long Cooling."
Revkin initially trumpeted that "...the work reveals a fresh, and very long, climate 'hockey stick.''
(The "hockey stick" is the now-discredited symbol global warming advocates have used since 1998 which purports to show a sharp spike in global temperatures in the 20th century.)
At least Revkin had the integrity to update his post March 31 to add: "The authors have posted a discussion of their paper that, in essence, takes away the blade from their hockey stick."
Revkin quoted a March 31 post by climate-change skeptic Roger A. Pielke, Jr., documenting "the gross misrepresentation of the findings of a recent scientific paper...which appears to skirt awfully close to crossing the line into research misconduct." Pielke also complained about the credulous reporting from Gillis and Revkin, although Revkin left that part out.
Pielke quoted Marcott's "the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust" confession, then explained the implications for us layman:
What that means is that this paper actually has nothing to do with a "hockey stick" as it does not have the ability to reproduce 20th century temperatures in a manner that is "statistically robust." The new "hockey stick" is no such thing as Marcott et al. has no blade....the public representation of the paper was grossly in error. The temperature reconstruction does not allow any conclusions to be made about the period after 1900.