Tree Ring 

Not by Fire but by Ice


 Updated 16 August 2005      

Tree Ring Circus
July 31, 2005 - By Steven Milloy

Is it really possible to track global temperatures over the last 1,000 years by examining tree rings?

We may finally learn the answer, thanks to Congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas -- who has had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him by the global warming lobby in its fierce opposition to his recent inquiry.

On June 23, Rep. Barton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to the climate researchers responsible for developing the notorious “hockey stick” graph, which purports to show a dramatic rise in global temperatures during the 20th century.

The hockey stick graph has been key weapon in the arsenal of the global warming alarmists in their efforts to scare the U.S. into signing the Kyoto Protocol.

Noting that “sharing data and research results is a basic tenet of open scientific inquiry” and that the hockey stick research was paid for with public funds, Chairman Barton asked Dr. Michael Mann of the University of Virginia for the computer code used to generate the hockey stick graph. Dr. Mann had previously refused to provide his computer code to other climate researchers.

Before Dr. Mann turned over his data, virtually the entire spectrum of global warming alarmists attacked Chairman Barton for requesting access to the data and code.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, long a proponent of global warming alarmism, chided Chairman Barton that Mann’s hockey stick had already been accepted by the United Nations’ global warming organization and that Congress ought not interfere.

The AAAS apparently believes that the UN should be the final arbiter on scientific matters, but it’s not at all clear that political organizations have any special insight into what constitutes scientific fact.

Dr. Ralph Ciccerone, the president of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote in a July 15 letter to Chairman Barton that “a focus on individual scientists can be intimidating.”

But congressional committees send out requests for information from private parties routinely. Chairman Barton isn’t trying to influence scientific debate. He’s trying to make scientific debate possible -- a good thing in a free society.

Barton also asked Dr. Mann for records of the grants and other sources of funding that had financed his research. These records would establish that the research and methodology that Dr. Mann was refusing to share had been publicly funded.

The global warmers are trying to demonize Chairman Barton to make him the bad guy out to harass and intimidate Dr. Mann, now a martyr for global warming hysteria. But it appears that just the opposite is the case.

For the sake of national energy policy and the global economy, let’s all thank Chairman Barton for his reasonable inquiry into the questionable hockey stick.

See more of this article at:,2933,163999,00.html


Steven Milloy publishes and, is adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and is the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).



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