On Hockey Sticks and Glaciers

The news media coverage last week of the NRC “hockey stick” report provides a stark reminder of the point Dan Sarewitz made in his How science makes environmental controversies worse. While everyone prattled on about whether the hockey stick is now really broken, or the handle has been properly taped back together, or whatever, last week’s paper in Science about warming-induced threats to Andean water supplies seems to have been completely ignored by the news media (at least the English-language news media).

One, the hockey stick, seems to have essentially no effect on the decisions we might make about climate policy, but got huge attention. It’s the high ground that everyone in the scientized debate is trying to win. The other is of profound importance, has real policy relevance, and seems to have been ignored.


  1. Well, leaders would have to actually, um, lead in this case, John. With the HS, people can prattle forever.



  2. It’s important to bear in mind that the skeptics/denialists would be focusing on something else if they didn’t have the HS, i.e. the surface record or the models. The net result would be identical.

  3. >>The net result would be identical

    I agree with you, but why leave the back door open for pit bulls to come in? I’m a little annoyed that just for the sake of “cover yo’ ass” any climate science can be pointed to as “guilty by association” (even “unrelated” climate modellers).

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