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Washington, D.C., June 22, 2006—The National Research Council’s report  on the “hockey stick” temperature graph, which was released today, confirms what was not controversial—namely, that the twentieth century was the warmest in the past 400 years. As the Earth’s climate has been emerging from the Little Ice Age since the mid-nineteenth century, this is not being debated.
On the issues that the committee was charged with investigating, the report finds that the proxy evidence does not support the conclusions that the twentieth century was the warmest or that the 1990s was the warmest decade or that 1998 was the warmest year in the past 1000 years, claims which were originally made in papers by Professor Michael Mann, et al. and were given widespread publicity in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report. All those claims could, of course, be true, but they are not confirmed by the available evidence according to the committee report.
Furthermore, the chairman of the committee, Professor Gerald North, in his oral remarks criticized the IPCC for using the hockey stick graph as the featured item in the Summary for Policymakers of the Third Assessment Report (2001). He said that this was not the way science should work, because science should be a process of proposing new claims and then challenging them, rather than taking the claims of one new scientific paper as definitive before it had been vetted by the scientific community. Clearly, the hockey stick has not stood up to further scientific scrutiny, and today’s report by the NRC expert committee confirms that conclusion.