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The Hockey Stick and the Climate WarsDispatches from the Front Lines$
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Michael Mann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231152556

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231152556.001.0001

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Signals in the Noise

Signals in the Noise

(p.26) Chapter 3 Signals in the Noise
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

Michael E. Mann

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the search for more evidence to support the view that there was a detectable human influence on global climate. In the early 1990s, after carefully weighing all the evidence, scientists could honestly disagree with each other over whether there was a detectable human influence on climate. They could legitimately be skeptical about whether the human climate change signal had yet emerged. The evidence was not as extensive as it would soon become, and the theoretical models that scientists then employed to study Earth's climate system were still rather primitive. For these reasons, scientists were holding out for more evidence, while other scientists, such as NASA's James Hansen and Stanford University's Stephen Schneider, were convinced by the evidence already in hand that human-caused climate change was indeed now upon us. In this chapter, the author considers natural climate variability as a plausible competing mechanism for explaining observed climate trends and how he and his collaborators in the hockey stick study discovered the “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” (AMO), along with the purported existence of a medieval warm period.

Keywords:   climate change, James Hansen, Stephen Schneider, natural climate variability, Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, medieval warm period, human-caused climate change

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