You are well advised to avoid the globally frustrating mistake of getting interested in the underpinnings of climate science as it relates to global warming, climate models, paleoclimate reconstructions, the IPCC, Al Gore, and the academy awards.
However if you fall into the trap of actually looking at the science you’ll be interested in an excellent lay summary of the hockey stick controversy by Bishop Hill. I wish he’d left out the perjorative stuff because I think he’s done a nice job of documenting some of the irregularities that seem to shape the modern debates among scientists, statisticians, and political forces.
Here’s a harder to read but perhaps more objective review of the Hockey Stick at Wikipedia. This debate is important more from a political view than a scientific one as the graph is a key cornerstone for global warming activism even though it is NOT a cornerstone for the science, which to most experts clearly indicates human caused global warming is a problem.
Although warming is clear and human causes are likely, a reasoned review of the science hardly suggests catastrophe is looming. This is the advanced debate which is only just beginning – given that we have warming caused by humans, how aggresssively should we work to stop it? At what cost should we work to keep CO2 from rising?
I remain confused about how much problematic math and insider politics within the climate scientist community should affect our perception of global warming’s threat to the planet, but no reasonable observer can maintain that pristine science has shaped the current debate over global warming. Spend an hour at RealClimate.org reading the defense of the film “An Inconvenient Truth” by several internationally prestigious climate scientists to see what I mean.
Ironically as the scientific debate becomes far more nuanced than it was even a few years ago, the *political debate* is effectively over. The political/alarmist camp says that Global warming is destroying earth and we need to make drastic changes … yesterday … to avoid climate castastrophes of greater-than-biblical proportions.
Catastrophe isn’t looming, but it’s also true that we are damaging things possibly beyond repair. That does not mean we should spend trillions trying to fix these problems while greater problems loom so large on earth, but it suggests we should do every cheap thing we can and find better ways to pull energy from our environment.