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Global Warming: Still Not A Hoax!

Richard Muller is a man climate scientists love to hate. Among other things, the Berkeley physicist has questioned the professional integrity of people like Penn State's Michael Mann, one of the creators of the so-called "Hockey Stick" graph showing that temperatures shot up dramatically and unprecedentedly in the 20th century. Mann has been cleared of such accusations many times over; so have the main actors in the so-called "Climategate" affair, another of Muller's targets.

More broadly, though, Muller has also questioned the very fact of global warming itself. Like other doubters, he thought the appearance of warming might come partly from the fact that weather stations are often located in or near cities, where waste heat from buildings and cars, plus heat absorbed and re-emitted from roads and rooftops can cause artificially high temperature in a small area (it's known as the "urban heat island effect").

In principle, that could certainly be a problem: climate scientists rely on a just 7,000 or so thousand weather stations that have long, uninterrupted data. That makes them more reliable in many ways than stations with shorter records—but the older the station, the more likely it is to be in an urban area. So Muller, working on the theory that if you want a job done right you should do it yourself, put together a team of scientists and statisticians to form the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperture (or BEST) study. It's mission: re-analyze the world's temperature records in a way Muller could trust.

One key difference in the BEST approach is that Muller's group used data from 39,000 weather stations, more than five times as many as most climate scientists use. Many of the 39,000 have short or interrupted records, but BEST statistician Richard Rohde came up with ways to assign them different weights, reflecting their varying reliability. Ultimately, the BEST studies would include about 1.6 billion individual measurements from 15 different collections of temperture records.

Last spring, a preliminary look at the results came out when Muller testified before Congress. To many peoples' surprise, including those who had asked him to testify, he said that his study largely supports what the climate-science community had been saying all along: the Earth has indeed warmed, by about 1.3° F since 1900.

Now Muller's group has released several new scientific papers, available on the team website, and also written an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled "The Case Against Global Warming Skepticism." Further analysis, he says, makes the preliminary results even stronger. 

Some prominent critics of the conventional climate wisdom used to love Muller just as much as climate scientists disliked him. Now those same critics are less pleased—especially, one would guess, because of the subheading on the Op-Ed:

There were good reasons for doubt, until now.

It was a pretty shocking declaration — for the Journal's editorial page, anyway, given its history of pooh-poohing concerns about the planet's warming. For most of the scientific community, however, it was very old news.


By Paul (Princeton NJ)
on October 31st, 2011

Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story:

1. Mueller was never much of a “skeptic.”

2. He released his “findings” prematurely to get maximum coverage from a compliant media, present company included

3. His press onslaught neglected to mention that the past ten years show no warming whatsoever.

4. Mueller’s colleague Judith Curry disputes his conclusion.

Here is a far more accurate encapsulation of the Berkeley study than the one written above:

Reply to this comment

By Tony Duncan (brattleboro, VT 05301)
on November 18th, 2011


1. Muller totally attacked Mann and climategate from a very one sided perspective, ignoring the political context, and focused only on aspects that supported the denier memes of fraud and corruption. he said he would never read any papers by them again. He rightly pissed off the climate science community and was wrongly lauded by the denier community, especially Watts. He apparently has environmental business interests, so you are of course free to use that against him. he certainly was a skeptic about both the temperature record and about “hide the decline” which has a perfectly reasonable explanation, whether you agree with it or not.

2. As even Curry has stated, she sees nothing wrong or unusual about releasing his finding before peer review. Watts discounts the result because they are based on 60 years instead of 30. I have not seen Watts or anyone else recalibrate the data to see if that makes any difference in his results. Muller is a physicist and it is common practice for submitted papers to be presented for criticism before being peer reviewed. All sorts of deniers are constantly getting press attention for totally non peer reviewed assertions as well as for bizzarely distorted interpretations of peer reviewed papers.

3. You are partly right. There has been no linear trend consistent with the trend for the 80’s and 90’s. Yet there has been no cooling. Numerous deniers in the early 2000’s predicted cooling by now. Regardless there is no linear correlations between CO2 increase and overall temperature. if there is no substantial warming in the next ten years then it is quite possible that there are mitigating feedback factors that are limiting the “greenhouse effect”. all climate scientists, including those called skeptics accept that CO2 even at the tiny amounts being added by humans will increase the temperature.

4. Curry has nowhere disputed the conclusions of the report. She DID dispute his saying there is no evidence of a slowdown recently , which I think is a valid position to take. She has however not provided any evidence any of the results being inaccurate. her name is still on the 4 papers.

the Delingpole article you link to has almost no substance to it. The denier response has varied in tone and tactics. Those that say no one ever questioned there has been warming, so it was a straw man. And others saying that the study is a scam and citing all sorts of reasons why his results are wrong (none of them peer reviewed of course). The really damning claim about climategate, aside from the real and unethical denial of FOIA, was that “the team” conspired to manipulate data to fabricate warming. This was also the claim against Mann, and Briffa, and the hysterical claims about Hansen arbitrarily recalibrating the past to make it appear colder than it is now.  Again Delingpole’s ONLY valid argument is Muller saying no evidence warming has slowed down.
Of course, from a statistical point of view there is nothing unusual about the current period. it is still hotter than it has been in a thousand years if not 5,000, and there is no evidence that it is cooling. Also contrary to popular belief climate scientists are aware of natural variation (no you don’t get to use it exclusively for yourself only when you want to), and it is expected that natural cooling trends will periodically counter the effects of CO2. Also the solar radiation and sunspot activity has been extremely low during this period. Another factor is atmospheric anthropocentric aerosols can have a cooling effect by blocking radiation from reaching the surface. if you have been to China or India in the last 20 years you will know that this is not a smokescreen (so to speak). Another factor is ocean heating and redistribution of energy in the deep ocean.

Maybe all of these things are wrong, but they are all valid possibilities. I count people as deniers when they don’t accept the possibility of AGW, and if they don’t have a valid testable theory that fits the evidence better. Since you only presented points in a one-sided fashion and are probably aware of at least some of the points I presented, I am guessing you fall into the denier camp.

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