Humans Did It

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A skeptical physicist ends up confirming climate data

by Brad Plumer

Back in 2010, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic, decided to launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to review the temperature data that underpinned global-warming claims. Remember, this was not long after the Climategate affair had erupted, at a time when skeptics were griping that climatologists had based their claims on faulty temperature data.

Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United Statse that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 – and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science.

So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science. Back in March, Muller told the House Science and Technology Committee that, contrary to what he expected, the existing temperature data was “excellent.” He went on: “We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.” And, today, the BEST team has released a flurry of new papers that confirm that the planet is getting hotter. As the team’s two-page summary flatly concludes, “Global warming is real“.

While Prof Muller admitted that global warming was very real, he was still a skeptic as to its cause. Until now:

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

by Richard A. Muller

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

(Richard A.) Muller’s research was intended to prove the opposite. The physicist and his team even took the most common arguments raised by climate deniers, putting them to the test to see if skeptics’ claims had merit. It’s why the Kochs got out their checkbook in the first place.

But Muller is now telling his benefactors what they don’t want to hear (a.k.a., the truth): the climate crisis is real and it’s caused by human activity. Whether humanity chooses to deal with the reality of the crisis remains to be seen, but we can’t say we weren’t warned.

1 comment

    • TMC on August 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

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