Top Story: October 26, 2011

Global Warming Confirmation


This is a great story of the good guys gaining ground. Our friend (and Academy fellow) Richard Muller is not a politician. I doubt if he even trends Republican or Democrat. He’s a UC Berkeley scientist, a physicist, actually, and like most great scientists, he’s also a skeptic.

In fact, he’s been skeptical about the studies on climate change since the 1980s—several articles quote him as saying that even then, there was “a lot of BS” in the field. Then, over a year ago he started a new project called the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project to evaluate the findings about global warming trends.

And he had some help in beginning this project, but perhaps not the kind you would expect, reports The Atlantic:

Muller’s project is funded in part by the foundation of one of the oil-billionaire Koch brothers, and his invitation to testify this [past] spring before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology was orchestrated by Republicans.

The Republicans were likely hoping Muller was going to debunk global warming last spring. But guess what? He didn’t. More from The Atlantic:

… he cited data indicating that the Earth had warmed 0.7 degree Celsius since 1957, with man-caused warming contributing 0.6 degree C.

(Nature News reports the average surface temperature rise at .9 degrees Celsius.)

The Berkeley Earth team looked at temperature stations throughout the world—using the same data that NASA, NOAA and the infamous UK group in East Anglia (think Climategate) have sited when discussing the warming globe. Skeptics have often questioned these stations—their placement, accuracy and functionality.

Nature News describes the more holistic approach Muller’s group took:

The Berkeley researchers developed their own statistical methods so that they could use data from virtually all of the temperature stations on land— some 39,000 in all—whereas the other research groups relied on subsets of data from several thousand sites to build their records.

(Berkeley Earth has a great animation on their website showing the temperatures around the globe over the past two hundred years.)

And, the team had very similar results to the other research groups, Muller states in a press release:

Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK. This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change skeptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.

The Washington Post describes exactly how close the results were:

The Berkeley group’s research even confirms the infamous “hockey stick” graph— showing a sharp recent temperature rise—that Muller once snarkily called “the poster child of the global warming community.” Muller’s new graph isn’t just similar, it’s identical.

Last week, Berkeley Earth made its preliminary results public, together with its programs and dataset, in order to invite additional scrutiny. (Skeptics, check it out on their website.)

In addition, the team is submitting four papers to the Journal of Geophysical Research for peer review.

So more confirmation that the planet is warming. But now what? The good guys have gained ground, but where is the action to win?

Image courtesy of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature


  • jim

    Who are the “good guys”?   from what I have read from, Dr Mullers own articles, is that he never was a skeptic about global warming.  he believes in i.  However, since he seems to be a rational man and a true scientist, he was concerned about the science and believed that even “skeptics” should be listened to … that their concerns should be addressed rather than vilify and condemn them outright.

    contrary to what this article states or the quoted articles, the study was only regarding the data of the ground based temperatures and it does NOT confirm the infamous hocky stick since it only relates to the temp data (going back to the 1800s and not proxi data.  it does not address wether there was a medival warming period.

    additionally, he does not make reference to mans part in the equation. This study is only to veryify the data and answer concerns about the reliability.  all it shows is that yes, we have warmed since the 1800s

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