Oh yes, I did already like Richard A. Muller. He's a Berkeley physicist. Was an acolyte of the late, cantankerous Nobelist, Luis Alvarez, and shares with him a skeptical stripe. One can still get him talking about Nemesis, the imagined (who knows, maybe real) nearby dim star that periodically sends the Sun's distant Oort Cloud comets showering into the inner solar system. He also wrote the clever book, "Physics for Future Presidents." He won a MacArthur award for his ability to see angles and things others miss. In recent years he occasionally noted that he was not all that sold on the idea that anthropogenic global warming is a dire threat. He found quite plausible the skeptics' arguments that urban heat islands or systematic errors could have misled many scientists into seeing a worse problem than actually exists. But not any more.
In the news today is release of an analysis he and a few colleagues ran, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature or BEST study. It got money from some conservative, climate change doubting groups. Its members tore into the records of rapid temperature rise (geologically rapid anyway) that such people as James Hansen at the NASA GISS and his colleagues assemble, or similar ones from NOAA and the Brits at the Met Office and elsewhere who got snared in ruckus during the height of "Climategate" regularly publish. The result: The latter bunch got it right. The gimlet-eyed BEST study, after adding and subtracting and aggregating and splicing and dicing the data every which way agrees that the warming is not only real, but has raised average temps an oonch more than most other studies say. Urban heat islands or other plausible ways by which records may have been spoofed don't do so. Just like the National Academy of Sciences has said.
Best to read Muller's sly way of explaining the thing himself today on the Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal. Its structure reflects his own arc from the entertainment of skepticism to oh never mind.
This gets plenty of other coverage, much of it focussing on the recalcitrance of doubt in defiance of what most researchers call darned good data. One must remark further, however, that many contrarians have dropped efforts to deny warming over the last century or so, ascribing it to natural factors that could peter out any time. It's the cause, not the trend, that get their motors running. The BEST study addresses only the reality of the warming, not its cause. Plus, need one say, one glance at the word "Berkeley" in the study's name will prompt some contrarians to blow snot out their noses in derision for anything from this iconic (if no longer valid if it ever was) capital of lefty socialist one-worlder trouble makers.
Other stories: (Late Addition - Note the Climate Central item below. This news's essence is not new)
- Forbes (blog) Peter Gleick: Breaking News: The Earth Still Goes Around the Sun, and It's Still Warming Up ; Another piece written by a scientist, this one firmly in the main stream. Dr. Gleick, an admirable fellow, appears excessively huffy about the idea that anybody should still have doubted what every bigshot and brainiac review of the science has been saying all along. We're in trouble. The argument is political and ideological, not scientific, one thinks. In that arena the BEST study may have significance.
- New Scientist - Michael Marshall: Sceptical climate scientists concede Earth has warmed ; Yes, but while Muller might be considered 'sceptical' as the Brits spell it, some others on the BEST team are not (including Art Rosenfeld, guru of energy efficiency and white roofs as weapons against greenhouse forcing).
- NatureNews - Jeff Tollefson: Different method, same result: global warming is real ; Sober assessment, and remarks correctly that the groups' reports have not yet gone through peer review. Ergo, there may be another round to report.
- BBC - Richard Black: Global warming 'confirmed' by independent study;
- Washington Post (blog) Brad Plumer: A skeptical physicist ends up confirming climate data ;
- NYTimes (blog) Leslie Kaufman: Climate Study Does Not Placate Skeptics ;
- The Economist: The heat is on / A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming.
- LA Times (blog) Geoff Mohan: Climate skeptic admits he was wrong to doubt global-warming data ;
- Climate Central - Michael D. Lemonick: Global Warming: Still Not A Hoax! ; Lemonick, thank you very much, notes that this report's contents had been foreshadowed by Muller himself in testimony to Congress, as seen in the next two bullets on reports filed last Spring.
- Slate (Apr 4, 2011) Andrew Leonard: How to make climate skeptics angry ;
- LA Times (Apr 4, 2011) Margot Roosevelt: Critics' review unexpectedly supports scientific consensus on global warming ;
- The Guardian (UK) Ian Sample: Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics' concerns;
- The Telegraph (UK) Murray Waldrop: The Earth is getting warmer, study finds . .partly funded by climate change sceptics... ; We learn here of the distinction between mere deniers, who ignore science entirely even if they say they don't, and the 'properly sceptical" who believe researchers have been misled by or even concocted or skewed data. Also at the Telegraph, Tom Chivers: Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature results eem to vindicate 'Climategate' scientists. Will sceptics admit it? ; And if you'd like a piece of thoroughly arch and witty, um, idiocy, larded with snark and scorn, try James Delingpole: Global warming is real ;
- ... Could go on and on...
Plus, from a top site for contrarian thinking:
- Watts Up With That - Anthony Watt: The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review ; He makes a valid point. Funny, though - how'd I go this long not noticing that peer review and public relations are both "PR."
- Charlie Petit