Richard Muller, professor of physics and chair of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group (BEST) has confirmed initial findings from last year that the Earth has warmed at the rate that previous studies suggested. This time BEST went further, also concluding in their latest paper that that warming is most likely due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions – Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
The BEST group, funded by climate change deniers the Koch Brothers, was formed to investigate allegations that the Earth surface temperature data was unreliable. Its conclusions illustrate the healthy scepticism that underpin the scientific method where data is tested to destruction by independent scientists in order to confirm conclusions. The scientific method has delivered huge benefits to our society.
In a recent NY Times article, Richard Muller said, “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.”
Asked if it’s really accurate to say he was ever a sceptic, Muller replies: “I have considered myself only to be a properly sceptical scientist. Some people have called me a denier – no, that’s completely wrong. If anything, I was agnostic.
“I just hope that some people like you will read my books and papers, and read what I say – not what people say I say.”
That’s not to say he still doesn’t have problems with sweeping statements about climate change: “90 per cent of what’s said about climate change is nonsense. That when people attribute Hurricane Katrina, or dying polar bears, that’s not based on any science whatsoever. In fact in many cases, it’s wrong. So there’s plenty of room for scepticism.”
In the politically charged world of climate science and policy this is a significant step, however the deniers appear only to have caught up with 90’s climate science!
Some leading climate scientists welcomed Muller’s comments, proof, they argued, that the science is so strong that even those inclined to reject it cannot once they examine it carefully. Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said that Muller’s conversion might help shape the thinking of the “reasonable middle” of the population “who are genuinely confused and have been honestly taken in” by attacks on climate science.
On his Facebook page, Mann wrote: “There is a certain ironic satisfaction in seeing a study funded by the Koch Brothers – the greatest funders of climate change denial and disinformation on the planet – demonstrate what scientists have known with some degree of confidence for nearly two decades: that the globe is indeed warming, and that this warming can only be explained by human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions.”