On April 1st, Seth Kaplan published this pointed post on Conservation Law Foundation’s blog:
In a tearful April 1st press conference at the Medford, Massachusetts Office of Rep. Ed Markey, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he had changed his mind about climate science and was now in favor of dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I was listening to NPR the other day, as you know I am a big fan, and I heard this terrifying show about the long term effects of our greenhouse gas emissions and I realized that I have been dead wrong about how to protect my nation, my constituents and my family.” The Speaker then broke down in tears.
While this was clearly an April Fool’s joke, the previous day did bring a rather high-profile reversal of global warming skepticism. Berkeley physicist Dr. Richard Muller has been a vocal critic of available global surface temperature records and has called leading climate scientists exaggerators. He leads the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, whose stated goal is to generate a “rigorous” analysis of global surface temperatures that is immune to the technical criticisms that have dogged existing analyses. Berkeley Earth has been criticized for being driven by an agenda other than the objective search for truth, and many critics (and media outlets) have latched onto the project’s funding as proof of bias. But, to be fair, the project’s funding statement shows financial support coming from all sides of the climate change debate:
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study has received a total of $623,087 in financial support from:
- The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund ($20,000)
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ($188,587)
- William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation ($100,000)
- Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (created by Bill Gates) ($100,000)
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000)
- The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation ($50,000)
We have also received funding from a number of private individuals, totaling $14,500.
All donations were provided as unrestricted educational grants, which means the donor organizations have no say over how we conduct the research or what we publish.
Anyway, bottom line is that Muller was expected to appear at Thursday’s Congressional climate change hearing and testify that accounting for biases and errors wiped out (or at least greatly reduced) the global warming trend. Instead, here’s what he said:
Based on the preliminary work we have done, I believe that the systematic biases that are the cause for most concern can be adequately handled by data analysis techniques. The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends. … Based on our initial work at Berkeley Earth, I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.
Indeed, the results of the Berkeley Earth project to date are nearly identical to the existing three surface temperature analyses maintained by NASA (GISS), NOAA, and the UK’s Met Office (HadCRU), as shown in the graph below. Muller did emphasize that the results were preliminary and that further analyses could throw them out of agreement.
Muller has been taking fire from all sides since his testimony. Dr. Judith Curry, who has taken her fair share of heat for being a skeptic-friendly climate scientist, provides a reasoned and balanced overview of the hearing (fair warning: it gets jargony at times), including links to full testimony of all the participants. And, of course, a quick Google search turns up plenty more on the topic, if you’re interested.