Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change
The Earth's land has warmed by 1.5C over the past 250 years and "humans are almost entirely the cause", according to a scientific study set up
to address climate change sceptics' concerns about whether human-induced global warming is occurring.
Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised
by the findings. "We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds." He added that he now
considers himself a "converted sceptic" and his views had undergone a "total turnaround" in a short space of time.
For the mainstream climate science community - this "new" study is of course hardly groundbreaking, and simply belongs in the
However it is
interesting because the Berkeley analysis team not only consists of a few prominent (or I guess now - former) climate skeptics
like Richard Muller, but it was also notoriously funded by some extremely shady sources like the Koch Brothers (I wonder if they can get their money
The funding for the project included $150,000 from the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation, set up by the billionaire US coal magnate and key
backer of the climate-sceptic Heartland Institute thinktank.
So it was for these reasons that last year, before the team announced their findings, they were the venerable darlings of the online climate
"skeptic"/blog science community, with prominent blogger Anthony Watts
going so far as to state
I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. I’m taking this bold step because the method has
promise. So let’s not pay attention to the little yippers who want to tear it down before they even see the results. I haven’t seen the global
result, nobody has, not even the home team, but the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU, and, there aren’t
any monetary strings attached to the result that I can tell. If the project was terminated tomorrow, nobody loses jobs, no large government programs
get shut down, and no dependent programs crash either. That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially
those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than
anything we’ve seen yet.
Of course when the Berkeley team made their results (that showed global warming to be real) public last year, he immediately changed his tune -
attacking them for anything he could throw at them.
Watts list of grievances on why the study was "flawed":
- it had only been accepted for peer-review at the time, but not yet actually peer-reviewed (even though Watts notoriously posts and promotes
non-peer-reviewed "science" on his blog every day - as long as it's skeptical of AGW). *PS the Berkeley analysis has since been peer-reviewed and
- it examined data over a 60-year period rather than the 30-year window Watts preferred to
focus on. (So analyzing a
larger sample size and doing twice as much work apparently makes it less
- the not-yet-peer-reviewed paper had spelling errors. (seriously)
Many other skeptics at the time seemed to accept the results, going so far as to say "duh, we already knew it's been warming" but then immediately
pointing out that their beef is with the idea that humans are the cause.
So now that the Berkeley team has done supplementary research and announced that -
humans are almost entirely the cause
...it will be interesting to see what sort of back-pedaling excuses the remaining camp of so-called skeptics come up with. I'm not saying they
to accept this result (or else!) - but it provides for an interesting benchmark in separating real skeptics from phony ones.
Real ones will need to take this evidence into context with the enormous pile already in place that
shows modern warming to be primarily man made
. While the rest will no doubt ignore all
that yet again, and try to deflect focus on spelling errors and
(Then they'll probably cry something about how unfairly people label them 'deniers', while muttering what a 'religion' belief in AGW clearly is)