Yesterday’s New York Times opinion pages carried an interesting piece by Richard A Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former climate science skeptic.
Yes, former. In his NYT piece, Muller announced that he has switched sides.
Muller is the guy behind the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study. It was a massive project to go over all the temperature and climate data available and see if the claims of a warming earth are for real. And when he started this three years ago, his climate-science-denier bona fides must have been, in part at least, crucial in helping him secure funding from the notoriously right-wing and climatology-hostile Koch Foundation.
With a pedigree like that, if the whole man-made global-warming thing was indeed a massive con-job by Big-Government-loving liberals, Berkeley Earth would have been the study to debunk it.
But that’s not what happened. In Muller’s words….
My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
In other words, when honest scientists actually take a look at the climate data, they can’t help but be convinced that the consensus position on global warming is the right one.
And that’s all fine and dandy but I still can’t help but feel that Muller is kind of a prick. I mean, the only reason he embarked on this whole adventure is because he formerly bought into a bunch of climate-denier hogwash then went around essentially claiming that the work of the climate-science community must be either fraudulent or inept. Then he caps it all off by saying, “Only I, Richard A Muller, am qualified to pass judgement on this data. Step aside and eat my science dust.”
But as it turns out, everybody in climate science was right and Dick just wasn’t listening. The models predicted it and the data confirms: the globe is warming and people are the cause.
Meanwhile, the Koch brothers must be livid. They’re used to spending their money on research that supports their burn-that-oil-and-damn-the-CO2 agenda. I’m betting Muller won’t be invited to their Christmas party this year.
For more on this, here’s a very good Paul Krugman piece about the Berkeley Earth Study from before Muller made his public conversion.