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Scientist Beloved by Climate Deniers Pulls Rug Out from Their Argument Scientist Beloved by Climate Deniers Pulls Rug Out from Their Argument

Scientist Beloved by Climate Deniers Pulls Rug Out from Their Argument

by Ben Jervey

April 1, 2011

Today, there was a climate science hearing in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Of the six "expert" witnesses, only three were scientists. The others were an economist, a lawyer, and a professor of marketing.

One of the scientists was Richard Muller from University of California, Berkeley. Muller has been working on an independent project to better estimate the planet's surface temperatures over time. Because he is willing to say publicly that he has some doubts about the accuracy of the temperature stations that most climate models are based on, he has been embraced by the science denying crowd. A Koch brothers charity, for example, has donated nearly 25 percent of the financial support provided to Muller's project.

Skeptics of climate science have been licking their lips waiting for his latest research, which they hoped would undermine the data behind basic theories of anthropogenic climate change. At the hearing today, however, Muller threw them for a loop with this graph:


You don't have to be a Berkeley PhD to see that Muller's data (black line) tracks pretty well with the three established data sets. This is just an initial sampling of Muller's data—just 2 percent of the 1.6 billion records he's working with—but these early findings are incredibly consistent with the previous findings. In his testimony, Muller made these points (emphasis mine):

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was created to make the best possible estimate of global temperature change using as complete a record of measurements as possible and by applying novel methods for the estimation and elimination of systematic biases.

We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.

The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends.

Despite potential biases in the data, methods of analysis can be used to reduce bias effects well enough to enable us to measure long-term Earth temperature changes. Data integrity is adequate. 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.

For the many climate deniers who hang their arguments on Muller's "doubts," this is a severe blow. Of course, when the hard scientific truths are inconvenient, climate denying House leaders can always call a lawyer, a marketing professor, and an economist into the scientific hearing.

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