GOP backs “skeptic” scientist who mirrors Hansen’s data

Look familiar? 

The blue line in the above graph represents the global temperature dataset gathered by James Hansen and his team at GISS/NASA over the last twenty years. Hansen has presented this chard and this data countless times at countless talks on countless occasions around the world. 

The black line represents a "skeptical" scientist's interpretation of the global temperature data. In this case the skeptic is a Berkeley professor, evidently, named Richard A. Muller. Here's a talk of his: 

He's associated with a Novis Group team at Berkeley that declares on its website that it is "independent of the other three groups that do surface temperature analysis."

It's also funded by $150,000 from the Koch Brothers, according to the Chicago Tribune


Video streaming by Ustream

You can judge the jerkiness for yourself. I have never seen so much attitude in a scientist, nor such a political presentation of the issue, at any of the many scientific conferences I've attended.

Muller begins by declaring that he knows a lot of things that "you thought that are true that aren't" and then presents very familiar data.

He says that "he's leading a major study, a really major study" that will soon be in the newspapers; in fact, it's "already in the newspapers." He promises that he is going to testify before Congress. 

His first point in his talk is that China's total emissons of greenhouse gases and their equivalents has exceeded the emissions of the United States, as of 2006.


But he doesn't get five minutes into the lecture before he lies; er, misleads the audience. To quote:

Let me tell you what's happening in the last few years. China [level of GHG emissions] has been going up. The U.S. has gone down a little bit. China is now, probably fifty percent more than the U.S. They've been growing by ten percent a year. 


To be fair, China is out-emitting the United States, by about 2-3% of global emissions, and yes, it's a problem. But does that challenge the science of climate change? Not a bit. 

Muller brings the attitude, but his data looks pretty much like everybody else's. Though he was invited by Republicans, and in his testimony mentioned the favorite lie; er, misleading allegation propagated by the Watts Up with That? website, the idea that weather station temperature records have been distorted by the urban heat island effect, in the end he could not deny the truth.

In fact, as he said, his own data disproved the GOP-backed theory. 

Rather than pick stations with long records (as done by the prior groups) we picked stations randomly from the complete set. This approach eliminates station selection bias. Our results are shown in the Figure; we see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.

We have also studied station quality. Many US stations have low quality rankings according to a study led by Anthony Watts. However, we find that the warming seen in the “poor” stations is virtually indistinguishable from that seen in the “good” stations.

GOP Gets Inconvenient Replies at Climate Hearings, as Andy Revkin said at the Times

Just another tentacle of the Kochtopus

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

One thought on “GOP backs “skeptic” scientist who mirrors Hansen’s data

  1. It’s worth adding Paul Krugman’s comments on Prof. Muller:

    For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

    But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

    But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.

    So on second thought, I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race. 

    Cynical careerism vs. the health of the planet. Not a difficult choice for Richard A. Muller.


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