Leading Climate Skeptic Changes Posit...

Leading Climate Skeptic Changes Position: Global Warming is Real, and Man-Made

Posted in the Olney Forum


Claremont, IL

#1 Jul 31, 2012
Leading Climate Skeptic Changes Position: Global Warming is Real, and Man-Made

By: David Dayen Monday July 30, 2012 1:03 pm

This news from the Berkeley Earth Project should get more attention. Richard Muller, the head of the project, was a confirmed climate skeptic, and he got plenty of attention from the right side of the spectrum for his views. In fact he got funding, including $150,000 from the Koch Brothers, to study climate science and produce a set of conclusions. And after years of work, years of going through ice samples and carbon readings and all the rest, Muller determined that global warming does in fact exist:

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

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.

Muller’s findings, by the way, show a greater degree of warming than even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, largely seen as the consensus view of the scientific community.

You can read the paper here. Conservatives may want to banish their thoughts on Muller from the sands of time, but at one point he was considered a crucial expert for the proposition that global warming didn’t exist. Then he devoted himself to study and looked dispassionately at the data, and completely changed his view.

I don’t think every climate denialist is as open-minded as Muller. But the oil and gas industry made the mistake in this case of allowing Muller to pursue facts, rather than housing him inside one of their think tanks where they could control the data and the message.

More from Joe Romm and Kevin Drum, as well as Andrew Revkin of the New York Times. Muller has posted the study but it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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