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Global Warming: When activism taints science ...

Start with a bold statement from a credentialed researcher …

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic -- Richard A. Muller

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.

Here is my proof …

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature [BEST Network] 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.

We listened to the skeptics …

Our Berkeley Earth approach used sophisticated statistical methods developed largely by our lead scientist, Robert Rohde, which allowed us to determine earth land temperature much further back in time. We carefully studied issues raised by skeptics: biases from urban heating (we duplicated our results using rural data alone), from data selection (prior groups selected fewer than 20 percent of the available temperature stations; we used virtually 100 percent), from poor station quality (we separately analyzed good stations and poor ones) and from human intervention and data adjustment (our work is completely automated and hands-off). In our papers we demonstrate that none of these potentially troublesome effects unduly biased our conclusions.

We correlate with observations …

The historic temperature pattern we observed has abrupt dips that match the emissions of known explosive volcanic eruptions; the particulates from such events reflect sunlight, make for beautiful sunsets and cool the earth’s surface for a few years. There are small, rapid variations attributable to El Niño and other ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream; because of such oscillations, the “flattening” of the recent temperature rise that some people claim is not, in our view, statistically significant. What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees?

We tried various formulas to explain our findings …

We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.

Question …

Just because an equation appears to match a physical phenomenon and correlates well, does not prove that it is causal. How do you explain that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide lags the rise in temperature? Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide can be simply explained by the outgassing of dissolved oceanic carbon dioxide as the oceans warming – such warming being an expected product of the planet emerging from the Little Ice Age.

We even checked sun spots and indications of solar variability …  

Just as important, our record is long enough that we could search for the fingerprint of solar variability, based on the historical record of sunspots. That fingerprint is absent. Although the I.P.C.C. allowed for the possibility that variations in sunlight could have ended the “Little Ice Age,” a period of cooling from the 14th century to about 1850, our data argues strongly that the temperature rise of the past 250 years cannot be attributed to solar changes. This conclusion is, in retrospect, not too surprising; we’ve learned from satellite measurements that solar activity changes the brightness of the sun very little.

Enter the humans …

How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation.

Question …

Basic physics suggests that carbon dioxide does not increase the amount of energy received, but merely delays its escape from our atmosphere. But the greatest greenhouse gas, water vapor, is rarely accurately modeled, so there is some question of proportionality of the contribution of carbon dioxide relative to the contribution of water vapor. Heat transfer physics suggest that the delayed cooling could have a measurable effect on temperature measurements, but that the total energy received by the earth and the total energy re-radiated to space may be more related to water vapor than carbon dioxide on a proportionate basis.

A proper perspective …

These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does. Adding methane, a second greenhouse gas, to our analysis doesn’t change the results. Moreover, our analysis does not depend on large, complex global climate models, the huge computer programs that are notorious for their hidden assumptions and adjustable parameters.

Acknowledging that the scientific findings don’t prove causality is a huge step in honesty as is acknowledging the the scientific method is one of skepticism. It should be noted that the global climate models were used by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to push for public policies based on a self-serving social and financial agenda – and did nothing to suggest that man was capable of temperature containment on a global scale or that even the most careful scientific measurements would be apparent in anything less than a few hundred years. Long after the money was spent and people denied their freedom of choice about how they want to live.

The truth …

Our result is based simply on the close agreement between the shape of the observed temperature rise and the known greenhouse gas increase.

We found a pattern which appears to match our mathematical modeling, but it is just a pattern match. To be noted, there are computer programs using mathematical formulas that appear to create patters that look like shells and tree leaves. That these formulas are related to biological development is not only uncertain, but appears to be improbable. The issue with matching patterns can be easily demonstrated by my favorite cloud picture. People can see patterns in clouds – but clouds produced by a chaotic weather system do not contain information. It is your brain trying to match what is being observed with what you already know, can extrapolate or imagine.


Continuing with the truth …

It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.

Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous.

Acknowledging the effect of oceans …

What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.

Richard A. Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow, is the author, most recently, of “Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines.”

It’s all about the data that was used …

There is ample evidence that the raw data used for many scientific modeling ventures has been statistically manipulated. A process which can produce temperature artifacts and incorrect data.

New study shows half of the global warming in the USA is artificial

U.S. Temperature trends show a spurious doubling due to NOAA station siting problems and post measurement adjustments.

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward. The paper is the first to use the updated siting system which addresses USHCN siting issues and data adjustments.

The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data. This issue of station siting quality is expected to be an issue with respect to the monitoring of land surface temperature throughout the Global Historical Climate Network and in the BEST network.

But other, equally well-credentialed scientists have a fundamental disagreement …

About the data … Although we don’t want to comment on the draft pre-submission paper for obvious reasons, we have done quite a lot of work this past year that directly builds confidence in the verity of our adjustments to the United States Historical Climatology Network [USHCN] which it would be remiss not to mention in the context of current discussions. This is largely the result of efforts of Matt Menne and Claude Williams here at the National Climatic Data Center [NCDC]. I came to the party somewhat later. First off there are three published papers that have come out this calendar year which directly address the question at hand … <read more here>

About the curve fitting approach … Judged by standards set by the IPCC and the best of recent observation-based attribution analyses, in my opinion the Rhode, Muller et al. attribution analysis falls way short. The closest in approach is the Lean and Rind analysis, which considers all of the external forcings (with units, not just curve fits) and discusses their uncertainties. Looking at regional variations provides substantial insights into the attribution.

Both global and regional attribution studies have been done, but what are we to make of the global land attribution study done by Rhode, Muller et al.? Land has warmed substantially more than the oceans; it does not seem that their same model would explain the ocean temperature changes. Also, given the regional variations in attribution, going back to the 18th and 19th centuries tells us what is going on in western Europe and eastern North America, which is dominated by ocean circulation patterns in the North Atlantic and high latitude volcanoes. While I like what they have done going back further in time, these regional data are of little use for a global attribution study. <read more here>

Bottom line …

Attribution studies are all about seeing if a data pattern fits a hypothesis. It does not substantiate the causation of the phenomena, but merely looks for a suggested correlation between the data and a suggested cause.

The science is not well-settled as many politicians, activists and special interests have claimed. There are significant issues that have been raised and which must be answered before we allow corrupt politicians promote public policies which increase the size of governments, breach a nation’s sovereignty and centralize control at an international level, result in wealth re-distribution, significantly raise the cost of energy and all goods and services, reduce the standard of living in industrialized countries, and most importantly reduce your freedom.

Professor Muller of the University of California, Berkeley should be commended for his honest portrayal of his findings and his acceptance of the historical methods of skeptical science. Even though he is considered an activist and writing in a liberal publication, one cannot fault him in any way. That is not to say that his conclusions are correct, but like all good scientists, he appears to be willing to change his mind based on new data and analysis.

It is now time that we vote for honest brokers to serve “We the People” instead of ideologues promoting socialism and communism. Throwing Barack Obama and his fellow travelers, the czars, under the bus would be a great start to reforming our nation which has been decimated with decades of corrupt democrat/socialist/communist-style mismanagement.

Wake up people – before it is too late to turn back.

-- steve

Reference Links …

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic -

Berkeley Earth Temperature Averaging Process (commonly referred to as the “Methods” paper) and its appendix

Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average

Earth Atmospheric Land Surface Temperature and Station Quality in the United States

Decadal Variations in the Global Atmospheric Land Temperatures

A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011

New study shows half of the global warming in the USA is artificial

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