Data are ammo in climate wars

professor analysis data from beginning of industial age and switches his position, stating now that anthropogenic global warming is real.  his data has not been peer reviewed.  nor does he mention the cyclicality of global warming and cooling


Prof. Richard A. Muller could be the poster boy for the climate change debate.

A popular and relatively famous physics professor from the University of California, Berkley, and a self-described climate skeptic who publicly ridiculed the "hockey stick" graph, Prof. Muller on Sunday wrote an OpEd article in The New York Times headlined The Conversion of a Climate Change Skeptic.

The headline said it all. After taking money from a notoriously anti-climate change organization, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Prof. Muller headed a massive data collection project designed to take an unbiased view of 1.6 billion temperature records dating back to 1753, and disprove global warming and any anthropogenic influence on climate change.

He concluded instead that "global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct." When he matched the temperature numbers against information on the carbon dioxide curve measuring the increase in CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, he found a perfect match.

His team even tried to calculate the impact of such events as solar activity, volcanic emissions, the oscillation of ocean currents such as El Niño, and even the increase in world population, as well as emissions of other greenhouse gases such as methane. Nothing explained the increase in global temperature better than carbon, says Prof. Muller.

That evidence convinced him to change his mind. He not only published all his data online to allow skeptics and climate change scientists to poke holes in his conclusions, but he unexpectedly told a Congressional committee what he found and then let the stuff hit the fan with an OpEd in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal.

That piece, headlined The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism, suggested there was no longer a reason to be skeptical. It inflamed skeptics, who attacked Prof. Muller, called him a traitor and challenged his motives.

What should be most distressing for him, however, is how his data has been used by environmentalists.

In the page opposite Prof. Muller's opinion piece, The New York Times editorial took a shot at Canada for having and trying to sell oil that will ultimately end up as more carbon in the atmosphere. The paper has been notably silent about the environmental impact of burning coal - a commodity that contributes the most carbon per unit of power and is responsible for 42 per cent of the U.S. electrical production. China adds a gigawatt of coal-fired power every month to fuel its economy that continues to grow.

There is no question that oilsands will contribute to a serious global problem, but it is a relatively minor offender. Still, the oilsands and nuclear power that emits few GHGs have become the whipping boys of the environmental movement.

Prof. Muller now finds himself in the middle of the unbalanced and politically motivated climate change debate, where every piece of evidence is used as a weapon of mass destruction and saps the collective will to take action.

The editorials that appear in this space represent the opinion of The StarPhoenix. They are unsigned because they do not necessarily represent the personal views of the writers. The positions taken in the editorials are arrived at through discussion among the members of the newspaper's editorial board, which operates independently from the news departments of the paper.

Brophy Tuesday 31 July 2012 - 10:44 am | | Global Warming

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