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July 30, 2012 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic : Richard A. Muller is a physicist, teacher, and author. His popular "Physics for Future Presidents" course is available for free online (previously). Yet Muller has a more controversial side: Climate skeptic. But last year, his Koch-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project confirmed global warming is real and today, an OpEd in the New York Times states that humans are almost entirely the cause.

Bonus: Six Global Warming Skeptics Who Changed Their Minds
posted by gwint (60 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Definitely not web design for future presidents.
posted by deathpanels at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2012


And meanwhile we have let 10 years pass with little to no institutional support for concrete measures to slow climate change.

I am all for scientific skepticism, but I also think the message should have been, "We still doubt the science but little is hurt by trying and much is harmed by waiting."
posted by muddgirl at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2012 [20 favorites]


I heard Muller interviewed a few months ago, and he struck me as a bit of a rarity — someone who was honestly skeptical of the science and not just concern trolling. It'll be fun to see what happens, though, to confront the others who are coal money-backed with his results.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2012


This project was coal money backed, in part. For once, it apparently didn't buy results. Something must be up.
posted by wierdo at 9:17 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This would carry more weight if I thought for a moment that any significant amount of climate-change deniers were genuinely skeptical about the science.
posted by Legomancer at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Global warming deniers are now saying that he wasn't really much of a skeptic in the first place.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:19 AM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's a setup to a false flag operation. This guy's conversion sucks the oxygen out of the climate change issue for a good month or so, he gets held up as an eminently measured, reasonable, fair-to-both-sides, someone-we-can-all-agree-on sort of person who nevertheless will continue to be critical of the particulars of any specific remedy to address the climate change issue.

NOTE: I don't actually believe a word I just wrote, but I do like imagining wacky elaborate behind-the-scenes shit like this going on all the time.
posted by gauche at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Global warming deniers are now saying that he wasn't really much of a skeptic in the first place.


True enough. No real scientist can meet their definition of a skeptic.
posted by ocschwar at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sigh, yet another hack who thanks he can do better. Meanwhile, the people who are actually qualified to do the research have been quietly debating details of their results, revising estimates, etc. all along. But they don't get to have injections of cash into their "project", and their name splashed all over the Times, I guess.
posted by smidgen at 9:25 AM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's a setup to a false flag operation. This guy's conversion sucks the oxygen out of the climate change issue for a good month or so, he gets held up as an eminently measured, reasonable, fair-to-both-sides, someone-we-can-all-agree-on sort of person who nevertheless will continue to be critical of the particulars of any specific remedy to address the climate change issue.

Given the second page of his op-ed, I'm not sure this is all that far-fetched.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:25 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hah. Like climate change deniers are really going to listen to a scientist, anyway.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:26 AM on July 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here's a study about climate sceptics:
In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality. …

What [researchers] found was remarkable. People who endorsed conspiracy theories such as “9/11 was an inside job” and “the moon landings were faked”, were also more likely to reject established scientific facts about climate change.

The link between endorsing conspiracy theories and rejecting climate science facts suggests that it is the libertarian instinct to stick two fingers up at the mainstream – whatever the issue – that is important. Because a radical libertarian streak is the hallmark of free-market economics, and because free market views are popular on the political right, this is where climate change scepticism is most likely to be found.

The findings also suggest that talk of a 'consensus' on climate change is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the weight of scientific evidence showing that humans are changing the climate is a powerful argument for taking action to prevent its dangerous effects. But the very notion of consensual agreement is also a red flag to libertarians, who distrust statements about consensus on principle.
No surprise. Freakin libertarians.
posted by stbalbach at 9:29 AM on July 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


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.


Except that these claims were not actually made by mainstream climate scientists (by which I mean: atmospheric physicists, modelers, paleoclimatologists and the like and not biologists, ecologists, etc) and/or in peer-reviewed scientific literature. For instance, the Himalayan glacier thing was not much more than a typo in a figure caption of a summary chapter (whereas the body of the text was accurate); here is Kerry Emmanuel's quite nuanced position on the relationship between tropical cyclones and climate change, for instance.

As far as his work on the temperature record: well, how can that be a surprise? The amount of work, review, and confirmation by multiple research groups of the instrumental and paleoclimate record that has gone on in the last 10 years is astounding.

Really, the guy seems a little disingenous to me.
posted by bumpkin at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


he gets held up as an eminently measured, reasonable, fair-to-both-sides, someone-we-can-all-agree-on sort of person who nevertheless will continue to be critical of the particulars of any specific remedy to address the climate change issue.

This is bang on the money as a study of how the media works and will now move into lockstep around climate change.

They need to tell us we are now finding that 'middle ground somewhere between two extremes of opinion', despite that being a completely fallacious way to understand climate change (or anything else). Then we can of course do very little while producing millions of words, operating within the framework of a 'debate'. Similar to how elections have been cleansed of democracy.
posted by colie at 9:35 AM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This project was coal money backed, in part. For once, it apparently didn't buy results. Something must be up.

Mitigation! Mitigation is the new watchword - massively expensive, dubiously effectual mitigation projects funded at taxpayer expense. They've figure out how to rake in cake pretending to clean up the mess they made.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:36 AM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Global warming deniers are now saying that he wasn't really much of a skeptic in the first place.

Predictable. Muller is the rare exception to the rule in those circles, in that he does seem to genuinely respect the scientific method. The rest of the denier ranks are either vested interests, the irredeemably change-averse, old white guys whose privileged position feels threatened, or tribal loyalists who believe environmentalism is a UN-backed Euroweenie propaganda campaign to take away Jesus and guns.

These people have no respect for science and no interest in what it has to tell them. They want to believe that their way of life is flawless and immutable, and they will only listen to voices that reinforce that belief. Their political icon is the jabbering dupe James Inhofe, who might just be the thickest brick in Congress now that Santorum's gone. Their idea of a serious public intellectual is Michael Crichton. These are the sorts of people who burned witches at stakes and tried Galileo for heresy. They are not skeptics; they are neo-medieval enemies of the Enlightenment.
posted by gompa at 9:40 AM on July 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm tired of this shit. Let me see if I understand the process clearly.

Step 1: Become a skeptic. Grant money from vested corporate entities flows in.
Step 2: Run studies for a while, claim healthy skepticism. Take up knitting.
Step 3: As the studies finish up, and the results accord with the same results you acted all skeptical about, issue a public about face. Opportunities to write NYT editorials flow in.
Step 4: (Optional bonus) As a newly converted believer, remain skeptical of solutions. More money flows in.

Why do media outlets like the New York Times lavish such space and attention on folks who adopt the above strategy? How about giving some editorial space to the various folks running the IPCC? How about the NYT gives out author bios that read less like "he's a professor of physics and a MacArthur fellow and an author and smells like Irish soap and sparkles in the sun" and more like "He's a professor of physics who should have known better but chose not to and for ten years he was ludicrously wrong, wrong, wrong?"
posted by hank_14 at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


It should be noted that even though Richard A. Muller has seen the light and is no longer a sceptic, his latest study is not peer reviewed. So he may be wrong yet again, on the details. He is now saying the situation is worse than the IPPC report says. I hope he is wrong, again. The guy is on the fringes and outside mainstream.
posted by stbalbach at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or he just enjoys attention. Look, news about science shouldn't be about personalities, nor should it celebrate the lone voice in the wilderness. It should be about the science. Anything else is an abdication of the responsibilities of journalism to the truth of the subject matter being reported on.

And yes, I know. Journalism abdicated most if not all of its responsibilities some time ago.
posted by hank_14 at 9:46 AM on July 30, 2012



He has been unpersoned over at Power Line Blog.

Stephen Hayward, Power Line, March 2011:
Embedded below, if I have mastered the custom Power Line formatting, is a stunning five-minute video of Berkeley physicist Richard Muller shredding the infamous climate “hockey stick” that is making the rounds widely on the Internet....

..in the aftermath of Climategate, Muller is “going big” you might say. Watch this and you’ll see what I mean, especially his summary phrase, “You’re not allowed to do this in science.” Muller is not just tenured, but is late in his career, so feels free to speak out, unlike younger academics who don’t dare cross the Climate McCarthyism of the universities. More importantly, Muller is heading up the new Berkeley Earth Temperature Study, which will review and analyze all of the data on this subject starting from scratch. Unlike the Climategate cabal in Britain and in our NASA, the Berkeley group will share its data with all comers. Keep your eye on this; it will take time–years more than months probably–but may prove to be the thread that unravels the main prop of the climate campaign.
Steven Hayward at Power Line, this weekend:
But just how much of a “skeptic” was Muller? Here’s the opening from his 2008 interview with Grist.org... Sounds pretty close to the “consensus” party line to me, and as such today’s Times op-ed does not represent a fundamentally new position for Muller at all. (I’m wondering whether a Times editor pressured him to use the “total turnaround” language.) Actually, Muller has always been among the group of folks known as “lukewarmers"...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:46 AM on July 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm surprised it took Hayward this long to notice Muller's results! This was a big story back in April of last year.

stbalbach: He is now saying the situation is worse than the IPCC report says. I hope he is wrong, again.

Unfortunately not. IPCC projections tend to be conservative. See this Skeptical Science post.
posted by russilwvong at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My latest example of climate-change skepticism in the media:
When a report was released by NASA about unprecedented melting across Greenland, Fox News didn't cover it.
But they then posted a front-page story about how a blogger online cast doubt about NASA's findings and called them outright lies. Seriously, a random denialist blogger. They had scientists quoted in the article, sure, but only to give some basic facts, not providing any critique of NASA.
But holy shit folks, a blogger gave NASA the boot. FRONT PAGE MATERIAL.
posted by Theta States at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Guess he went off payroll and is trying to salvage what remains of his reputation and career outside of being a climate-change denialist.

There are really very, very few legitimate scientists that argue against climate change in good faith. It's kind of like evolution in that regard; the facts are so completely overwhelming, the conclusion so blindingly obvious, that anyone who disbelieves it either doesn't have the proper background to interpret the data or is corrupt and taking money from political interests.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:03 AM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apparently "skeptic" means you believe 100% that climate change is not human-caused.
posted by the jam at 10:04 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice, but it hardly matters. Hating Al Gore is more important than any so-called "facts." (Apparently.)
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:06 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This whole Muller thing is silly. Here's a physicist who didn't follow climate change issues for his career. A couple years ago he reads some skeptic blog posts. Instead of doing what a grad student would do and read actual peer reviewed climate science papers he decides there's merit to the skeptics and declares the science inadequate. Then he gets some money to study the temperature record and comes out with these reports, the conclusions of which agree with the state of the science.... in 1990.

To be fair his group extended the temperature record back a few years and they used somewhat better methodology, but these are minor improvements. As I think Micheal Mann said somewhere yesterday it will take only a few more years for Muller to be up to the state of the science in the 2010s.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:13 AM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mother Jones: Global Warming: "Humans Are Almost Entirely the Cause"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:17 AM on July 30, 2012


Stbalbach, thanks for the background on the mindset of "skeptics." I think the net can be cast a bit wider on that group; libertarians are not the only ones taking this bait. I'm a periodic guest on Pacifica station WBAI, where, if we mention climate change (on a show about computers!) we get callers insisting that we be more skeptical.

Pacifica is historically a left-wing network, so this baffled us for a while. Over time, though, I've come to realize that conspiracy theories and "skepticism" are not about the political spectrum. For those who have already bitten on 9/11 conspiracies, Birther stuff, moon landing deniers, etc, *anything that smells like a conspiracy appears to be attractive*, regardless of the logic of it or where on the political spectrum it originates. Another reason why "skeptic" is a weird label for these people to take on -- it's not about questioning at all, but about committing to the belief that there are things out there you're not being told about, and the explanation involves a fantastic story of arcane powers.
posted by gusandrews at 10:24 AM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Global Warming: "Humans Are Almost Entirely the Cause"

It's true - my cats helped a little. They eat meat, and also hate the 90+ degree weather, so we turn on the AC during the hottest days.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:33 AM on July 30, 2012


Five years ago, British Petroleum gave $500 million to create the Energy Biosciences Institute which would fund labs at UC Berkeley, LBL, and UIUC. It was criticized as a move that could compromise scientists' ability to pursue avenues of study whose results might be inconvenient to the oil industry.

It looks like the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project had nothing to do with the EBI.
posted by Zed at 10:36 AM on July 30, 2012


stbalbach: "So he may be wrong yet again, on the details. He is now saying the situation is worse than the IPPC report says. I hope he is wrong, again."

I also hope so, but that's unlikely. There have been much other, peer reviewed, work that has reached the same conclusion that has been published in the last couple of years.
posted by wierdo at 10:40 AM on July 30, 2012


Global warming deniers are now saying that he wasn't really much of a skeptic in the first place.

No true scotch-man.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:59 AM on July 30, 2012


James Inhofe: "So one of those global warming creeps got to you too, huh?"
Muller: [nervously] "Aw, you've got it all wrong, Inhofe. It's not like that!" *makes waving gesture with his hand, and a man dressed like a scientist holding a giant novelty thermometer runs off*
Inhofe: *shakes fist* "You'd BETTER run, SCIENCE!"
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 11:13 AM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess that in terms of media war, this is a good thing for climate change as it pushes the discussion closer towards truthfulness and fair examination of the credibility of all the voices out there on climate change.

But to echo what many others are saying, scientifically, what a shitshow! He ignores current scientific literature, makes wild and unsupportable claims of skepticism, gets funding to, you know, actually behave somewhat rationally as his physics credentials might lead someone to believe he had already done, and then, big surprise, confirms what all those lowly and incompetent climate scientists knew all along. And to top it all off, he does science by press release with overly-grandiose claims of his accomplishments, rather than peer review where his claims would be placed in the proper context of what everybody else already knows. This behavior shows more interest in the limelight than pursuing accuracy and advancing knowledge. Good god this is a dangerous man to treat as an authority on this subject.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess that in terms of media war, this is a good thing for climate change as it pushes the discussion closer towards truthfulness and fair examination of the credibility of all the voices out there on climate change.

Yeah, that'll definitely happen.
posted by colie at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Global Warming: "Humans Are Almost Entirely the Cause"

It's true - my cats helped a little.


Also, cow farts.
posted by straight at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2012


Climate Change Denialism actually is Physics for Future Presidents.
posted by benzenedream at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2012


I'm not impressed by skeptics who get around to confirming matters that have been obvious for awhile. I think they make an initial mistake of confusing "I am not informed enough on this matter" with "reasonable doubts exist." They fall for the misdirection that wilder claims define the subject.
Muller seems to have done both. He admits that he was driven to be a skeptic over the issue that many researchers don't use statistics correctly. That shouldn't have been enough to make him a denier.
He hides in a refuge that many claims such as particular hurricanes or hurricanes in general may not be increasing. That should have been a side issue.
His failings as a scientist and as a proper skeptic helped perpetuate a phony debate.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:58 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


And meanwhile we have let 10 years pass with little to no institutional support for concrete measures to slow climate change ... "We still doubt the science but little is hurt by trying and much is harmed by waiting."

I wonder if it is accurate to say that significantly slowing climate change would be harmless. Could this be done without slowing the rise in standard of living and industrial competitiveness in emerging economies? Maybe with nuclear energy and natural gas?

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.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (India) is seeking to secure $400 billion of investment in the power industry in the next five years as he targets an additional 76,000 megawatts in generation by 2017.

It would be nice to see more scientific agreement on climate change mitigation. The European goal seems meaningless without more research and an actual plan:

The energy policy of the European Union has set a target of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C (3.6 °F) compared to preindustrial levels, of which 0.8 °C has already taken place and another 0.5–0.7 °C is already committed. The 2 °C rise is typically associated in climate models with a carbon dioxide equivalent concentration of 400–500 ppm by volume; the current level of carbon dioxide alone, as seen in the figure below, is over 390 ppm by volume, and rising at 1-3 ppm annually.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:00 PM on July 30, 2012


IT honestly doesn't matter much that one skeptic let the evidence convince him of the existence of global warming. Romney, our next president, will deny global warming exists, and will shut down all funding for alternative energy production. So in the next eight years, no progress in the U.S. will be made at all.
posted by happyroach at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2012


I wonder if it is accurate to say that significantly slowing climate change would be harmless.

I was speaking in terms of the US scientists and the US economy. Of course China is a concern but we have to clean up our own house and stop pointing fingers. Also, I don't think that reacting to climate change is going to be harmless. Certainly industries will be affected and unless budget priorities on the state and federal level shift we simply don't have the money for it.

I also think of it like a compounding interest account. Putting less investment in 10 years ago would have had much more impact than putting more money in now. That's why this armchair skepticism by some scientists is so frustrating - it gives politicians a cover to delay, delay, delay and keep raking in the special interest dollars.
posted by muddgirl at 3:13 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who endorsed conspiracy theories such as “9/11 was an inside job” and “the moon landings were faked”, were also more likely to reject established scientific facts about climate change.

This has a name: crank magnetism.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:16 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think some of you are being overly cynical here. It's always useful to have more scientists checking the data, methods, and conclusions of other scientists -- even though I agree that in this particular case, criticisms of the existing data/methods/conclusions were not particularly well founded or likely to yield different conclusions. In this case, the Berkeley dataset and methods are quite public: you can go get the data yourself and go nuts, if you want. I can't help but think there's a subset of climate "skeptics" for whom that will make an impression. (Although, in all fairness, it will probably also lead to people who have no clue what they're doing downloading the data and posting bizarre conclusions about it.)

I guess I'm also a little dismayed that everyone assumes Muller is in this purely for the press, or for laughs, or for money, or whatever. Maybe I'm biased here; I've met Muller, though only in passing, and came away reasonably impressed. He's a good physicist. Some of you suggest that a lot of this work could've been forestalled by just "reading the literature" -- perhaps you're right, but I very, very much doubt the problem is that Muller didn't read the literature. The problem is that he didn't believe it, or wasn't convinced by it. Now, you might say that this is a typical example of the arrogance of physicists, who (in the stereotype) tend to think that no other branch of science really knows what they're doing, and you might be right. But I'm also a little reluctant to conclude that no physicist should challenge the conclusions of other branches of science -- particularly if they're willing to put their own methodology, data, and conclusions very much in the public eye, as Muller et al. have done here. To many of you, this op-ed came across as an inevitability, and a craven attempt to curry public attention to boot; to me, it came across as eating a little bit of crow, as an admission that he was quite wrong about a number of things.

Incidentally: as noted in the NYT blog post linked above, the papers on this stuff largely have been submitted for peer review, and also distributed informally to a number of scientists worldwide. The claim from Muller et al. (which of course you can choose not to believe) is that the referee reports have not uncovered anything particularly bad about the papers; they are putting this out now (again, according to the NYT blog account) because Tuesday is the deadline for submission of work to be considered by the next IPCC report. There are some troubling comments in the NYT piece about some of the conclusions in the article -- but the dataset is superb, and some of the statistical methodology is interesting and worthwhile.

Also, purely as an anecdote: a few years ago, I gave Muller's book (the physics for future presidents one) to my Dad, a well-read ex-engineer who is nonetheless bizarrely skeptical about the human role in climate change. Since then, he's been following the BEST project with some interest, I'm guessing because it's the sort of thing he would've liked to do if he had the skills: basically saying "I'm not sure I believe these results, and I'm going to try to duplicate or disprove them." When I talked to him on the phone last night, we talked about this Muller op-ed (it's been floating around the internet for a couple days), and it seemed to me that he was, I don't know, resigned? Like maybe this was the last gasp of an attempt to be both (a) skeptical about climate change and (b) genuinely open-minded, and a realisation that increasingly it's no longer possible be (a) if you are (b)? Maybe I'm overreaching here. But I think there are people for whom this is a Big Deal, and I think Muller et al. ought to be commended for finishing it and going public with their results, rather than (just) chided for having embarked on the project in the first place.
posted by chalkbored at 3:19 PM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I thought today's Guardian article was a good summary - it talks about his relationship with Watts, and it has a nice array of Muller quotes from years past that make his denialist credentials a wee bit suspect.

muddgirl: That's why this armchair skepticism by some scientists is so frustrating - it gives politicians a cover to delay, delay, delay and keep raking in the special interest dollars.

^This x10
posted by sneebler at 5:02 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are there any accessible studies indicating what a warmer world would be like? Which places will be nicer, and which places will be uninhabitable?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on July 30, 2012


What evidence will it take to convince climate sceptics? Prof Richard Muller's research showing the world is warming and humans are largely to blame is being rejected by climate sceptics
posted by homunculus at 6:09 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: "Are there any accessible studies indicating what a warmer world would be like? Which places will be nicer, and which places will be uninhabitable?"

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. Six chapters, each chapter looks at what the planet will be like at 1 degrees, 2 degrees, etc.. up to 6 degrees hotter. It is informed entirely by science studies, but written to be accessible. It stops at 6 degrees because after that it's sort of pointless. (degrees are in C)
posted by stbalbach at 6:37 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming.

Bloody hell, is the world that daft? Global warming does not cause a weather event any more than vanilla in a cake mix causes a cake. But that vanilla is now and forever more an inseparable part of that cake, changing its character.

You'd think someone with a PhD in physics would understand something so straightforward.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


THANKS FOR JOINING THE WINNING SIDE NOW THAT THINGS ARE LOOKING DIRE MISTER MULLER.
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on July 30, 2012


> Instead of doing what a grad student would do and
> read actual peer reviewed climate science papers

A whie back, Robert Rohde, now BEST chief scientist, was one of Muller's grad students.
See the work Rohde did based on reading those peer reviewed papers.

You can find Rohde's work from that time at Global Warming Art (you've probably seen it elsewhere, it's much copied).

I hope he has time to get back to those and update them with his own recent work.
posted by hank at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2012


Not farting, burping.
posted by flabdablet at 8:56 AM on July 31, 2012


Bloody hell, is the world that daft? Global warming does not cause a weather event any more than vanilla in a cake mix causes a cake.

Uh ... that really depends on your account of causation. If you have a more or less probabilistic notion of causation, where something is a cause if it is probability raising, then it is not absurd at all to say that global warming was a cause of Katrina -- provided, of course, that the probability of a hurricane (or a hurricane of a specific category) is more probable conditional on higher global temperatures than on lower global temperatures.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:55 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: Are there any accessible studies indicating what a warmer world would be like? Which places will be nicer, and which places will be uninhabitable?

See Figure 1 of this May 2010 study by Huber and Sherwood, "An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress." Press release:
This map shows the maximum wet-bulb temperatures reached in a climate model from a high carbon dioxide emissions future climate scenario with a global-mean temperature 12 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than 2007. The white land areas exceed the wet-bulb limit at which researchers calculated humans would experience a potentially lethal level of heat stress.

The researchers calculated that humans and most mammals, which have internal body temperatures near 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, will experience a potentially lethal level of heat stress at wet-bulb temperature above 95 degrees sustained for six hours or more, said Matthew Huber, the Purdue professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who co-authored the paper that is currently available online and will be published in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Although areas of the world regularly see temperatures above 100 degrees, really high wet-bulb temperatures are rare," Huber said. "This is because the hottest areas normally have low humidity, like the 'dry heat' referred to in Arizona. When it is dry, we are able to cool our bodies through perspiration and can remain fairly comfortable. The highest wet-bulb temperatures ever recorded were in places like Saudi Arabia near the coast where winds occasionally bring extremely hot, humid ocean air over hot land leading to unbearably stifling conditions, which fortunately are short-lived today."
posted by russilwvong at 12:49 AM on August 1, 2012


Gosh that's scary. Also, I never thought of Saudi Arabia as being humid. Odd.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:51 AM on August 1, 2012


Climate change the cause of summer's extreme weather, Congress told: IPCC scientists tell Senate committee drought, wildfires and hurricanes are becoming normal because of climate change
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Congress is just thinking "Can we PLEASE just hear from some scientists that don't hate America?"
posted by Theta States at 11:47 AM on August 1, 2012


A bad omen for future climate shock: Congress can't even pass a bill to help parched farmers
posted by homunculus at 8:15 PM on August 3, 2012


Climate change is here — and worse than we thought
The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small.
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on August 5, 2012


Climate change is easily dealt with.

All you have to do is consistently refer to anybody who has ever done any actual research into it as a "warmist" and at least half the populace will agree that there's nothing to be concerned about.
posted by flabdablet at 8:08 PM on August 5, 2012


July was hottest month in US on record, reports NOAA
posted by homunculus at 2:31 PM on August 8, 2012


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