back to article 'Ex climate sceptic' Muller's latest BEST stuff is the worst so far

Richard Muller's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, which began with goodwill from all corners of the climate debate, has made a series of bold announcements (without benefit of peer review) to the effect that global warming is definitely serious and definitely caused by humans. This has aroused derision among …


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  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Gosh. That took long enough to debunk. I was waiting for it and it must have taken AT LEAST a week since I'd heard these claims.

    I still fail to believe that people don't grasp one of two things: a) we need proper, independent, research into the whole issue and have it peer-reviewed beyond the point where it's plausible to still prove it as junk, or b) we need to say "we just don't know" and carry on with that as the official line, rather than try to publish a conflicting absolute once a month and tailor government policy to whatever one works for them.

    Sorry, I know that both options will probably pretty much kill windpower overnight and get us installing a single nuclear reactor to take over their ENTIRE percentage of energy production in the UK, but if that's what has to be done, it should be. It might also give a kick up the bum to certain "environmental" programs like shipping off our "recycling bin" contents to China to be landfilled, claiming that an electricity provider giving a single energy saving lightbulb to its customers is actually doing ANYTHING practical (or even that they are the people who should be leading the charge on energy saving when it directly hits their bottom-line to do so, and we end up with infinite half-hearted "action" to maximise their profits), or any other nonsense.

    We probably ARE warming the planet faster than if we weren't here. It probably WON'T affect anything. It probably pales in comparison to what will happen when the Earth next hits any sort of ice-age cycle, atmospheric cycle or any other of the natural corrective measures that turned it from uninhabitable rock to a fertile gaia and maintained it as such for hundreds of millions of years. We almost certainly CAN'T to anything to avoid that or fix it without basically doing just as much damage to the way we live as the scaremongers would have us believe were going to happen "before 2000" back in the 60's. And there are other, much more pressing, problems - like avoiding the end of oil production (not for energy, but as a resource for materials) - that should really be taking priority first over a theoretical, can't be agreed upon, immeasurable, politically motivated discussion like the global warming one.

    Can we please stop faffing about and a) work out a way off this planet, or at least start heading that way while we still have the materials to do so, b) stop the arguments and switch to nuclear before we are FORCED to do so at much greater expense and after having burned all the natural resources, c) work out some way to "gold-star" decent research via an internationally agreed set of criteria (including independence of political influence, verfication of massive peer review, and ability to revoke such status) and only base government policy on things that have already been gold-starred for a decade or so.

    1. Wilco 1

      You mean like an intergovermental panel on climate research?

      Say, let's call it the IPCC?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You mean like an intergovermental panel on climate research?

        Don't you mean IPCR? After all, we're talking RESEARCH not CONTROL.

    2. PatientOne

      "It probably pales in comparison to what will happen when the Earth next hits any sort of ice-age cycle"

      We're due a change to a Temperate age... about.... well, now. Actually, it's overdue by a few thousand years, but that's nothing, really, and we* are working from estimates based on fossils. So we can expect global warming along with some interesting climate changes and weather patterns, but it'll all sort itself out eventually.

      It's why I'm keeping an eye on the cats: This is when you get Sabre Toothed cats appear, you see...

      *We being mankind. There are some quite informative text books around covering this cycle.

      1. Marshalltown

        Not really overdue for anything

        If you take the best estimates of temperature maxima over the Holocene, the planet has been in a gentle cooling trend for the 7 to 8 thousand years. There have been numerous Bond or Daansgard-Oerschger events but in general the over all is cooler. Ideally, SUVs will stave this off so that the planet will not have to deal with a mob of whinging Alaskan, British, Canadian, Irish, Scandinavian, Scottish and Russian climate refugees.

    3. Alan Firminger

      Simple answer

      The sceptic case is that the earth is warming due to increased heating by the sun, that causes the oceans to release CO2 which explains the atmospheric increase. Certainly there are solar cycles that make the sun hotter and cooler, so it is possible, but no evidence is given that this is happening.

      There is a crisis now in the oceans because acidity is increasing due to absorption of CO2 from the air. The sceptic argument falls.

      1. Josh 15
        Thumb Down

        Re: Simple answer

        Utter rubbish. Ocean 'acidification', if it is happening at all, is of so little concern as to be meaningless. Why don't you read some facts for yourself?

      2. Marshalltown

        Re: Crisis????

        I realize that it is quite fashionable to discuss the scariness of ocean "acidification," and that the faithful are bound to believe this as an article faith not to be questioned, but the grounds for this assertion are speculative and are not born out empirically.

        Naturally, adding CO2 to water acidifies the water as carbonic acid is produced. However, in the oceans, the amount of dissolved carbonate buffers this reaction and reduces any pH shift. For instance, since the end of the Late Glacial Maximum CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing because the oceans have been warming. Gases become less soluble in water as it warms. In short, since the end of the LGM, the oceans have become less acidic by the same reasoning. Yet, in fact, they have not. Indeed, there is no sound evidence that marine acidity has varied significantly over the entire Phanerozoic. Over the same time span CO2 has reached levels of well above 6 times the present atmospheric levels - the present is at or tying the all-time low in atmospheric CO2 levels. And theoretically worse, during that same span the planet has mostly been far warmer than at present. So, the short and simple conclusion is that "ocean acidification" as an environmental threat is epic-scale humbug.

        It would be great if there were any readily identifiable trustworthy sources (pro and con) but there aren't. To verify, you'll have to read paleontology, geology and some quantitative college chemistry, then try to evaluate the various views in order really get a decent critical perspective whether acidification is a real worry or not. What you will find is that coral evolved in seas that according to the "acidification" scare hypothesis would have killed them. Likewise for shellfish. The last time the planet was this cold, AND this poor in atmospheric CO2 (and the seas presumably this alkaline) was about 300,000,000 years ago. - at the end of the Carboniferous. There is no evidence of coupling between mariine acidification and extinctions.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. NomNomNom

          Re: Crisis????

          " So, the short and simple conclusion is that "ocean acidification" as an environmental threat is epic-scale humbug."

          Short, simple and wrong.

          the rate of ocean acidification is proportional to the RATE of co2 rise not the level of co2, precisely because of the buffering you mention. The current rate of co2 rise is about 200ppm per century which is faster than any known rate of co2 rise in earths history hence likewise with acidification.

          You should take ocean acidification more seriously than just dismissing it. If anything it's being over-ignored rather than over-exaggerated. When was the last time you saw a newspaper even mentioned ocean acidification?

          As for corals see this:

          "Why would coral become extinct because of ocean acidification, when coral species have already survived other ocean chemistry changes over geological history?

          Corals have indeed survived multiple extinction events in Earth history, but each time their “rebound” took millions of years, and their ability to form reefs took even longer. The earliest corals arose during the Ordovician more than 400 million years ago. Known as Tabulate and Rugose corals, these were very different from the corals living today (modern corals belong to the Scleractinia and likely evolved independently from these earlier forms), and the Ordovician reef systems were dominated by sponges rather than corals. These groups went extinct during the Permo-Triassic extinction event 251 million years ago, and different coral lines eventually evolved and flourished again, along with reef-building bivalves that built tremendous reefs during through the Cretaceous period, most of which went extinct (along with the dinosaurs) in the Cretaceous extinction event 65 Ma ago. While coral reefs disappeared at this time, about half of all coral species did survive, but it took millions of years before reefs recovered to become widespread once again. In general, ocean life recovers from extinction episodes by adaptation and evolution of new species, but this takes roughly 10 million years to achieve pre-extinction levels of biodiversity."

          1. Marshalltown

            Re: Crisis????

            Instead, look up carbonate compensation depth, aragonite compensation depth, and try to understand what these mean with respect to buffering effects. There is consistently going to be more available carbonate in the surface layers of the oceans. That in turn means that CO2 for instance, which will go into solution near the surface in proportion to its partial pressure in the atmosphere will simply tend to precipitate as mixing with Ca ions occurs. Also, plankton pull CO2 out of solution like any other green plant. Ocean acidification remains humbug.

    4. R.P.Charlie

      Another thing about those energy saving light bulbs

      There is now a complaint about the UV radiation from the CFLs and the damage they can cause to the skin.

      No provision made for getting rid of the mecury when they fail nor adequate precautions provided when the break in a home or workplace.

  3. NomNomNom

    "However each announcement has been aggressively trialled in the press not only before the peer review process had judged them ready for publication - which may not be a major issue - but also before anyone outside the BEST project could examine the papers at all. This requires the ordinary reader to take BEST's accompanying press releases on blind faith - which is not a barrier for some journalists, but is far short of acceptable practice."

    How does this differ from the article on the Watts paper?

    That paper also hasn't been peer reviewed and the data hasn't been made available yet to allow anyone outside the project to examine the claims.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well Watts actually says:

      "The pre-release of this paper follows the practice embraced by Dr. Richard Muller, of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project"

      So he is following Muller's lead in pre-releasing the paper.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Warming caused by humans?

    Who'd have thunk it?

  5. PyLETS

    A good reason

    for changing your views is when the evidence for subscribing to a different position becomes overwhelming. As to assessing the highly variable quality of "peer review" academics tend to work within different ranges from journalists within a very wide spectrum.

  6. kirovs
    Thumb Down


    So you have made your mind and no matter what anyone finds you are not going to change it. OK, seen enough. You have as much credibility as a coal plant manager.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    In some jurisdictions

    Hiring your daughter to be the director of an outfit like BEST might well be seen as Cronyism.

  8. Wilco 1

    Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

    While his research isn't groundbreaking (just confirming what we have known for the last 30 years), and may not be perfect (as he is new to the whole climate research), it is interesting to see someone independent reproduce the hockey stick graph using very different methods and statistics. That alone proves that the exact method doesn't matter all that much or that the UHI effect has much influence. And it's great to see a sceptic doing actual research instead of being ... just a sceptic without evidence to support their claims.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

      > it is interesting to see someone independent reproduce the hockey stick graph

      You do know that the hockey stick graph is supposed to chart temperature anomalies from 1000AD to 2000AD? I don’t think they had any temperature sensors around 1000 years ago so it might difficult for Watt's to obtain the readings.

      Come back when you have a clue.

      1. PatientOne

        Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

        @AC 13:42

        I believe they used core samples from trees to determine rate of growth where rapid growth = favorable conditions which interpreted as warmer climate.

        As such, they believe they have a natural barometer (the tree) to work from. Of cause, few trees last 1000 years, so they used stuff from felled trees with carbon dating to get the age. It's not exact, of cause, but it gives a rough guide to work from.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

          Re: PatientOne

          Wilco 1 is claiming that Watts work independently validates the hockey stick. That is impossible. The hockey stick is 1000 year reconstruction. Watts work only deals with the instrumental period.

          As for using trees as thermometers, lets not mention, strip bark bristle-cones, Yamal, divergence problem etc.

      2. Wilco 1

        Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

        There are lots of different things that can be used as temperature proxies, you can go back 800,000 years with ice cores for example. However it doesn't matter what you use as a proxy, or whether you use actual thermometer or satellite readings - all show the same hockey stick graph.

        So don't post again unless you have a clue what you are talking about.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Clueless

          > all show the same hockey stick graph.

          Once again, Watts is not producing a 1000 year or an 800,000 year reconstruction using tree, ice cores, sediments or any other proxies.

          His reconstruction only uses thermometers based in the USA and covers the time period from 1979 onwards.

          His reconstruction can not validate any proxy reconstruction because, apart from the anything else, all the proxy reconstructions have a training period that overlaps Watts time period.

          One other thing. It is only the 1000 year reconstructions that are supposed to look like hockey sticks. The 800,000 year one is supposed to have ice ages in there which messes up the handle of the stick.

          1. Wilco 1

            Re: Clueless

            Watts? What are you talking about? This is an article about Muller's latest BEST work which is a reconstruction from 1750 onwards. Muller's results independently confirms the existing graphs with a significant rise in the last 50 years. So he validates the last part of the hockey stick graph, the bit that actually matters most.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Clueless

              > So he validates the last part of the hockey stick graph, the bit that actually matters most.

              The blade of the hockey stick (post industrial) is irrelevant, it is the handle (pre industrial) that is controversial because it shows little to no variation.

              Mann's selection method when picking proxies to use in the reconstruction was to select those that correlated with the instrument record. Any reconstruction that uses this method will match the instrument record.

              Go and read up on it. I would suggest either Climate Audit or Real Climate, it doesn't matter which because either one should give you an idea about how modern temperatures can not validate the hockey stick.

        2. Robinson

          Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

          Yes, yes, but let's look at just one proxy here:

          How many hockey-sticks do you want? And what does this chart mean to you? Go on... I dare you... interpret it for us.

    2. Marshalltown

      Re: Finally some sceptics are doing actual research...

      One of the criticisms of the "hockey stick" is that the statistical methods employed by Mann and crew yield hockey sticks very reliably, even with random numbers. It isn't difficult to generate a hockey stick, the difficulty is showing that it actually means something about your data.

      There is of course another hockey stick, where Mann truncated a misbehaving dendrochronological sequence and added thermometer data on without mentioning the procedure. No one except Mann and his friends seem to consider that an acceptable procedure. Without the temperature data and with the original dendro data he would not have had a hockey stick.

  9. Katie Saucey
    Thumb Down


    "We are not asserting that surface temperature data are unaffected by urbanization...." quote from Muller. OK, funny, but in the abstract from the UHI paper,

    "...urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change."

    ( ). Maybe he just forgot to read it (to busy hanging out with Al Gore).

    1. MD Rackham

      Re: Really?

      "Not unduly bias" does not mean the "data are unaffected."

      It means that while the data are affected by UHI, it not a major enough effect to bias the temperature change estimates.

      Try reading what was written instead of jumping to preconceived conclusions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      It depends if you have just changed your estimation method.

      The paper notes that 27% of the measurements come from a type of environment (urban) which only covers 1% of the earth. Over the time of measurement, cities have grown in terms of the size and energy consumption and leakage, further altering the results.

      It would appear that all studies should be prefaced with: "Our data is minimal so we're mostly guessing."

      Part of the problem appears to be that global warming (rising temperatures) is itself a proxy for "we're all doomed to starve/drown!" which may or may not actually correlate.

  10. Some Beggar
  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This debate isn't about evidence for human induced climate change, the evidence is clear. However, evidence won't do it any more. The people who need evidence have mostly been satisfied. We're into Psychotherapy territory now.

  12. ChilliKwok

    Muller was never a sceptic

    Checkout what he was saying way back in 2003:

    "Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate." - Richard Muller, 2003

    So the whole 'ex-sceptic' thing is a sham. A false identity adopted to give his alarmist ravings the air of impartiality. If the man is lying about his own history, then why should we trust anything he says about climate history?

    1. Wilco 1

      Re: Muller was never a sceptic

      Muller certainly was a sceptic, one of his main criticisms was that the hockey stick graph was a due to an error in the statistics ("When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape! That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. How could it happen?"). But now he has independently verified it using his own analysis on his own data.

      1. Poptech

        Re: Muller was never a sceptic

        Incorrect, this is mentioned in the article,

        Richard Muller has never been a skeptic, at best he had a moment of intellectual honesty towards skeptics when he acknowledged Steve McIntyre's debunking of Mann's Hockey Stick, only to later dismiss this as irrelevant to the global warming debate, "This result should not affect any of our thinking on global warming".

      2. ChilliKwok

        Re: Muller was never a sceptic

        Firstly - as the quotes I linked illustrate, Muller was an enthusiastic supporter of man made global warming alarmism from his earliest utterances. He only spoke out about 'Hide the decline' and the hockey stick illusion AFTER the climategate emails showed beyond doubt the mendacity and dodgy dealings of the alarmist 'hockey team'.

        Muller's latest flawed work only looks at the last few hundred years. In no way does this 'verify' the bogus hockey stick graph which purports to show flat global temperatures throughout the Roman and Medieval warm periods which are well known to have been as warm or warmer than the present.

      3. Robinson
        Thumb Down

        Re: Muller was never a sceptic

        I think you misunderstand the "hockey stick". The stick was generated from analysis (incorrect analysis) of proxies through medieval times up until the present day. The last few hundred years were "spliced" onto the graph from thermometer data, not the proxies. Combine the poor analysis with the splicing and you end up with a hockey stick. Muller has not "independently verified it" in any shape or form. All he's done is analyse the surface temperature record, which itself shows NOAA adjustments add 100% to the warming. He totally fails to understand what this means. His paper was rejected in peer review. His arguments about attribution are spurious, because he hasn't done any attribution analysis whatsoever.

    2. hro001

      Re: Muller was never a sceptic

      One of my all-time favourite Mullerisms™ is from an observation he made in December 2003:

      "In most fields of science, researchers who express the most self-doubt and who understate their conclusions are the ones that are most respected. Scientists regard with disdain those who play their conclusions to the press."

      Considering his "performances" over the past year or so, one might be inclined to say: "Physicist, heal thyself"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basic Marketing Tricks and How Not To Fall For Them

    It's a good thing that trumped up acronyms ring alarm bells for most of us.

  14. Luther Blissett

    Prof Muller's dark energy

    Professor Muller's professional bio gives a possible insight into his media-tarty behaviour and its motivation. He was instrumental (sic) in our recognition now of the existence of cosmological Dark Energy. He was the first to demonstrate the possibilities of enhanced telescopic data acquisition through robotics as a way of addressing a precursor astronomical problem. As history shows, Muller's idea was grabbed with two hands by other astronomers. Their application of robotics to the search for supernovas in remote galaxies led to the formulation of Dark Energy as an explanation for the resulting observational data. They now take pride of place in the recent history of astronomy. Yet, one wonders, how different things might have been...

  15. asdf

    careful what you post

    Digital stuff posted on the internet could exist loss-less forever with things like the wayback machine, archiving, etc. I bet a lot of people in the early 1950's in the South USA would not want some of the things they had written about race relations to be republished so keep in mind your grandkids might get to read what you had to say about this subject. That said lets hope the see I told you so gets to come from the human climate change deniers because with continued crop failures such as are happening now in the USA if the majority of scientists are right it will be quite the Pyrrhic victory to say see I was right on the other side with an empty belly.

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. ChilliKwok

      Re: Denialism is essentially an anti-science movement

      Regarding your attempt to smear McKitrick: He is a professor at a publically funded university. Just like any other professor he speaks at conferences and holds advisory posts. There's no difference between his funding sources and that of say UEA's Phil Jones who has obtained funding of over £13M from government bodies with an interest in promoting man made global warming alarm, and even funding from large corporations like BP and Shell who too stand to make billions from carbon trading and biofuel mandates and such like. It's important to realise that both sides have vested interests in this debate. Therefore it's important to read a bit about the debates yourself, and make your own judgements on the trustworthiness of the various commentators. Best not to gullibly accept the word of someone with a vested interest - whether he be promoting alarm or scepticism. That said, it should be noted that one side of the debate has vastly more funding than the other: We're talking $Billions of funding from government organisations seeking greater tax raising powers, millions from bankers and carbon traders, and millions from the biofuels industry, the wind industry, the solar industry and not forgeting the environmental lobby - all promoting the scare. That doesn't mean they're necessarily wrong - but it certainly means you can't just accept all they say without question. On your technical points: I suggest readers checkout the Climate Audit website, or read 'The Hockey Stick Illusion' and make up their own minds.

      1. asdf

        Re: Denialism is essentially an anti-science movement

        Wow so you are trying to claim the scientists and human climate change folks have deeper pockets than the energy companies who by the way are only on the green side in their advertising and their PR? You may have some points but you have lost all credibility with this ridiculous claim.

  17. Scott 19


    At all the usual sandbagging CAGW cultist on here, you do realise that the BEST paper has been rejected don't you?

  18. bert_fe

    I find it very amusing to see people arguing about non peer reviewed publications by mere amateurs. One who has finally sort of caught up with the science and one who has not got a clue! Bert

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