Richard Muller Love-Fest

Those who deny the reality, human causation, and/or danger of global warming absolutely love Dr. Richard Muller. He has been outspoken in his criticism of paleoclimate research (the “hockey stick”) and is a member of a team at Berkeley who intend to create a new, “definitive” estimate of global temperature based on meteorological station data. Those who don’t want global warming to be true, fully expected the Berkeley effort to refute the most oft-used global temperature data sets (NASA GISS, HadCRU, NOAA/NCDC), showing just how mistaken, misguided, even fraudulent, all those nasty climate scientists are.

Now that Muller has testified before a house committee, he has fulfilled their wildest dreams. The preliminary results from the Berkeley team completely refute the existing data sets. As a result, the so-called “skeptics” are delighted, thrilled, ecstatic even! And they love Richard Muller even more than they did before, heralding his praises from every corner of the internet.

April fool!

When it comes to Muller, the criticism has begun. It looks rather more like a pack of angry wolves on the attack, than a love-fest. How dare Muller imply that in all likelihood, GISS, HadCRU, and NOAA got it right?

Imagine that.

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63 responses to “Richard Muller Love-Fest

  1. Oh, if only someone could have predicted this response and warned them!

  2. I love that it’s Anthony “the conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable” Watts who’s leading the charge. How long has it been since we’ve heard a peep from surfacestations.org?

    • Andrew Dodds

      Apparently he’s been to busy with the honourable task of digging through stolen emails for anything they can slander climate researchers with. He’ll be back to the task of trying to imply fraud on the part of those who measure global temperatures (sans actual numbers, which are clearly biased) just as soon as people forget any previous promises in that area.

  3. Robert Murphy

    Even a nutter like Luboš Motl is taking it on the chin over at WUWT for stating that, “It seems unthinkable to me that if the warming were an artifact of mistakes, one would get this precise agreement between HadCRUT3 and randomly selected 2 percent of the datasets in the BEST record. The agreement of the tiny selected subset shows that the errors of the surface-measured global mean temperature are really small.”.

    I think this settles once and for all the question of whether or not Watts and his myrmidons will ever accept any evidence that shows that the temp record for the last 100 years is pretty damn accurate (not that this was really an open question).

  4. The post actually reads so much better through hurrdurr.it.

  5. I wonder if Muller will start feeling some sympathy for mainstream climate-scientists now that he is almost certainly being inundated with hate mail, crank phone calls, and possibly even death threats…

  6. “the global temperature anomaly is essentially irrelevant in terms of climate change issues that matter to society and the environment. Even in terms of global warming, it is a grossly inadequate measure, as discussed, for example, in”

    Roger P on Mr Watts blog.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/01/pielke-sr-on-the-muller-testimony/

    ‘Essentially irrelevant’
    So ‘no warming since 1998’?
    Irrelevant.
    ‘no statistically significant warming since 1995′
    irrelevant
    Real temps allegedly (note allegedly) running below model predictions
    irrelevant
    Why have they not made these opinions more public in the past?
    irrelevant

  7. Interestingly enough, Watts posted the abstract of his (still under review) paper. The key takeaway: “the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications.”

  8. Muller has the unenviable situation of having his email address plastered around the front page of the “climate depot” website. Tamino’s reference to a pack of angry wolves is not wide of the mark.

    To anyone new to this politics, the whole episode is proving to be a most instructive insight as to how the politics of denial works – it’s about as subtle as an elephant in a glassware shop!

    Cheers – John

  9. @PDA
    In his response to Muller’s testimony, Tony quoted an abstract of upcoming, long-promised surfacestations.org paper “Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends”:

    Temperature trend estimates vary according to site classification, with poor siting leading to an overestimate of minimum temperature trends and an underestimate of maximum temperature trends, resulting in particular in a substantial difference in estimates of the diurnal temperature range trends. The opposite-signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications. Homogeneity adjustments tend to reduce trend differences, but statistically significant differences remain for all but average temperature trends. Comparison of observed temperatures with NARR
    shows that the most poorly-sited stations are warmer compared to NARR than are other stations, and a major portion of this bias is associated with the siting classification rather than the geographical distribution of stations. According to the best-sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the
    lower 48 states has no century-scale trend.

    It seems to me like a direct confirmation of Menne 2010 results ;)

  10. Muller’s testimony:

    “Based on the preliminary work we have done, I believe that the systematic biases that are the cause for most concern can be adequately handled by data analysis techniques. The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends.

    Despite potential biases in the data, methods of analysis can be used to reduce bias effects well enough to enable us to measure long-term Earth temperature changes. Data integrity is adequate. Based on our initial work at Berkeley Earth, I believe that some of the most worrisome biases are less of a problem than I had previously thought.”

    (Via Judith Curry, http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/31/congressional-hearing-on-climate-change-part-ii/ , written testimony http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/Muller%20Testimony%20rev2.pdf )

  11. Rob Honeycutt

    Watts is like a wailing widow as the coffin of the UHI effect is lowered into its final resting place.

  12. The great problem for Watts is that he has nowhere to go if he admits he’s wrong. He has no WUWT-equivalent sinecure available in the reality based community. He is a professional denier: he must deny climate science no matter what or give up his rice bowl. If he grants credibility to climate science, he’s done at Fox News and the Heartland Conference; he’ll have to find a weather guy job at Action News in Little Rock, Arkansas– if he can.

    It is amusing to watch him squirm. He is being driven farther and farther into the nut fringes, dragging a motley coterie of science denying loons with him.

    • “…he must deny climate science no matter what or give up his rice bowl.”

      Gems like this are the reason why I try not to miss all the comments here.

  13. Philippe Chantreau

    Next step: Watts publishes his results, there is no significant difference with Menne, he leads the charge on his own site to downplay his own paper’s findings, plays on words, raises a bunch of irrelevant issues and eventually changes the subject, burying the whole thing as fast as he can.

    They have no trouble doing that. Some guy at SkS was cluelessly arguing against the GH effect, pulling stuff out of his butt as fast as it would come out. He was just caught red handed by moderation saying exactly the opposite, with utmost conviction, of what he said earlier.

    It gets tricky to be a denier when you have to deny the stuff you said yourself at some point, but it can be done. They have must training courses covering that sort of more advanced denialist rethoric…

  14. Philippe Chantreau

    Adam : “The great problem for Watts is that he has nowhere to go if he admits he’s wrong.”

    Don’t underestimate them. After all, Loehle wrote a book titled “How to be a successful scientist.” You can’t make this stuff up…

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      The first sentence of which read: “Sell out to industry”. It was then followed by 243 blank pages.

  15. Muoncounter

    Have Watt$ and Co ever admitted they were wrong? It’s not in their DNA to make such a statement. It’s far easier to never look back.

  16. Pielke Sr has a typically whiny sounding post on Muller’s testimony. Comes from his usual “WON’T SOMEONE LISTEN TO MEEEEEE” perspective:

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/comments-on-the-testimony-of-richard-muller-at-the-united-states-house-of-representatives-committee-on-energy-and-the-environment/

    • It is amazing. He has a long list of papers, that he claims show that average global temperature is a meaningless metric. Every single one has his name on it. It is as if he and his students are the only ones interested in this issue. It puts him in a rather pathetic light, but none of the frequent posters on WuWT , where it was crossposted, seems to notice.

      I tried to put up a post pointing out how unseemly this was, and also the fact that Anthony Watts was initially calling for investigation of better analysis of the temperature record, and Muller was responding to a desire by the skeptics to clear it up. Why was Muller’s effort now being dismissed?

      • Roger Sr. is the little guy behind the curtain at WUWT.

      • Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but to my knowledge neither Watts nor Pielke Sr. has ever challenged each other publicly. They have a strong alliance – a mutually beneficial relationship. Pielke, a published climate scientist, gives Watts the facade of credibility, and rushes to his defense with sciency material when needed, such as whenever his Surface Stations project is knocked. Watts, an extreme anti-science blogger, provides Pielke (like his son, an attention-seeker) with a much larger platform and audience than he would normally get.

      • I think Eli’s description’s a bit more accurate, for instance, RPSr was going on about the supposed UHI and bad siting issues before Watts started the surface stations project. I suspect they cooked it up together, very possibly at RPSr’s suggestion.

  17. Just to be clear on where this is going…

    “And, I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.”
    — Anthony Watts, March 6th, 2011.

    “With his testimony, Dr. Muller has totally destroyed any credibility he might have had with me.”
    — Anthony Watts, March 31st, 2011.

    ROFL. What a joke. Poor old Tony’s having another Menne et al moment.

    • J Bowers, note that the latter quote is from Willis Eschenbach.

      • So it is. I stand utterly corrected.

        But if you want more of what Muller has to look forward to, Free Republic has more. It’s like a who’s-who of denialists. Goddard’s attempting damage control with multiple posts, so BEST have definitely hit a nerve in a rotten tooth.

      • Robert Murphy

        It’s on Watt’s website. I seriously doubt Watts has much of a problem with Eschenbach opinion.

      • Robert, I know Watts probably secretly endorses Eschenbach’s comment, but let’s not give them even the slightest possibility of throwing something back. Watts didn’t say it, so you can’t attack Watts for being double-faced (yet…don’t worry, it will come).

  18. I would like to take a moment and praise Muller for having the integrity to go where the data lead him. He must have known the reception he would get from his erstwhile supporters.

    He has voiced some irresponsible and unsupportable opinions in the past, but when the chips are down he is a real scientist.

  19. Watching the Deniers

    Amusing is it not?

    They were so sure the AGW “dragon” was about to be proven to be fictional… now their “white knight” turns around and tells them “Actually the dragon is real…”

    “No! No!” they scream.

    In the end, as each “sceptic” joins the mainstream the will tear them down until Watts and Morano are the last ones standing, screaming at reality.

  20. FYI, the LA Times has just run an article about the Berkeley prelim. results? The verdict? Basically a denier “own goal”.

    Linky here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-climate-berkeley-20110404,0,772697.story

    My favorite denier line in the comments:
    “As for CO2 emissions and the Eocene, explain to me how the ice core record shows CO2 changes *lagging* temperature changes.”

  21. Watts seems to be really mad about this.

    The alleged abstract of Watts’s paper is … interesting. Watts posted it in a thread over at Lucia’s. The abstract expends a lot of verbiage on min vs max temperatures, the diurnal temperature range, etc. There’s virtually no mention of what everyone actually cares about — the mean temperature trend. The finding that “the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications” is glossed over as quickly as possible.

    In his comment at Lucia’s, Watts emphasized the following sentence in boldface:

    According to the best-sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century-scale trend.

    This looks like a classic example of bait-and-switch. Watts promised his munchkins that their project would prove that the observed increase in mean temperatures was false. Now it’s time for him to deliver on that promise, and he can’t do it. So he’s rather transparently switching to “no trend in the diurnal temperature range“, and hoping that this — along with a lot of bluster about “poorly-sited stations” etc. — will be enough to satisfy his followers.

    Muller’s BEST project makes it harder for Watts to pull off the “switch” part of that “bait-and-switch”. This is why Watts is so infuriated right now.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      From Richard Muller’s Congressional Testimony:

      “Anthony Watts and his team have a paper submitted, which is in late stage peer review, using over 1000 stations, but it has not yet been accepted for publication and I am not at liberty to discuss their conclusions and how they might differ. We have looked only at average temperature changes, and additional data needs to be studied, to look at (for example) changes in maximum and minimum temperatures.”

      “Without the efforts of Anthony Watts and his team, we would have only a series of anecdotal images of poor temperature stations, and we would not be able to evaluate the integrity of the data.”

      “This is a case in which scientists receiving no government funding did work crucial to understanding climate change. ”

      “Similarly for the work done by Steve McIntyre. Their “amateur” science is not amateur in quality; it is true science, conducted with integrity and high standards.

      Government policy needs to encourage such work. Climate-ARPA could be an organization that provides quick funding to worthwhile projects without regard to whether they support or challenge current understanding.

    • Someone else pointed out that Anthony had bolded that section (can’t remember where I saw this, either CP or Rabettrun probably). After a moments reflection it seems like a pretty weak result to highlight. Interestingly, the more I consider it the less important it becomes

      As you point out “no century scale trend” refers only to the diurnal range, although he clearly wants to create confusion. However, this could be interesting because one of the CO2 fingerprints should be a narrowing of the range. Except as Tamino has demonstrated over and over again, we need to have a good reason for picking a given time period and consider the underlying physics as well as considering the statistical relevance. His money quote appears weak in all of these:

      Statistical relevance- It’s only the lower 48 states.

      Physics-Early century warming was partly driven by solar activity and reduced vulcanism (as far as I can tell), which should increase the range. Late century you should have narrowing from CO2. So, yeah on a century time scale you don’t see a trend.

      Obviously, I haven’t worked out the predicted scale of these changes or the regional variability. But of course, neither did Watts.

  22. David B. Benson

    Even Pual Krugman weighs in on today’s TNYT op-ed page…

    [Response: It's a terrific editorial, and can be found here.]

    • Link: The Truth, Still Inconvenient

      Just a few weeks ago Anthony Watts, who runs a prominent climate denialist Web site, praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself “prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” But never mind: once he knew that Professor Muller was going to present those preliminary results, Mr. Watts dismissed the hearing as “post normal science political theater.” And one of the regular contributors on his site dismissed Professor Muller as “a man driven by a very serious agenda.”

      Of course, it’s actually the climate deniers who have the agenda, and nobody who’s been following this discussion believed for a moment that they would accept a result confirming global warming. But it’s worth stepping back for a moment and thinking not just about the science here, but about the morality.

      Even refers to WUWT as a denialist site. Sweet.

      • I don’t know … I find it disturbing that a Nobel Laureate in Economics is reading an anti-science blog run by a college dropout and feels it’s so important that he needs to respond to it in the NY Times.

        Don’t get me wrong, he’s right, and the editorial’s great, but … what kind of world do we live in where valuable resources need to be spend discounting huge heaps of dumbshit like is found at WUWT?

        And of course the tea party will continue to party on as though the denialsphere has debunked all of climate science…

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        What dhogaza said… mad world.

      • Andrew Dodds

        What Gavin said about what dhogaza said..

        For those of us who spent a youth reading both science fiction and science fact.. of all the things predicted for the future, I don’t think anyone in SF thought that scientific theories themselves would come under sustained, utterly careless* attack in the cultural mainstream. In my reading, only George Orwell articulated this kind of threat; ‘Freedom is the right to say two plus two equals four. All else follows.’.

        *As in, denialists really don’t care about the whole concept of being right or wrong, in the same way that a defence lawyer does not care about their client’s actual guilt or innocence.

      • Trouble is, it’s been voted the science blog of the year hence people have to pay attention to it, even though the science is minimal & the bullshit and hypocricy dials are turned up to 11.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Well, he actually does post links to interesting science a few times a week. You just have to ignore the commentary (and the comments).

    • Ray Ladbury

      Chris S.,
      Sorry, but I don’t take the results of an Internet poll–subject to manipulation and votebotting–as a particularly strong endorsement of the content of a blog. The fact Micro-Watts won is merely proof for me. As far as I’m concerned, WTFUWT serves the useful purpose of an asylum. I don’t have to see the idiots and lunatics unless I want to drop by at feeding time.

      • You don’t. I don’t. Many don’t.

        But many do, and that’s a problem.

      • Ray Ladbury

        Dhogaza,
        The problem is not that there are loons. There have always been loons. In the past, though, the only attention they got was derision. The problem now is that we pay attention to them.

    • “Well, he actually does post links to interesting science a few times a week.”

      So does the Fortean Times.

  23. Terrible attack on the credibility of Dr Watts.

  24. Be careful you liberal pinko commies…or is that pinko liberal commies? Anyhoo, don’t you know you’re messing with the internet’s Best Science site?

    • Horatio Algeranon

      More importantly, Jim Morrison presciently informed us some 40 years ago that
      “The Watts is the BEST
      The Watts is the BEST
      Get here, and we’ll do the rest
      The Deniers bus is callin’ us…”

      This is the end.

      No doubt about it.

  25. If Watts were actually a doctor you’de have half a point.

  26. Muller walked down the same garden path that Judith Curry followed. In Muller’s case it is obviously a result of physicist’s arrogance (take a look at his web site. He obviously thinks he is the smartest guy on the planet) and got fed a bunch of stories, not unlikely from the Happer cabal. The interesting thing is how he is going or not going to throw a bunch of the porkies he told down the memory hole.

  27. Rattus Norvegicus

    Eli, you know that if you look at Muller’s site you will lose your’s (sight that is). It is positively the ugliest thing I’ve seen since the early 1990’s!

  28. Tamino.

    One of the things that Watts and his crowd seem to be hollering is that Muller has been ‘irresponsible’ by making his proclamation with “just” 2% of the data analysed.

    Now I’m not sure whether BEST had a particular selection procedure for the data it has thus far crunched, but I think that it might be an interesting exercise to present some graphs depicting the results of power analyses based on processing various percentages of the total dataset. It seems that Watts and his crew have never figured out what sampling and statisitics are all about – a few lessons using the BEST example might just be in order…

    • Ray Ladbury

      You may be on to something Bernard. I one time had a Young-Earth Cretinist try to tell me that prediction based on statistical analysis was “divination” and therefore forbidden by the Bible.

  29. Philippe Chantreau

    “The problem now is that we pay attention to them”
    That is indeed the crux of the problem. The reason is the miserable state of scientific understanding, which unfortunately I have to say is worse in the US than many other places. I just came back from Canada. In 2 days, I saw a total of 3 climate related stories in 2 daily newspapers. One was lifted from the LA times (Muller) but it was on point and decent. The others were no less decent. The 2 newspaper were from opposite political sympathies but there was no gross distortion of facts, misrepresentation, statements not defensible under the existing state of knowledge etc…
    And this is from a country with huge mining interests, such as tar sands.

    This stuff seems to be more prevalent in the US than other developped countries, except perhaps Russia.