Climate deniers hate the surface temperature data sets, but they love to insult ’em. That’s because they show how much the globe has warmed … and that’s something deniers don’t want to admit, not even to themselves. They live in denial of it. They’ll do almost anything to minimize and/or discredit it.
Their favorite argument is to say that all adjustments made to surface temperatures from land-based thermometers are bad and wrong, and they usually throw in a thinly-veiled implication or outright accusation that the scientists who do that are perpetrating a fraud. Never mind that the whole purpose of adjustments is to improve things, that it’s a time-tested and proven procedure in many sciences, or that for most organizations the entire process is transparent (NASA, e.g., makes all the original data, the methodology, even the computer programs they use to do so available online for all to see).
Their 2nd-favorite argument is to lodge similar complaints about the sea surface temperature data. That’s because deniers are not “skeptics” — they assume the answer up front, and their assumption is: if it shows much warming, it must be discredited.
But there’s one surface temperature data set they have a very hard time accusing: the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature data. The effort was organized by Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist who had heard the arguments and accusations and was himself skeptical. So, he decided to go back to the original data and process it by the most advanced methodology possible, with complete transparency, and no allowance for procedures that even might be biased in favor of (or against) warming.
When the project was announced, climate deniers rejoiced. At last! They would be vindicated when a true skeptic did it right. The climate scientists who had been making global temperature estimates — the ones showing all that global warming — would be exposed as the incompetent boobs or outright frauds they were! This was, of course, in anticipation of exposing global temperature estimates as wrong wrong wrong, and based on Richard Muller’s public statements of mistrusting the existing ones. Anthony Watts, wanting to declare his impartial objectivity, went so far as to proclaim that he would accept the result as reality, no matter how it turned out.
The admiration of climate deniers for the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project didn’t last long. It vanished into thin air as soon as the results were announced. That’s when the climate denier community turned on Richard Muller like a pack of wolves, because the result was: all those other guys (NASA, NOAA, HadCRU) had got it right all along.
Here’s what Richard Muller had to say in a 2012 op-ed in the New York Times:
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.
The opening sentence reveals the difference between a skeptic like Richard Muller, and a fake skeptic like the climate deniers. A skeptic can be converted — a denier cannot.
Berkeley Earth actually produces two principal data sets. One includes sea surface temperature data to make a truly global estimate. Of course, climate deniers won’t trust that one because somebody else produced the sea surface temperature data. But the other, the original Berkeley Earth data, estimates global land-only temperature using data from land stations. It’s a global land-area temperature estimate you can’t accuse of “fraudulent adjustments.”
So: what does the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project show for land-only regions since, say, 1850 (when other records like HadCRU from the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit in the U.K.) begin? This:
One thing that’s important to take note of is that the world’s land areas are warming faster than the oceans. While the land+ocean temperature has increased by about a net 1°C since 1850, the land area has warmed much more, by about 1.9°C. Another important result is that the global land-area temperature is warming at a rate of 2.7 +/- 0.4 deg.C/century.
The fact that just might irritate deniers more than any other is that the Berkeley data, the no-way-is-it-fraudulent data, show no evidence of anything even remotely like a “pause” or “hiatus” or “slowdown” in temperature since 1970. No pause. Not.
Global land-area temperature is important for another reason: it’s where people live. But I expect we’ll continue to hear insults and accusations about unreliability and/or fraud in land-area temperature, be it from NASA or NOAA or HadCRU or JMA or Cowtan & Way, or even from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.
After all, deniers tend to be “people of the land, the common clay of the new west. You know …”
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