Year 2, Month 10, Day 31: DFH Edition

The San Antonio Express-News reprints Eugene Robinson’s column (see yesterday’s letter for another quote):

Muller and his colleagues examined five times as many temperature readings as did other researchers — a total of 1.6 billion records — and now have put that merged database online. The results have not yet been subjected to peer review. But Muller’s plain-spoken admonition that “you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer” has humbled many deniers.

Not so, I predict, with the blowhards such as Perry, Cain and Bachmann, who, out of ignorance or perceived self-interest, are willing to play politics with the Earth’s future

Here is what we know: The rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and large. It is consistent with models developed by other researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions — the burning of fossil fuels by humans — as the cause.

Nobody’s fudging the numbers. Nobody’s manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a “naturally occurring” warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real.

It is the know-nothing politicians — not scientists — who commit an unforgivable fraud.

Muller has no idea what’s going to hit him. Sent October 26:

It’s an axiom of modern American politics: to find out what Republicans are up to, listen to what they accuse others of doing. This strategy, perfected by Karl Rove and his collaborators, is on vivid display in the GOP presidential primary, as aspirants vie with one another to make ever-more-revealing statements about their inability to accept the facts of climate change.

When Rick Perry claims that climatologists fake or cherry-pick evidence in order to win grant funding, it’s because he and members of his administration are notorious for fudging facts for personal gain. Michelle Bachmann’s claims of misinterpreted data are particularly risible; the White Queen of conservative wonderland can believe six impossible things before breakfast without even breaking a sweat.

Dr. Richard Muller, the erstwhile “climate skeptic” whose recent study undercut oft-repeated Republican shibboleths, is going to find himself stigmatized as a dirty hippie before the end of the week.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 30: Sometimes These Letters Just Walk Up And Beg To Be Written

Eugene Robinson writes in the October 25 Washington Post about the logical consequences of the Muller/UC study:

For the clueless or cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there.

The latest icy blast of reality comes from an eminent scientist whom the climate-change skeptics once lauded as one of their own. Richard Muller, a respected physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, used to dismiss alarmist climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Frustrated at what he considered shoddy science, Muller launched his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. Instead, the record set him straight.

“Global warming is real,” Muller wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal.

Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the anti-science party should pay attention.

Sharp learning curve ahead for Muller, who is going to find himself stigmatized as a leftist DFH within a few days. Sent Oct. 25:

In a sane political environment, the release of Dr. Richard Muller’s study confirming the reality of global climate change would be a game-changer of huge proportions. When a study administered by a leading “skeptic” and largely funded by arch-denialists the Koch brothers comes down conclusively on the other side of the debate, it should change a few minds.

And in a sane world, it would. But the people who funded Muller’s study aren’t interested in facts; they share a political philosophy with those who evinced disdain and contempt for the “reality-based community” during the previous administration. Corporate climate denialists and the politicians they subsidize have combined nihilism and solipsism in a toxic package: they care not for the continued survival of our species, because they (as a Bush official said to Ron Suskind) “create their own reality.”

And that’s why the Muller study won’t matter to Republican lawmakers.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 28: Muller’s Earth

I grew up reading Popular Science (thanks to my Aunt Virginia, who gave me a gift subscription one Christmas and kept renewing it year after year). It was good to see them carry a clearly presented explanation of the UC/Muller study:

Last year, as climate change deniers were up in arms over the so-called “Climategate” controversy involving alleged manipulation of climate data, one skeptical scientist proposed taking a fresh look. Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California-Berkeley and a self-described climate skeptic, undertook to review the temperature data underlying most global warming studies. Now his team has wrapped up their work, and it apparently solidifies the other studies’ findings.

Actually, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project found the Earth is getting even warmer than other climate scientists claim.

The findings have neither been peer-reviewed nor published, so some skeptics and deniers are as yet unsatisfied, but Muller says the group has submitted the papers for publication. Meanwhile, the data is all online for anyone’s review.

I’ve never written to them before. This was fun. Sent October 24:

Now that the data on global warming has been confirmed once again, this time by a denialist-funded study led by prominent “skeptic” Richard Muller, the petro-funded anti-science talking points will have to change. We can say goodbye to “it isn’t happening, therefore it makes no sense to do anything about it,” and say hello to “nobody knows why it’s happening, therefore it makes no sense to do anything about it.”

While Dr. Muller and his colleagues made no attempt to attribute causality, this doesn’t mean that “nobody knows why it’s happening.” The scientific consensus on the primary drivers of global climate change is quite robust: it’s us — human beings, and our relentless consumption of carbon fuels.

Given the grave sociopolitical and environmental consequences of our fossil-fuel addiction, a shift to renewable energy is an absolute necessity even if we ignore global warming. All that is lacking is the will.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 25: But They Say There’s A Hell. What The Hell. What The Hell Do They Think This Is? Do They Think About That?

The October 21 Irish Times also reports on the Richard Muller study:

An analysis of 1.6 billion temperature records dating as far back as 1800 gave results that are similar to data series by the British Met Office, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature said in a report published today.

“Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously,” the project’s founder, Richard Muller, said in a statement. “This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.”

The project was established to try to produce a definitive temperature series after climate sceptics – including US senator James Inhofe – said leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia showed data were manipulated. The British school helps compile the Met Office temperature series.

Three inquiries into the contents of the leaked e-mails found scientists hadn’t manipulated data, though they had tried to avoid disclosing data.

Wonder what Inhofe will say about this? Sent October 21:

We can be glad that the team of scientists from the University of California has verified the data on Earth’s rising temperature, but if the best news we’ve got is that some formerly doubting researchers are now convinced that important data on climate change really and truly wasn’t fabricated, things have gotten pretty grim. Those scientific skeptics may have been well-intentioned, but their stance has been adopted by conservative ideologues in American politics as an excuse for inaction — and by the complacent American news media as a way to avoid doing actual journalistic work. The UC study was commissioned by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, who have been supporting climate-change denialists for many years, and who must be terribly disappointed by these results.

This is a crisis of the utmost urgency; only a commitment to genuine action from the world’s political leaders would constitute genuinely good news.

I will award one free Internet to anyone who can identify the provenance of this post’s title.