Muller Attacks a Straw Man, Adds Nothing to Warming Debate

Published October 21, 2011

The media is on fire this morning claiming a new paper by University of California, Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller strikes a fatal blow against global warming skeptics. Muller’s paper does no such thing and is the very definition of meaningless. 

Muller analyzed land-based temperature readings from temperature stations around the world and found two-thirds indicate warming temperatures and one-third indicate cooling temperatures. As a result, “Global warming is real,” summarized Muller in an editorial he wrote in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

Muller also offers the caveat, “How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.”

The mere assertion that the planet has warmed some tells us absolutely nothing we didn’t already know. Nor does this even scratch the surface of the global warming debate or even remotely address the issues presented by global warming skeptics.

There is virtually no dispute that the Little Ice Age is over and that the earth has warmed during the past 100 years since the end of the Little Ice Age. Few skeptics claim the earth has not warmed during the past 100 years. But a modest warming of temperatures, which has happened many, many times in the earth’s climate history, does not a human-induced global warming crisis make. What defines global warming skeptics is the assertion that our present warming is not a crisis (human-induced or otherwise) – not an assertion that the planet has not warmed.

Muller titles his Wall Street Journal article, “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism,” yet he conveniently avoids the very issues that skeptics have been asserting for decades. Instead, he presents and attacks a weak straw-man argument asserted by very few global warming skeptics and then, by virtue of slaying this weak and non-existent straw man, claims there is no longer grounds for global warming skepticism.  

It is very difficult to imagine that someone like Richard Muller is so clueless about the position of global warming skeptics. Is Muller really living so deeply under a rock that he truly has no idea about the substance of skeptics’ objections, or is Muller deliberately presenting a straw man argument with the intent of deceiving casual observers about the true nature of the global warming debate? Regardless of which is true, it does not reflect very well on Muller’s credibility. Nor does it reflect well on the media, which is similarly either damningly ignorant or damningly deceitful regarding the true nature of the global warming debate.