Muller Doubles Down on Flawed Temperature Data in New Media Blitz

Published August 1, 2012

Hot on the heels of meteorologist Anthony Watts and a team of scientists revealing that half the global warming reported in the United States by government overseers is the product of scientifically unsupported “adjustments” to the data, University of California-Berkeley professor Richard Muller doubled down on the flawed data, issuing a press release claiming the government data proves global warming is real and is almost entirely caused by humans.

Muller’s claims, which he says are based on a soon-to-be released study, were immediately criticized by “alarmist” and “skeptic” climate scientists alike.

Muller’s Claims ‘an Embarrassment’

“Anthony [Watts]’s new results also undermine the latest claims by Richard Muller of BEST [Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project], as not only is Muller extracting data from mostly the same geographic areas as for the NCDC, GISS and CRU analyses, but he is accepting an older assessment of station siting quality as it affects the trends,” wrote climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr., a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado, on his Internet site.

Muller wrote a July 20 editorial in the New York Times reporting on his findings, but Pielke dismissed the editorial as relying on flawed methods and faulty data.

“In Richard Muller’s Op-Ed in the New York Times (see The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic), he makes far-reaching conclusions based on his sparse knowledge of the uncertainties in multi-decadal land surface temperature record. His comments show what occurs when a scientist, with excellent research credentials within their area of scientific expertise, [goes] outside of their area of knowledge,” wrote Pielke.”His latest BEST claims are, in my view, an embarrassment,” Pielke added.

No Link to Extreme Weather

Muller admitted alarmist claims of global warming causing extreme weather events are contradicted by the scientific evidence, which earned him the wrath of many alarmists despite his overall message of a human-caused global warming crisis.

Claims to Be a Skeptic

Numerous media stories claim Muller and his reported findings have greater credibility because he is a self-proclaimed longtime global warming skeptic. 

“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,” Muller wrote in his New York Times editorial. “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.”

“My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth,” Muller added.

“Full marks for the professor’s scientific integrity,” wrote reporter Philip Ball in the UK Guardian.

Actually a Long-Time Alarmist

A review of Muller’s past statements on global warming, however, shows his recent claims that he is a longtime skeptic are inaccurate at best.

As far back as 2003, Muller wrote in Technology Review, “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.”

Muller reiterated his alarmist beliefs many times in the years since, including his 2008 statement in an interview with “There is a consensus that global warming is real…. It’s going to get much, much worse.”

“Richard Muller is shamelessly promoting himself as something he is not, and his conclusions are nonsense on stilts that defy rational explanation,” observed science writer Jo Nova on her Web site.

“That Muller allows himself to be referred to as a skeptic in publication after publication says it all, really. He’s not concerned about accuracy; he’s in this for the PR. We can’t trust the man on anything. If he’ll lie to save the planet, he’ll lie to save the planet. Enough said. I have no respect for him,” Nova explained.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.