ClimateGate II: How Will Al Gore and His Global Warming-Loving Media Respond?

October 30th, 2011 8:49 PM


As NewsBusters reported Sunday, a new ClimateGate scandal has erupted involving a University of California at Berkeley professor accused of trying to mislead the public by hiding that his research determined global warming has stopped.

Some on the Left heralded the now questionable study including Nobel laureate Al Gore whose excitement was published at the Huffington Post Wednesday:

Climate skeptics were hoping this study would debunk data proving the existence of the climate crisis -- instead it reaffirmed the science...With the evidence reconfirmed (again), I would hope that skeptics would rethink their position and join me in pushing our government, and governments around the world, to take steps to solve the climate crisis.

Quite comically, Gore was a little late to this discussion, for the article he linked to Wednesday was written by the Washington Post's Brad Plumer on October 20:

Back in 2010, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic, decided to launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to review the temperature data that underpinned global-warming claims. Remember, this was not long after the Climategate affair had erupted, at a time when skeptics were griping that climatologists had based their claims on faulty temperature data.

Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United Statse that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 — and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science.

So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science.


Muller wrote the following at the Wall Street Journal the next day:

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

Plumer's colleague at the Post, the honorable Eugene Robinson, joined in the celebration on October 24:

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.

As so often happens, the celebration may be premature as Britain's Daily Mail reported Sunday:

But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis.

Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago.

Like the scientists exposed then by leaked emails from East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit, her colleagues from the BEST project seem to be trying to ‘hide the decline’ in rates of global warming.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

‘There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’

However, Prof Muller denied warming was at a standstill.

Support of her claim that global warming has stopped and that Muller's data appear to refute what he wrote in the Journal was actually reported by Dr. David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation Saturday:

The global temperature standstill of the past decade is obvious in HadCrut3 data which is a combination of land and sea surface data. Best is only land data from nearly 40,000 weather stations. Professor Muller says they “really get a good coverage of the globe.” The land is expected to have a fast response to the warming of the lower atmosphere caused by greenhouse gas forcing, unlike the oceans with their high thermal capacity and their decadal timescales for heating and cooling, though not forgetting the ENSO and la Nina.

Fig 1 shows the past ten years plotted from the monthly data from Best’s archives.

It is a statistically perfect straight line of zero gradient. Indeed, most of the largest variations in it can be attributed to ENSO and la Nina effects. It is impossible to reconcile this with Professor Muller’s statement. Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly?

Indeed Best seems to have worked hard to obscure it.

Turns out that's exactly what Curry is accusing Muller of.

With this in mind, it should be truly fascinating to see how Gore, Plumer, Robinson, and any of the other media members that heralded Muller's study will report this new revelation.

One quite imagines given how the press went kicking and screaming to report the original ClimateGate scandal two years ago that Curry's charge will likely go ignored.

One possible example of this is the Associated Press's Seth Borenstein who started his celebration at 10:25 PM Saturday:

A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly.

The timestamp in the piece is somewhat irrelevant. LexisNexis shows this went out on AP's wire late Saturday evening.

As I received an email from Climate Depot's Marc Morano at 12:05 Sunday morning containing a link to the Daily Mail piece, this mean Borenstein was celebrating Muller's findings within hours of them being accused by a colleague of being falsified.

Was he oblivious to these allegations or trying to provide a smokescreen?

On another interesting front, the government researcher involved in that now debunked report concerning dead polar bears in the Arctic was asked recently by a federal agent to take a lie detector test.

Maybe all of the folks on both sides of this debate - including Curry, Gore, Muller as well as people like James Hansen et al - should be required to do the same thing.

Possibly only then would the public know who's telling the truth concerning this controversial subject.

Knowing the players as I do, I imagine every skeptic in the nation would gladly agree to this while every single alarmist declined.

The debate's over, you know.

*****Update: Curry has responded at her blog denying some of what was relayed in the Daily Mail piece. I await more information from both sides before offering further comment.