Climate Research Project Convinces Scientist of Global Warming

by Duane Nichols on August 2, 2012

New York Times OP-ED: The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

By RICHARD A. MULLER,  July 28, 2012.

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.

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. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming. In its 2007 report, the I.P.C.C. concluded only that most of the warming of the prior 50 years could be attributed to humans. It was possible, according to the I.P.C.C. consensus statement, that the warming before 1956 could be because of changes in solar activity, and that even a substantial part of the more recent warming could be natural.

Our Berkeley Earth approach used sophisticated statistical methods developed largely by our lead scientist, Robert Rohde, which allowed us to determine earth land temperature much further back in time.

Just as important, our record is long enough that we could search for the fingerprint of solar variability, based on the historical record of sunspots. That fingerprint is absent. Although the I.P.C.C. allowed for the possibility that variations in sunlight could have ended the “Little Ice Age,” a period of cooling from the 14th century to about 1850, our data argues strongly that the temperature rise of the past 250 years cannot be attributed to solar changes. This conclusion is, in retrospect, not too surprising; we’ve learned from satellite measurements that solar activity changes the brightness of the sun very little.

The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at That site also shows our chart of temperature from 1753 to the present, with its clear fingerprint of volcanoes and carbon dioxide, but containing no component that matches solar activity. Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used.

What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.

Richard A. Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow, is the author, most recently, of “Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Duane Nichols August 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Climate Skeptic, Koch-Funded Scientist Admits Global Warming Real and Humans the Cause


Randal S Mick August 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

We know the earth works in cycles, one example was the oceanic period which was caused by greenhouse gases and severe temperatures in return killing off dinosaurs and providing the hydrocarbon energy we drill for today. Vast world wide death is what provides the recycled hydrocarbon by way of converting one energy source to another. What is unfortunate is for our population is that the release of these gases into the air, and polluting vital water sources and land help to excellorate these cycles. I am no scholar and not a genius but I know that the winter and weather is a lot warmer and not the same as it was growing up. The enviormental changes are obvious. I hope now that we have recognized the problems that we have a sense of urgency in regulating these energy companies. Limit the number of frac jobs or atleast the ammount of water they can destroy in the process. It would be impossible to stop companies that has large political/economic allies but, I think that we can ask for the level of accountability needed to save our homes and enviorment. We have to see past the bottom line and base choices made stemming from more responcible stand points. I really feel this level of balance can be achieved. This could create value, jobs and more working on enviormental issues in assistance to developing these energy plays.


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