In a shocking development that may represent a singularity, I find myself in agreement* with parts of an opinion piece posted on Real Climate today called Berkeley Earthquake Called Off. Dr. Eric Steig writes:
Anybody expecting earthshaking news from Berkeley, now that the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group being led by Richard Muller has released its results, had to be content with a barely perceptible quiver. As far as the basic science goes, the results could not have been less surprising if the press release had said “Man Finds Sun Rises At Dawn.” This must have been something of a disappointment for anyone hoping for something else.
Other excerpts: …
But Muller’s framing of the Berkeley results is still odd. His statement, that had they found no warming trend, this would have “ruled out anthropogenic global warming”, while true in a technical sense, would not have implied that we should not worry about human drivers of climate change. And it would not have overturned over a century of firmly established radiative-transfer and thermodynamics. Nor would it have overturned the basic chemistry which led Bolin and Eriksson (reprinted here) to predict in 1959 that fossil fuel burning would cause a significant increase in CO2 — long before the results of Keeling’s famous Mauna Loa observations were in. As a physicist, Muller knows that the reason for concern about increasing CO2 comes from the basic physics and chemistry, which was elucidated long before the warming trend was actually observable.
Muller’s other comments do very little to shed light on climate change, and continue to consist largely of putting down the work of others. “For Richard Muller,” writes Richard Black, “this free circulation also marks a return to how science should be done,” the clear insinuation being that CRU, GISS, and NOAA had all been doing something else. Whatever that “something else” is supposed to be completely eludes us, given that these groups all along have been publishing results in the peer-reviewed literature using methods that proved easy to reproduce using easily available data (and in the GISTEMP case, complete code). In one sense, though, we do agree with Muller’s quote: nobody has stolen his private emails and spun them out of context to make his research look bad.
Overall, we are underwhelmed by the quality of Berkeley effort so far — with the exception of the efforts made by Robert Rohde on the dataset agglomeration and the statistical approach. And we remain greatly disappointed by Muller’s public communications (e.g. his WSJ op-ed) which appear far more focused on raising his profile than enlightening the public about the state of the science.
It will be very interesting to see what happens to these papers as they go through peer review.
* OK now for the asterisk. Like any opinion piece not everyone will agree with all of it. I’m no exception Steig writes about the station siting issue saying:
National Academy of Sciences study already concluded that the warming seen in the surface station record was “undoubtedly real,” that Menne et al showed that highly touted station siting issues did not in fact compromise the record…
I would point out to Dr. Steig, and to Dr. Muller, that science, by its very nature, is not a static enterprise. A second paper is in the works looking at the station siting issue from a much broader perspective will be sent for peer review (and hopefully publication) in the coming weeks. In the best tradition of Forest Gump I’ll borrow one of his famous lines:
“And that’s all I have to say about that”.
This guest post is an instructive read though: Unadjusted data of long period stations in GISS show a virtually flat century scale trend