The Full PBS Newshour interview with Watts, Muller, Curry and others

TRANSCRIPT from PBS.org a link to video follows

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the debate over the magnitude of climate change, its impact, and the human role in it.

Typically, the battle plays out among prominent climate scientists and a vocal group of skeptics. But one skeptic’s recent public conversion is adding new fuel to that fire and sparking criticism from both sides.

NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels has the story.

SPENCER MICHELS: Physicist Richard Muller and his daughter, Elizabeth, a mathematician, are not exactly household names.

But in the world of climate change, where most scientists and a much smaller group of skeptics remain bitterly divided over their assessment of what’s happening to the planet, Richard Muller has long been on the side of those who deny climate change is happening.

So, when he published an op-ed in The New York Times last month saying he was no longer a skeptic, it captured national attention and sparked angry reaction on both sides of the climate fence. Perhaps most disturbing to some of his former allies was this conclusion:

RICHARD MULLER, University of California, Berkeley: In our world, we attribute the warming from 1753 to the present essentially exclusively to humans — not mostly, but exclusively.

SPENCER MICHELS: Even those skeptics who accept that the climate is changing attribute it to natural cycles, but Muller even claimed his study was more conclusive in that regard than any that came before.

RICHARD MULLER: We really are in some sense coming out with a stronger conclusion than the prior group had come out with.

SPENCER MICHELS: Working out of their house in Berkeley, where Muller is a physics professor at the University of California, the Mullers formed the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project.

Using funds partly supplied by the Koch brothers, who have also funded skeptical organizations like the Heartland Institute, the Mullers had long analyzed temperature data others had collected. But, for years, they said they hadn’t trusted that data.

RICHARD MULLER: I think many of the people working on this had convinced themselves that global warming was real and had lost some of their objectivity.

SPENCER MICHELS: But in their op-ed, the Mullers said that their latest research showed that the data from other climate change scientists was by and large correct.

ELIZABETH MULLER, Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project: We used all of the data, or essentially all of the data, five times more than any other group had done. And after having done all of that, we determined that the previous — the previous studies on global warming had been about right. There was global warming of about one degree Celsius in the past 50 years. And that was a big surprise to us.

SPENCER MICHELS: The conclusion about a warming climate due to human actions matched what many other climate change believers have been saying, including William Collins, a senior scientist at Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratory. He acknowledges that natural warming and cooling periods have occurred for eons, but the warming occurring now is off rhythm.

WILLIAM COLLINS, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: What we’re seeing now is occurring much faster. Rather than happening over tens of thousands of years, we’re seeing very rapid change occurring on just the time scale of a single century.

This timeline is showing how the temperature all over the globe has changed since the beginning of the 20th century. Look at how warm California has gotten, four or five degrees hotter than our historical climate.

SPENCER MICHELS: And, Collins concludes, man is a big contributor.

WILLIAM COLLINS: What man has been doing is enhancing the greenhouse effect by taking carbon dioxide that was formed over the last half-a-billion years and releasing that carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, back into the Earth’s atmosphere.

SPENCER MICHELS: Yet, many of those believers were annoyed that Muller’s conversion got more attention in the media than their reports have gotten in the past. They dismissed him as being publicity-hungry and adding nothing new to the debate.

Climate modeler and British Green Party member William Connolley called Muller’s study rubbish, saying they hadn’t added any knowledge to what had been done before. Skeptics were even more dismissive of Muller’s work.

Judith Curry, professor of earth sciences at Georgia Tech, who suspects natural variability accounts for climate change, not human-produced CO2, said Muller’s analysis is “way oversimplistic and not at all convincing.”

Even former ally Anthony Watts thinks Muller got it wrong. Watts works five hours from Muller in Chico, California. There, he runs a company supplying data and display systems to television weather forecasters and private individuals. He was trained as a broadcast meteorologist, though he has authored some papers with academic researchers.

His blog, “Watts Up With That?,” bills itself as the world’s most viewed sight on global warming and climate change. Watts believes all climate warming data, Muller’s included, is off because weather stations where temperatures are recorded have soaked up heat from their surroundings.

ANTHONY WATTS, Meteorologist: A brick building that’s been out in the summer sun, you stand next to it at night, you can feel the heat radiating off of it. That’s a heat sink effect. We have got more freeways, you know, more airports. We have got more buildings.

Yes, we have some global warming. It’s clear the temperature has gone up in the last 100 years, but what percentage of that is from carbon dioxide and what percentage of that is from the changes in the local and measurement environment?

SPENCER MICHELS: He also thinks believers have a hidden agenda.

ANTHONY WATTS: Global warming has become essentially a business in its own right. There are whole divisions of universities that are set up to study this factor. And so there’s lots of money involved. And so I think that there’s a tendency to want to keep that going and not really look at what might be different.

SPENCER MICHELS: It’s a charge climate change believers say is totally false. But many do agree with Watts’ criticism of Muller for presenting his report in a newspaper, rather than in a scientific journal.

ANTHONY WATTS: He has not succeeded in terms of how science views, you know, a successful inquiry. His papers have not passed peer review.

RICHARD MULLER: In science, peer review means you give talks to the public. You send your papers to colleagues around the world. That’s what I did. Before I wrote my op-ed, we put all of our papers available on the Web.

SPENCER MICHELS: But the fight over climate change is anything but academic. Whether the politicians listen to the 97 percent of scientists who say that it is real or they pay attention to the vocal community of skeptics will determine to a large extent what regulations and what laws get passed.

Neither presidential candidate is talking about climate change, but, in Congress, it’s a different story; 74 percent of U.S. Senate Republicans publicly question the science of global warming, including Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who thinks it’s a hoax.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE, R-Oklahoma: Those people who really believe that world is coming to an end because of global warming, and that’s all due to manmade anthropogenic gases, we call those people alarmists.

SPENCER MICHELS: Polls show more than half the Republicans in the House are global warming skeptics. Many were elected with the Tea Party wave during the 2010 election.

In 2011, a Republican-dominated House committee defeated an amendment offered by Democrats simply acknowledging warming of the Earth.

Stanford University professor of communication and political science Jon Krosnick, who has polling on climate change for 15 years, thinks the skeptics are winning in Washington.

JON KROSNICK, Stanford University: The voices of skeptics on climate change are very loud in this country and particularly effective in Washington at the moment. But they’re a very, very small group.

Less than 10 percent of Americans are confidently skeptical about climate change at the moment. And yet that group expresses its points of view so often and so vociferously that I believe they have got Washington confused at the moment.

SPENCER MICHELS: He says his polls, taken nationwide, show many Americans still worry about climate change.

JON KROSNICK: From the very beginning, we were surprised that large majorities, and in some cases huge majorities of Americans, expressed what you might call green opinions on the issue. They said they thought the planet had been gradually warming over the last 100 years. They thought human activity was responsible for it. And they supported a variety of government actions because they saw it as a threat.

SPENCER MICHELS: Krosnick says that neither storms nor the recent drought that has been affecting the Midwest affect his poll numbers, which have remained steady for more than a decade.

However, other polls showed a significant decline in the number of Americans saying there is solid evidence global warming is occurring, a drop of 20 percent between 2008 and 2010, when belief started rising again.

And polls conducted by Gallup and other news organizations suggest the issue ranks lower on voters’ top priorities. Watts says polls can be manipulated by how the question is asked. He’s worried that those who believe in manmade climate change will have their way in Washington.

ANTHONY WATTS: Some of the issues have been oversold. And they have been oversold because they allow for more regulation to take place. And so the people that like more regulation use global warming as a tool as a means to an end. And so, as a result, we might be getting more regulation and more taxes that really aren’t rooted in science, but more in politics.

SPENCER MICHELS: But Muller and others think action is exactly what is needed.

RICHARD MULLER: I expect we will have considerable warming. And I think, depending on the growth of China, between 20 years and 50 years from now, we will be experiencing weather that’s warmer than Homo sapiens ever experienced. And I tend to think that’s going to be bad and we should do something about it and we can do something about it.

SPENCER MICHELS: Doing something about global warming raises a host of other issues, including new regulations and the costs of reducing greenhouse gases, issues that inflame an already contentious debate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, Spencer talks to climate skeptic Anthony Watts about politics and global warming.

==============================================================

Links: To the PBS video of this story here

My additional interview footage (and transcript) with Spencer Michels that Judy Woodruff refers to is here

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Mark and two Cats

Looks like Muller cut himself shaving.

Noelene

SPENCER MICHELS: But the fight over climate change is anything but academic. Whether the politicians listen to the 97 percent of scientists who say that it is real
SPENCER MICHELS: Polls show more than half the Republicans in the House are global warming skeptics. Many were elected with the Tea Party wave during the 2010 election.
End
Pay lip service to the sceptic,but make sure to get the main thrusts in.Tea party(nut cases)and 97 percent of scientists agree.
Job accomplished.

RICHARD MULLER: “…In science, peer review means you give talks to the public….”
Are they saying that the public can be considered “peers”?
There’s a lot of “climate scientists” that are willing to talk to the public. Al Gore is willing to talk to the public. Mann is willing to talk to the public. Hansen is willing to talk to the public. They just won’t answer questions from the public.
And, once again, there’s the “…97 percent of scientists who say that it is real…” phrase. If I was a politician, I’d want to talk to the 3%. It’s been “97%” for a few years. After all this time, that 3 percent still aren’t convinced.

Muller finds five times as much data that shows exactly what 1/5 of the data already made clear, that the earth has warmed, and suddenly believes that since there is now five times as much data supporting the obvious, that the warming must now be attributed to human CO2?

DirkH

“Climate modeler and British Green Party member William Connolley”
Is that wikipedia Winston Smith? He’s long since left the climate modeling business. Or does he have a new go at the trough?

Bob in Castlemaine

So exactly when does Richard Muller claim he was a climate sceptic – be mindfull, preschool days don’t count?

Tim

Was Muller really a skeptic? I’m skeptical of that proposition.

Wow, the bandaid is a little late. I think most of his brains have already leaked out.
Where to start. First, it’s not about whether there is “warming”. Nobody disputes this seriously (except those who point out, quite rightly, that it is nonsense to speak of averaged temperature in a system not in thermal equilibrium as if it had some known significance). Second, this dingbat made a great show of bringing all players on board and then, when funding was in place, hunkered down and shut the same folks out. Finally, regardless of the outcome of his data analysis, he was not studying anything in the first place that would provide data for the conclusion he claims to have arrived at. It’s like studying the colour of clam shells and claiming that you can conclude something about the price of iPads.

RICHARD MULLER: In science, peer review means you give talks to the public. You send your papers to colleagues around the world. That’s what I did. Before I wrote my op-ed, we put all of our papers available on the Web.

Excellent I have many peer reviewed papers. …apparently.

We know forests are growing 30-50 percent faster than seventy years ago.
Nowhere is this taken into account. Perhaps this benefit is greater than the
temperature.

Kyle K

“97 percent of scientists”
Now we know they’re propagandists using that 75 / 77 number with a gross generalization.

Alan

As a scientist what I really hate about that introduction from both Woodruff and Michels is they assume that the sceptics are not scientists – you know where it is going straight away.

CO2 must be causing the warming because we can’t find any other cause. We know it can’t be the fact that human cites now use more land than was used by all the cities and agriculture alone 150 years ago. If it was cities that were the cause, then we would need a cap and trade on cities.
Better to blame it on CO2. That way the taxpayer will to pay to move US factories to China and India to take advantage of the lower labor rates. It isn’t like the people in the US need jobs. They are all so rich they can simply live off their savings for the next 100 years. Didn’t Obama and Clinton promise to give the UN $100 billion to end global warming, so long as the Chinese would do their part?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/science/earth/18climate.html
The administration provided the talks with a palpable boost on Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that the United States would contribute its share of $100 billion a year in long-term financing to help poor nations adapt to climate change.

pat

Michels says: “97% of scientists”…not even “climate scientists” (whatever that means). even in CAGW-speak, Michels should have said “97 out of EVERY 100 climate SCIENTISTS”.
mind you, john cook went one better with his headline: “Infographic: 97 out of 100 climate experts think humans are causing global warming”.
which then changed to “97% of climate scientists” in his first para:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=734
this tired and discredited claim needs to be tested post-climategate 1 and 2. everyone by now knows or should know the claim wasn’t correct in the first place, and so much has been revealed since then.

tango
ciremasle

Of course, Michaels had to throw in the “97% of scientists believe” canard.

ciremasle

Oh, and I thought your points were treated quite reasonably, Anthony.
Thanks for your continued support of science.

richardK

97 percent of scientist?. Really? As referred many times showing poles. This has to stop. Just look at The Big Lew.

pat

Off rhythm? William Collins knows the rhythm? maybe he should tell someone!

Doug S

I read the transcript Anthony. Wonderful job explaining the situation with the measuring instruments. It seems like people are beginning to understand the oversold nature of this issue and I loved the way you put “Global warming has become essentially a business”. It’s a business that thrives on millions of “believers”. Perhaps the perfect combination of business and religion.

Kurt in Switzerland

When did Muller do research on attribution?
I always thought his project was about getting the definitive “Global Average Atmospheric Land Surface Temperature” for the past century or so, full stop.
Kurt in Switzerland

oakwood

A disappointing (but typical) news report in that it represented the standard journalistic inability to really understand or discuss any of the core arguments (most of which are not very complicated). It falls into the he said/she said format, with the argument ‘settled\’ by quoting the totally misleading 97% of scientists figure, and with the lay-viewer no better informed.
Looks like Muller practices origami as thought therapy judging by his desk. Call it vanity, but if I had a TV company coming in to interview me about my ‘serious’ work, I would make some effort to tidy my desk (usually untidy), and least to give the impression of ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’. His is beyond ‘scatty academic’. Anthony’s fairs much better.
William Collins tells us temperatures are rising much faster than in ’10s of thousands of years’. And to support that argument? A graph showing temperatures have risen since the 1880s, and a map of the world swirling in fire and brimstone.
Anthony came over very well – professional, measured and wise.

oakwood

Another disappointment:
Muller says: “In our world, we attribute the warming from 1753 to the present essentially exclusively to humans — not mostly, but exclusively.”
I don’t think I’ve heard any other AGW believer saying such an extreme statement. The report fails to make it clear that Muller’s work did not look at attribution, and therefore his statement is an opinion (rather than scientific deduction) which derives in no way from his (and daughter’s) BEST program work.

Kurt in Switzerland

Muller made himself an enemy of the Hockey Team when he publicly lambasted Mann-made graphical representations of temperature reconstructions over the past millennium. The part where latter 20th C thermometer readings got grafted onto supposedly global proxies up to that point (in order to “hide the decline” in the otherwise cooperative proxies was what really raised Muller’s eyebrows. This, of course, endeared him somewhat to skeptics, who had known for some time about these and other sheMannigans.
But alas, it turns out Muller was a closet warmist all along. He sensed some time ago that he faced serious marginalization in the People’s Republic of Berkeley if the wrong conclusions were drawn, if he got too close to those questioning the authority and infallibility of the climate priesthood.
Kurt in Switzerland

old construction worker

“Vern Cornell says:
September 17, 2012 at 10:41 pm
We know forests are growing 30-50 percent faster than seventy years ago.
Nowhere is this taken into account. Perhaps this benefit is greater than the
temperature.”
Perhaps this is a benfit of temperature and increase in CO2.

David, UK

…Richard Muller has long been on the side of those who deny climate change is happening.
Apart from the fact Muller was never a sceptic, this is clearly just another shameful attempt to smear sceptics as “deniers” of climate change. When will these people learn that name-calling does nothing for their credibility? Baffling.

X Anomaly

Here it is:

ConfusedPhoton

There were a few gems:
Richard Muller “saying he was no longer a skeptic” – ha ha yeah right
“Rather than happening over tens of thousands of years, we’re seeing very rapid change occurring on just the time scale of a single century. This timeline is showing how the temperature all over the globe has changed since the beginning of the 20th century.” – Beginning? How does that fit into the CO2 hypothesis?
“Judith Curry, professor of earth sciences at Georgia Tech, who suspects natural variability accounts for climate change, not human-produced CO2” – I must be reading the wrong blog as I always thought she said that CO2 was responsible for at least some of the warming
“The voices of skeptics on climate change are very loud in this country and particularly effective in Washington at the moment. But they’re a very, very small group.” – Another non-scientist academic waffling – ha ha yeah right on man
“And I think, depending on the growth of China, between 20 years and 50 years from now, we will be experiencing weather that’s warmer than Homo sapiens ever experienced.” – lets just through in a made up number but choose one that is sufficiently long so it can’t be disproved

It looked to me as if the mess on Muller’s desk probably represented the muddle that is in his mind. He was never a skeptic. His ‘conversion’ was purely fabricated for political purposes to bolster ‘the Faith’. Anthony made a very good presentation in the short time available and had the handicap of having to swim upstream against the flow of misconceptions and prejudices that flowed from the PB Presenters.

Edim

“RICHARD MULLER, University of California, Berkeley: In our world, we attribute the warming from 1753 to the present essentially exclusively to humans — not mostly, but exclusively.”
How can they claim that? The officially postulated AGW started in the second half of the 20th century (roughly ~1960). This is also physically plausible if CO2 had a warming effect, which I don’t believe at all. I think it’s all natural.
http://www.climatechangeconnection.org/science/images/Global_temperature_change.jpg
http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-is-only-part-human-caused/imagecomment image
Amazing what they can get away with.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Working out of their house in Berkeley…
Father and daughter living in the same house? Yes, situations like that do happen… But both Mullers sure seem to make enough to have their own places. Children tend to not live with their parents unless compelled to by circumstances.
What might make that not weird, and open to questionable and likely unwarranted speculation, would be a daughter acting as caretaker. Granted they likely have access to or could afford to pay for professional caretakers. And the only reason I can think of not to would be not wanting to reveal Prof. Muller needs a caretaker. Wikipedia says he’s 68. Has he been having any bouts of irrational babbling, his thoughts wandering and disconnected? Maybe some strange accidents and mishaps, with band-aids and bandages covering the injuries?
You know, there are several physical reasons for such, like cancer, heart problems, advanced diabetes, etc…
Of course he could also be her caretaker. Offhand it doesn’t appear she needs one.
(What I really have found weird is Wikipedia doesn’t have a personal details or family life section for Richard Muller. His entry never even mentions his daughter at all, which is very strange by Wikipedia standards. Even in the BEST entry, Elizabeth Muller, BEST co-founder and Executive Director, gets only one short line at the end of the “Team” list, with the familiar relationship not mentioned. It’s been mentioned many places in the public record, yet Wikipedia won’t mention it. Why?)

LazyTeenager

RICHARD MULLER, University of California, Berkeley: In our world, we attribute the warming from 1753 to the present essentially exclusively to humans — not mostly, but exclusively.
———-
If my memory serves the IPCC does not attribute climate change exclusively to human factors. It gives a percentage attribution.

LazyTeenager

RICHARD MULLER: We really are in some sense coming out with a stronger conclusion than the prior group had come out with.
————-
Only very slightly a stronger conclusion. It’s based on the same raw data and in effect validates the prior studies at least from an analysis method standpoint.
The results of these analysis techniques are not particularly sensitive to refinements.

Snotrocket

Anthony: were you unable to contradict the 97% claim? Were you not given a chance to ask Muller when he ever was a skeptic? Or were interactions like this edited out?

Snotrocket

Sorry Anthony…My comment at 1:21 was based on reading the first transcript. I had assumed it was a studio-style debate and that you were present. Now I read the second transcript I see that you were interviewed separately.

@henrythethird; talking to? or talking at? Pontificating isn’t talking.

Great measured responses from Anthony…but have they been heard as such by anyone not from WUWT? What I missed most was that while Muller was (falsely imo) portrayed as a converted skeptic, Anthony was never shown as a converted warmist, even though he talked about it in the original interview.
I think that is a serious imbalance.
It would be nice to have a poll here, to find out how people came to WUWT – and whether they were once warmists – and what made them rethink.

If Muller denied that climate change was happening then the label ”Denier” was correct. Climates always change. The argument has always been about the mechanism. Realists accuse the sun, with suitable external and internal modifiers but the human input is questionable especially if anthropogenic CO2 is taken as a driver since the human proportion of the annual CO2 budget is so small and the questionable theory of the greenhouse effect.
Muller was never a sceptic as far as AGW is concerned.

It looked like Watts was treated with earned respect and not marginalized as much as I expected from PBS. PBS is firmly in the AGW camp.
Imho, Watts presented himself exceptionally well and more accurately represented the skeptic’s viewpoint than normally found elsewhere in the media.

Typo “…world’s most viewed sight” should be “…world’s most viewed site”. Are you using Speech Recognition?

John Silver

“RICHARD MULLER,…. essentially exclusively …. not mostly, but exclusively.”
Good old American semantics.
LOL.

James

My God it’s Less Nessman of WKRP!

Alan the Brit

RICHARD MULLER: I expect we will have considerable warming. And I think, depending on the growth of China, between 20 years and 50 years from now, we will be experiencing weather that’s warmer than Homo sapiens ever experienced. And I tend to think that’s going to be bad and we should do something about it and we can do something about it.
Errrr…………….Haven’t the previous four Interglacials been warmer than today by up to 5°C, therefore how can he claim that Homo Sapiens have never experienced such warm weather. What about desert dwellers around the world, have they not survived in extreme temperatures for years with little ill effects?
Anyhow, thanks to Professor Muller, I can now prove that fairies exist, as 97% of people believe they live at the bottom of the garden, & only three people have any doubt or disbelieve it, therefore by default fairies really do exist! Yippee, where’s my cheque, expense account, large staff payroll & research department? This stuff is easy peasy!

Keith AB

Good job Anthony.

Arfur Bryant

‘When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas…”

Otter

Anthony, if you can find the time, we’d be interested to see what kind of bounce WUWT has gotten this time around, in internet ratings.

cui bono

Hmm. The 21st century channel with 9-5 moderators. My comment is still stuck after 10 hours, and the number of comments remains at 24, where it was when I went to bed last night. Never mind, most of the comments were from the AGW fans.
Hate mail, Anthony? Just for putting the ‘other side’ so well? Sheesh!

Edim

And yes, Muller is denying climate change, he conflates AGW with climate change and calls climate change natural variation. Orwellian.