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Berkeley earthquake called off

Filed under: — eric @ 24 October 2011

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.

For those not familiar with it, the purpose of Berkeley Earth was to create a new, independent compilation and assessment of global land surface temperature trends using new statistical methods and a wider range of source data. Expectations that the work would put teeth in accusations against CRU and GISTEMP led to a lot of early press, and an invitation to Muller to testify before Congress. However, the big news this week (e.g. this article by the BBC’s Richard Black) is that there is no discernible difference between the new results and those of CRU.

Muller says that “the biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK.” We find this very statement surprising. As we showed two years ago, any of various simple statistical analyses of the freely available data at the time showed that it was very very unlikely that the results would change.

The basic fact of warming is supported by a huge array of complementary data (ocean warming, ice melting, phenology etc). And shouldn’t it have helped reduce the element of surprise that a 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, that the satellite record agrees with the surface record in every important respect (see Fig. 7 here), and that numerous independent studies (many of them by amateurs) also confirmed the warming trend?

If the Berkeley results are newsworthy, it is only because Muller had been perceived as an outsider (driven in part by trash-talking about other scientists), and has taken money from the infamous Koch brothers. People acting against expectation (“Man bites dog”) is always better news than the converse, something that Muller’s PR effort has exploited to the max. It does take some integrity to admit getting the same answer as those they had criticized, despite their preconceptions and the preconceptions of their funders. And we are pleased to see Muller’s statement that “This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.” It’s far from the overdue apology that Phil Jones (of CRU) deserves from his critics, but it’s a start.

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.

In a talk at AGU last Fall, Naomi Oreskes criticized the climate science community for being reluctant to take credit for their many successful predictions, so here we are shouting it from the rooftops: The warming trend is something that climate physicists saw coming many decades before it was observed. The reason for interest in the details of the observed trend is to get a better idea of the things we don’t know the magnitude of (e.g. cloud feedbacks), not as a test of the basic theory. If we didn’t know about the CO2-climate connection from physics, then no observation of a warming trend, however accurate, would by itself tell us that anthropogenic global warming is “real,” or (more importantly) that it is going to persist and probably increase.

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.

Laudably, Muller’s group have submitted their research to peer-reviewed journals, and the submitted drafts are available on their website. Amidst a number of verifications of already well-established results on the fidelity of the surface station trends, they also claim to have discovered something new. In their paper Decadal Variations in the Global Atmospheric Land Temperatures, they find that the largest contributor to global average temperature variability on short (2-5 year) timescales in not the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (as everyone else believes), but is actually the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). This is pretty esoteric stuff, but it would actually be quite interesting if it were true — though we hasten to add that even if true it would have no significant bearing on the interpretation of long term temperature trends. Before anyone gets too excited though, they should take note that the basis for this argument is that the correlation between the global average temperature and a time series that represents the AMO is higher than for one that represents ENSO. But what time series are used? According to the submitted paper, they “fit each record [ENSO and AMO times series] separately to 5th order polynomials using a linear least-­squares regression; we subtracted the respective fits… This procedure effectively removes slow changes such as global warming and the ~70 year cycle of the AMO, and gives each record zero mean.” Beyond the obvious fact that if one removes the low frequencies, than we’re really not talking about the AMO anymore (the “M” in “AMO” stands for “Multidecadal”), one has to be rather cautious about this sort of data analysis. Without getting into the nitty-gritty technical details here, suffice it to say that Muller & Co are proposing a new understanding of global temperature variability, and their statistical approach is — at the very least — poorly described. There is a large literature on how to do this sort of thing, not to mention previous work on the AMO and its relationship to global temperatures (e.g. this or Mann and Park (1999) (pdf), among many others), which the Berkeley group does not cite.

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. No doubt, they will improve: that’s one of the benefits of the peer review process (suddenly popular again!). In the meanwhile, Muller & Co. have a long way to go before they can claim to be the best (as opposed to just the BEST). By launching his BEST project, Muller has no doubt ensured a place for himself in shaping the narrative on climate change science, but it remains to be seen to what extent he is going to contribute to the science of climate change.

208 Responses to “Berkeley earthquake called off”

  1. 51
    Mal Adapted says:

    [Response: What the heck does “HGCC theory” mean? –eric]

    I should have added “argue with Brin, not with me” 8^)! It’s in his first sentence:

    Human-generated Global Climate Change (HGCC)… also called Anthopogenic Global Warming (AGW).

  2. 52
    ldavidcooke says:

    Hey All,

    Bill does bring up the legitiment point regarding the funding of alternatives. “Cap and Trade” being one mechanism which may do more to distribute wealth then to fund the trade in margin choices for energy/systems.

    That Dr. Muller has confirmed the science of the CRU/UEA teams are the least of his accomplishments. Instead it helps move the science forward..,

    What the real effects of confirmed global warning does is suggest, if that science is correct, then it is likely the rest is likely correct as well… If the intent of science is to move to a sustainable future with an equivalent std. of living, we will need the “Bills” of Wall Street engaged.

    As most of us know solar is the likely best avenue for fixed energy resources. The issue is how to get the economists to help provide the financing and impetus to move to these alternatives.

    The fact that Wall Street sees little in “Cap ‘n Trade” suggests there may be a need for a gov. policy change. It may be time to tax or charge for the cleanup of on-going energy/transportation/housing/farming systems and use those funds to help those industries make the changes to cleaner technologies/processes.

    Sure it would be nice if R-n-D tax policies could be used. But, you cannot attach criteria to R-n-D projects. This means you have to implement a new structure and you need buy in by economists to give it teeth.

    So before disregarding “outsider” concerns, can we focus instead on how to incorporate or meet them?

    (Dr. Steig my apologies for taking this OT, I believe the point I wish to make is Dr. Muller’s, the CRU-NASA and UEA effort is just a start. We have a long way to go yet and a short time to get there. (If I may suggest a future subject, Such as a discussion on bridging todays systems with future systems and how to accomplish it….?)

    Dave Cooke

  3. 53
    Joel Shore says:

    While I agree that Muller’s op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal seems to be tooting his own horn quite a bit…But on the positive side, to have the Wall Street Journal editorial page publish anything that is arguing for, not against, at least some aspect of the scientific consensus on climate change is a step forward!

  4. 54
    vukcevic says:

    Chris R says:
    25 Oct 2011 at 2:16 PM
    Thank you for your remarks.
    My graphs are data available from NOAA, NCAR etc. Once data show good correlation, next step is to find out if the correlation is a consequence or a coincidence. Tendency of the academia to new, when author is a ‘gatecrasher’, is to reject the first and opt for the second as the preferable choice. I present what I think has a chance to be possible and likely and verifiable by data. Those who are genuinely interested will make an effort to find out more by a personal contact. Criticism is a plenty, assistance a few.

  5. 55
    Mal Adapted says:

    the article that Mal Adapted linked to is a pretty good essay on the difference between genuine skeptics and the faux-skeptic deniers.

    Thanks SA. Brin isn’t a denier, folks. He has an even better recent post on his blog: Arguing With Your Crazy Uncle About Climate Change.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    > data available from NOAA, NCAR etc
    Searched: “About 147,000 results”

    Can you narrow that down a bit for us?

    What data sets do you graph there?
    Where do you find the copies you’re using?

    A name and a link would be helpful.

  7. 57
    CM says:

    Back to the science: By coincidence, a ‘skeptic’ paper I’m looking at got me interested in the lunar-tidal-climate hypothesis that is tangentially mentioned in the Muller paper (and briefly lampooned in the last April’s Fool post here). I’ve read Richard D. Ray, “Decadal Climate Variability: Is There a Tidal Connection?,” Journal of Climate 20 (July 2007): 3542-3560 (short answer: possibly an 18.6-year cycle in some places with intense diurnal tides, but no quite solid evidence), and will be looking at references therein. What else should I read for a recent overview?

  8. 58
    CM says:

    Vukcevic, noise is a-plenty, signal is weak. If you want to gatecrash science, why don’t you try stating a thesis? Then we’ll have a clue what your graphs are supposed to tell us.

  9. 59
    Edward Greisch says:

    31 Ray Ladbury: “Finally, your “follow the money” argument is absurd. Climate scientists aren’t trading carbon on exchanges. They aren’t getting rich. They are motivated by trying to increase their understanding of the planet’s climate. Is that so utterly foreign to [Bill] that [Bill] cannot entertain it as a possibility?”

    Yes it is. Should I try to refrain from guessing why? Social sciences. Do “they” seem to be a different species? Perhaps “we” physical scientists are a different species. “Homo Sapiens” is just a name.

    Bill: See:
    A “better” communication for most people.

  10. 60
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I am afraid that you are falling victim to the fallacy of the argument from consequences–to wit, that the consequences of a proposition have no bearing upon its truth or falsehood. And, I am afraid that once science has been established for a century or more, it is very rarely ever false.

    Yes, climate science is complex. Yes, the system has many interacting components and forcings and feedbacks. However, warming due to a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas has a rather distinctive fingerprint that can be identified in the paleoclimate as well as our current warming epoch. We don’t need to calculate everything to the last decimal place.

    What is more, you seem to think that there are adverse consequences to our economy only if we mistakenly take action. Climate change is already having consequences–serious consequences–and it has just begun!

    Moreover, as I said before (and you ignored), fossil fuels are finite, and our energy infrastructure must be replaced in any case.

    I would contend that to ignore these facts requires more than myopia. It requires the willful wearing of ideological blinders.

  11. 61
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    >fossil fuels are finite

    But exactly how finite is debated. Do you have something more specific in mind?

    [Response: Here’s a useful definition: something is finite if it becomes more expensive as one approaches the finite limit. In reality, we will never reach the limit, we will only approach it (there will always be *some* little pocket of oil we can’t/won’t get to). But the fact that the tar sands of Alberta are no longer considered too expensive to use (despite the huge expense in real dollars, as well as the environmental cost) shows that such a limit is being approached (and therefore that it exists).–eric]

  12. 62
    Edward Greisch says:

    From comments at:
    Catfish N. Cod said: “How could it be other than how we ourselves are, they say, in one of humankind’s oldest and most classic fallacies.”

    Bill thinks everybody is like Bill. Physicists think all people are or should be physicists. I agree with the should be but not with the are. Scientists are impossible for preachers to control. It is like herding cats. Back before the enlightenment, there were no cats to herd, only cows. Wouldn’t it be lovely for the 1% if there were no more cats? David Brin is right. There is a war against science. How do we fight it?

    Congratulations to Richard Muller for having swindled the Koch brothers. + 10 points in the science war.

    “The idea that not only can our ideas be severable — but that they must — that it is intrinsic to everything scientists do that everyone, no matter how laudable, can be questioned, can be debated, can be flat out wrong… it’s so far away from how shamans have operated throughout history that they never made the leap, not through all their schooling. To them, we’re just competition.”

    The 1% can be shamans or billionaires or whatever. Either way, they must control the minds of the 99% or they loose.

    “The implicit philosophy here is that scientific “belief” is inseverable, and that if Einstein (one of our holiest prophets) can be questioned, surely everything falls apart! Just as we tore away from the impure Faith, now the scientists are questioning themselves. Surely the schism of Science is close at hand, and with it the fall of this pernicious heresy….

    Ah Ha! Teach the severability of science! Or, as we wanted to do anyway, teach experimentalism. Richard Muller was not bribable.

  13. 63
    Mike H says:

    In the case of AGW, I don’t believe we are going to make progress on CO2 emission reduction for a long time. This is because the people most responsible for the emissions are not generally the ones affected by the consequences. Recall that the US government didn’t give a rabid rat’s behind about fallout from atmospheric bomb tests (which had major consequences in lowly populated Pacific Islands, the desert southwest and among nearby military personnel) until the milk supply in the midwest became dangerous to drink. Until the high water inundates million dollar houses in the Hamptons and Boca Raton, droughts, floods and drowning polar bears are going to be considered somebody else’s problem to those in power. The western world’s virtual and practical indifference to AGW is a failure of our collective intelligence and conscience, and strong evidence that we are not evolving fast enough to save our civilization.

  14. 64
    Thomas says:

    Bill, we have to be careful about double and triple and N-tuple overcounting of financial products. I often hear claims that there are $600T of derivatives contract, with the implication that over a decade of world GDP could vanish at any minute. But, what that really means is that hedge funds have a circular betting game going on among them. If it unwinds (as in a key counterparty goes bust), you have a nasty problem unwinding the mess, but the rest of the world isn’t required to pay up. We hear similar exagerations about the amount of debt guaranteed by the fed, where in reality money that is loaned overnight, then reloaned the next day, gets counted roughly 250times over a year, and converted into some big scare number.

    So if you go to a carbon exchange, the parts that matter for the economy, and the price industrial buyers of permits pay, and the price those who originate permits get. Everything in between is just middlemen trading among themselves.

  15. 65
    David B. Benson says:

    Lunar tidal 9.1 year cycle? Hmmm. I’d first consider a spectral analysis of ENSO and lagged correlations with the PDO and the various different AMO products.

  16. 66
    T. Marvell says:

    There might be enough data points to do a cross-section analysis. What charcteristics of areas in US are associated with temperature increases and decreases? The map in their article on urban vs. rural warming suggests that temperatures have dropped over 70 years in many parts of the South and Mid-west. Why? They suggest irrigation as a possibility. There are surely many more possibilities that one might tease out with multiple regression. And (joking)there might be a relationship between areas with more warming skeptics and areas with temperature drops.

  17. 67
    Truly Anomalous says:

    Let’s not forget about the big picture: Muller et al. have independently analyzed climate data and validated the previously obtained results. This is a good thing.

  18. 68
    Martin Vermeer says:

    > argument from consequences

    Ray, nah, Bill is telling climatologists to be very very careful because of all those crazy economists around and what those might cook up. Hard to disagree…

    In related news, women would do wise to dress modestly

  19. 69
    vukcevic says:

    (58) CM says:
    I am only reproducing data as available; formulating hypothesis out of conjecture, and much harder proving to a degree of wider acceptance (perhaps beyond my current competence) is a process where success is rare and long drawn out struggle, but failure is instant and frequent.
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    in no hurry to be off and weep.

  20. 70
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Pete Dunkelberg,
    Finitude–well for an energy resource, when it takes more energy to extract, process and transport it than you get out of it. Frankly, it doesn’t much matter what definition you use. Exponential growth ensures that you reach the limit within a few doubling times.

    There are two types of demographers: Malthusians and those who are bad at math. WRT his basic thesis (though not his remedies), Malthus will be right eventually.

  21. 71
    Joe Knapp says:

    Just for fun, here’s a Google Earth kmz file showing the stations in the BEST data set with records spanning more than 50 years and that show a best-fit temperature gain (or loss) of more than 0.5°C/century:

    BEST data 269K kmz file

    That’s about 5,700 of the about 39,000 stations in the data set. Placemarks for stations showing warming are yellow, blue for cooling. Clicking on a placemark brings up station information along with a link to a graph of the data for that station.

    Interesting that stations in the southeastern US generally show cooling, unusual in the data set generally. Overall, in this subset, 86% of the stations show warming.

  22. 72
  23. 73
    Paul Clark says:


    In case anyone finds it useful for simple comparisons between BEST and the older datasets, I’ve added it to

    This data came from here:

    – it’s the first column of the ‘complete’ dataset.



    [Response: Thanks. As you may have noticed, I use your site a lot in comments when a specific dataset/time period/trend etc comes up – the URL structure for each figure is really very usefully designed. Have you thought about opening the back-end code up for further development? One could imagine adding a facility for using additional data via a URL, or lat/lon/regionally dependent series, or different masks (land-only, ocean-only, etc). Just a thought… – gavin]

  24. 74
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: 63 “Until the high water inundates million dollar houses in the Hamptons and Boca Raton, droughts, floods and drowning polar bears . . .”

    Some have noted that the BEST results show we are now 2c warmer than 1800. Was the climate then that much better?

    [Response: ‘Better’ depends on where you are, and what you are. There is no necessary problem with higher temperatures (to a point), nor to higher sea level (to a point). It’s the rate of change that matters most. Incidentally, I am skeptical of the best results between 1800 and 1850. More on that later.–eric]

  25. 75
    Alexander Harvey says:



    “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.”

    I thought that the Rohde part is the the essence of the BEST approach. For the moment it is what interests me, perhaps I am being very narrow.

    Long as that paper is, it still needs a book before I could really understand the method.

    Unfortunately I come unstuck quite early.

    “C(x) captures the time-invariant spatial structure of the temperature field, and hence can be seen as a form of spatial “climatology”, though it differs from the normal definition of a climatology by a simple additive factor corresponding to the long-term average of theta(t).”

    Already this is not my understanding of a climatology as I understood it to include the expected seasonal cycle, e.g. the file abstem3 in the HadCRUT3 dataset.

    As I read it, the W (weather) function would not only include weather, as I would normally understand it, but the difference between the local seasonal cycle and the globally averaged seasonal cycle.

    That it confuses me is no big issue provided that it is clear to those such as you. However, the precise way that the temperature field is separated into components would seem to matter as soon as one starts to form the necessary covariance matrices. As I read it, spatial covariance matrices are important to the analysis, where perhaps strictly it is the full lagged covariances that matter. Presumably this is all tidied away at some point either in the paper or as a matter of convention in all such papers.

    Could you, briefly, outline what is really going on with respect to the seasonality of the data in this paper?


    [Response: THis requires a longer response than I have than I have time for at the moment, but you raise some interesting points that will have to get addressed. Note that our comment that we are not-underwhelmed by Rohdes work is not necessarily an endorsement of it.–eric]

  26. 76
    don gisselbeck says:

    Hank Roberts @ 38; what is true of the lead industry is even more true of the asbestos industry. Her we had a substance known to be harmful by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago, yet all the same tactics were used to prolong the life of the industry.

  27. 77

    “I’ve had my doubts about capitalism, but this sounds a bit over the top. But anyway, I’m game, if we can’t cap and trade, I guess we’ll just have to tax emissions. Failing that, we’ll just have to regulate.”

    Yes. It is remarkable how some folks will complain about those crazy anti-capitalist market-destroying social engineers behind AGW theory in one breath, and in the next about fat cat limousine liberals and greedy corporations out to profit from ‘our’ misery by the ‘cap and trade scam.’

    I’d have thought you basically either like market-based mechanisms or you don’t. But these are denialists after all, and have no need for consistency.

  28. 78
    Brian Dodge says:

    @Paul Clark — 26 Oct 2011 @ 5:50 AM
    That can’t be right – it looks like a hockey stick! &;>)
    Seriously, thank you – Woodfortrees has been an invaluable resource.

  29. 79


    Sounds cool, but what application runs that file? (I’m running OSX.)

    In any event, I recall that the cooling trend in the US Southeast mostly reflects that it was *really* warm during the beginning years of the period of record. If you look at, say, the last 30 or 40 years you find a warming trend, I believe.

    Here’s an interesting amateur analysis on the question. (I take the author to be a ‘skeptic’–possibly more ‘real’ than some, from this post.) Bearing in mind some of the points made on the “Moscow Warming Hole” thread, you can see this stuff gets tricky fast:

  30. 80
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Barn E. Rubble,
    Just curious. Do you come with a string we can pull to get you to spout your talking points, or are you voice activated?

  31. 81
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Paul Clark — 26 Oct 2011 @ 5:50 AM

    Thank You!!! (but it looks an awful lot like a hockey stick; dint somebody “disprove” that? &;>)

    BTW, it looks like BEST has more residual annual variance than HadCRUT. (mean of 6 zeroes out 6 mo variance, and reduces higher orders; putting 12 in as mean zeroes out annual variation).

    Some causes might be miscalibrated thermometers with a consistent larger or smaller scale factor early in the record, or perhaps changes in annual range caused by CO2 increases, which have a larger influence on a longer record, e.g. –

    “…most of the warming which has occurred in these regions over the past four decades can be attributed to an increase of mean minimum (mostly nighttime) temperatures….similar characteristics are also reflected in the changes of extreme seasonal temperatures, e.g., increase of extreme minimum temperatures and little or no change in extreme maximum temperatures.”
    Global warming: Evidence for asymmetric diurnal temperature change, Karl et. al., GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 18, NO. 12, PP. 2253-2256, 1991 doi:10.1029/91GL02900

    Has anyone done any work with scaling the baseline for calculating T anomalies?

  32. 82
    Joe Knapp says:

    #79 @kevin mcKinney

    Google Earth would be the app to view kmz files–pretty sure that’s available for Apple.

  33. 83
    caerbannog says:

    caerbannog, RC, so let’s do it! in a nice interpreted language of course.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Oct 2011 @ 10:59 PM

    I’ve created a “stripped down” and (hopefully) not-too-hard to understand temperature-anomaly app from my original “pile-o-code”.

    Unfortunately it’s written in C++ (not a nice, interpreted language). Uses a bit of STL stuff (std::map, std::set, etc) which could be pretty cryptic to folks who haven’t been exposed to C++/whatever.

    However, it is straightforward to compile/run on a Unix/Cygwin command-line environment. (Probably will compile/run on a Windows environment as well, but no guarantees).

    Reads in GHCN temperature data and metadata, and writes the global-anomaly results to a flat-text .csv file (suitable for plotting with the Excel or OpenOffice spreadsheet software).

    Nothing here that would be of any interest to folks like Tamino, Nick Barnes, etc., but hopefully can be used to convince skeptical “average joes” that there’s really no black magic involved in computing global temperature anomalies. Shows how robust the temperature record really is (my simple-minded approach really does generate results very similar to the global land temperature results that NASA publishes).

    A software-savvy student would have no trouble modifying the code to compare rural vs. urban results, “dropped stations” results, etc.

    Link here:

    Comments, instructions on how to build/run can be found in the GHCN.hpp file.

    (Visiting relatives in Denver — cold and snowy outside, so it has been a great time for this Southern California boy to stay inside and peck away at his laptop keyboard.)

  34. 84

    #82–Thank you, Joe Knapp!

  35. 85
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    caerbannog @ 83, thanks! I have it unzipped and viewed using \TED Notepad\TedNPad.exe, a tiny editor and notepad replacement.

  36. 86
    Geoff Sherington says:

    The community has not turned against the BEST team. Some hard believers might have (at both ends) but the work so far is open for inspection and correction and improvement. I was a minor contributor of data and ideas, but it’s a complex field and contributing gave me a better insight. We should all be over the phase of “I believe in this outcome or that outcome” in favour of “I believe in the need for the best science we can assemble”.

    [Response: Absolutely. No one I have heard — least of all here — wishes the BEST team anything but the best success. We are merely trying to point out that the hype — some of it from Muller, much of it from the media over which he no control — does not match up with the science. We also think it irresponsible the way that Muller has spoken about his (unfounded) assumptions about the integrety of other scientists — most notably the CRU group, but also others including some of us at RC. But we also applaud his admitting (even if not in so many words) that he was wrong in those assumptions.–eric]

  37. 87
    SirCharge says:

    It appears that I have been banned. Well enough. Though it is interesting to note that when I was just being obnoxious but people were responding to me it was ok. It is when the moderators realized that the community had no response for what I was saying that I was finally muffled. Also fascinating that even the great Gavin Schmidt had no response for what I’m sure you all initially considered to be a wild theory.

    Eh, whatever. Twenty years from now this past era will be a cautionary tale. There is no enhanced AGW. It always was a preposterous theory. If temperatures were inherently unstable life on earth would be miserable and humanity would probably have never been able to evolve. Earth’s temperatures are stable, suggesting that the temperature readings we’re getting are a bit of natural cycle mixed with a century and a half of UHI. Even rural stations have suffered from land use temperature increases over 150 years and 0.5 degrees of increase would not be recognizable from white noise over that long of a period.

  38. 88
    CM says:


    > that we are not-underwhelmed by Rohdes work is not necessarily an
    > endorsement of it

    Logically true, but what do you actually think about it, beyond damning it with faint praise in double negatives?

  39. 89

    @ SirCharge

    You haven’t been banned. Deserving comments get consigned to The Bore Hole, where at least one of your most recent comments may be found. You spout nonsense (you even admit to “I was just being obnoxious” – Note: Just because “people were responding” to you it is NOT acceptable to being obnoxious), you get ignored/consigned to the Bore Hole. Especially when you’re being obnoxious.

    To be honest, this isn’t really the venue for you. If you are a genuine seeker of knowledge, and you want to divest yourself of the misconceptions you clearly have about the science, then go to Skeptical Science, where there are nearly 5,000 threads dealing with the skeptics memes you propagate.

    And if you are just a dissembler and waster of the time of others, then go to the dissembler sites like WUWT, CA, Jo Nova, Curry’s H of H or Goddards Mis-Science, where the skies are as green as the firetrucks.

  40. 90


    You flatter yourself.

  41. 91
    barn E. rubble says:

    RE: Ray Ladbury says:
    “Just curious. Do you come with a string we can pull to get you to spout your talking points, or are you voice activated?”

    I take it Ray is among those that believe it’s just a ‘communication’ problem? If a post looks like bait to you, don’t bite. Or as you did for Bill (RE: 60) pack in as many (all?) of your talking points in a single response. No string required.

    Perhaps Ray would like to explain why he considers ‘now'(or whenever in the last 250 years) to be the ideal or optimum climate for the entire planet? My previous Q was directly related to the BEST results showing about 2C difference from 1810’s to now. Is ‘now’ the optimum because of that difference, or was it ‘better’ when it was cooler?

    Eric’s response: “‘Better’ depends on where you are, and what you are . . .” is exactly what I was alluding to. IE: Who is it that will decide what the ‘target’ climate should be? Climatologists? (Apparently economists can’t be trusted.) Obviously some already have a target in mind. If in fact ‘we’ are in control of the climate do we consider what’s ‘best’ for all regions globally? Most? Or just what’s best for us? And perhaps most importantly, who is it that will determine what is ‘best’. . . for us or anyone else?


    [Response: In response to your response to my response… Yes, of course, deciding what is ‘best’ is a political thing, and I’d be the first to join you in saying that I don’t have particular faith that our politicians (of whatever stripe) can decide this for us. However, this is true of *any* big policy decision, whether environmental, economic, educational, etc. Just don’t forget that ‘doing nothing’ is a big policy decision too. Just as the ‘U.S. not getting involved WWII’ was a policy option.–eric]

  42. 92
    mps says:

    I sent my skeptic/denialist friends a link to Muller’s WSJ editorial. While I understand why the scientists here feel justly upset about the tone of the editorial, IMO it is the only tone that could change the opinion of WSJ readers. The narrative of why he was a skeptic but no longer is is probably necessary for such readers even though there was in reality no good reason to be a skeptic to begin with.

    Although I hate seeing the undeserved trash talk, I think no other way of writing it would be effective at converting people and policy. I also think that the explicit statement in a WSJ editorial that past work was properly and rigorously conducted may well start a process of recognizing that climate scientists are being unfairly targeted and move away from killing the messenger.

    The Daily Show last night carried a great segment on the editorial, entirely about how ClimateGate was much bigger news than a follow-up study conducted and funded by skeptics that concluded climate scientists were unfairly trashed and in fact were in the right entirely, which is exactly the correct message to draw. If Muller’s study and PR tour helps turn public and policy decision to acknowledge the reality of global warming and the quality of climate research, it is a very good thing. I have hope that this is happening.

    Perhaps I am unreasonably optimistic, but I feel good about BEST and its publicity campaign.

  43. 93
    caerbannog says:

    suggesting that the temperature readings we’re getting are a bit of natural cycle mixed with a century and a half of UHI.


    Here’s how a “citizen scientist” such as yourself can test your UHI claim.

    Grab the code at the link in my previous post. It computes global-average temperature anomalies from GHCN v2 data. I’ll be the first to admit that it is pretty crude, but it is still good enough for “message-board science”. Using the wealth of information available on-line, teach yourself the little bit of C/C++ needed to make the very simple modifications to the code to parse out rural vs. urban station data so that you can generate separate rural and urban temperature results. Run the program to generate those results and compare.

    Don’t trust the GHCN rural vs. urban designations? Then take advantage of the satellite imagery available at your fingertips courtesy of Google-Earth/Google-maps. Using the information (tutorials and code examples) that Google provides, whip up a bit of JavaScript to parse out the GHCN metadata and plot the “rural” station locations on a Google map. Go through and examine a representative sample of stations to verify that they are truly rural.

    Yes, all of this will take a fair bit of time, and may be painstaking and tedious. That’s why they call it “work”. And “work” is exactly what you need to do if you have any hope of making a credible case for your UHI claim.

  44. 94
    Uli says:

    @ Paul Clark (#73):
    Thank you for including BEST in woodfortrees.
    But the BEST is a land only temperature timeseries. Other temperature timeseries (for example HadCRUT3) at the woodfortrees-site are land-ocean timeseries. Would it not be better to include CRUTEM3 (and so on) to compare?

  45. 95
    David Miller says:

    In #91 barney asks:

    Perhaps Ray would like to explain why he considers ‘now’(or whenever in the last 250 years) to be the ideal or optimum climate for the entire planet? My previous Q was directly related to the BEST results showing about 2C difference from 1810′s to now. Is ‘now’ the optimum because of that difference, or was it ‘better’ when it was cooler?

    I’m not Ray, but that’s an easy one to answer. The last couple of centuries are when most of our population came into existence. We’re pushing up against quite a few resource limits right now with our current population – food, energy, raw materials. If a changing climate decreases any of those, particularly food, let’s just say ‘unrest’ will result.

    In other words, humankind is maximally adapted to the current climate. The planet will be fine if temperatures rise ten degrees. Humankind, otoh, will be screwed.

  46. 96
    Joe Cushley says:


    Obnoxious can be fine, but add in ignorant and arrogant and we have a problem. You’re like some old Tory (Republican) down the pub (bar) who has half-digested a couple of Daily Mail (WSJ) articles and feels the need to pontificate about them. Loudly.

  47. 97
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Who is it that will decide what the ‘target’ climate should be?
    > Climatologists? (Apparently economists can’t be trusted.)

    Ecologists and farmers will give you the information you need. Any rate of change faster than nature can adapt to loses species wholesale. We know how fast climate changes in the past have happened, and how well (and if) ecological changes coped.

    Do you know how much faster our current rate of change is than any rate of climate change in the past? Would it worry you if you knew it was, say, 10x faster than natural change? How about 100x faster? Worry?

  48. 98
    tom says:

    A skeptic viewpoint.
    The way I see it, there are 4 components to the AGW theory and this study only addressed the least contoversial one.

    The four componnets:

    1: How much has the erth warmed over the past century?

    I doubt many doubted that in the first place.

    2: Is this amount historically significant?

    To know that, past temperatures need to be reconstructed. This is problematic , to say the least.

    3:How much does man contibute?

    Almost impossible to determine given the complexities of the climate

    4: What are the future predictions?

    No model that I know of can be verified over anthing but a very short time period.

  49. 99
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Ah, Barn, I see your problem. You can’t distinguish between “talking points” and the truth.

    Case in point: “Perhaps Ray would like to explain why he considers ‘now’(or whenever in the last 250 years) to be the ideal or optimum climate for the entire planet?”

    How about the past 10000 years, Barney? That is the period where we developed every single crop, domesticated animal, technology and technique that has made civilization possible. Now we are going to push the climate well outside that range–not just of temperatures, but precipitation, extreme weather, drought and so on. And we are doing so, just as fossil fuels begin to run out and human population crests above 10 billion people. What is more, we are changing things in a direction we know makes those crops, etc. less productive!

    Does that sound smart to you?

  50. 100
    Ray Ladbury says:

    If you bothered to read the scientific literature–or even Realclimate, you’d know that science has provided pretty convincing answers to allof your questions.

    You are also wrong about the degree of denial in the denialist community. The BEST project itself arose out of pseudoskptic doubts about the temperature record.

    In short, we’ve seen about 0.8 degrees of warming globally; yes, this is significant–enough so that it is pushing more of the planet into drought; humans are responsible for nearly all of it, and we will see about 3 degrees of warming for each doubling of CO2 concentration.