July 28, 2012

Head of Koch-funded project: #globalwarming is real

Richard Mueller, leader of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, partially funded by the Koch Brothers (background here from Joe Romm) now  confirms that he is a "converted skeptic" and that, as preliminary reporting on this suggested months ago, he now accepts that global warming is real and largely caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Here's the nut graf:
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human.
The gist of the study, based on Mueller's previous skepticism, was to look at things like urban heat islands that he thought might be skewing climate and temperature information. And, Mueller found out that that simply wasn't true.

And the key finding?
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, and one and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase is due to the human emission of greenhouse gases.
Is it that bad?

Yes. Mueller, like many environmentalists worried about global warming, even says the denier-maligned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been conservative with its own statements:
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 IPCC concluded only that most of the warming of the prior 50 years could be attributed to humans. 
And, without being alarmist, Mueller is worried about the future. He says we've baked in a fair amount of additional temperature increase, even if we get totally serious about CO2 emissions. And, if we don't?
What about the future?  As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise.  With a simple model (no tipping points, no sudden increase in cloud cover, a response to gases that is “logarithmic”) I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about 1.5 degree F over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included.  But if China continues its rapid growth (it has averaged 10% per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (typically adding one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.
Notice that he specifically excludes "tipping points" and logarithmic changes. Read the whole thing. And keep an eye out for when his group posts complete data, as promised.

And, what will Reason say in its follow-up? It's interesting, at least, to see that it is posting the op-ed ... and without criticism in the negative sense.

And ... what if anything will the Koch Bros say?

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