Berkeley Earth recalculates global mean temperature, gets misinterpreted

It's the CAUSE of the slight warming of the last century that matters (natural or man-made?)

Lubos Motl

It is not true that the Berkeley group has found relevant evidence for the core questions in the AGW debate

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature led by Richard Muller - a top Berkeley physics teacher and the PhD adviser of the fresh physics Nobel prize winner Saul Perlmutter, among others - has recalculated the evolution of the global mean temperature in the most recent two centuries or so, qualitatively confirmed the previous graphs, and got dishonestly reported in the media.

Some people including Marc Morano of Climate Depot were predicting that this outcome was the very point of the project. They were worried about the positive treatment that Richard Muller received at various places including this blog and they were proved right. Today, it really does look like all the people in the "BEST" project were just puppets used in a bigger, pre-planned propaganda game.

In the video above, Andrew Revkin says that a "skeptic confirms substantial recent global warming". This is not a truly valid proposition because Richard Muller is no skeptic: realizing that Michael Mann has made things that can't be tolerated in science is nice and it may make you a heretic among some hardcore believers but it's not enough for you to be a genuine climate skeptic.

However, you find much worse responses in the media than Revkin's loaded headline. For example, the Guardian chose this title: "Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics' concerns"

This is just a complete lie. Doubts about the validity of the surface temperature record constitute something like 1% of the issues that climate skeptics as a community have ever raised and not a very important one. Similarly, the Economist writes: "The heat is on: A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming"

I admire the immense and diverse work that Anthony Watts and others have been doing for years and I do realize that the verification of the surface temperature record has probably been Anthony Watts' greatest hobby or his loveliest pet project but I, for one, have never paid any significant attention to the one-by-one analyses of individual weather stations, doubts about the corrections that were applied (I have always considered the adjustments, the most accurate ones you can apply for any systematic change, to be legitimate and much better than no adjustments), and similar things. Anthony's network of volunteers has been cute and impressive but it couldn't guarantee that its implications would be far-reaching. I didn't believe in such far-reaching implications so I have almost never mentioned it on my blog. And you may say the very same thing about most climate skeptics; in this sense, Anthony Watts is an exception whether or not he is the key figure behind the world's most influential climate blog. Many years ago, I made calculations that led me to a strong enough belief that the imperfections of the weather stations either can't be large to matter, or they largely average out because the errors come with both signs.

So among the hundreds if not thousands of articles about the climate on this blog that were written between 2004 and 2011, you will probably not find a single article that seriously suggests that the global mean temperature didn't change (or cooled down) in the recent 100 years - although I wouldn't be quite 100% sure about the "overall warming figure" and I am not 100% sure now, either. (The overall global temperature change since 1900 could have been 0.7 ñ 0.2 øC where the error may be viewed as a "statistical one" if you compare different figures from different teams so the possibility that it was negative is simply nonzero, a 3.5-sigma effect, if you wish.)

But this is just not what the bulk of this controversial topic has been and is all about. The bulk of the topic is all about the analyses of the causes of the temperature change (there are lots of natural drivers that determine at least a significant portion of the temperature change and that are capable to beat any effect of CO2 and have done so many times in the past, even over 30-year periods), the evaluation of the importance of the temperature change (it is not important: as Ivar Giaever likes to say, the thermometer data show that the absolute temperature in the recent century was remarkably stable, within 0.25%, and such tiny changes of the averaged temperature are negligible relatively to noise and make no visible impact and surely not a dangerous one), and the search for rational responses to it (the most rational response is no mitigation at all and preparations for adaptation to any possible change of the weather, under business-as-usual).

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