A funny thing happened on the way to the Koch Brothers’ latest “scientific triumph” over the nefarious forces of global warming mind control. First, the story as K-Drum rolls this out:
Physicists are notorious for believing that other scientists are mathematically incompetent. And University of California-Berkeley physicist Richard Muller is notorious for believing that conventional wisdom is often wrong. For example, the conventional wisdom about climate change. Muller has criticized Al Gore in the past as an “exaggerator,” has spoken warmly of climate skeptic Anthony Watts, and has said that Steve McIntyre’s famous takedown of the “hockey stick” climate graph made him “uncomfortable” with the paper the hockey stick was originally based on.
So in 2010 he started up the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (BEST) to show the world how to do climate analysis right. Who better, after all? “Muller’s views on climate have made him a darling of skeptics,” said Scientific American, “and newly elected Republicans in the House of Representatives, who invited him to testify to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology about his preliminary results.” The Koch Foundation, founded by the billionaire oil brothers who have been major funders of the climate-denial machine, gave BEST a $150,000 grant.
House Republicans and energy companies pinned a lot of money and time on BEST as the ultimate weapon to permanently cloud the “debate” on climate change. But the problem is the skeptical physicist who said “yes, I’d like to take a look at those numbers!” has run them and discovered that hey, they’re right:
But Muller’s congressional testimony last March didn’t go according to plan. He told them a preliminary analysis suggested that the three main climate models in use today—each of which uses a different estimating technique, and each of which has potential flaws—are all pretty accurate: Global temperatures have gone up considerably over the past century, and the increase has accelerated over the past few decades. Yesterday, BEST confirmed these results and others in its first set of published papers about land temperatures.  (Ocean studies will come later.)
Oops. Hey, Muller centered his entire debate on running the numbers correctly and with complete integrity and guess what? The vast group of scientists working on it were pretty much right all along.
In the press release announcing the results, Muller said, “Our 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.” In other words, climate scientists know what they’re doing after all.
I’d be laughing if the deniers in Washington and K Street hadn’t killed any efforts for the US and the world to do anything substantial to save the planet.