Initial thoughts on the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature release

Image courtesy of Flickr user "crowderb", used under Creative Commons.

[First, congratulations to Robert Rohde, and the rest of the team that actually worked on the science end of the project. There are some outstanding issues that need to be resolved prior to calling the work a finished product, and I hope the BEST team addresses them.]

Was anyone outside of the “skeptic” blogosphere surprised by the findings that UHI, station quality, station drop out, etc. weren’t really affecting the surface record? I don’t think so. But there is a great deal of revisionist history going on, which I’ll get to in a moment. Speaking of revisionist history, though-

That Anthony Watts has done a complete 180 from his earlier pledge to accept the BEST results should surprise no one. His whining that the results have been released prior to review- given his entire “surface stations” project and his years of insinuating if not outright claiming that much of the instrumental warming was spurious- is the height of chutzpah. BEST is being transparent with their data and methodology, something that people (even WUWT regulars and “skeptic” true believers) fought tooth and nail to get Watts to do.

Roger Pielke Sr. was quick to attempt to downplay the BEST results by implying they were not independent of previous analyses. Perhaps Roger should have actually bothered to read the papers he was attacking. I guess it all depends what his goal was- to offer legitimate criticism, or provide Marc Morano with soundbites attacking BEST.

I agree with WMC that this changes basically nothing about my opinion of Muller himself. The charges that Muller grossly distorted the truth about the so-called “hockey stick” controversy, he doesn’t appear to really even understand basic aspects of climate science, etc. stand. My negative opinion of Muller stems not just from his current attempts to portray himself as single-highhandedly saving climate science from the “skeptics”, but go back to earlier encounters with him in paleo/geology literature. Let’s just say the dynamic of Muller trying to claim the mainstream has failed to account for something significant and Muller positioning himself as the tough truth-teller is nothing new. At least in this case Muller has the fortune of actually coming down on the correct side, something that can’t be said for his previous efforts.

Lastly, let’s talk for a moment about the furious backpedaling that’s happening in response to BEST. “Skeptics” over at Curry’s, WUWT, on social media sites like Reddit, etc. are falling all over themselves trying to claim that No True Skeptic actually denies that the Earth is warming. They’re claiming the BEST results are meaningless because they don’t actually address attribution.

To which I reply, “Bullshit.” A staggeringly large number of climate “skeptics” do in fact deny that the Earth is warming. A survey less than a month ago found that less than half (49%) of self-identified Republicans and even fewer (41%) self-identified Tea Partiers agreed that the Earth is actually warming.

No, the BEST papers do not directly address attribution, but neither did the myths that they (along with all the other analyses and data sets) exploded. Are we supposed to believe that “skeptics” weren’t claiming that all or much of the warming in the instrumental record was due to UHI, station siting, station drop out, etc.? Please.

If the “skeptics” want to pretend that they never claimed we weren’t warming as NASA GISS, Hadley-CRU, NOAA, et al. showed, and instead want to focus on the attribution of warming to human causes, so be it. I hope they don’t expect the rest of us to join them in their revisionism.

When the initial furor dies down, I’d like to discuss some of BEST’s interesting (as opposed to merely confirmatory) results.

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7 responses to “Initial thoughts on the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature release

  1. Pingback: The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review « Wott's Up With That?

  2. Regarding

    “Roger Pielke Sr. was quick to attempt to downplay the BEST results by implying they were not independent of previous analyses. Perhaps Roger should have actually bothered to read the papers he was attacking”

    I have not discredited the BEST study. I have raised issues that they have not covered in their papers; please see my post http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/comments-and-questions-on-the-best-analyses/

  3. Pingback: What I’m Reading Friday, October 21, 2011 | Rationally Thinking Out Loud

  4. ThingsBreak,

    Very well done. Thank you. I wonder if James Taylor is part of the 60% of tea partiers who believe that the planet is not warming? Crazy that about 50% of Republicans still think that the planet is not warming.

    There are many signs that attribute most of the warming to human emissions CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The deniers ignore that evidence of course.

    Their last stand now is that climate sensitivity is low (<< 2C), and if it is not then that warming is a good thing. And so their merry dance continues. So freaked out are the deniers and so-called 'sceptics' like James Taylor at Heartland that they even issued a press release to try and do some damage control. Too funny.

  5. Pingback: Spinning and Armwaving: Deniers Decide How Best to Deny BEST « Climate Denial Crock of the Week

  6. “… the author examines himself and his motivations as rigorously as the bizarre assumptions of the “Nemesis” theory.”

    But how did he handle the refutations of that theory? e.g.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/291/5502/290.full

    I look forward to his next published exercise in self-examination.

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