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Muller on the anthropogenic component

Leo Hickman points us to this interview with Richard Muller, in which it is suggested that the BEST team have been looking at the attribution aspect of AGW, and will be publishing their results shortly.

CM: Do you agree with the UN’s climate panel that the majority of the warming going on is being caused by human activity, burning fossil fuels?

RM: We haven’t yet finished our work on the human component of this. It looks to me like we will be in agreement with that [Muller says he'll be publishing his conclusions in the next few weeks].

But I do agree that the global warming has gone up. That, I think, is the main, if you want to call it a change, it’s the main result that I will now stand behind as a scientist, using my scientific credentials, doing the work that we did very carefully, that six months ago or a year ago, I would not have been wanting to stand behind. It does agree with the previous groups. We have achieved a better precision than the other groups have achieved, but it is a real effect.

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Reader Comments (65)

"the issue is no longer whether the global warming has taken place, the issue now is how much is human"

Glad to see Muller reach the point people like Willis Eschenbach (and I) reached in 2007 (see: "World is warming. Pope is Catholic.")

Now...has he got anything to say about the "how much" (and "how much more in the future"), or shall we wait five more years for him to agree "not very"?

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I mean this as a legitimate concern: does he speak English as a second language?

the global warming has gone up

A strange phrasing. If it's warming the temperature goes up, that's the definition of warming. Does he mean accelerate? Warming has accelerated?

They still have legitimate questions about claims made about hurricanes and tornadoes. And those are legitimate and often wrong.

In the second sentence the usage of "those" implies one of the previous "claims" or "questions" is being referenced - it isn't clear which. Neither can be both legitimate and often wrong.

Again I find myself feeling that Muller speaks from a position of naivety and that his investigations are more for his benefit than that of others who already follow goings on in climate science.

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveA

Global warming is real and over the last 50 years

Is there anybody still disputing that recorded temperatures have increased over the last 50 years?

But I do believe that many of the skeptics that have spoken to me, the people who were labeled skeptics, have said, well the issue is no longer whether the global warming has taken place, the issue now is how much is human.

Hasn't this and the estimates for a doubling of CO2 / climate sensitivity always been the issue, which 20 years later has still not been resolved?

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Registered Commentermangochutney’s the main result that I will now stand behind as a scientist, using my scientific credentials, doing the work that we did very carefully, that six months ago or a year ago, I would not have been wanting to stand behind.

Yeah right, pull the other one. Did Muller used to write slogans for Daz washing powder? If we read quotes of him from 6 months ago, are we to find him declaring that his work is something he "would not have been wanting to stand behind?" I call BS. It's just yet another way of saying "the science is even more settled!" We're very alert to that kind of crap in the UK.

1970s TV ad: "New improved Daz! Gets sheets even brighter than old crappy Daz."
"But Mummy, didn't they say that about the last Daz as well, just a few months ago?"
"That's right Davey. And the one before that. This, Davey, is what we call Bullshit, and you've just learned a very important lesson."
"I see. Oh, quiet Mum! The Red Hand Gang's on."

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

"Is there anybody still disputing that recorded temperatures have increased over the last 50 years?"

I did not dispute it in the past, but now I am inclined to think that the fact that the records are in the hands of dishonest people, and the way they are smooshed into meaningless averages, and the way good stations are dropped give one cause to doubt that as a blanket statement.

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda


I did say "recorded" ;)

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

Muller is a professional academic, and that alone makes him miseducated and incompetent, not an expert, because the climate field has miseducated scientists for two generations now. He and all other popular academics have shown that they simply don't have the intellectual grasp to overcome their miseducation, to entertain what I, as a longer-experienced, independent physicist, know as fact: climate science is utterly off the rails of good science. No academic that I have yet encountered--nor any of the influential people in supposedly authoritative institutions, all of which have been suborned by the incompetent climate consensus--even takes seriously the thought of fundamentally questioning their premises, their unquestioned assumptions, their dogma (and I use the last term deliberately, to indicate that dogma is indeed the underlying problem in modern science, just as it has been with all religions throughout history). As blasphemous (or in science-speak, as anti-science) as it may sound, you simply cannot trust any academic to reliably inform you about the state of climate science (and related fields) today. I speak simply as an independent scientist, on no authority but the simple, definitive facts I have uncovered, which impeach climate science at its very foundations. When you listen to academics as supposed "experts", you are listening to the wrong voices, if you ever want to get to the objective truth.

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Reading the interview was quite strange indeed.

Richard Muller sounds like he believes that skeptics have questioned whether or not temperatures have gone up under the last 50 (or so) years, that this has been the (or one) major issue, and now resolved by the BEST project. Not so!

True, there are and have been issues with the surface station records, and some of those (not all) the BEST study has shed more light upon. But neither all of them, nor have those addressed settled things permanently. The exercise has merely confirmed that using the same station data, one arrives at roughly the same numbers.

Strange is also that he thinks (pretends) that the remaining justified (?) skepticism now is about hurricanes and tornados, and that is is mostly wrong(?).

This just baffles the mind, considering that he has placed himself in the center of this, that (if?) he is unaware of that the real issues about the global warming hype is about CO2 being the main driver, alledgedly through those large positive feedbacks purportedly arising through water vapor. And that he additionally would be completely unaware of the so many other questions around other possible mechanisms and natural fluctuations not yet understood or quantified (aka internal variability) and the uncertainties involved, and how such have been downplayed, ignored and even actively supressed by those favoring the CO2-narrative.

If he really is unaware of all this as his 'answers' imply, he is very naive. On the other hand, he might just as well be sly enough to frame the questions with the motive of further staying in the center of the public debate, and positioning him as 'relevant' there.

Remember how he phrased him self around the UHI-effect (one issue with surface station records):

Nothing of what he said was technically wrong or speculative. However, it certainly was not an answer to any relevant question anybody would ask, nor did it address the core issues. It looked just like a politician's answer to a journalist's question forwarding concerns he didn't undertand, though answering something else, seemingly related (but uncontroversial) while technically not being untruthfull, and thereby rhetorically disarming (but avoiding) legitimate concerns.

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Move along there, nothing to see here.

This interview is a non event.
I have done a great deal of research and I have nothing to say about temperature.
I have done absolutely no reasearch and yes the warming is largly caused by humans.

He gets paid for this?

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Like others, whenever Muller says things, I don't get it.

Temperatures are going 'up' alright, but the question is, whether it really going up, for which one looks at current changes in the context of a longer period of time, and the longer the better.

What is Muller pulling out of his instrumental temperature data series that can answer this question? Instruments only go back ~140 years

Jun 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Registered Commentershub

So back then, Muller was criticising GW and the temperature records and could do no wrong in the eyes of 'sceptics'. Now afer he has done some research funded by the Kochs and found that the climate scientists were right, he has been cast out: his English is bad, he is naive, he is missing the point, addressing the wrong question, incompetent, 'miseducated', or the records have been corrupted.

BH does comedy! Great stuff.

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

The one thing I can't tolerate is the professional bastards who come along here, mix up each and every comment into one, and then try their luck at writing sarcasm not even understanding it doesn't work if based on a straw-man argument.

Obviously some people are used to strictly following a consensus and therefore expect the Bish to give marching orders to the usual suspects to write comments here along party-political lines. Well, that's a sick fantasy on the par with Mann's paranoias, which are btw taken apart by Mulller's words on the Koch Foundation.

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:22 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"I will now stand behind as a scientist, using my scientific credentials, doing the work that we did very carefully,"

And thus is nut-shelled the entire Global Warming Scam. Back-patting claims. Who else besides me has noticed that Climate Science prefers this to actually presenting evidence of something?


Jun 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew


um much of what you say goes wooosh over my head so may I enquire as to whether I am the object of your ire sir?

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"I will now stand behind as a scientist, using my scientific credentials, doing the work that we did very carefully,"

Was he wearing a lab coat and glasses when he said this? Did he have a ruler in his pocket? Did he brandish a rack of test tubes when the word "science" and it's variations were invoked?

Lord help us.


Jun 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

"But they [Koch Foundation] gave us an unrestricted educational grant and they made it clear to us that what they really wanted was to have the issue settled."

So Koch Foundation wants the issue settled and 'settled' it is, by Muller, the professional scientist.

Any doubts remaining about how conclusions of 'scientific reports' are drawn?

One of my younger colleagues, a guy from Czechia, told me a joke from his boss, about funding and funding agencies: "Give me 20 million dollars and I will prove anything".

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Registered Commentershub

I don't give a damn what he says. I only care about what he can show with real science. If the 'work' BEST comes out with isn't any better than the crap they produced earlier, he'll end up being just another scientist bloviating his appeal to authority while diminishing the reputation of the profession.

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

BitBucket ...

omnologos comment probably was directed at you, and rightfully so. I don't think you anyhow can support your claim "Muller ... could do no wrong in the eyes of 'sceptics' " and I don't even think you can support the particulars either left out in the quote: "Muller was criticising GW and the temperature records"

But previously you have shown that you can (occasionally, at least) do better than just 'drive -by-trolling'.

So is there anything of substance you would like to say here? Do you even agree with what Muller says in the interview, and more precisely with the impression he is trying to give?

Jun 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Exactly how did he do the attribution part using only instrumental records? Others require a little more information to do that, unless they already know the answer. If there is a truth here, let's see the paper, not the press release or the pre-interview. Muller has form on pre-announcement. He knows that it is important to get the right headline, the substance is less important.

Jun 16, 2012 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Hi Jonas, sorry, it was unnecessary. But from the orthodox side, the Muller saga does have its funny side, don't you think? Forget where you stand on the issues and just have a little laugh :-)

Of substance? My opinion is unimportant; I haven't studied the data or the methods. But I have no reason to doubt the integrity of those that have - and they have all come to similar conclusions. Enough said.

I wasn't aware that the remit of BEST included studying attribution (ie. is GW man-made). Whether Dr Muller's assertions on that have substance will probably become apparent when the work is published. It seems premature to judge that just now.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"I haven't studied the data or the methods. But I have no reason to doubt the integrity of those that have"

Baa baa baa


Jun 16, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Baa baa baa... So you have made an in-depth study of the issues have you BA? Or are you just following the good shepherd Bish.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"So you have made an in-depth study of the issues have you BA?"

I've been following climate issues for about a decade now and learning all I can based the available information. You apparently haven't, according to your comment.


Jun 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Following the issue is not the same as studying the data. Have you studied it in sufficient depth to judge the BEST results and the scientists? There data is available ( If you haven't, you are guilty of exactly what you accuse me of. Baa, baa, baa.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"There data is available"

Well, if you've done more than a cursory glance at Climate Science anytime in the past 20 years, you've discovered that "the data" is a problem.


Jun 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

So why did Watts say he would accept anything BEST decided in his analysis of the data? Why didn't he say, "whatever you find I wont believe it because the data is wrong". As it turns out he wont believe it because it gives the wrong answer, but that is a different thing.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"why did Watts say"

Who cares? Does what Watts says have any bearing on the actual validity of the data?


Jun 16, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew


Let's leave Muller aside for a while, but yes, there is ample reason to question the integrity, the motives and the competence, even the honesty, of quite a few of those having studied the issues. Even Muller has done that.

Wrt Muller, yes his way of handling other peoples confidence has been questioned, and he has been criticised for being sloppy with facts and overselling his pudding to the public. By others whose integrity shouldn't be questioned either.

But the issue here was the the strange things he maintained in that interview. Incidentally lining up similar previous instances where he claimed to have taken issues, objections and criticism seriously instead of just brushing them off.

While according to his own words, he has not and (possibly?) not even understood what those issues were.

I repeat: Do you even agree with how Muller depicts these issues?

Re: The laugh.
'The Muller saga' is probably funny among those who want to label it so, and give the description you gave above. Because of that narrative! And yes, generally much humor is derived from things not being/seeming what they are. I can see that.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

It implies that he believe the actual data to be valid.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

have the BEST papers from approx one year ago - released with lots of publicity - been published yet?

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

You are trolling. Give it up. You got anything to say about Muller's attribution claim, say it.

Jun 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Registered Commentershub

Hi Jonas, I've read it again and watched the video clip and I can't see anything to disagree with. Maybe I'm being slow, but I don't see the beef. He says he probably believes in the attribution to man (which seems a bit vague, granted) and that the conclusions will shortly be published. Until then, how can one judge? He seems to take a balanced view of things in general and is far from being extreme; I don't see why he should be mistrusted.

Diogenes, there is updated data, dated Feb 2012 at

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Bitbucket - thanks for that link. It shows that their papers have not yet been published.

Muller seems to like doing science by press release.

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I don't get Muller either. He is once again discussing results pre publication. Given how that worked out last time, he can be in no doubt he will gain media attention.

Re: the data - this is the source page at BEST:

AFAIK they use HADCRU as an input. This is a dataset for which I believe there is no longer a reference baseline of original, unadjusted data. I asked Rob Wilson to clarify this on his "reassurance" post re: dataset adjustments - unfortunately he didn't know if I am right or wrong. Does anybody know where the original records which are the basis of the HADCRU datset held?
CRUTEM4, CRUTEM4v, CRUTEM3, CRUTEM3v, HadCRUT3, HadCRUT3v, Absolute ASCII file format

for year = 1850 to endyear
for month = 1 to 12 (or less in endyear)
format(2i6) year, month
for row = 1 to 36 (85-90N,80-85N,75-70N,...75-80S,80-85S,85-90S)
format(72(e10.3,1x)) 180W-175W,175W-170W,...,175-180E

Data represent temperature anomalies wrt 1961-90 °C
Missing values represented by -1.000e+30
Absolute is just the twelve monthly averages for 1961-90: there are no years

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"Muller seems to like doing science by press release" :-) But it seems a valid approach. It allows any interested party to review the data and papers and might avoid criticism of peer review becoming 'pal review'. Imagine if Profs Jones, Mann etc adopted this approach. Wouldn't that be a positive development?

Jun 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


There is a whole lot of back history with Muller. Anthony Watts thought he was the Knight in Shining Armour, then Muller went and used Anthony's really hard-earned work without permission, incomplete, and misleading. Muller has not resolved the UHI issues especially there is still the stink of corruption between Wang and Jones. The whole current procedure of averaging-out the global temperatures sector by sector, is useless. Good records are still getting contaminated with almost-certainly UHI-distorted ones. Well, I think there are still UHI distortions, and so do a lot of others here. But there is so much fanfare and noise saying it's ok and then people who haven't studied the stuff think "it's ok" like you do.

Jun 16, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

There is an irony in this: poor Mr Watts does all that hard work and is aggrieved that Muller uses his data: poor Prof jones does all his work and Watts et al complain that he wont let them have his data. There is more comedy here than I thought :-)

It is all very well condemning me for not having 'studied' the stuff and yet believing the conclusions: I'm guilty as charged. But tell me how many posters here have studied the data and methods in sufficient detail to be qualified to contest the results of Muller and other groups. Reading blog posts that confirm your own biases for years doesn't qualify; that is not research, that's a hobby. I'm not being rude or nasty; that is just the way it is.

The only justifications for discarding Muller's work seem to be based upon accusations of dishonesty, corruption etc. These are easily thrown but, to me, indicate a lack of substantive argument. If one can't challenge the message, attack the messager.

Thanks for the links, I will read them later.

Jun 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

To me it seems that the Team think that their models are absolutely right and any deviations from the models to actual observations are due to the way that the observations are measured' rather than the model itself.

Jun 16, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I think the trolls' job was just to get the hit count up on Muller's Bezerkley web site.

I doubt everything that Muller says for the simple reason he is running a business alongside his academic work. Science for hire.

Jun 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

At present there is nothing to debate. Until he publishes how he performs his attribution there is really nothing to discuss.

Who knows? Perhaps he will come up with an ingenious method that is the conclusive evidence required to make the linkage. If he does, and it holds together, I would accept it.

If his method is just more of the same - making an a priori assumption of stable climate, then using inappropriate autoregressive statistics to enshrine the assumption in the conclusions, and then noting that the climate isn't stable therefore AGW, then the paper will go straight in the bin. But I can't know that until he publishes what he has done.

At the end of the day, Muller is worth listening to. I'll be interested in his analysis. I just hope Judith Curry is still on the team so he doesn't fall into the uninteresting trap of repeating the same mistakes of climate scientists the world over outlined above.

Jun 16, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Muller is a "Bezerkeley" Prof who still, in middle age, decorates his website with pictures of him getting arrested with Joan Baez in a 1964 student riot.

He has also made money for years running an Environmental Consultancy, with his daughter, advising governments and corporations.

The idea that he was ever a climate sceptic was a typical piece of false-flag PR from the warmist media.

Muller was a sceptic about the same time that I was dancing in the chorus of Swan Lake.

Jun 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"It allows any interested party to review the data and papers and might avoid criticism of peer review..."

Yeah, that is a great point if a paper is Hansen-style peer-review limbo. And if a paper is published, then one can turn around crow about the greatness of peer-review.

Always works both ways.

Jun 16, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Muller continues to disappoint. As a scientist, he should know that:-

(1) The land based instrument temperature record cannot determine whether man is responsible since it does not contain details of changes in relative humidity and hence it cannot determine whether there is or is not some energy imbalance.

(2) The only data that could potentially shed light on this issue is sea water temperature data however, the sampling is too sparse and lacks consistent methodology that it cannot reliably shed light on the issue.

Jun 16, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

I've always felt he was a Trojan.

Jun 16, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Jun 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM | BitBucket
"There is more comedy here than I thought :-)"

There is..keep posting :)

"It is all very well condemning me for not having 'studied' the stuff and yet believing the conclusions: I'm guilty as charged."

Please stop..your just digging a comedic hole..

"Reading blog posts that confirm your own biases for years doesn't qualify; that is not research, that's a hobby. I'm not being rude or nasty; that is just the way it is."


"The only justifications for discarding Muller's work seem to be based upon accusations of dishonesty, corruption etc. These are easily thrown but, to me, indicate a lack of substantive argument. If one can't challenge the message, attack the messager."

Now have told us you know zero about the subject..and your "brilliant" and comedic riposte is you then have the hide to question if others have bothered..yes we have.
Hence this hilarious article on eductaion and belief in CAGW
Here is a VIDEO for you to watch on MUeller..even you can watch a video right.?

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermike williams

Bitbucket displays a common trait of the warmist troll species, in his/her references to humour and comedy when nothing remotely funny has been said. 'Hilarious' is a favoured word, mercifully not used (yet) by BB in this thread. Unfortunately for him/her, warmist/leftist zealotry is not compatible with humour, which requires a firm grasp of reality and human foibles.

The climate alarmists are truly the inheritors of wowserism, with their religious motivation, joyless dogmatism, and an overweening desire to force others to conform to their "Repent now, the end is nigh" rigid worldview.

Jun 17, 2012 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

In case I am using a word geographically circumscribed to the Antipodes, this should clarify:

The Australian writer C.J. Dennis defined it thus: 'Wowser: an ineffably pious person who mistakes this world for a penitentiary and himself for a warder'. Historian Stuart Macintyre argues, "the achievements of the wowsers were impressive;" they passed laws that restricted obscenity and juvenile smoking, raised the age of consent, limited gambling, closed down many pubs, and in 1915–16 established a 6 pm closing hour for pubs, which lasted for decades.[5] [Wikipedia]

Jun 17, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Lovelock says this - to Tim Worstall

Science is going down the drain terribly fast. It keeps dividing itself up into expertises and these expertises probably don't know much about the others. I think in order to be a fully rounded person you have to learn to be a pro at one thing, but then you can become a generalist.

Jun 17, 2012 at 1:44 AM | Registered Commentershub

Chris: "leftist zealotry is not compatible with humour" - are you kidding?

British comedy seems much more of a leftist thing than right. Not being on the left myself, I find it slightly irritating that the best gags on radio shows like Radio 4's News Show are usually from lefties. But in my mind, if I couldn't laugh at jokes aimed at my own prejudices I would be taking myself too seriously. Bear that in mind when dismissing the comic content of the Muller saga ;-)

Jun 17, 2012 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Consider the timing of Muller's interview. He's making sure his ticket to Rio is still valid.

All together now, sing: "Oh, Rio, Rio by the sea-o; Flying down to Rio...."

Jun 17, 2012 at 3:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichards in Vancouver

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