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Muller in the NYT

Richard Muller's op-ed in the New York Times is now published:

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. 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, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

Interestingly, I learn from Anthony that this is not what has caused him to postpone his vacation. There's more news coming later today.

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Reader Comments (74)

You clearly don't have to be uneducated to be stupid. If he didn't believe the Earth was warming, and has been for around 250 years, he's in a pretty small minority of citizens and is probably alone in the scientific world, Now having examined the US records he's come to the conclusion that they prove that there has been global warming and that it is mainly caused by humans? He's a converted sceptic, just like our own BBD. Presumably he's assuming that if you want to convince doubters the BEST course of action is to pretend to be one and then be convinced by the evidence.

Anyway his cover was blown over a year ago.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

And so he fulfills his original beliefs:

... From Grist on October 6, 2008 (Note the title, "Author and physicist Richard A. Muller chats with Grist about getting science back in the White Hous" [sic] -- Ed.): "The bottom line is that there is a consensus — the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] — and the president needs to know what the IPCC says. Second, they say that most of the warming of the last 50 years is probably due to humans." ... "back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming.

Read more:"


Jul 29, 2012 at 8:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJC

geronimo, Muller is a 'converted skeptic' in the sense that he now believes the Sun rises from the East, the dead can't get up an walk and the Pope is Catholic.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

The Truth about Richard Muller

"I was never a skeptic" - Richard Muller, 2011

"If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion - which he does, but he’s very effective at it - then let him fly any plane he wants." - Richard Muller, 2008

"There is a consensus that global warming is real.’s going to get much, much worse." - Richard Muller, 2006

"Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate." - Richard Muller, 2003

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPoptech

REACTION FROM Roger Pielke, Jr is unimpressed:
Twitter / RogerPielkeJr: I have heard the "news" - ...
I have heard the "news" - Muller has a new study, op-eds saying clim chg is real, need to focus on pragmatic solutions. Snore.

Twitter / RogerPielkeJr: @RyanMaue @richardtol the ...
@RyanMaue @richardtol the substance of Muller's "news" can be read in the first chapter of TCF, and is really climate science circa 1977


Jul 29, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

So Anthony' news is not about Best, eh? That was the front runner. It's a real old cliffhanger.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

From Best's NYT article:-
" It’s a scientist’s duty to be properly skeptical. I still find that much, if not most, of what is attributed to climate change is speculative, exaggerated or just plain wrong. I’ve analyzed some of the most alarmist claims, and my skepticism about them hasn’t changed.

Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035. And it’s possible that we are currently no warmer than we were a thousand years ago, during the “Medieval Warm Period” or “Medieval Optimum,” an interval of warm conditions known from historical records and indirect evidence like tree rings. And the recent warm spell in the United States happens to be more than offset by cooling elsewhere in the world, so its link to “global” warming is weaker than tenuous. "

As Piekle Junior said; snore.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Walker

"My total turnaround ..."


Jul 29, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Muller is a fool.

As the above papers suggest, a 1.5C rise in 250 years is nothing unusual in the Holocene. Considering I have had to light the wood stove a good number of times in the last few weeks, and apart from tatties, nothing has grown in the garden (for the second summer in a row), the 1.5C rise is is also very welcome. If this is a warm period the LIA must have been f*cking nightmare. ;).

Jimmy - I trust that things are warmer for you in Thailand.

update - Sorry for the language your Grace. On the Sabbath as well.

Jul 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Bish writes:

I learn from Anthony that [Muller's latest series of exercises in self promotion] is not what has caused [Anthony] to postpone his vacation. There's more news coming later today.

OK, so now that the "obvious" have been eliminated ... what's left?!

In light of the above (and the previous elimination of any FOIA related stuff) my latest contribution to the fuel of speculation fire ...

Maybe the Norfolk plod have very, very belatedly decided to interview Anthony - and their questions have been proven to be more revealing than any answers that Anthony might provide!

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I'm still not buying what Muller is peddling.


How's it going? I'm offshore Mozambique at the moment where is is actually rather cool - by tropical standards anyway. I will be back in Thailand next week - where it will be nice and hot but with heavy thuindery rain at times.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Hilary - nah. Anthony has had to take 24 hours or so to go though and check what ever he has - it is not a single piece of information. More like a stash of emails from another university leak, or defector from the team.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

The same old piffle:

Tell the press first to maximise publicity
" I concluded that global warming was real" - very few people disagree with this so why say it
" the result of careful and objective analysis" - throw in the odd joke or two
"one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years" - choose a unit which looks bigger (~0.8 Celsius assuming he still means Fahrenheit) and forget about the recent non-warming
"it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases" - sound authoritative but slip in a bit of uncertainty

He hasn't said anything new - e.g. anyone reading the NAS report on past temperature would read something similar

Hey another James Hansen in the making - or perhaps a poor man's Hansen

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

For my part I am at a loss on why the temperature record, however sketchy it is, proves anything about anthropogenic CO2's impact on the global environment...

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I recoil from telling you all in case of alarm, but the temperature in southern Oxfordshire has risen by over 1.5 C this morning and I expect it to rise further, possibly by another 5. If this goes on we will be in real trouble.

Why should I be worried by a rise of 1.5C in two hundred and fifty years?

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

Jimmy - things okay here, thanks. We won the community ballot against the Birks Hydro-electric scheme again (and by a clearer margin, despite the much bigger bribe), but the PKC councillors are still refusing to kill off the proposal. They are now trying to 'involve' the community - just a way to get more grants and subsidies.

On a personal level, I and family are also fine, but the contents of my wood store are going down and it should be going up at this time of year. Neal (Cruicky) was out in Mozambique, think he is in SA now. Did I ever send his email so you could get in touch with him? I will see Colin in a week or so.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

How has the BEST project proven that CO2 concentration caused the mean air temperature of the planet to rise?
Have they published a paper describing and proving the physics / maths of how the atmosphere / climate works? This is big news!

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Muller was never a skeptic. If he lies about this so easily what else is he lying about?

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Yes could be a major big time defector. The stuff that Steven Goddard is amassing is pretty spectacular re proof of fraud

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterrogelio

Well, that's his reputation down the pan.
Just when the commonsense majority have worked out the con, and started to jump ship, he jumps on.

Dear o dear. I await the gurdian and the headlines at the bbc with 'great' anticipation.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

I call him a Liar.

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

One quote from the article:

'These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does.'

But COs rise follows the temperature rise by at least 400 if not 800 years.

To get cause and effect wrong, well what can you say. A 'scientist' ? . A tenured 'scientist' ?

Jul 29, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

"careful and objective analysis by the ... project ...founded with my daughter ...average temperature ...has risen by ... degrees Fahrenheit... it appears likely that essentially...". The latter must be a causal relationship also revealed by the careful and objective analysis. If this is the present state of science, let's hope that Anthony has a true oracle in store for us.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMindert Eiting

Given his daughter's longstanding commitment to the cause I'm not sure we can trust anything that comes out of BEST.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The answer to whether Muller is lying or not will be present in the data and methodology the Berkeley team promises to make available on their website once they wake up and realise they've been scooped and try to catch up.

Dramatic headlines like 'Converted Skeptic' in a major newspaper in the most god-fearing country are not inappropriate use of poetic licence for an op-ed, even if authored by a scientist.

Muller is the author of a book entitled “Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines.” Whether Muller lies or not is not in the headlines but in the science behind it.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Very good quote collection by Poptech (@CA)

NYT Op-Ed Title: “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic”

“CALL me a converted skeptic.” – Richard Muller, 2012

Muller’s previous quotes,

“I was never a skeptic” – Richard Muller, 2011

“If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion – which he does, but he’s very effective at it – then let him fly any plane he wants.”
- Richard Muller, 2008

“There is a consensus that global warming is real. …it’s going to get much, much worse.” – Richard Muller, 2006

“Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.” – Richard Muller, 2003

Me too am slightly baffled by Muller's public professions. Most often I don't recognize any of his claimed 'skeptic positions' as being held by skeptics, and moreover he often seems airily unaware of what the core objections and criticisms of (c)AGW-claims and policy positions actually are.

Or he does indeed know, and is only playing the game political- and media game to best serve his interests. But then he is indeed disengenuous.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

You clearly don't have to be uneducated to be stupid.

Indeed. Take Paul Frampton, for example. Double first at Oxford, but even his wife describes him as a "naive fool".

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"My total turnaround ..."


Jul 29, 2012 at 8:50 AM Chris M

Yes - he blew it with that one word "total".

No impartial scientist would slip that in.

Without it, there may have been a few gullible souls who could just just about bring themselves to believe that a '60's era "Bezerkeley" Prof who still decorates his personal website with pix of him "fightin' the fuzz" alongside Joan Baez .....

Loves the "Burning Man" hippy festival (albeit he flies in in a private jet these days) ....

....... takes his holidays in Cuba...

.........runs a for-profit business based on "climate change consultancy (with his daughter who also works for BEST) ....

........ was really once a climate sceptic.

He just happened to be bright enough call out Mann & his cronies on the "hockey stick" - which isolated him from the herd for a few years.

Now he's building bridges - combining a fairly high degree of media & PR skill with a strange reluctance to jump through the traditional hoops of "peer review".

Maybe he hasn't built enough bridges to ensure the result yet.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

"Humans are almost entirely the cause."
Yeh, via a feedback mechanism now understood to be limelight.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

So now we have learned, for certain, that Müller is a liar as well as a charlotan and a seeker of the spotlight. How dare he say he was a sceptic. He should have been, as a physicist, but he clearly never has been.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

I guess the great news coming out tomorrow is that the Eytie has perfected his Fusion gadget.

Jul 29, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

It not as if Muller didn't already have previous...

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


"You clearly don't have to be uneducated to be stupid. "

Momma Gump put it in a nutshell - Stupid is as stupid does.


Jul 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Those quotes from Poptech are devastating to the 'converted skeptic' claim.
The sources can all be found at his blog

(the '2006' quote is in fact 2008)

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Since Dr. Judith Curry is on the BEST-team, has a blog and regularly writes about "what caught my eye last week", I expect she will publish an explanation about how they know it was CO2. Otherwise I will have to ask her for it, and do it again, and again...
Or maybe Steven Mosher will care to enlighten us?

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexej Buergin

Muller is just following the optimum starategy for an AGW believing scientist:
1. Denounce Mann & Jones etc.
2. Carry out your own 'independent' study.
3. Come up with the same results and conclusions.
It is surprising that more have not followed this strategy.

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The big news story is going to be that Jeremy Clarkson has secretly been choreographing the Closing Ceremony for the Olympics.

The flag will be carried by a dream team of Buzz Aldrin, Burt Rutan, Lewis Hamilton, Freeman Dyson, Steve McIntyre and James Delingpole.

The grand finale will be a live duel between Danny Boyle in one of his beloved NHS turquoise fibreglass disability scooters and J Clarkson in an Apache Helicopter.

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes


A defector fom "The Team" would be fun. it would certainly put Muller's 'conversion from scepticism' into perspective.

(I got in touch with Neil through LinkedIn. I've just sent him an e-mail to see how he's getting on.)

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

It isn't CG3 or BEST, it arrived unscheduled, caused him to cancel a family holiday (not done lightly, kids will give him hell), requires his excusive attention and at a guess, the attention of all his moderation team. My guess is that it's another zip file, containing a lot of leaked emails and/or documents that need to be gone through.


Jul 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Hmmmm, there seems to be a great desire for skeptics to convert. Hmmm. Not from the skeptic side.

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Will we actula get to see the science/data behind this , or are we once again to be 'treated' to whole load of PR from BEST , but not the actual facts ?

Jul 29, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Okay essentially Muller is saying that he is more certain of man’s fingerprint than the last IPCC states. And he says he expects 1.5 degree F over the next 20 years if China etc continue business as usual. Which they will, so we will see ;)

I just checked my 2008 copy of his "Physics for Future Presidents" and I would say that I agree that Muller has changed his personal stance since then with this article, because he basically used to merely subscribed to the IPCC 2007 position.

So if he has stared at the numbers and become involved in the milieu long enough to become more alarmist then he should tell us. And he has; fair enough.

But that is not new scientific information in itself. Boring

I am, however, seeing more information on how climate science attracts and breeds vanity though. Interesting. ;)

Jul 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Jonas N - thanks for posting Potech's collection of Muller quotes and link. I read them last night and looked for them again this morning but couldn't find them. Been flipping between here, CA and Pierre's too much. Interesting times.

Jul 29, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Lemme see...hmmm...coming out of an ice age we are warming at the astounding rate of one hundredth of a degree per year. At that rate we will be boiling hot in....uh oh...blew up my computer.

Jul 29, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimB

'These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does.'

Hmmm...who have I heard say this before?

Jul 29, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Registered Commentershub

Muller is just another Ecclesiastic, in the Church of Academic Science. Surely every graduate student has known his like, and marvelled. He has now passed his final examination, to be one of the Elite, who can be trusted not to stray from the consensus dogma in public. One of the Gelded, Golden Ones, all silky smooth now, and thus immune to harsh facts. Move along, move along, it is all ritual with him now; let him enter the sacred temple, and close the doors behind him, never to be a worldly (sinful) scientist among us again. Fair thee well, too-gentle heart. Mourn, ye women, and steady on, men. He has made his choice.

Jul 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

I can't see it being emails or leaked docs/data. If it was, Mcintyre at the very least would have been involved in assessing them, and he clearly is not.

Jul 29, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered

Wikipedia witch doctor 'steat' (aka w connolley) has concluded that Muller's attribution of change temperature change based on creating a temperature curve is 'absurdly naive.'

It tells me that steat is the absurdly naive one.

[1] What Muller had done is exactly what the whole global warming scientific 'community' has done: create temperature curves and proclaim, 'well, it can't be anything else so it must be CO2.'

[2] Muller is not naive. He's smart. The same kind of smartness Connolley is used to seeing in familiar quarters (the Team) and concluding that they are smart, except that it comes to him from someone he's not used to, and therefore can see the smartness for it really is.

Jul 29, 2012 at 1:50 PM | Registered Commentershub

CALL me a converted skeptic.

More like a strayed sheep who has now returned to the fold?

Jul 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterHu McCulloch

The BEST project identify a strong narrow spectral peak in the AMO [Atlantic M
Multi-Decadal Oscillation] at a period 9.1 ± 0.4 years with a p-value 1.7% (CL
98.3%). There is a similar periodicity in the PDO [Pacific Decadal Oscillation]
that has a period 9.0 ± 0.5 years with a p-value 6%. The is much weaker evidence
for a 3.6 year oscillation in the AMO, as well.

The 9.3 year variation is caused by the effects of the Lunar atmospheric tides
upon the general circulation patterns in the mid latitudes. The lunar tides
influence the rate of transfer of heat energy from the tropics to the poles,
which effects the world mean temperatures on decadal time scales.

BEST goes onto ignore the long term effects of lunar atmospheric tides in claiming
that the observed changes in CO2 are the ones that best correlate with long-term
changes in temperature.

Garbage in --> Garbage out

Jul 29, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterninderthana

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