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Koch funded climate study, intended to prove climate scientists distort data, instead proves global warming is happening

I have in the past often debated global warming with right wingers in various unsavory parts of the net, leading me to become much more familiar than some with their main arguing points.

Frequently in these heated arguments (heated on their side, not so much mine), I make this point. "If you believe that climate scientists are all fudging the data so they will get funding because the government wants to use global warming as an excuse to impose a one world socialist government (a commonly seen assertion from the right, with a number of minor variations), then why doesn't your side fund it's own studies to publish in the science literature to prove your point?".

Well, the Koch brothers, and others (including Bill Gates) actually did fund a study, under the auspices of the Novim Group, and they hired a famous climate skeptic to head it. The results of that study have been published, and testimony about that study made before congress.


Put together under the aegis of Novim, a non-profit group that runs environmental studies, the team gathered up a bit over half a million dollars—including $100,000 from a fund set up by Bill Gates and $150,000 from the Koch foundation, whose animosity towards action on climate change made the Berkeley project look yet more suspicious to some climate-change activists—and got to work. There was also support from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab, where Dr Muller and some of his team work. It is probably fair to assume that Steve Koonin, an undersecretary of state at the energy department with whom Dr Muller has served as one of the “Jasons”, a group of particularly intellectually fearless scientists which provides blue-sky and sometimes far-out advice to the defence department, and who has also produced a report for Novim, had an unofficial eye on what was going on.

And whattya know, using the most rigorous of data analysis methods, and having climate sckeptics apply the data analysis, not only did not disprove the the three main models used by climate scientists, they confirmed it.

That's right, the Koch brothers funded a study they hoped would disprove global warming, but they ended up proving it instead. Ironically, their study supported the "hockey stick" they hate so much.

Here's a PDF of the testimony before congress. made by Richard Muller, a physicist who is one of the worlds most famous climate skeptics.

Here's the executive summary of the testimony before congress - note his conclusion - that global warming is so real that he recommends that congress create a ARPA style crash program to study it and prepare for it - ARPA, for those that don't know, stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency, and in the past we have used ARPAs for things like fighting the cold war with the USSR. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, invented the internet.

And Richard Muller now says we should create a Climate ARPA.

This is huge news for people interested in the climate change debate. The Economist has an excellent detailed article on this here:


Richard A. Muller
Professor of Physics
University of California, Berkeley
Chair, Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project
31 March 2011
Executive Summary

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was created to make the best possible
estimate of global temperature change using as complete a record of measurements as
possible and by applying novel methods for the estimation and elimination of systematic
biases. It was organized under the auspices of Novim, a non-profit public interest group.
Our approach builds on the prior work of the groups at NOAA, NASA, and in the UK
(Hadley Center – Climate Research Unit, or HadCRU).

Berkeley Earth has assembled 1.6 billion temperature measurements, and will soon make
these publicly available in a relatively easy to use format.

The difficult issues for understanding global warming are the potential biases. These can
arise from many technical issues, including data selection, substandard temperature
station quality, urban vs rural effects, station moves, and changes in the methods and
times of measurement.

We have done an initial study of the station selection issue. Rather than pick stations
with long records (as done by the prior groups) we picked stations randomly from the
complete set. This approach eliminates station selection bias. Our results are shown in
the Figure; we see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported
by the other groups.

We have also studied station quality. Many US stations have low quality rankings
according to a study led by Anthony Watts. However, we find that the warming seen in
the “poor” stations is virtually indistinguishable from that seen in the “good” stations.

We are developing statistical methods to address the other potential biases.

I suggest that Congress consider the creation of a Climate-ARPA to facilitate the study of
climate issues.

Based on the preliminary work we have done, I believe that the systematic biases that are
the cause for most concern can be adequately handled by data analysis techniques. The
world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature



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NYT - Koch-funded selection bias study confirms global warming

Here's some snippets from the NYT article on this Koch Brothers funded study whose results showed that the right wings claims of bias are false and not supportable.

One of the big claims of the rightwing is that the measuring stations used to create the temperature models that support the theoiry of global warming are cherry picked to support global warming (so that those evil scientists can keep getting all that cushy grant money, the right wing claims).

So, this study funded by the Koch brothers tried to prove that was the case. The study specifically tries to prove selection bias in measuring station data. That's the purpose of the study, to look for selection bias.

It does this by RANDOMLY selecting measuring station data. If the data was being manipulated by those evil climate scientists, you see, random selection would show a different result.

But, it showed exactly the same result. The Koch attempt to prove that scientists manipulated data instead proved that the data was, if anything, more reliable than anybody expected.

Of course we aren't seeing anything about this revolutionary new study in the corporate mainstream news, despite the fact that the head of the study just testified bfore congress. Do you think if the study had found flaws in the science it wouldn't be front page/top of the hour news?

This is probably behind the NYT paywall, sorry:

Study of Temperature Data Confirms Warming Trend, Scientist Tells House Panel

Preliminary results from a controversial study of global temperature data confirm the overall warming trend long reported by government scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom, the study's director told a House panel today.

The warming trend detected by scientists involved in the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study -- a rise of 0.7 degree Celsius since 1957 -- "is very similar" to the findings of independent analyses by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Hadley Centre, study Chairman Richard Muller said.

"The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine temperature trends," said Muller, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Muller's testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee comes in the midst of climate skeptics' sustained attack on the accuracy of the world's surface temperature data, collected by thousands of weather stations around the world.

Skeptics have alleged that many of the weather stations are located in areas that would bias their observations. They have also pointed to emails taken from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and posted on the Internet last year as evidence that analyses of the weather station data have been skewed.

Those skeptics include House Science Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas). "For many of us here, these emails were evidence that the trust in the underlying process was misplaced," he said. "I may not be a scientist, but as a politician, I can tell when someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes."

But those claims have been rebutted. A study by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, published last year, found evidence that some weather station temperature data are of poor quality -- but it found the data would add a slight bias toward cooling in climate analyses. (that means if anything it's HOTTER than the scientists were saying)

Meanwhile, five independent reviews have found no evidence of scientific misconduct by scientists whose emails were taken from the University of East Anglia's server.

Muller's study, overseen by the nonprofit Novim Group, aims to create a new analysis of global surface temperature data that avoids what it deems to be problems with the existing analyses.

The effort is funded by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and several foundations, including a group set up by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and another funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation, which has also supported efforts opposing mainstream climate change science.

Although the BEST group's final results remain to be seen, Muller said he was surprised to find that early results agree with existing temperature analyses.


Paul Krugman on skeptic Muller's testimony supporting AGW

Paul Krugman had an opinion piece talking about the republican sponsored testimony before congress during which global warming skeptic dissappointed the right wing by having to say that his research, designed to try to disprove golbal warming, had instead supported the theory.

Again, probably behind the paywall:

But if you search for this on google news you will get links you can read, because of the sneaky deals that the corporate news services strike with "don't be evil" google.

This link MIGHT give you what you want:

Anyways - snippets from Krugman.


So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.

But the joke actually ended up being on the Republicans, when one of the two actual scientists they invited to testify went off script.

Prof. Richard Muller of Berkeley, a physicist who has gotten into the climate skeptic game, has been leading the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, an effort partially financed by none other than the Koch foundation. And climate deniers — who claim that researchers at NASA and other groups analyzing climate trends have massaged and distorted the data — had been hoping that the Berkeley project would conclude that global warming is a myth.

Instead, however, Professor Muller reported that his group’s preliminary results find a global warming trend “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”


But back to Professor Muller. His climate-skeptic credentials are pretty strong: he has denounced both Al Gore and my colleague Tom Friedman as “exaggerators,” and he has participated in a number of attacks on climate research, including the witch hunt over innocuous e-mails from British climate researchers. Not surprisingly, then, climate deniers had high hopes that his new project would support their case.

You can guess what happened when those hopes were dashed.

Just a few weeks ago Anthony Watts, who runs a prominent climate denialist Web site, praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself “prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” But never mind: once he knew that Professor Muller was going to present those preliminary results, Mr. Watts dismissed the hearing as “post normal science political theater.” And one of the regular contributors on his site dismissed Professor Muller as “a man driven by a very serious agenda.”

Of course, it’s actually the climate deniers who have the agenda, and nobody who’s been following this discussion believed for a moment that they would accept a result confirming global warming. But it’s worth stepping back for a moment and thinking not just about the science here, but about the morality.

For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.


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