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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Facebook commenter, Anthony, nails Richard Muller

@Michael, multiple, independent peer reviewed papers have already indicated that Earth is warming and that human-caused CO2 emissions are largely responsible. Muller's research would be a welcomed
addition to this growing body of evidence if: 

1. He waited until at least his research was in the process of being published in a peer reviewed journal before discussing his conclusions in such a public setting;

2. He attempted to honestly understand the existing body of evidence;

3. He stopped running his mouth.

It's quite annoying that Muller insists previous evidence is inadequate or flawed while demonstrating profound ignorance about basic climate science. From the beginning, Muller had every opportunity to simply crack open an introductory Earth systems text book to understand the basics of climate science. Muller had every opportunity to read through a bit of IPCC AR4 to review the extensive body of evidence that leaves essentially no room for doubt that Earth is warming. There are entire journals dedicated to climate change (e.g., Nature Climate Change). He could even consult Wikipedia to at least understand some of the basic evidence. Instead, Muller chose to accuse climatologists of anything from sloppy work to downright fraud and conspiracy. That's not the way science is done-- at least, not
constructive science. Muller has a responsibility to at least fully understand expert consensus before critiquing it.

Moreover, while we can't actually scrutinize his work because it's not yet been peer reviewed, it really does appear that the attribution itself is based on simple curve fitting, which is something that climatologists are so far beyond it's not even funny. Climatologists have identified far stronger attribution evidence, such as the combination of tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling, the
fact that nights and winters are warming faster than days and summers, or the changes in downward and outgoing infrared radiation spectra. 

And yet Muller runs his mouth, claiming that he's uncovered stronger evidence than anyone else. And that's just absurd.

And to make things worse, he continues to critique beyond his area of expertise. In his recent op-ed, Muller claims that Hurricane Katrina cannot be linked to global warming because the number of hurricanes hitting the US has been going down. This is really an incredible statement. It indicates complete ignorance of tropical cyclones and completely ignores Emanuel's work on Maximum Power Dissipation, a warming north Atlantic basin, and a cooling upper atmosphere. Muller claims that the heat wave in the US isn't linked to global warming because it's cooler elsewhere. Again, this is an incredible statement.

It demonstrates amazing ignorance of basic climate science and it completely ignores Hansen's recent analysis that indicates temperatures three or more standard deviations higher than previous regional means are now nearly 40 times more common. 

Muller needs to just stop. He needs to shut his mouth, and he needs to hit the books. He needs to reserve judgement until he actually understands the current body of evidence, and even then, he needs to consult with real experts before he thinks he has any reason to publicly criticize climate science.

And that's why climatologists are annoyed with Muller.


John Mitchell said...

Richard Muller was one of my favorite professors at UC Berkeley. He is as capable and intelligent as any professor I have known. His obvious lack of understanding makes me question his motives. During a recent CNN interview he sounded like a prodigy of T. Boone Pickins, advocating a shift of our coal consumption to natural gas. Recent peer-reviewed papers show that fracking releases 4-7% of the total extracted volume of natural gas to the atmosphere. Methane is 72 times worse than CO2 on a 20-year scale. So the carbon emissions in the U.S. each day due to fracking operations are equally as bad as TOTAL daily U.S. CO2 emissions. So Muller is effectively advocating the destruction of the planet.

Tenney Naumer said...

It appears that Muller is guilty of being lazy and not reading the literature. Fugitive methane from drilling fracking wells has not yet been measured properly, but some informal reports say that it is a lot worse than anyone imagined. I wish this would get published, but it is an extremely sensitive issue.

Muller has no hesitation in criticizing the work of others and making outlandish statements about polar bear research, which makes him about as hubristic as anyone could get.

Jay Alt said...

Muller has been a 'Jason', a select scientist group that advised(es) the US government on defense in summer brainstorming retreats. They were typically nuclear physicists, a group that was elevated to God-like status after WWII. They have held enormous policy influence for decades. More recently, their influence wained as other disciplines grew in importance (which has been resented). His book title: 'Physics for future Presidents' suggests Muller yearns for a role as Arbiter & Know-it-All. His statements w.r.t. climate research reflect the same ego despite his minor contributions.

Tenney Naumer said...

Muller is certainly an odd character. He's so blind to himself. Imagine saying his results are "better than the IPCC." Imagine saying things that give the impression that he discovered the wheel. Imagine saying terrible things about other scientists that turn out to be entirely wrong, and then never apologizing.

As to the polar bears -- they are toast, and everyone knows it.

He is just too lazy or too full of hubris to do basic reading of the literature, so he thinks he's done something new.

Can you imagine how a doctoral student would be slammed for behaving in such a manner!?!