Hide the decline, Professor Richard Muller, Professor Judith Curry

Climategate II: Won’t Get Fooled Again?

By —— Bio and Archives--November 1, 2011

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“For the clueless or cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there.” So wrote Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on October 24. Unfortunately for Robinson, he was right about it “getting awfully cold out there”, though not as he contended for climate sceptics.

Within days of Professor Richard Muller’s presentation of his Case Against Global Warming Skepticism in the Wall Street Journal (October 21) that his BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures) team had conclusively proved that “the climate science is settled” in favour of alarmism, one of Muller’s own colleagues, Professor Judith Curry, was accusing him of misusing the data to mislead the public and hide the truth. It’s an accusation given added substance in an assessment utilizing BEST’s own data by the UK Global Warming Policy Foundation and published in the UK’s Mail on Sunday (MoS, October 30).

Breaking the story of Professor Curry’s accusation, the MoS reports professor Curry as being “horrified” by her colleague, Professor Muller’s, public statements suggested BEST had ended what were “good reasons for doubt until now”. As chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the second named co-author of the BEST projects four research papers, Professor Curry told the MoS, “This is nowhere near what the climate models were predicting. Whatever is going on here, it doesn’t look like it is being dominated by CO2.” Curry added, “Of course this isn’t the end of scepticism. To say that is the biggest mistake he [Professor Muller] has made.”

Professor Curry’s accusations have been borne out by an assessment made by the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). Using BEST’s own data, the GWPF has published a very different take on the data backed with their own graph, also published in the Mail on Sunday article. Far from depicting data in the form of a hockey-stick mark II, it effectively depicts a plain old ‘stick’—and one that again confirms the flat-lining of global temperatures since the ‘90s, even as levels of CO2 continued to rise.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today news program, Professor Muller claimed that the BEST team’s data showed no evidence of a global slowdown in temperature rises. Muller said, “In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of its having slowed down. Now the evidence that shows that it has been stopped is a combination of land and ocean data. The oceans do not heat as much as the land because it absorbs more of the heat and when the data are combined with the land data the as other groups have shown it does seem to be leveling off. We have not seen that in the land data.”

In assessing the BEST data or themselves, however, the GWPF’s Dr David Whitehouse concludes, “The global temperature standstill of the past decade is obvious in the HadCrut3 data, which is a combination of land and sea surface data. BEST is only land data from nearly 40,000 weather stations.” When Dr Whitehouse plotted a graph using all of the relevant land and sea data using BEST’s own archives however, it revealed “a statistically straight line of zero gradient. Indeed most of the variations within it can be attributed to ENSO [El Nino Southern Oscillation] and la Nina effects.”

Dr Whitehouse adds, “t is impossible to reconcile this with Professor Muller’s statement. Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly? Indeed, BEST seems to have worked really hard to obscure it.” Dr Whitehouse goes on to explain in greater detail just the data was utilized or “stretched” to “accentuate the increase”, an illusory rise in temperatures.


Churchill is attributed with the quote, “A lie gets halfway around the world before truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Nowhere is the adage more apt than when it comes to climate alarmist statements, it seems. Professor Muller’s version made headlines around the world. One wonders to what extent The Washington Post, the BBC, The Australian and papers like Nature will now qualify their uncritical coverage of Muller’s findings comments? We shouldn’t hold our breath. Alarmism ‘sells’, pedantic facts and nuanced assessment doesn’t.

We can see this starkly if we juxtapose two very different views of BEST’s report. First, the bizarrely uncritical and partisan take by that doyen of science, Nature magazine:

Global warming is really happening—really. There was no conspiracy or cover-up. Peer review did not fail and the scientists who have spent decades working out the best way to handle and process data turned out to know how to handle and process data after all. Thank you Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study.

What then do we make of Professor Curry’s—a key BEST author—telling the MoS that two of the papers were not even ready to be published as they did not properly assess the arguments of climate sceptics? “To say this is the end of scepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused”, stated an exasperated Curry. Clearly she felt she has no alternative but to state the case plainly: “This is ‘hide the decline’ stuff. Our data show the pause, just as other sets do. Muller is hiding the decline.”

The UK’s GWPF’s scientists spotted this for themselves. And we might have assumed that the editors of Nature along with countless science correspondents, having already been fooled by one hockey-stick ‘manufacturer’, would not so easily be fooled again.

It seems we’d be wrong.


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Peter C. Glover -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Peter C. Glover is an English writer & freelance journalist specializing in political, media and energy analysis (and is currently European Associate Editor for the US magazine Energy Tribune. He has been published extensively and is also the author of a number of books including The Politics of Faith: Essays on the Morality of Key Current Affairs which set out the moral case for the invasion of Iraq and a Judeo-Christian defence of the death penalty.

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