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Koch-Backed Climate Science Deniers Finding Climate Science Pretty Good

Last updated on 2011.05.05

The oil-magnate Koch Brothers have been pouring money into the Berkeley Earth Science Temperature project to find the flaws in the science underlying the general consensus about climate change. On March 31, lead researcher and climate science skeptic Richard Muller reported to the House Science and Technology Committee that, from the 2% of the data they've reviewed so far, the Berkeley project is finding that Muller and the Kochs are wrong and that prevailing climte science is right:

...Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is "excellent.... We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups."

...Anthony Watts, a former TV weatherman who runs the skeptic blog, wrote that the Berkeley group is releasing results that are not "fully working and debugged yet.... But, post normal science political theater is like that."

Over the years, Muller has praised Watts' efforts to show that weather station data in official studies are untrustworthy because of the urban heat island effect, which boosts temperature readings in areas that have been encroached on by cities and suburbs.

But leading climatologists said the previous studies accounted for the effect, and the Berkeley analysis is confirming that, Muller acknowledged. "Did such poor station quality exaggerate the estimates of global warming?" he asked in his written testimony. "We've studied this issue, and our preliminary answer is no."

I suspect the Koch brothers are just playing a trick on us. They assembled a team of sloppy scientists. Muller and his team will report that their analysis of climate science data affirms the consensus. The Kochs can then turn around and say their scientists are rotten, which naturally disproves everything they say. Presto! Climate science denial saved!

Never mind the spectacle of the deniers cutting loose Muller and other scientists whom deniers have viewed as authoritative when the scientists say things that affirm the deniers' failing worldview.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden is still dead and feeding fish, and President Barack Obama is still a natural-born American citizen.

Arguably related: Undergraduate number crunchers at Hamilton College find that liberals make more accurate predictions than conservatives.


  1. Ken Blanchard 2011.05.04

    Cory: Apparently the Koch brothers "poured money into" an honest study. Isn't that good news all around, at least as far as climate science is concerned? Maybe the Kochs aren't the horned, barbed-tailed creatures of your imagination. Maybe calling people "climate science deniers" for questioning a theory is not exactly in the spirit of science. Science is all about challenging results and theories.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.05.05

    Dr. Blanchard, if I believed the Kochs were acting purely in the interest of science, I'd be with you 100%. But the Kochs seem more interested in promulgating propaganda to protect their selfish economic interests. Saying the Kochs are purely interested in science is like saying big-money lobbyists and campaign donors are purely in interested in democracy.

  3. Ken Blanchard 2011.05.05

    No, Cory, the Kochs aren't 100% interested in science, anymore than you are. Like you, they are engaged in the political issue of climate change, which is something different from the purely scientific questions. I only said that they funded an honest study.

    If the study does hold up, that reinforces the claim that we are in a long term warming period. It doesn't tell us what to do about it. One thing that the science of climate change is telling us is that we might be able to make a difference by changing our behavior but only if we can make truly draconian cuts in our carbon emissions. One thing that political science tells us is that that is about as likely as everyone on the globe suddenly going vegan.

    Meanwhile, all your posts about how terrible it would be if the Republicans cut Medicare look to be in another dimension from the one your a posting on here. The reduction in national economic output that would be required to make even most changes in global carbon emissions would reduce the size of the federal budget to an amount that Ron Paul could scarcely imagine. I very much hope that you never have to decided which reality you will live in.

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