Katie, Bar the Door! The Skeptics are Coming! The Skeptics are Coming!

Sep 19 • Environmental, Featured • 2666 Views • No Comments on Katie, Bar the Door! The Skeptics are Coming! The Skeptics are Coming!

Time to reprise the Richard Muller interview from August of 2012. The interview uncovers the results of a detailed, independent study he conducted to analyze the relationship between global warming and CO2 emissions produced by man. Considered a skeptic of previous scientific reports, Dr. Muller scientifically proved the correlation.

We live in a world of news that is more entertainment than fact, which seeks to polarize rather than inform. Thanks to the power of social media and the web “leaking” information. Julian Assange took what was once a privilege of profound investigation and news reporting, and turned us on end with WikiLeaks.org. The debate on global warming and climate change has no safe harbor from the “leaks” phenomena.

On August 13 of this year, the proverbial “stuff” hit the fan when a 31-page summary of the nearly 2000-page Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report (IPCC-AR5) for Policy Makers was leaked to the press. The leaked report generated a tsunami of reporting, magnifying and challenging the five profound conclusions that generated a collective “Holy Cow, Batman!” by thought leaders such as former US Vice President Al Gore.

However, the ground shook again when the final report was leaked (I think news reporters say that all information is leaked to make them sound like they are scooping the others). And, to add insult to injury, the community serving and preparing the report started to share that there were “errors.” YIKES!

I remain disappointed that reports like this get leaked before they are finalized. I don’t know if it is deliberate and Machiavellian, or just a way of gaining a leg up on a release. In any event, the report seems to convey that their previous estimates of global warming were overstated. The Daily Mail quoted Dr. Judith Curry, head of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology (my alma mater) as saying that “…the science behind the report is clearly not settled, and is in a state of flux.” Dr. Curry is one of the reviewers of the IPCC report.

However the greatest challenge to the report is clearly the definition of “how high.” What I mean to say is, how high the warming is supposed to be and how high the seas are to rise. In both cases, the new report has downsized the change, a rebuttal of the 2007 report. It is this tempering that the naysayers have grasped.

That is why I have appended to this the August 2012 interview with Richard Muller. Muller is a distinguished faculty member of UC Berkeley, a faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), and a member of the advisory committee of the National Ignition Facility. He has what is called in the business as some serious chops. So, I have a certain amount of respect for him.

He headed up the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature investigative team, which challenged the 2007 IPCC report. He was also author of the New York Times article “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic.” The article was written as an output from the research and conclusion of his research.

So, what does he think? Simply put:

“What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.”

No doubt, he has done his homework. His work has been peer reviewed and is part of the body of work on climate change. Was he ever a real “skeptic” of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)? Frankly, I doubt it. In fact, I think he was being a good scientist, one who believes that mature skepticism benefits everyone. In fact, in a paper he wrote in 2004 supporting global warming, he pointed out:

“It is our responsibility as scientists to look at the data in an unbiased way, and draw whatever conclusions follow. When we discover a mistake, we admit it, learn from it, and perhaps discover once again the value of caution.”

I am just beginning to wonder if the word “unbiased” shouldn’t be removed from dictionaries. Are there unbiased reviews of anything? Really?

Regardless of your beliefs, there are indisputable facts:

1.  Earth’s surface and sea temperatures are increasing.
2.  Thanks to the work of Muller and others like him in the climate field, mankind and his ability to put more CO2 in the atmosphere is warming the planet at an increasing rate.
3.  The increasing temperatures are causing the seas to rise.
4.  And due to rapid de-forestation and the dramatic increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, the seas are becoming more acidic and less able to handle absorption of CO2.

So the question really is what can be done about it? More importantly, what can businesses and organizations do about it? Lobby against legislation and regulations that affect CO2 emissions? Ignore the facts? Or belly up to the bar and begin to transform their organizations so that they too will survive in the future?

For me, I plan to herd more companies to the bar.


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