Reaction to Muller's BEST announcement

BEST or worst?

The media have lapped up Richard Muller’s “Damascene conversion” story, with some journalists even going so far as to call him, laughably and shamefully, a “denier”.

It’s a story too good to be true. A man who has erred and strayed from the Cause has “seen the light” and realises the error of his ways. Funny how the religious imagery keeps cropping up in relation to climate change…

Anyway, the reality is that Muller was never a sceptic and by carrying out science by press release is simply engaging in acts of self-aggrandisement (not my words, but those of Michael Mann).

Andrew Orlowski writing in The Register takes apart the claims:

Richard Muller’s Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, which began with goodwill from all corners of the climate debate, has made a series of bold announcements (without benefit of peer review) to the effect that global warming is definitely serious and definitely caused by humans. This has aroused derision among formerly supportive climate sceptics, caused an eminent climatologist to abandon the project, and even drawn criticism from generally alarmism-sympathetic media commentators.

Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, is often regarded as a climate sceptic because he has frequently criticised the techniques used by climate scientists in the past and because he accepted funding for BEST from libertarian oil billionaire Charles Koch. When BEST launched in the wake of Climategate, it vowed to be “an independent, non-political, non-partisan group”, with Muller promising that “there will be no spin, whatever we find”. Critics of the existing temperature establishment, including well known sceptics Anthony Watts and Doug Keenan, welcomed it.

However each announcement has been aggressively trialled in the press not only before the peer review process had judged them ready for publication – which may not be a major issue – but also before anyone outside the BEST project could examine the papers at all. This requires the ordinary reader to take BEST’s accompanying press releases on blind faith – which is not a barrier for some journalists, but is far short of acceptable practice. (source)

Read the whole thing.

Also take a look at Jo Nova’s response:

Almost all the coverage of the Muller and BEST results confounds three different points, is poorly researched and mixes up cause and effect. Richard Muller is shamelessly promoting himself as something he is not, and his conclusions are nonsense on stilts that defy rational explanation.

Everyone knows hot air rises off concrete, yet scores of people get befuddled by statistics. The maths-talk is irrelevant. If your analysis tells you that thermometers next to combustion engines and industrial exhaust vents is recording global warming — your analysis is bunk, and we don’t need a peer reviewed paper to say so.

Muller’s three claims:

  1. He’s a converted skeptic. (Naked, demonstrably wrong, PR.)
  2. The world has warmed by 0.3C/decade. (He’s half right — he’s only exaggerating 100%.)
  3. That it’s mostly due to man-made emissions. (Baseless speculation.)

As far as public policies go the only point that matters is 3, but most of the conversation is about 1 and 2. Worse, most journalists and many so-called scientists think evidence for warming is the same as evidence that coal fired power stations did it. How unscientific. (source)

Kudos to Ben Cubby at Fairfax for actually deigning to speak to Jo about this and reporting it. They still manage to illustrate the story with a picture of cooling towers which are giving off … steam.


  1. Amazed that Ben Cubby talked to Jo Nova. Maybe he had realised that he is too young to write off his career and might now be looking to jump ship.

  2. Skeptikal says:

    “They still manage to illustrate the story with a picture of cooling towers which are giving off … steam.”

    Maybe they’ve woken up to the fact that water vapour (steam) is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2… but I doubt it.

  3. Bouquets aplenty to The Australian for its editorial to-day denouncing pulpit thumping evangelical alarmists in general and Muller in particular. Absolutely nailed it. No quarter given, either. From The Australian‘s editorial habit of promoting a “price on carbon” to “combat climate change”, one may have expected some goofy climate caveat. But, no, it was a gloves off drubbing of doomsaying dorks.

    • Hi Graham,

      Can you please provide a link to the editorial from The Austrlian you mentioned. Searched and searched and couldn’t find it.


  4. Reading from his mannerisms when interviewed, and this bizarre behaviour from him with his publicity stunts, I am inclined to believe that Muller [snip – probably “best” not go there…!].

  5. Here, Bruce. Art Raiche liked it, too.

    A pox on pompous planet piffle preachers.

  6. As a current climate science student, I can’t wait to get my hands on the cash being handed out by the leaders of the green revolution.


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