Ex-skeptic tells US Congress climate change is real

Nov 14, 2011 by Kerry Sheridan
Rain falls in front of the world's first real-time carbon counter which displays greenhouse gas amounts in the atmosphere, after it was unveiled by Deutsche Bank in New York, in 2009. A prominent climate change skeptic told Congress on Monday he no longer doubts that global warming is real and caused by humans, and joined other scientists in urging action to stop it.

A prominent climate change skeptic told Congress on Monday he no longer doubts that global warming is real and caused by humans, and joined other scientists in urging action to stop it.

Physicist Richard Muller, director of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, whose two-year research was funded in part by a foundation formed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, said he could find no bias in other studies.

"We confirm that over the last 50 years, temperature has risen 0.9 degrees Celsius, or 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the same number that the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says."

Muller told the House Committee on Natural Resources that while he remains cautious about the extent to which humans have played a role, he now hopes other climate skeptics will come on board with his findings.

"As they read and study our papers, I am hoping that many of them will reflect my belief that they are open-minded and come to agree that yes, climate change temperature increase certainly has happened," he said.

"The amount that is due to humans is still open and there are very big uncertainties in that," Muller added, urging continued study of the matter.

"In my mind, humans have contributed to climate change. The real issue is how much?"

Muller's appearance on Capitol Hill was his first since his research was released last month, and comes just weeks after the Department of Energy reported a six percent increase last year in carbon output worldwide, the biggest jump ever.

Ranking committee Democrat Ed Markey lamented the United States' failure to act and applauded Australia's recent approval of a carbon tax to force its coal-fired power stations and other major emitters to "pay to pollute."

"Other countries are taking the threat seriously. Australia just passed a set of bills designed to reduce carbon pollution and positioned their country to compete in the global clean energy race," Markey said.

"The attacks on climate science have been a colossal distraction from the debate we should be having Congress on what actions should be taken to reduce pollution, create jobs, reclaim our lead in the clean energy race."

His colleague, Democrat Henry Waxman, said the Republican-controlled Congress had voted 21 times to block actions that would have addressed climate change.

"History will look back on this science denial with profound regret," Waxman said.

"When a prominent skeptic publishes a study determining that global warming is real, that is information Congress needs to hear."

Also on the panel was Ben Santer, research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who told lawmakers that international scientists have considered a host of different factors in their research, including rainfall, sea level pressure, continental runoff, surface humidity, and atmospheric moisture.

"The bottom line message in each case is, natural causation alone cannot explain the changes we see," Santer said.

"People sometimes incorrectly say, 'You climate scientists never consider alternate hypotheses, alternate plausible explanations of the observations.' That is not true," he added.

"We routinely consider such alternate hypotheses and try and determine whether they fit the available observations. They do not."

William Chameides, dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment in North Carolina and vice chair of the National Academies' Committee on America's Climate Choices, said there is a "pressing need for substantial actions."

Chameides helped produce a report earlier this year that urged the US government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon pricing system and invest in research and development to mitigate its harmful effects.

"We know we are facing a risk. We know that the longer we take to act, the worse that risk is," he told lawmakers.

"With each ton of greenhouse gasses that we put into the atmosphere, we are increasing the risks of dangerous impacts of climate change, and those risks will be with us for many, many years. Perhaps 1,000 years," he added.

"Twenty percent of the C02 that we emit today when we all drive home and I fly home tonight, will be in the atmosphere, warming the atmosphere in 1,000 years," he said.

"It is something to think about very carefully when we think about our legacy for future generations."

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User comments : 30

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ekim
4 / 5 (13) Nov 14, 2011
Science = truth.
Pirouette
2 / 5 (22) Nov 14, 2011
Now that Richard Muller has testified before the House Committee and gotten a good response, I think he should also go to Beijing and testify before the Red Chinese government that they are equally guilty of man-caused pollution and are a major factor in global warming. He will either be treated as a "hero" with a welcome message, or given the bum's rush. IF he has the gonads to go to Beijing, I hope he brings with him all of his "evidence" of Chinese pollution and, when he gets there, NOT talk down the United States. If he talks about U.S. pollution while in Red China, he will be applauded, but will not convince the Chinese of the same things he has convinced the House Committee in Washington.
Jotaf
4 / 5 (21) Nov 14, 2011
Pirouette: So we'll make a contest to see who folds and who gets to call the other one "chicken"? Nevermind that the planet goes to hell in the process, right? Yeah, you got your priorities straight.

Freaking nationalists and their tribe wars...

Back on topic...

"We routinely consider such alternate hypotheses and try and determine whether they fit the available observations. They do not."

Finally, someone familiar with the scientific process :)
Parsec
4.4 / 5 (15) Nov 14, 2011
Science = truth.

Well... not always. I would however go so far as to say that science is a process that incrementally attempts to attain truth. It may not always get there, and usually doesn't get there absolutely, but its better than any other process man has invented.
pauljpease
4.5 / 5 (10) Nov 14, 2011
Science = a pretty good way of determining truthiness...
Pirouette
1.8 / 5 (17) Nov 15, 2011
Jotaf says:
Pirouette: So we'll make a contest to see who folds and who gets to call the other one "chicken"? Nevermind that the planet goes to hell in the process, right? Yeah, you got your priorities straight.

Jotaf, you are either deliberately misinterpreting my meaning, or you are a great fan of Communist China and don't want to acknowledge that they, too, are equal to the U.S. in the areas of pollution emissions. If you are against environmental pollution all over the world, then you must also include Red China, India and other countries, NOT just the United States. Americans are NOT the only polluters of the world, and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with nationalism that I defend my own country. But fair is fair. Even if the U.S. ceases all polluting, if Red China still continues to do so, how does it make things better? You seem to be biased against the U.S.
andyd
2.8 / 5 (16) Nov 15, 2011
Please provide evidence that Prof Muller was ever a climate change skeptic.
LuckyExplorer
3.5 / 5 (13) Nov 15, 2011
"Please provide evidence that Prof Muller was ever a climate change skeptic" - irrelevant, search for that by yourself

"You seem to be biased against the U.S" - That is not the question.

Your mistake is to argue like that:
"Why should the U.S. do something before another (China) does a step in that direction."
I ask you: why not

In addition, and I am no fan of China:
China uses less than a quarter the energy of the US per capita...

Where do you think is it easier to reduce the carbon footprint?
zweistein_2
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 15, 2011
I doubt that pollution will be reduced effectively.
Countries are dependent on transportation and energy. People will starve if this 2 activities are reduced.
Maybe the age of massive travel is over. There is no reason to fly around the globe for a 2~3 day free conference.
gmurphy
4 / 5 (10) Nov 15, 2011
Richard Muller was a noted opponent of the famous 'hockey-stick' graph: http://en.wikiped...troversy He was clearly a sceptic but unlike other 'sceptics', he did a thorough analysis of the data using non-standard techniques and came out with results which were close to those published by prior groups.
joefarah
1 / 5 (12) Nov 15, 2011
Man cannot affect climate change even as we surpass the 1 trillion mark in population that the earth can support, except in one manner: conversion of matter to energy.

Chemical reactions will reverse themselves. Nuclear reactions won't. By speeding up the nuclear decay (atom bombs, nuclear reactors) we are increasing the rate of energy production. However, even this has to be investigated carefully because the earth has its means of shedding heat, and this likely increases with higher temperatures.
Pirouette
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 15, 2011
My main point was that Muller had already ADVISED the House Committee of his findings when he testified before Congress. If there were other researchers who found equivalent evidence of global warming and also testified in their OWN countries, then it could be considered equal and fair. BUT, there is no evidence that Red China has its own climatologists that are emerging to testify that Red China is also guilty of polluting the world. We, in the U.S., are already taking steps to minimize man-made pollution, or at least mitigate results. But ignorance is still rampant all over the world. Although in the U.S., volunteers and informed citizens do their best to eliminate pollution in their areas, but not everyone is willing to cooperate.
All one has to do is monitor the man-made pollution coming out of Red China and india to realize that these governments and their citizens need to be more informed.
Ethelred
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 15, 2011
What the hell is the FAIR stuff Pirouette. He was just telling Congress what his results were. Truth was his job and he tried to deliver it.

Are you demanding that he lie instead?

He doesn't work for the Chinese. He was at least partly funded the Koch brothers for that matter. They almost certainly are torqued off about his results but I bet even they aren't demanding that he go rant at the Commie Chinese.

Its CHINESE not Communist Chinese. The other guys were and and are Tawainese and the most of the Chinese there came in from China and took over.

They lost over 60 years ago. GET OVER IT.

Its like calling Cuba, Communist Cuba to differentiate it from ... oh there isn't any other Cuba. Well there isn't any other China either.

And yes the present government in China sucks. But they didn't pay Mueller to find the truth. Then again I doubt that the Koch did either as they don't seem care for truth.

Ethelred
Sigh
3 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2011
If there were other researchers who found equivalent evidence of global warming and also testified in their OWN countries, then it could be considered equal and fair.

What is inherently fair about evidence? Are you mixing up the beliefs favoured by evidence and the cost of actions entailed by the combination of those beliefs and your values?

Many developing nations then point out that 1) the developed nations contributed more to the CO2 already in the atmosphere, 2) the developed nations have higher per capita emissions and 3) much of emerging economies' emissions is from making stuff consumed by richer nations, making these rich countries' outsourced emissions.

Even if you dispute point 3, there is a long way to go before we can make demands based on fairness. Impact is another issue, and the Chinese DO know. That's why they have promised to reduce the carbon intensity of their economy. It will be interesting to see whether they are more committed to deliver than the West.
rubberman
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 15, 2011
Unfortunately time isn't really on our side on this one. If we shoot for a goal of 30% reduced emmissions globally from where we finished up in 2011, that only puts us back at the 1990 level..and what is a reasonable time to attempt this type of massive reduction? 10 years? Add to that it's not like we were helping things at the 1990 level....

I would like to say that it was my generation that spearheaded the effort to control, stop and then eventually reverse this trend....
Yvan_Dutil
3 / 5 (4) Nov 15, 2011
@Pirouette Unlike USA, China is well aware of AGW. They are not the a denial mode. Actually, the understand the physics enough to note that USA has a much larger cumulative emission than themselves. In addition, they are developing renewable as much as they can. Fuel standard for car are higher than in USA. At least, they try to do something. By the way, 50% of China of from the export industry.
FrankHerbert
1.1 / 5 (54) Nov 15, 2011
Pirouette, Chinese emissions come from American demand. Your comments about fairness are also silly as has been pointed out, but I doubt that will stop you from making them.
ekim
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 15, 2011
China has $34.6 billion invested in green energy.
The U.S. has $18.6 billion invested in green energy.
I think China knows about Global Warming.
theonion
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 19, 2011
Headline - "A prominent climate change skeptic told Congress on Monday he no longer doubts that global warming is real and caused by humans, and joined other scientists in urging action to stop it."
From Article - Muller told the House Committee on Natural Resources that ... he remains cautious about the extent to which humans have played a role. "The amount that is due to humans is still open and there are very big uncertainties in that..."

So, Headline states that Mueller said that "global warming is real and caused by humans" while in the body of the article he clearly states that he remains cautious about the extent to which global warming is caused by humans. Don't any of you sheep see a difference in those two statements?
Let us not forget that no matter what one's opinion of whether global warming (or climate change) is real or not, the crux of the argument is about whether the source is anthropomorphic (man made, for you college edumacated ones) of part of a natural cycle.
ABSOLUTEKNOWLEDGE
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 19, 2011
i bet they did tell congreess that

after they received some phone calls letting them know

there pensions or any future funding will be cut off from them

unless they repent and tow the party line
Ethelred
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 19, 2011
He was partly funded by the Koch Brothers. So if his funding is cut it will be FOR saying that to Congress. Do try dealing with reality some day.

Ethelred
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2011
@Pirouette Unlike USA, China is well aware of AGW. They are not the a denial mode. Actually, the understand the physics enough to note that USA has a much larger cumulative emission than themselves. In addition, they are developing renewable as much as they can. Fuel standard for car are higher than in USA. At least, they try to do something. By the way, 50% of China of from the export industry.


You are clearly ill-informed. Both China and the United States are pouring toxins into the environment. China does not have any different understanding of "physics" and is, in fact, very much in denial about AGW. Which is not to say that none of them care and that none of them are doing anything about it. But, like most industrialized nations, they're growing, need more energy and more "stuff", and don't know how to keep everyone happy while at the same time polluting less.
Nerdyguy
2.4 / 5 (5) Nov 19, 2011
(continued)

On the other hand, both nations are making great strides to address these complex issues which, unfortunately, don't have any easy answers.

And, as a whole, the G20 has invested 33% more this year than last in renewable energy. All recognize it as a problem. All are doing some things to improve the situation. The question is, are any doing enough?
AmericanEngineer
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2011
Yes onion, I think we all can see the words written. Mueller "no longer doubts" but "remains cautious about the extent" of humanity's role. There is no contradiction between those two statements. Your arrogance and condescension has been noted, but is unfounded in intelligence.
John_balls
3 / 5 (10) Nov 20, 2011
This is not even a debate anymore unless you are part of the mentally challenged or paid troll for the fossil fuel industry.
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2011
So, thuber, do you have a reason for those idiot rankings beside you have your head buried in the sand?

He WAS partly funded by the Koch Brothers. If you have problem with that statement you should have ranked it a five and taken it out on the Greedy Brothers. They lied to you.

Ethelred
astro_optics
1.6 / 5 (7) Nov 21, 2011
The clean energy race will be won by the country which completely self-destructs first...that's the final objective after all!
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2011
This is blatant PR, Muller was never a skeptic, he simply called 'hiding the decline' scientific fraud, which it was. He never doubted the AGW hypothesis, although he is scientist enough to admit that if IPCC models are 2% off about cloud forcing then there is no AGW. The BEST data shows no warming for a decade, which the alarmists are now trying to explain.
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (5) Nov 21, 2011
For those interested here is Prof Muller a year ago describing what 'hide the decline' meant, and why US action on CO2 is pointless without China doing more:
http://www.youtub...0EPWgkEI
And heres a more recent one where he describes what he actually thinks in his own words, rather than propogandised rubbish:
http://www.youtub...Gw0_9nbE

Muller never doubted AGW, has some reservations about CAGW, he recognised scientific fraud in Climategate and is skeptical about the effects of US CO2 emissions reduction in the face of a growing Chinease economy.
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2011
China has nothing to do with this. The question was whether human contribute to Global Warming and specifically whether the measurements of temperature used by AGW proponents correct.

He showed the measurements were correct and thus the world is actually warming up. He also clearly stated that human produced CO2 is involved.

So how doe your complaining about China going to make that science go away? The science was the issue here not the economy. That is another issue that will be up to international politics and agreements to deal with.

Ethelred