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Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5°F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade, ‘Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute’

By Joe Romm on January 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm

"Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5°F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade, ‘Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute’"

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The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) has finally published its findings on the cause of recent global warming. This Koch-funded reanalysis of millions of temperature observations from around the world, “A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011,” concludes:

solar forcing does not appear to contribute to the observed global warming of the past 250 years; the entire change can be modeled by a sum of volcanism and a single anthropogenic [human-made] proxy.

The decadal land surface temperature from BEST average (black line), “compared to a linear combination of volcanic sulfate emissions (responsible for the short dips) and the natural logarithm of CO2 (responsible for the gradual rise) shown in red. Inclusion of a proxy for solar activity did not significantly improve the fit. The grey area is the 95% confidence interval.”

You may recall that back in July, Richard Muller, BEST’s Founder and Scientific Director, published a NY Times op-ed, “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” which concluded

Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

The finding itself is “dog bites man” (see It’s “Extremely Likely That at Least 74% of Observed Warming Since 1950″ Was Manmade; It’s Highly Likely All of It Was).

What makes this “man bites dog” is that Muller has been a skeptic of climate science, and the single biggest funder of this study is the “Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000).” The Kochs are the leading funder of climate disinformation in the world!

Muller further explained:

Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.

In short, a Koch-funded study has found that the IPCC “consensus” underestimated both the rate of surface warming and how much could be attributed to human emissions!

The Koch-finded study also finds, “the rate of warming we observe is broadly consistent with the IPCC estimates of 2-4.5°C warming (for land plus oceans) at doubled CO2.” A summary of BEST’s findings are on their website.

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51 Responses to Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5°F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade, ‘Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute’

  1. Jimijamflimflam says:

    Such an inconvenient report. I imagine it will simply be ignored.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Oh, yes-a favourite MSM tactic for inconvenient facts. They’ll probably smear the authors, too. They can’t help themselves and disloyalty is never encouraged.

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    I consider this (wholly expected) result to be just another step along the twisted path that makes it ever more ridiculous for anyone to be a CC denier.

    I know, I know, we’ve long known enough to completely dismiss the deniers’ rantings, but there are still far too many low-information mainstreamers out there who stumble across denier lunacy online and mistake it for the truth or minimally proof that there’s some scientific controversy afoot. Yet more evidence that the deniers don’t have a leg to stand on, especially given the funding source in this example, are always welcome.

    • Superman1 says:

      Maybe the Kochs are closet climate hawks.

      • tmac57 says:

        I did note that Mueller,in earlier interviews,stressed how important it was that we switch rapidly to natural gas ( not non-fossil fuels) instead of coal(no mention of wind/solar).
        The Koch’s are also heavily invested in natural gas I understand.

    • Mike Roddy says:

      I believe that if you had to pick out a culprit here it would be the media, Lou. Other countries also contain oil interests, but deniers are scarce, since their media do not stoop low enough to give credence to denier propaganda.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Very true. I was recently in a rather poor country, populated by friendly people, who often mentioned, quite matter-of-factly, how the climate was changing due to human activity. When I mentioned that, in my own country, there was a massive movement that denied the science, and that the MSM was entirely on the side of the denialists or practised a phony ‘equivalence’ of opinion between reason and cretinism, they were dumbfounded. One or two, I think, thought I was mad (perceptive blighters!)

  3. Timothy Hughbanks says:

    I’m curious, Joe, do you have any inkling what the “Anonymous Foundation” means? It is actually the biggest single source of funds. Is it just a pool of small anonymous donors, or what?

  4. Leif says:

    The Fossil Barons understand full well the ramification of their denier funding and actions. That alone accentuates the repugnant nature of their actions and character. Parasites of the first order, one and all.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Which is why they must stand trial for crimes against humanity, against life on this planet and against human posterity. These are, in my opinion, the very greatest crimes ever if one considers the sheer weight of misery and suffering they will cause. To allow these creatures impunity would be morally repellent.

      • Leif says:

        To use public taxpayer funds to subsidize their rapacious behavior Doubly so MM. We allow the GOP to not fund abortion, how come the rest of us must fund the ecocide of the Planet? I want a Tax Payer R-love-ution. Out with the Black, in with the Green…

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Refuse to pay your taxes! Non-violent non co-operation is the last weapon left. I’ll bake you a cake with a file in it.

  5. Jacob says:

    I like that the hard work done by scientists has once again been vindicated, but it doesn’t appear that it’s stopping the Koch brothers and their ilk from continuing with their modus operandi (of sewing the seeds of doubt about the truth and proceeding at warp-speed in polluting the Earth.) These are some of the foulest and vilest people to ever walk the face of the planet. Comparisons to the greatest monsters in human history are completely accurate.

    • BillD says:

      Even if we ignore the human temperature record, the records on ice on lakes and oceans and changes in species ranges and phenology (timing of migration, breeding and flowering) is incontrovertible. Thus, Muller’s complete neglect of these signals seems very bogus to me. I am an ecologist, and I have to say that I am continually surprised at the strength of temperature changes that we have already experience on ecological systems.

      • Breandán Mac Séarraigh says:

        A very good point. Here in Ireland shorebirds are increasingly wintering in the (colder) North East, rather than the (further away) South West. We also have lots of Little Egrets here now, which I never dreamed of seeing as a child. There have been some good phenological studies published here too.

  6. On the other hand, it’s encouraging that the Kochs couldn’t suppress their own study.

  7. SecularAnimist says:

    The fossil fuel corporations have already moved beyond outright denial.

    Their propaganda to obstruct and delay the urgently needed phase-out of their products is increasingly focused on (1) attacking renewable energy technologies on various spurious grounds, which dominated the 2012 election campaign; and (2) promoting the idea that “it’s too late and it’s hopeless”, which studies have shown to be very effective in getting people to simply turn off and tune out from the problem.

    Often those two themes are woven together, in assertions that transitioning to renewable energy will be hugely expensive, will destroy “jobs” and “the economy”, will require painful sacrifices and a reduced standard of living — and won’t be enough to solve the problem anyway.

    This is not to say that the deniers won’t keep doing their thing, or become more shrill in their denial even as it becomes more ridiculous.

    But the main focus of the delayers and obstructors has moved on from denying the problem, to attacking the solutions as dangerous, too costly, or nonexistent.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Correct, and this strategy feeds directly into the helplessness and hopelessness many already feel in our societies. It is high time we started to address this aspect of the problem by getting people organized to re-assume control of their own communities, ME

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Nice comment, Secular, I agree. The oil boys have been huddling since BEST came out a year ago, figuring out the next phase of their PR strategy. Not sure if they encourage the “it’s hopeless” meme, since they seem to be more about natural gas, as you pointed out, and talking about the difficulty of transitions until 2050 or so.

      If we had a free press instead of a pack of cowards, Koch and friends would not be able to keep manipulating public opinion. If Americans ever wake up, we will have a stiff carbon tax and support for systems overhaul in no time.

    • wili says:

      Just as we should avoid dismissing any study that shows, for instance, that global warming will lead to more rain falling in the Sahara (which it probably will) or that more CO2 will be beneficial to some plant species (which it will), just because they sound like something a denier might like to say…

      Similarly, we need to be cautious about dismissing studies and voices pointing out how dire and extreme the level and likely near- and long-term consequences of gw have become, however hopeless such studies and voices may make us feel (or what effect we may fear they may have on others).

      One of the very negative consequences of the denialist propaganda machine is that it has made it harder to have conversations about the best science. I’ve heard people say, even here, that scientists should avoid publishing studies that suggest less-than-dire consequences, and others saying that scientists should avoid publishing things may make people feel hopeless.

      I hope this is one place that, with Joe and others’ careful oversight, we can have candid assessments of the best science and the most promising (and most frustrating) policies, without jumping to assumptions that people who are pointing out the more dire spectrum of studies are somehow funded by the Koch’s and their ilk.

      This is already too long, but I’ll just point to one fact–that there are multiple climate feedbacks that are now kicking in (see, for example, the article below on the effects of drought in the Amazon)–a fact that is at once incontrovertible and one that could lead to the kind of hopelessness you are discussing.

      Should we avoid discussing feedbacks that we know are in the works or soon will be, just because they may lead some to become despondent?

  8. Daniel Coffey says:

    The report uses the phrase “volcanism and a single anthropogenic [human-made] proxy.” Is it possible to be more obtuse or absurd? I think not.

    As for the solutions, we have them by deploying non-carbon energy systems; we have people all over the country trying as hard as they can to get large-scale solar and wind projects built, and it is largely the environmental community which is at the core of endless and useless delays. They claim to be preserving or protecting habitat and species, but sadly, of course, it also usually comes down to settlements and attorney fees for the coffers in the end. Moreover, with delay comes the destruction of all habitat, including the small part they purported to be saving. They are sustaining the carbon-based status quo, supporting coal indirectly.

    We can build a 145 MW large-scale solar project in 5 weeks. Its been done. We just need to have people get real about saving the whole habitat and biosphere, not just some postage stamp sized habitat somewhere. Triage! Focus on survival: heart, not hangnails.

    How can the Chinese be doing so much more than are we? They are going to have 50,000 MW of solar deployed in the next few years. The US? Ha. We’ll be studying the possibility and trying to get consensus when Antarctica shows up in the second-story board rooms.

    Let’s get to the doing.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Daniel, there being so little pristine habitat left, I immediately smell a rat when a renewable energy project MUST be built on one of them. There are enough degraded sites of no great conservation value that ought, I believe, be used first. As well, many so-called ‘environmental’ groups are pure astroturf, phony fronts set up by the Bosses to pose as ‘environmentalists’ or the ‘Wise Use’ invertebrates. These divide and rule and false flag tactics are as old as human malice.

    • Superman1 says:

      Daniel,

      As I pointed out in another post, in 1961 I designed a solar power system for a Space vehicle, consisting of a solar concentrator and a Rankine Cycle converter. The efficiency was terrific. I notice that Spain recently demonstrated such a system. We had the technology for fifty years, and it was ready to go then; no fancy PV cells required. We did nothing, and millions will pay the price, if not bissions.

      • fj says:

        Responding to the Oil Crisis and considerable environmental concerns at the time, President Carter put a lot of stuff in place in the late 70s do deal with the crisis going forward which Reagan immediately dismantled when he became president.

      • fj says:

        And, with your solar concentrator and Rankine Cycle converter you did what humanity has done throughout history living under extremely difficult conditions: work with what is given by natural systems and what is known to work in order to survive.

        The same thing will happen during the great transition forced by climate change.

      • Leland Palmer says:

        You know, I think I read that NASA study, or one very similar to it.

        There has apparently been some recent progress in terrestrial solar thermal- better heat transfer and heat storage salts, that melt at lower temperatures and so on.

        Yes, we have had the technology to do this for decades.

        By the way, some solar thermal plants built in the 1980′s have paid off their loans, and are now producing electricity at something like 3.5 cents per KWH. So, after an initial investment, this is some of the cheapest electrical energy around.

        With the trillions we spent invading the Middle East to make the initial investment, we could likely have completely solved this problem by now.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      The Chinese have not yet achieved the levels of apathy and alienation shown by the US people, the inevitable results of merciless competition. However, it’s never too late to restore some structures for cooperation, ME

  9. fj says:

    Industrial growth rates will likely be astromical on this country start address climate change at wartime speed.

    Already Koch Industry’s SKANSKA is serving as a major contractor for NYC’s Rapid Repairs initiative restoring homes devastated by superstorm Sandy.

    Ironic.

  10. fj says:

    Can we dream that members of the rich and mature fossil fuel industries truly comprehend the terrific growth potential designing and deploying carbon free transportation, systems, and infrastructure for the future . . .

    . . . and forget about fossil fuels?

    • Mike Roddy says:

      The big boys are lazy and risk averse. New infrastructure systems mean risking failure and losses.

      On the other hand, anybody can dig a hole and drill for fossil fuels, and it’s impossible to lose money if you’re big enough. That’s what they want, in order to have plenty of cash for Park Avenue call girls and getaways in Gstaad and the Caribbean.

      • fj says:

        Kind of suspect the fossil fuel industry is heavily exposed to losses from climate change as well.

        Really.

  11. fj says:

    Seagates attempting to protect New York Harbor are projected to cost tens of billions of dollars and huge companies like SKANSKA would likely be on the A list for such projects though hopefully better thoughtout.

  12. PeterM says:

    This will be ignored by he MSM- after all the sponsors of the media want us to continue to buy- this kind of news may scare the consumer.

    The politicians will lament ‘another dry report’ by boring scientists on global warming- economic growth is important to putting our people back to work-and this is something we do not have to be concerned about for decades. And so it goes.

  13. Adam R. says:

    Calling Anthony Watts!

    Mr. Watts, did you not agree to acknowledge the conclusions of this paper as being definitive with respect to recent global warming?

    May we expect to see a post to that effect on your blog soon?

    • John Lonergan says:

      No, Anthony reneged on that promise when the preliminary BEST report came out. Presently the Wattsian hordes are busy critizing the paper because it was printed in a brand new journal.

      • John Caraher says:

        I’m more than a little curious about this new journal. So far BEST results are their only research paper… did Muller et al try to publish anywhere else? It may have been hard to publish because the whole project is based on data mining, and it’s not obvious how much novelty in the statistical analysis constitutes enough innovation to class the work as more than “me too” research.

        Had this journal been in the works independently of BEST? I don’t think this in any way invalidates their results (as the Watts crowd want to claim), but surely there’s a story there.

  14. sallyd says:

    A little off topic, but I wonder – where do the 1% plan to bunker down when the planet burns? Do they have places that are completely self sufficient and can sustain them for decades?

  15. David Lewis says:

    That’s the one that was renamed the BARRF (The Berkeley Analysis Released to Ridiculous Fanfare) study isn’t it?.

  16. AlC says:

    As I understand it, the Koch Brothers have already diversified their holdings by purchasing Georgia Pacific Lumber Company and a synthetic fibers company. Maybe the next step is to take their oil company public, let suckers buy stock in it, knowing that it cannot continue operation.

  17. Eric Steig says:

    I actually think this should be ignored by the main stream media. It really is ‘another dry report’ by boring scientists on global warming. Yawn.