Muller Backtracks on Temperature Claims

Muller Backtracks on Temperature Claims
October 31, 2011

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)

Georgia Tech climate professor Judith Curry, coauthor with Richard Muller of the BEST temperature reconstruction that has been dominating global warming media attention for the past 10 days, has posted a summary of a discussion she had last night with Muller about his Wall Street Journal article and other media claims regarding the temperature reconstruction. Muller had told the media that as a result of his team’s reconstruction of land-based temperature measurements there is no longer justification for global warming skepticism. Curry, however, reports Muller acknowledged to her caveats and concessions that are not apparent in Muller's statements to the press.

According to Curry, Muller told her he intended his Wall Street Journal article to be a “conciliatory” article regarding how this data set could be used to settle some of the debates surrounding the land temperature record. 

Almost nobody who read Muller’s article interpreted it as “conciliatory,” but if we give Muller the benefit of the doubt we can perhaps attribute this discrepancy to poor writing on Muller’s part.

Also according to Curry, “Re[garding] the recent trend, Muller reiterated that you can’t infer anything about what is going on globally from the land data, but the land data shows a continued increase albeit with an oscillation that makes determining a trend rather ambiguous.” 

Muller’s concession that “you can’t infer anything” from the land data and his caveat that any trend is “rather ambiguous” blow a gigantic hole through media coverage claiming Muller’s reconstruction is the smoking gun that renders continued skepticism ridiculous. I hope Muller will demonstrate ethical behavior and issue a press release emphasizing these concessions and caveats so the media will cover the temperature reconstruction more accurately.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)