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Koch-funded climate denier reverses: "Humans almost entirely the cause" of global warming

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UPDATE: A complete list of climate series pieces is available here:
The Climate series: a reference post.

I've seen this story in too many places not to bring it to you, even though it interrupts the order of my climate pieces.

So far we've been dealing with the science, the global warming numbers, in a series listed at the end of this post. The bottom line regarding the temperature increase numbers:

  1. The do-nothing scenario ("business as usual") gives us a global temperature increase of 4°–7°C (up to 12½°F) by 2100.

  2. James Hansen's mass-extinction scenario occurs at 3°C (5½°F).

  3. Staying below 2°C (3½°F) will take urgent, deep and long-lasting cuts in fossil fuel use, and active preservation of the world’s forests.

  4. This is at heart a political problem, not a scientific one.

And we've started dealing with the politics, the place where the numbers intersect with the dollars.

Oil Baron dollars. Koch Bros dollars.

Now the news. One of those Koch Bros scientists is off the high-dollar reservation. The LA Times (my emphasis and paragraphing; h/t Robyn O'Brien for the link):
The verdict is in: Global warming is occurring and emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activity are the main cause.

This, according to Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. Never mind that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of other climatologists around the world came to such conclusions years ago.

The difference now is the source: Muller is a long-standing, colorful critic of prevailing climate science, and the Berkeley project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which, along with its libertarian petrochemical billionaire founder Charles G. Koch, has a considerable history of backing groups that deny climate change.

In an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” Muller writes:
“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 Berkeley project’s research has shown, Muller says, “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.”
Kudos to Dr. Muller for what he calls his "total turnaround."

I won't speculate on the causes except to say that — in general — there sometimes comes a point when a compromised professional (and Koch-funded warming deniers are indeed compromised) has to choose between his economic advantage and his reputation as an actual professional.

In other words, it's often possible to serve yourself economically by serving up the fog your paymasters are paying for — and still keep your professional reputation intact.

But sometimes the fog clears, and you're left naked where everyone can see. The hand with the dollars is out and the truth is in a whole other place. Do you take the dollars? If you do, you're not only a hack — you're a known hack. Time to choose. Paymaster, or profession?

Dr. Muller has chosen to support the facts as established by his profession. Again, kudos.

What we learn from Dr. Muller supports the numbers as we've examined them recently. Note the temperature numbers in the quote above. According to Muller:
  • Since 1760 ("250 years" ago), temperatures over land have risen 2.5°F (1.4°C). This is worse than the global (over land and water) increase shown in the first figure here.

  • Since 1960 ("the most recent 50 years"), temperatures over land have risen 1.5°F (almost 1°C). Again, horrible news if we're fighting to stay under 2°C increase from 1800–2100.

  • Almost all of this is human-caused. (Take that Messrs. Koch & Koch. This is on you.)
This is why we're on track for the Koch Bros Scenario — a life-killing 7°C temperature rise — that's 12½°F, folks — by 2100. And all of the number are coming in worse than expected.

Read the rest of the LA Times piece; there's interested responses from the Koch Foundation, climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, and the still-bought people on the right who need to spin this differently.

Raw Story has a little more:
A Greenpeace report earlier this year found that the Koch’s had given nearly $61.5 million since 1997 to groups denying climate change. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation donated $150,000 to the BEST [Dr. Muller's "Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature" group] study, more than any other single organization.
Dr. Muller's original NY Times piece is here.

Our global warming ("climate catastrophe") science posts:

  ■ Intro: Hugging the monster: Climate scientists and the C-word

  ■ Hansen on what happens if we hit 3°C increase: Quarter to half of species on earth may die from global warming

  ■ Exploring Hansen's 3°C scenario: What is "climate catastrophe"?

  ■ McKibben on staying under 2°C increase: Three Numbers—Measuring the march toward climate catastrophe

  ■ A long-range picture: Illustrating global warming—What does "a 2°C increase" refer to?

  ■ A near-range picture: One more climate chart—We're on track for 7°C temperature rise by 2100

  ■ This post, which includes latest over-land temperature increase numbers: Koch-funded climate denier reverses: "Humans almost entirely the cause" of global warming

Your bottom line? Hug the monster and don't despair. This game isn't over. The next few posts will deal with the politics. We've already looked at what doesn't work. We'll start looking at alternatives next.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

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