CALL me a converted skeptic. 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.
My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. 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.
That is the beginning of an op-ed by Richard A. Muller which is well worth reading in its entirety.
If you don't know Muller, the short version is that he was for some time the darling of the denialists, being the most credible critic of climate change research, a rare person who could legitimately be called a skeptic in the best scientific sense. In April of 2011, he became dead to the denialists. The op-ed is a distillation of the findings he first reported then, and of follow-up work since.
Those bent on denialism may try to cherry-pick some fragments from the end of the op-ed. If so, maybe I can save them some typing by stating that I don't dispute anything from the end, any more than I do from the lede. What I would really like is not to blunder into some wild set of programs pushed by the most zealous alarmists, but to get to a rational starting point, where everyone agrees on Muller's fundamental conclusion.
Finally, to the so-called agnostics: Yes, you could still make the case that this is yet another argument from authority, that you will insist that you remain unpersuaded because you haven't had the time to study the problem yourself. If so, so be it. But I do wish you would ask yourself how many other aspects of life you accept, entirely because the experts in those fields have converged.
(h/t: Jack, via email)
[Added] You'll be shocked, shocked to see that Andrew Revkin has rushed about gathering up brickbats for Muller, but you might find some worthwhile bits, if you're the sort who follows this Debate© closely. (h/t: John Horgan)
[Added2] Also via Jack, a delightful catch from Roy. Connoisseurs of homo wingnuttia are encouraged to follow the links Roy offers to the Power Tool blog posts, but this bit from the second one is just too good not to quote:
Hmm, maybe the Kochs are actually interested in good science after all, and perhaps their critics might want to give some benefit of the doubt to other Koch-supported research projects?
Man. Lipstick on a pig doesn't even come close.