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The lead scientist in a recent climate study has been accused of hiding the fact that the global temperature has been flat for more than a dozen years.
The new study, led by Richard Muller, had taken raw land data and re-analyzed it in an attempt to clear up the doubts caused by the climategate scandal. In an announcement last week, Muller claimed that their work had proven that the climate had been warming continuously since 1950.
Now, another climate scientist, Judith Curry, has accused Muller of failing to point out that his same re-analysis had also shown that climate temperatures have been totally flat for the past 13 years, even as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise. As Curry told the Daily Mail, “This is nowhere near what the climate models were predicting. Whatever it is that’s going on here, it doesn’t look like it’s being dominated by CO2.”
Curry is also accusing Muller of going to the press to spin the results in favor of global warming, before the research was complete.
In Prof Curry’s view, two of the papers were not ready to be published, in part because they did not properly address the arguments of climate skeptics. As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: “This is ‘hide the decline’ stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline. To say this is the end of skepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused. It is also misleading to say, as he has, that the issue of heat islands has been settled.”
So, what is really happening with our climate? I have no idea. As I’ve noted before, the time frames here are simply too short to come to any firm conclusion. Moreover, there are many issues with the data, from inconsistent thermometers to poor coverage of the Earth’s surface. There are also too many unknowns still outstanding, such as the influence of the sun’s solar cycle. We really will not know what is happening to our climate for at least a few more decades, and even then, I suspect there will remain large doubts. The Earth’s climate is a very difficult and complex thing.
And is there malfeasance from Muller? Possibly. More likely he simply doesn’t want to see the recent lack of warming, as Muller himself admits that he is a strong believer in global warming. The overall trend from 1950 showed an increase, and that was good enough for him. That he then went to the press, without consulting the other researchers on his team, including Curry, and before their papers were actually peer-reviewed and then published, is more than unfortunate. It once again suggests that in the field of climate science, spin is more important than data.
However, that Curry is part of his research team, is getting a fair hearing in the media, and is being treated respectively by Muller himself, is once again an indication that the field of climate science is struggling to heal itself.