Wall Street Journal to blame for Muller-gate?

Muller says the Wall Street Journal twisted his words.

JunkScience.com friend Howard Hayden sent us the following note today:

I spent last week at a “climate” meeting in Santa Fe, NM, sponsored by Los Alamos National Labs. [Click here] for particulars.

There were something like 75 talks and 40 posters. Presentations will soon be available at some site that I don’t know right now; my own can be downloaded from www.energyadvocate.com.

I had never met Richard Muller, and knew nothing about him. The conference (as opposed to almost all others) had both skeptics and true believers, so I did not know what to expect. (Evidently some true believers routinely refuse to conferences where certain people are in attendance.) Fred Singer told me that Muller is an affable guy, and a skeptic. What, then, was going on?

Muller began his talk by saying the he had been misquoted more often during the last 48 hours than he had for the rest of his life. It turns out that the Wall Street Journal had mysteriously altered his title, and had given an entirely wrong impression of what he had to say:

  • Original Title: Cooling the Global Warming Debate: Are you a global warming skeptic? If not, perhaps you should be. Let me explain.
  • WSJ Title: The case against GW skepticism: There were good reasons for doubt, until now.

Muller headed up a crew to examine all temperature records from all land stations. The data formats varied all over the map; some used Fahrenheit, others Celsius. Some stations were active for (say) 20 years, had a 7-year hiatus, and then returned to reporting. All in all, it was a monumental task to assemble data from 39,000 reporting stations into one coherent data file. (Unlike the IPCC, Muller can trace every datum back to its source.) What he reported was raw data. (By comparison, the official reporting stations were about 6,000 in number before decreasing to about 2,000 in approximately 1998.) He said that some data were of very low quality. He (really, the guy who worked with the data) used vector interpolation to estimate temperatures in remote locations. His data go back to (I recall) 1880. The number of stations vastly increased during the early 1900s (BTW, New Mexico and Arizona became states in 1912); the temperature readings were extremely sparse early on.

In the US record, about one-third of the stations showed a decrease in temperature, and two-thirds showed an increase. The stations showing cooling were uniformly scattered across the nation. The stations with warming were also uniformly spread, save for some spots that warmed more than usual.

The temperature rise from 1980 to 2010 was 0.6 degrees C in his record; as contrasted with 0.3 degrees C as measured by satellite (see attachment). The difference is that Muller’s record is land-only — no oceans, no polar regions.

Muller is very specific: Warming does NOT imply the cause. As with all other “climate skeptics” he knows that the earth has warmed. What skeptics quarrel about is attribution.

We discussed this claim of Muller last week, but Hayden provides more details.

One thought on “Wall Street Journal to blame for Muller-gate?”

  1. I’ll agree with what was stated Earlier. This makes a lot more sense coming from Muller. However, he did not speak out for a long time, and so I will openly question how much the WSJ was misquoting and his apparent complicity in the matter.

    Now, if he is telling the truth, then this episode completely undercut his scientific integrity and any credibility he had on both sides by falsifying his quotations. This is practically a textbook case of libel, and I suggest that he hire a lawyer to protect his name.

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