Study Funded In Part By Koch Brothers Affirms Link Between Global Warming And Human Activity

A study by a former skeptic of global warming — and funded in part by the Koch Brothers — has confirmed that human activity is likely causing the Earth to warm. Prof Richard Muller was once a critic of global warming but now says the evidence is clear in establishing the connection to human activity.

Muller leads the Berkeley Earth Project and assembled an impressive array of scientists to use new methods and some new data to investigate the global warming theory. The study reached the same conclusion of earlier studies.

The Koch brothers were not the only funders who have historically opposed global warming theories, but the scientists still concluded that the data speaks of itself. Muller wrote: “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.”

Source: BBC

59 thoughts on “Study Funded In Part By Koch Brothers Affirms Link Between Global Warming And Human Activity

  1. “The Berkeley Earth project studies have not yet been published in peer reviewed scientific journals, but the team has submitted them to the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.” -BBC

    In other words, no peer review, not valid. And considering who is doing the review… still bias, still insufficient. The problem isn’t that experts are reviewing other experts’ work, it’s that it’s such a rarified field of statistics, geology, physics, etc. that no laymen can possibly understand the issue sufficiently to form their own conclusion. Doesn’t stop them from trying, but still… In other words, once the scientists have lost their credibility, it will be a long, long time before they can get it back. Simply refering to it as funded by skeptics is an insufficent argument to restore the confidence in scientists who have repeatedly shown deceptive and incomplete data sets in order to pursue politcal agendas. Even scientists operating in good faith, such as this set supposedly was, can come to different opinions. As long as the issue is political, there will be doubt. Frankly, I won’t be alive long enough to care, and I have no children, so… whatevs.

  2. Actually, I do have a way to get rid of radioactive waste.

    Put it in lead lined containers. Encase them in reinforced concrete. Sink the whole mess to a subduction boundary zone just on the side of the zone where one tectonic plate is being pushed under another. As the plate is subducted, it carries with it the encased nuclear waste into the mantle where it becomes molten and diffuses into larger body of magma there. There should be no (or very small) risk of detonation and with careful site selection, this solution would pose minimal threat to sea life and/or water quality. It would be expensive, but less so than burying it in a hollowed out mountain and trying to figure out a way to label it so that in 10,000 years when no one speaks English people will still know it is dangerous radioactive waste.

    • Works for me–at least until we can feed things into a fusion torch and reduce them to their constituent atoms. How about removing point source pollution once it’s been mixed with the environment?

  3. Slartibartfast,
    Yes, the problems with nuclear power are not particularly nuanced, at all. They’re quite simple.
    We can’t trust profit-making entities to produce nuclear power without cutting corners. This leads to disaster.
    No one has, and it’s likely no one will, find a way to dispose of nuclear waste. Just keep producing stuff that’s incredibly toxic for 10,000 years or more, and hope someone finds a way to render it harmless?
    I don’t remember advocating the creation of more coal-fired plants. Is your suggestion that I have, a knee-jerk response to criticism of nuclear technology? I don’t respond to the old “you must choose either A or B” tactic.
    You inferred from my response that you are naive, I did not imply it.

    There are myriad ways to reduce man-made climate change. Humanity lacks the will to do so. Humanity, for the most part, insists on overpopulating the petri dish until it dies in its own wastes.

    Perhaps an Invisible Friend will save humanity from itself.
    Perhaps not.

    • Bob K. said:

      Yes, the problems with nuclear power are not particularly nuanced, at all.

      I suppose not for someone as naive and myopic as yourself.

      They’re quite simple.
      We can’t trust profit-making entities to produce nuclear power without cutting corners.

      Which is why we have regulatory agencies like the NRC.

      This leads to disaster.

      Hmm… even though we’ve never had a serious nuclear disaster in this country, these profit-making entities aren’t to be trusted… but I guess it’s okay to trust other profit-making, energy producing entities. After all, there’s never been any problems with, say, drilling for oil in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico…

      No one has, and it’s likely no one will, find a way to dispose of nuclear waste.

      Gene suggested a way to do it. I suggested a technology that would mediate it (with fusion anything could be reduced to its component atoms which could be easily sorted by atomic weight–this would solve a boatload of waste disposal and recycling problems…). Put it in a rocket and shoot it into the sun. There are three different possibilities requiring various plausible technologies. Personally, I’d say the disposal of waste was a much easier problem to solve than, for example, creating “clean” coal or reversing climate change and acid rain…

      Just keep producing stuff that’s incredibly toxic for 10,000 years or more, and hope someone finds a way to render it harmless?

      Hmm… cubic feet of waste which needs to be carefully contained (and if stored properly is pretty much inert) or megatons of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants being pumped into the air–let me think… Or have you come up with a perpetual motion machine which will solve all of our energy needs?

      I don’t remember advocating the creation of more coal-fired plants.

      How do you propose to meet our growing energy demands?

      Is your suggestion that I have, a knee-jerk response to criticism of nuclear technology?

      No, my suggestion is that your criticism of nuclear power is a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t take into effect a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of nuclear power as well as other available alternatives. If you want to shutter 20% of our national power generation capability, you’d better figure out how you’re going to make up that shortfall in power production. If you can’t figure out how to do that, then your knee-jerk criticism seems pretty naive to me.

      I don’t respond to the old “you must choose either A or B” tactic.

      Fine–20% of this country’s power comes from nuclear reactors, if we shut them down, do we:

      (a) Build new coal plants to make up the difference.

      (b) have rolling blackouts until someone figures out a way to make up the shortfall that’s okay with you.

      (c) depend on some other solution that you might have but are keeping to yourself.

      I don’t consider “you must choose A or B or come up with your own solution C” to be dishonest. You seem to want to rule something out without considering the possibility that the available alternatives might be worse. That seems naive to me.

      You inferred from my response that you are naive, I did not imply it.

      Really? The suggestion that my thoughts weren’t valid unless I could solve the problem of nuclear waste wasn’t implying that I was naive? Sure.

      There are myriad ways to reduce man-made climate change.

      And one of them is to replace coal-fired power plants with nuclear ones.

      Humanity lacks the will to do so.

      So you are unilaterally opposing the one method that humanity doesn’t lack the will to implement–and you imply I’m naive?😉

      Humanity, for the most part, insists on overpopulating the petri dish until it dies in its own wastes.

      And does that happen faster with nuclear power or coal-fired power?

      Perhaps an Invisible Friend will save humanity from itself.
      Perhaps not.

      Personally, I advocate looking at all the alternatives objectively and determining the costs and benefits of each in order to plot the best course available, but I’m sure your abandonment of empiricism for your unthinking certainty that because something you don’t like is bad, nothing else could possibly be worse. Good luck with that.

      CLH said: “In other words, no peer review, not valid.”

      That’s not what it said at all–it said that it is in the process of being peer reviewed. What’s wrong with that? The process takes time–a month after a recent paper of mine submitted I got an interim decision and have 90 days to resubmit (potentially followed by another month before a final decision). How else should one represent such a paper besides “submitted”?

  4. OS,

    Just get them into balloons–as long as they never come back down, I’ll happily write off the potential energy lost…

  5. Ultimately fission power should be gradually phased out until it’s used primarily for the military and scientific research.

    To do that, until fusion becomes viable, the power equation should be looked at from the perspective of waste not want not. Instead of wasting money on asinine disposal methods (e.g. rockets to the sun) we should exploit all that desert land we have in the South West in the form of solar farms and improved grids and transmission lines.

    Nuclear waste begets more waste every time you handle it; and so on, and so on, and so on. We should never lie to our selves and say we’re comfortable with it.

    • Thanks, Bob, Esq.

      Let’s leave out science fiction and fantasy. I’ll take plutonium on the ground, horrid as it is, to plutonium flying over my head, any day.

      My un-nuanced, un-sophisticated point about the improbability of disposing of nuclear waste, ever –
      – simply, un-sophisticatedly, rules out nuclear power as a viable energy source.

      Of course there’s a future for nuclear power. It’s just not a future any of us wants to be in. Three-mile Island. Chernobyl. Fukushima. Coming soon, to a town near you.

      I would have chosen not to have learned the Japanese pronunciation of “Fukushima.” The “spent” fuel rods, stored in the reactor, and a significant part of the problem, are sitting there because there’s no acceptable way to dispose of them. This isn’t a problem just for future generations. It’s a problem, right now.

  6. Bob, esq.,

    The “rocket to the sun” approach was just to point out that there are possible ways to dispose of waste–I wasn’t actually suggesting that it was a good idea or worth what it would cost, just that it could be done. (mathematicians like existence proofs…😉 ) Regarding solar, if you read what I’ve wrote on this thread you will see that I’m for using fission power as a stop-gap to reduce our dependence on coal-fired power while subsidizing wind and solar power to speed their development (I also favor spending money on researching fusion power, although that’s not as easy as subsidizing existing power sources…), but that’s not likely to make up even the 20% of our needs currently supplied by nuclear power anytime soon. I’m not saying that fission power is good and wonderful and wholesome, just that it is a lot better than the currently available alternatives…

    As for the “power equation”, I believe that all of the available options should be evaluated on an objective assessment of their merits to be used as part of a plan to get us to the long term goal of using nuclear technology only for research and oil solely to make plastics. Personally, I think that expansion of fission right now is the best available path and while I’m willing to re-evaluate that position based on objective facts, I’m not going to change my opinion because of Bob K’s unreasoning fear of nuclear power.

    Bob K.,

    Nuclear waste is not a threat to society, climate change caused by increasing emissions of greenhouse gasses potentially is.

    By the way, if you think that Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima are all on the same order, you are sadly ignorant–that’s like comparing a bruise to a compound fracture and an amputation. Sure, they’re all injuries, but they aren’t the same. You are making unequivocal statements based on your emotional reaction to nuclear power rather than looking at the matter objectively. Sorry, but I think that makes you naive. Do we have to worry about a Fukushima-type event? No–we don’t have any reactors that are similarly vulnerable (I’m sure that Fukushima could have been made to withstand what happened if it had been foreseen–all it would have required is an alternate power source not vulnerable to flooding that could have lasted until a grid connection could have been restored). Do we have to worry about a Chernobyl-type event? Not unless we let our regulatory agencies badly atrophy. Do we have to worry about another deepwater horizon-type oil spill? Do we have to worry about reducing greenhouse emissions? Do we have to worry about the health impacts of pollution from burning fossil fuels? We’ve made bad choices in the past so we are currently faced with bad decisions that we need to make. Refusing to consider an alternative because some of its consequences are bad and thereby committing yourself to something that may be worse because you are unwilling to objectively weigh the two seems shortsighted and idiotic to me…

    • “Idiotic” is the best you’ve got? Great rhetoric! “Idiotic” is in the eye of the beholder.
      You’ve illustrated something…perhaps not what you desired. No argument to stand on? Call the other person’s stance “idiotic.”
      Conversation over.

  7. Bob K.,

    Hmm… rather than address the argument I was making (which seems a pretty solid perch considering your inability or unwillingness to address any of the points I have made on this thread*) you’ve decided to focus on my indictment of your unwillingness to consider the issue objectively. Considering that you never answered any of my arguments, I’d say the discussion never really started.

    Your entire argument seems to be: The consequences of nuclear power are bad so we can’t use it. Well, the consequences of amputating a gangrenous limb are bad, too–but that doesn’t mean they are worse than the alternative. Until you are willing to open your eyes and consider the whole picture, you will be doomed to continue committing logical fallacies like this one.

    * funny that you try to point out a fake mote in my eye while ignoring the very real beam in your own…

  8. Paul O’Reilly 1, July 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Dredd’s comment (Dredd1, July 30, 2012 at 9:11 am) suggests that I worked for Big Tobacco. Not true. I am a retired ex-prosecutor with a B.S. Degree in Physics and no tie ever to the tobacco industry.
    =========================
    I was clearly talking about Teller:

    The reason global warming denial propaganda is like cigarette propaganda was is because Teller (the one Paul O’Reilly named) worked for the Big Tobacco industry via his Marshall Institute (and was paid by Big Tobacco just like Mueller was paid by Koch) to publish propaganda.

  9. Gene H:

    good idea about burying waste so that it ends up in the mantle, here is an article you might like:

    http://www.economist.com/node/21556100

    from the article:

    “It also means ensuring that waste does not poison future generations—people who discover nuclear waste in the far future may not realise what it is…”

    “If buried in a subduction fault, the movement of one tectonic plate sliding below another would push the canisters down into the Earth’s mantle at a rate of about ten centimetres a year.”

    So you were right on target.

  10. A recent article at Commentary, quoting an AP report, discusses how the free market is crushing CO2 emissions: “Anti-CO2 activists may have to find something else to give their lives meaning. The AP reports that “the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.” *** “Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide.” *** How did it happen? Shale gas and fracking: “A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from $7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced.” Whether or not you think anthropogenic global warming is a real problem, it’s hard to overstate the significance of this. For years, the Inconvenient Truthers have been telling us the sky will fall unless Big Government comes in to regulate emissions on a global scale. *** No government or bureaucracy can centrally plan to accomplish what the self-interested nodes of a free-market system can. The U.S. brought down CO2 emissions without help from Washington or the United Nations.” The article is here: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/08/17/the-free-market-is-crushing-co2-emissions-fracking/

  11. Bron,

    Thanks, but I can hardly take credit for the idea as original. It has been floating around science and science fiction circles for decades. In fact, in David Brin’s Uplift series, the pan-galactic civilization known as the Five Galaxies mandates that periodically habitable planets be left fallow (much like the farming practice) in order to give their ecosystems time to recover from the stresses of hosting technological civilization. As part of the fallowing process, all the artifacts of civilization – buildings, power systems, road, etc. – are recycled through the subduction method when the planets are temporarily abandoned. Both in fiction and the real world, it really is an elegant and simple solution to a very substantial problem

  12. The drop in CO2 from by human use, if true, may be too late. There are reports that thawing in the arctic is releasing huge amounts of methane.

Comments are closed.