Independent Assessment Finds Warming Too

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched to conduct a re-evaluation of the surface temperature record in order to resolve persistent debate over the reliability of prior analyses and provide an open record that could form the basis for future scientific research.  The effort is led by several respected scientists, including UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, and funded by a wide variety of sources, ranging from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to Bill Gates’ Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. While not a climate “skeptic,” Muller has previously raised concerns about the reliability of conventional climate assessments and warming projections.

The project was not created to confirm the reliability of the existing temperature record, but it appears that is what it is doing.  As today’s Los Angeles Times reports:

Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is “excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.”

The hearing was called by GOP leaders of the House Science & Technology committee, who have expressed doubts about the integrity of climate science. It was one of several inquiries in recent weeks as the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles have come under strenuous attack in Congress.

Muller said his group was surprised by its findings, but he cautioned that the initial assessment is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements that will eventually be examined.

The preliminary findings, and a link to Muller’s testimony, are here.  It bears repeating that these findings are preliminary, but it is also significant that they are confirming prior claims that the earth has experienced significant warming in recent decades, a conclusion also supported by the satellite record (which goes back to 1979).

The reality of global warming may not justify the expansion of federal regulation under the Clean Air Act and other existing statutes, but it does merit a serious policy response.  Even less-than catastrophic warming projections justify action to address climate change.  Indeed, some of the things that would set the nation on a more climate-friendly course — such as shifting the tax-burden away from income and wealth creation toward consumption — would be a wise thing to do even if climate change were no concern at all.