Some claim that Prof Richard Muller, who heads the Berkeley Earth Project, is not telling the truth when he says: “Call me a converted sceptic.” Self-styled climate sceptic Steven Goddard (most likely a pseudonym) insists that Muller was never in his camp.
No, you are an unrepentant liar. Less than a year ago you said that you never were a skeptic.
November 3, 2011
“It is ironic if some people treat me as a traitor, since I was never a skeptic — only a scientific skeptic,” he said in a recent email exchange with The Huffington Post. “Some people called me a skeptic because in my best-seller ‘Physics for Future Presidents’ I had drawn attention to the numerous scientific errors in the movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ But I never felt that pointing out mistakes qualified me to be called a climate skeptic.” [bold added by Goddard]
December 17, 2003
“Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.” -
The big question is – Did you take money from the Koch Brothers on a fraudulent basis?
Steven Goddard, “Call Muller An ‘Unrepentant Liar‘”, Real Science, 29 July 2012.
First, some necessary definitions. The dictionary definition of sceptic (archaic & North American skeptic) is
1 a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.
2 Philosophy an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere.
Source: Oxford Dictionary of British and World English.
The first (popular) meaning seems relevant here. I was unable to find a dictionary definition for ‘climate sceptic’. The best I could find was this online definition:
A Climate Change Skeptic is someone who believes, in the context of Climate Change, that the human influence on the climate has been dramatically overplayed compared to natural processes and other external influences (such as the Sun). Source: EcoWho.
I am not pleased with this definition, since sceptics appeal to reason, never to faith. In religion, an agnostic, who doubts the existence of God, would be a sceptic. An atheist, who denies the existence of God, has no doubts, so is not a sceptic. Similarly, someone who is unsure of the scientific evidence surrounding climate change (global warming) would be a sceptic. Someone who is convinced that climate change (global warming) is a hoax would best be described as a denier. In short, sceptics are to agnostics as deniers are to atheists.
Richard Muller most definitely was a sceptic, as all good scientists are. But he was never a ‘climate sceptic’ or, as I would prefer to say, a ‘climate denier’. This becomes abundantly clear in the two articles above that Steven Goddard cites, provided we read more than his selected excerpts. Here, for example, are the first and last sentences from the first article:
Though by no means a climate change denier, Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work in nuclear and astrophysics is well known, had long been suspicious of some of the science underpinning the accepted catechism on global warming.
“Scientists,” he said, “have a professional responsibility to be skeptical.”
Tom Zeller Jr., “Richard Muller, Climate Researcher, Navigates The Volatile Line Between Science And Skepticism“, HuffPost Green, 3 November 2011.
And here are the paragraphs that come just before and after the paragraph that Goddard quotes:
It was unfortunate that many scientists endorsed the hockey stick before it could be subjected to the tedious review of time. Ironically, it appears that these scientists skipped the vetting precisely because the results were so important.
Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate. I would love to believe that the results of Mann et al. are correct, and that the last few years have been the warmest in a millennium.
Love to believe? My own words make me shudder. They trigger my scientist’s instinct for caution. When a conclusion is attractive, I am tempted to lower my standards, to do shoddy work. But that is not the way to truth. When the conclusions are attractive, we must be extra cautious.
Richard Muller, “Medieval Global Warming“, Technology Review (MIT), 17 December 2003.
(Bold added by TdJ)