A welcome voice in the climate wars: Richard Muller

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Dr. Richard Muller, professor of physics at University of California Berkeley

Though, as with most in this issue, I don’t agree with him on everything, his perspective is very welcome to me, as it should be to climate realists. The man of which I speak is Dr. Richard Muller, who recently answered a question that didn’t seem like it would yield such a reasonable answer: How many climate change denialists are there in the US? The question and Dr. Muller’s answer were posted on HuffPost Green. Dr. Muller’s answer is quoted in excerpts below.

He starts off with good points on the fact that though he believes humans are the primary contributor to recent warming, he could also argue that extreme weather (e.g., hurricanes and tornadoes) isn’t increasing.

The number of climate change deniers in the US depends on what you mean by “denier”. I, for example, am not only convinced that global warming is real, and caused by humans, but I can make a compelling case that it is so, and I spend a substantial part of my time talking to those who don’t accept that. I don’t publicize the list of people I have convinced, but you would likely recognize some of the names.

 

On the other hand, I might be listed as a “climate change denier” because I also can show that hurricanes are not increasing (as many alarmists claim), neither are tornados, and droughts and floods are not becoming more common.

He then goes on to list his personal defining of types of people in this debate.

Alarmists. They pay little attention to the details of the science. They are “unconvincibles.” They say the danger is imminent, so scare tactics are both necessary and appropriate, especially to counter the deniers. They implicitly assume that all global warming and human-caused global warming are identical.

 

Exaggerators. They know the science but exaggerate for the public good. They feel the public doesn’t find an 0.64°C change threatening, so they have to cherry-pick and distort a little—for a good cause.

 

Warmists. These people stick to the science. They may not know the answer to every complaint of the skeptics, but they have grown to trust the scientists who work on the issues. They are convinced the danger is serious and imminent.

 

Lukewarmists. They, too, stick to the science. They recognize there is a danger but feel it is uncertain. We should do something, but it can be measured. We have time.

 

Skeptics. They know the science but are bothered by the exaggerators, and they point to serious flaws in the theory and data analysis. They get annoyed when the warmists ignore their complaints, many of which are valid. This group includes auditors, scientists who carefully check the analysis of others.

 

Deniers. They pay little attention to the details of the science. They are “unconvincibles.” They consider the alarmists’ proposals dangerous threats to our economy, so exaggerations are both necessary and appropriate to counter them.

I am probably closest to being a “lukewarmist”. So would I be placed in the category of denier?

Like Muller, I would describe myself as closest to a lukewarmist if given the choices on that list.

So, brava to Dr. Muller for taking on the shrill cries of some on both sides of the aisle with a reasoned analysis of the types of people taking part in discourse on this issue.

On my linking to Popular Technology’s list

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I was thinking that it would be a good idea to clarify my reasons and position for linking to and on Popular Technology’s working list of papers skeptical of AGW (anthropogenic global warming) alarm, so here they are.

When I say alarm, I mean someone acting like this is a crisis of titanic proportions, perhaps even the greatest one ever. I’m talking about someone saying that requires immediate action by every citizen to go carbon zero or negative. Neither Andrew at Popular Technology nor I mean papers that attempt to discredit AGW itself, which would be practically impossible to do (despite what some “skeptics” may tell you), unless a new paradigm of climate science is established and what has been learned over the past 150 years is all somehow overturned.

I chose to link to it only because I think it is important to show that there is a diversity of viewpoints on climate change in the scientific literature, and taking Andrew’s list along with the rest of the scientific literature on climate change (which overwhelmingly supports the notion that climate change is real, happening, and at least partially manmade, though many papers on Andrew’s list agree with those three points) gives a good view of what the science actually says. In addition, I find it very useful in helping argue for the climate realist perspective.

My linking to it does not qualify as an endorsement of his views, nor does it qualify even as an endorsement of the views of the papers on the list.