Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change?

By | March 2, 2011

Richard MullerIn 1964, Richard Muller, a 20-year-old graduate student with neat-cropped hair, walked into Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined a mass protest of unprecedented scale. The activists, a few thousand strong, demanded that the university lift a ban on free speech and ease restrictions on academic freedom, while outside on the steps a young folk-singer called Joan Baez led supporters in a chorus of We Shall Overcome. The sit-in ended two days later when police stormed the building in the early hours and arrested hundreds of students. Muller was thrown into Oakland jail. The heavy-handedness sparked further unrest and, a month later, the university administration backed down. The protest was a pivotal moment for the civil liberties movement and marked Berkeley as a haven of free thinking and fierce independence.

Today, Muller is still on the Berkeley campus, probably the only member of the free speech movement arrested that night to end up with a faculty position there – as a professor of physics. His list of publications is testament to the free rein of tenure: he worked on the first light from the big bang, proposed a new theory of ice ages, and found evidence for an upturn in impact craters on the moon. His expertise is highly sought after. For more than 30 years, he was a member of the independent Jason group that advises the US government on defence; his college lecture series, Physics for Future Presidents was voted best class on campus, went stratospheric on YouTube and, in 2009, was turned into a bestseller.

For the past year, Muller has kept a low profile, working quietly on a new project with a team of academics hand-picked for their skills. They meet on campus regularly, to check progress, thrash out problems and hunt for oversights that might undermine their work. And for good reason. When Muller and his team go public with their findings in a few weeks, they will be muscling in on the ugliest and most hard-fought debate of modern times.

Muller calls his latest obsession the Berkeley Earth project. The aim is so simple that the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking is easy to miss. Starting from scratch, with new computer tools and more data than has ever been used, they will arrive at an independent assessment of global warming. The team will also make every piece of data it uses – 1.6bn data points – freely available on a website. …

Muller is fed up with the politicised row that all too often engulfs climate science. By laying all its data and workings out in the open, where they can be checked and challenged by anyone, the Berkeley team hopes to achieve something remarkable: a broader consensus on global warming. …

via Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change? | Science | The Guardian.

Great. We should settle this so we can plan our world wide course of action, one way or another.  You may say that this is impossible, but we have come around to a consensus on other big issues: the roundness of the earth, our not being at the center of the universe, that matter can be converted into energy, that heavier-than-air craft can carry humans in flight, and so on.

3 thoughts on “Can a group of scientists in California end the war on climate change?

  1. Ann

    Don’t put your hopes in this project showing any objectivity.

    First clue, the article draws a lot of attention to Muller being arrested in the 1960s – that’s 50 years ago. Shouldn’t one ask why? Trying to lead the reader into categorizing Muller in a certain way, perhaps? But, both right- and left-leaning groups have been arrested in the 60s and since.

    “For more than 30 years, he [Muller] was a member of the independent Jason group that advises the US government on defence.” What does that exactly mean? For 30 and more the U.S. military has grown to be one of the largest military monsters in the history of humankind.

    But most importantly, this project is funded by Bill Gates (oh, try to convince us that he and his wife aren’t interested in some sort of return from their “stupendous” philanthropy), Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab, which is also funded by Big Oil, and the notorious Koch brothers, Big Oil from Wichita, Kansas.

    One thing the billionaire Koch brothers are good at, whether by admittedly backing the “Tea Party” (some of whom are now in Washington claiming global warming is “hoax”), or whatever, is making money, lots of it. Seeing how the number one culprit in the global warming scenario is carbon dioxide emissions, which holds Big Oil directly accountable, one can be absolutely certain the Koch Bros. will not back any project that will confirm this, despite the almost 50 years of discussion, debate and a lot of hard work among climatologists. This project by Muller is almost an insult to all that work.

  2. Ann

    Don’t put your hopes in this project showing any objectivity.

    First clue, the article draws a lot of attention to Muller to being arrested in the 1960s – that’s 50 years ago. Shouldn’t one ask why? Trying to lead the reader into categorizing Muller in a certain way, perhaps? Both right- and left-leaning groups have been arrested in the 60s and since.

    “For more than 30 years, he was a member of the independent Jason group that advises the US government on defence.” What does that mean?

    But most importantly, this project is funded by Bill Gates (oh, try to convince us that he and his wife aren’t interested in some sort of return from their philanthropy), Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab, which is also funded by Big Oil, and the notorious Koch brothers, Big Oil from Wichita, KS.

    Don’t put your hopes in this project showing any objectivity.

    First clue, the article draws a lot of attention to Muller being arrested in the 1960s – that’s 50 years ago. Shouldn’t one ask why? Trying to lead the reader into categorizing Muller in a certain way, perhaps? But, both right- and left-leaning groups have been arrested in the 60s and since.

    “For more than 30 years, he [Muller] was a member of the independent Jason group that advises the US government on defence.” What does that exactly mean? For 30 and more the U.S. military has grown to be one of the largest military monsters in the history of humankind.

    But most importantly, this project is funded by Bill Gates (oh, try to convince us that he and his wife aren’t interested in some sort of return from their “stupendous” philanthropy), Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab, which is also funded by Big Oil, and the notorious Koch brothers, Big Oil from Wichita, Kansas.

    One thing the billionaire Koch brothers are good at, whether by admittedly backing the “Tea Party” (some of whom are now in Washington claiming global warming is “hoax”), or whatever, is making money, lots of it. Seeing how the number one culprit in the global warming scenario is carbon dioxide emissions, which holds Big Oil directly accountable, one can be absolutely certain the Koch Bros. will not back any project that will confirm this, despite the almost 50 years of discussion, debate and a lot of hard work among climatologists. This project by Muller is almost an insult to all that work.

  3. Mirlen101

    Is the world round ? Or is it oval ? 😐
    I’m not the center of the universe ! ? ;-O
    I can’t even agree with myself ! Another mind child dilemma !

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