Did Skeptical Scientists Confirm Global Warming?

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A new independent study of global warming data was released this week. And the majority of climate scientists are saying -- "Well, duh!"

"...an independent team of scientists has formally released their analysis of the land surface temperature record. ... the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study takes a different and more comprehensive approach than earlier assessments, but reaches the same basic conclusion: global warming is happening." (Source: Nature News)

The Berkeley project, or BEST, began as a skeptical look at raw climate data following on the Climategate email hack. The team used their own analytical techniques, used all the raw data available rather than a sample, and published it all online.

The project is headed by self-proclaimed climate skeptic Richard Mullen. When the project was announced, global warming skeptics welcomed BEST's transparency and unbiased methods. But to Mullen's surprise, they found a land temperature increase of 0.9 degrees celsius since 1950 -- right in line with past studies. (Source: Berkeley Earth)

One common criticism of global warming the study addressed is that temperature data is biased.

For instance, many temperature stations are inaccurate by several degrees, making data unreliable. Also, since cities are warmer than countryside, temperature readings in cities will be warmer, skewing trends upward. (Video source: Berkeley Earth / Guardian)

But the Guardian reports, when the team looked at the data with these criticisms in mind, they found the results were the same.

"...the Berkeley study found that the so-called urban heat island effect ... is locally large and real, but does not contribute significantly to average land temperature rises."

It turns out even the temperature stations with the least reliable absolute readings still measured the same increases -- sort of like how an inaccurate clock can't tell you what time it is but can still measure time passing.

In a piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal, Muller said previous climate studies had done their due diligence.

"When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that."

The news of a warming skeptic confirming global warming has science bloggers understandably crowing -- especially considering the project's largest donor was the anti-global warming Koch Foundation. But climate skeptic Anthony Watts says the study isn't solid enough to change his mind.

Watts criticizes the study on his blog Watts Up With That? for using a different time period than other studies and for releasing their findings to the media before peer review.

"Apparently, PR trumps the scientific process now, no need to do that pesky peer review, no need to address the errors with those you ask for comments prior to publication, just get it to press."

The new studies don't dive into the more controversial issues, like -- assuming global warming is real, are humans causing it?

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