Richard Muller On NPR On April 11 2011 – My Comments

I have already posted on Rich Muller’s testimony to Congress; see

Informative News Article by Margot Roosevelt In The Los Angeles Times On Richard Muller’s Testimony To Congress

Is There A Sampling Bias In The BEST Analysis Reported By Richard Muller?

Comments On The Testimony Of Richard Muller At the United States House Of Representatives Committee On Science, Space And Technology

He was also  been interviewed, after that testimony, by NPR on April 11 2011  (see).  I have defered posting on this interview as I have been seeking to engage Rich in a dialog on the issues with the surface temperature data.  However, I understand from an indirect source that he has a Science article under review, and thus, conclude that presenting comments on his NPR interview now would be informative to others. He is also not replying to my e-mail requests to interact on the surface temperature analysis issue.

In the NPR interview, the following questions and answers occurred (highlight added):

CONAN: Do you find that, though, there is a lot of ideology in this business?
Prof. MULLER: Well, I think what’s happened is that many scientists have gotten so concerned about global warming, correctly concerned I mean they look at it and they draw a conclusion, and then they’re worried that the public has not been concerned, and so they become advocates. And at that point, it’s unfortunate, I feel that they’re not trusting the public. They’re not presenting the science to the public. They’re presenting only that aspect to the science that will convince the public. That’s not the way science works. And because they don’t trust the public, in the end the public doesn’t trust them. And the saddest thing from this, I think, is a loss of credibility of scientists because so many of them have become advocates.
CONAN: And that’s, you would say, would be at the heart of the so-called Climategate story, where emails from some scientists seemed to be working to prevent the work of other scientists from appearing in peer-reviewed journals.
Prof. MULLER: That really shook me up when I learned about that. I think that Climategate is a very unfortunate thing that happened, that the scientists who were involved in that, from what I’ve read, didn’t trust the public, didn’t even trust the scientific public. They were not showing the discordant data. That’s something that – as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you, and then make the case that your case is stronger. And they were hiding the data, and a whole discussion of suppressing publications, I thought, was really unfortunate. It was not at a high point for science
And I really get even more upset when some other people say, oh, science is just a human activity. This is the way it happens. You have to recognize, these are people. No, no, no, no. These are not scientific standards. You don’t hide the data. You don’t play with the peer review system.

Since I posted  on another viewpoint with respect to the surface temperature issue, for example, in

Paper “A Stable Boundary Layer Perspective On Global Temperature Trends” By McNider Et Al 2010,

I have decided to post the e-mail I sent to Rich Muller before his NPR interview. I have waited for several months but have had no reply from him on this e-mail (or more recent ones) that I sent to him.

R. Pielke Sr. e-mail to Rich Muller

 The trends in max and min T are central to the computation of Tavg. Two compensating systematic biases does not make the Tavg trend more robust unless one can show this is a universal finding and not a fluke of the current sample of USHCN sites.

 Your view on the value of Tavg as being of dominate importance also perpetuates the misuse of this metric to quantify global warming (as contrasted with ocean heat content change which as a physicist, I would have thought you would emphasize in your testimony and interviews).

 Even with respect to surface air temperature trends, however, we have published on a number of systematic biases and uncertainties that you have not communicated in your interviews.

For example, there is a systematic observed warm bias in Tavg; see

1. Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

2. The trend in minimum temperatures (and less in Tmax where the surface layer is better mixed during the day) is a function of height near the surface; e.g. see

Steeneveld, G.J., A.A.M. Holtslag, R.T. McNider, and R.A Pielke Sr, 2011: Screen level temperature increase due to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide in calm and windy nights revisited. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D02122, doi:10.1029/2010JD014612.

There must, therefore, be a different trend in Tavg as a function of height near the surface.

3. There is also the issue of how concurrent trends in moist enthalpy affect Tavg; e.g. see

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, and J. Morgan, 2004: Assessing “global warming” with surface heat content. Eos, 85, No. 21, 210-211.

Your statement that

“And our tentative conclusion, which is what I reported to Congress, is even though these sites can lead to different temperatures, that for the trends, for the thing we called warming, that there does not seem to be a significant effect.”

is erroneous. You made a blanket statement which is not correct.

I would like your permission to post our e-mail exchange on my weblog. Is that okay with you? If not, I will still post my e-mails.



In Richard Muller’s NPR interview he said with respect to Climategate

“They were not showing the discordant data. That’s something that – as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you”

Clearly he is also not showing “discordont data” and “data that disageees with” him. I invite him to engage in constructive interactions with those of us in the climate community who have been examining a range of unresolved issues with the multi-decadal land surface temperature analyses.

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