Climate Change Not Exaggerated

A study funded by climate change skeptics confirms that global warming is happening at the rate questioned by "Climategate."

Oct 21, 2011
Jef Akst

Global warming predictions mapWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, ROBERT A. ROHDE

New methods and new data, same conclusion: the Earth is warming, according to a new study, funded in part by climate change skeptics.

The study was organized in 2009 by University of California physics professor Richard Muller in response to the "Climategate" scandal, in which the emails of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were hacked and posted online in an effort to expose supposed data manipulation that exaggerated the planet's warming trends.

"I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data," Muller told BBC News.

But the new study puts such claims to bed. With funding from an unlikely source—billionaire US industrialists known to support groups that lobby against man-made global warming—the Berkeley Earth Project used up-to-date techniques and data to determine that previous estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and others are accurate. Specifically, the researchers, including this year's Nobel Laureate in Physics Saul Perlmutter, documented changing water temperatures in the north Atlantic, as well as an overall warming pattern since 1800. The study further discounted the accusation by bloggers that weather station data only documented a warming trend because of their location in or near cities.

"Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK," Muller told the BBC. "This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change skeptics did not seriously affect their conclusions."