East Bay News

Berkeley project seeks to resolve climate change debate

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A team of scientists is hoping to end the debate over climate science by bringing it all -- their research, models, arguments and analysis -- into the open.

The Berkeley Earth project is the inspiration of Richard Muller, a UC Berkeley physicist.

Frustrated by the debate and politicization of the climate change debate, Muller and his team hope that by making the science completely open, a consensus can be built.

"We are bringing the spirit of science back to a subject that has become too argumentative and too contentious," Muller told the Guardian newspaper. "We are an independent, non-political, non-partisan group. We will gather the data, do the analysis, present the results and make all of it available. There will be no spin, whatever we find."

According to the Berkeley Earth website, the project is being funded by the Folger Fund, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (created by Bill Gates), the Bowes Foundation, the Koch Foundation and the Getty Foundation. It has also received more than $14,000 in funding from private individuals.

The team consists of: Muller, David Brillinger, a statistician at UC Berkeley; Saul Perlmutter, physicist at UC Berkeley; Art Rosenfeld, commissioner of the California Energy Commission; Robert Jacobsen, UC Berkeley physicist; Judith Curry, a climatologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and Robert Rohde, a recent PhD graduate of Berkeley.

Curry and Muller are both seen as climate skeptics by many in the climate science world. A recent blog post at Climate Progress examines these scientists and the funding for the project.

Peter Thorne, a researcher for the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites in North Carolina, took issue with Muller's claim that his is the first public or transparent climate organization. He told the Guardian that teams at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been doing this for years.

He also said that while the Berkeley Earth project may be including more data points on temperature than other groups have, that may not make their analysis more robust or accurate.

"Do you really need 20 stations in one region to get a monthly figure? " he said to the Guardian. "The answer is no. Supersaturating your coverage doesn't give you much more bang for your buck."

Story courtesy of our media partners at California Watch (A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting)


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california watch, berkeley, global warming, uc berkeley, east bay news
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