Talking Climate Change: start with the facts

Talking Climate Change: start with the facts
Posted on September 10, 2013 | James Mihaychuk | Written on September 10, 2013
Letter type:

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

I see a lot of misinformed comments online in which the person writing insists that the science behind anything to do with climate change is somehow obscure. It is not. It has been made freely available for anyone to see and study online.

This letter was my response to what I would consider an uninformed opinion in an online comment here on Unpublished Ottawa.

The most responsible and independent scientific analysis that I could find on the subject of anthropogenic global warming is that of Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley.

For those who do not know his background, Dr. Muller is well known for both his physics research and for his work on the JASON panels. These are panels of researchers called in by the US Department of Defense to assist on matters where the military and federal government are in need of expert advice in addressing real-world problems. If anything, the JASON panels have been criticized from the left over the years due to their work in the service of military and state power. You can view examples of non-classified JASON projects here:

Richard Muller started out as a climate change skeptic. He formed a team of scientists and statisticians under the Berkeley Earth project to analyze *all* available land-based weather station data going back to the 1700's. This differs from most work, including that of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that typically goes back to only about 1950.

The Berkeley Earth team committed to use all available data without massaging it, with the one exception that they would exclude data obviously affected by urban heating around our growing cities. Where a data series or a particular station is in doubt, that is addressed by assigning those data a lesser statistical weight, not by applying corrections or by excluding the data. Far from being biased in favour of a climate change hypothesis, Berkeley Earth went so far as to accept funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

What the Berkeley Earth found was that the record of the Earth's temperature in this time period is dominated by just two things: transient cooling due to major volcanic events, and an overall warming that is consistent with the rising CO2 level in the atmosphere. Dr. Muller himself was interviewed and admitted to being converted from a climate change skeptic to accepting the reality of global, man-made climate change due to burning of fossil fuels. The next step in the ongoing independent project includes expand their analyses to address a wider range of climate change phenomena.

You can use the resources on the Berkeley Earth website to view the overall data, data for the Ottawa Region, and, in fact, all of the data. All of the datasets used by the Berkeley Earth project are available for download by anyone who has an interest. All papers regarding their methods and findings have been submitted to peer reviewed journals, with pre-publication materials available for review in advance by any interested parties. It is about the most open review process that I have seen in my career.

The site:

Make no mistake: I would love to drive a big SUV and to heat my house with just about anything that burns and stocked with every hi-tech gadget I can get. As a scientist and high-tech worker, I am as far from being anti-technology as they come.

However, I have learned that our economic and technological future need to move along a different path from what we have been following for the past couple of centuries, one of efficiency and conservation. We face big challenges but also enormous opportunities. We would be reckless not to move to address our changing reality, and foolish not to take advantage of the many economic opportunities involved in addressing such a major change in society.

When in doubt, let's all drop the rhetoric, sit down over a coffee with a laptop or a tablet, and take a look at what the real research is. It is easier to do today than ever before.

To have such a chat, contact me here: JamesGP (at) Rogers (dot) com.

Best regards,
James Mihaychuk, Ph.D.

About The Author

mihaychuk's picture

I am interested in sustainability, civic engagement and democratic renewal. You might find me walking or biking on local trails.
I'm a high-tech veteran and have lived in Ottawa since 2000. Before my work in... More


Anita Payne

Write on James!

Barb Coddington

I would be "loud and proud" with your conclusions. To my mind it's no time for the modulated voice used in the stacks at the library. Thank you for the article.

I'm familiar with Richard Muller's conversion from skeptic to believer from a previous post on BoomerWarrior.Org. This kind of occurrence speaks loudly to the fact that little by little the climate change debate is being won by science and by the facts on the ground.

Natalie Lavigne

Well-written piece on the science behind climate change. For a good read on how self-interest propaganda has purposefully created confusion about climate change, try James Hoggan's "Climate Cover-Up".

Joe Wallach

Given that global warming is blamed on human activity, and to try to curb it there are additional taxes, plus windmills and solar panels, all of which weigh on the purse of the taxpayer. What human activity caused the last continental glacial ice sheet to melt in this area some 12,000 years ago?