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Koch Bros Study Finds Global Warming Is Real And Man-Made 769

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-about-that dept.
bledri writes "The results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature are in and Richard Muller, the study's director (formerly an AGW skeptic) declares, 'Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.' The study was 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."
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Koch Bros Study Finds Global Warming Is Real And Man-Made

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:38AM (#40807375)

    The Koch Brothers were among several funders, some of whom actually had decent motives. For example, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are not partisan conservatives. And FICER (the Gates-funded organization) actively depends on global warming existing, because their whole raison d'etre is pushing geoengineering as a solution, which would obviously be unnecessary if there were no problem for geoengineering to solve.

    In fact that's probably why the outcome was actually scientifically legit: it was a study by actual scientists with a fairly broad set of backers, done at a university rather than in the private sector.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:41AM (#40807389) Journal

    (Bjorn Lomborg) as two prominent if not THE most prominent AGW skeptics to change their minds. (I've heard of these guys and if I've heard of them, since I'm not a specialist, I figure they must be prominent).

    So what's it going to take? Convincing every last person that this isn't real? That's going to be pretty damned impossible because as Upton Sinclair wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.". Substitute the word "salary" with "lifestyle" (or even "SUV") and you'll see how the average American thinks.

    I've read that a ten percentage increase in electrical costs would be enough to sequester all the CO2 we're currently emitting. So the fact that a ten percentage increase in something that is not a big item in the average American budget is keeping us from potentially preventing great harm to our ecology, biosphere and a great number of species on this planet (including us!) makes me realize that we will deserve the hell on earth we get.

  • by j-b0y (449975) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:45AM (#40807423)

    Anyhoo - the more people on _both_ sides of the argument who actually look at the data rather than just attack the conclusions, the better for everybody concerned.

  • Re:Thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:50AM (#40807459) Homepage

    I was confused. I am prepared to believe the Koch Foundation on this because I think Global Warming exists and we are the primary cause of it. We would be the solution but I don't think we can ever organize ourselves enough to solve the problem - politicians think too shortterm and only want to be reelected. Pushing policies that will be unpopular with their constituents and their supporters (Corporations) will not result in reelection.

    I think that people who believe the Koch Brothers on anything are being suckered - i.e. they are "Koch Suckers" :)

  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:52AM (#40807465) Homepage

    ...is global warming good or bad.

    For some it will be good. For some bad. The diversity of life has historically increased with warming. Coastal cities won't like a sea level rise though.

    Darfur. The huge mess down there is being exasperated because traditional sources of water are drying up, forcing social and political change.

    Personally, I'm less worried about the coastal cities getting submerged as I am about the majority of farmland becoming arid deserts. Combine this with peak oil also driving food prices up and we have quite the clusterfuck on our hands.

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:56AM (#40807481)
    Step one was to deny it was real. Now we are on step two: admit it is real but that it is too expensive for us to fight it. Step three is to build another mansion on higher ground and put in larger A/C units.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @09:57AM (#40807493)

    Global warming will also destroy crop yields - just look at the corn yield THIS YEAR.

    which will affect beef production/

    Global Warming will also affect fisheries. Between GW and over fishing around the World, we're going to see some real devastation there - and fisheries around the World are already in trouble. That's why you keep seeing new and different species of fish behind the counter - the other ones have been almost wiped out. (Farmed fish is an environmental and nutritional joke. But that's for another time.)

    See, that's the thing that annoys me. Just about all of the "debate" in the popular media about global warming is about "lifestyle", taxes, nationalism, ... everything but food supply except when it comes to ethanol. (The corn lobby needs to be destroyed. Farm subsidies mostly enrich Cargil, Monsano, Tyson, and other huge corporate food processors. It lowers input their costs.)

    So, while the general public is being distracted my non-issues about GW like losing control of our government to the UN, higher taxes and other non-sense, the folks who are profiting dearly from our current policies are getting away scott free.

    And the above is just ONE facet of the true forces behind the issue.

  • by Denogh (2024280) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:02AM (#40807517)

    AFAIK The Koch Foundation isn't the same as the Koch Brothers (the folks who donate to conservative political candidates.)

    There are two Koch foundations, one founded by each of the infamous Koch Brothers. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this Koch foundation was the same one that provides funding for Nova (or did at one time).

    I'm a little curious as to why, in a list of 5 organizations that funded this study, the headline and OP singled out Koch. Hoping for additional impact that wouldn't be achieved by just saying "Climate Change Skeptic Changes Mind"?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:03AM (#40807523)

    a ten percentage increase in something that is not a big item in the average American budget ...

    The problem with this logic is that America is only 5% of the world. All rich countries combined are less than 20%. Unless something actually makes economic sense, it is not going to be accepted by the other 80% (and judging by current trends, it probably won't be accepted by the richest 20% either).

    The solution to AGW is not convincing people that they need to sacrifice and suffer for the common good. That won't work. Instead we need to do the R&D to come up with cost effective solutions that make economic sense even on a stand-alone-basis. We have already done that with wind power, CFLs, etc., and we need to do it for solar, electric vehicles, etc.

    If you focus on "suffer and sacrifice", you are being counter-productive, because you just push more people into the denier camp.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:04AM (#40807527)

    The average climate change denier doesn't give a damn about the NSF or hippies from Lawrence Berkeley. But Bush-the-Elder's friends? Now that carries some weight!

    The Koch brothers are G.H.W. Bush's friends?

    I didn't know that.

    And, oddly enough, I didn't (and don't) really care.

    Now, wake me up when the AGW loons decide that nuclear is better than coal, and I'll start taking them seriously.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:04AM (#40807529) Journal

    I know that conceding the Koch brothers AREN'T modern-day Satans might spell the end of your whole worldview, but why then would they support in any way a study that they couldn't control/manipulate/predict?

    I suppose one could claim that they stupidly didn't realize this, but considering that for the last 10 years they've been pilloried as the Gray Eminence behind all things dark and malign, suggesting that suddenly they're dopey doesn't quite fit with the script.

  • by mikes.song (830361) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:05AM (#40807531)
    I think they are playing people. [wikipedia.org] It's just part of the globalist march. Of course there is global warming. Clearly, the solution is to take away the property of those that complain about it.
  • by Rakshasa-sensei (533725) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:16AM (#40807573) Homepage
    It seems quite likely that the Koch brothers actually don't / didn't think anthropogenic global warming was real, and thus funded the study with that assumption thinking it would support their position.
  • by Pino Grigio (2232472) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:17AM (#40807579)
    Firstly, let us be clear on what we're talking about: current temperature appears as a statistical blip in the historical record. [wordpress.com]

    Secondly, Richard Muller is not and never was a skeptic. Way back in 2003 he was saying things like, "Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate." and even more incredibly, "If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion - which he does, but he’s very effective at it - then let him fly any plane he wants."(2008).

    Thirdly, even William Connolley, the guy banned from editing Wikipedia for 6 months due to his attempts to rubbish skeptics, thinks Muller is a wazzock for making the claims he has [scienceblogs.com]. So, slashdot, the excitement you are experiencing here is really quite misplaced.
  • by Nursie (632944) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:23AM (#40807603)

    It's hard to believe there are still people stupid enough to spout these two talking points, a good decade or more after they've been debunked, soundly and repeatedly.

    Clearly there are though, and they're proud of their extreme ignorance.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:30AM (#40807661)

    It seems quite likely that the Koch brothers actually don't / didn't think anthropogenic global warming was real, and thus funded the study with that assumption thinking it would support their position.

    Yeah, since they put a "skeptic" in charge of it. Bad luck for them he actually looked at the facts and changed his mind.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:34AM (#40807687)
    I'm a Democrat, and I love nuclear! (And I conditionally love fracking gas, though I think it needs better - though not onerous - regulations. I certainly love it more than coal, even in its present badly-regulated state.) The leader of my party, President Obama, defends exactly these policies, as far as I can tell. I really don't think that Democrats are the problem. I think that giant energy companies like Exxon-Mobil (the funding arm of the Republican party) are the problem. I think the (Republican) coal lobby is a problem. NIMBYism (which cuts across party lines) is a problem. And science denialism is a problem (on which Republicans have a near monopoly). In all this, it's weird to blame the Democrats.
  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @10:35AM (#40807689)

    So it sounds like he's basically replicated the circa-2007 IPCC results and conclusions?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:01AM (#40807867)

    USA is one of a very few select holdouts countries that refuse to do anything about AGW.

    You mean we didn't sign Kyoto? Many of the signatories increased their CO2 emissions over the last decade even more than the USA did. The Kyoto Protocol was just meaningless symbolic crap. There was no enforcement, no penalties. It gave people the feeling that we are "doing something" about AGW, while the whole emphasis of Kyoto on "sacrifice and suffering" was actually counter-productive. It did very little to promote the scientific research to find real workable solutions. Can you guess which country spent, by far, the most on this research? The United States of America.

    With USA on board the rest of the holdouts will be forced to join too.

    If the USA cuts CO2 emissions, how exactly does that "force" China, India, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, etc. to do the same?

    USA is also the biggest contributor to AGW ...

    The USA is not the biggest contributor to AGW, either absolutely or per-capita.

  • by tmosley (996283) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:05AM (#40807901)
    I don't recall seeing this claim debunked. I have only seen people claim that this claim has been debunked, mixed in with ad hominem.

    Perhaps the parent hasn't seen it either? Maybe you should post a link rather than being an abusive twat.
  • Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:07AM (#40807913)

    If you didn't think the argument involved multiple parts, then you weren't paying attention. I find this to be one of the biggest problems with many self-proclaimed proponents of AGW is that they think if they prove something, then the argument is done, over, everything else follows logically and there can be no question. No, not at all. There are multiple stages to the argument.

    The first is the claims of fact: That average surface temperature is increasing and that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are increasing. These are claims of facts about the world, things to be observed or measured. CO2 is pretty easy given the nature of gasses diffusing to uniform, temperature is quite a bit harder. However, it looks pretty solid that yes, temperature has been increasing. So that's step one, verify the facts behind the theory.

    The next step is the central theory: That the primary or exclusive cause of the observed warming is the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere due to human emissions. Like all theories, it attempts to explain the connection between facts, how things relate. So that the facts are true does not automatically imply the theory is correct. That is the point of this (and other) studies. See if there are facts that would falsify this theory, or are there other theories that would fit the available facts better. So far, it does not seem so which means that this theory is probably correct.

    This is not the end of the argument though. All you've done is shown why something is happening. That doesn't mean anything in and of itself. The next part of the argument is where things get more specious: The claim that this will be a bad thing for humanity as a whole. That's not a scientific theory, that's an over-arching claim, a judgement call. It is based on a number of theories and hypothesis out there. However to be accurate it needs to be backed up by theories with evidence that indicate that things will change in negative ways. Also you have to weigh just how positive and negative all the predicted changes will be. Anyone who pretends something is all positive or all negative is pushing an agenda and/or ignoring reality. Everything has a downside, a cost. The question is how does it weigh overall?

    This is a discussion that doesn't seem to happen much. The "It will be a bad thing," seem to be parroted as dogma. You accept or you get shouted down. Any hypothesis that says something bad will happen is accepted as true, any hypothesis that says something good will happen is said to be false. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way.

    Then, after you've shown it is a net negative overall, that it is something that would be better if it didn't happen, you get down to the policy of what to do about it. This is not science at all, there is no one right answer. It is a matter of deciding what we wish to do based off of costs, likelihood of success, other downsides and so on. "Just stop burning fossil fuels," isn't the "correct" answer. It is a possible course of action, but not the only one. Geoengineering solutions would be others. Still others would be not to try and change what is happening, but rather to change ourselves and prepare to deal with the changes since though this change may be human caused it is likely at some point another will happen that isn't and thus we may not be able to affect.

    So if you are hoping for the magic moment of "All debate ends and everyone agrees with me," well sorry you aren't going to see it. As I alluded to, the big thing at this point would be to show that this change is going to be a net negative for humanity. That's complex, so no surprise it is hard. Even once that is in the bag, the question remains as to what to do. To that there will never be a final "correct" answer, only possibilities that eventually will need to be weighed and chosen from (including the possibility of doing nothing).

  • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:13AM (#40807967) Homepage

    Gates, Koch, Getty and Bowes. That's a pretty diverse group. Either you don't trust anyone or that's about as close as you are going to get to a fair determination.

  • by tmosley (996283) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:15AM (#40807979)
    That is a lesser evil than half of Africa starving to death because of increased food prices caused by carbon taxes on farmers in the US and elsewhere.

    Of course, we COULD just abandon our idiotic de facto ban on nuclear research and build LFTRs everywhere, both halting the growth of CO2 emissions (among other more potent greenhouse gases) and making energy cheaper for everyone, improving everyone's standard of living.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:20AM (#40808013)

    Given the damage done by speedboats, I'm not sure being a Manatee is any day at the beach either.

  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:27AM (#40808065)

    At some point, you might as well be abusive. Moon vs Earth temperatures is a good an example as any he could give. The difference between the two? Greenhouse effect. More Greenhouse leads to yet higher average temperatures.

    The whole debate is not about who is right and who is wrong. It is about people fighting for their right to deny reality in exchange for clinging to their religious beliefs or a fat pay-cheque. There is no merit in that. No moral principle. The debate consists entirely on one side bringing up irrelevant and minor points and demanding that they be refuted in detail. This gives them time to come up with the next batch of irrelevant details

    In some sense, the fact that this study was conducted was a huge gimmick: the outcome was obvious, and any scientist (yes even a physicist) who thinks he'll get better results than the guys from a field he's not from has a clearly overinflated ego.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:29AM (#40808071) Journal

    At the end of the day, the Universe doesn`t give one single fuck about shills, Al Gore, pseudo-skeptics or any of this nonsense. If it`s happening (and the vast majority of researchers in fields related to climate says it is), then what precisely does your post mean.

    This whole notion that it's sane to pose the question of AGW in terms of political affiliation or idea is beyond me. It fundamentally isn't a political question, so treating it like a political question is absolute moronic. Yes, there is a political dimension, but defining your position on it based on your political ideology is as inane and mad an activity as I can imagine.

    The Universe does not give one tiny fuck about politics. Lightning will not bend towards or against you because your a Libertarian or a Conservative or a Liberal or whatever. The petty ideological beliefs of humans aren't even specks of dust on a neutron star.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:51AM (#40808239)

    No one is telling you to go back to a hut in the middle of a forest. You're making it up. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions means producing energy using solar, wind, and nuclear sources, and improving energy efficiency. It will mean higher tech than we have now, not lower tech.

    But in any case, we can simply tax goods from countries with higher carbon dioxide emissions. That will give them economic incentive to lower their emissions.

  • by Sollord (888521) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:54AM (#40808263)

    The nuclear power industry doesn't build new plans because it's far cheaper and easier to maintain a current one then jump though all the federal hoops while wading though all the lawsuits by the anti-nuke jackasses and not in my backyard types. Most companies aren't going to build something that is insanely expensive and requires 10years or more of lawsuits and regulatory hoops to jump through just to get a permit to even start building which will take 4-8years on its own. Making everything expensive and overly complicated just to get a permit makes it not worth money to build 4th gen nuclear capacity to replace all the current 1st gen plants. They will be replaced by modern coal or natural gas plants until fraking is banned then it will just be all coal. We should allow nuclear operators to build pre-approved new 4th gen plants directly next to existing nuclear plants with streamlined approval process as direct replacements for the existing 1st gen that must be shut down as soon as the new one powers up.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:34PM (#40808513) Journal

    " The diversity of life has historically increased with warming".

    Sure, but the same can be said of asteroid impacts; new studies have indicated that after as short as 10 million years, the biosphere has recovered and maybe even opened up a few new ecological niches by dislodging the old dominant species (bye bye dinosaurs!).

    The problem is the word "short". On any human timescale, ten million years is a long time. In a few centuries which really is the blink of an eye in a geological sense, we'll be altering the climate substantially. For many species (millions?) it will be too fast for them to evolve.

    So they'll die.

    Global warming will NOT extinguish life on earth (well not unless we manage to cause a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus). It does have the potential of creating a less diverse world filled with crabgrass, cockroaches and rats and other generalist species (like us) that will take over. Our descendants for TENS OF THOUSANDS of generations may curse their selfish, short-sighted ancestors of the 21st century.

    And Americans in particular.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:51PM (#40808637)

    Infrastructure is brittle, though. Our transport, homes, energy and food generation will be lucky to survive one change, let alone a constantly warming planet.

    Where's the evidence that infrastructure is brittle? If a home breaks, build another. If a farm ceases to be productive then move to a location where farming is more productive.And energy production is particularly resistance to climate change since it's widespread and very diverse.

    This also ignores that physical infrastructure is not the only infrastructure. The laws of the land aren't susceptible to climate change. You're not going to forget all that you've learned because sea levels rose 10 cm.

  • by lenski (96498) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:59PM (#40808699)

    My 2010 TDI "Sportwagen" gets 35+ under constant in-town acceleration/deceleration during rush hour, gets 40+ in off-hour in-town driving, and 52+ on disciplined long trips.

    Plenty of room for a custom bicycle (I am 6' 4", and the bike's frame is enlarged to accommodate exceptionally long legs). Or alternatively room for 4 people and all their luggage for a long weekend at a family wedding.

    Being a slashdot poster, you should know about "refactoring". Doesn't happen enough in the software world, and it for sure doesn't happen often enough in the legislative world. But the answer is not "deregulating": which merely cedes the power to those who really want to socialize their responsibilities while privatizing their profits.

    There has never been a free market. The only question to be answered is "who controls the market"? It could be, and usually is, the group who have the concentrated market power, or an entity that should be responsible to the society at large, whose capacity to design and implement the regulations is admittedly imperfect, but without that imperfect process, we're all fucked.

  • "And Man-Made" ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:06PM (#40808743)

    Uh... someone's reading a bit too much into that article.
    If you read it correctly you'll see that his main conclusion is not that it's man-made at all.
    It's that it exists(duh to those denying that) and that it's best correlated to CO2, and that CO2 is mostly man-made.
    This is not causality though. And if you read well page2 you find out he's not going alarmist screaming like a headless chicken.

    Good job slashdot on posting flamboyant titles to get attention.

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:39PM (#40809051)

    After the storm of 1900, the entire Island of Galveston was raised by 10 or 20 feet. If they could do it back then with limited technology and resources while dealing with thousands of dead bodies and 50 ft tall piles of debris, I think we can deal with a centimeter per decade rise.

    The economic focus of southeast Texas also left Galveston for Houston, never to return.

    Galveston had been Texas' primary seaport. Now it's little more than a cute tourist trap. (Which still needs to be totally evacuated every few years.)

    The economic costs to Galveston for being too close to sea level have been utterly devastating to that city.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @01:51PM (#40809203)

    That assumes that the infrastructure still exists to supply the goods you need to build that home and that locations exist to move farming to. That's not a given.

  • by riverat1 (1048260) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @02:02PM (#40809329)

    Manatees, being mammals must regularly rise to the surface to breathe.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @02:17PM (#40809469) Homepage

    The solution to AGW is not convincing people that they need to sacrifice and suffer for the common good. That won't work. Instead we need to do the R&D to come up with cost effective solutions that make economic sense even on a stand-alone-basis. We have already done that with wind power, CFLs, etc., and we need to do it for solar, electric vehicles, etc.

    Most law is about making people suffer individually so that society can benefit overall. From traffic signals to taxes, genocide to homicide, and HAM licenses to fishing licenses, almost all law is about denying individuals the right to do as they please to satisfy the needs of society as a whole.

    Suggesting that law which requires individual sacrifice for societal gain is counter-productive is saying that you believe most law should be abandoned.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @02:24PM (#40809519)
    The corn yield this year is due to the "largest drought in 50 years". http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-27/news/sns-rt-us-usa-grains-tourbre86q1hf-20120727_1_crop-tour-soy-crops-corn [chicagotribune.com] Our records on droughts in the continental US only go back about 110. The climate models predict continental centers drying out - a cycle of drought does not disprove or counter this.
  • by Rakarra (112805) on Monday July 30, 2012 @01:20AM (#40814645)

    They could build most devices to last a solid decade now, yet the majority of our items are designed for the dump, why?

    Because most people shop based on price and will take the $80 food processor over the $130 food processor? Even if the latter lasts many more years?

    They produce what people will want to buy. As long as people are willing to buy cheap crap, they will produce cheap crap.

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