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See Inside June 2011

"I Stick to Science": A Climate Researcher's Unexpected Congressional Testimony

Why Richard A. Muller wouldn't tell House climate skeptics what they wanted to hear



Photograph by Timothy Archibald

Richard A. Muller has never been comfortable with conventional scientific wisdom. In the 1980s, when his mentor Luis Alvarez came up with the then outrageous idea that a giant comet or asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs, the University of California, Berkeley, physicist went him one better, suggesting that the meteorite had been hurled our way by a dim companion star to the sun, which Muller dubbed Nemesis. In the 1990s he posited that ice ages are triggered by space debris encountered because of cyclical changes in the location of Earth’s orbit.

More recently, Muller called Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth a pack of half-truths and asserted that measurements of global temperature rises are deeply flawed, insisting that many of those who warn of climate change have sold the public a bill of goods. Although he is convinced that climate change is real, potentially dangerous and probably caused in part by humans, he has taken climate scientists to task for ignoring criticisms by outsiders, including meteorologist Anthony Watts of the Watts Up with That? blog and statistician Steve McIntyre of the Climate Audit blog. Along with several colleagues, Muller started the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to rectify what he saw as the flaws in existing measurements of global warming.

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