The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study has just released a summary of a recently completed global land warming analysis showing "reliable evidence of a rise in average world land temperature by approximately one degree Celsius since the mid-1950s." Yeah, we've heard that before, but this is one study that even skeptics may have to believe.
Here's why the Berkeley Earth Project is different from all previous studies on global warming:
- It's independent. No government sponsored or directed the Berkeley Earth Project, so none of the researchers involved had to deal with the same kind of political pressure as previous studies.
- It's non-profit, supported by donations. The private sector is almost entirely responsible for funding the Berkeley Earth Project, and the largest single donation ($150,000) came from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, noted multi-million dollar supporter of climate change skepticism.
- It's open source. Got a problem with the results? The entire data set along with the programs used to analyze said data set are all online, ready for anyone to explore.
- It uses more data than any other study. The Berkeley Earth Project's temperature database consists of records from 39,000 temperature stations around the world, amounting to 1.6 billion individual measurements. This is about five times the amount of data used in most previous climate change studies.
- It directly addresses the concerns that skeptics raised about previous studies. This includes the potential effect of urban heat islands, the quality of temperature monitoring stations, and selection bias risk.
Let's just assume, for a moment, that the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study is legit. What exactly did they find? Well, in a nutshell, global warming is definitely real. Since the mid-1950s, average global land temperatures have risen by nearly two degrees Fahrenheit. For what it's worth, this agrees very closely with previous global warming studies that were dismissed by skeptics for one reason or another. The Berkeley study also found that pretty much everything that climate change skeptics used to discredit previous studies ultimately made no statistically significant differences to the overall result.
So at this point, what's obviously going to happen is that global warming skeptics and deniers will get together and say, "okay, you've convinced us, we're sorry for all that merciless slandering and we should get together and talk about what climate change means for the future of our planet." Right?
Yeah, probably not. What's probably going to happen is that deniers will continue to deny the science without much of a foundation just because they can, or they'll shift the topic from whether global warming exists to whether humans are causing it. What it really comes down to, though, is that the Earth's climate is changing, and those changes are starting to have a direct impact on our lives. That impact is only going to increase, and whatever the cause is, if there are things we can do to help keep this planet stable, it just seems like a no-brainer to try our best to make that happen.