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The rise of fake skeptics who “change their minds” about climate change

Poor Nick Kilvert at the ABC again, finds climate yeti’s everywhere — that imaginary creature, the converted skeptic. This is an important missing link in the fictional narrative — obviously if The Evidence Is Over-bloody-Whelming, there will be a stream of people gradually awakening. Alas, Kilvert doesn’t realize the traffic is all the other way, an exodus,  and there is no single outspoken skeptic that has convincingly switched the other way. The best he can do is drag out the self-declared convert Richard Muller who got away with his skeptic facade for while,  until awkward quotes surfaced from during his skeptic days where he declared that fossil fuels were the “greatest pollutant of human history”.  He was outed five years ago, but alas, Kilvert apparently still hasn’t got an internet connection and didn’t think to look. If only Kilvert could have emailed me?

The headline:

“Once were sceptics: What convinced these scientists that climate change is real? “

To which I might say “Once were journalists: Why don’t these writers do any research any more?”

This is as good as it gets. Muller is the “star” convert. He and his whole team were doubting skeptics:

In 2010, Professor Muller from Berkeley University was funded to carry out a comprehensive study by a group of individuals who doubted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) data. They believed that urban heat islands, data-selection bias, and inaccurate climate models were being glossed over by scientists. Professor Muller and his team — all of whom doubted climate change was happening or that carbon dioxide was its cause — were shocked to find a correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and warming.

Not only was Muller a passionately unskeptical believer (see the quotes below) but Muller’s team at Berkley included his daughter Elizabeth Muller (who was no less than a Director of BEST). How skeptical was she? So skeptical that in 2008 she ran a consultancy called GreenGov™ which helped people figure out how to “reduce carbon footprints”. Elizabeth Muller was selling advice on reducing CO2 emissions, but apparently was “shocked” in 2012 to find that CO2 might matter. Not a good look for her either way.

These Richard-Muller-quotes have been known for years:

Richard Muller, 2003. “… 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.”

 Richard Muller, 2008: “There is a consensus that global warming is real. …it’s going to get much, much worse.”

Given what Prof Muller said in 2003 and 2008 you’d think he might have heard before that rising temperatures correlate with rising CO2? Even skeptics know that. But then he’s only a professor.

There must be a converted skeptic somewhere…

The second supposed convert is a man called Dr Anthony Purcell. Purcell explains post hoc that he had some “doubts” about high sensitivity (sounds like a scientist to me) but was converted, “shaken” when he read that Prof Frank Fenner, the famous virologist,  predicted humans would be extinct, perhaps within 100 years. Well that does it then, eh? Strange that he did his PhD on sea level change in 1997, but remained a silent skeptic til he read the OpEd in The Australian 13 years later.

Purcell claims sediments from 55 million years ago during the PETM “demonstrated first-hand that Professor Fenner’s prediction had a historic precedent.” Yet even a stupid beginner skeptic in their 7th post was able to surmise that resolution in 50 million year old mud might not be too decisive and google search to find papers like Sluijs 2007. (Which suggested the CO2 rose 3,000 years after the warming.) Purcell couldn’t find definitive cause and effect evidence from 1998, but only in data from 50 million BC.

To authenticate the pain of conversion we get sob stories. Purcell calls his father a “deeply entrenched climate denialist” and says his acceptance of the man-made catastrophe has “severely eroded” his personal relationships. No kidding. Maybe he could try not calling people names?

Digging deep, the third convert is Prof-Catastrophe-Karoly himself. Allegedly, 31 years ago, he had an open mind for long enough to write an abstract for a conference that favored natural causes, but changed his mind by the time he presented it. That’s it.

Since then, he has converted himself into someone who believes in “consensuses”, despite the radiosondes, the ocean buoys, the satellites and the ice cores and the entire philosophy of science.

He might be a convert, but if he was a scientist, he converted to something else.

Skeptics, please, the ABC want to know if you changed your mind. Do help them, and take a screenshot in case they lose it. :- )


Very few skeptics have cracked,
Even though some colleagues were sacked,
By consensus conformists,
From the legions of warmists,
All funded and government backed.



Sluijs 2007, Environmental precursors to rapid light carbon injection at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary, Nature 450, 1218-1221 (20 December 2007) doi:10.1038/nature06400 [Abstract]

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