It’s not like the Koch brothers to buy a pig in a poke . . .

. . . but that’s apparently what they did when their “charitable” arm, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, gave $150,000 to the Berkeley group promising to act as Hercules in “cleaning out the Augean stables” filled with reeking fecal data about client change. The group’s leader, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, uttered remarks even more comforting to the brothers, who in business are greenhouse gasbags and in politics a reactionary piggy bank:

“Global warming is a serious problem,” Muller said in a lecture at UC Berkeley last week. “But people simply don’t believe the story anymore because the story was exaggerated…. Not a single polar bear has died because of receding ice.”

How could the Koch brothers not give money? Here was a physicist making a categorical statement about something he knew nothing about. This is the kind of scientist the Koch brothers buy with their money. Someone who knows the result before he does the study, and it happens to be the result which conforms to the Koch brothers’ self-interest.

The brothers could not have been happy, however, when Muller testified before the House Science and Technology Committee last week. He said that the preliminary results of his efforts to accumulate and analyze the largest database ever assembled on temperature data showed a rise of 0.7º C in global average temperature since 1957.  This is the same results found by the three major climate studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and Britain’s Met Office.  Muller noted that the result was “unexpected.”

Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is “excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups.”

If Muller was surprised, the Republicans who called him to support their campaign to vilify science were crestfallen. Anthony Watts, a weatherman who runs a denial website which had been complimented by Muller, still held out hope that climate science was engaged in an international conspiracy to deceive the public (much like 100 years of evolutionists) by saying that Muller’s results were not “fully working and debugged yet.” If I were Muller, I would expect that if he can’t get the final results in line with Republican ideology, he should expect to be smeared, probably aided by money from the Koch brothers.

The Republicans will undoubtedly recover from the momentary embarrassment of his testimony. It’s not like they needed science to prove their beliefs anyway. The whole exercise was for the benefit of those who mistakenly believe in data rather than the more trustworthy faith that comes from the book of Revelations and the Austrian economic school. This epistemological point should be apparent to anyone with the least awareness: Science, after all is constantly correcting itself. The reactionary belief system never does, because it never makes a mistake in the first place.

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