The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project aimed to do something quite useful: clear up any confusion regarding land surface temperature trends.
But it seems to have become a mess.
Some have questioned the impartiality of the project team (and its funders and advisers in particular). I’m not sure how concerned I was about this – if this project showed that the 3 established global temperature datasets were more-or-less sound then that would surely put the issue to bed for all but the most detached from reality.
There are many problems with long records of temperature and maybe the best outcome for the “skeptics” would be a stronger judgement on uncertainty.
But it seems that just doing the work and then publishing it without making the most of the limelight is too much too ask.
I only really took notice of the project when Richard Muller (BEST Chair) gave an interview in the Guardian in February.
More recently, Climate Progress “revealed” the outcome of the BEST analysis via an email from Ken Caldeira (who “helped fund the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study, but didn’t participate in it” – CP).
This came after Muller had given a talk on the Current State of Climate Change – a Non-Partisan Analysis at Berkeley, which appears to be getting ahead of himself.
At some point the BEST “Findings” page was updated to say:
A preliminary analysis of 2% of the Berkeley Earth dataset shows a global temperature trend that goes up and down with global cycles, and does so broadly in sync with the temperature records from other groups such as NOAA, NASA, and Hadley CRU. However, the preliminary analysis includes only a very small subset (2%) of randomly chosen data…
…and then Watts criticises Caldeira for jumping to conclusions from 2% of randomly chosen data, which according to Watts all comes from Japan.
I’m not really sure what to make of all this, well, other than that everyone looks a bit daft when commenting on the outcome of projects before they’ve even got their results.