After Muller's two-year-old Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project began publishing its findings on these and other questions late last month, numerous news outlets have portrayed him as a former skeptic whose research has led him back to the global warming fold.
Those portrayals then generated a subsequent wave of opprobrium from the small but vocal community of skeptics and deniers who think, across the broadest spectrum, that global warming is nonsense, that humans aren't contributing to it, or some mixture of both. Efforts to disown him as part of Team Skeptic ensued.
"Richard Muller is not who he says he is. He is an advocate of the theory of man-made global warming," wrote a columnist in The Charleston Daily Mail. "The skeptic who claims to have debunked climate skepticism never was a skeptic," declared the folks at JunkScience.com.
Muller suggested the bluster on all sides was somewhat misplaced.
"It is ironic if some people treat me as a traitor, since I was never a skeptic -- only a scientific skeptic," he said in a recent email exchange with The Huffington Post.
"I certainly feel that there is lots of room for skepticism on the human component of warming," Muller said.
The Charles Koch Foundation, a philanthropy that provided $150,000 in funding for the BEST team's work, issued a statement:
“The Charles Koch Foundation has long supported, and will continue to support, sound, nonpartisan scientific research intended to benefit society by informing public policy and advancing an understanding of the costs and benefits of proposed solutions. Among the research the foundation recently supported is a project by Professor Richard A. Muller in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and several other foundations. That research is undergoing peer review now but has already received significant media interest. The research examined recent global surface temperature trends. It did not examine ocean temperature data or the cause of warming on our climate, as some have claimed,” said Tonya Mullins, director of communications for the foundation.