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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Climate Heretic Dr. Judith Curry

Posted by jlwile on November 1, 2010

Dr. Judith Curry is the latest scientist to be branded a heretic by the climate community.
(Image from Wikipedia)

Dr. Judith A. Curry is the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee, and she currently has 144 refereed publications to her credit. An active climate researcher, Curry is considered an expert on hurricanes, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, and air-sea interactions. She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has won awards from both NASA and the American Meteorological Society for her excellent climate research. She has also been officially branded a heretic by Scientific American.. What horrible offense has caused her to be labeled this way? She actually started thinking for herself rather than blindly following the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Curry’s story is a classic one and is very similar to my own in many ways. She says that when she reviewed the parts of the IPCC’s third report that were related to her expertise:

I told them that their perspective was far too simplistic and that they didn’t even mention the issue of aerosol impacts on the nucleation of ice clouds. So it’s not so much as finding things that were wrong, but rather ignorance that was unrecognized and confidence that was overstated.

In other words, she had doubts about the IPCC’s report when it came to the areas in which she had serious expertise. However, when push came to shove, she says:

I had decided that the responsible thing to do in making public statements on the subject of global warming was to adopt the position of the IPCC. My decision was based on two reasons: 1) the subject was very complex and I had personally investigated a relatively small subset of the topic; 2) I bought into the meme of “don’t trust what one scientists says, trust what thousands of IPCC scientists say.”

As time went on, however, she began to question her supposedly “responsible” position.

As she says in the same article:

During 2008 and 2009, I became increasingly concerned by the lack of “policy neutrality” by people involved in the IPCC and policies that didn’t make sense to me. But after all, “don’t trust what one scientist says,” and I continued to substitute the IPCC assessment for my own personal judgment [in my public statements].

So even though she had concerns, she accepted the dogma as presented by the high priests of climate science (at least in her public statements), because she was still convinced by the argument from majority – you have to believe what the majority of scientists believe on an issue. After all, how could most of the experts be wrong?

Well, she found out how. When the E-MAILS from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) were leaked, it really affected her. The content of those E-MAILs and the swift way most in the climate community tried to rally around the scientists involved seemed to confirm her view that many of the IPCC scientists were not policy-neutral and, as a result, the IPCC reports were probably not the best way to evaluate the climate change issue.

As a result, Dr. Curry decided to investigate the broad claims of the IPCC reports, not just the claims that related to her specific areas of expertise. She didn’t like what she found and is now a harsh critic of the IPCC. Please understand that she does not think the majority of the science in the IPCC reports is wrong. She is mostly concerned that the reports (a) do not adequately address the uncertainties that are inherent in studying the long-term changes in global climate, (b) oversimplify the incredibly complex processes that govern global climate, and (c) are not properly peer reviewed. Because of these weaknesses, she does not think that policy makers should take the IPCC reports seriously.

So now that she is actively thinking for herself, she is considered to be a heretic. As is often the case, however, this heretic has some very interesting perspectives on climate science. If you are interested in the whole “global warming” debate, you might want to follow her blog, called “Climate Etc.”

Comments

4 Responses to “Climate Heretic Dr. Judith Curry”
  1. Miranda says:

    Go Dr. Curry! I’m so glad whenever I hear about scientists like her. Thanks for posting this.

    It’s continually amazing to me that a community that prides itself on ‘unbiased’ science based on evidence ignores evidence that it doesn’t like.. also, how often people will believe in things like global warming. As my dad puts it, “If Al Gore and Stephen Hawking say it, it must be true, right?” ;)

  2. jlwile says:

    I am glad you liked the post, Miranda. The problem is that science is not unbiased. You are right that the scientific community tries to PORTRAY itself that way, but it certainly is not.

  3. Josiah says:

    That cannot be correct. Science is unbiased. The problem however is twofold: Representatives of Science are humans with their own policies to promote, and the majority of the population lacks the ability, self-confidence, initiative, or some combination needed to actually see what Science herself says.

  4. jlwile says:

    I understand what you are trying to say, Josiah, but I disagree. In the end, it is really impossible to separate the science from the people who do it. In the end, people design the experiments (or the studies), people collect the data, and people interpret that data. All along the way, their biases affect the process. I might agree that some conceptualized, ideal version of “Science” is unbiased, but I would also argue that it would be impossible for people to ever do that kind of Science.

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