I have an interview tonite on NPR’s All Things Considered.
The link for the interview can be found [here]. There is a print story, and a 7 minute audio. The title of the pice is ‘Uncertain’ Science: Judith Curry’s Take On Climate Change.
On Jul 2, I received an email from Richard Harris of NPR:
I’d like to talk to you about how the stable global temperatures over the past 15 years are playing out in the broader discussion of climate change. You seem to be uniquely positioned as an observer of this conversation. I’d like to come down to Atlanta and spend a chunk of a day with you, to produce a piece for NPR that’s part profile and part exposition of these issues.
Since I am not that good with keeping track of of journalists and their reputations, I did a google search for Richard Harris; an impressive bio and it doesn’t get much better than this in science journalism.
So I agreed to do the interview, although I was not in Atlanta but in Nevada for my summer vacation. He received approval to make the trip out to NV on Jul 15/16. Over those two days, I spent about 8 hours with Richard Harris discussing many aspects of the climate issue (maybe half of it was taped).
Maybe about 4 of those hours were spent discussing science, in particular the ‘pause’ and recent estimates of reduced sensitivity and my take on the uncertainty issue. We spent alot of time talking about climategate and my role in the aftermath, my engagement with skeptics, the IPCC, and the data libertarian and citizen science movements. We spend a small amount of time discussing climate/energy policy (a few minutes really), although I did explain to him the different decision analytic frameworks for decision making under deep uncertainty. I mentioned my Congressional testimony at the end of the interview, and I agreed to email a copy. I very much enjoyed my conversation with Richard Harris, and I felt fortunate to have been able to spend so much time with a distinguished journalist.
So I was rather surprised when I read the article on the NPR web site. It was mostly about politics and policy, which constituted a small fraction of our conversation and the few statements that I made in regard to policy were in response to pointed questions, not points that I was trying to make. So I guess politics trumped science in terms of this story, and someone decided to make this story about the politics, particularly my congressional testimony and the fact that I was called as a witness by the Republicans. Plus a heavy dose of my uncertainty about the science and the usefulness of the proposed policies, which is generally accurate.
So while I don’t have any big complaints about the story and a few direct quotes were modified in minor ways, the implication that I am mostly about the politics and policies surrounding climate change is just wrong. I see this as a missed opportunity to discuss the science and the changing dynamics of the climate debate after climategate. But what do I know about what makes a good story for NPR.
Update: I actually just listened to the radio program (previously I had only read the article). I assumed that there was more of an actual interview (i.e. where I actually said something) on the radio program. Not so, seems like I got about 60 seconds of airtime in an 8 min radio show ostensibly about my own opinions. I have to wonder why Harris spent two days talking to me. I guess it took that long to get me to say something about my nieces and nephews.
My favorite part of the story is this photo of my dogs Bruno and Rosie:
Judith Curry with her dogs, Rosie (left) and Bruno, in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. The climatologist focuses on the uncertainties of climate change far more than on the consensus of climate scientists.