Uncertainty gets a seat at the big table: Part III

by Judith Curry

Ok, here it is, the final program:



Subcommittee on Energy and Environment – Hearing – Witnesses Added

A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response


Panel I

Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Heidi M. CullenCEO and Director of Communications, Climate Central

Dr. Gerald A. MeehlSenior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Dr. Richard LindzenAlfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Panel II

Dr. Benjamin D. Santer, Atmospheric Scientist, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Dr. Richard B. AlleyEvan Pugh Professor, Department of Geosciences and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, The Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Richard A. FeelySenior Scientist, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA

Dr. Patrick J. MichaelsSenior Fellow in Environmental Studies, Cato Institute

Panel III

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, United States Department of the Navy

Mr. James Lopez, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Mr. William GeerDirector of the Center for Western Lands, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

2325 Rayburn House Office Building (WEBCAST)

71 responses to “Uncertainty gets a seat at the big table: Part III

  1. Presumably Republicans added Lindzen and Michaels. They are the diversity party. :)
    By the way, belatedly, congratulations on your Big Stage appearance.

  2. Very good news, Dr Curry.
    The mere fact that you are on one of the panels will serve to keep your fellow panelists honest.
    We should expect a better than usual set of hearings in terms of their scientific content, but probably not much in the the way of headlines.
    Could we ask you to take the offensive and highlight the uncertainties so extensively discussed on this forum, to give Congress a bridge towards a graceful retreat from some of the more egregious and ill considered lawmaking that they have in process?

  3. Your chances of getting to speak are made slimmer by adding more people but no more time. I suggest preparing a five minute pocket presentation. All will be chaos when they get to you. That may be your point.

    Michaels & Santer are hilarious, given the Climategate email when Ben threatened to beat Pat up. Who will mention this first?


  4. Panel II

    Ha Ha!


  5. Richard S Courtney

    Dr Curry:

    I again add my good wishes for your success at the hearing.

    I share the apprehension of David Wojick that you may have little time and, therefore, I think the importance of your written submission has been increased by the addition of witnesses. Please ‘keep your powdwer dry’ and avoid any temptation to reveal the contents of that submission in advance (on this blog or anywhere else).

    You and I differ on our views about AGW, but you are one of the ‘warmers’ (please forgive this ‘short hand’) whose integrity I respect and, therefore, I anticipate your submissions (oral and written) to be a beacon of honesty providing some illumination in the politics at the hearing.


  6. Judith,

    Bring hot chocolate for the panel. Exlax works wonders on being the only panellist at the table. :-)

  7. Are posters allowed? A 2X3 foot poster on a tripod may allow your presentation re: uncertainty, a visual. I suggest Josh’s cartoon: Heisenberg Rules: Aug 21, 2010 “McShane & Wyner …. The handle or the blade but not both.” as a humorous way to identify the of past and recent statistical error bars uncertainty.
    Drink in the full experience. Tell us about it later.

  8. David L. Hagen

    Strongly endorse RiHo08’s large poster idea.
    Capturing Spencer’s which come’s first – warming or CO2 would also be helpful.

    cf Josh on Uncertainty

    I thought I was interested in uncertainty, but now I’m not so sure

  9. Possibly a more-than pivotal platform.

    One can say a lot in ten minutes, said in an effective manner.

    It may take months to properly unwind what is said and the implications, and so will no doubt ensue much discussion.

    One wonders what the wider media will make of this event.

    Especially, perhaps, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

  10. Very good news! Is this on C-Span?
    Seems like the Democrats are feeling the ground burning under their feet, so they want to set precedence for a fair and balanced debate, after four years in which only one side was heard.

  11. Dr Curry-

    Break a leg.

  12. Paul in Sweden

    Dr. Curry, I have just listened to the Purdue conf. with yourself, Roger Pielke Jr. and Andy Revkin.


    It seems almost silly to wish you luck at the House Science & Technology committee hearing. Judging from your Purdue presentation I would say you are loaded for bear. I can’t recall anything you said that I haven’t read in your writings in the past but your verbal message struck a cord.

  13. Roddy Campbell

    Can someone American explain to me why the hearing is entitled:

    ‘A RATIONAL Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response’?

    Surely most subcommittees would hope to have rational discussions? Strikes me as a bit of a poisonous header.

    • When it comes to AGW, rational discussion has been in short supply. The hope is this one will be at least a start.

  14. Wouldn’t be surprised if some on the Committee ask about the subject of Climate Engineering, the Chair of the full committee on Science and Technology recently released “Engineering the Climate: Research Needs and Strategies for International Collaboration” (October 29, 2010)


  15. China – is whatthe USA need to be thinking about

    A Guardian (pro AGW) reporter’s words that was in the room at Copenhagen..

    Guardian: How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal?
    I was in the room As recriminations fly post-Copenhagen, one writer offers a fly-on-the-wall account of how talks failed.


    Guardain: “What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country’s foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world’s most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his “superiors”.

    And this is why (my Caps)

    Guardian: “But China’s growth, and growing global political and economic dominance, is based largely on CHEAP COAL. China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its COAL-based economy DOUBLES every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.

    The Airvent describes why the West is on a mission to nowhere with CO2 emmisions… (china;s plans for 10plus airports, more coal, more nuclear etc)



    Hard international politics will prevail, China and India will do as they please. The USA must understand this

    • AGW is many things. It’s “Scientific”. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s economic oneupsmanship. It’s political advantage. This ‘China’ connection and Copenhagen was a ploy by the Idiots of the West to get China to sign up for “The Good Of The World” and against their own self interests. Their ‘own’ self interests took precedence and Copenhagen was a disaster. It wasn’t about science, indeed, science had absolutely nothing to do with any of it.

  16. Someone has a twisted sense of humour putting Santer and Michaels together! (email 1255100876). Will Michaels be provided with some sort of protection?

    On a more serious note it is to be welcomed that at least some views from the sceptical side will be presented, which wasn’t clear in the first version of the list.

    I will not attempt to tell Judith what she should say. It will be interesting to hear what happens. The website has links to “witness statements” but there is nothing there yet.

    Does anyne know, how are things likely to change in this committee when the Republicans take over the House?

    • I expect to see BIG changes in Funding for ALL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY related areas. And I’m NOT talking about maintaining the status quo nor raising anything for anyone.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        I expect a large funding amount will go to GIT.
        I’m talking about the Republican Party’s desire to stall off on investing in ANYTHING having to do with controlling carbon emissions, and, the certain investment in the old tactic of AGW deniers: ‘uncertainty’. No doubt Lindzen and Michaels have benefitted greatly from their garbage science. Time to spread the wealth.

      • You really are rather pathetic when you fianlly say what you really believe.

  17. Dr. curry, Congratulations on your appointment! Please continue to search for the truth and make sure this is not another exercise in futility at the expense of the taxpayer.

  18. PolyisTCOandbanned

    They could have done worse than Michaels and Lindzen, although am not crazy about those two (lubz Zorita most!). Of the two, L is better than M. At least they did not go with Exchenback and Watts. :)

  19. “A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response”

    shouldn’t that be:

    “A Discussion on Anthropogenic Global Warming: the Science and the Evidence”

    at some point, the use of the misleading “climate change” needs to stop. no-one, i repeat no-one, is arguing that the climate does not change.
    secondly, there’s no need for a “response” unless u first prove the hypothesis.

  20. Since you actually have something new to say to Congress – the role of uncertainty in the decision – its too bad you aren’t speaking early. The Republicans were probably uncertain of what you might say and put people they trusted first. Hopefully you will be able to do something dramatic to draw attention your message. Since you seem to like the FAR and are skeptical of the increasing confidence in the SAR, TAR and AR4, perhaps you could bring the WGI section from latter three documents to throw in the trash. More seriously, the one thing of greatest importance in these documents is climate sensitivity and our estimate of climate sensitivity hasn’t narrowed in twenty years. The uncertainty we are confronting is just as bad today as it was then (but some will say the problem of reducing emissions is far worse).

    Are things likely to get any better in the next decade? Well, the current “pause” in rapid warming could continue and and the upper tropical non-hotspot could remain absent. This observational evidence could remove some of the top end of the range of climate sensitivity.

  21. Please provide us with a post game summary.

    • I certainly will. unfortunately i am tied up at NASA HQ Wed and Thurs (incl Wed eve). Hoping I will have internet access during the hearing.

      • Did you get a sense of shock running thru the room when you said that working groups 2 & 3 should more or less be ignored, both past and present? From the IPCC-centric POV, those are the only ones that count!

  22. Sounds like fun…

  23. I am looking forward to your testimony and hope you will help people understand that there is no evidence that the carbon pulse humankind is in the process of emitting will not have deleterious effects for civilization, and there is high confidence that altering radiative forcing is in the process of transforming the planet away from the state during which human civilization — and modern industrial civilization — developed.

  24. Senator Inhofe is in your corner…from my facebook feed:

    A great quote from Judith Curry, head of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, “No one really believes that the ‘science is settled’ or that ‘the debate is over.’ Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Yes, we all know Inhofe has no particular agenda (!) What a guy to have in your corner.
      I’m wagering Dr Curry is going to be a nothing more than a wedge tool of the Repos. This is politics, and has nothing to do with ‘luck’.
      What really cracks me up is the deniers (especially the reps of powerful interests) who show up her, stroke her as best as they can, and pray that they have an ally against science in the hothouse. Another sign of last minute desperation in the climate wars.

  25. BTW — if anyone at this hearing tries to argue that the purported “investigations” in the UK and by Penn State “cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing”, they are merely forfeiting all credibility. There is much about which people can argue in good faith. That the investigations were anything but pathetic whitewashes is not.

    Credibility is the ultimate coin of the realm. Once lost, it is impossible to regain. T’would be sad indeed, if people claiming to be scientists should forfeit it over something so ridiculous.

    • from http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-a-year-later.html

      First, the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee exonerated the scientist at the centre of this tempest, Professor Phil Jones, finding that he has “no case to answer” and that his “reputation … remains intact.”

      Then Lord Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell-UK, and his panel likewise exonerated the researchers, finding that their “work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation … are not valid.”

      Another enquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, found the scientists’ “rigour and honesty … are not in doubt”

      And in the U.S., two enquiries by his university cleared Professor Michael Mann, who published the first famous “hockey stick” graph, of all allegations.

      Finally, a few weeks ago the—conservative!—UK Government concluded that “… the information contained in the illegally-disclosed emails does not provide any evidence to discredit … anthropogenic climate change.”

      Not one, not two, but six vindications. This comes as no surprise to anyone with passing familiarity of the distinction between private chat and public actions.

      And what has happened to the IPCC “Whatevergates”?

      What’s happened is this.

      First, the Sunday Times apologized and retracted its “Amazongate” story. There is no “Amazongate”; there is only the Amazon rainforest threatened by climate change.

      Then the Dutch government accepted responsibility for erroneously informing the IPCC that 55% of the Netherlands are below sea level—when in fact only 26% are at risk of flooding because they are below sea level, whereas another 29% are … err … at risk of flooding from rivers.

      Then the BBC apologized to the University of East Anglia for its misleading coverage of the “climategate” pseudo-scandal.

      What is left of all the “Whatevergates” are thus red-faced apologies and, yes, one IPCC error: The likely date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers was given as 2035, as opposed to the more likely 2350—an error drawn to the public’s attention not by a newspaper or a “skeptic” blogger but …. by an IPCC author.

      So one year’s worth of climategate has given us exactly one typo and 6 exonerations of scientists. Here then are the real questions that real journalists should have been asking for the past year:



      Who is waging this campaign against climate science and why?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Good questions that I’d ask Curry at the hearing.

      • Loiuse,
        You wish it were so.
        Keep telling yourself it was all a bad dream and that there is no place like home.

      • Pathetic, Louise. Despite their remits, when pressed every one of those “inquirers” denied having examined the science, and NONE took testimony from anyone but the subjects of the inquiries, all friendly softball stuff.

        Circling the wagons — but the perimeter has now been breached, and all will go down with the CRU/Penn Fraudsters.

      • Who is waging this campaign against climate science and why?

        Louise: Count me in! That “pseudo-scandal” of Climategate finished my respect for most climate change scientists.

        It’s pretty simple. The Climategate scientists weren’t just any climate scientists. They were some of the most prominent. If they had integrity as scientists, and their work was as solid as we were led to believe, they wouldn’t have needed to resort to all the rigging games with peer reviews and blogs, with the destruction of data threatened and/or real, the horror of the HARRY_READ_ME.TXT file, the loss of original data, the refusals to comply with FOI requiests, the games with the Hockey Stick, etc., etc.

        By your breathless “Why? Who? Who…?” phrasing, I get the impression that you imagine that some unholy consortium of oil companies, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and Creationists are behind the opposition to climate science, and who knows, maybe they are — I’m not on their secret email list, so I couldn’t say.

        But I will tell you that there are probably quite a lot of people like me who can’t work a partial differential equation but can tell when something smells funny. When top scientists can’t play by the rules and have to rig the debate to make their overwhelming case is one of those times.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Slander is also pathetic, and illegal.

  26. I know you won’t need it, but I wish you all the luck in the world.
    May the gods be with you today, and every day.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      I would higjhly recommend the deniers in this blog read the excellent synopsis of the impacts of CO2 in this document.

  27. Panel 1 just finished. Interesting stuff. Off the rails on trace gases: how much CO2 average joe thinks (way way too high) is in the atmosphere is supposedly an example of scientific distortion. How can such a tiny percentage do whatever. Total waste.

  28. The testimony statements of the ‘witnesses’ are now all up on the website – follow Judith’s link.

    Judith’s testimony talks about how difficult the problem is, about uncertainty, and she is quite critical of the IPCC. She points out an apparent inconsistency in AR4 WGII about water resources in Asia, that I had not seen before.

    Santer claims that his models fit reality.

    Michaels shows this is not the case, and has a graph showing how Santer cherry-picked his data start and end points to get the result he wanted.

  29. Steve Fitzpatrick


    I read all the written testimony. Your statement was the best offered in terms of real guidance to politicians. I hope the representatives were listening. Your message about the need to address climate change policies as largely political questions was especially helpful.

    I am not sure how many new friends you made among climate scientists, but I hope at least a few.

  30. Dr. Curry,
    Tell us how you enjoyed it? Was it enjoyable at all? Did Santer attack that guy he threatened, or was he able to be civil?
    any other impressions will be most appreciated.
    (Can’t pick up live feed from office)

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      You sound like a high schooler discussing gossip in the classroom.

      • Perhaps he has been set a very poor example by those who serially accuse those they disagree with of being liars?

        I can’t think where he gets it from otherwise.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        There are disagreements, and then there are lies. It takes a while, but you should learn the difference. Here’s an example of a lie: “sulphur dioxide from coal plant emissions did not contribute to the death and disease of trees in Europe”. Here’s another: “acid rain is a hoax”.

        Maybe he “gets it “from his mother? Father? Bloggers?

  31. Dr Curry,
    You mentioned AR4 WGII Table 10.2 in your house testimony. You might be interested in a few errors here, among them the claim that temperature in a part of Sri Lanka rose at 2 degrees per year between 1961 and 1990.

    IPCC still have not corrected these despite being informed in August.

    See http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com/2010/11/ipcc-errors-remain-un-corrected.html

  32. I hesitate to say this because it will expose my naivity, but you don’t half have a strange way of conducting your politics over there. This committee meeting was all about political grandstanding rather than scientific understanding. The congressmen weren’t interested in a balanced scientific debate merely a platform to pomote their own beliefs. The chairman was the worst of them. He monopolized the questions to his own ends and wasted valuable time pushing his own views. It seemed a bit pointless to me. I’ll go and read the written submissions now. Hopefully they’ll be a bit more informative.

    • RobB, – note spellun’ – our congressional hearings are a mess.

      Baird, the chairman, did not run for reelection.

  33. Judith Curry’s position was not consistent with her views that “scientists should not get involved in policy”. If scientists who say that “have a global policy to control CO2 emissions” are policy advocates, Judith Curry saying “don’t attack the ‘wicked’ problem by trying to control CO2 and instead focus on local/regional solutions’ and focus on land use, population and water resource management is equally being an advocate . The contradictions about disentangling science from policy thus become obvious and naive. I have to concur with concur with Zeke Hausfather on this.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      I agree completely. JC has certainly been involved with advocacy far longer than she’s willing to admit (here)…and I support it.

    • I have never said that scientists shouldn’t get involved in policy. The issue is when scientists advocate for a specific policy, and then complain that the science is being attacked. The thing that I have spoken out about publicly is the scientists who think global energy policy should follow directly from the IPCC science, and then whine about being attacked by “deniers”. This shows a great naivete about the policy process.

      I basically subscribe to Roger Pielke Jr.’s discussion on all this in the Honest Broker. There is a need for all types, from the ivory tower to the policy advocate/activist types, with a particular need for honest broker types.

      The problem is with the ideologues, and the problem this can cause for the science when institutions get involved (see no ideologues thread).

      • I have never said that scientists shouldn’t get involved in policy.
        I apologize in that instance – for some instance, I got the very strong impression that you wanted scientists to get back to science and not get entangled with policy. I probably could hunt and find something to that extent like here , but why bother if you don’t have a problem with scientists getting involved with policy?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        No, the naivete is your own, and that’s what’s troubling. When climate scientists have to respond to deniers they know they’re not dealing prediminantly with the shmoes who show up at blogs or the minority of scientists who tell half the story like Lindzen. They know the millions of bucks on the other side of the table is funneled by powerful energy interests, peddling their ‘doubt’ ALL OVER. They know precisely who is behind setting the ‘uncertainty’ agenda at the policy table, like the one you were seated at today.

    • Note, I did not say “don’t attack the wicked climate change problem by controlling CO2 emissions.” rather, I presented an argument for why that strategy hadn’t been working very well, and emissions targets may not be adequate for the scope of the possible problem (the size of the problem may be much worse, as per the surprise and catastrophe section.)

      • The first tactic used by the ideologues to try to discredit anyone who doesnt support their opinion is misrepresentation of their opponent’s position.

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