JC’s (un)motivated reasoning

by Judith Curry

“I think open explorations of the ideological assumptions scientists bring into policy debates are not only welcome but often necessary for having productive conversations.” – Aaron Huertas

Over the Xmas holiday, I got involved in a wide ranging discussion on twitter, following  my previous blog post and a response by Sarah Myhre.

You can check out my twitter feed (@curryja) (under ‘replies’), but this is a rather mindnumbing thread of thousands of tweets and replies.

At issue is my politics, my ideology, my advocacy, my activism, my civility.

So here goes.

My politics

Politically, I’m an independent. In Presidential elections since 1972, I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and occasionally third party candidates. Unfortunately, I typically find myself voting against the most ‘objectionable’ candidate. One exception was Obama #1; I was a strong supporter and am on public record as having made campaign contributions (I was much less enthusiastic about Obama #2).

I’m a liberal in the classical sense; I would probably not be categorized as a ‘liberal’ in context of the modern connotation of the word in U.S. politics.

On the Democrat (liberal) –Republican (conservative) spectrum, I am a social liberal but fiscal conservative.

On the populist-libertarian spectrum, I lean towards libertarian.

No ideologues

I don’t subscribe to any political ideology or anything with an ‘-ism’; not feminism, not environmentalism, not Marxism, not nationalism, not neoliberalism, not social Darwinism, etc.

Every human has ways that they filter information based on some general principles – one can call this an ‘ideology’, but it is mostly a function of the society/culture that you live in, what you have read, etc. Individuals are more or less influenced by the ambiguities of a general ‘ideology’.

The problem for science is with ideologues (not with someone’s vague background ‘ideology’). I discussed the problem with science ideologues in one of my earliest blog posts No ideologues, quoting Nick Darby:

I have for many years been a student of the corrosive effects of ideology on science. This was prompted originally by works of Jacob Bronowski, Primo Levi, Charles Mackay, and an abiding interest in the history of I G Farben. As a guide, primarily for myself, I developed a set of characteristics of ideologues, to better recognize and interpret their behavior. (These are based in part on some ideas of John Ralston Saul in his “Unconscious Civilization”). 

There are five attributes of ideologues:
1. Absence of doubt
2. Intolerance of debate
3. Appeal to authority
4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

In the climate communication world, it has become very trendy to wear your political ideology on your sleeve. How many ‘climate science communicators’ can you name that have at least 4 of the above attributes of ideologues with regards to climate change?


When asked about my values on twitter, here was my response:

Health and prosperity for all; abundant, secure and clean energy for all; healthy ecosystems and . . . world peace.

With regards to energy (since so much of the climate debate is actually about energy), here are my values:

Reliable, secure and abundant energy; affordable. All other things being equal, I prefer clean over dirty energy.

Personally I don’t worry about the cost of energy, but I understand this is a huge issue for people less affluent than I.

I have no objections to any power source – wind, solar, hydro, nuclear power, natural gas — provided that consideration is given to their safety for humans and ecosystems.   I don’t see any way to make coal ‘clean.’

I value the process of science and its integrity, and intellectual honesty. With regards to intellectual honesty, see this previous blog post, discussing 10 signs of intellectual honesty:

  1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. 
  2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. .
  3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one’s own assumptions and biases. 
  4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak.
  5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong.
  6. Demonstrate consistency
  7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument.
  8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. 
  9. Show a commitment to critical thinking. 
  10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. 

These are things that I think about in how I communicate with the public about climate change.

I value being exposed to a range of perspectives – this broadens and sharpens my own thinking.

Mainstream Media

I don’t watch cable or network TV. The only exception is for election returns; we watch CNN because we like John King’s analysis using the ‘magic wall’

I don’t read any newspapers. I do subscribe to both the New York Times and the Washington Post, since I repeatedly exceeded my monthly limit of climate- and science-related articles that I clicked on mostly from twitter links.

I am assumed by some to be an acolyte of Fox News, since I have been interviewed twice by Tucker Carlson. When I lived in Atlanta, I was very frequently interviewed by CNN. I really detest being interviewed live for TV. After not doing that for a number of years, I accepted the Tucker Carlson invites since he generally seems to be a fair interviewer and the time slot was long enough that it wouldn’t be a sound bite interview (which I am not good at).

I receive frequent requests from journalists for input. I respond to most if I have sufficient time.

I have been invited to write several op-eds, mostly based on something I’ve written at Climate Etc., and I have several op-eds published in Wall Street Journal, Financial Post, FoxNews. I have declined numerous invites to write op-eds, largely because I was short of time or didn’t have anything worthwhile to say on the specified topic.

Sources of political information 

I get my information on current events in politics from realclearpolitics.com, and from twitter.

I find RealClearPolitics to be nonpartisan, providing links to articles from a range of different perspectives

You can see who I follow on twitter (@curryja). ~ 75% of the people that I follow are people that followed me first. The others range from my niece to former presidential candidates.

Engagement with the policy process

I engage with the policy process relating to extreme weather events and global climate change.

I engage directly with businesses by providing weather and climate information that helps them manage their risks.

With regards to global climate change, I engage with the public through my blog and through media interviews. I have engaged with public policy makers through my congressional testimony and through responding to their requests for information.

I analyze some specific policies, but mostly I write about the policy process in context of the decision analytic framework, with a central role for how uncertainty is managed and incorporated into the decision making process.

I have been characterized by a subset of the climate twitterati as an advocate and an activist. Engagement with the policy process does not necessary imply that the individual is an advocate or an activist.

The only things that I have advocated for are issues related to the integrity of the process of scientific research and its assessment. I have not advocated for specific policy outcomes related to climate change.

I often discuss extreme weather events and the need to reduce vulnerability — independent of any human caused climate change; these are issues for the here and now. This is regarded by some as advocacy for climate change adaptation and opposition to mitigation.

I do not advocate for policy outcomes related to climate change. Why not? Because I regard this problem as a wicked mess and I don’t have any specific policies to recommend in context of my expertise as a climate scientist. I suspect that any problems associated with climate change (human caused or otherwise) will be best addressed at the local level, in context of local vulnerabilities and values.

I am not an ‘activist’ — I am not vigorously campaigning for anything. My involvement in the policy process is rather passive — I write on the blog about things that interest me or I find important, and I respond to invites for interviews, op-eds, congressional testimony.  I have never signed any sort of petition or group statement about climate change.

My lack of activism and advocacy for mitigation is regarded by some as advocacy against mitigation. I find this to be rather bizarre and irrational. It seems my lack of activism is getting in the way of their activism.


What is my agenda in communicating with the public about climate change? I wrote the following paragraph in 2010 when I launched Climate Etc.:

Climate Etc. provides a forum for climate researchers, academics and technical experts from other fields, citizen scientists, and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.

I’m all about opening up the dialogue on climate science and the policy options. I think that the discussion on both has been too narrow, to the detriment of both science and policy.

The issue has arisen regarding my personal civility and civility on the blog. I NEVER initiate attacks on anyone, but I do call other scientists out who refer to myself or other scientists as ‘deniers.’

Turns out the ‘incivility’ accusation is mostly associated with words used in comments on my blog – ‘libtard’ and ‘Nazis’ were specifically called out. I moderate primarily to avoid personal attacks on commenters or other climate scientists. I don’t moderate out ‘politically incorrect’ words provided that the overall comment has some content and is relevant to the topic of the post.

My company 

My company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) provides weather and climate forecast information and also consulting. Most of our clients are other businesses, but we do have several government and NGO clients. Our business clients are mostly in the energy and financial sectors, and also other companies that provide weather and risk management services.

In the energy sector, we have one client that uses our forecasts for offshore activities. Others in this sector are energy trading companies or electric power providers. The forecast parameters that are used by these clients are temperatures, wind power, solar radiation, streamflow/hydropower, and hurricane tracks and intensity.

Eli Rabett has been busy insinuating that my involvement with petroleum companies biases my climate science research and my public communications. Well the income from petroleum companies is less than 10% of our total income. And the overall income from my company (for past 10 years) is smaller than the total salaries that Peter Webster and I have received from Georgia Tech over the same period plus the amounts of our federal grants. So if I am somehow being ‘bought’, its tough to weigh the income from business with funds we have received and continue to receive from governments.

Not to mention the diversity of CFAN’s non-governmental clients. While I don’t publicly name our private sector clients as a matter of principle, it is a matter of public record that CFAN’s clients include the World Bank and have included the NRDC.

The significance of my company’s activities on my perspective in the public debate on climate change is that I am actively involved in risk management activities – real problems, real decision makers – with organizations actually paying us for our support in dealing with their risk management problems. Characterization of uncertainties and assessment of forecast confidence is paramount.

So unlike many climate scientists that have become communicators/advocates/activists, I have real experience in risk management and decision making.


So at the end of the day does this little essay make any difference or enlighten anyone? I suspect that the activists will continue to try to tear me down because I am getting in the way of what they are advocating for.

Maybe this will help at least some people see me for what I am – a research scientist that thinks about the philosophy and sociology of science, who is trying to open up the dialogue on climate science and the policy responses, and is working to help organizations manage risks from extreme weather.

315 responses to “JC’s (un)motivated reasoning

  1. Thanks for the description of who you are. For the record, I am an economist so look at things from an economic perspective.

    But I do have a question. As I live in the Mid Atlantic, I have been reading Dave Tolerisk for his forecasting accuracy. Based upon the past several years, he is about 60% on the mark with his forecasts (which is better than the local meteorologists we get on the local news). I was curious if you know him, or of him, and if your private work is basically the same type of work as his (providing accurate forecasts for business).

    When your paycheck depends upon you being correct, it seems you put more effort into it (that is a general statement). But what I especially like about his forecasts is his discussion of what goes into his predictions. It has been a great education for a non-meteorologist like me.

  2. It’s usually best to just ignore Eli, imho. You’re not exactly reaping Shukla’s Gold here and everyone knows it.

    Anyways, your critics rarely make statements half as coherent on ethics and position as you’ve laid out here. Keep up the great work!

    • My thoughts also.
      I can only add that I wish JC would spend more time on her blog.
      But hey that’s just me.

    • Really?

      Judith has borrowed her list of warning signs of ideological commitment from the Discovery Institute, and her link announces her sympathy for Intelligent Sesign.

      What has this to do with climate policy ? A great deal when Dominionism has been at the forefront of climate denial for a decade- Reverend Calvin Beisner is a reguar feature of Heartland ‘International Climate Conferences’, and so many of Trump , Perry , & Pruitts hires share his sectarian views.

      It is likewise hard to credence the objectivity of anyone who declares :
      “I get my information on current events in politics from realclearpolitics.com, and from twitter.
      I find RealClearPolitics to be nonpartisan, providing links to articles from a range of different perspectives”

  3. Excellent essay, I will send it to my many friends, some of whom have been heavily influenced by the politics of climate change. Thank you again Ms. Curry. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year, keep up the good work, which I have found to fall in the category of “God’s Work” to paraphrase Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein

  4. I find that I agree with most of the views and sentiments expressed in your article, and I expect it is the same for most other readers. The critics invariably will not be truthful about their own beliefs, just attack those that don’t match their own tribe’s perceived ones.
    The only qualification I would have was your comments on power sources:
    “I have no objections to any power source – wind, solar, hydro, nuclear power, natural gas — provided that consideration is given to their safety for humans and ecosystems.” All power sources pollute and affect the environment, as well as having a real cost to the users. There has to be a knowledgeable societal acceptance that the benefits outweigh the costs. That is more than consideration. As other lead articles by people like planning engineer have pointed out, “renewables” is really code for “unreliables”. The fundamental bedrock of Western society is having reliable, efficient and cheap energy. Affect that and there will be major implications.
    Thank you for the thought provoking posts and I hope there will be plenty more in 2018.

    • Judith,
      Thanks for the essay and the blog. I endorse everything chrism56 said because it covered just about everything I wanted to say better than I would have said it.

  5. “I suspect that the activists will continue to try to tear me down because I am getting in the way of what they are advocating for.” Yes. Rust, gravity and virtue signaling vitriol never sleep.

    “Maybe this will help at least some people see me for what I am…” I think I’d go with “a very few.” “Some” in this context is probably optimistic. The problem is that given the context of the argument (i.e. climate position as a matter of social and personal righteousness), people are going to have to challenge and even deny themselves in order to absorb a contrary perspective. That does not happen often. People are awfully attached to the things on which they hang their virtue, and by extension, their self worth.

    Your great contribution to science and society is that you incur personal risk, cost and attack. That combined with professional competency that is empirically impossible to ignore make you the perfect storm of pain for those who hold to climate extremism.

  6. Judy, I originally came to your blog because it was characterized as one where climate warming advocates and skeptics actually listened to one another. I return because of a continuing stream of information and dialogue. Keep blogging!

  7. Regarding congressional testimonies, all Judith’s invitations come from the Republican side nowadays because they know what they are going to get which is someone that won’t say that the consensus is even likely correct on the amount of warming. They want someone that will attack the IPCC reports and general consensus as no more than an unfounded ideology, not evidence-based, money-grabbing, politically biased, bullying, etc. Judith can be relied on to not disappoint them. These scientific panels are just kangaroo courts in the US system, and they need the right actors for the roles. Sorry if this seems harsh, but that is their appearance. Their sole aim is to not have anyone give any good reason for regulations that will disappoint their industrial sponsors.

    • Regarding Congress, here is a quote from a recent Guardian article on fake news and how maybe science can overcome it. “Policy making in the United States is largely independent of the public’s wishes but serves the interests of economic elites.” The US is somewhat unique among western democracies in this respect. It’s the old problem of money in politics that skews these congressional hearings so much. They’re not interested in unbiased scientific input on which to decide action, only perfunctory rubber-stamping, and it shows.

      • I think Jim D has a lot of unintentional irony in quoting the Guardian about overcoming fake news. There have been a number of articles published in that newspaper/ website that even the most basic fact check has shown to be just plain wrong. To that has to be added the motivated reasoning and opinion pieces published as news. It is definitely not unbiased – having Mr Nuccitelli as their climate correspondent says it all about their lack of credibility.

      • You probably don’t think that there is a problem with fake news from outlets like Fox and the president’s press secretary. If there is a problem, it needs to be combatted. Their idea of a neutral arbitor regarding science is good, but we see that the equivalents in journalism, like Politifact and Snopes are already being attacked as part of the left plot because they simply call out Trump on all his lies.

      • “Policy making in the United States is largely independent of the public’s wishes but serves the interests of economic elites.”

        I’ll agree with you. The economic elites own ½ of Wal-Mart. Perhaps the rednecks that are happy to shop there don’t realize it’s not in their best interests.

        Then there’s the Koch Companies selling things like: Angelsoft, Brawny, Dixie, Mardi Gras, Quilted Northern, Soft n Gentle, and Sparkle. Probably bought by rednecks at Wal-Mart.

        Some people here have money, and most of us have products we can afford.

        Yes we are somewhat unique in this respect while better off than most of the European Countries that out hipster us. Telling us that we should apologize for our country has been getting old. That was a thing in the 1980s.

      • Their interests in areas like worker pay, worker safety, consumer safety, the environment, general healthcare, evidently seem to conflict with the wishes of the general public. That’s all. Who stands up for all that when congress doesn’t? It’s a broken democracy. In other countries they do care about these things. To your type it looks like regulation which you take to always be a bad thing. Deregulation is the mantra.

      • Jim
        As I do not live in the US, I don’t know what the President’s press secretary or Fox News says. Nor do I particularly care. And as has been pointed out by many sources, most of those fact checkers aren’t – they just confirm opinions that support their prejudices. And you do exactly the same.

      • There is only one side in these debates that does not trust that there can be a neutral arbiter. There are objective truths, and the public needs somewhere to go for them. In the wake of the presidential election problems, Facebook has plans to combat fake news with various ways of labeling objective falsehoods or unfounded claims. Science needs something similar where it comes into the public debate. Those producing loose facts will complain loudly and think of it as a conspiracy. How do we help them?

      • Jim D:

        We can see that the Europeans do care. But that caring can go too far. Raising the minimum wage and providing other rights to the point of driving jobs to other countries. Admittedly it is about one data point but our stock market has had wonderful advances in the last year. In 2016 the voters picked our model and not the European model.

        A tip off to what we are, is healthcare. Going back to President Clinton’s attempt at reform in about 1993. People wanted to rhetorically kill changes from what we had.

        A broken democracy.

        It didn’t break, it took jump to something else with Trump. If not Trump, it may have broke under the strain, but it naturally found its next attractor. It also did this with FDR during the depression. With our entry into WWII where it was no, no, no, then a jump to yes.

      • When you see questionnaires of what the public wants, it ends up being very liberal and egalitarian. Yes, even wealthy people want everyone to be able to have healthcare and are willing for themselves to pay more taxes to benefit the common good (better infrastructure, livable minimum wage, cheaper education, cleaner environment, etc.). Increasing coal – no, border walls – no, banning Muslims – no, high-capacity assault weapons – no, unaffordable healthcare – no, less taxes for the rich – no, less regulations against pollution – no, banning abortion – no, reducing voting rights – no, marginalizing transgenders – no, etc.

      • Jim D – “There are objective truths, and the public needs somewhere to go for them.”
        Help us out and provide a list of these truths.

      • Are you asking about science or Trump’s inauguration crowd size?

    • JC says, “I don’t subscribe to any political ideology or anything with an ‘-ism’; not feminism, not environmentalism, not Marxism, not nationalism, not neoliberalism, not social Darwinism, etc.”
      In the twitterstorm, Michael Tobis linked his essay from the consensus side, where without naming anyone in particular, coins for a certain class of belief “agnotropism” for the people who keep saying “we don’t know or understand”. His view is that the agnotropist is just speaking for themself in fact.

      • The link may not work unless you are signed into Google for example.

      • Dont forget the majority, the consensus, the 97%, was wrong when they called RCP8.5 “business as usual” and so much work was poured down the drain using an unsound pathway and resulting temperatures.

      • The future can’t be wrong already and anyway the IPCC call it a high emission, high population, scenario, not BAU. It is about a 2% per year growth rate in emissions which is just a continuation of the last century’s rate.

      • “It is about a 2% per year growth rate in emissions which is just a continuation of the last century’s rate.”

        Looks like the last century was about 1% per annum growth, though this century’s growth ( before the financial crisis ) was higher:

        Of course, it’s accumulations, which are closer to about 0.5% per annum, that are important to radiative forcing, and not the emissions.

      • 2% growth per year in emission rates, perhaps 1% in accumulations depending how you define that. It was emission rates I was talking about continuing for RCP8.5.

      • Nice try JimD, but recently science has been proceeding as frequently to falsehood as to truth. In case you are living in a foxhole, try this:


        With little effort you can find a dozen others in the Economist and several in Nature.

      • It took me about 30 seconds to come across the first false statements.

        “This is actually not far from the truth in publications in some engineering fields. One reports on actual achievements; one avoids lies and error. There’s little room for honestly, competently wrong in reporting the efficacy of an invention.”

        This is of course nonsense. There are lots of ways to “select” the data you show to make the invention look better than it really is and in most engineering fields this kind of bias is very common. Tobis tends to what I would call science fundamentalism, which regards all scientists as fundamentally good and honest. Any evidence of misconduct is dismissed.

      • The engineering analogy of consensus would be production. By the time it gets to production it has been well tested. Same with consensus. It takes as consensus because of evidence and helping to explain things.

      • I then ran into the ad hominem that those who claim “we don’t know” are just not that good at science. Tobis in this case is just badly wrong and being an apologist for science and advocating for policy action. Perhaps it is he who is “not that good at science.”

      • That’s what I mean by harsh. Well spotted. But in a lot of cases when someone says “we don’t know”, they actually mean they haven’t studied the evidence deeply enough to know for themselves, and they are usually somewhat at the periphery of the science looking in.

      • Well we have the reverse situation here. The individuals calling me ignorant of science haven’t spent 10% of the effort that I have spent, including almost 200 journal publications and two text books.

      • agnotropism is Tobis’s term for this view of not knowing on behalf of everyone.

      • Judith and JimD, Frankly, I was a little taken aback by this screed from Tobis. It’s so clearly unscientific and wrong that 60 seconds of reading is enough to see its many falsehoods. Does he think that this is really good work and effective? Wow.

      • The problem with Tobis’ take on engineering fields is that he is completely wrong. The engineering literature can be much worse than fields like medicine where there is at least honesty in admitting there is a serious problem. My view is that 90% of CFD literature is infested with selection bias. You select your best results to show that your method or code is better. You file away any negative results. There is ZERO honesty about this, partly because these fields are relatively small and few people really care that much.

      • He said almost nothing on engineering.

      • It’s just a matter of you can dish it on the mainstream, but you can’t take it from some of them. Don’t worry about it. He linked it as part of the twitter discussion, so I provided it here. I doubt all the mainstream people think that way, but while you’re calling them dishonest, this is what they are thinking in return.

      • Here is what Tobis tweeted about me:

        So she gets the physics wrong, the statistics wrong, the risk management wrong. But does she get the science/policy interface wrong? I think so.

        No it’s a bit more complicated. I believe she actually thinks she is being neutral and everyone else has an agenda. But that’s based on a severe misunderstanding of the science & is reinforced solely by attention & accolades from a misinformed & essentially political audience.

        Same here; indeed I think it’s an extreme case of Dunning-Kreuger syndrome exacerbated by a long but undistinguished publication record and impressive social climbing skills. I think her motivations are decent but she is profoundly confused, partly by her own career advances.

      • JimD, Stop the non scientist bull. Tobis said nothing about me but he is wrong about virtually everything he says. He’s not an engineer. He’s speaking from ignorance and from the form of denial I call science fundamentalism. Please read the link I gave you before engaging in denial.

      • The link was generic and not very useful for any specific discussion on the climate science consensus. Maybe you are trying to slur science in general, which is a different discussion.

      • dpy6629: “the form of denial I call science fundamentalism.”

        The religious metaphor is apt, it ties in laterally with a term I like, the climate cult evangelist, who sadly make up probably 97% of the 97%. These are the believers who study the verse and political science sycophants sitting in the pews hoping to inspire a new monolithic worldly religious order, who are the enforcers of the climate commandments to keep people fearful. The follower class and the CAGW scientists in the pulpit choose to mock JC who has the smarts, humility and obvious lack of religious fervor to not fall in line, they try to excommunicate. Uh, forgive me, religion is such a wonderful metaphor for so many following climate science.

        Yes, it’s the fundamentalists who are actually in denial. The models that make up a good portion of the fundamentalist climate bible are about as accurate as tarot cards, yet it’s this evidence empowering “Who Decides What Is True”, please see the light! Let there be light!

      • @dpy6629
        “In particle physics, significance is set at 5 sigma—a p value of 3 × 10–7 or 1 in 3·5 million (if the result is not true, this is the probability that the data would have been as extreme as they are).”

        Well, it seems to me that the Lancet article doesn’t consider that in particle physics they can get to that kind of statistical precision simply because they accumulate trillions of collisions… while in the medical or pharmaceutical fields they can’t do the same, for lack of cases.
        It’s like comparing apples to oranges… makes no sense at all.

      • There has been a climate statistical paper by Lovejoy that puts the current warming at about 5-sigma relative to typical millennial perturbations/noise. The warming is 1 degree and the standard deviation is 0.2 degrees.

      • JimD, Neither I nor the Lancet is trying to “smear science in general.” It’s simply a fact that a lot of what passes for science is wrong. Here’s another example of an alarming paper in Nature that is pretty clearly wrong. Schmidt demolished it in a pre-echo of lewis work.


      • I agree and there are a lot of peripheral journals that accept complete junk science where the skeptics like to put theirs. These items are usually ignored or draw a lot of criticism. That’s how it works.

      • JimD, To be credible you must first read the link. The paper demolished by Schmidt was not by a “skeptic” but an overly alarming paper.

        Not being a scientist, you can be forgiven for misrepresenting the state of science, but please try to be more credible. My own take is that 90% of the literature is superfluous.

      • I am not going to generalize from individual cases. There are a lot of poor papers you can use as examples. These usually get demolished by subsequent work, if they are not ignored entirely for being too wacky. That’s how science works. Yes, bad papers get in if peer review doesn’t filter them first, and following work says why they are wrong. Debate may ensue. It’s all good.

      • Jim D yes the future can be wrong already. The EIA has found that for the first time without an economic recession global growth in greenhouse gases has stopped. Moreover, they believe that this is because economic growth has decoupled from emissions growth. http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2016/march/decoupling-of-global-emissions-and-economic-growth-confirmed.html. This is confirmed by the US reached it highest emissions of Green House Gases in 2007 and has consistently reversed it trends since then. This is attributed mainly to the switch to natural gas for electrical generation.
        Europe has been even more effective in lowering its emissions http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/greenhouse-gas-emission-trends-6/assessment

      • CMS, it’s a start, but unless we drastically reduce the global CO2 per capita we will reach 600-700 ppm by 2100 which is far above the target values recommended for 2 C. This takes both a mitigation program and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Reducing per capita CO2 globally does require countries to adopt non-fossil energy systems more widely, including the populous developing countries. This is in line with what the UN would recommend.

      • M Tobis seems like a nice guy but has, unfortunately, lost his mind. That you would appeal to him as some sort of authority is bizarre

      • Did I say that? I think he said some things in a very bold and forthright way, but people here are just as bold about people on the consensus side. It’s a “both sides” thing. Worth a read for his opinion as a straight shooter.

      • JimD, You said it was a start. But hypothesized that we would reach 600 ppm +. I guess while you responded to my comment, you didn’t read it. According to the the IEA anthropological induced growth of greenhouse gases has stopped. So we won’t reach 600 or anything like it. We have turned the corner. I do not understand why this is not being proclaimed from the roof tops. We have succeeded, you no longer have to spend your time worrying about Climate Change.

      • It’s not that easy. Population is growing and development is expanding to more countries. Unless there is a per capita decrease in carbon emissions, the emission rate has an upward pressure due to these two factors. We need a substantial global per capita reduction which is not happening fast enough to keep CO2 from doubling, and especially developing countries will first see an increase in emissions per capita before they can start declining with a oush towards renewables themselves. Not out of the woods yet, by any accounting.

      • JimD, still haven’t read it. IEA said economic growth has decoupled from Greenhouse growth. Your argument is based on the assumption that “Unless there is a per capita decrease in carbon emissions, the emission rate has an upward pressure” If economic growth has decoupled, then it has also decoupled from population growth. Moreover, as cited GH growth in both US and Europe has been falling since 2007 or before in the case of Europe. So you are seeing your per capita decrease in much of the highly industrialized world. Your whole argument is contradicted by the implication of the findings that as full industrialization becomes a fact for the rest of the world, their GHG’s will begin to fall. This is obviously contrary to your thesis that industrial growth is a bad thing vis-a-vis anthropological global warming. Again GHG growth for the whole world has stopped. That could not have happened, were there not have been first a slowing, and then a reversal in trend. So why would you believe that an increase in industrialization would not have already begun to reverse GHGs.

      • Put it this way. Do you really expect CO2 to stabilize below 450 ppm (equivalent to the IPCC 2 C target) with the current trajectory, or does it need more work? By my estimate, to stabilize below 450 ppm, we need to average 30 GtCO2 between now and 2100. Currently we are at 40+, which is 6 tonnes per capita. 30 GtCO2 as an average requires about 20 GtCO2 by 2100 with a linear decrease. Given a 50% greater population in 2100 that would be 2 tonnes per capita. Will we really cut per capita emissions by 2/3 by 2100? Yes, maybe, but it will be an effort to transform the energy and fuel systems in a way that achieves that.

      • I think I will stick with the EIA and IEA Government scientist (this was Obama era – oh, wait a minute, am I suggesting that science is somehow swayed by political administrations). I understand if the scientist are right and not your scenario, then we do not need to make massive changes to our civilization and economy as they are evidently self correcting. What a wonder if our economic progress is already taking care of the problem, but that would be contrary to the thesis that human beings are ultimately outside of and destructive of nature. The devil trying to destroy paradise( and put up a parking lot).

      • In case you didn’t notice, the EIA are not making a projection, that’s you doing that by some kind of uninformed extrapolation, which you still haven’t detailed. For policy you need to provide a guideline, and the recent past doesn’t cut it for that. Look forwards. How quickly will emissions reduce, if at all? That is the question you are avoiding, but is central to the warming effect. Guidelines tell you what temperature you get for what emission total by 2100 for example. An estimate is about 1 degree of warming per 1500-2000 GtCO2 of emissions, and the amount we emit by 2100 is the most uncertain factor there depending heavily on the speed of the effort to replace fossil fuels long before they run out. It could be 1000 GtCO2, or it could be 10000 GtCO2, about a five-degree uncertainty. Awareness of consequences is needed, matching cause to effect. It’s a trade-off that people should not be blind to.

      • “When debating the big issues, don’t niggle the small ones.”

        Anonymous Heins

    • Jim D, if Judith is invited by her government to give testimony on climate change, I think she should give it, regardless of which “side” invites her. There are important government decisions to be made on the subject and she is a bona fide climate scientist who has a reputation for expressing her views honestly. Who knows, maybe one of these times her testimony will sway some Democrats and she’ll get an invitation from the Democratic side next time.

      As a climate scientist in her own right, she does not need to uncritically accept an “argument from consensus”, which is simply an appeal to authority. I’m sure she is sufficiently knowledgeable to make her own independent assessment of the science.

      If you don’t like the way the US system works, don’t blame Judith, she’s just trying to work within the system.

      Finally, your Michael Tobis link isn’t really very helpful. It is much better to “address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument”.

      • Decisions are not made based on what is said in those hearings. it is just kabuki theater. If they want to take part, fine. Good arguments are had. The politicians try to get the quotes they want out of the panelists and ignore the rest. It is most interesting on the cross-examination of opposing witnesses, but that is just bluster, and getting shots in, with no lasting effect if it is the minority party asking the questions. The majority party are not there to gather information. They selected their panelists to spoonfeed them the quotes they need. A lot of similarity with methods of activist journalists who also try to get the right quotes from the right people to feed their predetermined story.
        Tobis actually lays it out really well what it looks like from the consensus side, and what consensus really means. It is not a committee decision. It just happens naturally in science. The example of GHG effects in paleoclimate was given. There was no breakthrough paper that established that. It was evident from what everyone saw over many decades of paleo research. Tobis is a bit brutal about the scientific outsiders in places.

      • Stay tuned for my post early next week. the so-called ‘climate change consensus’ did not happen naturally.

      • Jim D:

        “Tobis actually lays it out really well what it looks like from the consensus side, and what consensus really means.”

        I’d say the consensus has had at least 10 years to tell their story and make their arguments. What do we call it when the consensus loses the White House and about half of Congress? Are we still at, We’re right, here’s what’s wrong with you?

      • ragnaar, globally, the consensus still steers energy policies, but the US is an anomaly for sure. Money in politics does that. The US is exhibit A.

      • “Money in politics does that. The US is exhibit A.” JimD, you can’t accept that people might actually disagree with you? Money in politics: then Hillary Clinton must be president, right? She spent literally twice as much as Donald Trump.
        Your only evidence is that Europeans think differently from Americans, which proves to you that the Americans are thinking wrong. Different demographic; the median European is way to the left of the median American.
        But just wait; the median European is getting way more conservative on a number of issues, as he or she realizes that his wise leaders are leading the lemmings off a cliff. Let’s talk in a few years, as the anti-immigration parties there continue to grow. We’ll see what the median European thinks then.

      • Jim D:

        About money in politics. A lot is changing. The, as good as money, was with the MSM. I think that is doing less well. Has less influence. Traditional ads are doing less well.

        I suppose it’s adapting and innovating versus keeping things as they were.

      • miker613, I see people disagreeing with me all the time and I can accept that. Money in politics? – yes there is. Too much? – that too. You disagree on these? Fine by me. What you see in Europe is traces of xenophobia, still mostly a minority, but troubling to me, though maybe you support it, I don’t know. We saw this with Brexit and Trump too. The US used to be accepting of immigrants (give us your huddled masses and all that), but now not so much. This is what makes America unique in the world – that immigrant (and other minority) communities could feel as American as anyone, but Trump is pro-WASP and his MAGA is about them and making divisions in American society in the process. There is a call to Make America America Again. United, not divided. You can disagree. I’m fine with that.

      • Jim D, the US was and is accepting to immigrants. What we are not accepting of are immigrants who enter the country illegally. It is interesting to note that the population in our prisons is skewed higher for illegal immigrants than for the population in general. This implies that there is a higher percentage of criminals in illegal immigrants than in the population in general. It would be irresponsible for the US to continue to be accepting of a population (illegal immigrants) who will increase the percentage of criminals in our society.

      • This was in the context of xenophobia. The great majority of illegal immigrants are making positive contributions to the economy, and the DACA ones are getting educated at above average rates. You risk Trumpisms if you generalize too much based on a small minority, but admittedly that is how he gets his support and it is not easy to shake that xenophobic streak in this country that also applies to Muslims, another division growing under his encouragement. These are troubling trends, as in Europe.

      • I believe you missed my point Jim D. Yes, the majority of illegal immigrants aren’t criminals just like the majority of citizens aren’t criminals. However, a higher percentage of illegal immigrants are criminals than either percentage of citizens or legal immigrants. So it is clear that encouraging legal immigration and discouraging illegal immigration is in the best interest of the country.

      • Do you want to deport them all, or have a working visa for those that contribute to the economy and allow a path to citizenship for them and their families? How do you feel about separating families or removing the DACA youth? There are ways to integrate them without deportation. DACA shows the way to do that.

    • If you think I was harsh, you should read Tobis.

    • Not going to waste my time.

      I long ago recognized what a fine scientist Judith Curry is and based solely off her comments here, a fine person as well. Honesty and integrity have no political affiliation. Dr Curry regularly exhibits both. Many of her critics? Not so much.

    • “How Does Science Proceed from Hypothesis to Fact to Common Knowledge?”

      It seems to have progressed from hypothesis to manufactured consensus to meme.

    • This response almost seems rambling and grasping.

  8. JimmieD, still concerned about science by majority? Still in the trenches of “Climate wars”? Still a “streetfighting man” ( with appologies to the Rolling Stones) on the barricades of the “consensus”? You look so ridiculous, you can’t imagine…

    • Or so you would like to believe.

    • I say it like I see it.

      • You’re taken in by the sham that congressional hearings are. OK, I can believe that. Call me skeptical of them.

    • Harry Twinotter

      “JimmieD, still concerned about science by majority?”

      Well I am, and so should you. A consensus of evidence is about the best anyone can expect in any scientific endeavour. To reject it out of hand is foolish.

    • Everything in climate – and models – is nonlinear. This is the consensus that has been around for a while now. There may be an IPCC summary for policy makers consensus but it is totally nuts.

  9. Thank you for enlightening us. It gets so annoying having other people try to define who or what you are. When I first visited your blog I was intrigued by your choice of the word ‘wicked’ to describe the science around climate change. Since most people equate the word wicked with evil it subconsciously sent a message that maybe climate science was evil or at least not to be trusted. Truth is there is some evil in science since science is just a thought process and is very much subordinate to many human emotions like pride, anxiety, fear, guilt…
    But in the end it’s our technology that has always posed the bigger threat, not just to our species but possibly the whole biosphere (hint: it’s the bottom of the food chain -algae/micro-organisms you have to watch not the top -Polar Bears). I keep going back to one of the best books of the last decade, Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”. I see parallels between the way we discuss climate change and the national debt. Everybody thinks it might be a problem someday but nobody want’s to make the hard decisions today to deal with it.
    Happy New Year.

  10. What do we make of Hume’s proclamation?
    “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

    Hume seems to argue that all reasoning is motivated by emotion.

    • Or, the emotive is what gives us motive.

      More Hume: “curiosity, or that love of truth” (T II.3.10 448). It drives both philosophy and hunting, of which “there cannot be two passions more nearly resembling each other”

      If so, it’s not so much unmotivated reason to be wary of, so much as motivations other than curiosity that we need to be wary of.

      And given the political nature of the parents of the UNEP and IPCC, and the stated aims of the founding members, these groups deserve special scrutiny.

    • Re: “What do we make of Hume’s proclamation? […] Hume seems to argue that all reasoning is motivated by emotion.”

      First, you’re like using equivocation to conflate two different ideas on motivation. Hume thinks that beliefs never motivate on their own; a desire needs to be present as well. For example, believing there is salami in the kitchen will not, by itself, motivate you to go get the salami. You also need a desire for salami. If you lack that desire (ex: you hate salami), then your belief will be insufficient to motivate you to get the salami.

      So Hume thinks every motivation requires emotion, whether that motivation is with regards to getting salami, engaging reasoning, or performing scientific research. But this is not what “motivated reasoning” means in psychology. “Motivated reasoning”, roughly, involves someone reasoning such that they can re-interpret reality in a way that fits with what they desire, their ideology, etc.. For example, a parent rationalizing away any evidence against their child, so they never have to admit their child committed a crime.

      This motivated reasoning is not identical to Hume’s “belief + desire” account of motivation. For instance, suppose someone desires to reason in a way where they accept evidence-based conclusions, even if those conclusions are inconvenient for their ideology, desires, etc. And suppose they successfully engage in that sort of reasoning. That person is not engaged in motivated reasoning, but they are motivated in Hume’s sense, since they have a desire with some beliefs.

      Second, your quote is a quote-mine. The quote you’re discussing comes from Hume’s discussion of morality. Hume is a moral subjectivist (or, depending on how you read him, a noncognivitist or error theorist). So he does not think there are objective moral facts. Instead, he thinks there are subjective facts about what people do value or would value under certain idealized circumstances. As part of this point, Hume thinks that moral reasoning serves these values; people *project* their subjective moral values onto the world, making those values seem like objective moral facts to them. Hume thinks people also do some projection when it comes to their claims about causality. But Humes does not think all reasoning (ex: scientific, mathematical, etc.) involves this sort of projection, since he does not think all properties are merely people’s subjective projections.

    • Turbulent Eddie: Hume seems to argue that all reasoning is motivated by emotion.

      For a better perspective, check out Antonio D’Amasio’s book “Descartes’ Error”, which reviews a lot of the neurophysiological evidence on the relations among emotions, motivations and cognitions. It’s a little dated now, but good when it was written. Also “Mind and Brain” by William Uttal, which is a skeptical review of what can be claimed based on evidence — hmm, where have we heard that before?

    • Ultimately everything is driven by the so-called unconscious or subconscious mind, which is in fact always conscious and is far greater than the so-called conscious mind. The surface, reasoning mind, tends to rationalize what has arisen from the “subconscious.” It’s very helpful to observe and understand this process.

  11. robert Sparrow

    I am just re reading the book by Edward Bayliss entitled “Propaganda”. It would appear that Maurice Strong must also have read it and followed all the advice on how to control public opinion to achieve an objective. Although Mr Strong may have coined the phrase ” climate change” and been instrumental in creating the IPCC he was more interested in these as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. His one goal was to get the UN to be the defacto World Government enabling it to transfer wealth wherever it wished. He or perhaps the advice of Mr Bayliss have been remarkably successful.

  12. David L. Hagen

    Judith Curry
    Thanks for your open frank perspective and especially for upholding the foundations of science, its integrity, and intellectual honesty. Thanks too for the link to Sarah Myhre post apologizing for her “denier” tweet. (I still think her feminist advocacy gets in the way of her science – such as banning me rather than addressing the scientific issues I raised on twitter.)
    Re: “Clean Coal”
    I’m curious as to what you mean by: “I don’t see any way to make coal ‘clean.’” “Clean” coal now has two meanings: First it is used to mean:
    Reduced coal power emissions due to the Clean Air Act.
    The EPA reports:

    The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe. Between 1990 and 2015, national concentrations of air pollutants improved 85 percent for lead, 84 percent for carbon monoxide, 67 percent for sulfur dioxide (1-hour), 60 percent for nitrogen dioxide (annual), and 3 percent for ozone. Fine particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 37 percent and coarse particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 69 percent between 2000, when trends data begins for fine particles, and 2015. (For more trends information, see EPA’s Air Trends site.)

    Air pollution (and consequently aerosols & albedo) was reduced so much that it may have caused much of the global warming.
    Contrast air pollution from coal power in China has stayed high – primarily due to its very rapid increase in coal fired electricity – without the stringent US air quality requirements.
    “Dirty” CO2
    The second usage of “clean” coal is the IPCC/”Green”/political declaration that the odorless tasteless gas CO2 (aka “carbon”) though essential to life is “dirty” and CO2 emissions must be eliminated (ignoring the 40,000 ppm CO2 emissions by such activists breathing). The political renaming CO2 to “carbon” draws on cultural images of “dark satanic mills” – though modern power cleanup requirements result in very little coal dust emitted.
    Consequently this advocacy requires “capturing” and “sequestering” CO2 to make coal fired power “clean”. This is so expensive that it is not being done without massive taxpayer subsidies. e.g.,
    A review of Post Combustion CO2 Capture Technologies from Coal-fired Power Plants Wang 2016

    A variety of optimization methods have been made to minimize energy consumption as well as cost for conventional chemical absorption process. However, the fact that this technology is energy-intensive and costly has not fundamentally altered.

  13. Judith,
    1. I don’t care about your politics.
    2. Everyone has their own views, but I have found you willing to listen to others and to formulate your views based on the evidence (rather unlike many like Mann).
    3. Being in the private sector makes you far more likely to be trustworthy and impartial on climate.
    4. If I had to take one person’s advice before “pushing the red button” on climate it would be yours.

  14. It seems to me that all thinkers and asserters (virtually every human being on the planet) will defend their thoughts, assertions, perspectives with the inherent bias that comes with defending oneself. The scientific community has to battle this urge more diligently than others while disseminating knowledge through social and other media that casts a wider net than even 10 years ago. I applaud people like Judith that work very hard to be intellectually honest….I recognize that it can be a tough road in science. I think others have failed miserably, made evident by some that have close relationships in politics, have a propensity to argue, desire to shut out opposing viewpoint owners in conversation or input seeking.

    I suppose someday “cooler heads” will prevail….I hope soon.

  15. Yes, to those paying attention, we already know you as a humble scientist, in a loud, often anti-intellectual world of self promotion.

  16. Hi Judy. First – found it interesting (that’s all) that you didn’t mention Trump. ha.

    You noted: ” I don’t see any way to make coal ‘clean.’

    In the infamous NYT’s article, “Freeman Dyson – The Civil Heretic,” he states (whole paragraph for complete context – bold, for the driving point):

    For Hansen, the dark agent of the looming environmental apocalypse is carbon dioxide contained in coal smoke. Coal, he has written, “is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet.” Hansen has referred to railroad cars transporting coal as “death trains.” Dyson, on the other hand, told me in conversations and e-mail messages that “Jim Hansen’s crusade against coal overstates the harm carbon dioxide can do.” Dyson well remembers the lethal black London coal fog of his youth when, after a day of visiting the city, he would return to his hometown of Winchester with his white shirt collar turned black. Coal, Dyson says, contains “real pollutants” like soot, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, “really nasty stuff that makes people sick and looks ugly.” These are “rightly considered a moral evil,” he says, but they “can be reduced to low levels by scrubbers at an affordable cost.” He says Hansen “exploits” the toxic elements of burning coal as a way of condemning the carbon dioxide it releases, “which cannot be reduced at an affordable cost, but does not do any substantial harm.

    I proposed this point to Lamar Smith’s chief advisor a year back, or so (he’s gone now), with the hope of exploring the ultimate truth in that . . to no avail.

    At this point in time, if we were to drop the entire effort – the unbearable cost – of scrubbing the CO2 out of coal emissions, could it be accomplished, Worth a conversation? Thanks.

  17. I have no political affiliations, but if I were to have one it would be the Mercutio party, (Romeo & Juliet) – “A plague on both your houses for you have made worms meat of me”

  18. Dr. Curry

    Happy New Year and many years hence.

    On a note of climate uncertainty, here in a mid-western city surrounded by the Great Lakes we had a record high temperature for December 26, 2016 of 55 degrees F. This morning, we had a non-record temperature of -13 F. If all politics is “local” and people’s attitudes frequently reflect their personal observations, then the people in my home town would seem to embrace weather variability and climate predictions with uncertainty; your forte.

    Thank you.

  19. Thanks, Judith, for an interesting explanation of your views, which in a civilised world would have been unnecessary. garyh845 has just spelled out my intended comment in greater detail and clarity. Your comment on coal seemed out of kilter with the rest of the article, and its use of quote marks was curious: I don’t see any way to make coal ‘clean.’. If you had intended the normal English meaning of “clean”, wouldn’t you have written: I don’t see any way to make coal clean. But you surely couldn’t have intended the corrupted green version of “clean” because that doesn’t tally with the entire thrust of judithcurry.com.

    Fact is, coal was dirty (hence the smogs of yesteryear), now it’s pretty darned good. Especially when considered alongside the fantastic contribution that coal has made to so much of humanity. Sure, there are some alternatives now, but the sheer quantities needed to maintain current benefits and to expand them to include those not yet benefiting are way beyond the alternatives’ capacity – apart from nuclear which appears to be losing ground to an onslaught from the same toxic greens who attack fossil fuels.

  20. Dr Curry: your reasonable positions are exactly what drives some people crazy. When you don’t go down in the mud with them, they feel ashamed (though of course, they’d never admit it). Rather than deal with the shame by questioning their own positions and approaches, they go on the attack. This is safer for the (fragile) ego, but does nothing for public discussion.

    Keep up the great work.

  21. If the unique pollutant of a coal fired power station was carbon dioxide would you consider it “clean”? I understand the supercritical coal power station technology used by many power stations under construction in China tend towards this behaviour (significant reductions in aerosols, sulphates and nitrates)

  22. I only started following on twitter a few weeks ago and the storm over Christmas was not pleasant reading. Intellectual honesty numbers 7 and 8 seem to be the most often used and abused in social media. It’s quite depressing actually.

  23. Dr Curry,

    Most of your critics come off as ankle biters. You are someone to be admired and emulated, not called out because you don’t adhere to the storyline they push. In comparison to you, they “ain’t worth a hair off my nutsack”, to use a vernacular phrase from a past life.

    Here is wishing you and your loved ones a healthy and successful new year.

  24. The only issue that I would have is to accept all energy sources but on each own’s merits. That is, without government subsidies skewing the market.

    I have spent the past 50 years questioning conventional wisdom to the profit of my agricultural clients. I admire your scientific integrity. It seems to me that your critics are so invested in unsupported theories that they have to use non scientific tactics. Their house of cards will fall. Have faith in the value of scientific inquiry.

  25. I clicked the Sarah Myhre link.

    Why is she relevant?

    Sounds like an inconsequential flake.

    Why do you bother with her?

    I hope you are enjoying your new non-academic life.

    Happy New Year.

    • Sarah Myhre is a scientist. I did not know her until she appeared in this argument. Her experiences as a field researcher are interesting and valuable, especially as a woman scientist. (I did not look at her research papers.) As I wrote earlier, I feel that one should criticize the science and stop looking for motivations in the scientist. I agree with JC’s approach although I cringe when I hear that she has been on Fox news. But maybe it is the best way to reach a different audience.

      • “… although I cringe when I hear that she has been on Fox news.”

        Lots of liberals / progressives agree to be interviewed by one of their interviewers, Tucker Carlson, IIRC. So being interviewed there is not necessarily a sign of alignment with Fox’s line. (Lots of leftists similarly appeared on WF Buckley’s Firing Line, for the same reason: to argue with the host.

  26. Please keep up the good work. This is an intelligent and revealing look at who you are, what you believe, and how you reach conclusions. Your adversaries would do well to at least try to emulate your professionalism.

  27. I agree on the politics completely – and there is a classic liberal economics. Clean coal – however –
    in an inevitable part of the near term future. Energy needs there will be.


    Clean coal produces less CO2 and almost none of the pollutants of concern – in the burning of it at least.


    CCS is easy – you could pay for it in the OECD at $10/metric ton. For energy – high efficiency low emission (HELE) coal generation is a cost competitive solution in many parts of the world.

    e.g. existing and planned


  28. Judith says:

    There are five attributes of ideologues:
    1. Absence of doubt
    2. Intolerance of debate
    3. Appeal to authority
    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

    The asks:

    In the climate communication world, it has become very trendy to wear your political ideology on your sleeve. How many ‘climate science communicators’ can you name that have at least 4 of the above attributes of ideologues with regards to climate change?

    Well, in answer to that question, here is a list of 87 Australian academics who are climate change alarmists/warriors/ideologues: Climate change is real: an open letter from the scientific community https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-real-an-open-letter-from-the-scientific-community-1808

    They signed off on this, and 12 more ‘chapters’: “The false, the confused and the mendacious: how the media gets it wrong on climate change” https://theconversation.com/the-false-the-confused-and-the-mendacious-how-the-media-gets-it-wrong-on-climate-change-1558

    • Peter Lang’s
      Second link:

      “We can calculate the effect, and predict what is going to happen to the earth’s climate during our lifetimes, all based on fundamental physics that is as certain as gravity.”
      “The consensus opinion of the world’s climate scientists is that climate change is occurring due to human CO₂ emissions. The changes are rapid and significant, and the implications for our civilisation may be dire. The chance of these statements being wrong is vanishingly small.”

      The first statement is wrong. The effect depends on understanding the system which is incomplete. Two examples are clouds and the middle and deep oceans. A lot of people can predict. And while it is based on fundamental physics, sections of the calculations are unknown.

      Sentence two doesn’t say if we are causing 10% of the change or 100%. While the article discusses, certainty of science. I may say, I am certain we are causing some of it.

      Rapid and significant are poorly defined. The implications for the United States may be ho hum. Even economically beneficial if other countries, leave it in the ground.

      Yes the chance of my statements being wrong are vanishingly small as well. Now why don’t you all see this as I do?

      • Ragnaar: Peter Lang’s
        Second link:

        Good post. Those links contain many such propositions that are unfounded, vague, tendentious, and otherwise seriously flawed.

    • Peter Lang: Well, in answer to that question, here is a list of 87 Australian academics who are climate change alarmists/warriors/ideologues

      Thank you for the links. The second has this statement: The changes are rapid and significant, and the implications for our civilisation may be dire. The chance of these statements being wrong is vanishingly small.

      If the implications of warming are “dire”, is it ok to refer to the warming as “catastrophic”? If the implications of the warming may be dire, is it fair to ask for more evidence before we rapidly shell out $3T in an effort to reduce CO2?

      It seems to me that these writers inferentially leap quickly from may be dire to must be dire and must be prevented at al cost, whereas most skeptics insist that it is exactly that implicit inferential leap that is unwarranted on present evidence. Warming may be dire and the warming effect of CO2 may be limited at 1C are statements that are compatible with each other and are compatible with the data.

      • May be dire.

        Poverty may be dire for a lot of Africa and parts of Central and South America. We really don’t do that much other than hopefully some good capitalism for these places.

        For the United States to now act for the good of these places, with material amounts of money on the issue of global warming based on our acts of the last 50 years seems not likely.

        What good have we done for the world? We saved some whales and a few birds from decimation. Non-profit organizations have done a lot. I imagine the argument is that non-profits cannot do enough.

        The argument that did not persuade in the past is that, Non-profits cannot do enough to save the poor of the world, so the United States Federal government must do it. However, that didn’t work too well. But there are examples of Countries on Okay paths to well being because of capitalism and other ideas popular in the United States.

  29. I hesitate to write this since Ms Myhre has half heartedly extended an olive twig. But, when she said “Your choice to misinform the public scares me”, it perfectly encapsulates everything that is wrong with climate science. It is never, ever about the science. None of the dignified let’s compare and contrast our scientific ideas with a common purpose of finding truth. No. That allows the possibility that the establishment doesn’t have a monopoly on all the facts and doesn’t possess better ideas. Over decades, somehow the normative behavior in climate science has devolved into denigrating and marginalizing anyone with the temerity to challenge the orthodoxy.
    How exactly has Judith misinformed the public? I see no such evidence on this blog. In fact, Judith offers the gold standard in decorum, dignity, and, most importantly, on how a scientist should think. She provides a forum promoting a free exchange of ideas rather than lessons on brainwashing.

    Implicit in suggesting anyone has been misinformed is that those being misinformed lack the ability to do their own research. Pre-internet, performing ones own research would have been a Herculean task. Today, thousands of citations are at your fingertips. If anyone feels misled, the remedy is seconds away.
    Reflecting back on all the posts here, I don’t remember a single instance where she was trying to sell a point of view. She didn’t tell me that I had to read the studies questioning an acceleration of SLR. She didn’t tell me about Antarctica contributing only 0.27mm/yr to GMSLR. IPCC told me. She didn’t suggest I look up all those studies identifying previous warm periods in the Arctic and Greenland. In fact, NASA has a wonderful graph depicting such. She didn’t tell me to find the studies discussing geothermal activity in Greenland and Antarctica, possibly accelerating basal melting. I found the studies about polynyas affecting some of Antarctica’s glaciers on my own. Ditto, when the Larsen ice shelf broke off I sought out the quotes from glaciologists who said this had been going on for thousands of years. I found evidence, on my own, of subsidence along coastal areas around the globe with subsidence rates larger than SLR. Just a little reading will turn up charts showing NH snowfall anomalies, lack of increase in tornadic activity, evidence of mega-droughts in NA and Australia, cooling of Antarctic Peninsula, gaining of ice sheet in East Antarctica, increasing lake levels in the Great Lakes, 60 year cycles in SLR, hundreds of citations on MWP, poor spatial coverage of SST data and contemporary news accounts from 100 years ago covering the same concerns about warming that exist today or the failed predictions from the end of the last century. On top of all that are all those studies trying to understand what impact the sun might have on our climate.
    The information and data to form a well thought out skeptical view are readily available. Of course, there has to be motivation to find ithose sources,,rather than a concerted effort to deep six it all.

  30. Your politics description indicates that you would make a great Politician. I mean that in a good way, if such exists. My solution to politics is to eliminate the politician(s) from the voting process via a state-by-state lottery and those in the drum-basked need a 2-year degree in problem solving and troubleshooting.

    My self, a retired engineer after 47 years and w/an associate in Power and Power Distribution, any national power system must #1 be dependable, nothing else would matter if it were not.

    Thought I would sneak that in there, smiles.
    Thank you JC, and happy new years ahead for you wished.

  31. Judith, thank you for all you do. As a retired engineer involved in dynamic control systems and high integrity safety protection systems I really appreciate your time and effort to communicate climate science as it involves you. You have a position and voice that many of us do not have. Keep up the good work. I share many of your ideals. I think that the body of science re. climatology is still in the infant stage and in the data collection and analysis mode. Predictions are still a distant future… no harm trying tho. I think that once we are past 2 or 3 time constants of the climate feedback systems in play we may have a rudimentary knowledge of all the variables involved. Emergent cloud dynamics are still an unknown… esp. with regards to dynamically modeling them. Anyway… I have to look at it as lots of fun… considering all the known unknowns. CARRY ON

  32. There are five attributes of ideologues:
    1. Absence of doubt
    2. Intolerance of debate
    3. Appeal to authority
    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur…

    All of which being pretty well embodied here:

    Why do I feel bemusement? Because the scientific case is clear. The world’s scientists have reached a consensus that climate change is real, caused by us, and a threat if we if we fail to act. Yet in much of our public discourse, we’re still stuck in a substantially bad-faith debate about whether the problem even exists. ~Michael E. Mann

  33. Dr Curry, an interesting effort, as always. However, I believe that, as a reasonable person, you have been misled into thinking that the challenges to your person (instead of to your ideas) can be defended against by highlighting your virtues as a person. There is nothing reasonable about the attacks on your person, so no reasoning can overcome them. Even if your critics were to agree that something you said was actually correct and a surprise to them, they would then accuse you of either “arguing in bad faith”, or “deceiving by directing attention to a misleading truth”.

    Even if I am correct about this, I notice that a lot of the comments are interesting. Thank you again.

  34. Judith,
    I still think you’re somewhat missing/avoiding the points that were being made. It’s not specifically a criticism of your ideology/advocacy, it’s mainly trying to point out that engaging publicly about this topic, which clearly has societal/political implications, is clearly a form of advocacy. It may not be direct, but if it has the potential to influence policy, then it has to qualify as a form of activism/advocacy. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this. What’s questionable, though, is suggesting that what you do is not a form of advocacy/activism.

    • ATTP

      What Hansen and Mann do is clearly advocacy.

      If Judith puts a scientific point of view -rather than her own personal opinion forthrightly expressed as the need to carry out a specific course of action because of some specific threat-is that advocacy?

      I am not sure it is.


      • Tony,
        The point that people are making is that if you publicly express views that will influence policy, then that is a form of advocacy. Whether that is directly supporting some specific policy or providing information that undermines some policy option is rather irrelevant. Again, I’m not implying that there is anything wrong with doing this (I think people should be free to engage in public discussions about a policy relevant topic). My issue is with the suggestion that somehow there is a way to do so that is advocacy free. I don’t really think that there is.

      • ATTP, you write, ‘that is the argument others have been making.’ I think others = you. You may no longer be the only one making the argument, but that is because you have enlisted the support of your commenters on a blog post at your site that makes the argument, such as it is.

        I also think it is stretching reality to say that any argument that has policy implications is implicit advocacy.

        My tax bill will change this year. In what way is that statement advocacy on tax issues?

        It seems to me that you are trying to soften the impact of criticism of Mann and Hansen’s very real advocacy with an ‘everybody does it’ gambit.

        You have learned much from willard, the creator and destroyer of Climateball. But you are not as accomplished as he.

      • Thomas, Excellent analysis. ATTP’s argument seems to be that everyone sins therefore we are all equally guilty. It’s an old argument to justify corruption and venality and in this case the unethical track record of some climate scientists.

      • Dr Curry your accusers seem to rely on Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me.” Somewhat confusingly Luke 9:30 says “He that is not against us is for us.”

    • Engaging in the policy process does not imply advocacy for public policies. What I write can have policy implications. So this certainly is not activism on my part (all this is rather passive), and I am not advocating for any specific policy outcome. If you think I am a policy advocate, please tell me what public policy outcomes I am actually advocating for or against (beyond ‘process’ issues).

      • I realise that this is your argument. The argument that others are making is that it isn’t possible to be involved in a way that won’t potentially influence policy. Hence it isn’t possible to not be some kind of advocate. Not openly advocating for a specific policy does not counter this. What you’re describing sounds very much like what others have described as stealth advocacy.

      • This is my whole point. The decision-analytic framework is flawed, if it cannot accommodate any scientific disagreement. The linear model of speaking consensus to power whereby scientific consensus drives a specific policy, hasn’t worked and policy researchers tell us that it won’t work for a complex wicked mess like climate change. I’m suggesting that alternative decision analytic frameworks need to be looked at, this has been the subject of numerous blog posts and at least one of my congressional testimonies.

        The fact that climate/clean energy advocates are using a decision-analytic framework that is unsuited to the problem doesn’t mean that I am advocating for policy outcomes.

      • So, people should stop publishing research and communicating about science, because it might potentially influence policy? Publishing research, communicating about science, and responding to requests from policy makers can potentially influence policy, but this is very different from advocating for a specific policy outcome. The objections to my research, communication and testimonies seem to be that it interferes with ‘their’ advocacy for specific policy outcomes.

        So exactly what policy do you think I am advocating FOR, explicitly or ‘stealthily’?

      • What Judith has been advocating for , most strongly, is good science. I don’t know how that can be criticized.

      • Judith,
        I thank you for the years of integrity and scientific enlightening. I work in science administration, am now an administrative engineer (ChE), but recognize and appreciate your objective and unbiased discussions of major controversial elements.

        I really appreciated the APS review with you and all presenters. At the scientific institution I work at, I gradually became concerned by advocacy and bias in fine scientists. You have been a beacon of truth telling during these times.

        I retire today after a 40 year here and 47 total career. I administered the climate science efforts here since 2005 and followed the developments but only gradually recognized a creeping loss of integrity. You stand for the best in scientific communication.

        Thanks so much.\

      • Hi Scott, thanks much for your kind words and congrats on your retirement!

      • attp

        I have never seen Judith advocating for anything. The only way she (or anyone) could have no influence at all, is for her not to publish anything or engage in any sort of discussion.

        Putting over a scientifically based argument is just that, but it is not the same thing as advocacy -i.e. promoting your views with the intention of influencing policy-of which there are some very good examples with Hansen and Mann.

        Where has Judith ever remotely gone down that road?


      • and Then There’s Physics: What you’re describing sounds very much like what others have described as stealth advocacy.

        What others? A quote would be helpful. Is “stealth advocacy” anything other than an insult, or operationally distinguishable from “teaching science”? And do you agree with those “others” that “stealth advocacy” is some accurate label for Dr Curry’s unceasing efforts to be clear about the nature and limits of the evidence?

      • Judith,

        I’m suggesting that alternative decision analytic frameworks need to be looked at, this has been the subject of numerous blog posts and at least one of my congressional testimonies.

        Indeed, but this means you’re openly advocating for a different framework with respect to how science informs policy. This has enormous policy implications. Clearly what you’re promoting would – if accepted – have a big impact on policy outcomes.

      • No, I provide analyses. My testimonies can be characterized as a ‘public recommendation’, but I am not recommending a specific path or outcome. I suggest taking another look and considering alternatives.

      • Scott

        40 Years? You look far too young!

        A creeping loss of integrity just about sums it up.

        As far as climate science goes, all that is worth knowing is not yet known. There are huge gaps in what is still a very young and over confident science .

        I think Judith’s ‘uncertainty monster’ is a baby compared to the giant ‘ I don’t know the answer to that’ monster. Unfortunately that monster, although very large, often appears to be invisible and silent.

        Have a great retirement


      • So, people should stop publishing research and communicating about science, because it might potentially influence policy?

        No, this is not an argument against publishing research and/or communicating publicly; I’m all for that (obviously). It is simply an argument in favour of acknowledging the possible implications of what one chooses to say publicly.

      • Acknowledging all possible implications of what I say publicly? that is rather impossible. I learned a big lesson in this regard in 2005 following publication of Webster et al. hurricane paper. In the AAAS press release and news conference, our policy relevant message was that major hurricanes (cat 4 and 5 esp) have become more frequent, and we should be prepared.

        The main policy relevant outcome was that this was spun into global warming hysteria.

      • If we are talking about RP Jr’s terminology in the advocacy world, consider ‘honest broker’. This is about expanding policy options, which is what I try to do. It seems policy advocates think ‘honest brokers’ are stealth advocates, if the focus is moved away from their own preferred policy option.

      • Tonyb
        Thanks for the note. You are my favorite commenter, although Rud, TE, Kip, Wag, fizzy magic and too many to mention are also highly respected.

        Once the new year starts, I will continue avid following and sometime polite and respectfully commenting, on this and other blogs. It is interesting and fun.

        My 40 years does not include the first attempt at graduate school and then the Navy to make it up to 47. Graduate school was a disappointment. Who could guess that Mass, Heat and Momentum transfer exam tests would be in Russian cryllic(sp) characters. That is a joke, it was partial differential equations that stumped me.

        So I will continue following the blog and conversations. Hoping to see Sea Level II, from Roman times to Mediaeval and then III on to the modern era, when you can put the time together with all your efforts. I appreciate all you have done to enlighten us all over the years. Love CET temps.
        regards, Scott

      • “if it cannot accommodate any scientific disagreement. ”

        But that’s the point.
        When Mr Steyn alongside you in a senate hearing can say there were crocodiles at the NP once – that wasn’t because of SUV’s” (paraphrasing)

        Quite frankly that is a disgracefully ignorant thing to say by any climate scientist …. Oops:
        “Mark Steyn attended the King Edward’s School in Birmingham, U.K., leaving in 1978, at the age of 18. Steyn does not appear to have a college education or any background in climate science. [1], [2]”

        And we get Monckton there on occasion as well.
        Yes those hearings you have attended are certainly balanced with experts eh?

        There is no scientific disagreement.
        There is political disagreement.
        1.5 to 4.5C per doubling.
        Would you expect a 100% majority in any field of expert endeavour?
        I wouldn’t.
        Human nature has it that some are naturally contrarian and/or dominated by the beliefs of their peers.
        Where are these “conratrians” other than the small number that includes you? and as far as the senate hearings are concerned” a another who leans to the right”
        Where is the “clamour” of disagreement from the vast vast majority of scientists whose work is summarized in the IPCC AR’s?
        The power of the few forever pushing “uncertainty” works doesn’t it?
        Well in the US anyway.

      • Tony Banton

        I had been wondering what to buy you for Christmas but I have now found the perfect gift!


        Just pass me your deyails and within 24 hours you should be enjoying the delights of Mark Seyns book on climate (with other firm favourites of yours) plus a bonus @hockey sticik T Short (please advise size req

      • Tonyb….

        Thanks for the heads-up.
        I hadn’t looked into this particular personage before.
        He is indeed (native spelling) …. an arsehole.
        And embarrassingly English to boot – as well as his “Lordship” (clears out mouth).
        Those hearings of which Judith was a part are/were nothing short of a advert for the Republicans to their “controllers” that they are still “on their case” of keeping the money flowing for them.
        That is a total aberration of democratic principles, and why I question Judith’s motivations. Sorry but she should look at the faces of the people she sits alongside.
        The chain is a strong as the weakest link after-all.
        Yes Mr Steyn – there were indeed no SUV’s when there were crocs at the NP.

      • “There is no scientific disagreement. There is political disagreement.”


        There’s reasonably reliable observation of:
        * long term CO2 emissions and accumulations
        * concomitant positive trends of global mean temperature
        * temperature trends much nearer the low end of the modeled range
        * lack of a tropical upper tropospheric hot spot trend
        * concomitant lack of lapse rate and water vapor feedback
        * lack of significant change in tropical cyclone frequency or energy
        * decrease in global drought coverage over the satellite era
        * century scale decrease in US extreme temperatures
        * increase in biomass and photosynthesis with increased CO2
        * et. al.

        The disagreement is not with the science of these facts, but with the politics of which facts to emphasize and which facts to be in denial of.

      • “The main policy relevant outcome was that this was spun into global warming hysteria.”

        That’s the way of the world.
        Those with motivation “spin”.
        How many who “spun” were other than the press?
        And so, you’d rather have the other “side” “spin” instead?
        And as far as the US is concerned it is the Repubs who have the leavers of power, even when Obama was POTUS.

      • ATTP wrote “The argument that others are making is that it isn’t possible to be involved in a way that won’t potentially influence policy. Hence it isn’t possible to not be some kind of advocate” is totally absurd. I was an economic policy advisor to the UK, Australian and Queensland governments. My clients were politicians. I provided information and analysis which could help them in their decision-making. I often had my own view on what was optimal, and at times supported a particular political party, but you would never have known that from my briefs. In my work, I never advocated. Retired, I advocate through the media. Judith’s offerings are like my advice to government – they provide helpful information with no bias or agenda, but as an input to the decision-making process might of course affect decisions made. This is not advocacy, it is providing a useful input to the process.

      • If 100 scientists say the consensus is likely right and one scientist says the consensus is likely wrong, the Republicans are going to invite that one scientist to give them cover for ignoring the consensus. No one is being kidded here. It’s a policy tool to have such hearings. Just kabuki theater. People show up. Things are said. Minds are not changed. Job done.

    • and Then There’s Physics: It may not be direct, but if it has the potential to influence policy, then it has to qualify as a form of activism/advocacy.

      That is not so. Answering questions and teaching science are not advocacy for policy.

    • For those interested in how echo chambers work, ATTP’s post on Judith is a perfect example. Everyone who has any criticism of Judith is relitigating those issues. And of course in an echo chamber, there is no debate or counterpoint, just the sound of Pravda.

    • ATTP, Your post on Judith has as usual attracted a pathetic group of comments largely data mining the past for any offensive or questionable statements and of course settling old scores. Since you have banned those who might respond and balance these smears, you should be more assiduous in trying to take the high road.

      • dpy6629: ATTP, Your post on Judith has as usual attracted a pathetic group of comments largely data mining the past for any offensive or questionable statements and of course settling old scores.

        Could you quote some of those “pathetic” comments exactly so we can tell what you mean by “pathetic”?

      • He may be reacting to these – a sampling from the ATTP thread

        izen:”JC and Mann may perform exactly the same actions, (op-eds, testimony) but one is a player of Climateball(tm) on the Blue team.
        The other thinks they are a referee.
        But only blows the whistle on perceived fouls by one side.”

        albatross:”That Curry claims to be advocating for “integrity” in climate science is laughable. Case in point, when Curry uncritically lauded Salby’s hypothesis (if one could even call it that) on the carbon cycle and claimed how it could “revolutionize AGW science”. Oops.”

      • Matt, You can easily find Paul Pukite’s rehash of his attempt to smear Judith and her Russian co-author. You can easily find the usual denigration of her expertise and publication record. Virtually every comment is a pathetic rehash of old grudges and smears.

      • Jim D ( He may be reacting to these – a sampling from the ATTP thread ) and dpy6629.

        Thank you for your replies. I misunderstood dpy6629’s reference to aTTP’s “post”.

      • I also happen to agree with WebHub’s views on the book about Bose-Einstein statistics and said so at the time, so in my view his point is valid, if expressed rather strongly by him, and he still takes it as a sore point with JC because that got him banned from here, as far as I can tell.

      • WHT was placed in moderation because his criticisms started using very offensive language. Bose Einstein statistics comprise one page in a very long book.

      • Jim D: I also happen to agree with WebHub’s views on the book about Bose-Einstein statistics

        It was a very short and modest proposal that the B-E statistics might be useful on some of the unsolved problems in a very long book. There are very few phenomena for which the best probability distributions for modeling the random variation can be found from “first principles”. In most cases, a distribution is hypothesized and tested with respect to evidence. WebHub’s critique isn’t just rude, hysterical and overblown, it is without foundation.

      • JimD, What you will find at ATTP’s is an echo chamber. There are no opposing views allowed. The result is a lot of twaddle. The basic point of the post on judith’s post is that with regard to activism “everyone does it.” Thus, those who argue for higher standards are hypocrites. It’s silly, stupid, and a lie of course.

      • Pukite (WHUT) is one of the nastier people involved in this debate. His work as far as I can tell is all grey literature. He has an ENSO model he constantly pushes but has not published. He has admitted that it received unfavorable reviews by a couple of climate scientists. I don’t have the time to waste on digging into it myself given the track record of hyper inflated misrepresentations. Of course he has found a comfortable home at ATTP’s where he an attack Judith without contradiction.

      • MM, clearly Web has a background in physics where he can spot an unfounded or poorly thought out claim like that. The error was that BE statistics can be used for small energies, which would occur at low temperatures, but not for small energy differences at higher temperatures, which was the proposal (if I remember correctly, and you will find I wrote that at the time if you can find that thread).

      • dpy,

        Of course he has found a comfortable home at ATTP’s where he an attack Judith without contradiction.

        Just for the record, that is incorrect. For instance:


        You’re welcome.

      • VTG, Thanks for pointing this out. It’s from an old comment. I guess you didn’t say much in the latest post attacking Judith.

        It is still hard to deny that in general ATTP provides a forum for all kinds of similar small minded attacks on Judith and Richard Tol, just to name two. The fundamental problem there is the echo chamber phenomenon. If you ban everyone who credibly disagrees, you end up sliding into this kind of hypocrisy and winking at all kinds of errors and small minded attacks.

      • VTG, The hypocrisy is particularly apparent in the comments of Cawley. His earlier errors (which led to an erroneous conclusion that supported Cawley’s politically desired conclusion) make his current nitpicking hard to let pass.


      • Jim D: MM, clearly Web has a background in physics where he can spot an unfounded or poorly thought out claim like that

        You missed or ignored my points.

        What did you think of the other 724 pp of the book?

      • My recollection is that WHT is a refugee from the oildrum, a site where he confidently joined a community that declaimed as fools anyone who believes oil wouldn’t be over $100 a barrel today and that the news about advances in oil exploration and recovery were all lies.
        The end is nigh, but how? The search continues.

    • David Springer

      According to ATTP logic publishing scientific papers the public (and policy makers) can read is a form of advocacy.

      Thanks for clearing that up.

  35. JC, do you have a reference for this: “There are five attributes of ideologues”? I was curious only because it is so succinct.


  36. A Dictionary says:
    advocacy |ˈadvəkəsē|
    public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy: their advocacy of traditional family values.

    Others say:
    Advocacy is that which we say is advocacy: In a representative democracy, all words spoken in public by anyone is advocacy.

  37. There is something wrong if arguments are never ending. Call this discussion if you like but is it really only theatre?

    If facts are not in plenty are we then, discussing with inadequate information? Or in my case listening.

    I was taught never to argue with anyone that you must first educate.

    Can global land based temperature readings from 1882 be directly compared to land based readings of 2016? If newly learned science that cause recent temperature values to be increased just a few years later not also apply to those of 30 years prior that we determined with similar technology? While bringing in concern for even more previous dates.

    What has happened to practical understanding? What kind of tug-o-war is today’s science involved?

    Apparently they is little proof here. We should insist an agree for more proof and less disagreement should follow. Why is proof missing? Why is it not being pursued? Where’s the beef?

  38. Eli Rabett needs an ethics inspection.

  39. In the court of public opinion, advocates are like attorneys. JC is like an expert witness, with a different standard of behavior. It would be wrong to equate those roles.

    • Exactly so. The standards of a true professional, in engineering as much as physical sciences, are clear and absolute, but, as with politicians and lawyers, not respected by those with personal agendas and financial motivations, be they also scientists turned priests for grant reward, or simply Feynman’s pseudo science modellers and other “experts”who exagerate any possibleclimate change as certainly caused by humans and AGW and a reenhouse effect that isn’t anything like they imagine it to be, and most can’t explain the cause, natural component and relative AGW amount of. They do this to justify the very provable deceit on the enrgy physics, no models required, of the snake oil renewable solution to what is a non-problem on the facts of its history and extent, in any human time scale.

      nb: the technical claim that a low CO2 renewable solution can be better than nuclear, or even capable of meeting total electrical energy demand now or after fossil has gone in manstream uses, is easilly proven false, on the simple costed facts of energy science. I’ll go anywhere to explain how these numbers work on the facts, no opinion is required or respected, there are only facts in engineering delivery, science denial means bad stuff/bad science/BS simply doesn’t work, as with energiewende right now..A totally predictable failure and maasive waste of public money to stay in power by , Merkel. A cynical and ipso fact dishonest physicist politician, a disgrace to her own education.

  40. Judith Curry is used as a stalking horse by those opposing deep deployment of wind and solar generation technology. They may well be right – but JC has chosen a dog in this fight. It is as much what isn’t said – that there may well be adverse climate surprises down the track.

    Science itself is co-opted to serve a policy agenda by both sides. One side in a quest to conserve the status quo and the other to transform economies and societies – obviously a culture war in which both sides claim the socially important imprimatur of objective science. Most of the little darlings have not the slightest clue.

  41. JC, you sound like 65% of America. Nothing of what you write surprises me. You seem like a solid candidate for any position. One would have to be dreaming up contemptuousness- clearly many have to politically and wearing thinner on many Americans every week- to find a better voice than yours.

  42. No need to justify yourself Judith.
    Just keep on as you are.
    Some of us, even here down under, appreciate your approach to science.

  43. Dr. Curry ==> Thank you for another year of Climate Etc.
    All the best in the coming year.

  44. Regarding what the US is doing, still having hearings on whether to reduce GHG emissions. The history is that the UN first advised having an international agreement on policies to reduce global emissions in 1992, followed in 1997 by the Kyoto Protocol, where the will was there, but it turned out the means wasn’t. Since then the means have improved through this motivation driven by the scientific consensus leading to technological advances towards alternatives to fossil fuels. The US itself has made science-based policies on acid rain and ozone in the past, so they are capable of listening to scientists. Even on GHGs, what we have is a stop-start process driven purely by politics, when every other country has signed on to Paris and is acting accordingly, and as I mentioned, the science has been there for over a quarter of a century now. Trying to wind this back is futile, but it remains a Republican priority, hence these hearings that attempt to sow doubt on what is already taken for granted in the rest of the world, and reducing GHGs is supported by the majority of the US public, by the way. The question is no longer whether, but how, except for in the US Congress who still want to debate whether.

  45. “I do subscribe to both the New York Times and the Washington Post, since I repeatedly exceeded my monthly limit of climate- and science-related articles that I clicked on mostly from twitter links.”

    Dr. Curry: I find myself involuntarily clicking on WaPo links frequently enough that I have switched browsers. If you use the Tor browser, WaPo (and other such sites) don’t know who you are from visit to visit. No one does, in fact. You can get an unlimited number of “free trial” articles per month.

    And you’ll avoid that hideous popup which reads something like: “We see that you love great journalism…” To which I always wish I could respond: “What gives you that idea? After all, I’m reading this crap.”

  46. From my visit to attp – they are all still there. It’s a bit sad really.

    17 comments from the usual suspects. Including webbly carrying on his Bose-Einstein meltdown. Condensates form at very low temperatures.



    But the math works at room temperature.

    e.g. http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/BoseEinsteinFermiDiracAndMaxwellBoltzmannStatistics/

    But then there is an elegance in linking the ideas of ice and Bose-Einstein condensate. Is ice nucleation and growth better defined by Bose-Einstein statistics? This is the idea – oh so briefly mentioned – from Judith Curry’s co-author.

    Posted here in case I don’t make it past moderation there. LOL

  47. . I don’t see any way to make coal ‘clean.’ – jc

    In a zero tolerance world nothing will ever be ‘clean.’

  48. I just have physics (Navier Stokes eqs) and math (data analysis) stuff I liked and know about that’s contradicted by peer-reviewed climate science and so don’t believe climate science peer-review knows what it’s talking about.

    Prefering not knowing what’s going on with the climate to knowing incorrectly. Which is to say climate science is not science.

  49. Dr Curry, you have advocated for the “stadium wave” and, two and half years ago, told Congress that there would be cooling over this decade. So far, you have been wrong. Have you considered going back to Congress to correct your predictions? Making sure Congress is as informed as possible?

    • the stadium wave is low frequency, does not account for blips from say El Nino. Need another 10+ years or so to see how stadium wave framework holds up

    • So you were more sure of the stadium wave two and a half years ago when you told Congress it predicted cooling for the decade. We are a quarter of a way through the decade which you predicted would be cooling. So far, the cooling hasn’t come. Do you feel a responsibility to keep Congress informed?

      • The stadium wave is a low frequency phenomena, does not account for super El Nino’s, for example. Further, my statement was about the natural internal variability component (which is superimposed on a long term secular warming trend). It will be another decade or so (or when the AMO flips to cold) before we can assess how the stadium wave prediction did.

        One thing i’m watching very closely is the sea ice in eastern Arctic versus the western Arctic. Stadium wave predicts western Arctic minima has bottomed out (and should start increasing), whereas eastern arctic is still bottoming out.

  50. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/27/cathy-oneil-weapons-of-math-destruction-algorithms-big-data

    Don’t let the source matter this time.

    “In theory, mathematics is neutral – two plus two equals four regardless of what anyone wishes the answer was. But in practice, mathematical algorithms can be formulated and tweaked based on powerful interests. “

    “O’Neil spent four years in finance, two of them working for a hedge fund. There she saw the use of weapons of math destruction, a term O’Neil uses to describe “algorithms that are important, secret and destructive”. The algorithms that ultimately caused the financial crisis meet all of those criteria – they affected large numbers of people, were entirely opaque and destroyed lives.”

    “models are opinions embedded in mathematics”

    I became aware of this author listening to Jill on Money. So the connection to GCMs might be a bit tenuous. In the case of Quants and that huge financial meltdown, they lost touch with the basics. Stocks and normal bonds. They used the authority of math. They said it’s complicated and we graduated from MIT, and look at the money we made last quarter.

    “We’re desperate for math answers, which is part of the reason we ended up here, according to O’Neil.”

    Not sure why we are desperate but assume we are. We have scientists to tell us what is going to happen. And they have math.

  51. As mentioned by izen at ATTP’s site, Judith portrays herself as a referee but only blows the whistle on one side. She allows outright twaddle from people like Salby and Monckton to pass without criticism. This is because, like Trump with the alt-right, she knows her base and won’t do anything to deter them from their beliefs. She at best does the “both sides” argument, and it is very similar to a political tactic where knowing your base is a survival strategy even if they have some dubious elements among them.

    • JimD, All kinds of twaddle at ATTPs echo chamber. You are of course reading minds and ascribing motivations when you are ignorant of those motivations. The more plausible is that Judith’s motivations are as she describes them.

      BTW, Judith allows people like you to comment freely here but ATTP has censored any disagreeing voices. Doesn’t that make you also quite uncomfortable?

      • I think ATTP has a right to maintain his standards of commenting, as any blog owner does. There’s some poor quality here that Judith would be better without (even some dubious main posts), and she does delete some comments, mainly for ad homs, which we also don’t see at ATTP.

    • In the past 3 years, I don’t recall much about Salby and Monckton here. I think Salby’s main point is with little weight as our CO2 can overwhelm compared to 200 years ago and going backwards. He may have a point with the quality of the ice core data. Mixing of stuff over centuries and longer.

      Assume her thumb is on the scale by giving alternate viewpoints such as in week in review. Now look at the whole situation. It’s a splinter party, in size like the Libertarian Party. One can argue she’s not being fair to the majority view. But I’d say that that view has had plenty of play and can be found easily from other sources.

      • Monckton’s sensitivity ideas and Salby have both been featured in recent years with no criticism from Judith. This does not give any faith to being at all even-handed because those things don’t normally make it much beyond Heartland’s crowd before being demolished in the real world. As I said, I can see why Judith doesn’t attack these efforts, but hopefully it doesn’t mean she believes that stuff too.
        Anyway she is not a neutral arbiter without an agenda when only attacking one side. The agenda is to oppose the mainstream. Whether that is politically motivated, I don’t know. If it was scientifically motivated, there is much more material to attack on the other side.

      • You say featured. I say less than 2% of articles and less than 2% of comments for the both of them combined. If someone wants to bring up CO2 following temperatures, we can see what kind of reaction that gets.

      • The point is, they have never been criticized. This shows something about motivations, and it is not about promoting good science by the look of it, because if it was, why allow all the junk science around here. This is not how scientific purism would look on a blog.

    • Jim D, it’s pretty clear she’s saying the climate science community largely leans towered one viewpoint, and expresses her desire to return balance. Going after Monckton or Salby makes no sense here since thier voices are outside the larger climate science community. It’s quite simple, and I don’t think referee is the right term here.

      Your motivations, however, are elusive. I do appreciate your comments, but you are an advocate with a very narrow point of view and have a lot of drive to get people to adopt it; little patience, and much contempt for those who don’t.

      Most who reach a certain level of maturity appreciate a diversity of viewpoints, especially in the professional and academic worlds.

      So…what is your angle?

      • My angle is that the observed positive imbalance means the warming has not caught up to the forcing that itself is almost 100% anthropogenic, and skeptics don’t see the obvious implication that has for attribution. As such, more warming is in the pipeline, even if emissions stop now, and attribution is >100%. It must be quite a major effort by them not to see the obvious ramifications of a positive imbalance on attribution, and it looks like a motivated attempt not to understand the observations (no models needed for this.) Once we get past what I see as a silly denial of attribution, we can get to the real problems.

      • Oh, I know you believe in your arguments. I just don’t understand what motivates someone to oversimplify a complex problem, then try to push a narrow viewpoint so earnestly.

        The populace has always been short on scientific understanding and always will be. There are those who want to improve this situation. They tend to educate and engage. They not only welcome, but search for dissenting views.

        I’m asking what motivates someone to push out dissenting views and demonize the the people thier engaging. Guilt by association (Heartland, oil, Republican) is high drama, but someone who really wants progress isnt interested in these games. I’m pretty sure you know this, so I’m a bit confused about your endgame.

      • I find it is the skeptics who want to make it more about personalities than about actual numbers. I can give graphs of observations like this (again no models) and get no cogent thoughts from skeptics of how AGW could fit so well and yet be wrong. Nature has been doing a really good imitation of responding to GHGs with 2 C per doubling for the last 60 years, but the skeptic is more likely to say it is just dumb luck than even admit to possibly a correct mainstream view.
        I am here because I interested in what makes a dismissive mindset like that tick. Is it just political? Do these graphs give you cognitive dissonance? What, deep down, is telling you that all the physics back to Tyndall and Arrhenius that fully explains this graph must be wrong? Would you be more inclined to believe it if it didn’t imply that emissions significantly affect climate?

      • Thanks for that link to Wood for Trees – good site. Particularly enjoyed reading the notes/thoughts from the author on the front page.

        Playing back what I think you did: your link brought up a graph you created by using the analysis software on that site to overlay one of the sets of temp data back to 1950 and Mauna Loa CO2 data back to 1958. No modeling – just data with some mathematical smoothing done by the author. Right?

        Very helpful – thanks.

      • Jim, your desire to study skeptics’ behavior and thereby make it about personalities is laudable, but do you really have enough of a grip on the appropriate methods to use? Just being a troll is a bit too obvious.

      • In the face of the evidence such as I showed, the skepticism has to be of a very determined nature and appears motivated, whether by politics or just not liking academics or scientists in general or the UN or Obama, I don’t know. Perhaps a mix. This would be a good lab to study the psychology of that, but I have a physics background so that is my main interest.

      • mfgcoach, yes, a really good site for plotting data. It has several temperature series, CO2, sunspots, etc. It allows scaling, offsetting, averaging over periods and overlaying. In this case I plot the 12-month running average of GISTEMP (NASA’s global temperature) overlayed with CO2 scaled by 0.01 and offset by -3.2 ti put it over the temperature. The fit shows that the warming rate corresponds closely to a simple scaling of 0.01 C per ppm of CO2. More mathematics shows this is about 2 C per doubling in the 300-400 ppm range.

      • Jim, you may be your own worst enemy. I actually think your attribution estimates are largely correct. Now if I have good info to share, it just boggles my mind why I wouldn’t want to bring more people to see it.

        If you want to spread knowledge, marginalizing those who disagree with you is pretty counterproductive. So your goal must be something else besides getting more people on board…

      • smokin, I am not saying anything new here. Standard data on temperatures, CO2, OHC, imbalance, forcing, etc. Just the skeptics don’t know where to go to find this because it is so rarely displayed on their blogs, so I just help by putting it into plain language, logic, and simple graphs for them. I am also following the Twitter argument on this, and the climate scientists there are not putting it as simply because they assume things are known by their audience which I don’t. The logical attribution argument is that >100% attribution follows from a positive imbalance, which itself follows directly from observations, and with the given that the forcing change in recent centuries is almost entirely 100% manmade. The 2 C effective sensitivity also follows from the observations via the gistemp/co2 graph I showed.

      • Oceans warm and cool rapidly through very large changes in incident insolation. They are kept warmer by geothermal heat flux. Atmospheric greenhouse gases reduce heat loss so that oceans stay warmer rather than gaining heat. There is no heat in the pipeline – it is a fundamental conceptual weakness. One of many.

        There is some greenhouse gas forcing – everything else that Jimmy spouts repetitively is complete nonsense.

      • Jim D:

        “…leads to the conclusion that it is very unlikely that TCR is less than 1°C and very unlikely that TCR is greater than 3.5°C.”

        Very unlikely means less than 10%. So they’ve covered 80% with their range.

        Let’s make up the percentage for 1.5 to 3.0 C and call it 70% for this range.

        Then here:


        Their 0.75 to 1.50 is much less greater than 70%. Let’s call that 95%.

        So TCR tells us what happens and then Schmidt tells what did happen according to the IPCC.

        We have more confidence is what did happen then what happens. Attribution appears to me to be a science endorsed talking point. What CO2 does to the GMST is so poorly constrained according to the IPCC, their attribution statement and most of the science specifically behind that, conflicts with what we know about the TCR.

        I am sorry, I think they shot themselves in the foot with attribution. I do not think it is skeptics that are the problem about attribution. It’s the IPCC’s failure to have it reconcile with their TCR that is.

      • Jim D: “….but I have a physics background so that is my main interest.”

        I very much doubt that since you don’t understand experimental method, the use of the contrapositive, or the difference between correlation and causality.

      • ragnaar, yes, I think they provide larger uncertainty bounds than they need to given the last 60 years of data that I plot above. The TCR is not far from 2 C per doubling based on that. Attribution is only an argument on the skeptic side. The consensus is that there is warming in the pipeline and they have been saying that for over a decade now. This is their way of expressing a positive imbalance and >100% attribution. The OHC trend would not be positive without a positive imbalance. Few, if any, contest the sign of the OHC trend in the last few decades, and the imbalance is estimated to be ~0.5 W/m2, significantly higher than zero by any estimate with the error bars narrowing all the time as the ocean data gets better.

      • HAS, I pointed to where Lewis jumped to a conclusion based on one number he saw in a table, which only survives if you ignore all the others. That is poor deduction and also misses the constraint idea completely. I side with Brown on this one.

      • Jim, you are out of your depth.

        How much physics did you say you did?

      • Ocean heat responds quickly to natural changes in toa power flux.


        Jimmy D calls it wiggles and likes to imagine it’s all feedback. Variability in ocean and atmospheric circulation modulate cloud cover and height resulting in large variability in the global energy budget.

        This is what science says – but it is not what these guys believe.

      • HAS, in physics constraints are used to reduce uncertainties. The more independent constraints you have, the less uncertainty. You don’t just throw out 8 out of 9 constraints like Lewis does when each one demonstrably adds information by itself. My arguments are rational, yours, if any, not so much.

      • I can give you the OHC and maybe you will see the positive trend. It doesn’t respond at all quickly, but it does respond to long-term sustained forcing, the dominant source of which has been anthropogenic.

      • Jim, so as I said no background in physics, and no understanding of how constraints work.

        You’re a troll.

      • Jim D, “…and with the given that the forcing change in recent centuries is almost entirely 100% manmade.”

        A couple of questions here to further my point:

        1. Do you think the question of what caused the end of the LIA interesting?

        Follow on questions: Is it settled science? Are you going to call me a denier for asking this question? Are you going to lump me into some kind of imaginary homogenous skeptic group? Can I still be a member of the Democratic party if I were to ask this question, or want my democratic senator to push it during a hearing?

        2. From question 1, estimate where global climate would be today without any human contribution. Do we have natural variability nailed down enough to answer this? In your opinion is this kind of extrapolation within our capabilities?

        Give me the benefit of the doubt and engage me without demonizing my motives, and you have made incredible progress not only for me, but the entire audience.

        …or cut me down.

      • smokin, the LIA is the lowest point of a long decline over thousands of years after the Holocene Optimum. The cooling is consistent with the orbital precession phase changing as expected in Milankovitch cycles. What happened after the LIA is a reversal. The warming rate since has been twenty times the long-term cooling rate prior (pages2k paper for example). The primary factor here would be the GHG forcing that has steadily increased to today’s value in excess of 2 W/m2 and possibly on its way to pass 5 W/m2. With no GHG forcing we would likely be a tad cooler than the LIA at this point because the sun is at low activity now too, and the Milankovitch effect would have continued to favor a growth in Arctic ice (clearly not happening).

      • HAS, the other thing Lewis needs to understand is that model spread is not the same as error bars. It is at best a crude estimate of model variability. The temperature isn’t even at the center of the spread, because the temperature comes from the observed radiation and the spread comes only from the models. Apples and oranges again.

      • Jim, still no physics, or any understanding of what Lewis did.

      • Lewis has assumed that correlation is correctness. Just because the climate models correlate better with each other in one variable and its relation to warming, increasing amounts of correlation do not imply increasing correctness with the warming using that variable. Lewis made a jump here that is unwarranted.

      • “Lewis has assumed that correlation is correctness.”
        You’re making this stuff up, and just stringing words together in a nonsensical fashion.
        Perhaps you are a bot as well as a troll.

      • Jim D, I’m talking about the psychology around the question and you keep trying to answer the question. Not sure what’s going on here…

      • smokin, I answered your questions as directly as I could. If you had a motive behind the question, I missed it. Yes, the end of the LIA is interesting but not surprising, and where we would be now without CO2 is also obvious. It’s the forcing on both counts. Sometimes Nature does as Science predicts and this is a case.

      • HAS, you refuse to see the serious flaws in Lewis’s argument. Does it surprise you no one comes to his defense, or that he himself isn’t pursuing his idea with Nature to try to get a retraction, which has been his penchant in the past? Once again, Brown’s method selects the GCMs that are closer to each of those nine variables to determine what sensitivity they give. By using only one of those, Lewis selects GCMs that do well in that but ignores that those same GCMs may do poorly in many of the other eight. Brown takes them all together because he sees that all nine are correlated with sensitivity and therefore can serve as additional constraints. If you have nine independent variables correlated to warming, you use them all because they all have information. In physics, if you have nine estimates of a number with different error bars, you use all of them, not just the one with the smallest error bars alone. Not that these spreads behave like error bars at all, but that is how Lewis seems to interpret them.

      • Jim, one last try on the off chance you aren’t just a wind up merchant and seriously don’t understand.

        It is BC17’s method that selects just one variable, not Lewis’.

        Everyone agrees with you that’s not tenable, i.e. that when BC 17 adds more variables it reduces rather than improves performance. You point out that this is a nonsense and Lewis makes the same point at some length. So we agree on that.

        The thing for you to get your head around is that because BC17 produces that result it tells us (including you) that BC17’s method is unsound, as are the consequent results.

      • Once again, the spread is not the error bar. It is an error to assume so. If it was an error bar more observations would reduce the error not increase it. This demonstrates, in case you couldn’t tell, that it is not an error bar. I gave the analogy before. If you have 9 sets of 10 points that have a scatter around a correlation, then take a subset of 10 of them which may by chance be more lined up, but also less significant and along a different gradient from the 90 points, you don’t take those 10 points and throw the rest away. Lewis does. More data is always better than less data. BC17 base their sensitivity on all nine sets (OLR/OSR/N average/seasonal/monthly), Lewis just uses OLR seasonal. Your first sentence was counterfactual in this regard.

      • Jim, you are the only one that thinks the spread is an error bar.

      • HAS, the spread is derived only from the differences between model data points. It gives no measure of the distance to the observation, and therefore cannot be used as an error, nor is it a measure of skill, only of consensus. These are subtle points, but important to realize. OLR seasonal could have more consensus among the GCMs, but all the GCMs could be off from the observation, and Lewis would not detect that by using spread as the only measure.

      • To be clearer, you’re the only one that thinks spread could be an error bar. Lewis doesn’t use it as such. You are arguing against yourself. I’ll leave you to it.

      • The diagram both the toa net flux change and ocean heat flux to demonstrate the point that Jimmy again misses.

        The spread of opportunistic ensembles is a poor measure of ‘irreducible imprecision’ that makes a nonsense of both the Brown study and the Lewis response.

        “Simplistically, despite the opportunistic assemblage of the various AOS model ensembles, we can view the spreads in their results as upper bounds on their irreducible imprecision. Optimistically, we might think this upper bound is a substantial overestimate because AOS models are evolving and improving. Pessimistically, we can worry that the ensembles contain insufficient samples of possible plausible models, so the spreads may underestimate the true level of irreducible imprecision (cf., ref. 23). Realistically, we do not yet know how to make this assessment with confidence.” http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.full

      • HAS, read my comments again. I have always said it is a spread, not an error bar, nor can it be used as such since it does not relate to observations only to the consensus among the GCMs on the gradient. You also asserted this “It is BC17’s method that selects just one variable, not Lewis’” which is the exact opposite of the truth. Unless you can explain yourself here, it is not worth going on with this.

      • Jimmy dear repeats the same nonsense 80 times. Boring. How difficult can it be to understand the idea of irreducible imprecision?


      • RIE, as has often been mentioned, climate change is a forcing problem, more like predicting summer will be warmer than spring, than a forecast problem for El Ninos decades away, which is what your link is referring to, but I am fairly sure you are not aware of the context of that link and will remain so because you are not reading it.

      • Climate is a Lorenz forcing problem in a resonant planetary system.

        “We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL030288/abstract

        The Slingo and Palmer paper is the inevitable spread in weather and climate predictions.

        “Lorenz was able to show that even for a simple set of nonlinear equations (1.1), the evolution of the solution could be changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions, in other words, beyond a certain forecast lead time, there is no longer a single, deterministic solution and hence all forecasts must be treated as probabilistic. The fractionally dimensioned space occupied by the trajectories of the solutions of these nonlinear equations became known as the Lorenz attractor…”

        Seriously – how difficult is this to understand? None of these models have a single deterministic solution. And then he says I haven’t read the damn thing?

        Jimmy’s myths include the convergence of non-unique solutions in a single model due to forcing. They don’t. As I said recently to Jimmy dear – let’s do the experiment.


        What they do is arbitrarily choose a solution and include it in the CMIP. This is a scientific nonsense of a high order. As has been known for many decades.

        “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of (perturbed physics) ensembles of model solutions.”

        Read the whole chapter – http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/index.php?idp=500 – the IPCC has gone backwards since the TAR. I stopped reading with the 4AR.

    • As I recall, what Judith said is that if what Salby is saying holds up, it is a game changer or something along those lines.

  52. bryansweeney@btinternet.com

    Judith I guess that like me you get more than a little fed up with people like Jim D predicting your politics from your climate views.
    Particularly it seems to be an issue in the USA
    I happen to be politically far more left wing than most posters on the climate topic.
    Jim D cannot fit me into his pigeon hole.
    Why has a straightforward question namely…..
    Does an increasing atmospheric CO2 fraction imply a significant near surface temperature increase.
    …..become a political football.
    In time the climate issue will be resolved and unless the ‘advocates’ uncouple science from politics one side will be bitterly disappointed.

    • Just to be clear, I am not predicting politics, just noting parallels with Trump in keeping the base supporting you by only calling out one side in the debate, and ignoring obvious errors by the other. The parallel with the current President is striking, so I make note.

      • And which came first? Curry or Trump? Trump should not this and that. Russia. Pruitt?

        Earlier I had written Trump was elected as the system was under strain and it was normal for a jump from the prior attractor to the current one. If the consensus is under strain, it’s normal for something similar to happen. In this case the mass divides into two parts opposed to each other. It’s like we don’t have one party rule. One party rule creates its opposition.

      • This is different because the consensus-based policy has been proceeding since the 1990’s with promoting emissions reduction programs that nations have been adopting. The opposition is rather ineffective and rag-tag unless fossil-fueled as with the Republicans and overtly pro-fossil-fuel people now in powerful positions in the US. Other countries have no such thing affecting (or infecting) their policy-science interface.

      • “The opposition is rather ineffective and rag-tag unless fossil-fueled as with the Republicans and overtly pro-fossil-fuel people now in powerful positions in the US.”

        You could say the same for the Trump populists. Up against the both parties at once. Take one of the most vilified industries with even Republicans apologizing for them. Keep them down, trounce on them and they’ll never get back up. They did get back up despite the two parties.

      • Resulting in probably the worst government and president in US history, as time will show. Lesson to be learned the hard way. Low popularity. Scandals. Relinquishing global influence and respect. Interesting times.

      • The problem for Jimmy is that they comprehensively screwed the pooch on both science and policy.


  53. There are five attributes of ideologues:
    1. Absence of doubt
    2. Intolerance of debate
    3. Appeal to authority
    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur
    How many ‘climate science communicators’ can you name that have at least 4 of the above attributes of ideologues with regards to climate change?

    This looks like nonsense to me when applied to the current climate science discussion, especially when coming from the likes of Judith Curry.

    For point 1:

    Climate science papers use statistics, p-values, etc. That tacitly involves admitting there’s uncertainty (often quantified) and thus doubt. So I don’t know any climate science communicators who lack doubt in that sense.

    Unfortunately, various people manufacture false doubt (ex: Curry) or pretend that the presence of any doubt (no matter how small or unreasonable) is sufficient for not accepting evidence-based claims they dislike. That makes no sense, since strong scientific evidence places some claims beyond reasonable doubt, despite denialists attempt to manufacture false doubt.

    “Many of the strategies used by the opponents of both evolution and global warming are based on sowing misinformation and doubt. This approach is often called the “tobacco strategy”, because tobacco companies used it effectively to delay health warnings and regulation of smoking.”

    “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities [21 – 22].”

    For point 2:

    This is likely a variation of “freeze peach”, where one pretends that tolerance and freedom of speech means freedom from things such as:
    – harsh criticism
    – freedom from people calling out your denialism
    – people mocking you

    Denialists often appeal to free speech and other democratic values, in an attempt to pretend that all they’re asking for is rationale debate. Of courss, the reasoning/tactics used by denialists shows they aren’t genuinely committed to rational, honest debate.

    “Further, deniers exploit the sense of fair play present in most scientists, and also in the general public, especially in open and democratic societies. Calling for a fair discussion of dissenting views, independent analysis of evidence, and openness to alternatives is likely to garner support, regardless of the context.”

    “The comparative study of argumentative dynamics in the cases of AIDS dissent, global warming skepticism, and intelligent design reveals the deployment of rhetorical traps that take advantage of balancing norms and appeals to democratic values.”

    For point 3:

    Most non-experts don’t have the time/expertise to read peer-reviewed scientific evidence. So they have to rely on the expert consensus on those topics. That’s why, for example, why people rely on doctors, and expert specialists like oncologists, to give them medical advice. Parallel point applies to medical science, climate science, and other branches of science, as has been noted by philosophers for decades. Your listed point 3 falls afoul of this.

    “Quite the contrary, we are dependent on others for much of what we know, since we don’t have the time to investigate everything for ourselves, and many things are accessible only through the testimony of others (see also Hardwig 1985). As documented by Walton (1997), philosophers have therefore shifted the appeal to authority out of the category of fallacy and accepted it instead as a potentially sound form of argument (see also Goldman 2001; Tindale 1999) (287).
    The account of expert/citizen communication starts by acknowledging the general (if ambiguous) norm: it is imprudent for the non-expert to go against the expert view (Goodwin 1998). When a local tells a tourist that a road is dangerous, or a doctor advises a patient that smoking is harmful to her health, or a climate scientist tells the rest of us that the world is warming because of our activities, then the tourist or patient or we would be dumb keep going along regardless.”

    For point 4:

    Point 4 seems to conflict with point 2, since debate often involves people trying to convince other’s of what they think is true. That applies regardless of whether the debate is about ideology or science. For example, it’s logically possible that a free market system for healthcare would reduce healthcare costs. There’s nothing wrong with someone rationally appealing to evidence in order to convince other people that claim is true, even if that claim happens to be part of their politically conservative ideology. What isn’t OK is engaging in fallacious and/or dishonest tactics to defend that ideological belief

    Curry’s position on point 4 is particularly ridiculous, since she objects when folks like John Abraham suggest trying to change people’s minds:

    “”[…] People who’ve already dug their heels in, we’re not going to change their opinions. We’re trying to reach people who may not have an opinion or opinion based on limited information.” said Scott Mandia.
    Sounds like the IPCC/UNFCCC ideology again; actually the changing minds part qualifies them for consideration as an ideologue.”

    That is laughable. By that logic, I (and other scientists) are ideologues simply for trying to convince people that HIV causes AIDS, or that smoking causes cancer, or that particular GMOs are safe, or…. Scientists are supposed to change people’s mind with evidence. If Curry objects to this, then she should get out of science.

    For point 5:

    Depends on the punishment and the context. For example, if a tobacco executive keeps telling Congress that cigarettes are safe, even after the executive’s own scientists show them evidence that cigarettes are unsafe, then that executive should be punished by the government. That’s an instance of someone knowingly misleading the public of the risks of one’s product. Parallel point for fossil fuel executives who knowingly mislead the public about the risks and consequences of fossil fuel use.

    So what about no-governmental, extra-legal punishment? I’m fine with it in, many cases. For example, people are free to choose not to associate with avowed AIDS denialists who contributed to hundreds of thousands deaths in South Africa. I’d happily deride Donald Trump for linking vaccines to autism, and refuse to vote to him for that reason (among many others). These forms of extra-legal punishment (avoiding associating with someone, not voting for someone, deriding their beliefs, etc.) are justified and used by people to make it clear which stances are unacceptable.
    To re-iterate what I said for point 2: debate and freedom of speech does not mean freedom from harsh criticism, mockery, social consequences, etc.

    • 2. Intolerance of debate

      At your Muse link related to your point on the above, she says, you suck. You aren’t making your case. And you’re losing and I am going to tell you how to win. Not one thing about science. It’s about rhetoric. Scientific truths? Whatever.

      The admission I see is that you’ve failed and of course, the deplorables are to blame for your failure. How the Muse might actually relate to the 2. above is that when you’re losing, don’t play. Don’t debate.

    • Sanakan, How much time did you spend composing this screed? And exactly why should you be an authority? Much more credible sources like the Lancet, Nature (many times), the Economist all say science has a big integrity problem. I know it from 40 years of being a practicing scientist. You seem to be part of the denial industry however. But you are a nobody and thus nobody will read your screed. Good for you.

      • Re: “Sanakan, How much time did you spend composing this screed? And exactly why should you be an authority? Much more credible sources like the Lancet, Nature (many times), the Economist all say science has a big integrity problem. I know it from 40 years of being a practicing scientist. You seem to be part of the denial industry however. But you are a nobody and thus nobody will read your screed. Good for you.”

        That’s nice. Let me know when you have something sensible to say.

  54. Judith, This whole sad exercise illustrates some depressing truths about climate science and the policy debate. I was reminded of how bad it is by the link below.

    1. This whole thing is a classic attempt at consensus enforcement and has morphed into a blatant attack on your credentials and scientific work, often by non-scientists or clearly third string “scientists.”

    2. Most of the criticisms of you are transparently unimportant or wrong. They only can stand on forums like ATTP where they are free of any scrutiny or contradiction.

    3. Much of the criticism is just so hypocritical. For example, Gavin Cawley, commenting as DickRanMarsupial at ATTP’s has a lot of dirty laundry to hide in the activist motivated science department. Well worth a reread is this comment and in fact the whole thread. It demonstrates so well the quite classless and indeed biased nature of a lot of climate science. Just one more evidence that climate science does need an integrity check.


    4. You have actually provided good visibility of the recent wave of acknowledgement of the replication crisis in science even in the house organs of science itself. For the climate activist scientists, this is the truth they dare not mention, much less confront. Instead it is they who deny one of the salient facts of our time that is critical to appropriate public policy.

    In any case, your detailed response in this post shows far more integrity and self-knowledge than a whole university full of Rice’s and Cawley’s and Tobis’s.

  55. Re. the five attributes of ideologues. This is just a new name for the old religious/authoritarian dogmatism. It has been demolished since the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century. Anyone who still acts this way is still living in the Dark Ages

    • Old religious/authoritarian dogmatism has only been demolished in places; but it continues to reincarnate itself in creative ways, especially if one broadens the example of religion outside the context of historical formal orthodoxy to include spiritual manifestations and cult like adherence that drives collectivist ideology.

  56. Thanks, Judith, the way you present yourself here confirms my view formed over the last seven years. Would that there were more like you.

    And I see that you paid attention and learned your lesson during “Miss Congeniality.”

    All the best in your work, life and contribution to soundly-based policy in 2018.

  57. Well, as a dipper who for six years was a regular, I see that, amongst the roses, the same old posters are having the same old arguments, at least I know enough to be able to skim vast stretches of posts involving certain parties. But there are still a high-quality host and several high-quality contributors. My main concern is that so few in the world have grasped what is apparent to the “goodies” here, that for many years anti-emissions policies have been futile and costly and lack a sound, rational basis. Australia has almost eliminated, and is no longer attractive to, energy-intensive industries, has moved from the world’s cheapest to (in South Australia) the world’s dearest electricity and is increasingly prone to blackouts. All for negligible impact on what may well be a non-problem.

    But at least our Prime Minister has his priorities right – he’s just reignited the Republic debate to take his mind of his intractable problems.

  58. Judith: A great post that adds to my admiration of your intelligence and courage. I retired a few years ago after 38 years managing Engineering in large scale consumer products manufacturing and for the last year have used Climate Etc. to learn more about climate science, modeling, and the ‘so what’ indicated by that. Thank you for Climate Etc.

    Want to offer a parallel between my admittedly unrelated industrial experience and climate predictions. Apologies in advance to the climate & modeling expertise exhibited by many of your blog participants if what follows seems too long & inconsequential.

    Many large manufacturing operations have spent the past few decades trying to implement the use of statistics & modeling to improve operations quality and efficiency via statistical process control. I was fortunate to have gone to one of Deming’s seminars late in his career. While not an expert practitioner – many of my colleagues were.

    Internalizing Box’s ‘all models are wrong, some are useful’ was very helpful to me in managing implementing SPC in mfg. Early on in the application of Deming, tons of our/my energy was spent arguing about statistical process control models we developed being right or wrong. Creators assured others their models were correct and ‘deniers’ weren’t trained enough to realize it. Deniers had no trouble finding fault with many of the myriad of assumptions required to create models for parameters we desired to control as part of what (to us) were very complex systems. Examples of faults: Material property variation from our suppliers was rarely fully understood. Output parameter data was rarely normally distributed. Time was a major source of our variation – so how long was long enough to gather representative/useful data?

    In a business expected to make and sell quality products at a profit (today – not next decade), waiting for proof a model was right before using it to deliver tangible benefit was typically a path to being encouraged to find work elsewhere. So to me – Box’s seemingly simple quote was a path forward – our models were wrong but were they useful? A process being in a state of true statistical control was far less important than did a model aid in making a process more controllable by the people running the lines with the materials they were being given.

    A model that revealed a directional relationship between settings and desired outputs helped a great deal. Precision of the numerical prediction was far less useful. Processes with CpKs under 1.0 needed and got resource attention. Demonstrated improvements made it easier to sell in the next modeling indicated investment. Processes over 1.0 generally were able to stay that way and often improved to 1.33 or better as operators grew their understanding enabling reaction leading to prevention of defects.

    I realize that SPC some purists groan at this ‘dumbed down’ application of stats & modeling – but while we consistently drove tangible improvement doing this – purists usually flamed out in our business setting. Since a zero-loss state was/is never achieved – this method became a consistent leadership focus over decades somewhat negating the harmful effects of new leaders coming in too often with new glossy new posters. What parameters needed attention changed based on the data over time – but the method/approach consistency was reassuring to folks on the production floor.

    Climate change has some similarities. The models are all wrong. Arguing about the accuracy of numerical predictions while wrapped in a cloak of being ‘THE TRUE’ scientist in the discussion strikes me as largely pointless. We can’t & shouldn’t spend ourselves into oblivion in pursuit of any specific advocated policy. Doing nothing until we ‘know’ climate models are right (or wrong) makes no sense to me either.

    So what to do? Humans are extraordinarily creative & adaptable. Operating in a free market (with some guidance) us humans are more than capable of solving this (and any other) problem we become aware of. Uh-oh… Guidance?

    A complaint with a free market and no guidance could be pace – do we have time for that? An unanswerable question – but hard to fault someone for being concerned we may not, given climate work to date. Guidance (mainly from Government) should be aimed at accelerating pace of innovation vs predicting winners and losers thru specific tax credits. Accelerating pace would look like investing more research dollars/projects into Universities to harness the energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship with a societal purpose exhibited by our younger generations. Aim the research projects at inventing true break-thru improvements in efficiency & ‘greening’ of any/all energy sources in Judith’s list – and new ones that emerge. Setting over-arching break-thru goals can also be part of guidance (like putting humans on the moon – without predicting how).

    Sorry for the length of this. Happy New Year to all and Judith – please keep doing what you do.

    • Very common sense thinking. The irony is that for many developed nations peak CO2 was reached at around the turn of the century, it has continued declining since then. Interestingly CO2 decline in the West began happening well before the din of the alarmists reached peak, assuming it has. I have believed all along that the evolution of technology makes the fear argument a moot point. Most prognostications extrapolate from current technology what CO2 levels will be 100 years out, this is simply ridiculous when considering roughly 100 years ago the Wright brothers were struggling to get into the air, fast forward about 50 years from then and we were landing on the moon. They can build models for how hot it will be 100 years from now but are incapable of making simpler assumptions about the evolution of technology using actual evidence. I therefore consider most warmist views as simply being either deniers or charlatans for refusing to acknowledge the pace of human technological advancement.

      • It was the skeptics who were saying reducing emissions would collapse the global economy, yet here we are – economy doing fine. Bending global emissions down is still a challenge because of China, and they need to work hard on being more efficient. India and Africa also need to look past fossil fuels as they develop their energy infrastructures. These are the requirements for success, and continuous monitoring and revisions of goals, as with the Paris agreement, are important to maintain pressure in this direction because that promotes new technologies as well.

      • Your typical slight of hand, D. Although CAFE standards were passed in 1975 to increase fuel efficiency that consequently unintentionally also had a slightly beneficial effect of lowering CO2 emissions relative to car emissions in the US, its goal was consumption centric, not CO2. CO2 began declining mostly without government mandates, circa 2000, mostly as a natural consequence of overall technological efficiencies. You can hysterically jump up and down and believe governments mindful watch of CO2, it’s oppresive hand, and the AGW community was the consequence of this reduction but it would be a largely ridiculous delusion. Consequential government mandates to curb CO2 wasn’t much evident until the Obama administration, well after peak CO2. Today enterprise continues to evolve mindful of being good stewards in spite of the threat of governments heavy hand.

        BTW, D. Whatever the Left wants to do about China and India may be interesting, but the solution the Left wants invariably would mean the West making up for those countries largely ignoring any demands placed on them and for the West (largely US) to pay out of pocket using one scheme or other. I fully expect that you would endorse the West paying for developing nations CO2, good luck with that, not gonna happen. The solution will evolve out of technological evolution, it’s already demonstrable.

      • I note when skeptics shift their aims from burn everything, find more, and burn that too, towards finding non-fossil ways of having fuel and energy instead. It has been a shift over the past few years, and some have realized this is a necessity as the only substantial fuels after natural gas is depleted left are becoming dirtier. So, I welcome this aim for better technology, even nuclear power for appropriate countries. Call it common ground. The faster the better. Developing countries would do well to skip the fossil-fuel step, and maybe the technology can advance fast enough for that to happen. Fuel standards need to be improved (Trump just removed Obama’s targets), and maybe in 20-30 years combustion engines and coal power will be a thing of the past in other countries.

      • It was operational subsidies for wind and solar mainly – as well as global warming being a stalking horse for world government by our hipster elite.

        But the emissions trajectory is for an 8% increase in CO2-e by 2030 by Paris country commitments. We could be reversing that with better land management by 2030. Restoring soils and ecology is the inevitable next step.

        And by then the next wave of energy technology will be washing through the economic system.

      • Yours is nonsensical prejudice, D; harsh ideological wishful thinking. Your reasoning and conclusion of finding common ground, while constructive at face value, has always been there whether you heard it spoken aloud or not. There’s no shifting of aims. You don’t know this because of the proverbial echo chamber you live in. Most conservative thinkers or skeptics champion an “all the above approach”, they always have. The objective has always been balanced within economic realities, it’s irrelevant relative to where energy comes from as long as the cost doesn’t oppress the well being of society, this philosophy is based on practical reasoning, not politics.

        There’s not a preference for fossil fuels from the right, there’s a preference for cheap energy which happens to still be fossil fuel, a distinction. This escapes the Left. Obama’s fuel standards were arbitrary, unrealistic, unnecessary, they’re opposed by the right who believes the market will always gravitate towards efficiency by default, it always has. The market will appeal to the public’s desire for cleaner and abundant energy as technological development allows. The market also represents a large kick in the pants for those who rest on their laurels; it’s evolve or die. It’s not that complicated. Business leaders will crush fossil fuels when something better is discovered that makes a buck more efficiently.

        All the governments money in the world is still not going to advance technology any faster if hurdles are too great, if this were not the case then markets would pounce as you’re arguing the irrelevant. For all the before reasons, markets don’t conceptually give a crap about fossil fuels at face value.

  59. mfgcoach – I don’t understand why you apologize for the length of your comment. It’s shorter and more concise that many comments here.

    I’m not an engineer but am endlessly curious about models and how/whether they can be useful in the study of climate. The thing I’m most curious about are the model assumptions that lead to feedback loops – i.e. more CO2 leads to warming which leads to more water vapor which leads to more warming. There’s a logic to it that’s seductive but I have no feel at all for the math that creates higher sensitivities and their degree of departure for the basic CO2 sensitivity of c.1.4.

    Does that lead to the primary argument between warmists and skeptics? Seems to me it does. What do you think?

  60. scraft1 – thanks.

    Re apology – I grew up career wise at P&G – we took training to keep written communications to one page – and that one page had very specific formats for each of the 3 things worth writing each other about: analysis, key learnings or recommendations. I missed that mark.

    Re your question – a good one (two questions really).

    Question 1 – the technical cause: The earth’s climate is such an incredibly complex system trying to be modeled – there probably isn’t a way boil it down to a single ‘common sense’ or ‘kitchen logic’ explanation that all or most parties would align on for reasons that may or may not be technical leading to your second question…

    Question 2 – the argument cause: My gut is that the primary cause of the argument may not really be technical. Could lie more in assumptions we all make about the underlying motives of the other side of any argument we are in. Like ‘you want to immediately shut down all fossil fuels (or something else I need/depend on)’ or ‘you want to do nothing about climate because you think it (the hard work I’ve done) is all a hoax’. Judith’s post here struck a chord with me as it is an excellent effort to try to get past that.

  61. Judith , you may not see yourself as an activist but stating and showing neutrality is not enough for the many ideologues out there.
    You are either with them or against them.
    Activism is a perception as well as an intention.
    My perception is that your willingness to stand up for truth in science is a form of activism when so many scientists are rolling over in fear or simply accepting a poisoned chalice of the status quo.
    The fact that you are willing and able to stand up for scientific integrity makes me and others here very proud of you and your words.
    Thank you.

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  64. Judith, I thought so much of your essay that I used its structure to set out my own position.Many thanks, and good wishes for the year ahead.