Climate Uncertainty and Risk: in press

by Judith Curry

My book Climate Uncertainty and Risk has now been accepted for publication, following peer review and submission of my revised manuscript.

I have mentioned several times on this blog and in interviews that I have a new book winding its way through the publication process.  I haven’t written anything yet about the book, waiting for the peer review process to complete and formal acceptance.

Here is the summary blurb:

World leaders have made a forceful statement that climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. However, little progress has been made in implementing policies to address climate change in a meaningful way. In Climate Uncertainty and Risk, eminent climate scientist Judith Curry shows how we can break through this stalemate. This book helps us rethink the climate change problem, the risks we are facing, and our response. It helps us strategize on how we can best engage with our environment and support human well-being, while responding to climate change.

Climate Uncertainty and Risk provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the climate change debate. It shows how both the climate change problem and its solution have been oversimplified.  It explains how understanding uncertainty helps us to better assess the risks. It describes how uncertainty and disagreement can be part of the decision-making process. It provides a road map for formulating pragmatic solutions that can improve our well-being in the 21st century.

Judith Curry brings a unique perspective to the debate on climate change. She is a distinguished climate scientist who has engaged extensively with decision makers in both the private and public sectors on a range of issues related to weather and climate.  She interacts with scientists, activists and politicians on both sides of the climate change debate. In her search for wisdom on the challenge of climate change, she incorporates the philosophy and sociology of science, ethics, risk management and politics.  Climate Uncertainty and Risk is essential reading for those concerned about the environment, professionals dealing with climate change, and our national leaders.

Back story

You may recall that in 2018 I was invited by US CLIVAR to write an article on Climate Uncertainty and Risk.  It was a short piece, mainly with a philosophy of science perspective. But I did like the title, and thought that this would be good topic for a book.

I often receive form letters from academic publishers inviting book proposals, I rarely open the emails.  In April 2020, I received an email with the subject “Anthem Press – Expansion of Anthem Environment and Sustainability Initiative.”  I opened the email, and was intrigued by what I read.  This was in the early days of Covid, and I thought maybe I would have time to write a book.  I prepared a prospectus for a book on Climate Uncertainty and Risk; I wanted to see how this idea would be received.  I was asked to provide a list of possible peer reviewers, people that I didn’t know personally.  At this point, I wasn’t all that invested in the idea of writing a book.  I made no attempt to “stack the deck” with the proposed reviewers; I selected names of individuals whose opinions that I would be genuinely interested in (majority were in social sciences and philosophy of science).  Here are summary excerpts from the reviews:

“Judith Curry is an intellectually courageous and honest voice that has been essentially suppressed in the political cauldron of the climate change debate. It would be wonderful if her prudent and clear-minded—and fiercely independent (in the sense of not being intimidated)—presentation of her perspective on the risks and uncertainties of climate change were made available. This will be a very needed and all-to-rare dissenting voice from within the scientific ranks about how we should be understanding the risks and uncertainties associated with climate change. Curry has been tarred and feathered as a “denier,” which is scandalous and false—but she is, in the best scientific sense of the word, skeptical about received wisdoms, confirmation bias, and political conformity.”

“Dr Judith Curry is a leading climate scientist with an exceptional understanding of the issues involved in decision making under deep uncertainty. Her understanding of the relevant issues in the philosophy of science is exceptional and impressive given that she is a scientist by training. It would thus be very welcome if Dr Curry were to contribute a monograph that tackles the issues involved in addressing climate-related risks under deep uncertainty.”

“The proposal pulls together in a coherent narrative ongoing work in climate change and the decision sciences. If developed properly, the book will be a substantial contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation decision making and decision support.  One potential problem is that the author is undeservedly controversial, in particular in the United States.”

“Dr Curry has a unique voice in climate science. She writes well and this book will generate buzz. This book will be great and it will be slightly controversial. Dr. Curry has a unique perspective. She wants climate scientists to be more honest about their uncertainty about their models and to convey these known unknowns to the public.  She will challenge the conventional wisdom. I hope the climate scientists engage with her strong points and do not appeal to political correctness.”

“It is an important subject that has not been exhaustively addressed in climate-related research and in the science-policy interface. Awareness of scientific uncertainty and risk might have been increased by the COVID emergency.  The proposal will generate attention because Dr. Curry is an experienced climate scientist, also well-known for not being aligned with the climate science consensus. I expect wide-ranging interest, probably reflecting a plurality of political perspectives.”

Well, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I have to say I was pretty exhilarated by these reviews.  My book proposal was accepted, and I signed a contract.

Publisher

In hindsight I was naïve about selecting a publisher for this book, but so far anyways, I think I made a good choice.  I had heard of Anthem Press, and looked up their website and googled around a bit; seemed ok.  I decided that an academic press – rather than commercial press – was the right way to go for this book.  I felt that it was important for this book to undergo a rigorous peer review process, since the scope of the book was very broad and outside the range of where I had published previously (other than blog articles).

Lets face it – I am controversial character and I suspect that some academic presses might have turned down a book proposal from me for that reason.  Kudos to Anthem for their willingness to take a chance on such a “controversial” character such as moi.

One of my friends who somehow knows a lot about academic publishing was familiar with Anthem and said that they were the perfect publisher for my book.  So far, so good.

However, one advantage of a commercial press is that the cost of purchasing the book is much lower; I have figured out a way to keep electronic version at a low(ish) price, will try to figure out something for the paperback version, but the hard cover version is probably hopelessly expensive.

Another advantage of a commercial press is a much larger marketing effort.  I’m hoping that in this era of social media, I can somehow reach everyone who might want to buy the book.

My book has now been handed off to Anthem’s production team.  Need to work on the book cover, among other things.  And I need to prepare the dreaded index.  At this point, the publication date is Jul 23; hopefully this can be expedited a bit.

Writing the book

I naively thought I could write this book quickly; everything was at a standstill during Covid, and it only took me two years from fingers on key board to camera ready to prepare my book Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans.   Further, I had written so much material on Climate Etc., that surely it would be simple just to cull and organize all that material.  Hah!

As I started going through old blog posts, I entered into an extended yang period (see my previous blog post) of trying to sort through all of my previous writings and articles that I had referenced.  The outline I submitted to the publisher didn’t make sense to me anymore.  I was adrift.

Then I got hammered by an insanely active Atlantic hurricane season during summer and fall 2020, I cannot express how all consuming and head exploding that season was for my company Climate Forecast Applications Network. I barely had time to think, let alone write.  I was able to start writing around October 2020, but I was suffering from a bad case of chicken-egg.  What topics to introduce first?  Should I introduce half hatched eggs early on, with full hatching in later chapters?  Which eggs? Writing about wicked science is quite a challenge.

My first version of the introductory chapters had a heavy dose of the philosophy and social psychology of science.  Readers of this first version collectively yawned. My revised version spiced things up, focusing more on politics and scientific ethics, and less on philosophy and social psychology.  One of Anthem’s reviewers found this version to be unecessarily spicy.  The final revised version is I hope the Goldilocks version – just right.

Over the course of writing the book, I needed to clarify who is the audience for this book.  Yes, I hope that scholars in the social sciences and philosophy will read this book (note: academic social sciences and humanities is the target audience for Anthem). While I am now divorced from academia, I still have a strong attachment to producing serious scholarship, and academic cred is generally beneficial in terms of public credibility.  In terms of technical level, this book should be accessible to anyone with a college degree (and clever people without a college degree).  I guess my target audience is defined by the Etc. in Climate Etc. – anyone interested in the climate issue that is willing to put in some effort to actually understanding it. Specifically, I am trying to reach decision makers in the public and private sectors and the broad range of professionals/practitioners that support this decision making.

This book is for people that are willing to think and challenge their preconceived notions about climate change.  This book will be uncomfortable for people with strong opinions on either the alarmed or unconvinced extremes of the spectrum (which makes it all the more important that they read it).  And of course, card-carrying climate scientists would greatly benefit from reading this book.

The logic that I landed on for the book in terms of dealing with the chicken-egg conundrum is to introduce key ideas and conflicts early with references to later chapters, with a crescendo through the succeeding chapters, culminating in chapters 13-15 where everything comes together, with lightbulbs exploding in the reader’s head as they read Chapter 15.  The final chapters are definitely fortissimo; the challenge is to hold the reader’s interest and not offend anyone in the early chapters. A delicate balancing act indeed.

Reviews

I have used my own internal reviewers at various stages of writing the book, which has been very helpful.  I sent the originally submitted version to my internal reviewers, which included climate scientists, geologists, engineers, economists, policy scientist, national security expert, musician.  I was reassured that people with a range of backgrounds and education levels were able to understand the book.

While many of their comments were useful in revising the manuscript, it was extremely interesting to see how they reacted in terms of which chapters they liked, which parts were hard to understand or somehow uncomfortable.  I had requested that they evaluate the book for any evidence of partisanship (I have sought to be ruthlessly nonpartisan); most (not all) of my internal reviewers are on the liberal/left side of the political spectrum.  My left-most reviewer found the treatments in the book to be evenhanded.  It was also interesting to see what kinds of questions they had while reading various parts of the book (which helped me address the chicken-egg conundrum).  Readers who had a pre-conceived notion of what I would be writing had a lot of  “But what about . . .” comments, expecting more explanations/adjudications of controversial scientific topics and more stories about alarmist scientists behaving badly.

So this book is different from what you may be expecting, but by the time you reach the last few chapters, hopefully you will forget that you ever wanted anything else.

I submitted the manuscript to Anthem in late August; I did not receive peer reviews until last week, almost 4 months after submission.  I was told peer review normally takes 2-3 months; I was unlucky.  Needless to say I was rather anxious, and dismayed to see the publication date slip by another month.

But when I received the reviews, I got why it took so long.  One of the reviewers provided an extremely thorough and extensive review, which overall was quite useful and motivated shortening and reorganizing the introductory chapters.  The reviewer was very knowledgeable about climate models and the IPCC reports, so I was pleased that what I wrote passed muster.

Pricing

The original pricing that Anthem quoted:

Hardcover: $125

Paperback: $35

Electronic: $35

These prices are outrageous, but academic presses generally charge outrageous prices for their books (presumably because they don’t sell that many copies).

I cut a deal with them to purchase a substantial number of electronic copies (I plan to give them to CFAN’s clients), for a lowering of the electronic price to $25.

On amazon.com, I see that the hardcover price is $110 (available for pre-order).  Yikes, amazon.com now says release date is 6/13 !!!

Anthem is now citing $20 for electronic version.

No sign yet of anything re paperback version, I will work on some sort of deal to lower the price if it is still at $35.

What’s next

Well this post is already long enough.  I will do whatever I can to speed up the publication process and lower the purchase price.  Over the next few months, I will be providing further information about the contents and the choices I made.

Stay tuned.

55 responses to “Climate Uncertainty and Risk: in press

  1. Congratulations Judy. I can’t wait to read it. It is a difficult issue to write about.

  2. Joe - the non climate scientist

    I prefer paperback

    • Something i didn’t know until Daniel Church informed me: 75% of books sold are paper, only 25% electronic. $35 is too much for a paperback, I will see what kind of a deal i need to cut to lower the cost

      • Depends on paper quality. And if the book has any graphics in colour.
        My experience with Amazon’s Kindle, what used to be CreateSpace, is that colour near doubles the price due to paper quality.
        Another publisher (local) confirmed so, but with graphics reducing to B&W reduces impact of info.

      • If you think $35 dollars is expensive, then what are many pay-walled papers at $42 dollars, the contents of which when found free after ten years, are found to be of little value, or overtaken by events. Just saying as comparison.

        I took a peek at my little library of valued books. All are paperbacks. A couple of valued hardbacks are due to age or old first issues, not for the contents. The one hardback I got recently, as replacement to a lost in post paperback version, is not worth the extra expense. (unless one is selling gossip!).

      • Hi Judith

        I googled to see a UK price and its £16 or 20$ for a pdf or an E version. Hardback is $110

        https://anthempress.com/environment-and-sustainability/climate-uncertainty-and-risk-pdf

        Not sure if a pdf is what we would term a paperback, that is to say the full works with a nice cover. To me a pdf sounds more like something printed, but without the extras that make it a book. It does have a proper ISBN number though.

        I have quite a few paperbacks of climate books on my bookshelf and £16 to £20 would be quite a reasonable price for a specialist book.

        Tonyb

  3. That’s wonderful news, congratulations! I look forward to reading your book.

  4. How can I get you to come to Florida and speak to a group of open minded, interested folks?

    • Where in FL (my sister lives in Ft Myers). I am almost exclusively doing zoom presentations/interviews these days.

      • Judith

        Florida? No, what you need to do is give a talk at the nearby Met Office in Exeter. Richard Betts could introduce you. I could sell tickets for that (unlikely) spectacle!

      • Bill Fabrizio

        Judith … if you go to Ft. Meyers to speak, or anywhere actually, please let us know.

      • J Geddes Parsons

        Jupiter Island, north of Palm Beach…great group…perhaps could do zoom…really interested in your stuff and approach…would be for next Jan-April 2024…

  5. Can’t wait to read it! Congratulations!

  6. Hi
    What about a PDF version direct from you.
    What is the price ??

    • Generally speaking a publisher has certain terms that they require of their clients when they agree to publish the work. I don’t know for sure, but I if I were the publisher, I would have made sure that the agreement restricted the author from doing what you are proposing. If the publisher does not make money on the book, then they will not want to publish future books for Dr. Curry. I would suggest that the options listed are the options that are going to be available, and a direct pdf from Dr. Curry is not going to be an option for this book. Yes, she has done some works that are available here on the blog, etc. but she made some decisions on publishing this one, that may give her a larger audience. Every time she publishes something she makes these decisions, you should respect that the decisions were made, and for good reasons.

  7. “My left-most reviewer found the treatments in the book to be evenhanded” may not be good news. Suggests the book is unbalanced to the left. But then so are most academics, the likely buyers of Anthem books.

    • I understand your general point David, but given Dr. Currie’s track record on this blog and other places, perhaps we can expect her objectivity to continue shining through.

  8. I like to have paper and electronic, I seldom do both but that is my preference. I sometimes attend a book club, and some of them do paper, some do electronic and some do audio. I have tried all three.

    I electronic and search for words or phrases that I am most interested in. For example, what do you write about, ” natural climate”, “natural cycles”, “ice cores”, “cooling by thawing, variations of this”, “data”, “historical data and records”.

    If something interesting is mentioned, how many more references are there to that?
    Audio was handy when I was still working and listened when traveling somewhere, but I wanted to see around me.

    Just some of my thoughts.

    Sometimes, I buy extra books to give away,

  9. The cover in intriguing for sure

  10. I’ll shall be ordering my copy forthwith. Congratulations Prof.

  11. To make the pricing question a bit more meaningful: according to amazon the book will have 250 pages.
    I hope a lot of people will read it.

  12. Congrats on getting this through peer-review Dr. Curry, so glad it did not get caught up in some quasi-political maneuverings at the publisher level. I pre-ordered my copy (3 actually) earlier this month, glad to hear it might be available sooner than June, until recently the publisher listed it as February. Regardless, I expect it will be worth the wait.

    I am in the lucky position of ordering through my workplace, but of course do try to treat other people’s money with care, so appreciate your consideration of lowering the cost where you can have influence. Relative to other books in this realm the soft cover at $35 actually seems quite reasonable.

    If you’re interested in the demographics you’re attracting this one data point is from a middle-aged government policy advisor working in natural resource management and forestry.

    I’ve used your monster analogy series and many other concepts presented on these pages to great effect with colleagues and ‘clients’. You’ve won a few fans in the process, including some senior executives that intuitively knew the alarmist climate view was pushing too hard, and being suspiciously certain, but didn’t have the background and toolkit to properly evaluate. Politics still play a part of course, and pragmatically sometimes we give in (choosing our hills), but at least it’s closer to eyes wide open.

    Forever grateful for your open sharing of content and willingness to think out loud in public view.

  13. Pingback: Climate Uncertainty and Risk: in press - Climate- Science.press

  14. Congratulations! Looking forward to reading it.

  15. “ She wants climate scientists to be more honest about their uncertainty about their models and to convey these known unknowns to the public.”

    More than any other outcome, I hope this is achieved. There will be the usual critics, the media, politicians and activist scientists, but if the book promotes an open and forthright dialogue about the inherent uncertainties in future scenarios, it will be well worth the effort.

    Price? With eggs closing in on double digits per dozen in some locations, how can you go wrong investing in what should be a great read.

  16. Judith … congratulations! Don’t worry about the pricing. With inflation it’s about just right. I’ll be ordering it today.

  17. Always good idea to write about not throwing out the scientific method because liberal, Leftist school teachers think they’ve been chosen at this time, in the history of mankind, by their new Gods like Al Gore and Michael Mann and Eurocommies of dead and dying Old Europe who feel they must save a dumb and ignorant herd from Americanism. To the Left the herd is of course all of society’s productive who needs and use energy to create all the value that society enjoys.

    • Are you sure you understand this so called “scientific method”? I claim that “Science” is just a thought process, its technology that can change reality. When a AI program discovers a new axiom of math or physics was it using the scientific method?
      https://www.sciencealert.com/ai-has-discovered-alternate-physics-on-its-own

      Speaking of thought process, do you think the planet’s apex predator (humans) are immune to the Behavorial Sink syndrome?

      • “Behavioral Sink”, I had to look that up out of curiosity. Wiki says “Calhoun’s work became used as an animal model of societal collapse”.
        I had read the article in about 1965 (new library at new eng college). No, we are not immune. In fact one can see evidence of it in many sectors of society, be it governments, banks, churches, academia, the opiates world,,, and others.
        It was also hinted at in the book ‘The Naked Ape’ (Desmond Morris) which analyses some of society’s behaviours as groups that follow some subject as a doctrine/identity. Climate and now energy are presently the hot subjects with their own groups.

        See Wiki’s section “Applicability to humans”; now in 2023.

      • The scientific method is what separates mediaclimatists from scientists.

  18. My cousin and her husband are both physicians. All the medical journals and all the medical reference material they use on a day-to-day basis is now online.

    Several years ago, they tossed all the hardcopy versions of this material into a dumpster and never looked back. As far as they were concerned, it was just taking up room in their offices better used for something else.

    What happens if a power blackout occurs, the internet goes down, and the backup generators which support the building in which their offices are located don’t kick in when they are supposed to?

    If an unusual medical diagnosis and treatment situation arises during an extended power blackout where the needed medical reference material isn’t readily available online, they will just have to trust in their own knowledge and experience in deciding what to do in its absence.

  19. Judith … I’m sure you discuss adaptability and resilient structures for climate change in your book. A shame you couldn’t have used as an example the ‘atmospheric river’ which recently dumped trillions (?) of gallons of water on drought stricken California and how the state hasn’t built any new reservoirs for decades. The ones in the planning stage have been held up by environmentalists for over a decade. Such hypocrisy. Incredibly moronic.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/water-is-a-terrible-thing-for-california-to-waste-winter-floods-rain-climate-11673984138?st=jr69uorhmof30s8&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

  20. Thanks Judy. Looking forward to getting a copy.
    Level headed Risk/ cost vs benefits of various management options has been missing in the activist and media driven panic on this issue. Hope some of that is in there.

  21. good

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  23. Yea its good

  24. Thank you for the update, Judith. I’ll definitely be buying the paperback. Can’t wait!

  25. Congratulations! I know it’s a lot of hard work–hope it is amply rewarded. I’m sure you’ll remind us when it’s available for purchase, right?

  26. As of today all Amazon has for preorder is the hardcover version for $110. Do you know if Amazon will be offering the electronic version?

  27. Dear JC, I don’t have any problems with climate “uncertainty”. It is the future weather I dread (not really). I hope your book, which I am very interested in and will read when available. What I look forward to is a possible chapter on the thermometer and what it actually measures and reports.
    That is so I can explain, as a non-scientist, why the temperature increases from 6:00am to 2:00pm daily and then decreases. Climate change science is locked into a “perceived” global warming caused by anthropogenetic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane (can’t stand the Oxford comma) and nitrous oxides, all of them are also emitted naturally.
    Why are then all gases in the mixture around the thermometer, apart from the three blamed on humans, excluded and reasons not revealed to the general public?
    Kind regards,

  28. How many review copies will the Publisher dispatch, and to which journals?

  29. Those are great reviews. Should cause the right kind of stir. Congrats on getting through what must have been a monster effort.

  30. Prof. Curry, to me you are the Joan of Arc of Climate Change. Following the science wherever it takes you, Not always liked by politically and/or ideologically infested scientists. (Are they really scientists in the true sense?)

  31. Kim Libera, earth scientist/mathematician.

    I just ordered your earlier books to get a better sense of the complexities. Well-written.

  32. Congratulations! I will be ordering my cop(res) in short order. Right now Amazon just shows the hardback (at $110). Can’t wait!

  33. Stephen A Segrest

    When scientists tagged a curious seal, he led them to signs of a potential climate disaster https://wapo.st/3Xydftl

  34. Matthew R Marler

    at WUWT,

    Six Pillars of Climate Change Despair

  35. Matthew R Marler

    Congratulations!

    My first post was lost.

  36. Patricia Zondle

    Amazon.de is offering the hardcover version for 93.39 EUR! Am tempted to order…..

  37. I looked the book up on Amazon and saw the $110 price. I very much would like to read the book, but the price is beyond my means. Anything you can do to provide a lower priced electronic or paperback version around $20 +/- would be outstanding.

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