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Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Judith Curry has embarrassed all women by joining the Climate Denial Machine as a useful idiot a la Roy Spencer

The curious incident of Judith Curry with the fringe

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, April 28, 2010

I had started writing my post to debunk the utter canard that the IPCC’s and media’s treatment of uncertainty have left the public with an overestimation of projected climate impacts on our current emissions path.
But then came her latest jaw dropper:

The people slagging off on McIntyre, Watts et al. have probably spent no time over at their blogs or made an effort to get to know them personally and understand what makes them tick.   Or to talk to the scientific skeptics like Christy, Michaels.  Or talk to the libertarian think tanks, like CATO and CEI.  Well, i’ve made that effort, and therefore I think I know alot more about the what the “deniers” are really like than the people accusing me of naivete, who have drawn premature conclusions because somebody found some sort of obscure link to an oil company.
That isn’t true of me or many commenters here or many science bloggers, who have wasted countless hours on those thoroughly debunked and discredited blogs.  Indeed, that’s why they are debunked and discredited.  And here’s CEI’s “obscure” link to oil.

What is shocking is that she asserts she has spent a lot of time over at WattUp and yet still wrote the following in her unconstructive February essay, “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II:  Towards Rebuilding Trust”:
And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.  “Dueling blogs”  (e.g., versus and versus can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed.
Huh?  You may not agree with everything I write, but at least it is grounded in the actual scientific literature.  Watts posts whatever anti-scientific nonsense he can get his hands on, as just about everyone in the science blogosphere has shown (see Wattergate: Tamino debunks “just plain wrong” Anthony Watts).

He is a hard-core disinformer (see FoxNews, WattsUpWithThat push falsehood-filled Daily Mail article on global cooling that utterly misquotes, misrepresents work of Mojib Latif and NSIDC).  He reprints utter bunk (see “here“).

Not content to simply dispute the science with disinformation, he attacks climate scientists.  Watts said last year that NASA’s James Hansen is “no longer a scientist.”  Watts routinely smears all climate scientists, approvingly reprinting anti-science manifestos that claim global warming “is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind” — see here.  He also smeared NSIDC director Mark Serreze.
I rarely “duel” with Watts, since he’s not making a serious effort to understand and report on the science.  He is making a serious effort to spread disinformation and confusion.  I confess I gave up trying to understand what makes such a person “tick” — same for Christy, Michaels, and the disinformers at Cato and CEI.
As Scott Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences commented on CP:
McI[ntyre] and Watts operate their blogs with the notion that climate scientists are liars and cheats at worst or misguided group-thinking incompetents at best.
Dr. Curry is setting science back and hurting her reputation by including those two.
In spite of spending time on his blog, Curry apparently believes WattsUpWithThat is somehow contributing to increasing the credibility of climate research.  In fact, Watts ain’t interested in science and balked at the biggest chance he had to do so (see Watts not to love: New study finds the poor weather stations tend to have a slight COOL bias, not a warm one).

As for Curry, as recently as October 2007, she was going out of her way to debunk Bjorn Lomborg on the pages of the Washington Post, while endorsing “Making the transition to cleaner fuels,” in order to make a “big dent in carbon emissions” noting “the rationale for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide is to reduce the risk of the possibility of catastrophic outcomes.”

These day Curry spends her time demonizing the much-exonerated Michael Mann, repeating the long-discredited attacks on the much-vindicated Hockey Stick, praising the well-debunked Wegman report (repeatedly asserting the falsehood that it is an NRC report), and actually criticizing a blogger for failing to include WUWT in his blogroll.

So yes, I think I and everyone else has the right to be puzzled by what Judith Curry writes today (see “Beef with Curry” and “My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay“).

She has personalized the entire debate by insisting on dividing scientists and others into tribes — with me, according to her, apparently in a very different tribe than her.

Some people are “warmists” (undefined), some are “lukewarmers” (undefined), some are “moderate warmers” (her, self-identified, essentially undefined), some are “deniers” (undefined), some are “affirmists” (undefined, except that, like “deniers” they “describe someone that isn’t open to changing their mind based on evidence” — which applies to not a single “warmist” scientist I know).

When William Connolley asks of her, “I’m a bit confused by what JC’s actual views on climate change are. Not the politics or that, but the actual state of the science,” she replies:
I find the main text of the WG1 Report to be an accurate assessment of the science.  The problem that I have with the WG1 Report is the summary narratives (executive summary, summary for policy makers) where all this is integrated and summarized.  My main issue with the WG1 report is that I think that many of confidence levels are too high: there is inadequate scientific uncertainty analysis, and lack of accounting for known unknowns and unknown unknowns.   I have substantial issues with the WG2 report and the impacts.
So what does all this add up to?  A moderate warmist that sees very large uncertainty with regards to hypothesized catastrophic impacts
Of course this “adds up to” undefined meaninglessness, since she doesn’t spell out what the “hypothesized catastrophic impacts” are or what emissions scenario she is talking about.  Like many people who don’t define their terms or spell out what they believe the science says happens under business-as-usual emissions, she conflates uncertainty in the climate’s sensitivity with uncertainty about how much we’re going to emit.

You see, I’m also a moderate warmist that sees very large uncertainty with regards to hypothesized catastrophic impacts — if we act quickly to limit emissions and stay below 450 ppm.  But WG1 doesn’t really leave much doubt that if we, say, listened to the people like Anthony Watts — or other disinformers, like those at CATO and CEI who keep asserting the whole damn thing is a hoax (or might actually be good for us) — then we are headed to very high concentrations (and yes catastrophic impacts) with high probability [see U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm … the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” — 1000 ppm].

Doing nothing sharply reduces the uncertainty of hypothesized catastrophic impacts (see here).

Curry says things like, she says, “If I say members of the climate consensus or establishment, that would almost leave out Romm and Hansen, since both go beyond the IPCC consensus in some ways.”  But wait — I thought people should be open to changing their mind on evidence.  And the overwhelming majority of studies published since the IPCC are more dire than the IPCC — sea level rise being the most obvious case.

Indeed, in a AAAS presentation this year, William R. Freudenburg of UC Santa Barbara discussed his research on “the Asymmetry of Scientific Challenge”:
New scientific findings are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected”
So by Curry’s logic, anyone who doesn’t believe that climate impacts on the business-as-usual emissions path will be worse than the IPCC projected is either an affirmist or a denier.

And that is why failing to define one’s terms makes debate all but meaningless.

I believe her views on hurricanes have evolved.  After much discussion with her trying to understand the hurricane issue while I was writing my book, she gave me this projection in late 2006:
On our current warming trend, four super hurricanes — category 4 or stronger — a year in the North Atlantic is likely to become the norm 20 years from now.
Now that is pretty friggin’ alarming, don’t you think?

If her views have evolved based on newer science, that’s fine.  But then she can’t criticize others for evolving their views based on the science.

She tells Kloor in a second interview:
So should Joe Romm be puzzled by this?  Probably, but I think part of his puzzlement arises from assuming that I and all “warmist” climate researchers share his policy objectives.  People really find it hard to believe that I don’t have a policy agenda about climate change/energy (believe me, Roger Pielke Jr has tried very hard to smoke me out as a “stealth advocate”).  Yes, I want clean green energy, economic development and “world peace”.  I have no idea how much climate change should be weighted in these kinds of policy decisions.  I lack the knowledge, wisdom and hubris to think that anything I say or do should be of any consequence to climate/carbon/energy policy.
That’s nonsense.  And she should know it.

I spent a lot of time with her giving joint talks in Florida. She made clear again and again she was not an energy policy expert and didn’t want to talk about energy policy.  But, again, she never defines what “policy” is, so like many of her statements, this one is all but meaningless.

When asked if our current understanding of climate sensitivity means “we should aim to keep CO2 well below 550 ppmv,” she writes in the comments of Kloor’s second post:
No. There is the whole issue of what constitutes “dangerous” climate change. Which is a value laden issue.
I for one do not have any confidence in setting a CO2 limit with two significant figures, given the uncertainties described in 1-3. This takes us into a policy arena, which is where I am drawing the line in this discussion.
That’s her excuse — she can’t set a CO2 limit with two significant figures?  OK, Dr. Curry, I’ll settle for a CO2 limit with one significant figure.

Some people objected when I said she was in the McIntyre and WattsUpWithThat “tribe.”  But I was using the term tribe the way she seems to.  It does not mean people who share the same scientific and/or policy views.  After all, she lumps me in with Hansen — and while I have far too much respect for Hansen to ever claim to be in his “tribe,” it is widely known that I do not share his scientific and/or policy views.  She has also lumped me in with RealClimate, and again, I don’t share all of their views on the science — and they tend to avoid policy entirely.

No, tribes are determined by whose faults you gloss over. That seems to be Curry’s point about the IPCC.  And THAT is why I wrote, “She has joined the WUWT and McIntyre tribe.

That is why I titled this “The curious incident of Judith Curry with the fringe” (along with the fact that I’m a fan of the musical Oklahoma).  As the Sherlock Holmes story goes:
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
If you read her Discover interview or her “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II:  Towards Rebuilding Trust” paper, what’s curious is that among her incessant attacks on Mann, Jones, IPCC scientists and the like she has nothing negative whatsoever to say about McIntyre and Watts.

That’s the sense she’s in their tribe.  When the most people are listening, she just can’t find fault in them.  Now we know it’s because she spends so much time with them trying to understand what makes them tick.


My comment: 
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You gentleman give Curry far too much credit. She was never any kind of intellectual heavyweight. If she is not a paid denier, then she is nothing more than a useful idiot like Roy Spencer. In either event, as a woman, I find myself deeply embarrassed by her.

I hope, Joe, that you will not give her much more space here. She is just one more Climate Denial Machine puppet propped up to sidetrack us and waste our time that could be so much better spent on bringing to the public the truth about the likes of Koch, Schlumberger, Blankenship, Michaels, and companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Halliburton.

She is meant to be a distraction, as they all have been. She’s their latest and greatest. The best tactic is to show her up for the joke she is. No need to criticize her “emotions,” just point up her lack of evidentiary thinking.

p.s. Dano, you seem surprised. You are trained in critical analysis. Look deeper. She can’t even spell or punctuate for crying out loud.

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