What role is Dr Judith Curry trying to play ?

Before Climategate I thought Dr Curry was pretty much from the standard pro-IPCC mold. In early 2010 I noticed her building a position which I saw as somewhat separate from the main IPCC advocates – and I interpreted this rightly or wrongly as an effort to salvage something around the broad IPCC position.

Now with the IPCC wreckage still happily smouldering 18 months after Climategate – I wonder what readers can tell me about her role now.

11 comments to What role is Dr Judith Curry trying to play ?

  • Don Aitkin

    JC started her ‘Climate etc’ website last September. In summary, she sees its purpose as bridge-building, or getting both ‘sides’ in the AGW debate to meet and talk. For doing so she has been heavily criticised from the orthodox camp, and Scientific American ran a piece about her whose headline called her a ‘heretic’. I have been an almost continuous reader from the beginning, after seeing a reference on ClimateAudit, and she has run my Manning Clark House address.

    Unlike most climate websites that I have seen, hers does have real debate. Quite a few of the orthodox do post there, though the main readership is sceptical. The great benefit is that you learn something, because there is pretty-well continuous disagreement, but usually temperate. My reading of her is that she was genuinely upset by the Climategate emails and files, feels that AR4 over-egged the argument, and that there needs to be reform of the system. And she doesn’t like arguments based either on ‘consensus’ or on ‘authority’.

    In much less than a year her site has received about 60,000 posts. It is certainly worth a look.

  • Gerald Machnee

    I think she is hoping that the IPCC can get to some real science and integrity this time, after some criticism. She seems to still have faith that the organization can come up with something useful. But I think that politics is too embedded in the process and not enough lead writers, etc have been changed. Last time the came up with a “very likely” which translates to 90 percent. So can they lower that and keep face, or how much higher can they go? The four or five inquiry jokes we have seen in the past year are a good indicator where the IPCC is headed. So Dr. Curry better be prepared for disappointment with the possibility of becoming more of a sceptic.

  • The attack on Judith Curry in Scientific [sic] American last year arose because of her refusal to stick by the party line. Actually she knows more about all aspects of climate science than any of the IPCC’s lead authors et al., witness her amazing textbook (with Peter Webster) Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (AP 1999), with amongst much else its advanced calculus which is way over the heads of ALL IPCC Nobel-prize (sick) winners. That is why she has an Open Mind, unlike “Tamino” in his Blog “Open (sic) Mind” which automatically suppresses all contrary views (like mine, I am forever banned there). Tamino has sometimes been called Hansen’s Bulldog, when he/she is really his drum majorette, unlike Judith who knows a scam when she sees it.

  • A C Osborn

    I can’t say what her exact role is, but she has certainly attracted a lot of attention and Posters, both for & against AGW.

  • Arnost

    Judith is great value… From memory, she made a few posts on Climate Audit, and invited Steve M to Georgia and facilitated a presentation by him to the student body way before Climategate. I think that she felt the wrath from the “orthodox” scientists then. When she made that guest post at (I think) Keith Kloors – that’s when she was pilloried in Sci Am and the orthodox bloggosphere.

    I’m sure that she started out trying to build bridges. But if you notice, a lot of her recent posts are on scientific methodology and philosophy. I see that this is a not so subtle hint to the “orthodox” to re-appraise their attitudes and get back to basic science and away from grant fuelled advocacy. But without actually burning down her own bridges… I’m sure that she’s cognizant of the risk that if she pushes too hard – the blog is all that she’ll have left.

    And my respect for her started when she offered to mentor that girl who did the Ponder the Maunder thing… Kirsten Byrnes?

    (And I’m doing this on the phone and it’s next to impossible to move to different pages and check, and so this is all from memory so if wrong sorry)

  • Paul in Sweden

    It seems to me that quite some time after Climategate, Judy Curry lifted her head up from her own research, opened a window and it was not the smell of roses that stung her nostrils. First she became concerned(reservedly)with some of the actions the IPCC & the hockey stick team. She then started to vocalize what she recognized as wrong. There are no do-overs and I believe she was genuinely shocked by the hostility and abuse that was heaped upon her at RC and elsewhere(I wonder if she could go back in time if she would do it again). JC like Rodger Pielke Jr is a warmist, I don’t mean that in a bad way and would characterize both as “Honest Brokers”. Dr. Curry is civil, knowledgeable and interactive. She was fashionably late to the party but she made one hell of an entrance and the band hasn’t taken a break yet. I can’t make it to the bottom of the comments in most of her threads. I have no idea of her intent but her actions have thrust her into the public eye.

  • stan

    I think she genuinely wants to advance the science. She is a warmist, but she acknowledges that she was fooled by the IPCC. She says there is much more uncertainty than the consensus will admit to. She was appalled by the stench of the hockey team.

    I’m becoming convinced that she is concerned about the reputation of her field and is trying to find a way to get it back.

  • Lazlo

    JC is good – erudite, communicative and a true scientist.

    Support her.


  • cementafriend

    I can not agree with Tim Curtin. She said in one of her posts (or maybe more than one ) that she can not understand Miskolczi and some of the other comments about heat transfer on convection and phase change. It seems to me she and all the AGW pseudoscientists eg Sir John Houghton (the supposed Guru of climate science) have never looked at engineering research on heat transfer, evaporation, thermodynamics etc in journals and textbooks. Hoyt Hottel, Professor of chemical engineering at MIT did a huge amount of research on radiative heat transfer in heat exchangers and combustion systems. He was recognised by the US government in the space program. He was one of the earliest developers of solar panels. He developed an equation for the absorption of radiant energy by H2O vapour and CO2. Applying the equation to the atmosphere indicates that the absorption by CO2 is insignificant. That is the finding based on measurement by Miskolczi and explained very well by Dr Van Andel in Energy & Environment vol22 No4 2010 p277-292 (A note on the Miskolczi Theory) Dr Van Andel is a chemical engineer who is well respected in Netherlands and has made presentations to KNMI as here climategate.nl/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/KNMI_voordracht_VanAndel.pdf and here climategate.nl/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/CO2_and_climate_v7.pdf. One can also add that the insignificant absorption by CO2 sits well with measurements that show CO2 lags temperature, the opposite of the supposed science of AGW believers.
    Engineers rely on real measurements and form empirical relations before thinking how scientific laws fit with the data. Climate scientists cherry pick some science relations (forgetting the context such as black body in the basic Stefan-Boltzman equation) or even make up new relations such as back radiation opposing the second law of thermodynamics then through this into a model which they keep secrete. Their data is modelled data which has been shown to be inaccurate. Judith Curry is still a beleiver in models.

  • Dr C’s blog is too fast-moving for any reasonable effort at keeping up.

    I like her attitude towards commenters and online discourse: say whatever you want (with the reasonable caveats).

    She’s gone a bit back into playing things safe, but that is to be expected.

    Curry’s current position with the IPCC is very interesting. She is perhaps the first to critically examine the topline IPCC conclusion: “most of the warming is due to man blah blah”. She has shown how hollow this conclusion is. I have seen the supposed ‘rebuttals’ to her many posts on this issue and none are convincing.

  • little polyp

    I’ve been following climate etc in detail since it started.

    If I read her comments in the various discussions correctly, I think Judith can be characterised as a luke warmer in the absence of further information; however I think she genuinely considers that there is a lot more that we either havent properly measured or just dont understand and so the significant component of the uncertainty factor brings her closer to the agnostic position.

    The subjects she chooses are all valid and invite generally good commentary.

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