On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II: Towards Rebuilding Trust

Foreword – Below is  a guest post (by request) from Dr. Judith Curry on the issues we deal with every day here. While I and other like minded bloggers were given the opportunity to have some early input into this, little of it was accepted. This I think puts it off to a bad start in light of the title. One of my issues was that it wasn’t necessary to use the word “deniers”, which I think removal of is central to any discourse that includes a goal of “rebuilding trust”. There’s also other more technical issues related to current investigations that are not addressed here.

I had made my concerns known to Dr. Curry before in this post: The Curry letter: a word about “deniers”… which is worth re-reading again.

To be frank, given that she’s still using the term even when pointed out, and had deferred other valid suggestions from other skeptics, I’d given serious consideration to not carrying this at all. But I had carried Dr. Curry’s original post (at my request) on 11/27/09, just seven days after the Climategate story broke here at WUWT on 11/20/09:

An open letter from Dr. Judith Curry on climate science

Since I had carried that one at my request to Dr. Curry, I decided it only fair that I’d carry this one she offered, but with the above caveat. Further, as Andrew Revkin pointed out yesterday, WUWT is now by far the most trafficked climate blog in the world. With that comes a level of responsibility to broadly report the issues. Readers should give their opinion here, pulling no punches, but with one caveat: make the discourse respectful and without labels or inflammatory comments. – Anthony

Judith  Curry

Guest post by Judith Curry, Georgia Institute of Technology

I am trying something new, a blogospheric experiment, if you will.  I have been a fairly active participant in the blogosphere since 2006, and recently posted two essays on climategate, one at climateaudit.org and the other at climateprogress.org.  Both essays were subsequently picked up by other blogs, and the diversity of opinions expressed at the different blogs was quite interesting.  Hence I am distributing this essay to a number of different blogs simultaneously with the hope of demonstrating the collective power of the blogosphere to generate ideas and debate them.  I look forward to a stimulating discussion on this important topic.

Losing the Public’s Trust

Climategate has now become broadened in scope to extend beyond the CRU emails to include glaciergate and a host of other issues associated with the IPCC. In responding to climategate, the climate research establishment has appealed to its own authority and failed to understand that climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.  Finally, we have an editorial published in Science on February 10 from Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Science, that begins to articulate the trust issue: “This view reflects the fragile nature of trust between science and society, demonstrating that the perceived misbehavior of even a few scientists can diminish the credibility of science as a whole. What needs to be done? Two aspects need urgent attention: the general practice of science and the personal behaviors of scientists.”  While I applaud loudly Dr. Cicerone’s statement, I wish it had been made earlier and had not been isolated from the public by publishing the statement behind paywall at Science. Unfortunately, the void of substantive statements from our institutions has been filled in ways that have made the situation much worse.

Credibility is a combination of expertise and trust.  While scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise, climategate has made it clear that expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.  The fallout from climategate is much broader than the allegations of misconduct by scientists at two universities.   Of greatest importance is the reduced credibility of the IPCC assessment reports, which are providing the scientific basis for international policies on climate change.  Recent disclosures about the IPCC have brought up a host of concerns about the IPCC that had been festering in the background: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations.

The scientists involved in the CRU emails and the IPCC have been defended as scientists with the best of intentions trying to do their work in a very difficult environment.  They blame the alleged hacking incident on the “climate denial machine.”  They are described as fighting a valiant war to keep misinformation from the public that is being pushed by skeptics with links to the oil industry. They are focused on moving the science forward, rather than the janitorial work of record keeping, data archival, etc. They have had to adopt unconventional strategies to fight off what they thought was malicious interference. They defend their science based upon their years of experience and their expertise.

Scientists are claiming that the scientific content of the IPCC reports is not compromised by climategate.  The jury is still out on the specific fallout from climategate in terms of the historical and paleo temperature records.   There are larger concerns (raised by glaciergate, etc.) particularly with regards to the IPCC Assessment Report on Impacts (Working Group II):  has a combination of groupthink, political advocacy and a noble cause syndrome stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress and corrupted the assessment process?  If institutions are doing their jobs, then misconduct by a few individual scientists should be quickly identified, and the impacts of the misconduct should be confined and quickly rectified.  Institutions need to look in the mirror and ask the question as to how they enabled this situation and what opportunities they missed to forestall such substantial loss of public trust in climate research and the major assessment reports.

In their misguided war against the skeptics, the CRU emails reveal that core research values became compromised.   Much has been said about the role of the highly politicized environment in providing an extremely difficult environment in which to conduct science that produces a lot of stress for the scientists.  There is no question that this environment is not conducive to science and scientists need more support from their institutions in dealing with it.  However, there is nothing in this crazy environment that is worth sacrificing your personal or professional integrity.  And when your science receives this kind of attention, it means that the science is really important to the public.  Therefore scientists need to do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.  This is an important responsibility that individual scientists and particularly the institutions need to take very seriously.

Both individual scientists and the institutions need to look in the mirror and really understand how this happened.  Climategate isn’t going to go away until these issues are resolved.   Science is ultimately a self-correcting process, but with a major international treaty and far-reaching domestic legislation on the table, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The Changing Nature of Skepticism about Global Warming

Over the last few months, I have been trying to understand how this insane environment for climate research developed.  In my informal investigations, I have been listening to the perspectives of a broad range of people that have been labeled as “skeptics” or even “deniers”.  I have come to understand that global warming skepticism is very different now than it was five years ago.  Here is my take on how global warming skepticism has evolved over the past several decades.

In the 1980’s, James Hansen and Steven Schneider led the charge in informing the public of the risks of potential anthropogenic climate change.  Sir John Houghton and Bert Bolin played similar roles in Europe.  This charge was embraced by the environmental advocacy groups, and global warming alarmism was born.  During this period I would say that many if not most researchers, including myself, were skeptical that global warming was detectable in the temperature record and that it would have dire consequences.  The traditional foes of the environmental movement worked to counter the alarmism of the environmental movement, but this was mostly a war between advocacy groups and not an issue that had taken hold in the mainstream media and the public consciousness.  In the first few years of the 21st century, the stakes became higher and we saw the birth of what some have called a “monolithic climate denial machine”.  Skeptical research published by academics provided fodder for the think tanks and advocacy groups, which were fed by money provided by the oil industry. This was all amplified by talk radio and cable news.

In 2006 and 2007, things changed as a result of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” plus the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, and global warming became a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut.  The reason that the IPCC 4th Assessment Report was so influential is that people trusted the process the IPCC described:  participation of a thousand scientists from 100 different countries, who worked for several years to produce 3000 pages with thousands of peer reviewed scientific references, with extensive peer review.  Further, the process was undertaken with the participation of policy makers under the watchful eyes of advocacy groups with a broad range of conflicting interests.   As a result of the IPCC influence, scientific skepticism by academic researchers became vastly diminished and it became easier to embellish the IPCC findings rather than to buck the juggernaut.  Big oil funding for contrary views mostly dried up and the mainstream media supported the IPCC consensus. But there was a new movement in the blogosphere, which I refer to as the “climate auditors”, started by Steve McIntyre.  The climate change establishment failed to understand this changing dynamic, and continued to blame skepticism on the denial machine funded by big oil.

Climate Auditors and the Blogosphere

Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org with regards to his critique of the “hockey stick” since he was unable to post his comments there.  Climateaudit has focused on auditing topics related to the paleoclimate reconstructions over the past millennia (in particular the so called “hockey stick”) and also the software being used by climate researchers to fix data problems due to poor quality surface weather stations in the historical climate data record. McIntyre’s “auditing” became very popular not only with the skeptics, but also with the progressive “open source” community, and there are now a number of such blogs.  The blog with the largest public audience is wattsupwiththat.com, led by weatherman Anthony Watts, with over 2 million unique visitors each month.

So who are the climate auditors?  They are technically educated people, mostly outside of academia.  Several individuals have developed substantial expertise in aspects of climate science, although they mainly audit rather than produce original scientific research. They tend to be watchdogs rather than deniers; many of them classify themselves as “lukewarmers”. They are independent of oil industry influence.  They have found a collective voice in the blogosphere and their posts are often picked up by the mainstream media. They are demanding greater accountability and transparency of climate research and assessment reports.

So what motivated their FOIA requests of the CRU at the University of East Anglia?  Last weekend, I was part of a discussion on this issue at the Blackboard.  Among the participants in this discussion was Steven Mosher, who broke the climategate story and has already written a book on it here. They are concerned about inadvertent introduction of bias into the CRU temperature data by having the same people who create the dataset use the dataset in research and in verifying climate models; this concern applies to both NASA GISS and the connection between CRU and the Hadley Centre. This concern is exacerbated by the choice of James Hansen at NASA GISS to become a policy advocate, and his forecasts of forthcoming “warmest years.”  Medical research has long been concerned with the introduction of such bias, which is why they conduct double blind studies when testing the efficacy of a medical treatment. Any such bias could be checked by independent analyses of the data; however, people outside the inner circle were unable to obtain access to the information required to link the raw data to the final analyzed product.  Further, creation of the surface data sets was treated like a research project, with no emphasis on data quality analysis, and there was no independent oversight.  Given the importance of these data sets both to scientific research and public policy, they feel that greater public accountability is required.

So why do the mainstream climate researchers have such a problem with the climate auditors? The scientists involved in the CRU emails seem to regard Steve McIntyre as their arch-nemesis (Roger Pielke Jr’s term). Steve McIntyre’s early critiques of the hockey stick were dismissed and he was characterized as a shill for the oil industry.   Academic/blogospheric guerilla warfare ensued, as the academic researchers tried to prevent access of the climate auditors to publishing in scientific journals and presenting their work at professional conferences, and tried to deny them access to published research data and computer programs. The bloggers countered with highly critical posts in the blogosphere and FOIA requests.  And climategate was the result.

So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?  Again, trust plays a big role; it was pretty easy to follow the money trail associated with the “denial machine”.  On the other hand, the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda,

are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.

Towards Rebuilding Trust

Rebuilding trust with the public on the subject of climate research starts with Ralph Cicerone’s statement “Two aspects need urgent attention: the general practice of science and the personal behaviors of scientists.”   Much has been written about the need for greater transparency, reforms to peer review, etc. and I am hopeful that the relevant institutions will respond appropriately.  Investigations of misconduct are being conducted at the University of East Anglia and at Penn State.  Here I would like to bring up some broader issues that will require substantial reflection by the institutions and also by individual scientists.

Climate research and its institutions have not yet adapted to its high policy relevance.  How scientists can most effectively and appropriately engage with the policy process is a topic that has not been adequately discussed (e.g. the “honest broker” challenge discussed by Roger Pielke Jr), and climate researchers are poorly informed in this regard.  The result has been reflexive support for the UNFCCC policy agenda (e.g. carbon cap and trade) by many climate researchers that are involved in the public debate (particularly those involved in the IPCC), which they believe follows logically from the findings of the (allegedly policy neutral) IPCC. The often misinformed policy advocacy by this group of climate scientists has played a role in the political polarization of this issue.. The interface between science and policy is a muddy issue, but it is very important that scientists have guidance in navigating the potential pitfalls.  Improving this situation could help defuse the hostile environment that scientists involved in the public debate have to deal with, and would also help restore the public trust of climate scientists.

The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on difficulties of communicating such a complex topic to a relatively uneducated public that is referred to as “unscientific America” by Chris Mooney.  Efforts are made to “dumb down” the message and to frame the message to respond to issues that are salient to the audience.   People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers. At the same time, there is a large group of educated and evidence driven people (e.g. the libertarians, people that read the technical skeptic blogs, not to mention policy makers) who want to understand the risk and uncertainties associated with climate change, without being told what kinds of policies they should be supporting. More effective communication strategies can be devised by recognizing that there are two groups with different levels of base knowledge about the topic.  But building trust through public communication on this topic requires that uncertainty be acknowledged.  My own experience in making public presentations about climate change has found that discussing the uncertainties increases the public trust in what scientists are trying to convey and doesn’t detract from the receptivity to understanding climate change risks (they distrust alarmism). Trust can also be rebuilt by  discussing broad choices rather than focusing on specific policies.

And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.  “Dueling blogs”  (e.g. climateprogress.org versus wattsupwiththat.com and realclimate.org versus climateaudit.org) can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed.  Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life, but many climate researchers lost this somehow by mistakenly thinking that skeptical arguments would diminish the public trust in the message coming from the climate research establishment.   Such debate is alive and well in the blogosphere, but few mainstream climate researchers participate in the blogospheric debate.  The climate researchers at realclimate.org were the pioneers in this, and other academic climate researchers hosting blogs include Roy Spencer, Roger Pielke Sr and Jr, Richard Rood, and Andrew Dessler. The blogs that are most effective are those that allow comments from both sides of the debate (many blogs are heavily moderated).  While the blogosphere has a “wild west” aspect to it, I have certainly learned a lot by participating in the blogospheric debate including how to sharpen my thinking and improve the rhetoric of my arguments. Additional scientific voices entering the public debate particularly in the blogosphere would help in the broader communication efforts and in rebuilding trust. And we need to acknowledge the emerging auditing and open source movements in the in the internet-enabled world, and put them to productive use.  The openness and democratization of knowledge enabled by the internet can be a tremendous tool for building public understanding of climate science and also trust in climate research.

No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”  Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.  There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.

And finally, I hope that this blogospheric experiment will demonstrate how the diversity of the different blogs can be used collectively to generate ideas and debate them, towards bringing some sanity to this whole situation surrounding the politicization of climate science and rebuilding trust with the public.

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February 24, 2010 7:08 am

[OT, yes, but this is why we have a tips and notes section]

John S
February 24, 2010 7:10 am

Bravo, Anthony, for presenting all sides. This isn’t “deniers” vs. “warmers,” this is about destroying our planet (if AGW is correct,) or destroying our civilization’s economy unnecessarily (if AGW isn’t correct.)
Were the hockey stick graph about the mating habits of fruit flies, nobody would have cared. When it’s about Cap and Trade, and shedding jobs in an already precarious world economy, everybody cares.

February 24, 2010 7:16 am

So it took Judith Curry a mere 7 years to come to the exact same conclusions that Michael Crichton had, and was universally excoriated for by the scientific community.

February 24, 2010 7:19 am

[snip sorry, not the place for the UK advertising discussion]

February 24, 2010 7:20 am

“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.”
That’s pretty unequivocal. I was talking yesterday to an old friend, Conservative MP and Chair of the cross-party environment group in the UK Houses of Parliament. He said The Science is IN.

February 24, 2010 7:20 am

Speaking of which, I think it is high time that WUWT produce some kind of homage to Michael Crichton. While he was by no mean the driving force behind the “Better Science” movement (instead of “skeptic”) his appendices in “State of Fear” , 7 years later, are prophetic and meticulously spells out the true path to redemption of climate science a full 6 years before climate science could bare to admit there was a problem.

February 24, 2010 7:20 am

My ASA comment was about the OFCOM story – http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/feb/24/ofcom-climate-change-bedtime-stories
REPLY: And still waaaayyyyyy off topic for this thread.

February 24, 2010 7:22 am

That should be “7 years after having been written”, but the book was published 6 years ago.

Steve Keohane
February 24, 2010 7:24 am

Ms. Curry, I have been reading about climate reconstructions since 1960. There is nothing unusual about modern day climate. Even with fallacious data massaging we are talking about a fraction of a degree change, and no measurable warming for 15 years per Phil Jones of CRU. If you want to gain any trust in climate “science”, which never existed, start over with real science instead of political ideologies. By the way, I am retired from an engineering career specializing in temperature measurement, analysis and control where 3-sigma was <0.1°F, 25 years ago. The data used for global temperature determination is a joke, look at surfacestations.org, and that is about as good as it gets for the planet. It doesn't matter what you do to bad data, it's bad data.

February 24, 2010 7:24 am

‘No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” ‘
Then you need to make a call to Al Gore, please, and tell him to shut the hell up…

February 24, 2010 7:26 am

Scenario 1 : AGW is a real problem and this long winded ‘essay’ is basically a piece of self-flagelatory hand wringing as to why the public has lost trust is something why shouldn’t have.
Scenario 2 : AGW is not a serious problem and she has completely missed the point as to why the public has lost trust.
Given that she states that she doesn’t believe the ‘science is settled’ or the ‘debate is over’ but yet never considers scenario 2 in any part of her diatribe, clearly she is telling a bit of a porky … at least about herself.

February 24, 2010 7:26 am

And, if it *really* isn’t settled, then why are we forging ahead on CO2 limits to fix something that may not do anything??

February 24, 2010 7:27 am

Wonder If Prof Jones was the leak?
Just joking. At least this is more in line with what people here think.. just skeptical is a very healthy scientific approach. Thank you Prof Jones…Obviously the spokeperson for the EPA is NOT a scientist but a politico Hahaha.

February 24, 2010 7:27 am

Basically, I’m not buying Judith. Sorry. The debate is really over for those making decisions…

February 24, 2010 7:30 am

The bias in AGW science isn’t just advocacy. Its often times ridiculous, patently absurd, flies in the face of reason and down right criminal. If it walks like a duck, call it a duck. To call it bias or leaning toward advocacy betrays science for the merit of giving the AGW’s the benefit of the doubt(of actually being scientists). Don’t soft peddle this. Don’t “trust” anyone who does.

February 24, 2010 7:31 am

Dr Curry should know better. The term ‘denier’, as presently used, is to imply that those who do not accept Global Warming are ‘in denial’, that is, they know that the evidence is fully convincing, but persuade themselves to the contrary for illegitimate reasons, emotional or self interest. Or they are ‘deniers’, that is, they deny what is known, obvious and indubitable.
You cannot have a dialog with people who refuse to accept that your intellectual positions are based on the merits of the case. That reasonable, well informed and disinterested doubt is possible. If they insist on treating your skepticism as pathological, no conversation is either possible or appropriate.
One would say to Dr Curry with Oliver Cromwell: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider that you may be mistaken’.

February 24, 2010 7:31 am

The prejudice she brings to this is frankly amazing:
‘deniers’. A definition of trust that does not refer to ‘accuracy of results’ except inreference to how AGW promoters feel about their own work. Dr. Curry’s immaculate conception explanation of climategate “and climatgate was the result”.
I think she should be credited, however, with being probably the first AGW promoter to admit that skeptics are not schills of big oil.
Dr. Curry is making progress, which is more than can be said for RC, GISS, Gore, etc. etc.
I do ask her to reconsider her conclusion- that ‘no one believes the science is settled’.
One only needs to read RC, Gore’s work as referenced below, Joe Romm, etc. etc. etc. to properly see that Dr. Curry is, on the AGW believer side, in a distinct minority.
In fact, the chances that Dr. Curry will be vilified by AGW promters is quite high.

Dave Waterman
February 24, 2010 7:32 am

I can only applaud Dr Curry’s contribution.
It is an excellent, well thought out piece that highlights some real issues rather than “denying” the existence of the issues.
Whilst I disagree with Dr Curry’s prsonal conclusions regarding AGW, I think that I agree with what she wrote with respect to the process nd how things need to change.
In the end, progress can/will only be made when people talk – rather then insult or attack each other.
It should be recognised that she is a brave lady too. We know how difficult it is for scientists to break from the “all deniers are loonies” stance and the subsequent potential risk to their career and professional standing.
A new dawn breaks!

François GM
February 24, 2010 7:34 am

I enjoyed reading Mrs Curry’s article.
She hits the nail on the head when she says that many climate researchers mistakenly thought ” that skeptical arguments would diminish the public trust in the message coming from the climate research establishment.”
Speaking for myself, it is the SCIENCE IS SETTLED argument that got me interested in Climate Science. I couldn’t believe that scientists would utter such nonsense. I quickly became skeptical upon reading parts of AR4 for the lack of arguments in favor of CAGW.
In my field, Neurology, patients are much more likely to become active participants in their own care if they are informed of the uncertainties and limitations of available treatments. It’s a question of trust.
Trust does not exist in Climate Science.

February 24, 2010 7:35 am

Dr. Judith Curry:
Strongly recommend that you read Jerome Ravetz’s post from yesterday at WUWT and read and digest all of the responses. It might help you understand your own discipline better. See:

February 24, 2010 7:36 am

There is a principle that any good coach of any athletic team knows, and that principle is: When your guys are ahead, you don’t let the other team back in the game by playing soft… you step it up a notch and bury your opponent.
Thanks Judith Curry, but No Thanks.

G.L. Alston
February 24, 2010 7:37 am

I’m sorry, but this sounds like lipstick on a pig, and I think you (Dr Curry) are missing the only relevant point: science isn’t a club, and the problem isn’t in how to get the kids to trust the club members. You speak as if “transparency” is an image problem best solved as a marketing issue.
Science as I was taught is a method in which you do an experiment and the expectation is that any interested party ought to be able to reproduce the experiment. Repeatability of results can’t happen when a scientist doesn’t release data. There should never be the need for FOI requests. If whatever you did can’t be replicated and/or examined openly, it ain’t science.
Your essay reads as if you assume that the underlying problem is that FOI requests need to be handled more cleanly.
The underlying problem is that climate people have to be threatened with FOI action in the first place, and to rub salt in it, these people are employed out of MY wallet. When public funding is used, this is MY data. I paid for it. I don’t need no stinking FOI request.
You want to fix this problem? All data is open and online to any citizen who wants to download it. Period.

Gordon Ford
February 24, 2010 7:37 am

Rr Curry writes from the perspective of (directly or indirectly) government funded academia. Having worked for government I understand the the “liberal” pressures imposed by government bureaucracies. Unfortunately she focused on “big oil” and did not comment on the need for academia to toe the “big government” party line.

February 24, 2010 7:37 am

Dr. Curry is correct in her assessment that the core issue is one of trust. Unfortunately, many of the primary players on the AGW side have compromised that trust to the point where it is extremely unlikely that those particular players can ever regain it.
Its not just a matter of them being very poor at communicating their expertise, the fact is, they have compromised the very idea of their own expertise by using inappropriate statistical analyses, obviously compromised data, incredibly amateur programming, and various “tricks” which could be grounds for instant rejection of any PhD thesis.
To compound this, the display of arrogance when called on these facts was simply stunning, basically amounting to “I am the expert, I have the title “professor” before my name and PhD after it, my opinion is all that counts, yours is worthless and I refuse to even consider it”. That arrogance is what finally put the final nail in the coffin.
In addition, we see a complete lack of scientific method. From the incestuous and tightly controlled peer review system exposed in the CRU emails, to the refusal to share data and methods to enable others to verify their results to the jump to the conclusion that temperature rises are solely caused by anthropogenic CO2, even if that requires the modern equivalent of “the ether”, a magical component necessary to make their models work, namely “forcing” which appears to be a purely mythical dimensionless quantity which can be applied as a multiplier wherever and whenever required to the fact that looking at historical projections from these people and these models shows a large divergence, and a refusal to acknowledge that they were wrong then, and are likely to be wrong now.
We see cherry picking of data to get the desired result. We see these same results disagreeing with current reality. Even though unable to explain why the divergence with current measurements, the “experts” absolutely insist that although they are completely ignorant of why the divergence, that that are completely justified in ignoring this discrepancy between theory and practice for current data, but absolutely insist on its integrity for 1,000+ years prior.
This is ether supreme stupidity or supreme arrogance. In either case, it is undeserving of trust.
The MET Office seem to have understood the issue (somewhat), as does Dr Curry.
However, the answer is not rehabilitation of the current crop of “experts” and data, it is starting from scratch, with people of integrity and an open process to ensure that integrity is not compromised by the numerous interested parties on both sides.

February 24, 2010 7:38 am

Not bad for a mild mea culpa, but she totally whitewashes the viciousness of the alarmist camp toward the skeptics, and certain influential persons like the President certainly do think the “science is settled and the debate is over”. The lack of “climategate” coverage in the American media would indicate that the “warmists” haven’t come clean yet and certainly haven’t given up on their plans.

February 24, 2010 7:39 am

Open science is the only science that survives politics. And that means everything is open for anyone who wants to participate, of course there should be gatekeepers, but they should operate publicly, not behind closed doors, and not from on high.
I think the ‘crowd’ on WUWT has developed the best set of science available on climate earth, it’s not biased, it’s truth. What science should be. There is an old theory “the wisdom of the crowds”, the many is smarter than a few, which makes clear the best outcome is the one developed with willing knowledgeable people contributing openly.
Somehow, we need to drop the political agenda(s) and start fresh … Seek the truth.

February 24, 2010 7:41 am

Why is the response ‘Call off the dogs’, instead of ‘Let’s sniff out the truth’?

Thomas Hobbes
February 24, 2010 7:41 am

Kudos JC and AW.. nice to see balance and a call for an open and transparent re-assesment of the ‘science’.
Hot Rod, Did not understand your point…’the science is IN’

February 24, 2010 7:42 am

This is a well written discussion of the topic, but leaves out an important point, that being the research money clearly favors the point of view of AGW by billions of dollars. If one is going to discuss historical support of anti AGW Big Oil financing, to be consistent, one must discuss the money from government to fund AGW research. Do you really believe that if a research project requested funding that if the thesis was proven would tend to disprove AGW, that it could obtain funding.
Finally, there is one question I would love to see an answer from an AGW proponent: What, if anything, would disprove that AGW is real.

February 24, 2010 7:42 am

“The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on difficulties of communicating such a complex topic to a relatively uneducated public…”
Yep. Excellent scientific method there. Good people skills too.

February 24, 2010 7:45 am

Judith’s Walloftext hits you for 15,000. Sheesh.

‘No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” ‘
Then you need to make a call to Al Gore, please, and tell him to shut the hell up…

^^ this.

Dana H.
February 24, 2010 7:46 am

From the perspective of scientific truth, it is irrelevant where a researcher’s funding comes from — whether from Big Oil or Big Government or Big NGOs. The only relevant question is: Are the researcher’s data and arguments valid? If this cannot be determined because the researcher does not share the data, does not share the analysis code, or does not answer reasonable criticism, then the reasearcher’s claims have no scientific standing and deserve to be dismissed.

February 24, 2010 7:47 am

Judith, I completely agree except I beg to differ that most of the skeptics are NOT qualified. I can start a very long list of highly qualified scientist… Lindzen, Singer, Pielke apparently 40% meteorologists etc. My deceased father put most of the weather stations up in Bolivia and Paraguay for the WMO and even 10 years ago he thought it was just a tax grab. He would be shocked to find out that Giss is extrapolating Bolivias temps to one location close to Lima Peru. What a farce. BTW I have published myself 27 refereed articles using complex statistics in biology I am not convinced at all. According to my Dada Climate statistics were evn much less significant. However I am open to being convinced. In my view the data which is the most important part does not support. The additional climategate and NCDC, NOAA stuiff really makes it an impossibility. You are a fresh open minded person with which both sides could communicate through.

February 24, 2010 7:47 am

If … IF … this author does not believe that the scientests at the heart of the “crisis of trust” are not held accountable and strongly reprimanded, including job termination and stripping of funding where appropriate, THEN there is no meaning to this essay. I’m all for open debate, but lets clean house first.
The field of science has to be held a higher standard. Not just a higher standard in the nature of discourse or allowance for personality conflicts, but FIRSTLY in not purposely misleading colleagues, peer reviewers, those of different political persuasion, or the public.
As a professor once told my class, “There is no dearth of very intelligent people.” The apologists for the researchers at scrutiny will be that they should be allowed some forgiveness for their lifetime of work, etc. I say no. That is political. Do you think if a skeptic was found to purposely mislead, obstruct, and lead a behind-the-scenes marginalization of those with legitamate data, there would be an leniancy???
So, thanks Judith Curry for gracing the blogosphere, and although it still has the air of superiority and not the appropriate distaste for the recent events at hand, it must be some great thing for you to do.
The crisis in trust of scientists is NOT what is at hand. The PROPER OUTRAGE at behavior and lies of SOME SCIENTISTS is what is at hand. The beginning of the rejection of the argument of catastrophic AGW is what is at hand, and while that may be a crisis for some, it is not for me.
New Jersey, USA.

February 24, 2010 7:49 am

Judith Curry asks: So why do the mainstream climate researchers have such a problem with the climate auditors? She answers: that the earliest critics were paid by the oil indistry and that Steve McIntyre and was characterized as a shill for the oil industry. This apparently justified preventing critics from publishing in scientific journals and blocking them from presenting at conferences. This raises the question: does one’s affiliations justify scientific malfeasance? Even if they were paid for by the oil industry (bad) does this justify a different treatment from other money-making sectors such as the environmental movement? Imagine if such tactics were used (and I am not sure that they are not) based on one’s political affiliations? Science should be blind to such identities. Even if Steve McIntyre were affiliated with the oil industry, his science should be allowed to enter the dialogue (not that there has been a dialogue – it has been one sided shouting until the last three months) and the science taken on its own merits. Furthermore, why do global warmist scientists still continue to accuse skeptics of being paid by the oil industry? I’ve been a skeptic since the mid-1990s, at least, and I am a history professor; most skeptics are independent thinkers with no overarching links to any industry aside from whatever job they happen to hold.
There won’t be any trust in climate scientists until the participating scientists display more regard for that old-fashioned standard in science – ‘truth’ – and stop smearing skeptics with lies and falsehoods about being funded by oil. This smear has occurred in several major news outlets in the past week alone.

February 24, 2010 7:49 am

The holocaust-denier connotation of ‘denier’ seems, to me, an extremely good indication that anyone that persists in slinging that particular insult is both desperate and in the wrong.

February 24, 2010 7:50 am

For a while there I thought I was reading another explanation of PNS….
Well meaning, urgent action, stakes high, outcomes uncertain…..
That said, I think it worth noting that AGW didn’t lose credibility with me because I read studies by sceptical scientists. It lost credibility with me because I read studies by PRO AGW scientists. The more I read, the more holes, misrpresentations and outright lies I found.
The article seems to suggest that everyone is well meaning we just have to understand each other better, communicate better, understand different points of view of different groups discussed at their specific technical levels. Oh wait, we ARE talking PNS again.
When I see a sceptic make a mistake, the heat from other sceptics is often worse than from the warmists. When a warmist makes a mistake the sceptics are barred from being critical on the warmist blog, and the other warmists leap to join the cover up.
Restore public trust? Are you kidding me? Someone short changes me on a $10 transaction at the till three times in a row, and wants to explain it was an accident and discuss it, I might sit down and listen. Someone says they didn’t steal my car (but it turns out they did) says they don’t know what happened to it (but it turns out they sold it) that they lost the money (but it turns out they spent on themselves), that they’ve never stolen a car before (but it turns out they have), that they haven’t stolen another car since (but it turns out they have), that they sent instructions to their friends on how to steal cars, that they and their friends formed a group to convince the police that no cars in the area had been stolen at all so no need to investigate stolen car reports, and that they showed up as a gang in front of the house of the guy who was trying to publish a stolen car report with actual facts and threatened to beat him to death and at the same time informing all his neighbours that he is a homicidal maniac who supports mass murder….and you want me to sit down with that someone and discuss it? Oh, and he needs a lift to the meeting, could he please borrow the keys to one of my cars?
PUHLEASE. The only thing that will restore my trust is the complete and total trashing of the UN IPCC followed by new (and public) data from new (and public) analysis by researchers with no past or present association with the current ring of thieves, bullies and miscreants. To ensure a repeat doesn’t happen, life sentences for those car thieves would be a deterent I could put some faith in.
But none of that will happen, so I’ll count my change at the till more carefully, but engage in trust building with the car thieves? LOL.

February 24, 2010 7:50 am

Clearly Dr. Curry is part of the solution and not part of the problem. For a respected climate scientist to openly state:
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”
…is a huge sign that there is room for science in this debate. I consider myself a skeptic (all scientists should), and I appreciate what “the auditors” (foremost Steve McIntyre) are doing and have done to check the runaway pseudoscience which has come to dominate this field.
I also recognize that there are advocates against AGW who aren’t viewing the issue in an unbiased way, but are simply pushing in the opposite direction as the pro-AGW advocates, regardless of any evidence. As slimy as the label “denier” is (someone please come up with a better term), Dr. Curry’s attempt at drawing a clear distinction between “auditors” and “deniers” is laudable.
Also, please take the paragraph quoted above and send it far and wide. The best way to frame this debate (if you are interested in seeing pure science prevail) is this: Don’t trust anyone who tells you the science is settled. It isn’t, and if they tell you that they are trying to push policy on you.

Peter Miller
February 24, 2010 7:50 am

She seems obsessed with i) the term ‘deniers’, and ii) that sceptics are backed/funded by the oil industry.
No mention of: i) the many ‘facts’ that were taken as being gospel by the climate warmers a few months ago, which have now been shown to be a messy mix of untruths and half truths, and ii) that warmists/alarmists are almost all funded by government agencies, which need the continual generation of scare stories to preserve their funding and comfortable life styles.
The problem she faces is the fact that sceptics are now delving ever more deeply into climate science, daily uncovering more of the morass of untruths and half truths on which much of the warmist/alarmist climate industry is built. This is obviously uncomfortable and she shows it. She seems to find it abhorrent that sceptics dare use real science to prove their side of the argument.
Perhaps most important of all is that she clearly believes we should ‘invest’ trillions in battling a non-problem, which if successful, would: i) beggar the western world economies, and ii) have little or no effect on global temperatures.
She does however seem to reluctantly acknowledge that the warmist/alarmist concept of ‘climate science’ has now become a political agenda for many, without realising the enormous danger this poses.
She is certainly right about the importance of credibility, which the warmist/alarmist cause has been increasingly losing, especially in the last few months.

February 24, 2010 7:51 am

“Efforts are made to “dumb down” the message and to frame the message to respond to issues that are salient to the audience. People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers.”
At what point could the average American, in this internet age, “drill down” to the data, though? If scientists want more public trust, stop treating us like we’re dumb and easily alarmed by dumb information. I think there would be more trust, deserved or not, if people knew they could access all the data and all the models and analyze it for themselves…and I mean ALL the data. The internet is a wonderful delivery system. It’s low cost, even free, for many. There’s no excuse for a U.N. organization (the IPCC) to make all these “alarming” statements, call it science, and then NOT make available ALL the data. Instead we hear, “these are very complex models, you wouldn’t understand. Just trust us.” Yeah. Right.

February 24, 2010 7:51 am

I am not sure what your issue is with this post. It appears to me as a real breakthrough of honest & clear-eyed communication. I am impressed and pleased with this development.
She uses the term “deniers” but she implicitly sets it apart from “skeptics” which she defines in the following, surprisingly flattering lights:
“At the same time, there is a large group of educated and evidence driven people (e.g. the libertarians, people that read the technical skeptic blogs, not to mention policy makers) who want to understand the risk and uncertainties associated with climate change, without being told what kinds of policies they should be supporting.”
Lets face it, there are those out there who “deny” out of pure political blood-lust and pandering: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin are the most public of these. These people are not helping anybody and, as far as I am concerned, should rightfully be called deniers to remove any taint of association from the more science focused skeptics.
Dr. Curry concludes:
No one really believes that “the science is settled” or “the debate is over”.
This appears to me to be another very courageous and laudable entry in the debate from Dr. Curry. The only issue I see with it is that she compares WattsUpWithThat to ClimateProgress.
In my mind Watts stands apart and Climate Progess is more correctly balanced by Climate Depot. In light of the exceptional content of her post this is minor point to me, but perhaps a more personal point to you. I know I’d hate to be compared with Joe Romm.
REPLY: My opinion was formed in behind the scenes emails with Dr. Curry. Hopefully her next piece will get to the issues which most concern skeptics today. – A

February 24, 2010 7:52 am

Dr. Curry’s analysis is comprised mostly of ‘why can’t we all just get along’ platitudes; but is a useful starting point to build a real structure designed to force integrity and trustworthyness upon all individual scientists and researchers using any public funding on a particular study. This process cannot be voluntary. Very strict procedures need to be developed (and policed) regarding the public availability of every raw data item, and all changes made, including production of all programs and codes applicable thereto. This shouldn’t require an FOIA request. These data should be available when any public funding is expended. This may appear cumbersome to many researshers; the choice is ‘don’t use public funds’. Additionally, each research study should show the name and source of every dollar of funding.

February 24, 2010 7:52 am

Feels odd to read an essay like this that doesn’t fire off from start that it’s all about big-oil-conspiracy and pr-war and what not.
However, the one sided stance on the big-oil conspiracy is disheartening. Most of the so called dirty energy companies was brought to heels by the greenies and is now funneling money towards renewable energy, which is quite logic since everyone follows the money to make money. So that’s that. But what about the other end? What makes it ok to include the greenies and their billions upon billions of dollars in a scientific process that otherwise should be neutral and objective? That the green fanatics thinks it’s ok is all but obvious, what with they being irrational people to boot.
What would the greenies do to the IPCC if the IPCC had included a non peer reviewed article in some big-oil mag as a reference about something as apparent wrong as the glacier debacle?
The whole IPCC process and the IPCC version of climate science falls because it’s neither neutral nor objective. It’s riddled with one sided fanatic activism, and guilt by association.

February 24, 2010 7:54 am

Why are people sceptical? You take a bunch of scientists, and given them a subject which is really nothing more than deciding how much the temperature changes in each ten year period and trying to explain what happened, their scientific colleagues allow them to speculate ad nosium on the causes, and then you allow the environmentalists to use this speculation to create propaganda wars, encourage the renewables industry and carbon traders to jump on the bandwagon and try to steamroller policy through to line their purses.
And then you allow these allow these “scientists” to believe they have some god given gift to predict the future … and their scientific colleagues can’t even be bothered to check whether they actually do any real science, like making predictions and testing those predictions against what really happens.
And then you allow the computer geeks, to use fear of global warming to fund their latest high-tech super-computer at the Met Office, whilst there remain weather stations on heated roofs, and in airplane exhausts. Basically massive massive funding where it isn’t needed and bugger all on the ground where it is.
And then you get a scientists flogging every bit of enviornmental research which shows any kind of population change and allow them to speculate as to how that change WAS CAUSED by global warming.
Then you add onto that third world countries who see global warming guilt in the west as a nice money spinner.
Well sooner or later the public get fed up of being treated like gullible idiots and being spoonfed “Weather of Mass Destruction” stories, and they remember the last few mass hysteria evenst: WMD, Birdflu, swineflu, MMR, Millennium bug. And they figure …. it’s snowing today, it sure don’t feel like teh world is burning up, so I guess this is just more hysteria by the press.
Oh … and add to that a fossil fuel industy worried about government intervention on depleting reserves who are all too keen for the environmentalists to be telling everyone: “there is so much oil and gas in the world that it’s actually a problem that there is too much oil and gas … and when we continue burning it will give us some nice warm weather”.
Then add to that lovely mix, the hatred of the left-leaning environmentalists by the SUV loving right and allow real science to be sidelined in the bun fight that follows.
And then create an internet which green groups work out they can manipulate through media like Wikipedia to say anything they want to say and call it science .
And a PC culture in schools and Universtities, and civil service, which allow eco-fascist PC wardens, to force their eco-fascist ideas onto teachers and civil servants in the name of “saving the planet” and make it so they dare not ask simple questions like: “where’t the evidence”.
But if I thought about it, I’m sure I could come up with a longer answer!

Dave Eaton
February 24, 2010 7:54 am

Very good and thoughtful article.
To orient myself to the group: I am a professional scientist, in industry, PhD chemistry. Libertarian bent, skeptical (of sketchy science, and also of public policy, since rational policy based on sound science can still end in tragedy), but interested in the details, and willing to be swayed by them. I’m more in sync with Bjorn Lomberg than James Inhofe, I guess, though I neither support nor discount their arguments, because I don’t know them well enough. I believe the details are important, and find Chris Mooney and anyone who wants to ‘frame’ or ‘dumb down’ science sort of tacky and suspect. The details may need to be explained, and some steps presented schematically, but the public that wants to know, scientific or not, should be addressed as adults.
I have been watching the debate for several years, at RealClimate, ClimateAudit, and here, mainly, with stops all over. The level of discourse is low much of the time, but to the credit of those on the auditing side, the moderators/owners of the blogs seem to be even handed, even when a bit cranky. I cannot say the same for RCs moderators, who are censorious and testy beyond what is necessary to preserve the integrity of their presentation. Nevertheless, I find most of the best on both sides very useful.
This is not my field. I follow the arguments as best I can, and learn the math and look at the data. It takes up a good deal of my time just seeing that what people claim to measure or calculate is in the revealed data, and can be calculated by the stated methods. I am not in the business of trying to provide alternative models- I can’t do it. But with enough data, R, Maple, a couple of stats books, and time, I can generally suss out what is being done. So I look at the details when possible. I think the details matter, and cannot be trusted to anyone in isolation.
Two observations: To the statement by Dr. Curry:”While scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise, climategate has made it clear that expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.” Nor should it be- who has not seen dueling experts in court? Scientific scandals that make headlines are rare, but they do make headlines, so why should merely being part of the guild be reason for trust? This sounds both arrogant and naive, but I suppose it might be part of academic science. In my work, if I want someone to do something based on my data, I not only have to present the data, and show my calculations, I generally have to explain it to people who are ignorant of chemistry and hostile to it because it is not their field. If it is true that scientist persist in thinking their expertise alone makes them worthy of trust, why is that? It sounds kooky to me.
Second: “No one believes the debate is over or the science is settled”? This is startling to hear. I have heard this repeated by scientific colleagues from assistant professors to NAS members, and that audits were a sideshow, probably malevolent, at best. My basic counter is that no one who wants to convince someone else to do or think something hides good data or obfuscates good methods, so if there were no chicanery, there would be no fear of an audit. I apparently am not convincing.
Thanks so much to Dr. Curry for neither treating people asking legitimate skeptical questions as trolls, nor fearing to tread into potentially hostile waters defending her own position without sugar-coating. I wish more academics were so inclined.

February 24, 2010 7:55 am

That was a very reasoned and reasonable essay and I don’t think anyone, other than the extremists on either side could take exception to any of the points made by Dr. Curry. What I particularly appreciated was her understanding that this branch of science has been seized upon by those with political intentions that will affect every single person on earth and so it needs to be as right as possible and for that to happen bright , inquisitive , people will need to be convinced.
It has been a long, frightening, journey for people like me who have long thought we were alone in our skepticism of CAGW but that journey has been made much more positive and rewarding thanks to blogs like this one. That has been possible thanks to the internet but here in Africa only a small proportion of the population has access to this great democratizer.
If the world really wants to help the developing world overcome threats like deforestation then providing money for electrification will be far better spent than lots of little “green” projects. Likewise the hooking up to the web of the population will result in advancing democracy and the ability of the world to tap into the knowledge of our environment here in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa.
The discourse and exchange of ideas, knowledge and opinions that Dr Curry is promoting will ensure that our planet can be a better place for all of us while ensuring economic and political development also happen equitably. Access to opinions and hence options is essential if people are to arrive at outcomes that suit them best.
Openness , accountability and skepticism will be the real salvation of this planet, not group think and a top down philosophy of big brother knows best.
Well spotted Anthony, kudos for carrying all of the points of view that you do.

February 24, 2010 7:55 am

By my count (i.e. by doing a search for the word using my browser’s built-in search facility), the word “deniers” is used twice in the letter – once in quotes, and once in saying “auditors not deniers”. As such, I’m not entirely sure that the criticisms levied against her for using the word “denier” are entirely warranted. The use of quotes in the first instance, by convention, indicates she’s using someone else’s words, and the second instance says that the people she’s talking about are not deniers.
Just my $0.02, but if we want the “forces of warming” to be precise, then we need to be precise as well.

February 24, 2010 7:55 am

Dr. Curry,
Excellent post.
I don’t think the use of the word deniers is so offensive here since she is trying to create a distinction between people with open minds, and people who won’t listen to evidence no matter what.
REPLY: I agree that she doesn’t use it offensively, my point is that she didn’t need to use it at all. -A

Andrew Parker
February 24, 2010 7:55 am

I see it more as an argument between alarmists and skeptics. AGW could be valid and still not be a threat to destroy the planet.
The tipping point was my tipping point into skepticism.

Henry chance
February 24, 2010 7:56 am

Judith. It is kinda late to have “scientists” put on an objective face and act like they are reaching out.
I do not trust you Judith. If you have at any time signed into participating as one of the “all scientists have accepted the fact that global warming and climate change is manmade” nothing has changed.
Today this. I will use an off topic analogy and ask how was Tiger woods coached to beg forgiveness for people he betrayed.
Judith, tell me if I am unfair when I associate you with folks that daily name skeptics as:
Anti Science
bought out by big oil
flat earthers
I have practiced in the field of psychology for a few decades and can see thru the message in your posting.
The tone of your little letter seems to be one of superiority. As if you know more than skeptics that Don’t believe you have proven your hypothesis.
Why were you not honest enough to condem the hindrances to FOIA requests? Where are your messages speaking against ethics violations?
How do you react, Judith when extremists in the CAGW field make simple blunt and absolutely false forcasts and claim their models predict the same? Example is Je Romm working with NOAA and claiming the drought, dustbowl effect in the southwest is permanent.

February 24, 2010 7:57 am

The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC
TRUTH?!? I can think of several more appropriate words: story, case, hypothesis, theory.

February 24, 2010 7:58 am

Reading the comments here I think people are missing the fact the Dr. Curry is trying to play a bridging/mitigating role. She cannot be too hard on either side or it will just be more business as usual us vs them-ism.
I see this entry from Dr. Curry and Revkin’s most recent efforts at Dot Earth to find common ground as very positive steps toward more productive future debate.

February 24, 2010 8:01 am

Everyone knows that sociopaths exist and that they sometimes rise to the top. The folks that caused this scandal appear to act like sociopaths (i.e. they have no concern for others, outcomes, or the truth) as well as their weak-minded dupes. There’s no trusting these people. Rebuilding trust among the sheep and the wolves is a bad idea. I’m not normally one for ad hominem attacks, but, sometimes they are necessary.

February 24, 2010 8:02 am

“This isn’t “deniers” vs. “warmers,” this is about destroying our planet (if AGW is correct,) or destroying our civilization’s economy unnecessarily (if AGW isn’t correct.)”
And it’s not even about that. Or, at least, it’s not a binary situation. I laughed yesterday when I read someone saying that the split regarding AGW among scientists was 90%/10%. In other words, 90% of scientists were full-on AGW believers and 10% were full-on AGW deniers. In the commenter’s mind, that proved there was a consensus and proved AGW was true.
First, I have no idea where he got the 90% number. I think AGW proponents want it to be true and throw that number around like it is true. But more importantly, this radical division into two diametrically opposed camps is meaningless and counterproductive. I’ve read enough comments from enough scientists to know that there is a whole range of opinion out there on this topic, as is to be expected on something so complex and ephemeral. Some are less convinced of one aspect or another than they are of others, while, even if two scientists agree on one aspect, they might differ as to the explanation of its cause. So there are probably as many opinions about this as there are scientists. Even within the CRU emailer group, there were differences of opinion and ranges of extremism.
So, in regards to public trust, Judith Curry is right. Trying to shove everyone into one of two groups is ridiculous and engenders distrust. I know it causes distrust in me when I hear Al Gore trying to shut down debate by doing that. If the people pushing the idea that AGW is a serious issue don’t acknowledge the wide range of legitimately held opinions out there about the meaning of all this, then they have only themselves to blame when millions of people don’t take them seriously.

February 24, 2010 8:03 am

Dr. Curry repeatedly refers to the part that big oil has played, but never once mentions the role that big government has played. Big government has funded the pro-AGW camp far more than big oil has ever funded the skeptics, probably to the tune of a thousand times more. Enough money has been spent in the name of saving the planet from AGW that we could have fed the entire world for generations.

Jan Curtis
February 24, 2010 8:04 am

Scientists should never enter into politics due to the inherent conflict of interest associated with government funding of research. Additionally, there is a misrepresentation by the press and supporters of the IPCC concerning the number of educated people who while actually believe in recent global warming don’t necessarily believe in a mostly human cause (e.g. they question correlation vs. causality). The bottom line is simply that climate change is being used as the poster child for changing the world’s attitude towards the consumption of fossil fuel in an every increasing population. It is easier for governments to invoke changes in behavior for materialism than sexual reproduction.

David Bailey
February 24, 2010 8:07 am

I would not go on too much about the “Denier” badge – just wear it with pride!
She seems to want to bring people like you in from the cold (so to speak!) and I think any attempt to engage ‘deniers’ in debate will create further doubts in the believers. Some of those guys have been steeped in one way of thinking for so many years, it may take time for them to come around.

John B.
February 24, 2010 8:08 am

Judith — A great essay over all. A couple of points:
I am less concerned with the continued use of the term “deniers” than I am with the failure to acknowledge the huge disparity of funding between “alarmists” and “denialists”, with “big government” funding the “alarmists” at a level several orders of magnitude greater than “oil industry” has provided for the “denialists”. (http://www.transworldnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?id=104031&cat=12) It is most naive to believe that 79 billion in US government funding since 1989 has not produced at least some confirmation bias in studies funded to examine the problem of global warming. No problem? No funding!
The statement “They have had to adopt unconventional strategies to fight off what they thought was malicious interference.” would seem defend the bunker mentality revealed in the climategate emails. No “had to” about it. A neutral, objective statement would be that “They adopted unconventional strategies…”
Your essay forthrightly acknowledges a number of problems that the community of climate scientists needs to work on, and I really appreciate the effort to initiate open dialogue.
John B.

February 24, 2010 8:08 am

May our “crowd” be called “Climate Realists”. We’re not “deniers” since the opposition have surreptitiously taken the mantra “Climate Change” and everybody knows that’s what has happened/is happening/will happen, so they’re hijacked the status quo to their own benefit. And everybody that ever though of calling themselves a scientist or even just a thinking man/woman should be “skeptical”, so that term is simply redundant.
Climate Realists demand the real (raw) data; climate realists demand to see what fudges… er…. adjustments are made to this data. Climate realists demand to have an accounting, both legal and scientific, on the $65 billion that’s been spent so far. And climate realists demand to have sober, logical, honest, open, and non-political scientists investigating the climate and weather.
(This climate realist personally believes the coming Ice Age is a much bigger threat than anything their “global warming” hysteria predicts.)
I submit it is the majority of the citizenry of the UK, Europe, Canada, the US, and other interested and industrialized nations that would consider themselves “Climate Realists”. AGWers and their ilk are now in the minority and shrinking fast.
It is the taxpayer’s money that’s being spent; it is their money that’s projected to pay for whatever policies are put in place, and it is their money that will be missing if this current chicanery continues. Payment connotes ownership. (Got that?)
We’re not mere spectators; we’re concerned citizens that have witnessed a science wreck. So please, by all means drop the “denier” and call us “realists”.

February 24, 2010 8:08 am

This really isn’t all that complicated.
If you’re going to “make science” and zealously push policy positions based on that science (which strikes me as something scientists shouldn’t be doing, but maybe I’m naive), you need to make all of your evidence available to anybody who wants it. The raw data; not the “tricked-out” data run through your mystery rubrics.
Going back to my naivete, I thought scientists were simply supposed to follow the science wherever it led, and not work to suppress anything that doesn’t jibe with a desired conclusion. Why do you have “desired conclusions” in the first place?
When we see the amount of money that could change hands over these issues, the way the policies could transform society, and then the scandals of Climategate and in the IPCC AR4, our B.S. detectors go off.
Bottom line: It’s all hot air from “the other side” until I see them cooperating with the likes of McIntyre, sharing data and methods and HOPING he can pick their work apart.

February 24, 2010 8:10 am

MattN (07:24:57) :
‘No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” ‘
Then you need to make a call to Al Gore, please, and tell him to shut the hell up…
Our naive, inexperienced and credulous president believes this fairy tale, as do all of his ridiculous czars and most of congress. Not to mention all of the 20-something Starbucks crowd fresh from liberal academia.
Do something about that, Ms. Curry, before pontificating any further.
‘No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” ‘
That is a flat out LIE!

Richard M
February 24, 2010 8:12 am

Judith, you need to have this discussion with the President, his advisers and the EPA. Until that time you won’t get much support from skeptics. While I agree with much of your analysis, the next step is all that counts.
In addition, I’ll be looking for many peer reviewed papers to be pulled because they do NOT:
… do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints. This is an important responsibility that individual scientists and particularly the institutions need to take very seriously.
This will be a basic requirement if you want to regain trust.
Good luck in your efforts because I’d really, really like to see this happen.

February 24, 2010 8:13 am

Something very basic: If Co2 caused global warming life on earth would have disappeared a long long time ago

Dave L
February 24, 2010 8:16 am

“They are focused on moving the science forward, rather than the janitorial work of record keeping, data archival, etc.”
I work in Big Pharma…..If we want our products approved for the market we have to follow strict GMP rules: we have to pay very close attention to the “janitorial work” as described above, to the satisfaction of any auditor or agency that wants to look at ANYTHING. They can ask to see specific notebook pages, and those pages better have all the proper entries and signatures, and proper protocols are followed or there can be big trouble. And this is a good thing and is designed to protect the patients. We don’t see it as a problem…it’s an important part of our job that helps ensure quality and safety for patients.
But lets get real for a second: the IPCC is trying to change the world’s economy in a major way by reducing CO2….why should they be forced to do “janitorial work” when there’s so much frontier science that needs to be done?????? Give me a break. The more I read from the AGW lunatics the less credibility they have in my eyes. Actually, they have zero credibility now. I’m curious to see if it’s possible to have negative credibility.

Layne Blanchard
February 24, 2010 8:16 am

This article tried to walk a tightrope of observation, fairly neutral in perspective. But stating that the issue is a matter of trust belies the notion that this pseudoscience is factually accurate and scientists merely need to restore that trust. The article states:
“Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life, but many climate researchers lost this somehow by mistakenly thinking that skeptical arguments would diminish the public trust in the message coming from the climate research establishment.”
A more frank observation of the above would be that warming scientists lost sight of science itself. On the forefront of discovery, there is no road map to keep anyone on track. If a scientist loses impartiality, that which appears to be mere adjustments or “corrections” of theory may in fact be the delusions of self projection.
AGW theory went off the rails long ago, near the time of its inception. As scientific observation failed to confirm it, AGW marched on, sinking from speculation into fantasy, and then deception to cover its failings. There is little truth in which to restore trust.
A few folks mentioned Michael Chrichton. I read this recently regarding him and a speech in 2003:
“Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. En-vironmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a re-ligion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a re-sult of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment.”
AGW theory has become part and parcel of this growing Pantheist ideology.

February 24, 2010 8:16 am

Dear Dr Curry,
I am afraid I disagree with most of the key conclusions and recommendations of your text.
Trust is not something that can be repainted, damaged or cleaned, whenever necessary. For rational people, their trust in others is a result of the evaluation of their experience with these others – with their honesty, passion for the truth, ability to resist corruption, will to sacrifice themselves for others, and so on.
The ClimateGate material contains objective information showing that it is unreasonable if not foolish to trust the people from the CRU and several other institutions. Because of pre-existing similarities between the CRU folks and other groups pushing the climate panic, including GISS, Met Office, Hadley etc., it is also reasonable to make a preliminary guess that the key people in most or all these institutions and others lack the scientific integrity – and sometimes basic human decency, too.
You may claim that it hasn’t been proven that other climate scientists have done similar things. And I would agree. In fact, it is likely that many of them have not. But it is pretty unlikely that it is just CRU that is a bad exception. The dishonest behavior is clearly a part of the system. It would be completely foolish to deny the evidence for this proposition that the “Gates” have given us. So as long as people – including yourself – are forming their expectations rationally, they should conclude that it is likely that this kind of behavior has been universal in the field of “climate change”.
I am totally puzzled by your assertions about a “monolithic climate denial machine”. Clearly, this term is meant to invoke negative emotions by 3/4 of its words (monolithic, denial, machine), and the remaining 1/4 (climate) arguably brings negative emotions, too. 😉 However, if you try to think what this term actually means, it means the same thing that there is a pretty much “consensus” among the sane people – I mean climate skeptics – about most of the key questions. It’s not perfect, but it’s analogous to the consensus among the “panic oriented” climate scientists.
If your alarmed colleagues were talking about the alarmists themselves, they would surely talk about the “consensus”. When they talk about the same characteristic of the skeptics, they talk about the “monoliths” and “machines”. This is clearly an irrational propaganda meant to distort the opinions of listeners who are not able or willing to think about these things independently and neutrally. It has worked for years. But don’t expect it will work too well after November 2009.
I find your statement that the people “trusted the 4th IPCC report” very bizarre, too. I have never trusted it and 99% of the people whose methods and knowledge about the topic I respect didn’t trust the IPCC process, either. The IPCC process has always been corrupt, unscientific, ideological, and most of us on WUWT – or at least those who have studied it for many years – have known it for years if not decades. The ClimateGate and other revelations just confirmed what was generally known to everyone who was not hiding his or her head in the sand. It’s great that many other people realized this fact, too. But they surely didn’t discover something that was completely new to everyone.
You overestimate the role of someone’s being unpaid or outside of the Academia etc. It really doesn’t matter. These are technical details. What matters is the method, scientific ethics, and the agreement of the statements with the empirical data. Ross McKitrick is arguably a part of the Academia, after all. And so are many others. And there are a few others who are doing a similar work and who are being paid by various pro-market organizations. They are often not as skillful as the “spontaneously” chosen auditors that do the technical (e.g. statistical) work, but they usually have compatible opinions about the broader picture, and their work is being followed by many people.
If you think that e.g. Marc Morano is still generally dismissed as an oil puppet or whatever by nearly everyone, you’re completely wrong. He actually has lots of visitors – ClimateDepot is a kind of DrudgeReport of the climate. The climate alarm industry has become a big animal and it does require a lot of work – and even some funding – to peacefully liberate the world from this monster. So far, this funding is an extremely good investment. Marc Morano does much more work in making the people aware about the climate issues than hundreds of people paid on the side of the “alarm”, so he surely deserves some salary.
You wrote: “The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on…”
Well, there is a simple fact that can be blamed for the “failure of public (and less so, policy makers – they usually jumped on the bandwagon) to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC”. Who should be blamed for the failure? Simply the fact that the IPCC reports are not the truth. More precisely, there are lots of “small truths” and “approximate truths” that no one would care about and that wouldn’t make the climate science relevant for the policymaking (and most people didn’t bother to read them because they don’t matter). And then there are the “big and catchy” statements that bring all the funding to the IPCC and climate science.
But these big ones are not the truth. It’s that simple. Whatever example you choose, you will see that I am right. Melting glaciers for India China, sinking Netherlands, dying African agriculture, rainforests destroyed by the warmth, and so on, and so on – the regions mentioned in these scandals cover the whole world. Virtually all of the IPCC “big statements” are actually lies, and I am almost convinced that you must know that.
You may put a more human face, such as yours, instead of Michael Mann’s unhuman face as the face of the climate science. But you won’t rebuild the trust in the IPCC if your predetermined plan is to keep all these lies as parts of the IPCC conclusions. One simply can’t trust in the people who end up with conclusions such as “Himalayan glaciers are going to melt soon” because these things are not true. Whoever has followed these “Gates” more properly has not only learned that big mistakes (and misinformation) have been done, but he also learned the right answers which can be obtained from the accessible evidence and that are vastly different than the IPCC report says. Many people have been fooled by this organized misinformation process but I don’t think that there will be too many people who will be fooled twice.
Your plans for “dueling blogs” and “restoration of the trust” are apparently designed to keep the climate science important, and so on. But in that you case, you want to mask the main lesson of all these “Gates”, and the lesson is that if the data are evaluated and communicated honestly, it turns out that there is nothing too interesting happening about the climate, and the science is simply not that interesting. It is one of hundreds of scientific disciplines that are only important to an isolated ring of specialists. It should peacefully scale back from those $2 billion a year to those $200 million a year (in the U.S., to pick a major example) that we knew a decade ago. Anything else is just wrong – or unethical.
In some sense, I find your attitude similar to the 1989 fall-of-communism opinions of the Czechoslovak reformed communists from 1968. Your proposals really don’t solve the “essence” of the problems with the IPCC and the dominant form of the climate science as we’ve known it in the most recent decade. The lack of integrity and the things that destroyed the trust after November 2009 are the same thing that you want people to trust again. It simply can’t work. Climate science has to return where it belongs, among legitimate scientific disciplines without distortions and irrational hype, and when it does so, it will inevitably look similar to what it used to be 20 or more years ago. It will be much more modest, too. It *is* modest and all the propositions that the climate science is more than modest were based on fraud and its political motivation. You can’t preserve these things while solving the “confidence crisis”.
Best wishes

James Chamberlain
February 24, 2010 8:16 am

I feel bad that I have become quite polarized as well. Whenever someone is whole-heartedly sold on AGW and the like, I automatically assume that they have not looked at the data, are emotional, or part of the neo-religious I-want-to-save-the-world movement. I am a scientist and understand most of the points, but I am no longer as open as I used to be (I used to be a believer 2 decades ago when the movement started). Now, after decades of analysis and introspection and general BS detecting, etc., I, now, automatically think “what is wrong with them?” when someone is a believer.
I’m not dumb, I’m not extremely conservative, I have no money to make off of the situation. I’m just saying, both sides getting more polarized takes us know where.

February 24, 2010 8:17 am

John wrote: one must discuss the money from government to fund AGW research.,/em>
The root of the problem. It seems that governments are all trying to prove what will allow them to tax, and give their support to those that provide the best path to levying more taxes.
Agenda research — Naked bias … hypothesis is not truth, it’s only conjecture.

stephen richards
February 24, 2010 8:17 am

I can’t think of a more disgusting way to make me turn away than to call me a denier. Not only does it offend in its origins but it also offends in its inference that a scientist would deny anything. That is to say that as a scientist I am a total failure. THAT DISGUSTS ME.

February 24, 2010 8:18 am

All we need now is Gavin Schmidt making a YouTube video crying, admitting that he’s a fraud too.

Don Keiller
February 24, 2010 8:18 am

It’s even easier to follow the big money trail to climate “believers” and also to the very top of the IPCC.

February 24, 2010 8:18 am

“Big Oil Funding” ??????
Its been shown that funding for the pro-AGW research is several orders of magnitude larger than that of all other funding sources worldwide for skeptical research. I suspect it was also true 5 years ago also. As Mosher said in the CRUTape Letters (I am paraphrasing here…btw) Big Oil can change course and follow the lead horse no matter what that horse represents. So throwing around “Big Oil” as some sort of boogie man to justify pro-AGW misdeeds is misleading imo. Especially, when one accounts for the ultimate funding source behind RC.
This is a typical Curry “overture” with an embedded red herring…just another TITPB, imo. Maybe she thinks she is being objective.

February 24, 2010 8:19 am

I’m at work so I merely skimmed through it during some downtime, but I’m amazed; what I see is a calm, rational argument, made by someone who knows a lot more on the subject than I do, that echoes my own (admittedly uneducated) skepticism.

Steve Schaper
February 24, 2010 8:19 am

I think she should be praised for this. It is a good start. Not perfect – the analysis of the situation prior to 2005 is, I think, incorrect, and the AGW crew (or CRU) are hardly as innocent and well-intentioned as suggested. But it is a good start.
Of course, her article and stance could be a judo move. Praise but verify.

February 24, 2010 8:20 am

I find this post disturbing, for reasons exemplefied by the following statementss:
“Credibility is a combination of expertise and trust.”
“Therefore scientists need to do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.”
“On the other hand, the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda,
are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.”
” Such debate is alive and well in the blogosphere, but few mainstream climate researchers participate in the blogospheric debate. The climate researchers at realclimate.org were the pioneers in this, …”
“And we need to acknowledge the emerging auditing and open source movements in the in the internet-enabled world, and put them to productive use. The openness and democratization of knowledge enabled by the internet can be a tremendous tool for building public understanding of climate science and also trust in climate research.”
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”
They serve to frame the problem as being one of presentation, not substance. Of faulty communication, not faulty science. It reads more like a primer on getting your way, rather than on evaluating the correctness of that way.
Credibility is not merely a matter of expertise and trust. It is a matter of having demonstrated that your assertions are well supported and reliable in both their retrospective analysis and their predictions.
Scientists cannot effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity until they have addressed, quantified, and incorporated same in their work – by some method far more rigorous than the IPCC’s completely subjective five step “we’re pretty sure” to “we’re completely sure” drill.
Noting that ‘climate auditors have no apparent political agenda’ and thus engender trust is true enough as a statement of ‘what is’, but becomes an exercise in cynicism when coupled with statements like ‘no one believes the science is settled’ and ‘for gods sake dont say that or the public wont believe you.’
Some scientists do believe the science is settled and that the debate is over. The problem is not that they say that, but that they believe it without adequate substantiation, and that they act on that belief in ways that corrupt the process to hide that lack of substantiation from themselves and others. Treating this as a commincation problem is suborning propaganda, not improving science.
Finally, ‘putting the open source audit movement to productive use’ is again defined strictly in terms of ‘improving communication and trust’. Missing is the fundamental productive use of any auditing movement – as an audit. Not as another media outlet for your predetermined message, but as an independant check of the truth content of that message. What is described is not the usefulness of a ‘Climate Audit’ for finding error and exposing bias, but rather a ‘RealClimate’ for communicating the ‘propriety’ of hiding the decline.
The fundamental issue here is not that certain scientists dont have the public’s trust, it is that they do not deserve it. And though they might regain that trust through improved ‘communication’, it should be acknowledged that using communication to achieve undeserved trust is illegitimate …

Pizote Sonrisa
February 24, 2010 8:21 am

Credibility and Trust!!
What part of the scientific method are these terms?
Science doesn’t rely on these concepts. Sounds like an effort to get back into the emotion-lotion-feel-good wagon driver’s seat.

Henry chance
February 24, 2010 8:21 am

This post is from

When those who support the AGW position fail to categorically reject the “Al Gores” as spokespersons, fail to categorically reject activist scams, fail to categorically reject the use of unacceptable smears ….then, and only then, will you be able to hope for a restoration of confidence in what you do. You have a long road ahead.
You may know a lot about science. You understand precious little about public perception

It was posted on November 28, 2009 a few days after climategate erupted.
In psychology when behavioral patterns get off track, there are some times call “for an intervention” An Intervention is a strong jolt and eye opener.
Anthony posted the above note from “Kate”
Silence speaks loudly when folks do not speak against error and wrong doing.

February 24, 2010 8:21 am

Wonderful. I really enjoyed this “olive branch.” Seems like one to me at least.
My only criticism is that by mentioning the money of Big Oil and not the billions of dollars by governments and the UN (which has dwarfed corporate spending on this issue), we are left with the implication that skeptics, prior to the blogosphere at least, were bought and paid for, while those at the university level were noble and upright. I’m not naive enough to believe that all those funded by big oil and energy are above reproach, but I’m not naive enough to believe that researchers cannot be swayed by large research grants either. Enough skeptical scientists have come forward, at the peril of their careers, to tell the world that the pressure to support AGW and it’s conclusions within academia and the grant system was appalling. If the trail of corporate money is of relevance, so to is the trail of government money, particularly if it’s so heavily channeled to one side of the debate.

February 24, 2010 8:22 am

@ Jeff (07:51:33) :
“Efforts are made to “dumb down” the message and to frame the message to respond to issues that are salient to the audience. People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers.”
At what point could the average American, in this internet age, “drill down” to the data, though? If scientists want more public trust, stop treating us like we’re dumb and easily alarmed by dumb information. I think there would be more trust, deserved or not, if people knew they could access all the data and all the models and analyze it for themselves…and I mean ALL the data. The internet is a wonderful delivery system. It’s low cost, even free, for many. There’s no excuse for a U.N. organization (the IPCC) to make all these “alarming” statements, call it science, and then NOT make available ALL the data. Instead we hear, “these are very complex models, you wouldn’t understand. Just trust us.” Yeah. Right.”
I agree, Jeff. I for one am so sick and tired of hearing, “You don’t have a PhD; you wouldn’t understand, so I’m not going to bother explaining.” We are not dumb, so please stop treating us as such! The elitism and the disdain for the average citizen is sickening. If that’s what the ivory towers turns you into, I don’t want to be one. I hope I never underestimate the intelligence of someone less educated than myself. Postnomials do not equal common sense, intelligence, and a willingness to learn and self-educate.
Have they ever stopped to think that, if given the chance to understand, most people with any intellectual curiosity would educate themselves? Maybe that’s what they’re afraid of. As people educate themselves, they become more and more skeptical of AGW. And they know it.

February 24, 2010 8:22 am

Having reread my post above, can I just say, that for properly scientifically sceptical person to be called a denier is akin to a jew being called a jid (I hope you know what I mean) – and I wrote it in a very angry mood without bothering to check it.
Whilst I can accept such stupid comments from the idiots one meets on blogs (I am afterall one of them) who say such things to wind people up, for someone to knowingly say this in an essay in which they suggest they want meaningful responses is blatant arrogance – and to be honest, I didn’t think it deserved the courtesy of even the quick glance I gave to her long tomb.

February 24, 2010 8:22 am

Okay, I made it this far (emphasis added):

Of greatest importance is the reduced credibility of the IPCC assessment reports, which are providing the scientific basis for international policies on climate change.

At this point I note the Assessment Reports are compilation pieces that pull together and summarize the scientific research, said research being what is actually the underlying scientific basis. The IPCC does no research on its own, and provides no scientific basis on its own, it merely repackages and presents what originates elsewhere.
And I note the scientific research the IPCC recognizes includes WWF and Greenpeace press releases and boot cleaning manuals.
At this point I shall resume my own research here in central Pennsylvania. Mainly investigating how cold and wet the melting global warming has left the ground I have to deal with now as I do needed work underneath my old 4×4 truck. I am also noting how the trunks of the bare trees at the expanding forest edge must be receiving considerable daytime warming as the melting has proceeded considerably further than just across the lane where there is a bare mowed tree-free field.
And that would be a better use of my time than continuing to read this.

February 24, 2010 8:23 am

Judith… nice try, no cigar!
If you stop using the ‘denier’ label I may give what you say some credence, and stopping the nonsense that us ‘deniers’ are funded hugely would also help.
My peer group – early 70s, professional qualifications, on second or third career, no intention of stopping work ever, interested in what goes on in the world and old/smart/experienced enough to discern b***sh*t from usable garden soil, are ALL deniers to some extent. We find the term a form of abuse used by the AGW proponents whose ever-dwindling grounds for their beliefs are making them increasingly strident in their ad hominem arguments.
And the IPCC have manifestly failed to use truths given to them by scientists but betrayed universal trust by using incredibly untruthful advocacy and scare tactics instead.

February 24, 2010 8:25 am

Dr. Judith Curry:
I thank you for your guest post.
You are right, “Climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.”
Climategate has exposed decades of deceit and data manipulation in our most trusted research institutions and science journals.
Deceit that flowed “top-down” with research funds and ultimately destroyed the very foundations of astronomy, astrophysics, climatology, cosmology, nuclear, particle and solar physics by ignoring unpopular experimental data:
01. The lightest element is Hydrogen (H), element #1. Helium (He) is the next lightest one, element #2. The top of the solar atmosphere is 91% H and 9% He. These same lightweight elements cover the surfaces of most stars. Solar mass fractionation is experimentally observed across isotopes (3 to 136 atomic mass units) in the solar wind and across s-products (25 to 207 amu) in the photosphere.
02. The Sun discards 50,000 billion metric ton of H each year in the solar wind. If the Standard Solar Model (SSM) correctly described Earth’s heat source, then the Sun discards its own fuel!
03. Gravity is a nuclear force; Atomic mass is mostly in the nucleus.
04. Neutron repulsion is indicated in every nucleus at Z/A = 0 from nuclear rest mass data plotted against charge density, Z/A. Neutron-emission from the solar core, followed by neutron-decay, is almost certainly the source of solar luminosity and solar-wind H that pours from the surface of the Sun and other stars to fill interstellar space.
Instead of addressing these basic problems, NAS has apparently directed NASA to use public funds to deceive the public with this brand new, slick, and persuasive propaganda sheet:
“New NASA Web Page Sheds Light on Science of Warming World” at:
These are a few of the issues that must be addressed if trust is to be restored in our government and our research institutions.
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Emeritus Professor
Nuclear & Space Science
Former NASA PI for Apollo

February 24, 2010 8:25 am

The term “denier” is a blanket, mind-deadening label whose only application is to slander those not caught up in a global panic over rising temperatures. I don’t deny that some warming has occured since the 1800’s. I do deny that given the present state of climate science (infancy) that the conclusion or certainty that a disaster is likely to occur is close to being credible. I do deny that the rate of warming we have been experiencing in the past 30 years is unprecedented in the last 1000 years. I do deny that only the interests of science is behind the CAGW scare (other: monetary, government power, eco-religion). I do deny that the positive effects of a warming world have been objectively compared to the positive effects of no temp change or to a cooling world — and this can be applied to the negative effects as well. I do deny that the panic that some genuinely feel about the planet’s destiny is based purely upon science and not on faddish, groupthink, blind emotionalism. I do deny that the stance of skeptics is mostly based upon some connection to Big Oil or Big Energy. I do deny that applying the Precautionary Principle is useful in this situation considering the vast damage to humanity (loss of life, loss of health) that wasting trillions of dollars to try to stop the warming would cause – versus targeting specific areas of concern as if the warming was significant but natural. I deny that most politicians and policy makes have a clue as to what they are talking about concerning climate science — and this includes Al Gore. And finally I deny that my list of denials is complete.

February 24, 2010 8:25 am

“…we saw the birth of what some have called a “monolithic climate denial machine”. Skeptical research published by academics provided fodder for the think tanks and advocacy groups, which were fed by money provided by the oil industry. This was all amplified by talk radio and cable news…”
Dear Dr. Curry,
I had to stop reading at the above comment, and reply to your obvious and intentional misdirection of your readers. If you have actually read the CRU letters, you would be aware that “Big Energy” has invested its money, buying and specifically supporting the research conducted by the global warming advocates like yourself.
In fact, this claim of yours above is designed to try and make climate change skeptics into some kind of paid advocacy for big oil when in fact it was the very scientist at CRU and other campus’s who sold their research for salaries.
I quote the CRU website that is posted today.
“Since its inception in 1972 until 1994, the only scientist who had a guaranteed salary from ENV/UEA funding was the Director. Every other research scientist relied on ‘soft money’ – grants and contracts – to continue his or her work. Since 1994, the situation has improved and now three of the senior staff are fully funded by ENV/UEA and two others have part of their salaries paid. The fact that CRU has and has had a number of long-standing research staff is testimony to the quality and relevance of our work. Such longevity in a research centre, dependent principally on soft money, in the UK university system is probably unprecedented. The number of CRU research staff as of the end of July 2007 is 15 (including those fully funded by ENV/UEA).”
If you were to go to the CRU website, and look at who helped fund it and support it, you would find the following oil companies. British Petroleum, Shell, Sultan of Oman, to name a few.
I submit to you, ma’am, that the Climate researchers who were supported by big oil were in fact the scientists who needed donations for their own salaries. It was the climate change researchers who needed Big Oil money to fund their research labs (CRU, Tyndall Centre).
In the CRU letters released, there is example after example, of Big Oil working with or even directing the expected research comments. I give you this example for context. A Shell representative, requesting research be presented in a specific format.
Date: 08 May 1998 10:50:50 +0100
Find below guidelines on how to present the IS99 storylines and scenarios. Could you the nominated authors send me your first drafts as soon as possible.
In writing up your contribution could you cover the following areas, ideally structured as follows:
1. Scenario family narrative to discuss main themes, dynamics and a diagram showing ‘grand logic’
2. Key Scenario Family Drivers and their Relationships
Topics you should cover include the following:
* population
* technology developments
* governance and geopolitics
* economic development
* equity
* communication and settlement patterns
* environmental concerns/ecological resilience
3. Scenarios, include reasons for branches: this section should state clearly the reasons behind selection of scenarios and review the key highlights of the scenario quantification
* energy resources/technology, include resource availability
* land use and agriculture
* scenario quantification, include snowflake
* CO2 emissions
There may be other factors you wish to add to the paper.
Ged Davis SI-PXG Tel: 0171-934 3226 Fax: 0171-934 7406
Shell International Limited, London
Scenario Processes and Applications
or this example, http://eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=156&filename=947541692.txt
From: Mike Hulme
To: Simon.Shackley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
Subject: Re: industrial and commercial contacts
Date: Mon Jan 10 17:01:32 2000
I have talked with Tim O’Riordan and others here today and Tim has a wealth of contacts he is prepared to help with. Four specific ones from Tim are:
– Charlotte Grezo, BP Fuel Options (possibly on the Assessment Panel. She is also on the ESRC Research Priorities Board), but someone Tim can easily talk with. There are others in BP Tim knows too.
– Richard Sykes, Head of Environment Division at Shell International
– Chris Laing, Managing Director, Laing Construction (also maybe someone at Bovis)
– ??, someone high-up in Unilever whose name escapes me.
And then Simon Gerrard here in our Risk Unit suggested the following personal contacts:
– ??, someone senior at AMEC Engineering in Yarmouth (involved with North Sea industry and wind energy)
– Richard Powell, Director of the East of England Development Board
You can add these to your list and I can ensure that Tim and Simon feed the right material through once finalised.
I will phone tomorrow re. the texts.
At 20:30 07/01/00 BST, you wrote:
>dear colleagues
>re: List of Industrial and Commercial Contacts to Elicit Support
>from for the Tyndall Centre
>This is the list so far. Our contact person is given in brackets
>afterwards. There is some discussion on whether we
>should restict ourselves to board level contacts – hence Dlugolecki
>is not board level but highly knowledgeable about climate change.
>I think people such as that, who are well known for their climate
>change interests, are worth writing to for support. There may be
>less value in writing to lesser known personnel at a non-board level.
>SPRU has offered to elicit support from their energy programme
>sponsors which will help beef things up. (Frans: is the Alsthom
>contact the same as Nick Jenkin’s below? Also, do you have a BP
>Amoco contact? The name I’ve come up with is Paul Rutter, chief
>engineer, but he is not a personal contact]
>We could probably do with some more names from the financial sector.
>Does anyone know any investment bankers?
>Please send additional names as quickly as possible so we can
>finalise the list.
>I am sending a draft of the generic version of the letter eliciting
>support and the 2 page summary to Mike to look over. Then this can be
>used as a basis for letter writing by the Tyndall contact (the person
>in brackets).
>Mr Alan Wood CEO Siemens plc [Nick Jenkins]
>Mr Mike Hughes CE Midlands Electricity (Visiting Prof at UMIST) [Nick
>Mr Keith Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Esso UK (John
>Mr Brian Duckworth, Managing Director, Severn-Trent Water
>[Mike Hulme]
>Dr Jeremy Leggett, Director, Solar Century [Mike Hulme]
>Mr Brian Ford, Director of Quality, United Utilities plc [Simon
>Dr Andrew Dlugolecki, CGU [Jean Palutikof]
>Dr Ted Ellis, VP Building Products, Pilkington plc [Simon Shackley]
>Mr Mervyn Pedalty, CEO, Cooperative Bank plc [Simon Shackley]
>Mr John Loughhead, Technology Director ALSTOM [Nick Jenkins]
>Mr Edward Hyams, Managing Director Eastern Generation [Nick
>Dr David Parry, Director Power Technology Centre, Powergen
>[Nick Jenkins]
>Mike Townsend, Director, The Woodland Trust [Melvin
>Mr Paul Rutter, BP Amoco [via Terry Lazenby, UMIST]
>With kind regards
>Simon Shackley
To summarize, I submit, that it was the seeking of “soft money” on behalf of scientists at the CRU and other locations, specifically scientists who stayed in academy and sold their research for salaries via soft money, that has destroyed societies trust in scientist like yourself.
I await your reply,
Jack H Barnes Jr.

Steve Schaper
February 24, 2010 8:26 am

Condemning the hidden thoughts of people you don’t happen to like such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin is just as bad as what the people over at Climateprogress and realclimate do.
In general, please understand that if Dr. Curry is being honest, rather than tactical, this is a HUGE effort and change on her part, psychologically. By no means is it easy. Give her slack, ok? IF it turns out to be an Alinskayan move, THEN she deserves criticism. But all we know at present is that she has taken a tremendous risk to her reputation and career just to say what she has. That takes tremendous psychological courage.

February 24, 2010 8:27 am

Dear Dr Curry
There is a major problem with the idea of rebuilding trust, it is not as if there has been some terrible misunderstanding on both sides. The reality is that is was the self named climate scientists that broke the trust.
Some quotes from the emails ” you guys are doing great things for the cause” “Don’t worry if its 600 scientists if its 1500 or 2000 the press aren’t going to check.”
In order to rebuild trust the party that breaks the trust must accept their wrong and then the other party may be willing to rebuild the trust.
I think the problem is that the behaviour both scientific, campaigning and other shenanigans make the position of the self named climate scientists untenable.
If we take an example, a professional who acts unprofessionally sometimes, subject to how serious the misdemeanor may be allowed to continue practicing, the Client he has failed however will not trust him again.
Finally if CRU want to rebuild trust then all they have to do is ask all the countries who provided the original unadjusted temperature data to resend it and also initiate a fully independant inquiry?

February 24, 2010 8:28 am

I wonder if she submitted this to realclimate. I’m sure they would be more than happy to publish it.
REPLY: Gavin was on the distribution list, we’ll see what he does with it. – Anthony

February 24, 2010 8:29 am

I could be wrong but Dr. Currie seems to imply that there are no scientists, PHD’s, academia, who are “deniers and sceptics”, that they wouldn’t lower themselves.
Like I have read elsewhere, who is the “denier” now.

February 24, 2010 8:32 am

Here’s Curry on a public affairs program, May 6, 2007:
My first impression of her blog entry here (as a lowly resident and tax payer of Georgia who pays her salary): CYA…unclean hands…rebuilding trust? Are you effing kidding me???

Mr Lynn
February 24, 2010 8:34 am

In the thread discussing the quickie ‘debate’ between Joe Bastardi and Bill Nye on O’Reilly’s TV show, a commenter called Pouncer draws an apt comparison between the widespread idea, among the astronomical community in the late 19th century, that Mars had canals (perhaps built by an extraterrestrial civilization), and the current obsession with ‘climate change’ (née anthropogenic ‘global warming’):
Pouncer (15:50:18) :
The history of science is full of such erroneous ideas (one hesitates to call them ‘illusions’, or worse, ‘delusions’), but it is in the nature of the scientific enterprise that they are eventually undermined by the continuing quest for new facts and better theories.
The difference is that no one in positions of power back then thought twice about turning the world’s resources to voyaging to Mars to forestall a possible threat to human civilization from the canal-building denizens of the Red Planet (not even after the later [1938] radio adaptation by Orson Welles of “The War of the Worlds,” which led to a brief but considerable panic amongst those who heard it).
Today, however, we have a worldwide movement of erstwhile scientists, politicians, environmental ‘activists’, academics, and financial wheeler-dealers who are determined to exploit apocalyptic fears of entirely hypothetical (and not even remotely plausible) man-made ‘global warming’, who want to devote a huge portion of the world’s resources toward stopping this shibboleth. Of course all of the leaders and fellow travelers in this movement (which displays all the characteristics of Pacific Island ‘cargo cults’) have ulterior motives which reinforce their zeal, ranging from convictions they are ‘saving the planet’ to simple avarice (the lure of ‘carbon trading’) to job security (the academics, particularly), to Marxist millenarianism.
The rise of the skeptical blogs is a direct and welcome response of the growing power and influence of this movement, and an essential corrective to its manifest excesses, and the great danger it poses to human civilization and progress. These issues go way beyond ‘Climategate’ and the integrity (or lack of it) of the scientists who have promulgated the ‘global warming’ mythos. As has been often pointed out, if the topic were fruit-fly research, the dispute would have been relegated to obscure corners of science journals and unknown blogs.
Why is “the credibility of climate research” important? Because, incredibly, it has been used as an excuse to turn the history of the world in a strange and suicidal direction, at the behest of ideologues and fanatics. And the climate researchers have become its most fervent cheerleaders. This is no innocent speculation about Martian canals; it is at bottom a betrayal of all that science stands for, and it ought not to be tolerated, not even for a minute.
/Mr Lynn

February 24, 2010 8:34 am

I do so wish that Judith had also mentioned the incredibly suspicious problem of NASA/GISS slashing the number of actual reporting thermometers that they are using for their official dataset from over 6,000 to under 1500, (and lower). The scientific inanity of minimizing data input is almost beyond belief.
And Judith could also have touched on how NASA/GISS maximizes the totally artificial machinations, that they call homogenization, of those carefully cherry-picked datasets to fill in the voids left by the elimination of the vast majority of the reporting thermometer stations with far warmer guesstimates of what their temperatures actually are. Notably these voids fall in very cold places like the Yukon and the North-West Territories and the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and the entire high altitude country of Bolivia.
Judith could also have reported on some of the individual adjustments being made, (supposedly to correct for station movement and UHI), such as those incredibly biased and now blogosphere-famous places in rural New Zealand, in Darwin Australia and in Alaska near Anchorage, with their carefully timed step-decreases and step-increases to the raw data that maximize the site’s heating signatures.
Judith could also have mentioned the wealth of available data from the ARGO buoys that the AGW alarmists have been zealously avoiding or when being used it’s carefully “correlated” and “calibrated” to the already suspect datasets.
Until all of the cherry-picking ends, and until all of the pertinent and available data is being used, divergent or not, and until artificially machinated built-in biases are totally eliminated from the datasets, trust will be absolutely impossible to come by.

nick myerscough
February 24, 2010 8:39 am

Anthony. hats off to you for allowing this essay on your site
I guess there are many of us who can follow the logic of CO2 driven warming but are uncertain of the severity or consequences. I don’t believe the climate scientists know either and a more honest discussion of the risks and benefits is welcome.

February 24, 2010 8:40 am

These kind of pseudo-repentance articles are boring. They are written from second-hand people obviously trying to limit damages, but carry not surprisingly the same disgusting message coming from the usual AGW crowd defending its meat. One cannot wait for such persons to question their beliefs. It is despicable behavior from so-called scientist.

February 24, 2010 8:40 am

There have been past instances of confrontation between “believers” and “scientists”……
Faith (in AGW) if backed by open and reproducible results and analysis would no longer be faith, it would be science and the two sides would automatically become one.
It is about time that the null hypothesis “CO2 causes the major portion of climate change” was tested and then verified, scientifically, to at least 90% confidence limits (where the AGW position would start to look valid).
Without a real scientific approach, this whole mess is just modelling exercises that generate suppositions and alterations to an agenda-driven ideal.
As a professional chemist, I am disappointed by the intransigence of the AGW proponents as much as for the lack of tangible and meaningful results to debate and discuss. Science is about knowing and not about believing. For that we need facts and forecasts and not innuendo and invective.

February 24, 2010 8:42 am

Reacting with distrust when a lot of lies and exaggerations are revealed isn’t strange, and it isn’t a communication problem either. It is simply the most reasonable way to react. (I enjoyed the “car thief story” above!)
As a scientist, I am amazed by the complete slaughter of the scientific method by some of the “top” climate researchers, and by their extremely unscientific behaviour.
Trusting this kind of people is madness.
I do appreciate Dr. Curry’s essay though, and think it shows braveness and a willingness to try to set the science straight again. You are absolutely right that it is important to “communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity”. The “science is settled” claim ought to make everybody who has a bit of scientific training suspicious!

February 24, 2010 8:42 am

Kudos to the lady for trying, but she has a long way to go yet. I don’t think she realizes just how hardcore the CAGW bunch really is.

February 24, 2010 8:43 am

The reality is we had individuals called scientist manipulating data, using tricks, manipulating the peer review process, planning how to circumvent the FOIA, refusing to release data for independent confirmation, talking of destroying data, attempting to ignore then deamonize all who disagree.
But what is worse it was helped by those in academia and the professional journals who sat by silently. Or worse, tried to minimize this unscientific behavior and tried to prop up fraud.
For now I appreciate Dr Curry acknowledging the science isn’t over. And will hope her intentions are honest. But after reading her letter. For me. It’s hard to take her serious.

Stephen Parrish
February 24, 2010 8:44 am

I have little patience for a Professor with lips clamped to the state teet speaking of “oil influence” and deniers.

February 24, 2010 8:44 am

A coupla comments. First, we are in an interglacial period and we should expect the globe to be warming. Second, if we are to believe historical records it has been much warmer in the fairly recent past..vide the Viking settlements in Greenland and on the North American coast. Third, the distinction between “warming” per se and AGW seems to have been lost. The UEA explanation that AGW is what is left over after the “warming” they can otherwise account for is sloppy science. And fourth, any time government gets involved in policy-making science, policy governs and science is a bastard child…vide the instructions that the IPCC group give a push to policy.
Dr. Curry tries to assess the problem from an inside perspective. To me, the problem is more basic: the science is pretty thin, the policy is vigorous.

February 24, 2010 8:44 am

There still seems to be a belief here that the core reason for existence of AGW skepticism was driven by a “monolithic climate denial machine”. I don’t doubt that there is some influence there, but in all my years of following this, I’ve only seen referenced some $19 million or something paid by Exxon to dispute AGW.
Meanwhile, the “monolithic climate ALARMIST machine” has been funded by endless billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars, hundreds of environmental advocacy groups, both global and local in scale, an unquestioning media, several major Hollywood movies (including Gore’s), and on and on.
And yet somehow, the corrupt, poorly executed science has been exposed. Congrats to you Anthony for helping to expose it.
With all due respect Ms. Curry – I’m sure you are a good and decent person – but shame on you for continuing to perpetrate the myth that climate skepticism has its roots in the deep pockets of Exxon-Mobil. Instead, the skepticism is largely a grassroots rejection of: the long suspected (and now verified) perversion of the scientific method; demonstrably unscrupulous research journals; speculative and scientifically unsound climate models; and suppression of honest science by those who make their living by promoting inflated claims of pending disaster and scientific certainty.
Scientific method is evidence-based. Your evidence for the supposed roots of this movement are thin, and the now exposed evidence of instead – a monolithic climate alarmist machine – are simply undeniable.
Regardless, you are to be commended for attempting to further the dialog on the subject on forums like WUWT. The scientific community has a long way to go in regaining the trust of the public on this subject, and you are at least attempting to take some steps in the right direction.

February 24, 2010 8:45 am

The first sign that the terrorists have run out of ammunition is their sudden offer of a cease fire and to negotiate. The second sign is their insistance on a mediator with a known bias to their position. The third is bringing to the table a list of issues predicated on the assumption that they have done nothing wrong and are the agrieved party.
The first sign that they have new ammunition is the sudden end of negotiations.
How many rounds must we go before someone shouts Hey! Its a trick!
And lest someone be critical of me for using terrorists in the way others use denier…global warming catastrophe, mass starvation, entire countries drowning, storms that will kill millions, and all the fault of people who work hard and who must now fix it by giving all their money to those who don’t. This isn’t terrorism? This isn’t extortion?
I don’t “negotiate” and “understanding” with the likes of these while behind the scenes they are just collecting more ammunition.
OK, temper settling down again…starting to breath again…

February 24, 2010 8:45 am

Dr Curry,
“They are described as fighting a valiant war to keep misinformation from the public that is being pushed by skeptics with links to the oil industry.”
There is no current cost effective alternative to Oil as a transportation fuel.
Exxon Mobil still makes it’s 10 cents a gallon at the pump whether they are selling ethanol or gasoline.
So whenever I hear someone talking about some conspiracy involving oil companies I just automatically dismiss them as crackpots.
Big Coal does have a lot to lose in the Climate Debates as Does Big Steel.
Of course being against coal miners and steel workers is politically difficult, so the ‘Evil’ Oil companies get propped up by the crackpot scientists as the ‘villain’.

February 24, 2010 8:47 am

Is there any evidence that “big oil” has EVER funded anything that was/is not solid science leading to workable results? I mean, these people are successful businessmen (too successful apparently for some to swallow), and they would need good research and engineering to keep this up for many decades, wouldn’t they?
To me, whining about “big oil” is the same kind of argument you hear from esoteric “alternative medicine” exponents to explain away the fact that their useless therapies are not preferred to established medical practice by the general public.

February 24, 2010 8:47 am

Sincere apologies – I should have used Dr. Curry in my response, not Ms. Curry.

hotrod ( Larry L )
February 24, 2010 8:47 am

I applaud the effort Dr Curry has made here to open the door a crack.
I think she is correct in some issues, although underestimates how in a minority she is with regard to the perception of there being “settled science”. I imagine that there are a few who fit her description in climate science of :

No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.

Those who actually feel that way have a very small window of time to make that clear to the public at large and to take a stand. Those who try to dance around this issue will be assumed to fall into the “no debate needed” category and will shoulder that burden through out the rest of their professional life.
Unfortunately just a brief reading of some of the major pro-AGW blogs makes it very clear, that there is a very large block of the public and many well educated people that should know better, fully and absolutely without qualification believe the debate is over. The believe this as certainly as some believe the 10 commandments and other primary religious texts are the definitive word of a supreme being.
For that cadre of the public, body politic, and scientific – educated there is in fact no debate possible. Their minds are totally closed to the possibility that they are wrong, misinterpreting facts as they know them, or that some are intentionally manipulating the data, “science” (and I use that term in its most casual sense), for cynical and ulterior motives.
Many of us who post to this blog have personally faced people who were so sure of that assertion, that they were red faced screaming at the top of their lungs lunatics ready to commit physical violence to defend that position.
That is not a figure of speech but a very real state of mind for a good number of the public. It is literally bordering on the sort of physical intimidation that could easily transition into physical violence. It is truly scary to experience.
This is the sort of mind set that burned witches at the stake for conjuring up weather during the little ice age, and drove the inquisition to commit horrifying acts of officially sanctioned violence.
All because a few academics would not speak the truth and intentionally manipulated data.
There is a very large number of people in this country who have been so thoroughly influenced (some would say brain washed), by media coverage such as Al Gores movie An Inconvenient Truth that they are simply beyond communication. They will not even tolerate open discussion of the possibility that the sea will not rise and flood major cities in their life time.
As many others on this board have related I have lost friends due to simply trying to discuss the topic.
I do think you have hit on a very important issue, that there are multiple classes of people who oppose or question AGW. Each with different drives and motivations.
Certainly there are some who are driven by profit motive and personal self interest. That is part of the human condition. Any time you have any event that drives major change and flow of large amounts of money some will take advantage of that situation and try to skim the cream off for themselves or cynically try to manipulate the game for their self interest and profit.
There are however a good number of people who you identify as the climate auditor class, who’s driving motivation is truth and quality of the science. They do not much care what the answer is they just want a trust worthy answer that will stand up to in depth analysis and audit of process and methods that arrived at the conclusion.
I like your turn of phrase when you mention the “climate auditors”, although since the debate here properly includes other issues besides just the area of climate science but also the broader world of public policy, perhaps we should define a term for all the groups in the the blogosphere that act as fact checkers and auditors for all sorts of public policy, be they tax plans, fiscal policy, climate science and policy, etc. etc.
I believe you are correct that the blogosphere has enabled and allowed the development of a whole cadre of open source audit and fact checking of all areas of public debate. Like you say people in public positions of trust ignore this new feature of a wired world at considerable peril to their professional reputation.
Unfortunately I think some in the public debate of AGW have tarnished the image and professional status of some so severely that they will forever carry a “scarlet letter” branding them as abusers of the public trust, and in the mind of many they will always be considered charlatans and snake oil salesmen and will never be trusted again in any substantive issue or debate.
Thank you for pushing the door open a bit!

February 24, 2010 8:49 am

vigilantfish (07:35:04) :
Dr. Judith Curry:
Strongly recommend that you read Jerome Ravetz’s post from yesterday at WUWT and read and digest all of the responses. It might help you understand your own discipline better.

Do that, Dr.Judith Curry, it’s really a good advice. We are not gods of any kind who could carelessly play with the lives of people or irresponsably think we can even alter nature, that’s presumptuous and utterly silly, however we will harm ourselves, our neighbours, our children and future generations if we allucinate we are such gods or goddesses, while we will be instead fulfilling the wishes, desires and dreams of people we do not know, who are always behind the scenes and who will be the only beneficiaries of such eventual decisions.

February 24, 2010 8:49 am

REPLY: I agree that she doesn’t use it offensively, my point is that she didn’t need to use it at all. -A
But as gcb at 7:55:43 pointed out, she used the term exactly twice: once in quotes to refer to what someone else says, and once to distinguish “auditors” from deniers. She uses the term specifically to show how it is misused.
As is clear from the comments of michel 07:31:14, stephen richards at 8:17:35, IsoTherm at 8:22:39, andAlexander 8:23:03, your comments before Dr. Curry’s post left the impression that she’s calling climate skeptics “deniers,” which, again she is not doing.
I wish you’d consider rewriting the Foreword.
REPLY: I wish she’d consider saying “the term deniers is distasteful and counterproductive, we need to drop it from the discussion” Then I wouldn’t need a foreword to address my issue with it. Bear in mind, she sent out a copy for review in days prior. – A

February 24, 2010 8:50 am

Sorry, Ms. Curry, you have completely missed the points that motivate and form the beliefs of most sceptics I know. We are not ill-informed, uneducated people. We may not be climate scientists–I suspect the number of people who fit into that category is pretty small anyway–but we are intelligent people who have science and technical backgrounds and can understand the finer points of less settled science.
We are smart enough to know that measurements come with error ranges, that temperature measuring sites have moved, that land use changes have happened, etc. etc. etc. and all these things affect the temperature databases. We are smart enough to understand how and why data sets might be manipulated and adjusted. We are smart enough to know that comparing historical data sets to current data sets is not done smoothly and easily. We are smart enough to know that reliable data over a broad part of the earth is only a luxury of the late 20th century. In other words, we are smart enough to know that the data cannot support the absolute certainty we have been fed.
When you are ready to call the New York Times and tell them that the science is not settled and no reputable scientist would say it is, let me know.

February 24, 2010 8:50 am

Dr. Curry makes some excellent points, but mostly within the context of how it academic community feels about the recent increase outside scrutiny. Nobody likes being audited, but if you are advocating policies that would essentially tax breathing, you should expect us to want to take a look at your books — especially since, in most cases, we paid for this research with our tax dollars.
But her analysis is heavy on feelings and light on data. It would be helpful to compare the amount of money spent on studying global warming with the amount spent by the oil companies funding direct research into anti-AGW theories. Also, how does the AGW paradigm affect the funding of science? If one’s livelihood depends on AGW existing, then evidence to the contrary would tend to become the real inconvenient truth.
It would also be helpful to begin the story years earlier and see how many of the same institutions (and people!) had been on the “new ice age” bandwagon back in 70s, before making an abrupt switch in the 80s.
However, it does show hope for a civilized discussion of how best determine possible future climate based on open sources, transparency and rigorous data archiving standards — as least as soon as they stop using the term “deniers” in all of its various iterations. Unless those who support the concept of AGW want to be referred to as “Inconvenient Truthers”…

February 24, 2010 8:51 am

Dr Curry
A nicely written and interesting piece and you are to be congratulated for coming into the ‘enemy’ camp. Sorry to use that word, but that is how we are seen. It really would help your cause a great deal if you dropped this ‘denier’ tag, it simply doesn’t fit and many of us find it offensive because of the obvious connotations.
Early on in your post you said;
“Several individuals have developed substantial expertise in aspects of climate science, although they mainly audit rather than produce original scientific research.”
I have written a number of original articles (as have others here), to do proper justice to them-I write about climate history-it really would be nice to spend three months on each one in order to carry out the original research and cross referencing that is needed.
Time equals money (and many papers are behind paywalls) so there is only a certain amount I can do with my limited resources. Alas! Big Oil has yet to make me an offer of funding. Let’s be realistic and admit it would be simply impossible for me to find conventional sources of funding because I am disproving the notion of ‘unprecedented’ climate change, not supporting it.
If you believe in a level playing field how about pointing sceptics in the direction of funding for original research, then we wouldn’t need to audit what has gone before would we?
Once again thank you for your contribution and do please drop this silly ‘deniers’ tag.

February 24, 2010 8:51 am

Interesting post, I am unsure if the post was intended as a mea culpa for the climate change industry , a request to sit down and talk or a backhanded slap on the why do you not understand what we are doing variety .
The issue is entirly of trust, do we trust the scientists ,politician and activists involved in the climate chjange industry, and yes it as much an industry as Exon or PetroCanada is.
The original issue is ,Are the temperature changes / climate changes we have experianced over the last century and a half or so caused by human actions?
First the climate constantly changes weather and climate have been around since atmosphere, any record of climate change that we ( humans) can develope will be an inconsequentially small part of the total record. As such it is very dangerous to be formulating a thesis that predicts future actions of a multi billion year subject based on a record of less than 2 millenia.
Second we don’t know all the factors that affect the climate. Any description of climate change and future prognostications without knowing what actually causes the changes is iffy at best.
Now to the science , the temperature records based on tree rings, soil cores corral are an impressive achievement on their own , if they are correct, and there in lies the rub. Because the original data and the methods of correcting it for use are seriously obscured by the actions of the scientists concerned we just don’t know if it or by extension the scientists themselves can be trusted.
The tree ring work if correct is awesom work, if it had been me who produced it I would have published everything found myself the biggest mountain top I could find stood on top and declared
This Is What I Have Done.
Here is how I did it prove me wrong.
Unfortunatley the people concerned laid a political/personal agenda on top of everything . As a result we don’t know what we we don’t know that is a bad starting point to destroy the North American economy.
The science is complicated the computer models are intricate and yes most people don’t know how to determine the worth of either. This is the point where the scientist should be able to step up and say, I have looked at these things and yes they do actually make sense.
That ability has been lost for the present, there needs to be a totally open reconstruction of all the data , methods, computer codes and models that were developed . By totally open I do mean totally open the internet would be a good place to start, start putting the raw data and the conversion methods on line let everybody have a whack at them and post the results. Have somebody who is totally above reproach from either side and a small staff referee , again totally open .
Once the results are available and justified by people who can be trusted the trust for the scientific community will start to rebuild. I am however affraid that the days of just following the scientists word is over.

February 24, 2010 8:52 am

“The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on difficulties of communicating such a complex topic to a relatively uneducated public…”
Right, we non scientists are too stupid to read a temperature gauge or understand manipulation of data, smoothing, cherry picking, foregone conclusions in search of a data set, data sets gone missing, false proxies, ect…
The IPCC did not present truth, it presented advocacy masquerading as science. Post normal science. The 4 assessment is so riddled with inaccuracies as to be useless. The high priestess is looking down her nose at the plebeians.

February 24, 2010 8:54 am

Dr. Curry:
Many thanks for your thoughtful history of the climate debate. I am less inclined to believe that the key scientific actors who behaved inappropriately did so because of their naivete or some lack of institutional support or guidance. The list of scientists who actively supported destructive ideologies is shamefully long.
I think another way to think about this is to use Ronad Reagan’s notion of “Trust but Verify.” When one side fails to cooperate with the idea of verification or verification suggests that things are not what they should be, the primary consequencs has to be a profound loss of trust.
Regardless, yours is still a very valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion.

erik sloneker
February 24, 2010 8:55 am

Judith…if you want to rebuild trust, transparency is the answer. All of the raw surface temperature data and related adjustments collected and performed by each of the governmental data gatekeepers must be made available to the statisticians and scientists of the world. So long as the raw data is withheld or destroyed rather than shared, AGW will rightly be labelled a religion rather than a science.
If the homogenized and adjusted temperature data shows no warming since 1995 (ref. Phil Jones), what would the raw data show? If the temperature data records are in such a state of disorder that there is substantial uncertainty that the station location data is correct (again, Phil Jones), how can there be any arguement supporting the validity of the AGW thesis?
Trust and credibility are gone because people recognize specious science when they see it. That, and the abscence of warming for the past 15 years, have created tremendous momentum in the skeptical camp.
Erik Sloneker

February 24, 2010 8:55 am

eric @ 7:58:52. I agree that Andy Revkin’s latest DotEarth blog post is a positive step. He admits doubt about the relative value of the natural cycles and the role of man. He’s being nicely debated by wmar.

February 24, 2010 8:57 am

More damage control attempts. That is all she is doing. She has zero credibility as long as she uses the term deniers! When she says “They tend to be watchdogs rather than deniers” exactly what is she saying? It is okay to be a watchdog for the AGW science but you cannot deny AGW?
Yes we can and yes we will. What exactly is she talking about with her term “deniers”? The fact that people deny global warming or the fact that people deny humans are the cause? If anyone is stuck in denial it is her and all those that engaged in unscientific, unethical and possibly illegal activity to promote the idea that humans are causing global warming.
Dr. Curry you are a serial denier. Admitting your problem is the first step to recovery. I suggest you take it ASAP.

February 24, 2010 8:57 am

Agree, Kudos for trying. But she miss the point.
-Religion needs to be Separate from the State.
-Industry needs to be Separate from the State.
-Research needs to be Separate from the State.
No regulations, no “New Deal”, nothing can save you from the agenda of those with Power, if you make a deal with the devil.
Hasnt the Soviet Union teached you anything?

February 24, 2010 8:58 am

Dr. Curry, I fear that you believe you can restore trust with the very people whose objective is to destroy trust.

February 24, 2010 8:59 am

How about just giving the public real temperatures, preferably in rural stations without the arbitrary, and frankly disturbing, alterations.

David Bailey
February 24, 2010 9:00 am

Dr. Curry, I do appreciate your essay, and the amount of understanding that it contains. However you did say:
No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”
Well they do – or did – a lot of non-science people I know think just that! Exaggerations like that soon lose their context, and are simply passed about as ‘facts’.
In some ways I feel sorry for Prof Jones, because I think well meaning people can get sucked into folly increment by increment, but I do think it is important to realise that these people covered up with deliberate lies.
The idea that FOI requests were being used as a tool to prevent them having time to work, was an obvious lie. Prof Jones has now admitted the true reason for not releasing the data, and it was obvious anyway that publishing the data was the solution to the FOI problem!
Likewise the IPCC clearly lied in describing the glacier goof as a mistake! Obviously scientists make mistakes, but how can you review the evidence for a claim like that, and not notice that there wasn’t any!

Claude Harvey
February 24, 2010 9:01 am

While the good professor finds “oil money” to have been a corrupting influence, she appears blind to the corrupting influence of government money. Something on the order of 85% of all research funding comes from governments. It got to the point where a reputable scientist couldn’t get a grant to study squirrels in the park unless he or she somehow tied it to AGW; now THAT is a seriously corrupting influence.

February 24, 2010 9:01 am

P.S. I am not willing to publish my full name like Charles the Moderator, but I will back up my post with my credentials. I have a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, both from major U.S. universities.

Fred from Canuckistan
February 24, 2010 9:01 am

I wonder if the good Dr. would be upset when I refer to her as a Warmonger.
Because Dr. Curry is a Warmonger as long as she slurs climate realists with the highly pejorative term “Denier”
So Dr. Curry, how does it feel to a Warmonger?
[snip OTT]

February 24, 2010 9:02 am

[snip sorry, I asked that you not apply labels, while I don’t agree with Dr.s Mann and Hansen, I don’t want further such labeling]

February 24, 2010 9:02 am

Dr. Curry,
1) Politics has corrupted the field of climatology. It is impossible for someone embedded in the field to honestly look at themselves in the mirror. Yes, the word is “corruption” and until the house is cleaned of evil, it cannot heal itself. Sorry, but when all of the scientists circling the wagons to defend the integrity of climatology are feeding at troughs overflowing with government and institutional research grants, the status quo is not going to change. I highly suspect their concern over integrity is not real; rather it is concern over potentially losing research grants.
(Does the saying: “You get what you pay for” not have relevance in this discourse?)
2) Climatology has discarded the scientific method in favor of the unverified computer prediction model. If the theories are not comprehensive and sound, and if the data is not accurate and is not quality controlled, then prediction models are totally worthless. Yet it seems that most climatologists rely heavily upon such flawed prediction models and seem incapable of addressing true scientific investigations and experiments. Computer prediction models are not scientific proofs.
3) The third issue is statistical expertise, or lack thereof, in the field of climatology. How many climatology scientists also possess an advanced degree (MS or PhD) in statistics? Or are capable of writing their own statistical software programs? (I personally know only one such person.) Yet the basis for the prediction models promoted by climatologists is one of advanced statistical analysis + complex software programming … but the statistics and software programming are left to “associates”. Sorry, but it is extremely simple to manipulate statistical methodologies and data to obtain a desired result, and clearly the “hiding” evident in Climategate bears this out. Yes, the issue of “transparency” has surfaced, but I have not seen “statistical expertise” mentioned. Why do you think there has been rampant fear of Climate Audit? (And there are other climate blogs such as The Air Vent and E.M. Smith that are examining statistical programs and data sets.)
I am embarrassed to refer to myself as a scientist because of what I have seen unfold in Climategate. It will prove detrimental to all of science in the long run.
Heal thyself, and stop looking for answers elsewhere.

February 24, 2010 9:03 am

As I see it, a great step would be taken if taxpayer funded research data, results, and papers were not shielded behind paywalls. FOI would never have been an issue and therefore climategate would never have happened if the data and processes were open to all.
I am not saying that all the data needs to be published with the paper, just a link to the RAW data would be enough.
What is the reason for such resistance to openness? The truth will set you free (to do your science unfettered).

February 24, 2010 9:06 am

G.L. Alston (07:37:12) :
This is the best comment here! Please read it again, I sincerely subscribe to this point of view!
Kind Regards,

Rhys Jaggar
February 24, 2010 9:07 am

I once read a book by Banesh Hoffman about the physics of the 20th century, from Einstein to The Bomb. It told a story of a smug, self-satisfied community being ripped asunder and experiencing the gales of radical insight and hypotheses under the aegises of quantum mechanics and space-time.
One quote I remember from it: ‘scientists possessed the unusual capability to draw correct conclusions from what later turned out to be faulty premises’.
So I say to all skeptics at this point: stay focussed on the data, the science and the arguments, because, although it might not seem like it at this time, the case for AGW remains merely unmade, it is not certifiably untrue. My strong, strong hunch and gut feel is that it IS untrue, but that’s an opinion, not science. And I certainly wouldn’t be wanting any more long-term funding doled out for more seeohtwo scaremongering…..any more than I think that seeohtwo being ‘a threat to human health’ should be allowed to remain an EPA ruling………
I am of the strong opinion that the key parameters to understand are:
1. What are the key frequencies of input radiation from the sun and solar system which affect our climate?
2. What are the key solar and solar-system parameters which affect the intensities of such key frequencies entering the earth’s climate system?
3. What are the key parameters in the atmosphere, the oceans and the land masses which affect absorption, reflection and escape of that radiation energy in our climate system?
4. What actions, if any, of humans affect those?
5. How do such parameters cross-correlate in terms of outcomes in the near-, medium- and long-term?
6. How, if at all, can we influence them in a safe manner?
7. If the answer to 6 is not ‘in no way’, would we want to do so??
Those 7 areas should be what is tackled in proper research.
There are totally different questions as concerning policy.
I think, right now, it might be good for scientists to be like bankers and to keep ‘proprietary trading’ aka research distinct from ‘commercial banking’ aka policy formation. There’s a case for it being done by law. But it would be more sensible and respectful for a ‘profession’ to be self-regulating.
Are they capable of that??

Tom David
February 24, 2010 9:08 am

As a person not trained in science, but whose career is in public policy and law, this article strikes me as missing 2 key points.
1. The public distrusts your hubris. Thankfully, when you admit that the science is not settled, you start to make up for it.
2. In regard to the oil industry’s alleged bias, why not also admit the bias of the United Nations, namely that of some blocs of nations against others? Cannot one clearly discern a benefit to be derived if massive transfers of wealth can be justified using climate science as a rationale?
Final comment: scientists need to spend more time trying to understand the process by which their analyses become implementable policies. My guess is that you would be shocked by the bastardization of your work.

Duke C.
February 24, 2010 9:08 am

“Part II: Towards Rebuilding Trust”
One gets the feeling that what Dr. Curry means by “Rebuilding Trust” is that the interpretation of results from increasingly complicated climate models based on questionable raw data should be kept within the domain of the scientists who developed the models.
That is no longer possible. Pandora’s box is wide open. It would be refreshing if she becomes an advocate for the “open source community” she mentioned.

February 24, 2010 9:08 am

IMHO, When the science became political it was no longer science. Each side had way too large a stake in the outcome of the information. The warmers needed warming. Otherwise there was no boogeyman for cap and trade. The skeptics are in a tough spot because the agenda of the warmers had actually nothing to do with the planets temperature. They wanted a way to tax. If they were actually serious about stopping AGW then why could you buy carbon credits to keep ” polluting:”? So now the argument is that we need to buy an insurance policy because we cannot afford to be wrong. This is all childish. Maybe the warmers could provide an alternative to taxation and maybe we all would give them a listen again.

February 24, 2010 9:08 am

I’ve been a used car salesman, and a con man. I don’t know a lot about science, but I do know, by the tenor of a sales pitch if I’m being lied to. How can you tell?
-They portray their side as absolutely right. Argue by appeals to authority.
-Insist that time is of the essence – you have to decide now.
-Restrict the information that you give out.
-Appeal to emotions.
-Appeal to a persons better nature. (Your saving the planet, helping the environment, the children, etc.)
-Appeal to a person’s worst nature, such as greed, ambition, peer pressure, laziness, the need to fit in. All of which would explain the CRU and other scientists actions.
-Avoid talking about actual facts, ie: data.
-Make ad hominem attacks. (Let me tell you about that other salesman, Joe, who has his own agenda.)
-frighten your mark. A frightened person usually makes bad decisions.
So, please tell me how the warmist agenda is different from a con game?
You can tell by first principles (of a con) that AGW is a scam.

Mark Nodine
February 24, 2010 9:09 am

Thank you, Anthony, for allowing Dr. Curry’s guest contribution. It is probably more important than ever to keep conversation open between different sides, provided that the discussion is well-reasoned and respectful.
And I want to compliment you, Dr. Curry, on taking so much time to slog through the blogosphere to investigate for yourself the state of climate science both before and after climategate. I feel that you have made a substantial contribution in recognizing the general shift of the skeptical community in the last five years or so. Being a scientist personally, for me the main thing has always been about the science. Reality is what it is, and our best strategy to understand it is to approach it without preconception as much as possible. My greatest concern was that in climate science, the self-correcting mechanisms were largely disabled in favor of pursuing an agenda, both in the scientific literature and on the blogosphere, where dissenting opinions were not tolerated.
Having said that, there are many who oppose the conclusions of climate science for more ideological or political reasons. I assume it is those people to whom you refer as the “denial machine”. While I appreciate that not everyone has the ability or interest to make a thorough study of the science, and while I support everyone’s right to express their viewpoint, I do not feel that their diatribes do much to advance our understanding of climate in a way that will enable us ultimately to make good policy decisions.

February 24, 2010 9:10 am

Dr. Curry’s article states: “Of greatest importance is the reduced credibility of the IPCC assessment reports, which are providing the scientific basis for international policies on climate change.” I’d like to challenge her presumption that the IPCC reports provide a “scientific basis” for these policies.
Four months ago, I began an investigation of the scientific basis. A fast way to assess the status of a science is to examine the data from tests of this science’s model or models so I googled on “IPCC models” and “validation.” This produced nothing in the way of citations to actual tests of the IPCC models. It did produce a citation to a Web page written by a reviewer of each successive IPCC assessment report, the physical chemist and climatologist Dr. Vincent Gray. Gray explained he had discovered that the IPCC models were not statistically validated and had raised the issue of how they could be validated with the IPCC’s leadership. The leadership had blown him off on the issue of how they could be validated and displayed no interest in the topic. However, it had responded to his critique by a change to terminology that did not imply the models were or could be validated. In the new terminology, the models were not said to make “predictions.” Instead, they were said to make “projections.”
The difference between “predictions” and “projections” is lost on most people, particularly including usually scientifically naive policy makers, but it nonetheless determines whether the models are “scientific” models. Models that make “projections” are not “scientific.” Models that make “predictions” are “scientific.” The IPCC models are not scientific, thus the IPCC models do NOT provide a scientific basis for policy making, contrary to Dr. Curry’s presumption.
What is the crucial difference between “predictions” and “projections”? Predictions form the collection of independent statistical events that is called a “statistical population.” In the validation of a model, one samples this population, observes the actual outcomes of events in the sample and compares the predicted to the actual outcomes. If the model is deterministic, then it is falsified if at least one of the predicted outcomes fails to match the actual outcome. If the model is probabilistic, then it is falsified if the predicted probabilities of the various outcomes fail to match the relative frequencies of these outcomes in the test data. Projections are simply the outputs from computer codes. Using a projection, one can compare the projected to the measured average global temperature. However, one cannot falsify the model. Falsifiability is the mark of a model that is “scientific” and this is not a property of the IPCC’s models.
That the IPCC’s models are not scientific models yet the IPCC makes a pretense of basing its assessments for policy makers upon scientific findings provides the public with solid grounds for mistrust of the IPCC and its process. A basis for trust in the IPCC’s findings was never present and does not exist today. People continue to be hoodwinked by the understandable mistake of thinking that the work product of people who hold PhD degrees, who hold positions in prestigious universities or laboratories and who publish their findings in prestigious peer reviewed journals is “scientific” when it is not scientific at all.

Gad Levin
February 24, 2010 9:11 am

Dr. Curry is better than most of the “so called” Scientists (as opposed to skeptics, or deniers), but she plays a two step clever game in her posting:
1. She takes the Rodney King attitude of “why can’t we all get along” and talks about civility while for many years there is none on the consensus side.
2. She dismisses the skeptics (or deniers in her words), as technical auditors, but conveniently forgets to mention thousands of first class Climate Scientists who disagree with the IPCC. Dr Singer, Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Christy, Dr. Spencer, and all the others are neither technicians, nor paid agents of the oil companies. And if she wants to talk about who is financing the debate – Governments and special interests who are about to gain from the Carbon Scam are spending 100 times more than any productive sector like oil companies.
Dr. Curry is studying Hurricanes and their connection to AGW. I don’t know what her findings are, but in no way is she researching the basic question if warming is man made.
So she is indirectly benefitting from all the hype about AGW, while not contributing to the solution of the real question – if there is warming (now it is a big if) is man responsible for it, not due to urbanization but do to economical development!

Rob from BC
February 24, 2010 9:11 am

Great post. I admire Dr. Curry’s continued presence in the blogosphere. I hope she reads the comments, since there are some great observations.
Funny how record keeping and data quality is regarded as the janitorial level of climate science. I have news for climate scientists- it’s all about the data and it’s all about the details!
Seems the crux of the matter is that climate science put an agenda ahead of the science. Thought they could fool us since we were regarded as scientifically illiterate….

February 24, 2010 9:12 am

Dr. Curry good essay, can’t say I agree with all of it but it’s a dialogue opening up. My question is this, why do you think that there are only one or two climate scientists, including yourself, that will engage on this topic, with the bloggers or indeed with other sceptical climate scientists?
I’m sceptical because the CO2 connection boils down to the climate scientists looking at the possible causes for the recent, trivial, increase in global temperatures and can find only half can be explained by natural causes. They note that CO2 has arisen over the same timeframe and from that infer that the extra rise in temperature must be caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. They could be right, but they could also be wrong, it’s just a guess, an educated guess but a guess nontheless.
They seem entirely unaware of the consequences of their scientific advocacy, socially and economically, they go around the world leaving elephant size footprints and at the same time tell governments that unless we reduce CO2 output, at any cost, we will all be doomed.
I have a question for you. You bravely brought Steve McIntyre to your university to talk to your undergrads about his views on climate science. Is it true that you were reprimanded by the NAS for doing so?

Dave D
February 24, 2010 9:12 am

I know so many of you are “hung up” with the term Denier. Personally, as a religious tolerant, historically minded person who could never seriously question the Holocaust and the horror of Nazi, Germany, I still do not get offended by this term AS APPLIED to AGW. I post comments frequently as Dave the denier, believe me it gets read, then they understand the context! IBeyonf this, the healthy position of the skeptic has largely hardened into denial of their conclusions, their methods, and their integrity. If you doubt this, the posts on this story confirm this, you (most of you) are not skeptical of the chicaneries, you DISBELIEVE them.
Furthermore, Alarmists have lost touch with the public, lost the trust of the public and no longer are being supported by many governments or their programs (ie reverses in France,Australia, UK, Japan, China, India and USA). This leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Alarmist, the Warmists, the AGW Elite, the Climate Changers are, in fact, the Deniers. Denying their hoax has largely been exposed, it’s teeth removed and has little to no chance of being acted upon.
Current US Politics are a prime example. The Administration and their pet bulldog the EPA will continue to push for legislation or work around with pollution regulations, all the while denying that thier premise is false, CO2 is not the driver and taxes are not warranted. As is always the case, once the word has been spread, which has been wonderfully, people will not support this and THEY (AGWers) are in fact denying reality.

February 24, 2010 9:12 am

davidmhoffer (07:50:31) : “When I see a sceptic make a mistake, the heat from other sceptics is often worse than from the warmists. ”
David that is absolute rubbish and you know it. I’ve been on boards with people talking complete nonsense and not a word was said against them so long as they were cheering the right team.

February 24, 2010 9:13 am

REPLY: I wish she’d consider saying “the term deniers is distasteful and counterproductive, we need to drop it from the discussion” – A
So the fact that she uses this at all – once as a quote of how others view skeptics, and once as a description of what she thinks skeptics are not is reason enough for you to allow your Foreword to prejudice your readers against this whole essay?
Look at the comment below mine, at 8:50:07. Your Foreword clearly gave this reader the impression that Dr. Curry thinks climate skeptics are ” ill-informed, uneducated people,” when what she said in her essay was that they are “technically educated people” with “substantial expertise in aspects of climate science” who are “independent of oil industry influence” and “are demanding greater accountability and transparency of climate research.”
She is clearly distancing herself with the term, but your Foreword gives the exact opposite impression. Why do you want to let that stand?
REPLY: Because I asked her to remove or denounce the usage and she declined to do so. – If that upsets you that I comment on the word usage where it is not called for, I’m sorry. My point stands, the word “denier” poisons the debate and does not need to be included, anymore than the “n word” needs to be included in racial discussions. As proof that it poisons the debate, here we are arguing about it right now. She could have accomplished the same essay by leaving out the word, or by clearly delineating that she does not favor its use. Right now I don’t know what her position is on it for certain.
If Dr. Curry and others truly want to extend an olive branch, I’m open to accepting one and offering one in return. But if she and others continue to use the word they may as well be offering leafless sticks, IMHO. We have to start somewhere, this seems to me to be a good place to start, by denouncing use of one offensive word. – Anthony

February 24, 2010 9:13 am

Aha, Dr. Curry is an associated member of the HockeyTeam;

February 24, 2010 9:13 am

Lots of words surrounding Dr. Curry’s position. The main point is very basic and hence very simple: who is paying the naive scientists; and what does the paymaster wants to hear!! So, do not follow the science, follow the money. This is a disaster, not for the paymasters ( the politicians) they will still be there, but for the scientists who lost the only thing they have, which is credibility.

February 24, 2010 9:14 am

I’m grateful you put this on the site, and I think it is a good essay and a very good effort by Dr. Curry. Yes, she has a ways to go, but this will be an eye opener for people just starting to wake up from the warmist style of thinking.
The science isn’t settled – just accepting that does away with most of the really big problems, like pumping billions of dollars into some half brained new tax scheme.

February 24, 2010 9:15 am

I don’t want to be redundant, but the tone of Dr. Curry’s piece struck me as elitist. If only the “rubes” were intelligent enough to understand the science, then everything would have turned out fine. We(the warmists) have the best of intentions, so why should you “deniers” have the audacity to question our motives? But since you have, and you’re not, maybe not, in the pay of Big Oil, then we will get together with you and tell you how things really are. At least those of you who are “true sceptics” as opposed to those of you who are deniers.
This may all be semantics, anyway. The huge deficits now being racked up by governments, along with high unemployment, are going to make the changes proposed by the global warming cult impossible to implement. Perhaps Dr. Curry’s “olive leaf” should be viewed in that light, as she is attempting to gain support for more work for the bureaucrats.
As for the science not being settled, she had better inform President Obama and the EPA, as they are of the opinion that it is, and are acting accordingly, albeit with less certainty than before November.

February 24, 2010 9:16 am

I agree with jeff (07:50:34).
I don’t have a problem with the way Curry uses the d-word, primarily in quotes in an historical context, although I detest it almost as much as the n-word. Clearly, she believes that climate science is largely correct, but that is her experience and her perception (and her bias). The fact that she states rather emphatically that the science isn’t settled shows that at least she is willing to consider evidence to the contrary. While I don’t share her confidence in the correctness of the science or the benign motives of her climate colleagues, I commend her for her openness, her efforts at dialogue, and her attempt to begin to repair the damage that has been done to (all) science by their infusion of ideology and prejudice into what is supposed to be a truth-seeking endeavor.

Henry chance
February 24, 2010 9:17 am

A little feedback for Judith.
Judith says:

In the 1980’s, James Hansen and Steven Schneider led the charge in informing the public of the risks of potential anthropogenic climate change.

I see you left something out. James hansen in concert with ENRON cooked up cox, sox, nox and methane as 4 “greenhouse gasses” to be hindered and dealt with via cap and trade. Brush up on your history. BIG Oil.
Now GE owns Enron wind and Warren buffet owns a lot of the pipeline group from ENRON.
I may post a few more comments on the pet references you make about big oil. I suspect you drive a car and trust big oil to sell you the exact gallons that are stated on the meter when you replace petrol uused in driving.

Skeptical research published by academics provided fodder for the think tanks and advocacy groups, which were fed by money provided by the oil industry.

It is popular to repeat claims about big oil but seemingly they may be urban legends. Exxon for example has used weather information longer than you have been around. They forcast weather and adjust refining for sales of fuel, heating oil and even weather conditions that impact safety in the North Sea for example on drilling platforms.
Back to the point, it is convenient to castigate Big Oil and castigate “deniers” and skeptics because it is popular for people that are political enthusiasts with a global warming message and agenda. If you are a strong scientist, you would have a very ambivalent tone toward people and big oil.
At this time, there is no way we can go anywhere with no consumption of fossil fuels. It is mind boggling for example how much fossil fuel is consumed to build and erect a single wind turbine.

February 24, 2010 9:17 am

I applaud Dr Curry’s second letter, trying to build bridges. It is indeed courageous.
However, there are a few points which she missed – perhaps Dr Curry can address these in a further letter.
Why is it, if ‘nobody thinks the science is settled’, that we can count on the fingers of one hand the climate scientists actually coming out into the open, saying so?
Can we assume there are pressures, not just from those inside the climate scientific community, but from those who found the research?
If so – should that not be of greater concern than for climate scientist to work on ‘regaining trust’?
Why is it that even now climate scientists still fail to understand that it is the hijacking of their work by advocacy groups and politicians which is doing so much damage?
Why is it that not one of these scientists take issue with, for example, the piece of work rightfully criticised by Anthony:
There are two places where public trust in climate science has been lost: one is the truly abominable science perpetrated by certain ‘scientists’, which the ‘auditors’ have been addressing for some time – the other is the way that these selfsame ‘scientists’ have become the promoters of a political ideology.
Finally – good scientists don’t need to address the public as if they are too stupid to understand the issues. A good scientist does not speak from up high to the peasants below. As this blog shows, it is a great mistake to assume that participants here have no scientific knowledge.

February 24, 2010 9:17 am

I give her credit for acknowledging that Watts, McIntyre, et al are winning the “Credibility” war and that the climate scientists and their institutions have a serious trust deficit. She doesn’t acknowledge, however, that the climate scientists and their institutions, are currently (no analogy intended to the US Govt debt) deepening this trust deficit with their “denial” of the problem and their whitewash investigations and inquiries.

February 24, 2010 9:18 am

My experience has been that when policy makers become secretive or obfuscatory, they have an agenda which not only will not be supported by the outer circle, but which they know themselves to be the wrong course of action.
As details of their plans inexorably percolate to those affected, feedback from some among the latter group is ignored, then rebuffed. Others from the latter group hitch their wagon to the policy makers’ star, so to speak, seeking political survival in the shape of things to come, and unfortunately lending credibility to plans that would otherwise have failed a cursory analysis.
Inevitably, opposition mounts as it becomes more and more obvious that the scheme is unworkable. So there is a final push to ram through the agenda, where the policy makers dare to hide information or even lie to those to whom they are accountable. They know they can get away with this, because to punish them, their superiors would have to admit to being gullible or incompetent.
It’s about this time that the policy makers jump ship, and find another policy making position, often lower down in the hierarchy of a different organization. Other people are left to explain what went wrong and clean up the mess, or sweep it under the rug.
Rinse and repeat.
I don’t think it has anything to do with science, specifically, but instead with the culture of non-accountability that has infected our society.

François GM
February 24, 2010 9:20 am

Dr Curry,
You write that Climate Science is not settled. I couldn’t agree more.
Could you please tell us what you think is settled and NOT settled in Climate Science ?
And would you call the MSM and let them know ?

James Sexton
February 24, 2010 9:20 am

Thank you Dr. Curry for your essay. It is illuminating.
“Credibility is a combination of expertise and trust. While scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise, climategate has made it clear that expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.”
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”
Those two small paragraphs say a lot. I’m not sure I can articulate it better than what’s already here, but ….. The first paragraph I’ve referenced assumes the scientists(climatologists) have developed an expertise. I disagree. For years they’ve attempted to draw a linear relationship with heat and CO2 when one obviously doesn’t exist. And speaking of heat, the temp stations that are mysteriously disappearing from the data set seems to infer that we are declaring temps in an area because of the proximity to another temp recording station irrespective of elevation Well, at least they’ve conquered the 2 dimensional aspect. So, if we are to believe these are well intentioned scientists, then one has to conclude multi-dimensional relationships are beyond them. The “relatively uneducated public” would expect more from an expert that states with “95% confidence…..” There is many more examples of the lack of ability to apply complex thoughts to their area of science. They own some form of expertise other than how to dodge FOI requests? That’s news to me.
The second paragraph “No one really believes…..” Then why, pray tell, the absolute silence when a colleague(Gavin), psuedo-scientist(Bill Nye), or a politician(take your pick), assert that it is settled either explicitly or through inference? I don’t recall any press releases from any science organization correcting the assertions stated.
Our friends at the IPCC apparently think they need to asses the manner in which they conduct business also.

February 24, 2010 9:21 am

Dr Curry,
This from the current post on RC:
Over the last few weeks or so the UK Guardian (who occasionally reprint our posts) has published a 12-part series about the stolen CRU emails by Fred Pearce that are well below the normal Guardian standards of reporting. We delineate some of the errors and misrepresentations below. While this has to be seen on a backdrop of an almost complete collapse in reporting standards across the UK media on the issue of climate change, it can’t be excused on the basis that the Mail or the Times is just as bad. As a long-time Guardian reader and avid Guardian crossword puzzle solver, I’m extremely unhappy writing this post, but the pathologies of media reporting on this issue have become too big to ignore.
We highlight issues with three of the articles below, which revisit a number of zombie arguments that have been doing the rounds of the sceptic blogs for years
So you want sceptics and warmists to negotiate and understand? We should “negotiate” to “restore trust” with someone who calls negative press “a complete collapse in reporting standards”, calls it a “pathology” and refers to sceptics legitimate concerns as “zombie arguments”. This is someone who was just well intentioned but misunderstood?
Sorry, but I see nothing there to restore trust with and I would be a fool if I did.

Bill Murray
February 24, 2010 9:22 am

One of the most brutally honest Progressive Democrats, Dennis Kucinich, has publicly come forward to publicly admit that Cap and Trade was written by the Coal and Oil industries.
Kucinich: “There’s nothing liberal about letting coal and oil write climate change legislation,” he added. “Are you kidding me?”

Frank K.
February 24, 2010 9:22 am

Overall, a thoughtful view from a climate research insider. Here is one of the important nuggets of the essay:
“The often misinformed policy advocacy by this group of climate scientists has played a role in the political polarization of this issue. The interface between science and policy is a muddy issue, but it is very important that scientists have guidance in navigating the potential pitfalls. Improving this situation could help defuse the hostile environment that scientists involved in the public debate have to deal with, and would also help restore the public trust of climate scientists.”
It is my belief that the BIGGEST mistake the climate science community has made with regard to gaining public trust is their FAILURE to denounce crass political statements made by their “leaders”. For example:
“James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.”
Where WAS the climate science community when this kind of insane rhetoric was being delivered by one their leading lights? The same goes for Al Gore and “An Inconvenient Truth”. I do note that Dr. Curry did speak out…against Bjorn Lomborg.
And as for Al Gore…
“You cannot blame any single storm or even a single season on global warming. … Gore’s statement in the movie is that we can expect more storms like Katrina in a greenhouse-warmed world. I would agree with this,” said Judith Curry. She is chairwoman of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and is co-author, with Mr. Webster, Mr. Holland and H.R. Chang, of a paper titled “Changes in Tropical Cyclones,” in the Sept. 16 issue of Science, a weekly publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

C. Quesenberry
February 24, 2010 9:24 am

Dr. Curry,
Please don’t take this criticism personally, but your timing is absolutely horrible. The fact that the radical and wholly unfounded claims of a twenty foot rise in seas, killer hurricanes, devastating droughts, catastrophic floods, imminent death, etc.. would eventually be found false and destroy the credibility of scientists was entirely predictable. Surely you saw it coming. How could you not?
The time to worry about the toothpaste is before it is out of the tube. It is too late to worry about it after it is all over the bottom of the bathroom sink.
A small group (20-30?) of scientists and a few politicians successfully hijacked climate science. They shouted down dissent. They intimidated their fellow scientists into silence. And you and thousands of other scientists allowed them to do it.
And noooooooooooooooow you worry about how to rebuild the reputation of science/scientists and once again gain the trust of the public???? The time to have worried about the obvious outcome of this fraud has passed. You and your fellow scientists should not have allowed yourselves to be intimidated into silence. You should have spoken up loud and often starting back in the early 1990’s.
Your best chance at limiting the damage (I say limiting because I seriously doubt it can be repaired in my lifetime) is to demand a full accounting of all the inaccuracies. Demand a full and open audit of ALL of the science. Demand that ALL scientific papers used in climate change make their raw data and source code freely available on public servers. Demand that any paper which fails to meet that standard is discarded and not permitted to be used/referenced in any form for the science of climate change. Demand that teachers immediately stop brainwashing/scaring children with tales of imminent doom.
I hope you can convince your colleagues to adopt those measures and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in limiting the damage done to the good name and reputation of science.
C. Quesenberry

February 24, 2010 9:28 am

I am glad you decided to post this open letter, its a step in the right direction.
I believe Dr Curry may have taken note of your concern regarding the use of the word ‘Deniers’.
My reading of her use of the term, in this letter, is one of disapproval.
More like this, please.

February 24, 2010 9:28 am

@ Eric (07:58:52):
“Reading the comments here I think people are missing the fact the Dr. Curry is trying to play a bridging/mitigating role…”
Eric, I agree the bridging role is important, but, Dr. Curry is then beginning in the middle. In order to properly bridge, the terms of the debate must be agreed upon; terms like credibility, science, alarmist, denier, skeptic, policy, expertise, etc. Dr. Curry states that “scientists persist in thinking that they should be trusted because of their expertise.” I would argue, that based on my understanding of science, trust should never even enter the equation. If a scientist truly believed it did, is that person really a scientist? Perhaps we can trust results, but not some vague posturing of “expertise.” In fact, the whole point of science is to NOT trust someone else’s results, but to see if those results can be repeated. Dr. Curry needs to start by defining the terms of the debate especially since she believes it’s not settled. What is science? What is a scientist?

February 24, 2010 9:28 am

“Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life, but many climate researchers lost this somehow by mistakenly thinking that skeptical arguments would diminish the public trust in the message coming from the climate research establishment.”
Sorry, but the scientists should BE the skeptics, first and last.
Leave the messages to “the public” from the “climate research establishment” out. The researchers “lost this” not “somehow” but by massive political TAXPAYER funding. That data, these “facts” belong to US!
B.S. alarm wailing: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

Bridget H-S
February 24, 2010 9:29 am

“HotRod (07:20:13) :
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.”
That’s pretty unequivocal. I was talking yesterday to an old friend, Conservative MP and Chair of the cross-party environment group in the UK Houses of Parliament. He said The Science is IN.”
If that was Tim Yeo, then I’m sorry he is an old friend of yours! This is the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee which has recently reported on the EUs emissions trading scheme. The committee reckon that the trading scheme isn’t working because emissions allowances are too cheap (but surely that is bacause of the recession which has caused a down-turn in emissions (along with everything else) produced and therefore a downturn in demand in trading. This numpty then wants to see the price of emissions pushed up from 15Euros/tonne to 100 or even 200Euros/tonne to make people/businesses/public bodies work more effectively in reducing emissions.
I am a local councillor. According to our officers our council will have to fork out £600,000 for the 50,000 tonnes of CO2 produced. If the price is increased that would be about £4m per annum. Granted that councils receive most of that back if they are good boys and take steps to reduce their carbon footprint but it is going to cost us £400k to set up a team of officers to do this. But the penalties get bigger and bigger each sucessive year if the tonnes of CO2 aren’t reduced.
This is one council. Multiply that by however many councils there are..
And Tim Yeo is also Chairman of AFC Energy, receiving £45,000 for the privilege and a director of Waste”Tricity and ITI Energy. He was advocating in his parliamentary capacity that the price of emissions should go up to encourage polluters to earn offset allowances by investing in clean technology – clean technology such as the alkaline fuel cells for use in clean energy production and as produced by AFC Energy. So, no conflict of interest there, then.
So, to revert back to the matter in hand, I appreciate Judith Curry’s concern that the trust in scientists must be restored and that this must be dealt with by allowing all scientific reports to be properly reviewed by anyone who wants to, sceptics included, the data and methodology must be freely available. But how are the far-reaching effects of the past attempts to block that free discussion to be resolved especially now that the knock-on effects have assumed a runaway motion of their own? How are the brakes to be applied to the silliness of our politicians and every opportunist free-marketeer who has jumped on the bandwagon, or in the case of Mr Yeo who straddles both camps (as does Mr Gore).
I am not sure the science can be rectified as easily as I first thought reading the article as most of the research monies come from governments and the EU (see EUReferendum for the sort of funding which would make your hair curl) and they are driving the AGW agenda now. It has been said many times before that unless you come up with the “right” answers to the questions asked by those that are funding the research, then you don’t get the funding. So, a massive shake up of the way research is funded is also required but how that is done I do not know. It is no longer independent nor are funds granted to test that research. And how will those pro-AGW scientists, who for a very long time have taken the moral high ground, going to react to having to share their research with potential denigrators of that research?
I could go on, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder how on earth things can change and the more depressed I get about it. As it’s 5.30pm in the UK I think I shall hit the gin bottle early, i.e. now!

James Chamberlain
February 24, 2010 9:30 am

PJB (08:40:19)
Coming from another professional chemist, this NAILS the situation on the head. And, I don’t think it can every be tested to 90% confidence limits, so AGW will always remain a faith.

Jean Parisot
February 24, 2010 9:30 am

The concept of having to “dumb down” the math for policy makers is wrong. Politicians have an absolutely feral sense of statistics. It is their livelyhood.
You may need to strip out the jargon and obscure academic references, but they will grasp it quickly.

View from the Solent
February 24, 2010 9:31 am

“The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on difficulties of communicating such a complex topic to a relatively uneducated public that is referred to as “unscientific America” by Chris Mooney.”
So despite all the weasel words which surround it, that is the problem as she sees it. Not ‘what are the facts?’ but ‘we haven’t got *our* beliefs across yet’

John in L du B
February 24, 2010 9:31 am

Well Judith as our greatly beloved Michael Mann said to Steve McIntyre just before he stomped out of the room, “I hardly know where to begin”.
Neverthless, thank you for the outreach and the somewhat revisionist history of climate science in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
I paid little attention to climatologist’s (does anyone call themselves that anymore?) claims of AGW, simply assuming that it was true, until about 1995. I was satisfied with this prospect since, after all, I’m from Manitoba where any moderation of the continental air mass in late January is always welcome. Then in a hotel room in New Jersey of all places I had an epiphany.
I flipped to Public Television on a day that ended earlier than usual and there was someone from the Natural Resources Defense Fund screaming insults at Eric Lindzen, saying that he didn’t know what he was talking about and that the NRDF ran cutting edge models and Lindzen didn’t. Lindzen calmly replied that he didn’t run models at all. He was just stating what the temperature data was saying. The NRDF guy wouldn’t address the data. It was all yelling and name calling. I was stunned. How could anyone argue that the models trumped the data?
I wasn’t aware of who Lindzen was at the time, but it was pretty clear to me he was a talented MIT scientist. It didn’t take long for me to hear the smear and inuendo though, about “shill for big oil” and the namecalling that is the narcotic of choice for intervenor groups like NRDF who gain power and advocacy by shouting down and bullying. I knew right there and then that the science wasn’t settled. I knew from my experience with intervenors in the nuclear industry that if there’s namecalling going on there is something to hide, and that they are making things up.
So I ask you Judith, if it was so obvious to me then that advocacy was biasing the science, why wasn’t it obvious to you?
Surely it would have been obvious once carbon trading was proposed that there was a conflict of interest between the advancement of the science and the advocacy groups that could only bend the science in a damaging way. Look at the list of donors to advocacy groups like the WWF, the NWF, Greenpeace etc. Big bank charitable trust funds, clean energy companies, yes even “big oil”. I don’t think the latter is such a recent addition to the donor list either. Even Enron, who traded mainly in fossil fuels was eager to participate. Banks and securities companies, deperate to trade in carbon are the biggest cheerleaders and supporters of the so-called green charites who are equally desperate for political power.
So now I ask you Judith, If it was so easy for you to “follow the money” for sceptics back then, why was it so hard to follow the money for the supporters of AGW?
As for the pubic policy debate, everyone in the scientific climate community should have realized that peer review wouldn’t cut it once it was clear that radical economic and societal change cards were on the table. It isn’t enough for the FDA, it isn’t enough for the FAA or Health Canada or Transport Canada or the EU or any other jurisdiction tasked with protecting the public good. So now we have a spectacle of Phil Jones admitting that one of the reasons he didn’t want to give up his data was because it wasn’t very well organized. The documentation wasn’t good. In fact, it’s pretty clear it is a mess.
Unfortunately it appears like it’s going to be good enough for Lisa Jackson and the EPA.
Why weren’t you pulling out your ISO standards and certifying your labs when it became obvious that the science would be so important to public poilicy decisions and every piece of data would be seriously scrutinized? With all those millions in climate science funding was it just cheaper and easier to let McIntyre do it?
If I’m seeming harsh here Judith, I’m sorry, but I’m not quite ready to let it go.
Snip me if you must Anthony but keep up the good work.

February 24, 2010 9:31 am

1DandyTroll (07:52:38) : “However, the one sided stance on the big-oil conspiracy is disheartening.”
Of course it is. This is the lie used by “greenspin” to discredit proper scientific scepticism by trying to attribute it to paid lobbying. In my experience on both sides of the fence, there was far far more money available from the oil lobby to “greenspin” than there is this side of the fence.
Come on, I’ve often thought of doing this for a profession, but where’s the money? Even if I could stomach their politics the Heartland institute can’t dole out money to every would-be sceptic. Trump is another potential source – but that is really scraping the barrell.
Compare that to the hugely well financed renewable lobby in the UK. The BWEA are rolling in money from oil companies trying to look green – sorry, that’s wrong, the oil companies who have seen the billions of pounds available from renewables: a highly lucrative income stream.
As for higher taxation of fossil fuels – it just shows the lack of any economic nouse by those who suggest it. The oil companies LOVE higher taxation, because it allows them to substantially raise prices, and so long as they all get taxed the same, there is no competitive advantage, and there is a huge benefit as prices are raised allowing greater profits per unit sold.
So, basically, the oil companies just fein their opposition to this global warming hysteria, because at the end of the day it just lines their pockets!
That may be slightly at odds with my comments above regarding the global warming message: “there’s so much oil and gas that having too much is a problem … we can keep consuming till it runs dry and it can’t be a problem” – that I see as a way to ensure there isn’t a move to legislative action to control the oil market as a limited reserve.
But all in all, I’ve seen orders of magnitude more people making money from oil who are on the global warming bandwagon than I know people making money from oil who are sceptics.

February 24, 2010 9:34 am

[snip OTT]

February 24, 2010 9:34 am

Dr. Curry has taken the role of mediator with carefully crafted, diplomatic statements that end up saying very little other than let’s play nice together. Sometimes I just want to say, “Let ‘er rip! What do you really think?”
IMHO, Curry is a bit player who’s trying to fashion herself a larger role.
She’s echoing the current AGW meme that this is a crisis of trust, not the science. On principle, we should never trust scientists (or politicians, statisticians, physicians, et al). They can earn our respect, though, through competency and professionalism. Of all the things that are worrisome is the sheer sloppiness of the climatology work. Details count.
Is it me, or does it seem that Curry positions herself neutrally in blogs but is always careful to come down on the side of the AGW crowd when talking with the media?

February 24, 2010 9:34 am

Well, Dr. Curry, in order to understand the political aspects of AGW, one can read the quotation list at
which is now up. It is often down due to the zero funding of the skeptic side.
If you scroll down about 40% into the list, you can learn that AGW did not become an important movement for abstract reasons. It is a modern version of Lysenkoism — the use of distorted science in support of the extreme left. In the real world, AGW is part of the “long march through the institutions” that has captured the academic and media cultures.

February 24, 2010 9:35 am

I’m sure there were many good points in this essay but to be honest it took way too many words to identify a basic problem. The IPCC and related scientists acted with arrogance, hubris, condescension and in a climate of secrecy. None of these traits are admirable but they are down right toxic for those who are basically public employees advocating taking more of our money and freedom.
The attitude taken by most when they were questioned about their methods or results is that “you are too stupid to understand, just trust me and do as I say” and if that doesn’t work the insults and accussations fly. Yea, I can’t see why that wouldn’t work. The vast majority of the public which now doubts the “settled science” are not climate scientists but they are not stupid either. Somehow, they seem to make good livings in other fields, enough to fund not only their own needs but to fund climate scientists as well. I’m pretty sure most climate scientists couldn’t describe every aspect of my chosen field but they would have a pretty good idea when I wasn’t telling the truth and would be pretty skeptical of taking my word when the consequences of my actions, which had already been questioned, had huge impilcations for them.
Suppose Michael Mann took his car into the shop. The mechanic told him it was dangerously broken and he needed to fork over a significant sum of money and drive in a completely different way or the car would have a catastrophic breakdown but the mechanic wouldn’t tell Mann how he came to that conclusion, wouldn’t show any evidence and told him that even if he did he wasn’t smart enough to understand the problem. Anyone think Mann would throw his wallet at him?
Me neither.

February 24, 2010 9:35 am

I like the essay, but unfortunately this view is not predominant among government funded scientists, let alone left-wing advocates or politicians. Many countries are already waist-deep in climate policy and are screaming at us to join them. Our House of Reps already has a cap & trade bill passed. Our neck is sticking out for climate science already.
What the public sees in climate science is:
-a complete lack of humility
-lack of honesty regarding uncertainty & assumptions
-poor archiving techniques reducing ability to review/replicate
-purposeful concealing of methods, full datasets, methodology & programming
-inability to concede/repair elementary problems and inability to understand that many errors that are insignificant alone can be significant as a whole
-condenscending attitude to outright obstruction to those who attempt to independently review who have another point of view
I think I could go on writing all day but you get the point.
I hate when people claim that science in general is now being questioned. That is a back-handed and baseless way of claiming that climate skeptics are anti-science flat earthers. When in fact most skeptics are generally claiming that the scientific process has not been properly applied, and have an open mind on future results.

February 24, 2010 9:38 am

sartec (08:32:45) :
Here’s Curry on a public affairs program, May 6, 2007:
Thanks for the link.
Very interesting.

Barry R
February 24, 2010 9:40 am

I see two issues in terms of the credibility of climate science. I’ll put them in separate messages so this doesn’t get too long.
First, just reading between the lines, it looks to me as though when the Global Warming debate got going, the various governments asked scientists in the field if they could confirm or deny the AGW hypothesis. The really high-quality ones shook their heads and said, “Maybe in 30 years with a lot of basic research and a lot of cash.” Unfortunately, there were plenty of hungry and politically savvy scientists of lesser quality who were willing to claim, and maybe even believe that they could nail down proof of AGW quickly and relatively easily. Guess who got the funding, and with it political power within the scientific community?
The wrong people were getting the funding, and they were asking the wrong question. They were asking, “How can we prove AGW?” when they should have been asking, “How does the world’s climate work, and how is it likely to change in the foreseeable future?
If sea levels go up to the level they were in the last interglacial, or if we get a “year without a summer” like the one in 1816, we have serious problems whether or not the temperature change is man-made.
When politically powerful but not particularly high quality science got challenged, the scientists involved tried to win the debate by attacking the people who challenged them, rather answering the challenges. Website “supporting” those scientists made matter worse. I can’t imagine any reasonably intelligent person visiting Climate Progress and to a lesser extent RealClimate and NOT coming away more skeptical than they started. At the very least most people are going to come away hoping AGW gets disproved just to take the arrogant expletives down a peg, if for no other reason.
Fortunately, Climategate has cut the political power of the Manns and Jones, and I’ve seen more high-quality science in climatology in the months since that story broke than I’ve seen in the last five year before that.
Bottom line: Do science. Be skeptical. Go where the data leads. Stay out of politics. Understand that whether AGW turns out to be true or not, scientists will at some point need to tell the public vital and unpleasant things. Science needs the credibility that Mann, Jones, and company were so careless with. The only way it can get it back is to do good, high-quality science in a transparent manner, whether that proves you right or wrong.

Mike Ewing
February 24, 2010 9:45 am

An interesting read…
A lil analogy, if a man comes to your house, and says it will burn down if you dont give him the contents of your wallet… you will be suspicious, if the man is fingering a pack o matches.. most o us joe six packs will be reaching for the shot gun, not the wallet. Now if the man has a gang of known arsonists with him to boot(extreme environmentalists) It will not take much for us to start shooting.
This area of science is effecting our lives, it has become a political tool. It needs to be totally transparent.. We will not forgive a politician for a fault we will forgive a friend for. And the same goes for climate scientists. This whole climate gate thing has exposed, at least to our perceptions that this area of science is being corrupted by politics. And a conformation bias seems evident to what we see in our own weather(this its much worse than we thought… and we look around, and think, yah know, if no one had told me about this, i wouldnt have noticed climate change… and this is unprecedented?
I personally dont doubt that adding co2 to the atmosphere will lead to warming.. the catastrophic predictions however? And watching what seems to be carpet baggers setting up carbon trading etc… all it takes is for us to see a pack o matches.

February 24, 2010 9:46 am

I keep shaking my head about the connection of “deniers” with big oil.
I am a skeptic because I have a scientific background. However, I work in the oil industry, though hardly for “big oil” which is merely a conspiracy-laden epithet. This made me reluctant to enter the debate until the pre-Copenhagen hype about AGW made it seem imperative to do so before a great policy mistake was made. The CRU leak was a fortunate coincidence(?) allowing the wedge of other opinion to slip further into the shell of “THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED” dogma.
CO2 driven AGW theory has not any more proof than the correlation of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration (still less than during much of the geologic past) and apparent global temperature increase through the last 150 years or so (which appears to have been inflated by biased data collection and analysis).
The proponents of the AGW theory seem to have behaved as advocates or aides to advocates, and not considered that any other position had any merit.
The difference in acceptance of two recent significant scientific controversies; the theory of evolution and the theory of plate tectonics, both of which are generally accepted by most educated people, show how beliefs can overwhelm evidence. In 2010, there is not much opposition to the concept of plate tectonics, but there is still serious opposition to evolution because of religious fundamentalism (notably Muslim as well as Christian), with a well-funded lobby that maintains websites and tries to influence education. The AGW theory has aspects of belief (generally political or eco-activist) that make it difficult for proponents and deniers to give credence to arguments from the other side (here I allow there are people who will use all kinds of argument and rhetoric – mostly in political or commentary positions). On the other hand, skeptics, who mostly are scientists or technical people, (including the bloggers Curry mentions and most of the comment posters on those blogs) can consider and weigh the validity of more of the evidence from either side. Dialog in scientific journals and transparency of process are necessary for resolution of the question “Is higher concentration of atmospheric CO2 resulting from fossil-fuel use significant in changing global temperatures and climate?”. After that, what to do about it may be pertinent (though debate and planning should probably continue, with the understanding that AGW is not necessarily a fact).
Science has to be skeptical, and skeptics should not be called deniers.
(Apologies for all the parentheses, it’s hard to include all the ideas and caveats that come to mind without writing an essay)

David Smith
February 24, 2010 9:46 am

I was a regular commenter at Steve McIntyre’s climateaudit in the pre-climate days, including more than a few back-and-forth exchanges with Judith on hurricanes. So, I’ve “butted heads” with Judith in the blogosphere and I have no qualms about (politely) butting heads again.
But, I also have no qualms about noting where she and I agree. So, I’ll note here that I find her article to be a pretty good description of things. I think she has hits the main points well. That doesn’t mean that I totally agree with the details but the gist of the article is about right. It’s a good piece of work.
One important point which I did not notice in the article (maybe I missed it) is that too many people in climate science have been making extraordinary claims for years. Those who make extraordinary claims are obliged, if they are to be believed, to provide extraordinary evidence. That is one of life’s rules which is widely held by we hoi polloi.
Climate science has failed, in my opinion, to provide the required extraordinary evidence to match the extraordinary claims. To move forward, climate science must tone down the claims (including press releases) until they align with the evidence. Otherwise, the profession’s ox cart will remain in the ditch.

February 24, 2010 9:47 am

Thank you, Dr. Curry, for your thoughtful remarks.
I fear, however, that you miss a big piece of what the uproar is about, when you say that ” No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.””
Unfortunately, perhaps, that is exactly the problem for that precise phrase is indeed invoked by very influential speakers in the policy debates, including by current as well as former government officials; and the basic thought runs through a great deal more of the policy-related materials. See e.g. former VP Gore at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642 (“The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers.”) (March 2007); and EPA, “Statement on Litigation on EPA Endangerment Finding” (posted February 22, 2010) (http://blog.epa.gov/administrator/) (“The question of the science is settled.”).
This is why Dr. Jones’ recent statement to the BBC to the effect that he didn’t share that view is likely to echo so loudly in legal and policy circles in coming months. . . . . He may have thought his statement unexceptional, but in the policy world it is jarring, to say the least, because it is so directly inconsistent with the underlying positions cited above.
There may well be a political basis for an eventual political consensus that emitting less CO2 is better than emitting more. But such a political (not “scientific”) consensus will require restoration of trust, as you rightly point out. For me, this recalls some of the debates of the early 1970s over whether or not there was a real or contrived natural gas “shortage”. There was a huge trust gap where the only good data came from the various participants in the energy industry and the trade associations (e.g. the American Gas Association, the API, etc.) and many involved in the natural gas policy debates did not trust those data. One of the first steps for rationalizing energy policy was to create a neutral and independent data source that was not part of anyone’s particular policy agenda. This is what became the Energy Information Administration in 1977 (as part of the DOE Organization Act). The EIA provides data that are used by all participants in various energy policy debates arguing for various — and often diametrically opposed — policy outcomes. Significant debates about the integrity of the underlying energy data disappeared decades ago.
The creation of the EIA went a long, long way to allowing for analytic arguments to replace ad hominem arguments (though the ad hominen attack will remain as long as we have hominems I fear . . . . :)). Similarly, the old Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was broken up in significant part to separate out the nuclear power support efforts (R&D, etc.) — the promotion or “advocacy” function — from the safety regulation function. Hence we got ERDA (subsequently folded into the DOE in 1977) and the intendment Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which remains outside of DOE. There are surely countless other examples within government.
The underlying problem revealed by the Climategate materials was the extent to which the data gatherers served also as policy advocates. No one should expect that researchers don’t have their own views on a host of policy issues, of course. They would be less than human if they didn’t have their own views and beliefs. But from a governmental standpoint, it was a terrible error to allow a system to evolve in which the researchers were in effective control of significant aspects of the policy development and policy recommendation apparatus, but without the kinds of public oversight and public accountability that normally go with the exercise of that kind of responsibility and power. The extent to which these factors taint the basic conclusions of the IPCC reports and the extent to which EPA acted appropriately or inappropriately in relying on the IPCC (and others) in exercising its own governmental powers are issues likely to be decided by the courts over the next year or two.
Ah, me! I think of Darwin sitting on that mountain peak, thousands of feet above the Pacific staring at the fossilized fishes in the rock outcropping, confronted by the raw facts before him and trying to fit the data to the prior paradigm and coming up short until he had to go back and start over on a new approach. But I also think of the researchers who tried to use Copernicus’ theory to account for the perceived data and coming up short because Copernicus was wrong — conceiving that the earth revolved around the sun in a perfect circle. Copernicus was trying to cram elliptical orbits into round holes as it were, when Kepler was not yet born to tell him what the problem was.
Those initial post-Copernican researchers may have been tempted by the simplicity and elegance of the heliocentric view, but if they wanted to be accurate the old Ptolemaic system was still more accurate — according to Kuhn at least — even though based on a completely incorrect theory. Copernicus was only approximately right, while the Ptolemaic researchers were more accurately wrong. . . It took nearly a century to sort things out.
Facts, analysis, theory; theory, analysis facts: Critical, skeptical thinking, revisiting the received wisdom — these should be the hallmarks of science. How the terms “skeptic” or “critic” (not to mention “denier”) ever became derogatory is a source of wonderment for me. Einstein denied the universal applicability (or “truth”, if you will) of Newton’s laws; Darwin denied a literal reading of Genesis; Lavoisier denied phlogiston, etc. etc. etc. All of which was made possible by observing and developing relevant facts, by thought and hard work — and by Edison’s one percent of inspiration or imagination that breathes new life and new insights into stale piles of data.
But a prerequisite for that is freedom. The free inquiry of free minds; free from the fear of losing the next grant because of a lack of perceived support for today’s conventional wisdom; free to disagree and dispute, to strive and to fail. “La pensee unique” is one French term for “political correctness” that captures nicely the view that only a only a single way of thinking is acceptable — the anathema of science.
If there a silk purse can sill be made of the sow’s ear of Climategate, let it be a return to the shared values of free thought by free minds, made possible by free speech and the free press of the blogosphere and beyond!
Thank you again for your essay. (And thanks to Anthony for what your site has become!)

Douglas Cohen
February 24, 2010 9:47 am

Dr. Curry is right about climategate having ramifications beyond the immediate issue of AGW. I wrote an article about this (short, I swear) at

February 24, 2010 9:48 am

I have just been to Real Climate to see if this essay is posted there. Perhaps it is and I didn’t look hard enough but judging by the comments on a post about some articles in The Guardian I don’t think they are going to change their stance anytime soon.
“We highlight issues with three of the articles below, which revisit a number of zombie arguments that have been doing the rounds of the sceptic blogs for years.”
The spirit of reconciliation, eh?

February 24, 2010 9:50 am

Thank you Dr Curry. It is a pity that relatively lay people have had to become climate auditors because they could not trust research scientists in the key instutions to do their work objectively. Perhaps a guest post from a psychologist might be appropriate next, to review the origins of groupthink and the beliefs that have become like a religion to the proponents of AGW – believe, believe, despite the evidence, and if that doesn’t work, adjust reality or deny it, until it fits your world view.
The reason for this is money and status; as good primates, we care what the troupe thinks of us, and we try to please the alpha males. I see it in corporate life all the time. The connection between climate scientists and grant money, tenure and speaker opportunities at prestigious conferences, the attention paid to them by government – and in some cases Royalty – have overwhelmed their objectivity.
We just want our truth back. Tell us what is really happening to the planet, and help us respond accordingly. The incredible gross exaggeration of Hensen et al have made the whole AGW thing look like the Emperor’s new clothes. Anthony and other “climate auditors” have pointed out that the king hasn’t got anything on. It’s a pity this has been needed but it turns out to be a service to humanity.
Dr Curry, retain your scientific integrity and tell the truth about the data.
Incidentally, as oil companies turn themseelves into energy companies, we will see them play both sides of this game, its no surprise that they can back the IPCC, fund “denier” websites, drill oil wells and build wind turbines, all at the same time. It’s called hedging your bets, and it’s all the rage.

Richard M
February 24, 2010 9:50 am

Now that many of us have posted some form of polite comment, let’s get back to reality.
Exactly when do you expect the likes of Obama, Gore, Brown, Schmidt, Mann, Karl, Serreze, Chu, Holdren, Romm, Foster (tamino), etc., etc to come forward and state that they were wrong or the that claims have been exaggerated?
I won’t be holding my breath.

February 24, 2010 9:51 am

Is it just me, or does that read like someone thinking they are addressing the UN? Long, self important, long, repetitious, long, meatless, and long.
“Hence I am distributing this essay to a number of different blogs simultaneously with the hope of demonstrating the collective power of the blogosphere to generate ideas and debate them.”
Umm, that isn’t how it works. You post stuff, if others find it interesting they link or repost. That is the filter, that is the ‘peer review’ if you like. Attempting to short circuiting this process only demonstrates hubris. Setting up an experiment to see if blogs can be used to “generate ideas and debate them” demonstrates you may be a bit out of touch with the animal you are trying to tame.

George Ellis
February 24, 2010 9:51 am

Dr. Curry,
Thanks. But you still have the same problem that got this whole mess started. You are still in the Us vs Them club. As pointed out above, you still have the club mentality and are addressing the folks in the bunker. In tone, you imply that only those in acedemia have anything to contribute and all others, at best, can be auditors. Remember that it was a monk that was the father of modern genetics. A layman. OMG.
I am not a ‘skeptic’ or a ‘denier’. My focus before I left grad school for a once in a life time job opportunity was econometrics. I thought there was something to this whole thing until I saw McIntyre’s analysis of the MM hockey stick. I know a null hypothesis when I see one.
Maybe that is what the club has forgotten in their models. The statistics students can tell you this (if anyone bothered to ask). “Will I fail this class because I incorrectly think a variable is a valid part of this model?” “Have I identified the real knowns?” “What can I possibly have not accounted for?” Some folks are too sure of themselves, and it shows. Others clearly and demonstratively have an agenda to promote CO2 as the source of climate change. Failure to assume you are wrong and work from there is the problem. You must try harder to refute your own assertion. I sure don’t see any of that going on over in the bunker.

Laws of Nature
February 24, 2010 9:51 am

Dear Judith,
how nice of you to see both sides of the story and realize that the skeptics aka deniers aka liberians aka technical people outside academics aka . .
might have a point.
Whereas “The climate researchers at realclimate.org were the pioneers in this..”
(there are more hymns about the greatness of the average climate researcher in the text) “have been defended as scientists with the best of intentions”.
Do you really believe to present both sides in a fair manner?
RC was created with one reason only: Trying to shut up Steve McI.
“Some blogs are heavily moderated”, well which one could you possibly mean by that? Heavy moderation is evil and every blog, which is driven by an agenda should be labbeled clearly, we need an open debatte!
PJP (07:37:47) wrote:
“[..]We see cherry picking of data to get the desired result. We see these same results disagreeing with current reality. Even though unable to explain why the divergence with current measurements, the “experts” absolutely insist that although they are completely ignorant of why the divergence, that that are completely justified in ignoring this discrepancy between theory and practice for current data, but absolutely insist on its integrity for 1,000+ years prior [..]”
You should take a stand, if some one pulishes wrong results knowing better or obstructs a FOI request because the archive is desolate should his head roll or not? Should institutions which fail to succeed in their mission be cut in founding or not?
I hear a loud silence and see many words not written in your statement.
Ask the question for all to see, why the people which found the errors and made the FOI requests are not represented in the so called independent reviewing.
Your letter is a nice read without any consquences and not a single fact or statement relevant for an improvement of the situation in it.
All the best,

Adrian Ashfied
February 24, 2010 9:51 am

Dr. Curry did not use the word denier to describe us, but “denier” to describe what the AGWers call us. I thought she wrote a good essay for those that had not been following the debate. Probably could not write it as we would and still get it published or read in AGW circles.
What could have been covered better was the disparity in funding between the researchers and the skeptics. Big oil money was always propaganda (wish I could get some.) The politics of the gatekeepers, who grant the research funds, has not been discussed. This is the key issue.
I talk to & email my local legislative person frequently. He refuses to look at the data, saying he is non technical and that he has to rely on the expert advice he is given about climate warming. I don’t know where Dr. Curry gets her information, but he is still being told that the science is settled.
The world has been warming about half a degree per century since the mid 1800s. Well described by Dr. Akasofu. That needs to be subtracted from the dodgy current temperature record before claiming anything new.
The missing information is how the AGW crowd come up with the CO2 forcing number used in the models. The range is enough to make one suspicious that no one really knows. I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.
REPLY: My point is that she could have simply left it out or made a stronger statement against its use. – A

February 24, 2010 9:52 am

The public will now not make any difference between skeptiks and AGW alarmists, climatologists and rocket scientists.
It is Science as a whole that has failed by entering the political circus, playing the role of the king’s astrologer. In this arena, there is no pardon, no trust to be restored, just blood waiting to be spilled in the yard so that anger be quenched.
I do not see any issue to this crisis other than quick and massive self-amputations for the sake of the whole body… because you can be sure someone will come that you do not like to cut into this roting corpse.

February 24, 2010 9:52 am

The most awsome statement is, “Science is ultimately a self-correcting process…” This might explain why a handful of honest people, including, but not limited to, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, Jeff ID, E.M.Smith, Bishop Hill, Joe D’Aleo, Steve Mosher and Tom Fuller, can halt and reverse the “unstoppable juggernaut” of global warming alarmism. The “scientific” research was funded by tens of billions of dollars of public and private funds. Al Gore bragged that he had raised $300 million to fund advocacy. The politicians (except for a few), media and Hollywood were all in support of the cause. Yet this was reversed. Yes, here science has shown to be a self correcting process. The truth is winning out in the end. Judith Curry’s biggest misconception is she thinks that it is a public relations issue.

February 24, 2010 9:52 am

I have yet to see anye real scientific evidence from testing that show CO2 is a cause of warming. So indeed we can say that the science is not settled”. I see that advert of the church of scientology is back here again. I hope that WUWT has nothing to do with this church?

February 24, 2010 9:53 am

Well, this is a good start, and I must give Dr. Curry a certain amount of credit for embracing this standpoint. But the post still contains (unconsciously, perhaps) remnants of the thinking that got us here.
Just one example: ecopolitical scientists have used the “big oil” boogey man to draw attention away from their own billion dollar politicised research budgets. This ad hominem argument was not only fallacious from the outset, but has been the epitome of hypocrisy for decades.
Dr. Curry doesn’t seem to have absorbed the full import of the Climategate papers, NOR the fact that those emails are just the tip of a very deep and very evil iceberg, one whose existence was foreseen almost fifty years ago:
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

February 24, 2010 9:54 am

I totally agree with Francois GM. I know nothing of the actual science regarding climate, but I did science at school, a long time ago and I can remember being told that nothing in science is settled . When I read, about five years ago that ‘the science is settled’ and a ‘consensus of scientists’ agreed that global warming was man made, I knew it had to be nonsense. It was this insistence that got my interest and put me on the path of a skeptic. At times I despaired that the mould of AGW could ever be broken but, thanks to the unknown hero who leaked the emails, it happened, and now its all downhill. More and more scientists have taken courage and started publishing anti AGW papers. Its just a matter of time.

February 24, 2010 9:58 am

People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers. (my emphasis)
With all due respect to Dr Curry, the political agenda of the “alarmists” is not a question of perception my perception of their activities – it is a matter of fact, evidenced by their participation in the explicitly political activity of recommending and setting public policy. This activity is not an inevitable outcome of scientific research – it was a deliberate choice by those such as Hansen or Schmidt to become advocates. Through the article Dr Curry expresses concern with the politicization of science, and warns that climate scientists are not well prepared for “political” conflict. I find that more than a little disingenuous, when it was the alarmist camp that made the science political, and used the most primitive ‘political’ tools (clubbiness, withholding data, subtle and not-subtle loyalty tests) to prevent open examination of their work.

Mark T
February 24, 2010 9:59 am

Lubos wins.

c james
February 24, 2010 9:59 am

I completely agree with post above by Paul Daniel Ash. Dr. Curry used the term denier “specifically to show how it is misused.” It doesn’t matter to those of us reading this blog what she may have emailed to you in private, that is not the information we see. If you got her to modify her use of the word “denier” then more power to you but you don’t need to bring your personal communication with her to light. I find that less than honest and if I was her I would be hesitant to continue private conversation with you for fear it would become public.
I have been a skeptic since I first became acquainted with this issue and as a television meteorologist, I wrote a blog on global warming for several years but I have become somewhat embarrassed by what, at least I perceive, as an increasingly defensive tone on your part. An example would be your responses to Herman L. in your post about the Slimy Essay from the Guardian and Columbia University. Had I responded to someone on that level, my blog would have been shut down.
You have been blessed with one of the most popular sites on the web. Please do not tarnish it with comments I feel I would more likely find on RealClimate. What Judith Curry has done here took great courage on the part of an academic. We may not agree with everything she says but she will indeed take flak from the other side for saying it. Applauding her efforts may encourage others to start a dialogue. Becoming prickly over her use of a word in private correspondence in not helpful to dialogue in any way.
Just my opinion. In general this is a great blog. Maybe you just need a vacation.

Derek H
February 24, 2010 10:01 am

Bravo to Anthony for posting this and bravo to Dr. Curry for writing it. By and large, I think her essay is pretty objective and a forthright analysis of the situation. I particularly applaud her recognition that many of us who peruse Climate Audit and Watt’s Up With That are in fact technically trained, not anti-science nor funded by any particular industry as is so often charged by AGW proponents.
I take two exceptions. First and most important is this idea of dueling blogs. I’m not sure the public is interested enough to bounce back and forth between blogs — especially when some of the ones she cites (RealClimate for example) are the worst at editing out dissenting opinion. I stopped visiting RealClimate when it became apparent that it was more interested in agit-prop than discussion. I have seen no similar suppression of opinions at Climate Audit or Watt’s Up With That. If you want to build trust in these so-called climate science institutions, you first have to start with them earning that trust by allowing reasonable debate and getting rid of the shrill emotional tone.
My second exception is in her characterization of the “climate establishment”. She seems (understandably) to still have a very favorable opinion of the self-appointed climate establishment but this colors her perception or characterization of their actions. She talks about a “misguided war against the skeptics” and “misinformed policy advocacy” as if the climate establishment were poor naive scientists caught up in a political and media firestorm they were ill-prepared to deal with. On the contrary, it has become quite apparent that the war by Mann/Jones/et al was not misguided but deliberately deceitful and malicious. Hansen and Mann were anything but naive — they appear to have in fact approached the whole affair for years with deliberation and quite intentionally manipulated the political processes, including Hansen’s phony claims of being muzzled.
I don’t even want to get into the follow-the-money arguments other than to say they are truly comical when you actually look at the numbers on both sides.
If other climate researchers want to rebuild trust, they need to start by recognizing the large number of scientifically and technically trained people who want the same kind of discussion that we’d have over a new cancer treatment, new aircraft design, dinosaur evolution theory, cold fusion, etc. That includes full and open disclosure of data and methods, acknowledgment of uncertainties and separation of advocates/advocacy from research and development. I’ll believe the climate establishment is really concerned about rebuilding trust when RealClimate, ClimateProgress and Tamiko admit the science isn’t settled, outline the uncertainties and engage in real dialog to understand and analyze the data instead of acting like the Wizard of Oz and telling us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

February 24, 2010 10:01 am

I truly think Al Gore’s exaggeration of the findings made it easier for people to doubt the science. When two third is covered by water on earth, and the a fraction of the third melts completely, it’s really hard to imagine 20ft rise. Then IPCC claims more modest 2ft and it seems believable, but that change happens everyday in some places just with high tide and low tide. So it becomes insignificant. Doubt then becomes skeptic. This is without any knowledge of science. But these nonscientist are performing observation, a legitimate first step of scientific method. And some with curiousity will do some research making their own case. For those who invesitigated on their own builds confidence in their knowledge than what’s been feeded. It is therefore harder to change their mind.
Something off topic. You know how the temp drops in 1940, but never hear why it dropped. Could it be due to nuclear testing? First test was in 1945 and the last atmospheric test was performed in 1976 and temp goes back up in 1980. Could it cause a drop and contribute to the rise?

February 24, 2010 10:01 am

While I find it interesting and potentially helpful to read Dr. Curry’s perspective and thoughts, such is not what strikes me.
What strikes me is the sheer volume of thoughtful and eloquent comments above. It’s a testament to the quality of this site, its admin and moderators, and the character and quality of this community.
I just felt compelled to express my appreciation.

Robert Burns
February 24, 2010 10:01 am

1. Curry wrote “The climate researchers at realclimate.org were the pioneers in this [the blogospheric debate]…”
Nonsense, Realclimate is a one sided debate which is heavily moderated to show only one side of the story.
2. Curry wrote “So why do the mainstream climate researchers have such a problem with the climate auditors? The scientists involved in the CRU emails seem to regard Steve McIntyre as their arch-nemesis…” Perhaps the answer is that “The scientists involved in the CRU emails” know that their science is so weak that it will not stand up to objective inquiry. That may also be why there is no public debate. If the science is strong, then the data and the code would speak for itself.
3. Compare and contrast Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” ( http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm ) with modern climate science and then ask why the climate scientists are not trusted. Feynman wrote
“We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other
experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you
were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll
disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some
temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation
as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind
of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to
fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the
research in cargo cult science.” and I would add IPCC climate science.

February 24, 2010 10:03 am

Sorry but i see this your way of “hide the decline”.

February 24, 2010 10:04 am

Expertise and trust, “the general practice of science and the personal behaviors of scientists”, are as church and state or as apples and oranges.
We can start with a bit less window dressing; ” The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC is often blamed on difficulties of communicating such a complex topic to a relatively uneducated public “.
We can start with; ” greater transparency, reforms to peer review ” and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints…
Ever realizing that Science by way of political proxy (i.e. prefaced financial support) took time to foment and will not go away quickly nor easily~

February 24, 2010 10:04 am

It is clear that we would not be reading anything from Dr Curry had “Climategate” not occurred. Interesting how its all about calming things down now that their pants are down.

February 24, 2010 10:05 am

On reflection, I think Anthony’s initial reaction to deny Curry’s post was correct. First, it’s just self aggrandizing blah, blah, blah. Secondly, I think the AGW crowd has woken up to the tremendous power of the blogosphere and is now trying to catch up and grab its share. Let Curry run her own blog.
On a completely different note (snip if appropriate), a commenter (I think this blog) recommended some kind of remembrance/memorial for Michael Crichton. Great idea, IMO. Like many, it was reading State of Fear that got me first interested in this topic.

February 24, 2010 10:05 am

Because I asked her to remove or denounce the usage and she declined to do so
She did denounce the usage.She was distinguishing how she saw skeptics as having integrity from others who labeled them as deniers. How on earth could she do that without using the word? If she had made the same points but avoided use of the actual term (say, if she had said “D-word” instead), would that have been acceptable?
REPLY: Look, we can go round and round on this, she missed a golden opportunity here. I see it differently than you do. Leave it at that. I’m not going to change my foreword because I believe that if there really is desire to extend an olive branch, it would be easy to denounce using the word in unambiguous terms. – Anthony

February 24, 2010 10:06 am

There are several things that came to mind after reading this essay. The first regards how climate science got into the predicament it is in. My impression of the science that I’ve followed for the last few years is that it started with a conclusion (anthroprogenic global warming) and then sought support for that conclusion. ( IPCC’s charter seems to be written this way.) When science looks for support rather than enlightenment, trouble usually follows. You now couple this with the variable nature of weather and climate. In the 20th century there was warming of 0.7C/century. This very weak trend is being pulled out of a very noisy data set that can see “global average temperature” vary by 0.7C in just 12 months. Attributing these weak trends in noisy data to anthroprogenic sources when its known there there is some natural background variability and probably measurement biases and you have a situation where anyone can probably pull any trend they want out of the data. People working in this area should be extremely cautious and conservative about drawing conclusions. Unfortunately that’s generally not the case.
A second thought that came to mind about the close scrutiny of climate science it reminded me of something Arnold Palmer said to Tiger Woods when he burst on the scene. Tiger was complaining that he could not get a moment of privacy and lead a normal everday life. Arnold told him, no problem, give back the $50 million from the endorsement deals, stop playing golf and go back to being just like everyone else. Climate scientists have enjoyed phenomenal prestige, significant increases in funding and with it has come scrutiny and notoriety. It comes with the territory.

Craig Loehle
February 24, 2010 10:07 am

Many people do still believe the science is settled, though what science is settled they will never say. If it is some big picture thing (“CO2 causes warming”) this is not very informative about the fate of the future climate. If it is that the models which forecast doom are made out of gossamer thread spun by angels, I wonder how they got that idea?
I still find it curious that Curry uses “denial machine” to slander certain people, if not Watts and McIntyre anymore. If you take as actual fact the forecasts in the IPCC reports, it is quite reasonable to “deny” that this level of impacts is worthy of derailing our economy and giving up hard-won freedoms–this is a political POV question, not a “reality” question, just as some people view these forecasts with alarm for reasons having to do with perceptions of risk. Remember that many environmentalists were proclaiming the end of the world long before the global warming crisis.

February 24, 2010 10:07 am

On my previous point on Crichton, I would like everyone to revisit Crichton’s now infamous speech in January 2003 titled “Aliens Cause Global Warming” –
His comments on the EPA and their methods are especially prescient:
— “In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was “responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults,” and that it ” impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of people.” In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.) Furthermore, since there was no statistical association at the 95% confidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified second hand smoke as a Group A Carcinogen.” —
That sounds eerily familiar… except today the EPA has the IPCC to launder the statistics for them.

February 24, 2010 10:07 am

I do appreciate Dr. Curry’s open attitude. But since she thinks

no one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.<"

, I don’t understand why she doesn’t use also the term deniers -which she likes, to those who deny the existence of a valid scientific debate.

R. de Haan
February 24, 2010 10:07 am

We are not deniers.
We all agree that our planet has been warming (and cooling) since we came out of the Little Ice Age. We all agree climate change is real and a constant process.
We simply don’t agree with the AGW theory that makes human kind responsible for warming that simply is not there. So how can you be called a denier if the very thing we are supposed to deny isn’t there?
The true denier here is Dr. Judith Curry.
Dr judith Curry is administering CPR on a dead horse and she doesn’t know it!
It’s amazing.
First point: The temperature data sets presented in the UN IPCC AR-4 report are crooked and they know it.
That’s why Met Office takes on the tremendous task to produce a totally new temperature data set.
Second Point: The only presented proof for the role of CO2 causing warming is in crooked climate models.
The models stated that the atmosphere would be warming with rising amounts of CO2.
The reality is that the atmosphere is cooling despite a rise in CO2.
The bottom line that the UN IPCC AR-4 does not contain a shred of evidence linking CO2 with Global Warming, let alone there is evidence for Anthropogenic Global Warming.
The horse is dead as dead as a dead horse can be!
But how did this horse die? How did this snow blind and frozen horse die?
I don’t know, but I do know it died, despite a budged of almost 67 billion dollars spend on climate research where scientists have been fudging the data and an immense propaganda campaign to brainwash and lie to the electorates of the West.
And while frantic attempts are made to breathe life in this dead frozen snow blind horse, and create the illusion of a discussion about the science, Governments are introducing regulations, spending billions, even trillions on coastal defense projects to prevent an ocean level rise that will never happen in our times (The Dutch alone have allocated a budget of 50 billion Euro to protect their coast against the “expected” sea level rise until 2050) and 1.2 billion people are currently feeding on a daily food rationing under 1.700 calories per day because of the brilliant idea to process food stocks into bio fuels, allowing the West to go “carbon neutral”!
The financing of coal power plants via the World bank in development countries is blocked by the UN and Obama, depriving the people in the third world from their only chance to escape poverty and despair, just to mention a few examples which without any exception represent billions of wasted dollars and threaten human lives.
As I said, I don’t know what killed the horse but if I can make a guess I would say it died by natural causes.
There is nothing exceptional going on with our climate today and there is no indication whatsoever there is going to be something wrong with our climate in the future.
But there is everything wrong with the Climate Change doctrine and the political agenda that hijacked the science for policy purposes resulting in fraud, treason and murder (or is it genocide?)
We will get the science restored and we will bring the perpetrators of this incredible scam to justice. And that is not a threat but a promise.
But we can’t bring the dead horse back alive!
And you know what Dr Judith Curry, neither can you.

Steve M. from TN
February 24, 2010 10:09 am

The failure of the public and policy makers to understand the truth as presented by the IPCC
No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”

If the IPCC has the “truth” then the debate must be over, and the science settled. Funny thing about truth: it’s either true, or not. If no one (a hasty generalization) really believes that the “science is settled”, then the IPCC does not have the “truth.”

Sean Peake
February 24, 2010 10:11 am

“So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?”
-actually it’s been cut off at the knees (and I’m not prepared to call it a draw)
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”
-Brave to say, Dr. Curry, but I guess you won’t be receiving invitations to faculty parties any more.
Let’s see what AGW blogs spin this.

David L. Hagen
February 24, 2010 10:14 am

Dr. Curry
See the excellent post by LuciaOn the Credibility of Climate Research: The Blackboard Responds.
She provides detailed measures needed to restore integrity to climate science as exposed by ClimatGate.

Sean Peake
February 24, 2010 10:14 am

“So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?”
-actually it’s been cut off at the knees (and I’m not prepared to call it a draw)
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”
-Brave to say, Dr. Curry, but I guess you won’t be receiving invitations to faculty parties any more.
Let’s see how AGW blogs spin this.

February 24, 2010 10:16 am

Dr. Curry should be commended for acknowledging the public’s lack of trust in the current process and addressing it.
Personally, I don’t know if there is any warming or not due to human caused emissions because the data we have available to us can’t be trusted. The station deletions are suspicious and the “adjustments” to the remaining stations are suspicious as is the process used to “fill in” areas where there are no current readings in the data.
So we don’t know what global temperature is really doing from surface measurements though we do have satellite measurements that I tend to place more trust in. The reason I trust the satellite-based measurements is that we have two sets of them. They use different platforms to perform their measurements and they use different processing of the raw data to reach their conclusions and while the two do differ slightly, they are in close agreement with each other. They show a pattern that is diverging from the surface measurements.
The second issue is the the way the data are used to influence public policy. I was watching the Science Channel last night and could not go more than 30 minutes without being told how AGW was going to destroy us all and how this company or that company was “fighting” global warming or how we will not have any more ice ages due to AGW. In other words, people watching media like that are being indoctrinated with AGW as a “truth” that has not been shown to be real. Once indoctrinated with this “truth” they are likely to be receptive to huge amounts of government spending on projects that are billed as “green” but may have no real impact. The amount of change these projects produce are swamped by increases elsewhere in a matter of weeks. Many times these projects are used by political entities to further their agenda that have more impact in socio-economic areas than in reducing the impact of AGW on world climate.
If we are going to spend billions of dollars of our children’s and grandchildren’s money (what we are doing is spending their tax dollars now, before they are even in the labor force), we have an obligation to them to ensure that it is A: needed and B: effective in its use. It isn’t about current politics for me so much as I see it as a responsibility to those who currently have no voice in government. I feel a personal obligation to ensure that we don’t waste their money now on something that might not be happening or might not be harmful. They are going to be on the hook to repay that money. It is our duty to be responsible in the spending of it.
I have no confidence that the current model projections are accurate. I have no confidence that the current surface record is accurate. I must do what I can to block spending of huge amounts of money until we know that there really is a problem and that what we are doing will make any difference. We don’t have accurate data even from satellites for long enough to know what is and what is not global climate change when the changes we have seen to date can be explained in both magnitude and rate by natrual cyclical processes. The natural variability introduces more “noise” than any apparent baseline change.
The challenge now becomes to produce a data set of good enough quality that decisions may be based upon it. We must rely less on model projections that diverge from the observations and place more weight on what is actually observed once we get an observational data set that can be trusted as the projections have to date been shown to be unreliable.
That is a lot of work and will likely take a long time to accomplish. In the meantime, we should tone down the AGW rhetoric until we know better what we are talking about.

richcar 1225
February 24, 2010 10:18 am

I do not believe that we can settle the debate scientifically. No matter how many manatees die this winter, weather is not climate. Even if we all agree that that Arctic sea ice will recover and the globe will not warm the next thirty years based on emerging ocean circulation patterns, AGW supporters will claim this is just a short term trend but in the long term AGW will return. We can not test this hypothesis because we will not live that long.
The only way to ‘win the debate’ is through the ballot box. The AGW propagandists are attempting to use the EPA through their ‘co2 endangerment finding’ to go around congress and provide cover for the politicians that support greenhouse regulation. They have even told coal state democrats that they will not begin to regulate co2 until 2011 after the mid term elections. Regulation will result in raising the cost of electricity, heating and cooling, food and transportation costs. The little guy, not big oil will be crushed. Alternative energy will benefit but wind and solar will never contribute more than 1% of the energy consumed by this nation.
The mainstream media is proving cover for the the AGW supporters. Luckily we now have the alternative media (internet blogs) like WUWT to fight back.
Please vote.

February 24, 2010 10:18 am

I think the concept of trust is overrated. What we need is a good dose of scepticism, independent thinking, and fact-checking. If scientists and advocates would have to defend their notions, it never would have gone that far.

February 24, 2010 10:18 am

James Chamberlain (08:16:55) :
I feel bad that I have become quite polarized … I’m just saying, both sides getting more polarized takes us nowhere.

A bandit with a gun reaching for your wallet is “polarizing”.
When “they” quit reaching for my wallet, I’ll become less polarized.
Shortly after the climategate story broke, I found a pile of raw data at GHCN and worked it up. Simple, straight-forward, no significant warming. See source-code & results on my blog.

February 24, 2010 10:19 am

It is encouraging that at least one climate scientist is beginning to get the message and beginning to understand the skeptical viewpoint.
It is very interesting to see her acknowledge that Steve Mc and AW have “brought the climate establishment to its knees”.
She is still wrong on a few points:
(a) the suggestion that the biased groupthink is limited to IPCC WGII – in fact WG1 is almost as bad.
(b) “As a result of the IPCC influence, scientific skepticism by academic researchers became vastly diminished”. It was reading AR4 that convinced me that AGW exaggeration was not just in the media, but was endemic in the climate science community.
The really difficult question is how trust can be rebuilt. I really cannot see any answer to this.

February 24, 2010 10:20 am

Despite your reservations I think it was right to publish here.
Although some scientists have undoubtedly been like ‘car thieves’ as David Hoffer said above most try to do the best job they can. There is no doubt that the science itself has been cherry picked by policy makers in order to gain control, and make money.
Also Roger Pielke Sr’s view on this article is a useful read.

two moon
February 24, 2010 10:21 am

The term “deniers” does indeed grate, but in fairness she also uses the terms “skeptics” and “lukewarmers.” It’s a start. It would be a true sign of progress if this essay (or one like it) were to be invited at realclimate.org. We shall see.

February 24, 2010 10:26 am

James Sexton (09:20:56) :
“No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”
I think it is illuminating to contrast this algore “the science is settled” with how the public would react if we interchanged politics and science. We would in science have two opposing views, able to debate in public and each and every assertion subject to huge scrutiny – and in politics:
We would have some dictator telling us what the politics is. No opposition party – certainly no funding for anyone except the government, all government statistics would be completely controlled by the one party state and the public would be subject to a mass media campaign to tell them the government is right.
Few of us our experts in government, and none of us in all areas, but we trust the system of democracy because the policies are subject to open and intense scrutiny and because we know that the opposition is good, we know even the best scrutiny hasn’t found enough fault to undermine the government’s case.
In contrast, the opposition to Global has been systematically rooted out and funding removed. There is almost no one able to advocate the opposition to global warming, – the result is a loss of confidence in the case for global warming (I suggest for good scientific reasons) -which means the public are now extremely sceptical of the global warming “scientists” ability to make its case in the face of real opposition.
In summary: Global warming “science” is the scientific equivalent of a bankrupt one-party banana republic (with apologies to banana producing countries for the obvious slur)

Paul Hildebrandt