A profile of Dr. Judith Curry

Foreword: I’ve spoken with Dr. Curry by telephone, and she acts nowhere near as “frowny” as she looks in the photo below. I think she was just “mugging for the camera”, perhaps at the behest of the photographer. In general I’ve found her to be amenable and friendly. So if you need a better picture, look at this one. I also recommend reading her most recent essay: Reversing the direction of the positive feedback loop – Anthony

From the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine – Handling the Heat

By Van Jensen on October 27, 2010

Photos by Melissa Bugg

It is hot outside. This might not be notable except that it is late September and still in the mid-90s Fahrenheit, some 10 degrees warmer than usual for Atlanta according to the Weather Channel.

It is another hot day in a hot year. And it comes on the heels of the 2000s, which NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies declared the hottest decade on record. It is, to many, one more piece of proof that the world is heating with unnatural rapidity as human industries churn out greenhouse gases.

Judith Curry doesn’t seem to notice the heat. As the afternoon sun beats down, she stands in a patch of grass on the Georgia Tech campus and poses for a photographer. Beads of sweat form on the photographer’s brow while maneuvering around Curry, snapping one photo after another. She is stoic, unbothered. Truth is, in the past year, Curry has grown accustomed to the heat.

In addition to serving as chair of Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Curry has become a renowned climate scientist. And when the debate over global warming erupted into all-out war with last year’s theft of private e-mails from climate scientists — known as Climategate — Curry had the temerity to break ranks and join those criticizing the scientists.

Staking out a position smack dab in the middle of those who warn of global warming’s existential threat to humanity and those who call it a hoax — alarmists and deniers, as they call each other — Curry has made herself a target of both camps. One science blogger labeled her climate change’s “inconvenient provocateur.” Climate modeler and blogger William Connolley suggested she’d suffered “a failure to think.”

Many of those who’ve criticized Curry have demanded she offer facts to support her assertions. They want to know what she thinks, what she believes about the climate.

The irony is that Curry isn’t caught up on what is known, what the research really shows. What drives her is all that remains uncertain.

Curry grew up in a suburb of Chicago. She says neither of her parents had any scientific inclination.

Her first push into science came in the fifth grade when a geologist spoke to her class. While a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, Curry was mulling a future in earth science when she took an introduction to meteorology class with a professor named Clayton Reitan.

“I ended up going the meteorology/climatology route,” Curry says. “It had a good teacher and a nice combination of physics, chemistry and earth science.”

At that point in the early 1970s, climate change “wasn’t on the table,” she says. Curry’s interest was the Arctic. Her PhD thesis at the University of Chicago was on the impact of sea ice and clouds on the radiation balance of the Arctic. She continued that research for a decade while serving as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, Purdue and eventually Penn State.

“That set me up very much to be involved in the climate change problem when, in the ’80s, that became more on the front burner,” Curry says.

Global warming became front-page news in 1988 when James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute, delivered testimony to congressional committees that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause increased temperatures, and that the impact would happen soon.

That same year, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, both under the umbrella of the United Nations, established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s mission was to evaluate the risk of human-caused climate change and recommend policies to lessen its impact.

At that point, Curry wasn’t closely involved with the public debate on climate change.

“The IPCC, they were the visible people,” she says. “As a rank-and-file scientist, I didn’t pay close attention and didn’t feel any particular reason to take a stand one way or the other. I was rather skeptical of some of the things Jim Hansen was saying. I didn’t think they were justified by the data we had.”

A select group of climate scientists from different countries formed the IPCC’s leadership, collaborating on climate change assessment reports. The first was released in 1990 and served as the foundation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a 1992 nonbinding international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking back, Curry sees the establishment of the IPCC as a harbinger of the trouble to come. Because the IPCC was tied to the United Nations treaty framework, the policy discussion influenced the scientists, she says. And environmental advocacy groups heavily supported the global warming movement, which further shaded the view of climate change.

As one of the IPCC’s lead authors, Keith Shine was quoted at the time in a Reuters article, “We produce a draft, and then the policymakers go through it line by line and change the way it is presented. … It’s peculiar that they have the final say in what goes into a scientist’s report.”

Climate change had become not a scientific question but a tool to push for environmental reform.

“The IPCC changed the way the entire topic has been framed,” Curry says. “With those kinds of roots, this is what you get.”

The debate over climate change was just heating up.

In 1995, the IPCC released a second assessment report, which forecast catastrophic global warming. Two years later, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was updated with the better-known Kyoto Protocol. As part of the treaty, 37 industrialized countries and the European Union committed to cutting production of greenhouse gases.

While the scientific community appeared committed to the belief in global warming, an opposition movement was beginning to form. Industries opposed the limiting of greenhouse gas emissions, claiming it would cause economic damage. Some politicians and economists warned that Third World countries could suffer because the protocol would limit their ability to generate energy.

Those who doubted global warming and opposed the protocol began to receive funding from utility companies and particularly the oil industry. A 2010 Greenpeace report found that Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates pipelines, donated nearly $48 million to climate change opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.

The skeptics seized on comments like those of S. Fred Singer, an emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, who in 1995 wrote a letter to IPCC contributing scientists to complain of changes made to the second assessment report by policymakers.

Singer noted that some phrases expressing doubt about global warming were deleted. One excised sentence stated, “Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”

Singer concluded, “I believe we have here a clear example of the misuse of science — and of scientists.”

Then came the direst climate warning yet. In 1999, Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State University, released a paper that examined temperatures from the past thousand years. The temperatures remained flat until about 1900, when they spiked up suddenly and continued escalating. The chart’s shape earned it the nickname the hockey stick graph.

The graph was featured prominently in the IPCC’s third assessment report in 2001, and Mann became one of the leading figures of climate science. His research became a subject of inquiry for those who doubted global warming. One of the most well known of these, Stephen McIntyre, began requesting Mann release the data that went into the report.

The 2001 report also received criticism from one of its lead authors. Richard Lindzen, an MIT meteorology professor, wrote that IPCC officials and policymakers significantly changed a draft prepared by scientists to play up the threat of global warming.

“There may not have been any significant warming in the last 60 years,” Lindzen wrote. “Moreover, such warming as may have occurred was associated with jumps that are inconsistent with greenhouse warming.”

In 2002, Curry was appointed to her current position at Georgia Tech. Through her research and appointments to prestigious committees and boards of the World Meteorological Organization, the National Research Council, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she was becoming increasingly known in the climate change community.

She was tapped in 2003 to suggest ideas for a workshop on uncertainty in climate science, and she suggested a focus on characterizing and understanding uncertainty in data and climate models. But the workshop ended up focusing on communicating uncertainty to policymakers rather than trying to understand it.

“I wasn’t criticized in 2003, I was ignored,” Curry says. “It was an idea that was floated, and nobody wanted to hear it at the time. They were on a different wavelength.”

At that point, Curry’s research had shifted from the Arctic to tropical storms. Particularly, she had found that tropical storms and hurricanes were increasing in intensity and that global warming would only exacerbate the storms. The findings were published in the journal Science in 2005, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

The timing was “uncanny,” Curry says. It instantly brought her media attention and, for the first time, a prominent place among climate scientists engaged in the public debate on climate change.

“Maybe for a few years I was adopted into that clique circa 2005 after the hurricane paper,” Curry says. “I made public statements supporting the IPCC findings. I had my questions, but I felt like that was the responsible thing to do.”

Curry wasn’t alone in supporting the IPCC. In 2007, the panel released its fourth assessment report, which stated “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and had the support of thousands of scientists from dozens of countries.

The IPCC shared that year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, who was the primary subject of the 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Public opinion polls showed that belief in global warming as a threat was higher than it had ever been. But the nonbelievers were far from giving up.

On Nov. 17, 2009, the servers of several climate science blogs were hacked, and the hackers attempted to post more than 1,000 e-mails and 3,000 other documents.

It was quickly discovered that the e-mails and documents had been taken from a server used by the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University, the British holder of global temperature records. The e-mails were private correspondence between several of the top climate scientists, most of them closely involved with the IPCC. Soon, claims were made that the e-mails poked holes in the certainty of global warming.

The hacker had copied the data to several locations around the Internet, including some Web sites of global warming skeptics, by Nov. 19. The hack soon began receiving mention online and in the mainstream media. In the following days and weeks, several of the involved scientists received death threats. The disclosure of the e-mails became known as Climategate.

Shortly after the e-mails were leaked, Curry saw some online and knew they were real.

“Many of my peers thought it was just an illegal hack that we could ignore,” she says. “I saw it as a threat to the IPCC and all of climate science, largely because of this trust issue.”

The trust issue, Curry says, is that scientists are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards and not let outside influences shape their findings.

According to Fact Check and other independent organizations, the e-mails don’t invalidate global warming research. Many skeptics seized on the phrase “hide the decline” in one e-mail, but given proper context, the quote didn’t reflect a willful mischaracterization of data.

The e-mails do shed light on a group of scientists who were perhaps overly certain of themselves and overly caustic toward critics. Global warming criticism was referred to as “fraud” and “pure crap” in some messages.

Curry says the scientists had “some hubris in having too much confidence in what they were doing” and were too engaged with the politics of the debate. Scientists also made efforts to block Freedom of Information Act requests from McIntyre and other skeptics, the e-mails show.

“I had trusted those guys,” Curry says. “But when I saw all this about what really goes on behind closed doors, how these conclusions are reached, how they try to put down skeptics, I felt like the IPCC had lost the moral high ground. I didn’t feel the same obligation to support their findings, particularly their conclusions based on expert judgment.”

Curry decided to publicly voice her viewpoint on the e-mails. While many scientists were taking a “circle the wagons” approach, she says she recognized that climate scientists needed to work quickly to regain the public trust.

Her first writing on the subject was published Nov. 22, 2009, on McIntyre’s Web site climateaudit.org. She warned of significant damage to public credibility caused by a lack of transparency, “tribalism” among some in the climate research community and unwillingness to engage with skeptics.

A week later, Curry wrote a second missive, an open letter to graduate students and young scientists to reaffirm basic research values.

She wrote, “A better understanding of the enormous policy implications of our field should imbue in all of us a greater responsibility for upholding the highest standards of research ethics.”

“What bothered me the most was how climate researchers looked to the public, especially to educated and technical people,” Curry says of posting the messages. “They expect higher standards.”

Curry expected that other scientists would come forward with similar responses, but she was nearly alone.

Needless to say, Curry lost her place in the IPCC clique. At the 2010 Google Science Foo Camp in August, Curry and Mann, whose work she has criticized, were both in attendance. The two avoided each other, Curry says.

Climateprogress.org, which had been called the most influential climate blog by Time magazine, responded critically to Curry’s essays. Her opinions were called “unconstructive,” full of “factual misstatements” and “completely at odds” with her previous position on global warming.

Her stance didn’t completely defrost her relationship with global warming skeptics either. Blogger and skeptic Anthony Watts only grudgingly published one of Curry’s essays, with the caveat that he opposed her use of the term “deniers” to describe skeptics.

Meanwhile, investigations into Climategate explored both the crime of the hack and whether the e-mails revealed any scientific wrongdoing. The criminal inquiries have yet to turn up the hacker, and the various other investigations — conducted by institutions such as the British House of Commons and Penn State University — vindicated the scientists aside from some “misleading” conclusions.

That did little to temper the criticism of the IPCC, Mann and other top climate scientists. Clive Crook, a senior editor at The Atlantic, wrote of the inquiries, “At best they are mealy mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even willfully wrong.” John Tierney of The New York Times added, “When a journal publishes a skeptic’s paper, the scientists e-mail one another to ignore it. They focus instead on retaliation against the journal and the editor.”

As Curry predicted, Climategate also led to a heightened distrust of climate scientists from the American public. A December 2009 Rasmussen Reports poll showed that 52 percent of Americans believed there existed significant disagreement among scientists about global warming. And 59 percent believed it was somewhat likely scientists had falsified data, while 35 percent believed it was very likely.

For her part, Curry doesn’t believe any scientists acted maliciously.

“I don’t think anybody’s come at this with bad motives,” she says. “It’s really about believing their models and thinking we should do something about it based on what the models say. … And even if you could have 100 percent confidence in the models, that doesn’t necessarily prescribe what you should do in terms of policy.”

During the fallout of Climategate, policymakers and politicians from around the world slowed or stopped pushes for climate legislation, Curry says. “There are all sorts of reasons to work toward clean energy, but as far as climate change being a driver of that, I think it’s lost an enormous amount of traction.”

Instead of simply trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale, Curry advocates making humanity less vulnerable to extreme events such as hurricanes and focusing on regional issues. In Atlanta, for example, global warming is less of a concern than water. Droughts and floods create significant problems for the rapidly growing population.

While scientists shouldn’t be afraid to engage with the public or policymakers, Curry says the climate debate reveals the downside of scientists becoming too involved in politics.

“The sad thing is what should’ve been a political debate was fought over details of the science,” she says. “Part of this is the fault of the scientists. Scientists recommended policy for greenhouse gas stabilization. … The scientists became the pawns in the political debate over energy policy.”

Curry doesn’t blame individual scientists but rather institutions such as the IPCC. Her view was echoed in an August 2010 report by the InterAcademy Council that stated the IPCC “needs to fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures.”

Curry says the panel “needs to change the way they do business or they risk becoming irrelevant. The IPCC relies more on experts than science. They put forth a lot of circumstantial evidence, but they don’t put it forward in an argument with the uncertainty, which is needed to make their arguments more airtight.”

Despite those in the climate change camp who question Curry’s allegiance, she’s concerned about her own impact on the environment. She drives a Toyota Prius hybrid and walks from her midtown Atlanta home to her office on the Tech campus.

Her office isn’t overly decorated, though two large paintings hang from the walls. One shows an island, gray and dead, with two volcanoes rising into the dark sky. It has a vaguely apocalyptic feel. The other is dominated by an orange-red globe that seems to be on a stage.

The paintings were done by Curry’s daughter, Meredith. Curry says she chose them for the abstract way they evoke Earth and surrounding planets.

Another wall displays framed editorial cartoons. One features Curry popping out of a trash can labeled “Climate Science.” She’s holding a piece of paper and saying, “I found a good bit.” Another cartoon features Curry as Joan of Arc. She wears chain mail armor and is labeled the patron saint of climate science as she literally throws down her gauntlet.

In the past year, that often has been the perception of Curry: a scientist out picking fights, an inconvenient provocateur. But that hasn’t been her mission at all, she says. Instead, she is trying to bring together the polarized sides of climate debate and return scientists’ focus to thorough research.

“The criticism [of the essays] was from the mainstream climate blogosphere,” Curry says. “In terms of scientists who stay out of the public debate, I feel like I got a lot of support.

“Scientists involved in the public debate mainly were trying to protect the UN treaty and were worried my post was going to make things worse. But that’s about policy and not about science. If that’s what was making these people tick, they’re part of the problem. That’s how we got in this trouble in the first place.”

Curry also says she felt supported in her efforts by colleagues and the administration at Tech, as well as the Institute’s alumni, who have sent Curry supportive e-mails and commented positively on her posts on climate blogs.

Asked if she felt any regrets about her responses to Climategate, Curry says she only wished she had started her own blog initially instead of submitting posts to different sites and getting into debates with commenters.

“I’ve gotten caught up in lots of little blogospheric tempests,” she says of her online forays. “I think the blogosphere can be potentially very important, but most scientists don’t like to do it because it can be blood sport.”

In September, she started her own blog, Climate Etc., hosted at judithcurry.com. From the beginning, her posts were receiving hundreds of views and comments.

Her public engagement has driven Curry’s research interests into the sociology and philosophy of science. She’s begun looking into the process of group learning and the wisdom of crowds as well as the potential pitfalls of highly charged research areas like climate change, in which statements can become political fodder or affect funding.

Beyond her administrative, research and blogging duties, Curry also is the president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, a clean technology company she founded with Peter Webster, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech.

That leaves little free time, though she says she tries to fit in her only hobbies: hiking with her dogs, yoga and reading. And she makes time for posing for photos, as on a particularly hot September day.

She’s asked about these bits of news, that the temperature has been hovering well above historic averages, that NASA is calling the 2000s the hottest decade on record. After Climategate, what do pronouncements such as those mean?

“An individual record doesn’t say anything about climate change,” Curry says. “The historical records are pretty short, and we don’t have a lot of data over the oceans prior to 1960. There’s not a lot of context for some of these statements. You can’t read too much into them.”

One of the great frustrations over climate change is that it seems there would be consensus. Is the climate warming or not? Are humans causing it? Don’t the scientists have a conclusive answer?

The climate is an extremely chaotic system, one affected by solar variations, volcanic activity, ocean oscillations and other factors, Curry says. The major problem with the IPCC reports and some research that was exposed during Climategate was unwarranted confidence, she says.

The climate’s natural variability is unpredictable. Greenhouse gas emissions could offset a natural cooling trend or amplify a heating trend. “It could even mean the plausible worst-case scenario is worse than anything we’ve imagined,” Curry says.

“It’s a very complex scientific problem. There’s a lot of uncertainty,” she says. “It’s not that we’re incompetent, there’s just a lot of inherent variability. A lot of that is unknowable.”

The question then naturally arises. What is Judith Curry sure about?

She pauses before giving an answer in three parts.

“Climate always changes,” she says.

“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.”

And lastly, “Whether in the coming century greenhouse gas will dominate natural variability remains to be seen.”

Asked what she is certain of, her most definitive answer is uncertainty itself.


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There are plenty of MUCH more flattering pictures of her on the net.
Not sure why that photographer think she “caught something” with that photo LOL.
Here is the link to the better pics….
Norfolk, VA, USA

Joe Lalonde

Dr. Curry is a remarkable woman!
She definately see scientists destroying themselves if they don’t get off their high horse.

Pamela Gray

I so enjoyed her last 4 comments, though the last one was likely journalistically redacted from the context of the interview. Nonetheless, well put, well put.


“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.”
Nothing in weather or climate stays ‘equal’.


Wow. She actually speaks the truth. OMG I am shocked. These are perfectly valid statements:
“Climate always changes,” she says.
“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.”
And lastly, “Whether in the coming century greenhouse gas will dominate natural variability remains to be seen.”
The sad thing is that this was already known when I studied atmospheric physics in grad school physics. Why are so few other scientists willing to be up front and honest about the uncertainties?
I am not religious by even an iota but I’ll still say,”bless her for telling it like it is”!


“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.” J Curry
Surely this says it all, only leaving the issue of how much the Globe will warm due to increased Carbon dioxide.


I should add that my grad school courses in atmospheric physics were taken over twenty five years ago.

John R T

Lots of good stuff:
E.g., ¨… Al Gore, who was the primary subject of the 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth.¨
Subject. Object. Whatever. Truth was the target, surely neither subject nor object.


Judith Curry took a breath and looked around, the results were good for her and for all of us as well. It is not clear who will be next but once sightedness returns there will be more.
Thank you Judith Curry for taking the breath and Thank you Anthony for continuing the story.

At last someone you can actually gave a conversation with.

Anthony’s excellent article on Dr Curry is one of the best I’ve ever read, on a par with anything the overcompensated science writers of the NY Times or WaPo can produce.
Because of Curry’s stature, other scientists will begin jack up their courage and speak out: we really know very little of all the factors that drive the climate. And until we know more, common sense tells us that acting precipitously is acting foolishly.

richard verney

“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.” is the key observation.
In a chaotic system (such as Earth’s atmosphere) all the “other things” will not remain equal such that we do not know wther CO2 will in practice over time have a warming effect. In particular, increased cloud formation could be a negative feedback which will counter any warming effect brought about by an increase in CO2.


Thanks for posting this Anthony… it is like a breath of fresh air. It is the most balanced piece (and a useful potted history) I have read in a long time. If only this timbre of communication was portrayed in the IPCC reports, then we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place because it would be clear that there is far too much uncertainty to drive any policy relating to CO2 concentrations.


I rather like the pictures depicting Judith here. Yup, they’re revealing the seriously annoyed side
of Judy for sure but whom amongst us wouldn’t put on the p***ed-off visage when, truly, p***ed off by those who claim that they represent the same side as her?
What we see here, is a Woman in Love. With Science. With Logic. And with a Truth that she used as her guiding star!
And she is not a Happy Bunnie..
She has morphed from hero to zero, according to her ‘peers’, because she is a dupe, a victim of blackmail, a recipient of an embarrassing mental ailment or, nod, nod, wink, wink, a shill of big fossil.
Her peers have neglected to explore why JC may have changed her viewpoint, contrary to their pronouncements.
She may have felt that some of her colleagues could well had proven themselves unworthy of her respect. She may even have had questions that few, amongst her peers, seemed unwilling to respond to.
Maybe, and just maybe, she got rather annoyed that the big questions just got brushed aside!
Ms JC, thanks for the words, the integrity, the you.


Ooh, OK. I read “her most recent essay: Reversing the direction of the positive feedback loop “. That is a big pile of vague accusations, all right. I really wish she had named names, even one. Or explained, presented facts, or some type of proof, for even a few of those accusations. I don’t really agree with that sort of writing.

Doug in Seattle

For someone in the prime of her career to take such a risk is quite astonishing. Its not like an emeritus professor taking a stand with his society over their support of the “consensus”.
I think we need to wait to see how much her grants gets sliced over the next few years. She is probably still in the middle of many, but I wonder if older ones are being renewed.
If her or the department’s funds are badly mauled, what will GT do?


thank you judith curry.

Harry the Hacker

Nicely written article. Finally some sense being written about people and the planet.
About time.
Now can somebody please tell our idiot politicians to pull their heads out of all our businesses and let us get on with our lives?


PS. Everyone else, forgive the generalism, gives the smile.
You grant a frown.

R John

“Those who doubted global warming and opposed the protocol began to receive funding from utility companies and particularly the oil industry. A 2010 Greenpeace report found that Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates pipelines, donated nearly $48 million to climate change opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.”
Umm… are we supposed to accept anything from Greenpeace as factual. Anyone know “who” received this money? Watts? McIntyre? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
This tired dogma of energy slush funds for critics is utter nonsense.

Barry Moore

I do have a sincere respect for Dr Curry she leaves all the doors open which is fundamental to good scientific thinking. I wish she would take a closer look at the fundamental physics specifically radiation physics upon which the entire scientific proof of the existance of the so called greenhouse gas effects rests. I would recommend the paper by Dr. John Nicol professor emeritus in Physics of James Cook University. I have read a number of papers written by eminent Physicists and I feel this one is the best. Clearly the IPCC hypothisis does not have any credibility when analysed in the context of the laws of Physics, statistical analysis has never and will never constitute scientific proof.

Julian Flood

In a world where an eminent scientist can say “”I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over,” and not notice his own error, it’s good that there is still one hero.
And she knows about aerosols! Now, about the Kreigesmarine Hypothesis….


You want her to mention names?
You probably want her to provide links as well.
Read the inter-webby stuff!
The ClimateGate emails.
The Harry-code comments.
The hate, daily vituperated, by the ‘agnostic’ web-sites eg RC, Tamino and Stoat. Jeesh, boyoh, ‘tWas these mariners that made me doubt, for the first time!
JC, has a busy schedule me thinks. If you can’t be bothered Googling the issues, then stop insisting that Prof. Judy should waste her time by doing your homework for you.
Gnats! You’re so distracting.


And irrelevant. Momma Gaia waltzes on regardless of your computerised fantasies!

Paul Deacon, Christchurch, New Zealand

Doug in Seattle says:
November 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm
For someone in the prime of her career to take such a risk is quite astonishing.
For someone to take such a risk, if risk it is, would have been more astonishing before Climategate and Copenhagen. I wish Dr Curry well, and have no reason to doubt her integrity. It is not clear that she has considered the career risks of her very public stance, which she presents as one of principle. In so far as she has considered career risks, she may, as a person of principle, have considered that her stance would benefit her academic career (or even a career outside academe). This might turn out to be a correct judgment.
All the best.

Steve McIntyre

The photographer probably asked her to look dour. Last year when I was being photographed, they kept asking me to look serious, not to smile and they printed rather severe photographs. Probably the same thing here.

Got a charge out of the journalist’s comment that WUWT “grudgingly” published one of her essays. Given the number of invitations Anthony extends, and how well treated the warmists are when they accept (yes they get tough questions, but check a skeptic article with a science error in it and see what happens, now THOSE are tough) I thought that was an odd choice of words.
In any event, I thought her article on WUWT last winter was condescending and arrogant, and the rebuttal from Willis Eschenbach was beyond stellar. There’s a much different tone and far more respect showing in her statements these days, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to trust her, or her science. What I WOULD like to see however is another essay from her speaking to that issue; namely, how her viewpoint and approach has changed since then, and why.
If it rings true, then I might be less skeptical (no pun intended), and if it sounds like a marketing document…then that’s what it is. Don’t fool yourself that she’s taking a risk career wise. Crossing to the middle ground (so to speak) at this point in time will garner her plenty of attention. Getting fired would be WAY out of the question. Even without tenure she’s have a major wrongfull dismissal action and the science would get dragged into court…not something the warmists want because she’d win hands down and the court would vindicate her scienctific opinions as a consequence. Not to mention the speaking circuit, the book deals, and private industry has lots of slots for scientists who know their stuff.
So is she standing in the middle out of principle? Or self interest?
Like the magnitude of warming from CO2… I don’t know. Yet.

Daniel H

“I don’t think anybody’s come at this with bad motives,” she says. “It’s really about believing their models and thinking we should do something about it based on what the models say. … And even if you could have 100 percent confidence in the models, that doesn’t necessarily prescribe what you should do in terms of policy.”

This is disingenuous. If models predict that increasing atmospheric concentrations of anthropogenic CO2 will cause future catastrophic climate change; and said models appear prominently in a report intended to guide politicians on drafting policies that will avert future catastrophic climate change; then how does that not necessarily prescribe what must be done in terms of policy? In Curry’s hypothetical example of 100 percent model confidence, any policy prescription must necessarily include a drastic reduction of human CO2 emissions. That much is obvious.


John R T says:
November 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm
Lots of good stuff:
E.g., ¨… Al Gore, who was the primary subject of the 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth.¨
Subject. Object. Whatever. Truth was the target, surely neither subject nor object.
No, I’ll go with this wording. Inconvenient Truth revealed far more about Gore and his friends than it did about the climate.

Rob R

I find myself warming to Dr Curry.


I commented thus on Climate Etc:
“Well said Doctor.
It’s a brave person to stand up for one’s scientific conclusions these days, or, at least, in which direction investigation of the myriad data leads to those conclusions.
I also congratulate you for keeping an open mind; so vital in any research.”
Judith Curry is an intrepid lady – not many of those around in this field today. Not a lot of gentlemen either, come to that.


To the comments about Dr Curry’s photos I must respond – I bet her smile is as brilliant as the sun passing the storm clouds.
Dr Curry you have been a part of making this site what (s up) what it is today and for that you have my thanks.
You make me proud to look up to someone with the title Ph.D for the first time in a decade. I quit university science (physics and chemistry) because I was constantly being attacked for asking a simple question – WHY do you think the earth is going to turn into Venus?
Instead of a straight answer I would get personally attacked and vilified, and their only argument would be : “Because AL GORE said so”
So, Dr Curry please feel welcome to contribute your knowledge and experience here, I certainly look forward to reading more, and learning more – for my children’s sake.

Harry the Hacker

Actually, to have a clear position stated of taking the moral high ground: science, facts (as far as can be determined), uncertainty, and to come out stating all this…
A pretty smart move. It will earn a bunch of howls from the usual suspects, which only goes to show their bias and silliness.
Stating that you want to have a return to basics, and demonstrating this ARE two different things. Do it, and she will in time be seen to have both integrity and honesty – something that seems to be lacking right now – as well as having no special axe to grind apart from plain ole curiosity.
Eventually, simple things stated and demonstrated will triumph, they always have and will. [snip . . house rules] are eventually seen through.

Grumpy old Man

The opening photo, best described as, “Neglecting HRT on a bad-hair day” together with the author’s opening paragraphs establishing his right-on warmist credentials, led me to believe that this was another hatchet job on a brave and steadfast scientist.
I’m glad I stuck with the piece because the author settled down to give a warts-and-all profile of one of the major players in the ordering of climate science. By concentrating on and highlighting the uncertainty of climate science, Dr. Curry is giving the more extreme on both sides of the argument a chance to climb out of the trees and discuss differences on a scientific basis rather than using points of disagreement as weapons in a political battle. In short, Dr Curry is demonstrating how the IPPC should be operating rather than how it is presently operating. I would suggest that Dr Curry deserves the support of all scientists and other persons of good faith in her attempt to re-establish the primacy of the scientific debate over the political bunfight.


The rant about Dr. Curry on Climateprogress.org is typical of the hypocritical viewpoint of such blogs. They seek to change the opinion of sceptics and the uncommitted and would welcome them to the warmist camp, yet vilify and mock anyone who moves even slightly in the other direction.
I can’t understand how Dr.Curry can maintain her scientific stance on AGW given the lack of confirmatory evidence and vast uncertainty about climate, but she’s open and honest about her views and her doubts about the IPCC process and unjustified “certainty” of its conclusions.
If the “thousands of climate scientists” who we’re told support the “consensus” (question – where did the “consensus” that they support originate?) moved just a little toward sceptical science and away from advocacy, we might not all be involved in this blogosphere slanging match.
It shows how distorted, desperate and partisan the warmists views and attitude has become, if it falls to to Dr. Curry’s philosophical opponents to defend her stance. I hope she gets encouragement from the views expressed on WUWT and other sceptical blogs. I may not agree with her interpretation of the scientific evidence, but I applaud her integrity and defence of the true scientific process.

Sign of a true scientist is when they come across something unusual the warning light starts flashing . Anyone can, sifting trough various reports stumble on odd things. I think I found one, put it up here and elsewhere, no one really bothered to see importance of it.
A scientist occasionally appearing on WUWT, in his inimitable way declared it nonsense, and on the second attempt ignored direct question. I even tried a bit of humour.
I posted my finding on Climate etc.,despite all her other preoccupations (work, bloging, defending her reputation etc) Dr. Curry responded immediately:
vukcevic | October 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm …….
curryja | October 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm
I’ll flag this to look at later, I’m not all that familiar with this issue but it looks important .

What I am talking about?
Well, many of you have seen it already, it is NGRIP project, supported by a number of institutions and used as a reference data-set by many scientists.
Why this is important.
a – either shows that major temperature changes are directly controlled by solar magnetic output (as different to the TSI ), or possible link between solar magnetic activity and the geomagnetic field in the polar regions.
b – the NGRIP project has come up with useless set of data, i.e. the project scientists presumably did not understand the processes involved, unlikely but possible.
You have seen it already but here it is again:
Experts don’t take kindly to an amateur faulting their research, but all the credit to Dr. Curry and her instinct of a true scientist.

Christopher Hanley

From the Van Jensen article:
“….In 1995, the IPCC released a second assessment report, which forecast catastrophic global warming…”
In the second report, the Summary for Policy Makers stated:
“….there are still many uncertainties….future unexpected, large and rapid climate system changes (as have occurred in the past) are, by their nature, difficult to predict…”.
Judith Curry’s final remarks, 15 years and untold wasted dollars later, echo that opinion — no real progress there.
The catastrophic predictions had to wait until the Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001, fueled by the thoroughly discredited MBH98 as it appeared in that summary (even on the cover I believe):
That, I think, is when climatology went off the tracks.
It’s interesting how the image lingers, albeit in modified form, as shown above.
I’m waiting for respected figures in the field (including Dr. Curry) loudly and unequivocally to wash their hands of it.


“Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.” J Curry
Surely this says it all, only leaving the issue of how much the Globe will warm due to increased Carbon dioxide.
By jcrabb on November 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm
As we are overdue for an ice age, stabilising the climate would be a good thing if you hold the view we are altering the climate? The only reason not to think this is a good thing is if you believe the scare stories about runaway feedbacks.

I know I have a tendency to pick nits, but I am truly irritated by the repetition of the fiction that the cache of emails that had been stored at the University of East Anglia and mysteriously sent to a server in Russia were “stolen”.
The forward to the Article was Anthony’s work, the article itself was not, and I suspect the unflattering pics were selected with an ulterior motive in mind by the author, a van Jensen, writing for the university’s in-house magazine, who seemed (to me, at least) to paint Judith Curry in mildly unflattering colours that match the tenor of the photographs.
What does shine through is the lady’s honesty and her determination to tell the truth as she sees it, and I applaud and admire her her for that.

Roger Knights

Those who doubted global warming and opposed the protocol began to receive funding from utility companies and particularly the oil industry. A 2010 Greenpeace report found that Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates pipelines, donated nearly $48 million to climate change opposition groups from 1997 to 2008.”

Keep your eye on the thimble. “Those who doubted global warming” are not identical with “climate change opposition groups.” The latter are single-focus groups, the former are libertarian think tanks that have a multitude of pro-business focuses. What’s tricky here are the insinuations that ALL of the $48 million went to opposing climate change, and that single-focus climate cynic groups received it. In fact, the think tanks probably earmarked only 10% of it to global warming research, and it’s unlikely that single-focus climate cynic groups received any of it.
But of course only critical thinkers detect this subterfuge, which is commonly employed by Our Betters to smear their most effective opponents.

Roger Knights

Smokey says:
November 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm
Anthony’s excellent article on Dr Curry is one of the best I’ve ever read …

It was actually written “By Van Jensen on October 27, 2010”, a fact that is easy to miss because this site fails to boldface or otherwise emphasize the names of the authors of submitted articles.

Roger Knights

Oops — make that “eight months ago.”

Jim Cripwell

May I quote from Herman Khan of the Hudson Institute.
“Nothing would be more surprising than nothing surprising is going to happen”
If only Judith could come to realize that, while more CO2 warms the atmosphere, the effect is somewhere between very small and insignificant.

jcrabb says: “Carbon dioxide, all other things being equal, will contribute to a warmer planet.” J Curry
Surely this says it all, only leaving the issue of how much the Globe will warm due to increased Carbon dioxide.

Yes, but its that “All other things being equal” that marks the real scientist from the charlatans like mann & his cohorts on Wikipedia. There is nothing wrong with someone using the best information they have available to state an opinion, what is wrong is when they miss the provisos … “but we don’t have all the information, but we don’t know for sure … but others may have other information and other expertise that could make me change my mind.
The big difference between people like mann and Curry is that Curry seems to be a passive indicator of the current sense of the climate debate (which unfortunately has to reflect somewhat on what everyone including mann has “found”) whilst someone like mann is an active distorter of the debate trying to mould the data and debate and repress contrary evidence to try to force everyone to adopt his political view as de facto “science”.


“She….walks from her midtown Atlanta home to her office on the Tech campus.”
Maybe that’s not such a good idea these days, given the number of fanatics about.

slow to follow

savethesharks – gallant; well played!
Good to see that contrast – Judith Curry always comes across as a sunny and bright lady and the photo with the story does not do her justice. Reminds me of those terrible “captains of industry” type shots you get in corporate press releases when a “tough man for a tough job” is needed. The photographer should pack up and go home if that is the best he/she can do with a naturally photogenic subject.

vukcevic says: “Experts don’t take kindly to an amateur faulting their research, but all the credit to Dr. Curry and her instinct of a true scientist.
In the “good old days” the experts had a neat way of ensuring that no one except an expert ever got a hearing: subject journals. Edited by the “expert” cartel, sent to the “expert” cartel and only publishing material from the “expert” cartel, there was absolutely no way that anyone except a member of the cartel could ever have anything heard on the subject.
Perhaps at the end of the day, climategate will be known less for being the end of the climate cartel, as the end of an era of absolute control by the scientific “elite” over their “own” subjects. Because, these days, the glass walls of peer-reviewed publishing and expensive conferences which defended the prestige status of the elite are under threat from online-discussions and online publication when any old blogger can and does get heard. No longer can the “elite” pretend that their groupthink mentality is the one and only view on their subject that the public has to put up with.
More and more, the “elite” of science are finding that the science done by amateurs rivals and in some cases surpasses their own work. Worse now that the internet has undermined the “print” journals they simply can’t stop these irksome amateurs getting their work published and so they can no longer simply be ignored.
The fact that that work relies on the work/data of the professionals and so hardly undermines the need for such professionals is clearly not the problem for the “elite”! It is the fact that their control and dominance of their “own” subjects is being undermined … that their “groupthink” is being attacked, sometimes by far larger numbers and much more nimble outsiders who in some areas like the climate are beginning to lead the way. The consequence, is that the traditional authority of the professional “elite” as “the experts” on subjects is under threat.
To use an analogy I think there is a real sense that climategate was as much the Mash-shower curtain falling down on all science. The rigid walls of of peer-reviewed literature that protected the elite from having to deal with the real world outside was removed revealing a pretty ugly scenario inside — climate “science” in all its ugly nakedness, and, from the general closing of ranks and quick throwing in of the towels by the rest of the scientific “elite” all the science subjects share the same phobia: that they are pretty ugly if you drop the shower curtain.
And climategate will not be the last time a scientific elite are humiliated by having the shower curtain dropped! (At which point I’m left with a horrible analogy of a naked Judith Curry … not that I’m saying Judith is horrible naked … oops time to stop)

Ulric Lyons

“The climate’s natural variability is unpredictable.”
If I were in her shoes, I would sincerely hope that natural variability is unpredictable. C`est la vie.

John Whitman

Consider this, high in the administration of the next republican president will be someone who was critical of the so-called consensus/settled science of the past 20+ yrs. There are quite a few eminent climate scientists out there who fit that profile. Now they include Dr. J.