James D. Goodridge – climate skeptic pioneer and mentor, 1928-2020

It has taken me a couple of days to bring myself to write this. It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my dear friend and mentor, James Goodridge, on Sunday, January 5th after an illness. Jim, who was probably the single most influential person in influencing my thinking about climate, led me down the path from climate alarmism to climate skepticism.

Photo by Gary Quiring

Jim was the former State Climatologist for the state of California, and when he retired, he moved to Chico which is how I came to know him and his work. A quiet and unassuming man, he spent the majority of his life compiling climate data, to determine what stories it told, and to share it with everyone.

Jim, like no other professional I know, was all about the data, particularly rainfall data. So much so that the California Department of Water Resources still had him on professional retainer for decades after his retirement. He was tremendously well-respected by his peers, so much so that he was given a special award:



James D. Goodridge

This award is in recognition of a lifetime of service to the water community by collecting, analyzing, developing, and presenting rainfall statistics for design of storm drainage and water control facilities. The initial DWR Bulletin 195, “Rainfall Analysis for Drainage Design”, published in 1976, was a classic for water engineers. During your tenure as State Climatologist, you diligently and enthusiastically collected all the weather data you could get your hands on, cataloged and analyzed data from hundreds of rain gages, and made available systematic information on extreme precipitation. You have continued these activities in retirement like the dedicated scientist and engineer you are. The fact that stormwater, drainage, and flood control projects in California have done such a good job of protecting lives and property is a tribute to your vision and diligence. Your colleagues are most pleased to present you with this token of our appreciation and gratitude.

April 22, 2005

2005 California Extreme Precipitation Symposium

Source: https://cepsym.org/awards/goodridge.php

He was also a climate skeptic, and his influence on my thinking was huge. Rather than try to browbeat me into changing my way of thinking, he would routinely send me data dumps, along with his analysis, and let me draw my own conclusions. He also published a small but very influential paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 1996 that in my view was the “light bulb moment” for me that suggested that global warming was more driven by localized human influences than it was by carbon dioxide.

This one graph tells the story, and it had a huge impact on me:

Source: James D. Goodridge Comments on Regional Simulations of Greenhouse Warming Including Natural Variability , 1996 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

That graph tells one simple and indisputable story; carbon dioxide molecules have no intelligence, they can’t affect the temperature based on population size by county. Therefore, something else must be at work, and that something else is the heat sink effect I have identified previously.

It also had a big effect on the climate cabal, as this Climategate 2.0 email from Phil Jones illustrates, emphasis mine:

date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 09:25:14 +0100
from: Phil Jones <p.jones@xxxx>
subject: Re: CA climate
to: Tom Wigley <wigley@xxxx>,Mike Hulme <m.hulme@xxxxx>


Bryan Weare is at US Davis. He would know about some of the things you mention. The jerk you mention was called Good(e)rich who found urban warming at all Californian sites.

I’m away until today until May 5 in Nice and Geneva. I hope you can do the temperature plots yourself and that Mike can do the precip ones.

Mike has the data as 5 degree grid boxes, so the it would be good if you could define these for him. I think he’s back tomorrow.

It would be possible to use the 0.5 degree grid boxes but we’d have to get Mark New to do that for us.



If anyone is a “jerk” here, it’s Phil Jones.

Anyone who has ever met or worked with Jim Goodridge would dare not characterize him as a “jerk”, and even if he was, what he published still holds true today. Even Jones later published studies on UHI in China which agreed with what Goodridge found.

The Jones paper is titled:  Urbanization effects in large-scale temperature records, with an emphasis on China In it, Jones identifies an urban warming signal in China of 0.1 degrees C per decade.  Or, if you prefer, 1 degree C per century. Not negligible by any means.

You can read Jim’s Bio here: https://cepsym.org/awards/goodridge.php

About 2 months before he died, Jim gave me yet another one of his data dumps. I’ll be doing some work with that in the future. For now, I honor him by publishing a few of the things he was most proud of. One thing he always told me was this:

Data has no agenda, it is what it is. It only inherits an agenda when it has been modified or adjusted by a researcher. That’s when it takes on an agenda which is a reflection of the researcher’s own bias. – James D. Goodridge

R.I.P. Jim, you made a difference, not just for me, but for the thousands of readers that benefit from my conversion by your gentle hand and keen thoughts. – Anthony Watts

Selected works, including some of his poetic writing:

In Observation I trust
All people live off grasses either directly or indirectly
We feed on rice, corn, wheat and other chlorophyll produced plants
All of the animals we eat are all grass fed critters
The marine animals we feed on have photosynthesis-based food chains
The chlorophyll-based life has occupied three quarters of Earth history
Our bodies share a common chemistry with chlorophyll
Our hemoglobin is chemically quite similar to chlorophyll
Our hemoglobin has a central iron for energy transport
Chlorophyll has central manganese to capture solar energy
We are basically a grass fed critters living off solar radiation
Genesis of life results from inter generational strengthen of individuals
The result is that defective individuals reproduce less robustly
The history-blinded may not see the millions of generations of evolution
The fossil hunting archeologist compare bone ages of 10% of earth history
The genome and mitochondria and ATP predate bones by billions of years
This follows a solid chain of observation
In observation I trust, there is found my faith

53 thoughts on “James D. Goodridge – climate skeptic pioneer and mentor, 1928-2020

  1. Condolences to his friends and family.

    As they say, a fascist is someone who wins an argument with a liberal.

    And, apparently, a jerk is someone who disagrees with bad data.


  2. So when we are bombarded with assertions of ‘the hottest day evah!’ by the gormless msm it is really just ‘the highest UHI effect evah!’, i.e. ‘the most gormless misrepresentation evah!’

    Thankyou and Vale James D. Goodridge.

  3. The Jones paper does not even reference the Goodridge work. This suggest the term jerk is applied to the wrong author!

    • Phil Jones’ comment comes in a reply to Tom Wigley, and the quotes he used around the word imply that Wigley was the originator of the jerk statement. But as almost all the ClimateGate e-mails show, neither man behaved with any dignity, decorum or professionalism, let alone scientific dispassion.

    • Only when the majority of the stampeding human herd regain their senses will the proprietors of truth be recognized with honor.
      Considering that the media worldwide are firing their weapons to keep the stampede going in the socialist direction they want, this might currently prove disappointing for realists who have already understood what the climate change politics game is all about.

  4. The most fitting tribute WUWT could give James Goodridge (and Hal Lewis and all the other bona fide scientists who boldly stood alone for truth) would be to once again communicate CLEARLY the FACTS of DATA-DRIVEN science.

    Without muddling the message with ambiguous-at-best articles.
    Continuing the current lukewarm swamp is only serving to keep the CO2 sc@am going.

  5. In the early 1990s, a prominent climate scientist (who is often mentioned on this blog), showed an earlier version of Goodridge’s plot of California temperatures by county, and quipped:

    “The solution to global warming is simple. Just split the large counties into small counties!”

  6. Sad. RIP. My last contact with Jim Goodridge was in 2002 when he sent me Southern California rainfall DATA from 1769 to 2000. I provided that at WUWT here:
    Scroll down for my complete post, responding to the snowfall post.
    ” Neil Jordan
    “February 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    “Dr. Christy: Thank you for your effort in bringing old records to light. There is another set of California records going back to 1769 that you might consider, related to the “Lynch Index” that was in the California Weather Sumary CD. Jim Goodridge sent me a California Weather CD in 2002 that contained the file “Lynch Index.xls” that tabulates Southern California rainfall from 1769-1770 to 1999-2000. The CA Weather CD updated to 2009 does not appear to have that file. The state climatologist at http://www.water.ca.gov/floodmgmt/hafoo/csc/ might provide some information. . .”
    The post tabulates the DATA, open for anyone to analyze.

  7. Data has no agenda, it is what it is.

    Burt Rutan is quite clear on that. If someone twists themselves into a pretzel ‘analyzing’ data, you can be pretty sure they have an agenda. Good data speaks for itself.

    Having said the above, a real expert knows where to look for meaningful data. In my early career, I would sit at the feet of a senior scientist or engineer and be told, you should be measuring ____. They would invariably be right and the problem would immediately become simple.

    It sounds to me like James D. Goodridge was one of those real experts.

    • Data is neither good nor bad, although sometimes it is abused. Honestly derived data tells a story to anyone who will listen. If the *story* says something good about its subject, then we can be content that all is well. If it says something bad, then we have work to do to fix the situation.

      • “Data is neither good nor bad…”

        The real trick is understanding what is actually being measured, as opposed to what you think you are measuring..

        ie UHI effect

        • Or with these new fangled electronic instruments, the fraction of a second spike in temperature due to some micro gust of hot air coming of a lump of contrete, bitumen or black roof, airco system vent exhause, engine exgaust etc and hey preston ‘hottest ecological fart evah!!’

          The CAGWarmistas don’t even think when it comes to measuring temperature anymore, well unless it cools down and they have to reprogram an ‘edjustment’ regime.

          • And then going back in the temperature record and “adjusting” those records made on traditional thermometers as if they were made on new devices. BoM ACORN1 and then again in ACORN2. Makes the past cooler which, of course, means global warming, after adjustments.

      • “Data is neither good nor bad, although sometimes it is abused”.

        An old professor of mine used to say that if data are tortured sufficiently, they will confess to whatever you want.

  8. Nice remembrance. That single chart clearly suggests sweeping generalizations need to be made with considerable caution.

    • +1. That single chart, extended worldwide and to the present, would be as powerful a statement as to the veracity of temperature records as any one could imagine.

      How did he do it? In the state of CA I can see one person having access to all the statistics. Nationwide, maybe. Western Hemisphere? Doubtful.

      Worldwide? How impactful would that be?


  9. I remember you spoke of someone you respected taking you some of the sites used for the temperature records.
    Was that him? We all owe him a lot.

    But rather we owe a lot or not, he was your friend.
    Prayers for you and his family.

    • The Bridge Builder
      An old man going a lone highway,
      Came, at the evening cold and gray,
      To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
      Through which was flowing a sullen tide
      The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
      The sullen stream had no fear for him;
      But he turned when safe on the other side
      And built a bridge to span the tide.

      “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
      “You are wasting your strength with building here;
      Your journey will end with the ending day,
      You never again will pass this way;
      You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
      Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

      The builder lifted his old gray head;
      “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
      “There followed after me to-day
      A youth whose feet must pass this way.
      This chasm that has been as naught to me
      To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
      He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
      Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

  10. Sadly, this is one of those instances where science will regress one funeral at a time, not progress.

  11. Sorry for your loss. The world has lost a great person.

    I would make a technical correction to his wonderful poem. The central metal in chlorophyll is magnesium not manganese.

  12. Mentors from the era that knew something about the depression and WWII are about all gone. It will take a lot to replace them and most didn’t make it that long. Albert Collier was one I knew, almost made it to 99, not climate, but good old marine biology. He was the state of Texas’ first marine biologist hired from his doctorate program at Rice University when jobs were scarce during the depression to investigate a red tide. He went on to a great career doing work which still hasn’t been finished and lamented never obtaining a doctorate, discrimination around that he overcame, worse nowadays.

    Looking at this you can tell what a scholar Goodridge was. Know how you feel.
    “One of the biggest problems arises when we depend on the opinion of experts.” From his Main Lesson.

  13. JERK = “Just Extremely Respected King”
    I’d never call Jones a JERK.

    Love Jim’s line about data and agendas.

  14. Oh my — 91+ years! RIP James.
    Condolences to all, family and friends.

    I read a post expressing a “regress” in our common sense approach to climatology — a sad story…

    OTOH, the “skeptics” will have a strong following within the next few years — remember the coming Eddy Minimum?

  15. The BBC regularly confirm Goodridge’s findings regarding the significant human effects on temperature rises, other than CO2 emissions. In the daily televised weather forecasts, they often state that temperatures in rural areas will be a degree or so lower than that indicated on their charts. The weather stations which provide the data are very largely in urbanised areas or in areas which have become more urbanised due to urban sprawl.

    Urbanisation has massively increased all over the world, and is still increasing. It is also a significant fact that populations have massively increased and the production of energy of all kinds per head of population has significantly increased. This all generates far larger temperature rises than are being claimed for CO2 emissions.

    Typically, the Hansens, the Manns, and the Jones of this world and their disciples conveniently ignore this fact.

  16. Deepest sympathy to you and to his family. Feeling very grateful for the work you have both put in. I hope one day the “war” will be over and we will be through with the subject. I wish we’d reached that point before his departure.

  17. Hi Anthony. I dont usually engage in emotionalising but I am truly sorry for the loss to you and your friend’s family. The immense, selfless workload of both you and your departed friend in your quest to factualise and dismantle the nonsense about climate, which is now subconsciously embedded in the public’s minds, is monumental. Your website must have made him very proud in his later years. Thanks again to you both.

  18. Condolences, Anthony. FWIW, Goodridge’s 1996 California result was replicated by Robinson in 1998 and again by NASA JPL in 2007. Footnote 3 to essay When Data Isn’t in ebook Blowing Smoke.

  19. In December 2011 WUWT published an email with some thoughts from James D. Goodridge. There was a comment about sunspot trend in there that isn’t readily verified. I red the thread for the first time, some great contributions from the old stalwarts of the WUWT in there, worth revisiting. I did not contribute to the discussion at the time but one commentator referenced some of my research.

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