I recently read the article Climate Heretic by Michael D. Lemonick in the November 2010 issue of Scientific American. The author profiled Judith Curry and told of what she’s been up to lately. Judith Curry heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is known for her work on hurricanes and arctic ice. Lately, she has been engaging both skeptics and believers in the global warming debate.
Taking from the article:
“…she still has no doubt that the planet is warming, that human-generated greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are in large part to blame, or that the plausible worst-case scenario could be catastrophic. She does not believe that the Climategate e-mails are evidence of fraud or that the IPCC is some kind of grand international conspiracy. What she does believe is that the mainstream climate science community has moved beyond the ivory tower into a type of fortress mentality, in which insiders can do no wrong and outsiders are forbidden entry.”
A paragraph earlier in the article sums up her criticism of the IPCC:
“…But even then, she harbored some doubts. In areas where she had some expertise – clouds and sea ice, for example – she felt that the report’s authors were not appropriately careful. ‘I was actually a reviewer for the IPCC Third Assessment Report,’ Curry says, ‘on the subject of atmospheric aerosols (that is, particles such as dust and soot that affect cloud formation). I told them that their perspective was far too simplistic and that they didn’t even mention the issue of aerosol impacts on the nucleation of ice clouds. So it’s not so much as finding things that were wrong, but rather ignorance that was unrecognized and confidence that was overstated.’ In retrospect, she laughs, “if people expert in other areas were in the same boat, then that makes me wonder.’”
What are Curry’s goals in doing this? Roughly, they are the same as mine. I started the understanding project to help those of different political persuasions understand each other and to foster civil debate. There are far too many who disagree with me to simply marginalize and move on. They continue to make comebacks and win elections. The same is true for all of us. I hope to find some consensus and I realize that people won’t listen to me if I don’t listen first. Again taking from the article:
“All of which sets up two competing storylines, which are, on the surface at least, equally plausible. The first paints Curry as a peacemaker – someone who might be able to restore some civility to the debate and edge the public toward meaningful action. By frankly acknowledging mistakes and encouraging her colleagues to treat skeptics with respect, she hopes to bring about a meeting of the minds.
“The alternative version paints her as a dupe – someone whose well-meaning efforts have only poured fuel on the fire. By this account, engaging with skeptics is pointless because they cannot be won over. They have gone beyond the pale, taking their arguments to the public and distributing e-mails hacked from personal computer accounts rather than trying to work things out at conferences and in journal papers.”
Likewise, there are those I know who have totally given up on the other side, who think what I’m doing is pointless. Sometimes it seems to be, when engaging fellow bloggers who won’t take yes for an answer unless it is an emphatic “obviously, yes on all counts to the maximum amount”. I openly wonder about examples of possible bias on FOX NEWS and I often criticize Sean Hannity for his unfair characterizations, but because I am not quite ready to declare that FOX is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the lies of the GOP, I am called naïve or worse. Still, I have to hope that there is a way through to these people and I ask that the rest of you not give up hope that there is a way through to me. Judith Curry hasn’t given up on me yet.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.