A Free-Market Energy Blog

Judith Curry vs. Climate Alarmism (John and Jerry–are you listening?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 16, 2015

“Recent data and research supports the importance of natural climate variability and calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change.”

– Judith Curry, Congressional testimony of April 15, 2015 (see below)

“I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause, or her professional credibility.”

—Dr. Michael Mann, IPCC Lead Author, disclosed Climategate e-mail, May 30, 2008.

A major development in the history of the physical climate-change debate occurred when respected mainstream climatologist Judith Curry parted ways with an increasingly conflicted, even corrupted, mainstream of neo-Malthusian, Left-of-Center, rent-seeking (crony) scientists. No, the debate is not about global warming (agreed) or a human influence on climate (agreed); it is the predestined conclusion of  ‘consensus’ science that any human influence on global climate is bad-to-catastrophic, not benign or positive.

Curry is not to be dismissed; her work is based on peer-reviewed science with a dollop of common sense. There is empirical and theoretical momentum toward lower climate sensitivity and less alarm. And now she has mainstream politics (judging from the last national election) to cover her back.

The floor is increasingly hers. Expect her critics to become increasingly shrill, if not marginalized, as taxpayer funding starts to shrink and the public continues to grow weary of exaggeration.

The 1990s seemed to offer empirical support for high-level, anthropogenic warming (some of which is now recognized as natural). But the last 18 or so years have all-but-falsified climate models that were behind the alarm. Thus it is peculiar that two self-styled libertarians active in environmental issues–Jerry Taylor and Jonathan Adler–have embraced climate alarm and proactive public policy (pricing carbon dioxide).

Historians of thought will look for reasons. Perhaps in one case, the about-face is part of a temper tantrum thrown at the new CATO Institute–and differentiating the product of his new institute. For the other … perhaps he can tell us. Climategate, the empirical record, Judith Curry, and the anti-industrial Left’s do-or-die (doom-and-die?) issue–where’s your beef? Many of us “skeptics” feel quite vindicated by the last decade.

For those ‘libertarians’ that insist on pricing carbon, hard questions remain. How much more contrary evidence will it take to get off the alarmist bandwagon? What about the benefits, the positive externalities, of the enhanced greenhouse effect? And when will Public Choice economics re politics and global government, when will reality, become central to the carbon-tax debate? The late Bill Niskanen would want no less.

And how long before fringe libertarian climate alarmists realize that the anti-carbon-dioxide crusade is not really about ‘saving the planet’? It is about saving the planet from modernism, industrialization, and consumerism.

Curry Testimony

Yesterday, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on the President’s UN Climate Pledge. Judith Curry’s written testimony is here; her verbal testimony (published on her website, Climate Etc.), follows:

The central issue in the scientific debate on climate change is the extent to which the recent (and future) warming is caused by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions versus natural climate variability that are caused by variations from the sun, volcanic eruptions, and large-scale ocean circulations.

Recent data and research supports the importance of natural climate variability and calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change. This includes

  • The slow down in global warming since 1998

  • Reduced estimates of the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide

  • Climate models that are predicting much more warming than has been observed so far in the 21st century

While there are substantial uncertainties in our understanding of climate change, it is clear that humans are influencing climate in the direction of warming. However this simple truth is essentially meaningless in itself in terms of alarm, and does not mandate a particular policy response.

We have made some questionable choices in defining the problem of climate change and its solution:

  • The definition of ‘dangerous’ climate change is ambiguous, and hypothesized catastrophic tipping points are regarded as very or extremely unlikely in the 21st century

  • Efforts to link dangerous impacts of extreme weather events to human-caused warming are misleading and unsupported by evidence.

  • Climate change is a ‘wicked problem’ and ill-suited to a ‘command and control’ solution

  • It has been estimated that the U.S. national commitments to the UN to reduce emissions by 28% will prevent three hundredths of a degree centigrade in warming by 2100.

The inadequacies of current policies based on emissions reduction are leaving the real societal consequences of climate change and extreme weather events largely unaddressed, whether caused by humans or natural variability.

The wickedness of the climate change problem provides much scope for disagreement among reasonable and intelligent people. Effectively responding to the possible threats from a warmer climate is made very difficult by the deep uncertainties surrounding the risks both from the problem and the proposed solutions.

The articulation of a preferred policy option in the early 1990s by the United Nations has marginalized research on broader issues surrounding climate variability and change and has stifled the development of a broader range of policy options.

We need to push the reset button in our deliberations about how we should respond to climate change.

  • We should expand the frameworks for thinking about climate policy and provide a wider choice of options in addressing the risks from climate change.

  • As an example of alternative options, pragmatic solutions have been proposed based on efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather, and pursue no-regrets pollution reduction Each of these measures has justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation.

  • Robust policy options that can be justified by associated policy reasons whether or not human caused climate change is dangerous avoids the hubris of pretending to know what will happen with the 21st century climate.

6 Comments


  1. Timmo  

    The Loony Left is increasingly falling flat on its face in the area of global warming, Judith Curry is one of an increasing band of outstanding scientists who are exposing the fanatics for their strident unscientific bullying. The world would be much better off if we could get more of her sanity among the ill-informed climate change tyrants who seem to rely on magic numbers to prop up their unrealistic position.

    Reply

  2. mcraig  

    If their (whoever that really is) goal is world government or de-industrialization or population control or whatever else, why not argue on those points instead of trying to disguise it? Do they really think people theses days are that stupid?

    I think that’s the main problem with (what I would call) elitists who think they are so much smarter than the average Joe or Jill.

    Actually, my gut tells me this is overall a grab for money and power.

    Reply

  3. arationofreason  

    “And how long before fringe libertarian climate alarmists realize that the anti-carbon-dioxide crusade is not really about ‘saving the planet’? It is about saving the planet from modernism, industrialization, and consumerism.”

    [Why not let the climate change advocates speak for themselves:]

    Quote by Maurice Strong, a billionaire elitist, primary power behind UN throne, and large CO2 producer: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” 
    Quote by Paul Watson, a founder of Greenpeace: “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”
    Quote by Jim Sibbison, environmental journalist, former public relations official for the Environmental Protection Agency: “We routinely wrote scare stories…Our press reports were more or less true…We were out to whip the public into a frenzy about the environment.”
    Quote by emeritus professor Daniel Botkin: “The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.”
    Quote by David Suzuki, celebrity scientist, alarmist extraordinaire: 1990 quote: “More than any other time in history, the 1990s will be a turning point for human civilization.”
    Quote by David Suzuki, celebrity scientist, alarmist extraordinaire: 2011 quote:grHumanity is facing a challenge unlike any we’ve ever had to confront. We are in an unprecedented period of change.”
    Quote by Robert Stavins, the head of Harvard’s Environmental Economics program: “It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction.”
    Quote by Al Gore, former U.S. vice president, and large CO2 producer: “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”
    Quote by Stephen Schneider, Stanford Univ., environmentalist: “That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”
    Quote by Sir John Houghton, pompous lead editor of first three IPCC reports: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.” 

    [The list goes on and on and……
    Pasted from

    Reply

  4. William B Rose  

    One does not need to be a person that has credentials in weather but only the ability to think.There have been climate changes greater than what is being considered long before the human existed.Even after the human arrived and prior to the industrial condition major changes have occurred that exceed what is now being spoke of.

    Reply

  5. 'Climate Anger:' Last Refuge Of The Alarmists - The Money Street  

    […] expert. At another Congressional hearing, distinguished climatologist and professor Judith Curry testified that recent data “calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply