“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.
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.