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On the Falsity of Climate Consensus: Judith Curry’s March 29, 2017, Testimony

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 3, 2017

I realized that the premature consensus on human-caused climate change was harming scientific progress because of the questions that don’t get asked and the investigations that aren’t made. We therefore lack the kinds of information to more broadly understand climate variability and societal vulnerabilities.”

Scientists who demonize their opponents are behaving in a way that is antithetical to the scientific process. These are the tactics of enforcing a premature theory for political purposes.”

Let’s make scientific debate about climate change great again.”

“Groupthink” … “sausage making” … “bullying” … “substantial uncertainties” … “premature consensus” … These terms were used by the scholarly Judith Curry in her important, the-future-will-note Congressional testimony last week against the neo-Malthusian, nature-is-optimal natural-science community.

And what has she endured by leaving the “consensus”? Among other things, she has been labeled “serial climate disinformer” … “anti-science” … “denier.” It happened with Julian Simon regarding resource exhaustion and the ‘population bomb’ in the 1970s and 1980s; and it is repeated by the same crowd (with new faces) in the current era against skeptics of climate alarm.

The panel experience was “bizarre,” according to Curry, who began her column: “where the so-called ‘deniers’ behave like scientists [Curry, John Christy, and Roger Pielke Jr.] and the defender of the establishment consensus [Michael Mann] lies.”

The panel was another blow against ‘consensus science”. It was not so much the three-to-one advantage (welcome to the new politics!) as it was the performance of Michael Mann, whose emotionalism and lack of veracity were on full display. Surely at least some of the membership of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) took note of their bad apple.

Will new voices in the physical science mainstream emerge in the new political climate to say, enough is enough? Can critics of high-sensitivity climate modeling (or modeling climate at all given the present state of theory) be given jobs or promotions in academia? Or has crony science taken over the profession?

Will Michael Mann further self-destruct? Will he become a liability to The Cause like Al Gore? Might Mann’s ego be big enough to step on the stage against Alex Epstein?

Here is the entirety of Judith Curry’s written comments, part of her submitted testimony as part of House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology hearing: Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method. It says much in its 620 words.

Prior to 2010, I felt that supporting the IPCC consensus on human-caused climate change was the responsible thing to do. That all changed for me in November 2009, following the leaked Climategate emails, that illustrated the sausage making and even bullying that went into building the consensus.

I came to the growing realization that I had fallen into the trap of groupthink in supporting the IPCC consensus. I began making an independent assessment of topics in climate science that had the most relevance to policy. I concluded that the high confidence of the IPCC’s conclusions was not justified, and that there were substantial uncertainties in our understanding of how the climate system works.

I realized that the premature consensus on human-caused climate change was harming scientific progress because of the questions that don’t get asked and the investigations that aren’t made. We therefore lack the kinds of information to more broadly understand climate variability and societal vulnerabilities.

As a result of my analyses that challenge the IPCC consensus, I have been publicly called a serial climate disinformer, anti-science, and a denier by a prominent climate scientist. I’ve been publicly called a denier by a U.S. Senator. My motives have been questioned by a U.S. Congressman in a letter sent to the President of Georgia Tech.

While there is much noise in the media and blogosphere and professional advocacy groups, I am mostly concerned about the behavior of other scientists. A scientist’s job is to continually challenge their own biases and ask “How could I be wrong?” Scientists who demonize their opponents are behaving in a way that is antithetical to the scientific process. These are the tactics of enforcing a premature theory for political purposes.

There is enormous pressure for climate scientists to conform to the so-called consensus. This pressure comes from federal funding agencies, universities and professional societies, and scientists themselves. Reinforcing this consensus are strong monetary, reputational, and authority interests. Owing to these pressures and the gutter tactics of the academic debate on climate change, I recently resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

The pathology of both the public and scientific debates on climate change motivated me to research writings on the philosophy and sociology of science, argumentation from the legal perspective, the policy process and decision making under deep uncertainty. My analysis of the problems in climate science from these broader perspectives have been written in a series of posts at my blog Climate Etc. and also in 4 published journal articles. My reflections on these issues are summarized in my written testimony.

The complexity of the climate change problem provides much scope for disagreement among reasonable and intelligent people. Why do scientists disagree about the causes of climate change? The historical data is sparse and inadequate. There’s disagreement about the value of different classes of evidence, notably the value of global climate models and paleoclimate reconstructions. There’s disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence. And scientists disagree over assessments of areas of ambiguity and ignorance.

Policymakers bear the responsibility of the mandate that they give to panels of scientific experts. In the case of climate change, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change framed the problem too narrowly. This narrow framing of the climate change problem essentially pre-ordained the conclusions from the IPCC assessment process.

There are much better ways to assess science for policy makers than a consensus-seeking process that serves to stifle disagreement and debate. Expert panels with diverse perspectives should handle controversies and uncertainties by assessing what we know, what we don’t know, and where the major areas of disagreement and uncertainties lie.

Let’s make scientific debate about climate change great again.

This concludes my testimony.

6 Comments


  1. John W. Garrett  

    Judith Curry is far more deserving of a Nobel Prize than certain other recent recipients.

    Reply

    • Andrew  

      The Nobel committee is not likely to grant a prize to a real scientist. they are readily suaded by the likes of Al Gore and Rajenda Pachauri, being of the same green persuasion, easily exploited by the likes of Michael E. Mann and his ilk. The same committee that gave Nobel Peace prize to Yasser Arafat and Barak Hussein Obama.

      Reply

  2. Ward esser  

    To all: consolidate what we do know for sure, agree that that is the basis to work from and then jointly (yes, together!) build up the models again. Use all the money from both government as well as Exxon, Shell, and all the others to do good!

    Reply

    • Andrew  

      Chasing solution to non-existing problem is a fool’s errand. CO2 is virtually a stuff of which like on this planet is made. At 400PPM, the Earth is woefully deficient in this life living substance, it would do much better with CO2 twice this, or higher level.
      With CO2 at 150PPM life on Earth ceases. We inhale CO2 at 400 PPM level and exhale at 40,000+PPM level, BTW. Welcome any and all anthropogenic CO2 and moderate temperature rise. Water in its many forms is responsible for keeping Earth climate in remarkably steady state, punctuated only by Milankovic and other cycles totally out of human intervention reach, but the anthropogenic only that is now perhaps saving us from an overdue Ice Age, or just delaying the onset of. But keep in mind another Tambora of 1815 fame can put us, people into another famine and starvation.
      There are 30 plus volcanoes active on our globe every day, some, like Yellowstone Super Volcano way overdue.

      Reply

  3. RFF's Climate Anger (intellectual pollution hazardous too) - Master Resource  

    […] strong to allow RFF to invite us to join their panel discussions. Judith Curry on climate science? Robert Murphy on the social cost of carbon? Ben Zycher on pricing carbon […]

    Reply

  4. Andrew  

    IPCC defines lowering the PH of oceans by 0.1 as acidification is a deliberate lie in view of the ocean PH hovers around 8.1, which is basic, and not acidic, with PH 7.0 being a neutral point.

    I the same area, IPCC states Ocean temp rising by some 1.5 deg C and absorbs CO2.
    CO2 solubility in water DECRESES from 0.2 g/100g of water at 14.6 deg C, to 0.15 g/gow at 24 deg C, to 12.5 g/gow at 30 deg C.
    ( Ref: http/www.rocketscientistjournal.com/2006/10/_res/CO2-06.jpg)
    In the assumed ocean water temperature range of 14.6 deg C and above, for 1.5 deg C of water temperature increase, CO2 solubility DECREASES by 1.5 g/gow, or 9.0%.
    It is hard to believe the PHDs working with IPCC are not aware of CO2 behavior in carbonated drink, thus the only conclusion to be made is that IPCC is deliberately distorting the reality for nefarious reasons and purpose. (PC perhaps?) Dec 23/2017.

    Reply

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