Judith Curry : Reaching Out

Somewhat distressed by the denial position that Dr Judith Curry has taken, I have written to her trying to find out if there is any scope for future dialogue between us :-

Dear Dr Curry,

You asked on Collide-a-scape.com “The Chasm” :-


“So exactly what is it that you are fighting for? A Waxman-Markey type bill that even Jim Hansen said wouldn’t do any good? Some sort of UNFCCC global treaty that has zero chance even if the U.S. were behind it? That wouldn’t have any impact on the climate until the latter half of the century? SOMETHING, but you don’t know what? In that case, exactly what is wrong with delay? Let us know what you are fighting for, something that MATTERS.”

I can only assume from your questions that you have not read any of my work, or you would know where I stand, and how I’ve moved.

Most of the things that you have written recently, on a variety of web logs, indicate to me that you are so firmly entrenched in your position that it would be of no use in attempting to respond to you, or engage with you in any way.

I could pull apart everything that you have written on Collide-a-scape, but that would serve no real purpose apart from indicating that, like many other Climate Change scientists and activists, I too feel that you have lost your way, both intellectually and philosophically.

I could not believe that a woman scientist could be so snowstormed by the propaganda antics of the “free speech” of the likes of Steve McIntyre. So much so that at first I could not accept that you were a woman, or that you were a real person.

I don’t mean to be patronising, and I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. I strive for positive engagement, where it has the likelihood of making real progress (in my view). You claim you want to bridge the “divide”, and I trust that you mean that, although some of your blog posting recently indicates that you may be more enamoured of fighting to win rather than building useful constructs – but then again, you might just be a little stressed.

For this reason, I need to hear from you where you stand on a couple of very simple issues before I would consider responding properly to you :-

1. Do you accept the basic physics of the Greenhouse Effect, and the science of paleoclimatological and Anthropocene era evidence of Global Warming and Climate Change as reviewed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report of 2007 ?

2. Do you accept the difference between short-term cyclical internal variability in the Climate system and the longer-term warming trends, and how they impact on each other (collinearity) and why this means that applying normal statistical techniques to raw temperature data is so prone to misinterpretation ?

3. Do you accept the implications from the Vostok and other ice cores, and the sub-sea sedimentary work and petrogeology – that the combination of the current average temperature of the Earth’s surface and the rate of warming is unprecedented in millions of years ?

4. Do you accept that we have a fair amount of certainty about historical temperatures on Earth looking at all the lines of evidence in combination, regardless of whether any one group’s analysis is faulty or not.

5. Do you accept that the current Climate Change modelling work is showing itself to be able to hindcast and forecast from the past with a good degree of accuracy ?

6. Do you accept that Global Warming experienced on Earth over the last 50 years is, to a high probability, highly impacted by positive radiative forcing from Anthropogenic activities, causing Carbon Dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases to rapidly accumulate in the Atmosphere ?

7. Do you accept that there are very few rapidly acting negative feedbacks in the Earth system (as demonstrated by strong warming events from Earth history) ?

I would like to know that we could find common ground on these basic points before I could even contemplate attempting to reason with you.

In warmed sisterhood,


Judith Curry has replied in warp-speed fashion, but I’m not sure if there is anything positive here. I’ll think about it, however…

“Jo, thank you for your email. Here is my schtick, it is about open minds and critical thinking. Its about considering the arguments, not about labeling certain people as unacceptable and others as important. I am not trying to win anything other than greater transparency for scientific data and methods. In all the issues that you raise, there is considerable complexity. The only statement of yours that I accept with complete confidence is the first half of statement #1. Go look at my c.v. Then let me know if you think I know more about climate science than you do. I am not trying to win anything, I am very concerned by people that are so convinced by something that is highly complex with many uncertainties including deep ontic uncertainties. I am happy to continue a dialogue with you via email or on the blogs. But I am not sure that our frequencies can be tuned towards a very meaningful conversation, but I am prepared to try. Judy”

I don’t really know why she thinks that Climate Change Physics has “ontic uncertainties”. The whole point about Global Warming is that it is plain fact, derived from observations and calculations based on extremely simple models of planetary atmospheres.

It can even be deduced from first principles, from a knowledge of very basic gas Chemistry, combined with knowledge about how Electromagnetic Radiation interacts with matter.

Plus, you don’t even need to believe or understand the whole of the Science of Meteorology to get what the potential problems are for the Climate and how the Climate can change significantly.

And if that doesn’t get to you, then surely the Paleoclimatological evidence should ? The Earth system has changed considerably in the deep, and even not so deep past, even under “natural” cycles of changes in radiative forcing.

Here’s a small analogy about complexity – the more objects on the floor of my office increases the likelihood that I will fall over. It doesn’t matter where or how they are placed, what complex arrangements they take, or whether they impact each other or not, it is the overwhelming statistics of increasing the number of obstacles that increases the risk of catastrophic walking encounters.

Shakes head and sighs.

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