Several commentors appear quite relieved that she has decided to stop (pa)trolling their websites and has gone off to draw all the sceptic hormonally-charged untrained non-scientists beta males to hers.
Phew ! Now perhaps we can get on with the Science and the Data in peace !
I have been rather, erm, critical, of Roger Harrabin’s approach to reporting the “Climate Change narrative” in the past, but I have to say, I think he has pulled up his socks somewhat with a two-part Radio 4 presentation “Uncertain Climate” :-
But of course, the BBC has to keep people sweet, and obviously continues to “play both sides”, don’t they ? How else did Roger get to interview Steve McIntyre of the truly annoying Canadian whine (it’s not his fault, I have to add, that I find his voice unbearable) and Nigel Lawson ? And Judith Curry ?
Or maybe not. Roger Harrabin admits to a stand-up row with Al Gore. Hopefully he’s still welcome in the United States of America.
There seem to be about 50 mentions of the word “uncertainties”, and an obsession about temperature rise projections – with no focus on the melting Arctic – which is not at all uncertain as it is a demonstrable fact.
If there’s one thing about Climate Change nobody could be able to disagree on, it’s that there’s a huge amount of literature on the subject.
I figure it would be impossible for any one person to have a good grounding in the totality of the Science, spanning, as it does, most of humankind’s discoveries about the physical world.
It would be hard too to have an exceptionally well-rooted understanding even of the Synthesis of the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.
A human mind is surely not capable of remembering all the facts and figures and how everything relates. My personal forgettery is quite active in selecting what to drop after not using it for a while, and I’m sure others experience the same thing.
For example, I’m sure Dr Judith Curry, accomplished as she is in Earth Sciences, does not remember the entire field, and does not have the tools to look everything up quickly. Which is why she gives shorthand vague, answers on web logs which annoy other people so much :-
I reckon, though, people should give her a break for a while to let her compose herself, and get over the shock of the Anthony Watts “tribe” eating her heart out with steak knives after she published a proper piece of Science.
Dr Judith Curry insists, quite correctly, that we should take uncertainties into account when deciding Climate Change policy.
Yet I think our respective positions probably strongly differ on which way we weight the uncertainties.
I strongly favour the Precautionary Principle, implemented Early, making it the “Early Precautionary Principle”.
One of the reasons I come down on this end of the spectrum of possible responses to uncertainties is that there are quite a spectrum of unknowns that form the pillars of those uncertainties.
After all, if we don’t know a term in an equation, how can we possibly calculate anything meaningful with any kind of confidence ?
How can anybody feel safe and secure not knowing for certain what the actual equilibrium Climate Sensitivity amounts to ? The response of the Earth’s Climate system to extra airborne Carbon Dioxide-forced temperature rise is a number that is becoming firmer, but there are error bars. Surely this points to conservatism in emissions ?
Moreover, we could be well advised to cut back on Fossil Fuel burning not just to protect the Climate, but to save the Economy. How can we pursue our normal everyday Carbon-emitting lives not knowing how much Fossil Fuel there is left in the ground that can be inexpensively mined ?
How can we know the order of magnitude of Fossil Fuels left to extract ? And how can we know what kind of impact this will have on the Climate ?
“…Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 425 +/- 75 ppm…”
The sceptic-deniers laughed and scoffed and said things to the effect that clearly there’s nothing to worry about that the current concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the air is over 390 parts per million – it won’t melt the polar ice caps.
What the sceptic-deniers haven’t understood, or pretend not to have understood, is that it is a combination of factors that caused major lasting glaciation on Earth. Yes, the level of Carbon Dioxide in the air is important. But the rate of change of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is a significant component.
If the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere change rapidly, the heating or cooling effect is amplified, in effect. You have to take account of the relative change in levels of Carbon Dioxide, not just its level at any particular point in time.
As Dr Judith Curry has tried to communicate to me, the physical science of Climatology is full of deep complexity, with strong ranging on a number of processes.
Just to take a typical example – the Hurricane storm track in the Caribbean. Different years produce different levels of risk, and a constantly updated projection is needed as short-term relevant climatic factors shift.
But despite the likelihood of any particular Tropical Depression forming, the range of its strength and the eventual pathway, there is still a clearly identifiable track that storms take – that Stephen Schneider called “Hurricane Alley”.
This kind of “big picture” of regional and even global phenomena means that we can safely scale out from the inner workings of individual changes in air pressure, prevailing winds and humidity and take in the larger-scale, longer-term trends.
Despite her claims that she thinks there’s too much uncertainty in the Earth’s Climate system to be able to project significant Climate Change with confidence, Dr Judith Curry is still able to do Science, as I first read in Wired :-
“Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice : Jiping Liu and Judith A. Curry : School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332 : Edited by Mark H. Thiemens, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, and approved July 13, 2010 (received for review March 15, 2010) : Abstract : The observed sea surface temperature in the Southern Ocean shows a substantial warming trend for the second half of the 20th century. Associated with the warming, there has been an enhanced atmospheric hydrological cycle in the Southern Ocean that results in an increase of the Antarctic sea ice for the past three decades through the reduced upward ocean heat transport and increased snowfall. The simulated sea surface temperature variability from two global coupled climate models for the second half of the 20th century is dominated by natural internal variability associated with the Antarctic Oscillation, suggesting that the models’ internal variability is too strong, leading to a response to anthropogenic forcing that is too weak. With increased loading of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through the 21st century, the models show an accelerated warming in the Southern Ocean, and indicate that anthropogenic forcing exceeds natural internal variability. The increased heating from below (ocean) and above (atmosphere) and increased liquid precipitation associated with the enhanced hydrological cycle results in a projected decline of the Antarctic sea ice.”
This leads to a rather deep question : we know the Arctic sea ice is probably doomed, and that Greenland’s ice cap is melting, so the whole Northern Pole could be relatively ice free within decades. And then the Antarctic will most likely degrade as the added snowfall caused by Global Warming turns to rain. Does Judith Curry know how unstable the Earth’s Climate was when last the Earth didn’t have either Arctic or Antarctic ice caps ?
Judith Curry is probably also highly aware that melting both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps away rolls back at least 3 million years of stabilisation at lower relative temperatures, in less than 400 years of Anthropogenic Global Warming !
“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.
Dr Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, should read up a little on the history of anti-science, its methods, its proponents and its arguments, before throwing in her lot with the anti-science people of today : Steve McIntyre and his buddies.
To demonstrate that anti-science arguments are nothing new, she should try to work out what science the following excerpt is about, and when the events it describes took place :-
“19. Judith Curry says: July 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm : …So if any of you have actually read as much as I have on this topic including Montford’s [Bishop Hill] book and the climateaudit threads particularly McIntyre’s most recent post, well then we might have something to talk about. Otherwise, we can just sit back and all be entertained by tribalistic wardances.”
“107. Judith Curry says: 23 July 2010 at 12:44 PM : Once more people have read the [Montford, Bishop Hill] book, and if Montford and McIntyre were welcomed to participate in the discussion, then I would be interested in participating in a more detailed discussion on this.”
I’m sorry to say that my general opinion of Fred Pearce’s work has taken a sharp tumble. I found his latest New Scientist piece disappointing, and for me he has continued to be uninspiring today in The Observer newspaper, Sunday sister to The Guardian :-
“Climategate was ‘a game-changer’ in science reporting, say climatologists : After the hacked emails scandal scientists became ‘more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties’ : Fred Pearce : Sunday 4 July 2010”
His style is robustly “journalistic” and suffers from a basket of semantic fuzziness, but I’m just going to highlight a few phrases and words here.