Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In Praise of Judith Curry

It sometimes seems that Professor Judith Curry can do no right. She is a prominent mainstream climatologist, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has broken ranks and has, for a number of years now, been engaging with the sceptic side. One of her interests in this is to get away from the tribal nature of the climate debate, and indeed  her blog 'climate etc', is one that attracts all sides of the debate. Aside from her strong condemnation of the 'team' after the Climategate scandal, she also went on record with some fairly scathing criticisms of the behaviour of Richard Muller and the science by press release around the preliminary BEST results (see her response in the Mail on Sunday, for example).

As you would expect, this has not endeared her to many of her more alarmist colleagues. In the latest spat, former IPCC author Richard Tol has accused her of spreading misinformation because she allowed two sceptical scientists to post details of their peer-reviewed papers on her blog. Apparently in doing this, she has lent her authority and credibility to scientists whose work should have been ignored.

The attacks from the warmist side are what you expect - she is guilty of consorting with heretics. If not a traitor, she is seen as aiding and abetting the sceptic cause, even if she is not herself a sceptic.

However, the fact that she is not an out and out sceptic also gets her flak from some on the sceptic side. For example, prominent sceptics like Willis Eschenbach has been quite forthright in some of his comments. At the moment most of the flak seems to be coming from the warmist side, but that seems to buy her no respite from some people on the sceptic side.

So, Judith Curry get flak from both sides. On the one hand for being too sceptical, on the other for not being sceptical enough.

This 'shot by both sides' perfectly encapsulates the tribalism of much of the climate debate. For two many people there can only be two camps - there's little room for shades of grey. As I have blogged before, there are more dimensions to the science/debate than most people care to acknowledge.

In terms of the science, as a non-climatologist I would characterise her position as increasingly 'luke warmist' - she is rowing back from the alarmism exemplified by the IPCC, the Hockey Stick team and people like James Hansen. In fact, I really do wonder now what the major difference is between Judith Curry's position and someone like Pat Michaels, who is considered firmly on the sceptic side.

No comments: