Climate scientist Judith Curry believes that if climate scientists more readily would acknowledge the inherent uncertainties of the issue, skeptics would more likely accept the established central tenets of global warming

Judith Curry.

In Nederland krijgen klimaatsceptici maar zelden podium bij de mainstream media. Een recente uitzondering was de filmmaker Marijn Poels, die discussieerde met Bart Verheggen naar aanleiding van de vertoning van de film van Marijn Poels, ‘The Uncertainty Has Settled’, in Helmond. De uitzending van dit debat is hier te horen en te zien. De film komt 6 juli op online demand voor 4,50 Euro in vier talen. Hij is wereldwijd online te bekijken.

Marijn Poels is overigens geen klimaatscepticus maar een zeer getalenteerd filmmaker die het journalistieke adagium van ‘hoor en wederhoor’ serieus neemt. Bart Verheggen is een verstokte AGW-protagonist (AGW = ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’: door de mens veroorzaakte opwarming van de atmosfeer). Verheggen is goed ingevoerd in de klimaatliteratuur, maar voelt zich geroepen om op te treden als een Nederlandse klimaat-Torquemada. Samen met zijn reguliere coauteurs neemt hij klimaatsceptici op zijn blog op de korrel, waarbij zij vaak selectief winkelen in de opvattingen van de laatsten. Veelal geven zij deze ook verdraaid weer. Voorts creëren zij niet zelden rookgordijnen en dwaalsporen, waarbij zij eindeloos doorzeuren over onbenullige details, terwijl zij cruciale elementen in het debat negeren. En dit alles in een sfeer waarin de gebruikelijk fatsoensnormen voor wetenschappelijke communicatie aan de lopende band worden overschreden, door klimaatsceptici bijvoorbeeld te kwalificeren als ‘habitat-criminelen’ en door het openlijk bespreken van verschillende opties om klimaatsceptici voor de rechter te slepen. Het is een kwaadaardig en verontrustend mengsel van karaktermoord, smaad en intimidatie. Maar ja, ze zullen wel denken: het doel heiligt de middelen. Het gaat immers om het redden van de planeet!

In Australië is de toestand niet veel beter. Ook daar worden klimaatsceptici in de regel verketterd en genegeerd door de media. Maar onlangs zond de Australische publieke omroep toch een uitvoerige discussie uit tussen protagonisten en antagonisten van de menselijke broeikashypothese. Het was een doorbraak!

Onder de prominente klimaatsceptici die daaraan deelnamen noem ik:

Judith Curry (Former Professor and Chair, School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia USA) en Freeman Dyson (Former Professor of Physics Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, Princeton New Jersey USA).

De interviewers/presentatoren waren Brian Cox en Sharon Carleton.

Ik pik een aantal krenten uit het transscript van het debat.

Sharon Carleton: Judith Curry is an American climatologist and former professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

She has some 186 published papers on a range of climate science topics and has presented her views to the US Congress many times.

Judith says she has become ‘the scientific poster child for the new denialism’.

Judith Curry: Say 10 or 12 years ago, I was working on a few narrow problems that were related to climate change, but I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. And since I wasn’t looking at the whole picture I thought it made sense to accept the consensus conclusions from other scientists who were looking at the whole picture, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. I bought into their meme ‘don’t listen to what one scientist says, listen to what this group of hundreds of scientists have concluded after years of deliberation’.

I changed my mind in 2009 after the climategate emails, if you are familiar with this, it was the unauthorised release of emails from the University of East Anglia, included email exchanges by a number of the authors of the IPCC reports.

Sharon Carleton: No less than eight top-level, independent committees investigated and published reports on this so called ‘climategate’ affair. The reports found there was no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct and the scientists were completely exonerated.

Judith Curry: From what? Basically what I saw from those emails, and I read pretty much all of them, was that I really did not like the sausage-making that went into this consensus. It was a lot of skulduggery and bullying going on, and trying to hide uncertainties and thwart people from getting papers published and trying to keep data out of the hands of people who wanted to question it. I realised that there was a lot of circular reasoning, a lot of uncertainties, a lot of tuning, just a lot of things that made me not have any confidence at all in what they had done. So I started speaking out. This basically turned me into an outcast amongst the establishment climate scientists. ….

Sharon Carleton: Freeman Dyson is a world-renowned theoretical physicist and mathematician at Princeton University. He was a contemporary of Albert Einstein. He’s revered in his world of quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Now 93, he’s officially retired, but still has his office at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton where he keeps up with science and technology. His friend, the late Oliver Sacks, said Freeman Dyson always ‘liked to be subversive’.

Freeman Dyson: Well, this was about 40 years ago. At that time before the climate became a fashionable problem, before it became political, I used to go to Oakridge, which is the national laboratory which specialised in an ecological approach to climate. The head of the project there was Alvin Weinberg. He collected a group of experts there who were not just experts in fluid dynamics but experts in plants and soil and in the chemistry as well as physics, biology, all branches of science. They worked together putting a picture of the future of energy. It was called the Institute for Energy Analysis.

So I worked there for several summers and became reasonably well informed. At that time there was a competing group of experts working I think in Colorado who were experts in the narrow field of fluid dynamics who were doing climate models on computers. They were competing with us for public attention, and they clearly won the battle. They became the public spokesmen for the whole subject of climate with this very narrow point of view, working out numerical models of climate in great detail, paying no attention to the real world of snow and ice and all the complications of life and vegetation.

Sharon Carleton: With the IPCC, as I understand it, there are 2,500 scientists involved, 130 different countries. They’ve got the whole world looking at them. I don’t understand how you say that that information isn’t getting out.

Judith Curry: Oh, the information is getting out. My point is that it’s highly biased. They don’t pay attention to the reviewers’ comments. The whole process neglects natural climate variability. …

Judith Curry: No one questions that the climate is changing. The climate has always changed. So nobody denies climate change. Nobody denies that humans emit carbon dioxide. Nobody denies that carbon dioxide emits infrared radiation. What the disagreement is about is the most consequential issues; are humans dominating over natural causes in terms of recent climate change? Or is it mostly natural variability? How will the climate of the 21st century play out? We frankly have no idea. …

Sharon Carleton: Freeman Dyson:

Freeman Dyson: What I see is the evidence is going very much in the other direction. Only the problem is that the public only hears one side of the discussion. For political reasons…I mean, it’s political effectiveness of this green lobby, the green political movement which has captured the whole discussion. The problem is not whether the climate is warming, we all know the climate is warming, the problem is: is that good or bad?

Sharon Carleton: What would it take to change your mind?

Freeman Dyson: Well, I think it would take a very serious program of investigating the beneficial effects of carbon dioxide, with the same sort of political push that has been devoted to the harmful effects. In fact carbon dioxide is making the world greener, and the public just doesn’t understand it.

Judith Curry: Climate change is an extremely complex problem. You can cherry-pick a certain line of papers to support whatever argument you want.

Sharon Carleton: Have you ever doubted yourself?

Judith Curry: I’m talking about uncertainty, I’m saying we don’t know. I’m not saying I have any answers, I’m saying the other people, if they tell you they have an answer, don’t believe them. There’s massive uncertainty in this very complex subject that is not adequately accounted for when these people are spouting off their highly confident conclusions. I see more and more evidence that leads me to question the conclusions. The models are tuned to match preconceived ideas of how sensitive the climate is to increasing carbon dioxide. You can get whatever answer you want. …

Judith Curry: There is a potential for something bad to happen from greenhouse gases, but there are many possible dangers and you have to decide how you’re going to deal with it. Trying to prevent a possible danger, trying to prevent an asteroid strike or whatever, you have to pick your battles. And when you have a great deal of uncertainty, like we do with the climate change issue and a question of whether the cure is worse than the disease, the appropriate response is really try to increase the resilience of our societies. I think it’s a good thing for humans to tread lightly on the environment where they can, but there’s a lot of trade-offs.

So what we should be doing in terms of policy, I have no idea. If you go back to the 1950s or 1930s or even back to the 19th century, weather extremes were at least as bad, if not worse than current. And even the IPCC, they acknowledge this, there is no observational evidence of worsening extreme weather events. Sea level rise: it’s been rising for 10,000 years, get over it. The Arctic sea ice decline is unusual on the timescale of 60 years or so where we have good records, but on longer timescales, no, it’s not all that unusual. In terms of the Antarctic, two years ago there was record high Antarctic ice extent, and now there is a record low. This isn’t human-caused climate change, this is natural variability.

Freeman Dyson: Of course there are risks on both sides. It is certainly a question of risk management. But it’s very dangerous to only look at the risks on one side and not on the other. I think global warming is one of the minor questions compared with the destruction of the environment from other things like overfishing and the destruction of forests, all kinds of much worse things we should be worrying about. …

Judith Curry: Okay, humans are contributing something to climate change. How much we don’t know. But even if you believe the climate models, all of the commitments made as part of the Paris agreement wouldn’t change the climate by more than one or two tenths of a degree by the end of the 20th century. If you think CO2 has less of an impact on the climate, then it would even be a smaller amount. So what is the point of thinking that if we do all this emissions reduction at great cost to the global economies and tell the Africans, ‘no, you don’t get grid electricity because we are worried about carbon dioxide’, at great cost to human development and economics, so that we can maybe prevent two-tenths of a degree by the end of the 21st century? What is the point of that?

Sharon Carleton: So is it worth risking? Do we just roll with the dice?

Judith Curry: Yes, it’s a values question. Whenever there is a warm period, they call it a climate optimum. The cold periods is when societies have struggled. So why are we assuming that the current warm period or a future period that’s even warmer is going to be somehow bad? Deciding and declaring that a warmer climate is somehow dangerous to me is totally unjustified. And then you have the solutions that are put forward to fix this so-called problem, they are completely inadequate for making any kind of a dent. So who’s in denial?

En over de ‘tweets’ van Donald Trump:

Sharon Carleton: …. Donald Trump’s tweets hint loudly as to what he thinks:

Reading of tweet by Donald Trump: This very expensive global warming bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.

Sharon Carleton: And:

Reading of tweet by Donald Trump: The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.

Sharon Carleton: Freeman Dyson:

Freeman Dyson: Of course it’s total rubbish. It is not the only total rubbish that he talks.

Sharon Carleton: Judith Curry:

Judith Curry: He’s explained the statement about the Chinese hoax. He’s talking about the economic impact of the climate policies, and he’s concerned that China is eating our lunch as we all reduce emissions, then manufacturing goes to China and they make a lot of money, we harm our economy, and the CO2 emissions don’t go down anyway. This is what he’s talking about. He’s not making a scientific statement. So all of these are very complex issues. I’m not going to defend the Trump administration. I’m waiting to see what they do.

Sharon Carleton: The man President Trump put in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, does not accept that greenhouse gases are the primary contributor to global warming. This is despite more than 31 scientific bodies telling the US congress that human induced climate change is real. The present-day Republican White House appears intent on dismantling the previous administration’s climate change agenda.

Freeman Dyson, describes himself as ‘100% Democrat’:

Freeman Dyson: It’s a great tragedy that Obama took the wrong side in this discussion. That really was a disaster for him and also a disaster for Hillary Clinton. ….

Lees verder hier.