This article is something of a "spin-off" of Global Warming and the Controversy: What is Scientific Consensus? Continental Drift as Example.
A Common refrain of those who call global warming a hoax, is that mainstream climatologists are "calling an opposing scientist a 'denier', ostracizing him/her and ridiculing them".
So what to make of Judith Curry, who while continuing to publish studies supporting the general trend of global warming, has done more to impugn the integrity of her colleagues, and encourage those who call them liars than most actual climate change deniers
|[Now regarding the word "denier", it has always seemed to mean someone who denies some position. It is used mostly by those who find the denial wrong in some serious way. "Deniers of God" has been used often, including by Gandhi, and Google books seems to turn up 116 books with the phrase. Holocaust denier has been the most common use for several decades; also HIV denier. You might consider that for those who sincerely believe global warming is apt to be catastrophic, causing millions of deaths, the consequences of denying it could be similar to those of denying HIV, only far worse.|
There is also a book, The Deniers, published in 2007 and revised in 2010 which embraces the word and gives it a positive valence, much as Quakers and Methodists decided at some point to stop resisting a label despite its derogatory origin.
If the critics of "denier" really think the label is so awful, they could come up with something more accurate than "skeptic", except for those somewhere in the middle -- for those who call global warming a heinous hoax and those who support the idea liars].
Curry is a professor and former department head at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology., and is [co]author or [co]editor of 140 scientific papers. When "ClimateGate" was declared (and she continues to use that label), she became very critical of colleagues.
Some notes from Wikipedia:
Curry also hosts a popular science blog in which she writes on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.
While Judith Curry supports the scientific opinion on climate change, she has argued that climatologists should be more accommodating of those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change. Curry has stated she is troubled by what she calls the "tribal nature" of parts of the climate-science community, and what she sees as stonewalling over the release of data and its analysis for independent review.
In February 2010 Curry published an essay called "On the Credibility of Climate Change, Towards Rebuilding Trust" on Watts Up With That? and other blogs. ...
In September 2010, she created Climate Etc., a blog related to climate change and hosted by Curry. She wrote that "Climate Etc. provides a forum for climate researchers, academics and technical experts from other fields, citizen scientists, and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface." She wrote: "I have a total of 12,000 citations of my publications (since my first publication in 1983). Climate Etc. gets on average about 12,000 ‘hits’ per day, and 300-400 comments." She gets "zero academic credit or incentives for my blogging and tweeting," but hopes that " social media and the associated skill set [will become] better recognized within the academic system."
Curry testified before the US House Subcommittee on Environment in 2013, remarking on the many large uncertainties in forecasting future climate.I spent some time following the blog. Curry makes long posts about every other day, and it is typical for a post to get 500 comments. The quality of discussion is mostly very poor. Recently, a post commented on an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article "Ga. politicians cool to global warming" and this post got 758 comments. When I was watching it, the majority seemed like mutual admiration of most of the discussants and abuse slung at those who didn't agree with them. Part of a response to one of my comments was:
Whether Hitlery is shilling for the UN or the US does not make it right. Without the gunboats nothing is going to happen until we do get rid of the UN and put rational HONEST humans in their place."Hitlery", yeah, and I don't think that was so unique, although much of the rest was more turgid sarcasm than plain abuse, and it also seems to have been toned down lately by Curry excising some of the worst comments. There are also a dozen or so regulars espousing their own pseudo-scientific theories.
Sometimes Curry's posts are reports on this or that meeting, convention or event; other times she expounds some possibly deep philosophy of science and/or sociology. The resulting discussions seemed like mediocre college bull sessions. I just have to wonder what a highly proficient scholar of climatology gets from writing so many long articles and attending to 500 or so often long comments. She definitely reads and gets involved in them. On the other hand, I can easily see the value to the "Global Warming is a Hoax" believers and those who leverage this apparent perfidy of a community of scientists and NGOs into proof that liberals and the MSM tell nothing but lies. To many readers it seems, like the reports from conservative think tanks that get briefly interpreted and spun on right wing blogs, like proof of their respectability, and again, of the perfidiousness of politicians, scientists, and international bodies that claim to have different opinions, though of course they're lying.
While always among the "97%" who say AGW is real, Curry has been a very big thorn in the side of the AGW establishment, mostly by severely criticizing her colleagues as not doing things quite right, by saying "It's not as bad as all that" (followed by maybes and hedges), as in a recent WSJ opinion piece titled "The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown: (the WSJ version had this long subtitle:
Mounting evidence suggests that basic assumptions about climate change are mistaken: The numbers don't add up."
As with tabloid journalism, the screaming title is only moderately backed up by the article, but many more people will hear about the piece than will read it. It will appear prominently in every Liberal-hating blog in the land, and the take away will be "...Meltdown: Mounting evidence ... The numbers don't add up".
Now one thing Curry illustrates is that while her colleagues are infuriated and call her terrible names like "denier" -- she remains a well placed professor, and keeps getting her papers published in major journals and makes presentations at conferences because these journals and conferences, believe it or not, evaluate papers based on their merit, not on whether the writer is a team player.
She also heads a consulting company reported to make ($1-5 million yearly), Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) whose "innovative OmniCast(TM) suite of weather and climate forecast products for the energy sector incorporates the latest research in weather and climate dynamics...". OmniCast(TM) was
"developed by CFAN in response to the needs of a major client in the petroleum industry for extended range, better-than-market weather forecasts to support energy trading, sales and marketing."Omnipage(TM) is accessible from the "Solutions" tab on all or nearly all pages of the web site; it is the only thing there for which there is a PDF brochure (very nicely designed), and the only CFAN trademark that I saw; it also appears to have been introduced about the same time the company was founded, all of which suggests it is not a small part of their business. The quote above seems designed to catch the eye of potential clients in the petroleum industry.
Her ability to retain her academic position, publish papers and attend conferences just serves to illustrate why scientific institutions are needed if we want continued growth of knowledge, and if they have on occasion mistreated someone for their views, it is rare, in stark contrast to the situation on the anti-science side. I doubt that any FOX performer or Republican congress-person, or conservative/libertarian Think Tank employee would be cut a tenth as much slack as she has gotten. The FOX person would likely be fired as would the Think Tank employee, and the congress person would be "Primaried" out of existence.