STEM-Talk: Judith Curry on the uncertainties of climate change

Dr. Judith Curry wants more people to appreciate the large uncertainties associated with climate science.

It’s why Curry has worked to fight “groupthink” in science, advocate for transparency and engage critics. It is her way of keeping the conversation focused on the nuance that is a critical component of science and scientific discussion. Her appearance on Episode 158 of STEM-Talk, available now on podcast apps, YouTube and on IHMC’s website, reflects this.

Judith Curry

Curry is president of the Climate Forecast Application Network and the host of the blog, Climate Etc. She also is Professor Emerita of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In scientific circles, she is known as a contrarian for pointing out the uncertainties and limitations of climate modeling. Her blog is a forum for climate researchers, academics, and technical experts from other fields as well as citizen scientists to discuss climate science and policy.

“In my opinion the worst possible scenario is that we are left to face extreme weather and climate impacts with a crippled energy system that drastically reduces our resilience,” Curry says. “Focusing on climate change leads us to ignore the broader ecological problems associated with our impact on the planet” including land use, overfishing, pollution, and degradation of the planet’s surface from mining and waste.

Our conversation covers:

  • Her research interests in hurricanes, remote sensing, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, air-sea interactions, climate models, and the use of drones for atmospheric research.
  • Her experience with the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) expedition to examine how sea ice, the ocean, and the atmosphere were interacting. The end of the Cold War also saw an end to a funding stream that had supported research in the Arctic Ocean, back when submarine warfare there was a key military strategy. “The climate modeling was a bit of a ploy to get this funded,” Curry says.
  • Her takeaways from the 2010 unauthorized release of emails from the Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, otherwise known as “climategate.
  • Her 2017 resignation from a tenured position at Georgia Tech partly because of the toxic nature of the scientific discussion around human-caused global warming.
  • The release of her book “Climate Change and Uncertainty: Rethinking our Response.” The book offers a new way to think about climate change, the risks we face, and the way we respond.