Judith A. Curry
|Education||B.S. in geography, Ph.D. in geophysical sciences|
|Alma mater||Northern Illinois University, (B.S., 1974)|
University of Chicago (Ph.D., 1982)
|Thesis||The formation of continental polar air (1982)|
|Website||Curry's home page – Curry's blog|
Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include hurricanes, remote sensing, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, air-sea interactions, climate models, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for atmospheric research. She was a member of the National Research Council's Climate Research Committee, published over a hundred scientific papers, and co-edited several major works. Curry retired from academia in 2017 at age 63.
Social scientists who have studied Curry's position on climate change have described it as "neo-skepticism", in that her current position includes certain features of denialism: she accepts that the planet is warming, that human-generated greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide cause warming, and that the plausible worst-case scenario is potentially catastrophic, but she also proposes that the rate of warming is slower than climate models have projected, emphasizes her evaluation of the uncertainty in the climate prediction models, and questions whether climate change mitigation is affordable. Despite the broad consensus among climate scientists that climate change requires urgent action, Curry has testified to the United States Congress that, in her opinion, there is so much uncertainty about natural climate variation that trying to reduce emissions may be pointless.
Curry graduated cum laude from Northern Illinois University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in geography. She earned her geophysical sciences Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1982.
Curry is a Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology; she held the latter position from 2002 to 2013. Curry retired from her university position in 2017, describing part of her reason for leaving academia was what she described as "anti-skeptic bias", which she described at the time as the "craziness" of the political nature of climate science. Curry served on NASA Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee whose mission was to provide advice and recommendations to NASA on issues of program priorities and policy. She was a member of the NOAA Climate Working Group from 2004-2009, a member of the National Academies Space Studies Board from 2004-2007, and a member of the National Academies Climate Research Group from 2003-2006.
Before moving to Georgia, Curry was professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and had previously held faculty positions at Penn State University, Purdue, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Curry was active in researching possible connections between hurricane intensity and global warming. Her research group did research linking the size of hurricanes and resulting damage that showed that, among other things, the size of the hurricanes was an important factor in determining the number of tornadoes spawned by the system. Among her awards is the Henry G. Houghton Research Award from the American Meteorological Society in 1992, and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1988.
Curry retired in 2017 from her tenured position as a professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology at age 63, because of what she called "the poisonous nature of the scientific discussion around human-caused global warming". Michael Mann said climate science would be stronger without her because of her "confusionism and denialism". In an interview with eenews.net at the time of her retirement, she argued for more focus on reducing climate change vulnerabilities. After leaving academia, Curry shifted to running the Climate Forecast Applications Network, a climate-risk consulting company whose clients include federal agencies, insurance companies, and energy companies.
Controversial views on climate change
In his 2010 profile on Curry, journalist Michael Lemonick reported that Curry began paying attention to outsider climate blogs after they attacked a 2005 paper she co-authored, which related increasing hurricane strength to global warming. Rather than dismissing their comments, she had discussions with attackers including Christopher Landsea and Pat Michaels. She began participating in outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, where she found the discussions very interesting, as opposed to "preaching to the converted" at mainstream climate science blog RealClimate. Despite the amount of what she describes as "crankology," she thought the time was well spent to avoid groupthink.
Though she had previously accepted Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, in the 2010 profile she accused the IPCC of "corruption" and said she no longer had confidence in the process. Though she agreed that the Earth is warming, largely due to human-generated greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and that the plausible worst-case scenario is potentially catastrophic, she asserted that the IPCC was distorting the science and scientists were not dealing adequately with uncertainties.[a] Commenting climatologists have generally disagreed with her critiques. Stephen Schneider, who had persuaded the IPCC to systematize discussion of uncertainty, said Curry had lately proposed "a lot of strawmen" and "It is frankly shocking to see such a good scientist take that kind of a turn to sloppy thinking. I have no explanation for it." Curry felt that, although she was still able to publish professionally, she had become a victim of mainstream climate science's overreaction to criticism; she believed the climate community had adopted a fortress mentality, defending insiders and refusing access to outsiders.
Curry began her own blog open to outsider participation. It was described as part of the climate change denial blogosphere in the 2015 Oxford University Press book Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives. That same year, Curry was described by InsideClimate News as "relatively new to the denialist camp". She was included on an e-mail sent by Fred Singer, who was concerned over the possible fallout from the documentary film Merchants of Doubt.
Curry's position on climate change was much criticized by climate scientists, and she became known as a contrarian scientist. A 2013 Media Matters for America study found that Curry was among the "climate doubters" most frequently quoted by the press as spreading public doubts about climate science. Going against the vast majority view of climate scientists, she had suggested to newspapers that most of the recent global warming was not human-caused, and had hinted that IPCC scientists are motivated by "funding" even though they are not paid for their contributions. She consistently presents her view that climate science has much larger uncertainties than those shown by mainstream studies, though she has not shown any previously unconsidered cause for such uncertainty. A 2019 article in Human Ecology Review described her position as a form of climate denialism, criticizing her downplaying of potential future climate change effects and emphasis on the costs of addressing climate change.
Curry has repeatedly been invited as a witness to United States Congressional hearings as one of the few scientists advancing doubts about the significance of human contributions to climate change, and political figures have used Curry's statements and writings in their arguments. For instance, when Christopher Shank, a politician and President Trump's first appointment to the NASA transition team, questioned the role of humans in climate change, Shank referred to Curry's work and her site's URL repeatedly in his testimony.
Between 2014 and February 2019, Curry testified before at least six Republican-led House committees, expressing the idea that the dangers of global warming are overstated and difficult to predict. These testimonies include criticisms of President Obama's climate plan, the UN climate action plan, and other policy proposals aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In her Natural Resources Committee testimony on February 6, 2019, Curry stated that, "Man-made climate change is not an existential threat in the 21st century.... The perception of a near-term apocalypse has narrowed the policy options".
In February 2019, Curry was on a Trump administration candidate list for a "Presidential Committee on Climate Security" to perform an "adversarial scientific peer review" of climate science. The administration offered Curry a senior position at the NOAA in late 2020, which Curry declined.
Curry co-authored Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (1999), and co-edited Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (2002). She has published over 130 scientific peer-reviewed papers.
In November 2018, Curry submitted for publication a report on sea level rise titled Sea Level and Climate Change in which she argues against the scientific community's consensus. She presents a case that sea level rise has been a "slow creep" over the last 150 years and has been unaffected by anthropogenic climate change. Though these arguments place her outside the academic consensus, Curry said that her findings were compatible with those presented by the International Panel on Climate Change. An Associated Press article suggested that Curry's arguments could dampen moves by cities and municipalities to start lawsuits against oil-and-gas companies seeking recompense for anticipated sea level rise damages.
- Books by Curry
- Curry, Judith A.; Webster, Peter J. (1999). Thermodynamics of atmospheres and oceans. ISBN 9780121995706., by Judith A. Curry & Peter J. Webster
- Encyclopedia of atmospheric sciences, Volume 3. Academic Press. 2003. ISBN 9780122270901.
- Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds. Cambridge University Press. 2014. ISBN 9781107016033.
- National Research Council. Review of the U.S. CLIVAR Project Office. Committee to Review the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Project Office, National Academies Press, 2004, p. 35.
- Waldman, Scott (2017-01-04). "Judith Curry retires, citing 'craziness' of climate science". ClimateWire. Environment & Energy Publishing. Retrieved 2017-01-06.
- Riley E. Dunlap; Robert J. Brulle (2015). Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives. Oxford University Press. pp. 317–318. ISBN 978-0-19-935611-9.
While a few denialist blogs are hosted by contrarian scientists (e.g. Judith Curry)...(pdf)
- "Reconceptualizing Climate Change Denial: Ideological Denialism Misdiagnoses Climate Change and Limits Effective Action". Human Ecology Review. ANU Press. 25 (2): 123–124. 19 December 2019. doi:10.22459/her.25.02.2019. ISSN 1074-4827.
- Harris, Richard. "'Uncertain' Science: Judith Curry's Take On Climate Change". NPR. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
She says there's so much uncertainty about the role of natural variation in the climate that she doesn't know what's going to happen. She says a catastrophe is possible, but warming could also turn out to be not such a big deal. And she focuses on uncertainties and unknown unknowns far more than on the consensus of climate scientists, who say we know enough to be deeply worried. .... Her message that day on Capitol Hill was, in essence, that while humans may be contributing to climate change, we simply don't know how the climate will behave in the coming decades, so there may be no point in trying to reduce emissions.
- "Judith A. Curry CV" (PDF). Congress. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
- "Curry, Dr. Judith A." Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Georgia Tech. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- Judith Curry (25 August 2010). "About". Climate Etc. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Niiler, Eric (7 February 2019). "Finally! Climate Science Returns to Capitol Hill". Wired. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- Richardson, Valerie (27 December 2018). "Judith Curry sea-level study disputes climate-disaster predictions". AP NEWS. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
- See, for example:
- Curry, J.A.; Webster, P.J.; Holland, G.J. (2006), "Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis That Greenhouse Warming Is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity" (PDF), Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 87 (8): 1025–1037, Bibcode:2006BAMS...87.1025C, doi:10.1175/BAMS-87-8-1025
- Webster PJ, Holland GJ, Curry JA, Chang HR (September 2005). "Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment". Science. 309 (5742): 1844–6. Bibcode:2005Sci...309.1844W. doi:10.1126/science.1116448. PMID 16166514.
- "Refereed Papers". www.curry.eas.gatech.edu. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- "Hurricanes Spawning More U.S. Tornadoes". Live Science. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "Hurricanes and Global Warming: The Science, Technologies, and Politics". NASA Researcher News. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Waldman, Scott (4 January 2017). "Judith Curry retires, citing 'craziness' of climate science". Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
- Webster, P. J.; Holland, Greg J; Curry, Judith A; Chang, H-R (16 September 2005). "Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 309 (5742): 1844–1846. doi:10.1126/science.1116448. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 16166514.
- Lemonick, Michael D. (2010-11-01). "Climate heretic: Judith Curry turns on her colleagues". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2010.577. ISSN 1476-4687.
- Curry, J. A.; Webster, P. J. (2011-08-08). "Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 92 (12): 1667–1682. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92.1667C. doi:10.1175/2011BAMS3139.1. ISSN 0003-0007.
- Hegerl, Gabriele; Stott, Peter; Solomon, Susan; Zwiers, Francis (2011). "Comment on "Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster" J. A. Curry and P. J. Webster" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 92 (12): 1683–1685. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92.1683H. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00191.1.
- Curry, Judith; Webster, Peter J. (2011). "Reply". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 92 (12): 1686–1687. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92.1686C. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00195.1.
- "Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists". InsideClimate News. 2015-03-12. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
- Mervis, Jeffrey (9 December 2015). "From a bully pulpit, Ted Cruz offers his take on climate change". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- Nuccitelli, Dana (30 May 2019). "Humans and volcanoes caused nearly all of global heating in past 140 years". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
- "Study: Media Sowed Doubt In Coverage Of UN Climate Report". Media Matters for America. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- John Timmer (18 May 2018). "Clean air, water on voters' agenda, but not Congress'". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- Brown, Alleen (1 December 2016). "Global Warming Research in Danger as Trump Appoints Climate Skeptic to NASA Team". The Intercept. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
- Scott K. Johnson (9 December 2015). "Senate Science Committee hearing challenges "dogma" of climate science". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- "White House: 'Adversarial' reviewers recruit climate skeptics". Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
- Waldman, Scott (28 September 2020). "White House recruited climate critics for NOAA". E&E News. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
- Turner, Amy. "Richard Dawkins' pro-am clash in the boffins’ blogosphere", The Times, February 28, 2010.