Misleading Text In A Scientific American Article That Judy Curry Is A “Climate Heretic”

I was very disappointed to read erroneous information, in an otherwise very informative article, in the Scientific American by Michael D. Lemonick titled

Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues

which seeks to isolate Judy Curry as being an outlier from her climate science colleagues [the article, of course, is useful in that it does expose the attempt by some to marginalize anyone who differs from the IPCC viewpoint, and Michael Lemonick is commended for doing that].

The text in his article, however, includes the header of one of its sections which implies she is gone

Over to the Dark Side“.

An excerpt from the article includes the text (referring to one of the IPCC reports)

“Apparently few others felt the same way [as Judy]; of the many hundreds of scientists involved in that report, which came out in 2001, only a handful have claimed their views were ignored—although the Third Assessment Report could not possibly reflect any one scientist’s perspective perfectly.”

This science reporter is incorrect in this view.

 Judy Curry is hardly a “climate heretic” but rather, as an internationally well-respected climate scientist, is providing a much needed healthy, independent examination of the IPCC assessment and finding it has significant shortcomings. Judy’s scientific credentials are outstanding; e.g. see her google scholar citations http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=40000&q=judy+curry.

I agree with her in this conclusion and have documented evidence for this, for example, in

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp

 She and I are not alone in these findings

As just a few examples, I list below multi-authored peer reviewed papers and one NRC assessment that present views that materially differs from that presented in the 2007 IPCC assessment. Some of the co-authors are contributors to the 2007 IPCC report, but in the articles presented below and  in the 2005 NRC assessment report, they agreed with the conclusions that were reached in these papers. These conclusions  document the need for a broader perspective to the role of human and natural climate forcings and feedbacks than just a CO2-centric view. 

Examples of Papers With Evidence of Viewpoints on Climate Science Ignored or Underreported in the 2007 IPCC reports.   [bold face added in the text below]

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union. {Note that each author is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union]

with the conclusions including that

The evidence predominantly suggests that humans are significantly altering the global environment, and thus climate, in a variety of diverse ways beyond the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Unfortunately, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale. It also placed too much emphasis on average global forcing from a limited set of human climate forcings. Further, it devised a mitigation strategy based on global model predictions. For example, although aerosols were considered as a global average forcing, their local effects were neglected (e.g., biomass burning, dust from land use/land cover management and change, soot from inefficient combustion).”

McAlpine, C.A., W.F. Laurance, J.G. Ryan, L. Seabrook, J.I. Syktus, A.E. Etter, P.M. Fearnside, P. Dargusch, and R.A. Pielke Sr. 2010: More than CO2: A broader picture for managing climate change and variability to avoid ecosystem collapse. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, in press

with the abstract

“Climate change policies currently focus on reducing the concentration of industrial atmospheric greenhouse gases due to burning fossil fuels and deforestation, but pay limited attention to feedbacks between the land surface and the climate system. In tropical and subtropical regions, forests and woodlands play an important role in the climate system by buffering climate extremes, maintaining the hydrological cycle and sequestering carbon. Despite the obvious significance of these feedbacks to the functioning of the climate system, deforestation continues apace. It is critical, therefore, that a broader focus be developed that includes the restoration of feedbacks between vegetation and climate. In this paper, we present a synthesis of the best available, policy-relevant science on the feedbacks between the land surface and the climate system, with a focus on tropical and sub-tropical regions. Based on this science, we argue for a stronger integration of land-use and climate-change policies. These policies need to include a virtual halt to all deforestation and an acceleration of investment in strategic reforestation, supported by a comprehensive global forest monitoring program. Without these actions, the degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems will become exacerbated as their resilience is eroded by accelerated changes in temperature, precipitation and extreme weather events.”

Rial, J., R.A. Pielke Sr., M. Beniston, M. Claussen, J. Canadell, P. Cox, H. Held, N. de Noblet-Ducoudre, R. Prinn, J. Reynolds, and J.D. Salas, 2004: Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth’s climate system. Climatic Change, 65, 11-38.

with the abstract

“The Earth’s climate system is highly nonlinear: inputs and outputs are not proportional, change is often episodic and abrupt, rather than slow and gradual, and multiple equilibria are the norm. While this is widely accepted, there is a relatively poor understanding of the different types of nonlinearities, how they manifest under various conditions, and whether they reflect a climate system driven by astronomical forcings, by internal feedbacks, or by a combination of both. In this paper, after a brief tutorial on the basics of climate nonlinearity, we provide a number of illustrative examples and highlight key mechanisms that give rise to nonlinear behavior, address scale and methodological issues, suggest a robust alternative to prediction that is based on using integrated assessments within the framework of vulnerability studies and, lastly, recommend a number of research priorities and the establishment of education programs in Earth Systems Science. It is imperative that the Earth’s climate system research community embraces this nonlinear paradigm if we are to move forward in the assessment of the human influence on climate.”

Pielke Sr., R.A., G. Marland, R.A. Betts, T.N. Chase, J.L. Eastman, J.O. Niles, D. Niyogi, and S. Running, 2002: The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system- relevance to climate change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases. Phil. Trans. A. Special Theme Issue, 360, 1705-1719

with the abstract

“Our paper documents that land-use change impacts regional and global climate through the surface-energy budget, as well as through the carbon cycle. The surface energy budget effects may be more important than the carbon-cycle effects. However, land-use impacts on climate cannot be adequately quanti­ ed with the usual metric of `global warming potential’. A new metric is needed to quantify the human disturbance of the Earth’s surface energy budget. This `regional climate change potential’ could offer a new metric for developing a more inclusive climate protocol. This concept would also implicitly provide a mechanism to monitor potential local-scale environmental changes that could infuence biodiversity.”

Marland, G., R.A. Pielke, Sr., M. Apps, R. Avissar, R.A. Betts, K.J. Davis, P.C. Frumhoff, S.T. Jackson, L. Joyce, P. Kauppi, J. Katzenberger, K.G. MacDicken, R. Neilson, J.O. Niles, D. dutta S. Niyogi, R.J. Norby, N. Pena, N. Sampson, and Y. Xue, 2003: The climatic impacts of land surface change and carbon management, and the implications for climate-change mitigation policy. Climate Policy, 3, 149-157

with the abstract

“Strategies to mitigate anthropogenic climate change recognize that carbon sequestration in the terrestrial biosphere can reduce the build-up of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, climate mitigation policies do not generally incorporate the effects of these changes in the land surface on the surface albedo, the fluxes of sensible and latent heat to the atmosphere, and the distribution of energy within the climate system. Changes in these components of the surface energy budget can affect the local, regional, and global climate. Given the goal of mitigating climate change, it is important to consider all of the effects of changes in terrestrial vegetation and to work toward a better understanding of the full climate system. Acknowledging the importance of land surface change as a component of climate change makes it more challenging to create a system of credits and debits wherein emission or sequestration of carbon in the biosphere is equated with emission of carbon from fossil fuels. Recognition of the complexity of human-caused changes in climate does not, however, weaken the importance of actions that would seek to minimize our disturbance of the Earth’s environmental system and that would reduce societal and ecological vulnerability to environmental change and variability.”

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp

which includes the finding that

“Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing. A new metric to account for the vertical structure of radiative forcing is recommended below. Understanding of regional and nonradiative forcings is too premature to recommend specific metrics at this time. Instead, the committee identifies specific research needs to improve quantification and understanding of these forcings.”

In response to the Scientific American article, as my son has posted on in;

What Little Has Been Learned

“Almost a year has passed since the release of the East Anglia emails.  And despite all that has happened, there are some repeated indications that the climate science community just doesn’t get it.”

Reporters of climate science and a subset of climate scientists (who are often in leadership roles) continue to ignore and belittle those who disagree with them.

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