On January 1, 2017, courageous Georgia Tech Climatologist Judith Curry resigned from her tenured position at the university, offering as her main reason her growing frustration with the politicized reward system now endemic in college science generally, and in climate science, specifically.
To quote Dr. Curry:
"A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc."
She also noted that she has been observing this problem for five to ten years.
For those of us in the “west” who have been involved with scientific research, who have friends or family members who work in the field, or who have been reporting on scientific research, especially climate research, her statement, issued two days after she effectively resigned, rings true with utter, beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air clarity.
Dr. Curry has been a target of politicized rhetorical attacks for years, stemming mainly from her adherence to unsullied climate data and her hesitation to embrace questionable readings and models pushed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, The University of East Anglia, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and others. With her sense of scientific rigor intact, she has refused to play along with their shameful attempt to ascribe global climate fluctuation on mankind.
And her battles have been duly noted by those of us who believe in trying to be honest -- especially when looking at science and public policy, or science that is, sadly, driving public policy and/or being driven by public policy. For many years, observers outside the Ivory Tower have noted that the current state of scientific research, especially that portion pertaining to climatology, is being driven by an anti-scientific federal funding machine. To paraphrase what one graduate from Harvard School of Public Health told me years ago, if one wants tenure, one has to publish and get government grants, and if one wants government grants, one has to focus on the research the politicians and bureaucrats desire. So, we often see science by QED.
Dr. Curry is fed up with it, and she ought to be. As John Tierney observed in an excellent piece for The City Journal in August of 2016, many branches of university science have been politicized for a long time, and politicized mainly by the left. He notes that “two huge threats are peculiar to the left -- and they’re getting worse.” The first is confirmation bias, and the second is the mixing of science and politics, both of which are readily apparent in the muck-raking, corrupt field of “anthropogenic climate change” research that relies on federal funding and works with government agencies.
This unsavory partnership has resulted in numerous scandals that for years have alarmed people interested in empirical research. For example, in 2015, well-known German reporter Gunter Ederer noted that retired geologist and computational expert Dr. Friederich Karl Ewert discovered data fudging by scientists working at the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland (a place I’ve visited, thanks to a friend who used to work there). To quote the report:
“Ewert painstakingly examined and tabulated the reams of archived data from 1153 stations that go back to 1881 – which NASA has publicly available – data that the UN IPCC uses to base its conclusion that man is heating the Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. According to Ederer, what Professor Ewert found is 'unbelievable':
“From the publicly available data, Ewert made an unbelievable discovery: Between the years 2010 and 2012 the data measured since 1881 were altered so that they showed a significant warming, especially after 1950. […] A comparison of the data from 2010 with the data of 2012 shows that NASA-GISS had altered its own datasets so that especially after WWII a clear warming appears – although it never existed.”
This is an agency that was granted $1.9 billion in environmental funding for 2017, most of it targeted towards climate change related projects.
The US government’s bad record on climate data is not just isolated to NASA. NOAA has been just as bad. In 2012, NOAA was caught fudging the climate history to make it appear as if July 2012 was the hottest month in 100 years, when, in fact, it was not.
In 2014, Anthony Watts reported:
"Two years ago during the scorching summer of 2012, July 1936 lost its place on the leaderboard and July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the United States. Now, as if by magic, and according to NOAA's own data, July 1936 is now the hottest month on record again. The past, present, and future all seems to be 'adjustable' in NOAA's world."
Welcome to the Ministry of Truth.
NOAA’s larger data sets have been shown to have been manipulated as well. Writing for RealClimateScience, Tony Heller provides charts, and notes:
“The problem with the NOAA graph is that it is fake data. NOAA creates the warming trend by altering the data. The NOAA raw data shows no warming over the past century…”
This use of “models” to warp temperature slopes is endemic not only in the government agencies, but also in universities. For example, even if they don’t know the specifics, many people have heard the word “Climategate.” This term, coined by British writer James Delingpole in 2009, pertains to the lovely revelation via surreptitiously released e-mails that scientists at England’s University of East Anglia (which receives lots of money from the UK government for this research) were telling each other to fudge the data in order to make it conform to their desired conclusion: the accusation that man was the prime mover in “climate change.”
These scientists were also working with US scientists, one of whom, a man now infamous for his loose play with data, has been one of the most outspoken attackers of Dr. Curry. That utterly classy chap would be Michael Mann, well known among skeptics for his manipulative and unfounded “hockey stick” graph, which, beyond the fact that temperature measurement at the start of his graph was not exact enough to even allow it to be included in a graph, was used by his royal highness, Al Gore, for his propaganda farce, “An Inconvenient Truth.” The graph is made to begin at a point in the 19th Century that was fairly cool, allowing it to shoot up as the world enters the 20th Century, and conveniently offering a visual correlation between rising temperatures and the use of the internal combustion engine.
The problem (in addition to the empirical trouble of trying to make 19th Century temperature readers seem as precise as late 20th Century devices) is that Mr. Mann could have gone back further in time a few decades and shown that the earth was much warmer. Why bother… It’s more important to scare people, as Mr. Mann’s propagandistic pal, Al Gore, has made abundantly clear.
Mr. Mann was directly tied to the Climategate data fudging, yet he is still held up as a hero in the politicized world of university climate “science.” As Henry Payne observed for National Review in 2015:
"Mann is the controversial director of Pennsylvania State’s Earth System Science Center. He was at the center of the 2009 Climategate scandal, in which e-mails were uncovered from climatologists discussing how to skew scientific evidence and blackball experts who don’t agree with them. Mann is typical of pro-warming scientists who have taken millions from government agencies. The federal government — which will gain unprecedented regulatory power if climate legislation is passed — has funded scientific research to the tune of $32.5 billion since 1989, according (to) the Science and Public Policy Institute. That is an amount that dwarfs research contributions from oil companies and utilities, which have historically funded both sides of the debate. Mann, for example, has received some $6 million, mostly in government grants — according to a study by The American Spectator — including $500,000 in federal stimulus money while he was under investigation for his Climategate e-mails."
Mann was not just involved in an e-mail exchange to fudge or hide data, not just the recipient of a lot of taxpayer cash, but he also explicitly cited Dr. Curry for not playing along with their attempt to manipulate science. As James Taylor wrote in Forbes, in 2011:
“I gave up on [Georgia Institute of Technology climate professor] Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but its not helping the cause,” wrote Mann in another newly released email.
One could only agree with Mann if the cause were to manipulate data contrary to the scientific method. Dr. Curry has been the one committing the terrible sin of scientific research, and that cannot be allowed in this brave new orthodoxy of politicized science. So while Dr. Curry is leaving her post, Mann and his cronies not only continue to sit in their ivory thrones, they continue to get public funding for it.
Science would be well-served to have more people like Dr. Curry at colleges, and fewer people like Mann. One hopes that in her career outside Georgia Tech, Dr. Curry will be able to spread the word to even more people than when she was stuck in the ivory tower with all the royalty like Mann.
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