Climate Change Reset: Catastrophic Consensus Cools As New Models Emerge

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Joe Selvaggi talks with climate expert Dr. Judith Curry about the insights contained in her newly released book, Climate Uncertainty and Risk: Rethinking our Response, in which she tracks the evolution of climate science from model development, to political weapon, to an emerging view that the best response to a changing climate is to build resiliency.


Dr. Judith Curry is President of Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) and Professor Emerita of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Curry received a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Chicago in 1982. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia Tech as Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, she held faculty positions at the University of Colorado, Penn State University and Purdue University. Dr. Curry’s research interests span a range of topics in weather and climate. She has authored over 190 scientific papers and is author of the textbooks Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans and Thermodynamics,Kinetics and Microphysics of Clouds, and Climate Uncertainty and Risk (Anthem Press, forthcoming). She is a prominent public spokesperson on issues associated with the integrity of climate research and assessments, and is proprietor the weblog Climate Etc. Dr. Curry has served on the NASA Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee, the DOE Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, and the National Academies Climate Research Committee and the Space Studies Board and the NOAA Climate Working Group. Dr. Curry is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union.

Hubwonk transcript, Dr. Judith Curry, June 13, 2023

This is Hubwonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi. Welcome to Hubwonk, a podcast of Pioneer Institute, a think tank in Boston. The risk of climate change isn’t what it used to be. So says the newest assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, labeled the IPCC’s AR6. Far from worst case models from 2013, which warned of potential global mean temperature rise of 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, the newest report sets expectations to less than 4 degrees, leaving policymakers to rethink their strategies for reducing climate risk. These substantially lower estimates for the end of the century now brings the risk from greenhouse gases to a level similar to other climate influences such as ocean oscillations and major volcanic events, shifting concerns from rising temperatures towards variable weather-related emergencies. If catastrophic weather events such as intense heat or cold waves or strong hurricanes are more likely to affect human well-being than global warming, would the current push for weather-dependent strategies such as wind and solar be solving for the wrong problem while making us more vulnerable to weather emergencies? How should we balance the risk of global warming with the need to make energy choices that are resilient enough to provide reliable energy in a more varied future climate? My guest today is President of Climate Forecast Applications Network and Professor Emerita of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Judith Curry. Dr. Curry is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. Dr. Curry’s recently released book, Climate Uncertainty and Risk Rethinking Our Response, is a compendium of climate science information that offers an in-depth look at the evolution of climate science, from the emergence of climate models to the effects of politics on scientific debate to the emergence of a new scientific humility for assessing climate risk in a future where natural variability may play a greater role in climate change than that of increasing CO2. Dr. Curry will share with us how policymakers might reevaluate their preference for weather-vulnerable energy sources and instead utilize the newest models from the IPCC to make choices that address climate risk in a way that preserves resilience and adaptability. When I return, I’ll be joined by scientist, author, and climate expert, Dr. Judith Curry.

Okay, we’re back. This is Hubwonk. I’m Joe Selvaggi, and I’m now delighted to be joined by renowned climatologist and author of the recently released book, Climate Uncertainty and Risk Rethinking Our Response, Dr. Judith Curry. Welcome to Hubwonk, Judy.

Judy Curry: Joe, it’s a great pleasure to join you.

Joe: Well, I will say I’ll admit that I’ve been reading your work for a very long time. I’ve always thought your opinions, your thoughts, your research have been above reproach. You have not been persuaded by any consensus, and you’ve remained resolute in your commitment to telling the facts as they are. But before we go into the book, I want to talk with our, explain to our listeners a little bit about your background. You came from a research community. You were in the climate community right at the beginning, and you’re now in a private sector, and you’re really helping companies assess risk from climate. Where should I build my factory? What are the likely risks over the next 10, 20, 50 years? So, you move from an academic universe into the private sector. Before we get deep into the weeds of your book, describe for our listeners the differences between, let’s say, being a research scientist in the academic community and being a private sector advisor or consultant.

Judy: Well, it’s a totally different mindset. First, in the private sector, you have skin in the game. Okay, if you’re wrong, if you present a forecast that with overconfidence, it turns out to be wrong, you damage your company’s reputation and you lose a client. If you fail to warn of something that extreme that might happen, even a low probability, if you miss it, okay, that’s another thing that’s going to, you know, lose your clients. So, your reputation is on the line all the time. Whereas in academia, you know, your reputation is basically a publication count. You know, you get your paper published. And some of these, you know, alarming papers, they don’t even survive their press release before half a dozen people have shot them down. But it doesn’t matter, the papers published, it’s on their CV, they still get credit, and they just move on to the next alarming paper. So, the incentives are completely different, you know, in the university environment versus the private sector.

Joe: So, there’s different incentives and different levels of accountability. In your book very early on, you talk about the temptations and the pressure for client scientists to produce certain results. Now, you’ve been in there, I don’t want to date you, but I know that you were involved with the IPCC in the very early universe of climate scientists when really there was very little acknowledgement of a climate signal from CO2. But you’ve seen in the intervening years, a sort of a consensus and more alarmist consensus. What is it that influences scientists to go from, let’s say, a pure research, as you say, cranking out papers, to perhaps developing more targeted research or shaping the how does the scientific community, the outside influences shape the results of the scientific community?

Judy: Okay, well, when you have a policy-relevant topic, okay, not just environmental climate stuff, but you have public health, nutrition, biology, gender, intelligence, GMOs, you know, on and on it goes, all of these have political and economic consequences associated with them. And these things become politicized by not just the scientists, personal political inclinations, but government funding agencies shape this in explicit ways by their announcements of opportunity for proposals that are targeted in certain directions. And savvy program managers at funding agencies will target their announcements to align with, you know, national-level political objectives, that’s how they grow their budget. So, there’s all this complex, you know, scientific, industrial government complex, you know, and there’s just a social contract where, you know, it gets all aligned in certain directions and it feeds on itself and it takes, you know, quite a big kick in order to change direction once you’ve got one of these sort of feedback loops going on.

Joe: That’s right. So, the politics influence the science, the science and beliefs and politics and on it goes. One of my favorite quotations in your book is, I don’t know who to attribute the line to, but when you combine science and politics, you get politics. Unfortunately, that’s that seems to be the case. In your book, let’s get to the focus of the book very early on in the book, you talk about the fact that presented with a high level of certainty that they’re likely to happen. So, I want to break down the dynamics here because there are two different problems, I think. One is scenarios and one is certainty. You do go into great depth on both of those. Let’s take them one at a time. When we talk about predicting or anticipating climate change, let’s start with why models and scenarios are inherently flawed. Why can’t we do better with our models?

Judy: Okay, well, first off, there’s two components here. One is the emissions scenarios. You know, a lot of this is when people talk about a climate scenario, they always think, oh, the emissions, whether it’s the extreme emissions, the moderate emission scenario or the low emission scenario. Well, the extreme emissions scenario, which is what we call the 8.5 scenario, has driven climate research and has been the most cited one of the IPCC assessment reports for decades. However, recent research has shown that this extreme scenario is implausible. In order to get there, you have to burn 6.5 times more coal than we’re currently burning. Certain things like that, which are completely make no sense. So even the UN in the last two years has actually dropped this extreme scenario from consideration. But the climate models are still running the extreme scenario. All these publications are still using this extreme scenario. And, you know, scientists just love it because it gives you, you know, a really dramatic result and you get your press release and all your publicity and on and on it goes. But it’s just impossible. And even the U.N. recognized it as such. This single thing alone has cut the risk in half, the projections, which used to be, you know, 4 to 5 degrees centigrade are now down to 2.5 degrees centigrade, just by parsing out that extreme emissions scenario, which is now widely recognized to be implausible. Okay, then the climate models, you know, this is it. We’re talking about an extremely complex system. Even just talking about like a simple thing like the global average temperature, this depends critically on the sensitivity of the model to an increase in CO2. There’s a huge uncertainty, a factor of three, as to how much warming you would expect from a doubling of carbon dioxide. So, the climate, you know, if it’s on the low end, it’s no big deal. It’s on the high end, it’s a big deal. But we have this huge range of uncertainty. And the models ignore all but the most vanilla scenarios of natural climate variability. There’s no big volcanic eruptions. There’s no solar minimum. There’s no flip in the multi-decadal ocean oscillations, you know, they’re ignoring all this other stuff that can happen. So, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t have a heck of a lot of confidence in our ability to predict how the 21st century climate is going to play out.

Joe: One of the things I really liked about your book is you talk about the temptation to use simplified models, worst case scenarios, and that, you know, let’s say if we’re talking about the precautionary principle, some will say, well, why not? Why not use the worst-case scenario? And why not just because we can’t change volcanoes, we can’t change ocean trends, temperature trends. Let’s focus on what we can focus on. What’s the danger in just saying it’s mono-causal? Earth is getting warmer, it’s definite, and it’s CO2. Let’s go after what we can go after and let’s call it 100% certainty so we don’t get any—we get our policies implemented. What’s wrong with doing that?

Judy: Okay. If this was red dye number two, and somebody said, oh, I think this might cause cancer, I mean, what is the downside to just getting rid of red dye number two? Well, essentially nothing, you know, use beets or something if you need red coloring. I mean, there’s really no downside. However, when you’re talking about a complex system, not just the climate system, but our socioeconomic system, which is extremely dependent on electricity, transportation, agriculture, and all these things that have been driven by fossil fuels for the last two centuries. Okay, then there’s, I mean, then the bigger risk becomes, you know, tearing all this down and replacing this with something that’s inadequate. The technology isn’t up to snuff, expensive, and on and on it goes. So that when we talk about, you know, well, what’s wrong with wind and solar? Well, the so-called cure is very likely much worse than the disease. So that’s what’s wrong. And the other thing is when you’re talking about something really complex, like the global climate system or a global pandemic, thinking that we can control all this, boy, oh boy, are we ever fooling ourselves. We cannot control these things.

Joe: Yeah, I think that’s deeply unsatisfying, perhaps to academics, to scientists, certainly to politicians, they would love to be able to push buttons and pull levers and control everything. Again, there’s so many questions I want to ask. We kind of touched on the idea that your book makes clear that whereas we have a relationship between CO2 and global mean temperature, there’s a lot of other things that do affect temperature that are actually, perhaps even larger or may either mask the effects of CO2 or exacerbate the effects of CO2. You mentioned some of them, which surprised me that given the projections over the next 50 or 100 years, trends in ocean, natural trends that have gone into the past a long way, massive volcano eruptions, there are other factors that if they all were to come into play, the actual, the earth might actually cool for a period of time relative to where we are now. Say more about the relative risk, how large is the effect of, you mentioned is the factor three, but how large is the likely effect of rising levels of CO2? And then compare those two other factors that climate scientists seem to be ignoring.

Judy: Okay, well, the issue of volcanoes for the first time, the IPCC AR6, the most recent one, seriously looked at volcanoes. In a sidebar box, it wasn’t really included in their predictions, but they discussed, over the last 1,000 years, the recent 150-year period has been a period of very low volcanic activity. You only have to go back to the early 1800s when there were three huge volcanic eruptions, including Tambora, I think it was 1816. This was the year without a summer.

You see what’s going on on the East Coast right now, well, the whole globe was pretty much like that. It was just one big haze and agricultural crops failed, everything. And if you have a bunch of those in a row, you could see a drop of one degree Fahrenheit for several decades. So, if something like this were to happen in the 21st century, this would fundamentally change the course of the trajectory of 21st century climate change. I mean, that’s the most dramatic example. The more likely one is a shift to the cold phase of the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation. And that’s expected to happen on a timescale of about a decade, if history is any guide. And this would have substantial impacts on particularly on North America and Europe. I mean, it would slow down the melting of Greenland and the Arctic sea ice. It would change precipitation patterns. It would change the hurricanes and shift to the cold phase of the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation means fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic. So, there’s some good things associated with it. So, there’s lots of major forces in play, natural forces that are going to dominate. Back when people were looking at this 8.5 scenario, this extreme emission scenario, yeah, natural variability was probably going to be smaller than that. But once we toss out that extreme emission scenario, these things are all on parity. You could easily see some of these natural factors dominating the CO2 driven warming, where we could see potential even cooling over the next several decades.

Joe: So, what you’re effectively saying is we have a certainty. We have too much confidence in warming that the variables are complex. You use the term, this is not a tame problem with a single solution, but rather a, I don’t know if you coined this term, but wicked mess, which is far more complex. So that I think what I was getting at before is if we make it monocausal and we make it unidirectional and we make it certain, we lose some of the other characteristics that make us a great species that can live in outer space or in the bottom of the ocean. You talk about resiliency and adaptability. If we’re focused on climate change mitigation, we do it at the expense perhaps or in tension with resiliency and adaptability. Say more about those concepts.

Judy: Okay, well, humans have adapted to climate change over our entire history. In earlier times, it was mostly through migration. It would go to places, you know, if it got bad in one place, they would move somewhere else. But now we have largely driven by energy. We are able to control our environment. We have electricity, central heating, central air conditioning, air peer fires. If we’re short on water, we have desalination plans. We have indoor and vertical farming as a possibility that Dutch are mastering this, you know, all sorts of things that we can do if we have enough electricity to adapt. We can build fancy seawalls and dykes. I mean, much of all of Netherlands is below sea level. Some of it is low as seven feet below sea level. Okay, and they manage. So, there’s a lot that you can do if you have ingenuity, if you have wealth, if you have electricity. If you screw up your electric power system, you know, and think, okay, well, we’re going to do this all with wind and solar, and you don’t have enough, it’s not reliable, and it’s very expensive, then you’re not going to be able to adapt to whatever bad weather and climate that nature might throw at us. So, our current path setting out to destroy our electric power infrastructure may end up making us more vulnerable to extreme weather and climate events.

Joe: Indeed, we’ve had, again, you’ve touched on a couple of topics we’ve had in earlier shows, we talked about the wisdom or lack of wisdom of using offshore wind as a reliable source of energy, and the irony of saying, okay, we’re going to—we’re worried about more extreme climate, but we’re going to have systems like wind and solar that rely on climate. So, it just seems intellectually, I don’t know, inconsistent.

Judy: Oh, exactly. I mean, having our, holding our electric power hostage to the vagaries of weather and climate variability, our hydro power, our wind, our solar, just really makes no sense.

Joe: So, let’s talk, I don’t want to be prescriptive just yet, but let’s talk about the magnitude of warming and where, again, where these, let’s say, more modest expectations for warming are going. What’s the range of disagreement? The world started getting warmer at the dawn of the industrial revolution. We started burning fossil fuels, putting CO2 into the atmosphere, and I believe between the start date is somewhere in the middle of the last, in the 19th century, and right now we’re 1.1 degrees Celsius above that average. Where do scientists see us going, let’s say, in the next, we do 2050 and 2100? What’s the, let’s say, high probability range going forward?

Judy: Okay, well, if you focus on the 4.5 scenario, the medium emission scenario, which I think is probably the best of the IPCC scenarios, at least for the near term, I think they’re looking at 1.6 to 2 degrees by 2050. And I still think this is too high because they don’t include the low end, they threw out the low-end climate sensitivity models, and they ignore natural climate variability. And by 2100, we’re looking at maybe up to 2.7 degrees. But let me talk about that 1.1 degree that we’ve already seen. It wasn’t until about 1980 that we really saw warming that I would attribute in any way to CO2 emissions. I mean, the warming started around 1850. I mean, the fossil fuel emissions were pretty trivial then. We were coming out of a little ice age, largely driven by solar variations, volcanic eruptions, and ocean circulations. And, you know, we started coming out of that. And the period like 1945 to 1975 was actually one of cooling. Okay, even though CO2 emissions were increasing, temperatures were actually cooling. So, I only count the modern CO2 driven warming to start in about 1980. Okay, so we’re just looking at maybe 40 years. And so, we can’t most a lot of that warming that occurred early on. So, we’re really talking about less of a warming, you know, much less than 1.1 that we can attribute to fossil fuel warming. So, I mean, we’re talking about maybe another one degree centigrade over the remainder of the 21st century, in my opinion, you know, in the plausible scenarios. And the IP — I think that the UN Conference of Parties was working off of 2.5 as our most likely value. But so, it’s essentially maybe doubling what we’ve already seen since pre-industrial. And, you know, this is not the stuff of, you know, existential threat and crisis and whatever that is portrayed.

Joe: Well, in your book, you have many quotations about the end-of-the-world predictions from otherwise noted scientists. Which I want to pivot to talking about this fact that warmer, you’re acknowledging it’s likely to be warmer, perhaps much less warm than others will say. But baked into that is warmer is worse, right? Warmer is inherently dangerous. We’ve had a guest, I’ve had Roger Pilkey Jr. on the show, we’ve had a couple other guests who talked about, you know, how dangerous is a warmer climate? And we say we’ve reduced climate-related deaths over the last 100 years by 97% and acknowledged that whereas more people die in hot regions from hotter temperatures, fewer people die in cold regions from warmer temperatures. So, nine times more people die from the cold than from the heat. Yet a warmer world seems to be more dangerous. We take that as a given. Why is it that we do that and what dangers are presented by a warmer world? It’s a different world, perhaps, one degree, two and a half, but what’s the danger?

Judy: Well, this is the weakest part of their whole argument: Is warming dangerous. And the whole dangerous thing goes back to the early 1990s. You know, back before we understood much about this at all, the U.N. framework on climate convention had a treaty that was signed by 197 countries, including the United States, that says that we, the nations of the world shall work to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change. So, it’s always already this focus on danger. There was an assumption, I mean, the policy cart was way out in front of the scientific course on this from the very beginning. And the idea was to get rid of fossil fuels and to use global warming as a vehicle to do this. And the dangerous was the critical part of their argument. So, this was there right from the beginning, the precautionary principles. So, the IPCC was set on this decade long task to identify dangerous human cause climate change. And it hasn’t been easy. They haven’t come up with very much.

Joe: And I’ll say your book really is a compendium of all the great research and science on this topic. I recommend it. And for what it says, but also the references to so many other useful scientific journals and sources. But when we talk about weather events, I think if we had someone here who is predicting the end of mankind owed to climate change, they would say storms are more severe, droughts are more severe, crop failure more frequent, essentially attributing weather events to increased temperatures. Do you see or again, let’s take you out of the equation here. Perhaps people are requesting whether you are concerned about climate change. What does the climate, what does the data say about?

Judy: Well, the IPCC doesn’t find much at all. And Roger Pilkey has expounded on this quite a bit. But just in the U.S., I mean, the worst weather by far was in the 1930s, the worst heat waves by a long shot. Okay, the worst droughts, the worst fires in the first three decades of the 20th century, and not just heat and droughts, but the worst U.S. landfall in hurricanes were also in the 1930s. Okay, so what was going on in the 1930s? Well, CO2 concentration was about 310 parts per million, compared to almost 420 now. That bad weather in the 1930s was not caused by CO2, it was caused by natural weather and climate variability. And so that there is no simple relationship between warmer temperatures and worse weather extremes. It’s just simply no relationship.

Joe: Yes, you can quote the IPCC, even they acknowledged that there’s none. Nevertheless, we can turn on the news tonight and talk about the Canadian wildfires and sure as shooting, by the end, there’s some scientist from Boston University saying, yep, this is a consequence of global warming. There’s almost nothing. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west because of global warming. But surely, if we’re really looking for a source of concern, we’re looking at again, you acknowledge in your book, rising sea levels. Let’s say if the world is getting warmer and hurricanes, for example, come from the ocean and a combination of heat, warm water, and high seas makes whatever the hurricane was going to be just that much higher, perhaps that much stronger. How is it possible that this will have little effect on the severity of a storm like a hurricane?

Judy: History, a historical record of hurricanes, tropical cyclones globally, and even the climate models show a declining number of hurricanes, tropical cyclones, and a warmer climate. I mean, this is what pretty much everybody comes up with. There is theoretical arguments for that the strongest storms should get a little bit stronger, but we haven’t observed that in the data record. The one impact of hurricanes that makes a lot of sense to me is that you should get more rainfall out of these hurricanes with warming, all other things being equal, all other things are never equal. I mean, the horizontal size, the forward translation speed, all these other things are probably a bigger determinant of the amount of rainfall in a hurricane, but I would, theoretically, it just makes too much sense that there would be more rainfall from a hurricane, all other things being equal. But the numbers you can expect to go down, the intensity maybe go up a little bit, but given the storm to storm and the natural variability, it’s very hard to see any kind of a signal in the data.

Joe: So, I want to talk in the time we have left with alternatives or, I mean, unless our listeners think we would rather just throw our arms up and say, you know, let it ride and show no concern, certainly you and I share a concern that, as you mentioned, cheap energy is something that the world needs for growth, for prosperity. I think 1.2 billion people on planet earth don’t have access to any electricity and that doesn’t mean they can’t charge their iPhones, it means they’re having babies in the dark with no penicillin, right? This is a lot of people don’t have power. Given that there’s only so much fossil fuel in the world, even if you accept it, it has, you know, some influence on the climate, what would you do if you’re king for a day or queen for, you know, a decade? What would you choose as the wisest, let’s see, green, if I can use that word, energy source for to ensure the whole world has access to cheap affordable clean power?

Judy: Well, the first thing I would do is disconnect the whole energy issue from the climate change issue. Okay, just disconnect it. We’re not going to control the climate with CO2 emissions. So just forget that one. That said, let’s envision a 21st century electric power, cheap, abundant, clean for everybody, including the African continent, which is vastly underpowered. You know, let’s figure out how to do that. So, what does that mean? Well, I mean, there’s lots of reasons to move away from fossil fuels, not just the pollution, air pollution, water pollution, CO2 emissions. It’s going to get increasingly expensive to extract by the end of the 21st century. There’s all these geopolitical concerns, you know, let’s transition away from fossil fuel so the extent that we can. So, you look at all the competing values, yeah, sure you want cheap, abundant, reliable, you want to minimize resource use, you want to minimize land use, you know, what does that leave you with? Well, nuclear power is the obvious solution. I think geothermal is a very interesting solution. There’s new technologies that are being developed. I think it’s a great solution for the U.S. West. But if you drill deep enough, I mean, it can be a solution even in other places where you don’t have so much geothermal heat near the surface. So, I think those are two great solutions. I think rooftop solar makes a lot of sense. It gets you away from the land use issue if you’re just using the rooftops and it appeals to people’s desire for some autonomy and control over their, you know, local power source. Batteries are wonderful technology, but they don’t make sense for grid scale storage. I mean, you know, looking for, yeah, the year 2100, do you see the landscape littered with wind and solar farms and transmission lines? I sure as heck don’t. I think smart grids with small modular nuclear power supplemented by solar. And in some regions—I live in Nevada, nomad land, if you saw the movie—Empire’s like an hour north of my house. I mean, there’s nothing there. Why not put little turbines there? There is not even much of an ecosystem. But for most of the U.S. in the world, I mean, the land use is just not a good thing. And apparently there’ve been over 500 proposed wind farms that have been rejected by landowners or various advocacy groups and had to be canceled. I mean, people just don’t want those things, you know, anywhere near them. And even getting new transmission lines built is extremely big challenge with all there’s still a lot of not in my backyard. And also all the permitting issues. I mean, even if the technologies were there, you run into a lot of politics with land use, and it gets much worse in very densely populated countries. The U.S. has a lot of open land, but you try to translate this to countries that are very densely populated, and it’s just not going to work. So, you know, the solution is nuclear, you know, hydro where you have it, you know, nuclear is a great solution. Geothermal in some locations makes a lot of sense. Rift hop solar makes a lot of sense. And wind power can be a niche solution in sparsely populated, barren areas where nobody has any other use for the land. So that’s where I see us going with the whole energy system. And we need to get rid of these deadlines. Okay, we need to use the next few decades for technology development and trial and error and our learning curve and to see what works. And, you know, all these bottom-up local utility scale experiments, you know, we’re all going to learn collectively from what everybody else is trying. I mean, this is a much better approach than this top-down mandate with these stringent deadlines that nobody’s going to meet anyways.

Joe: So, again, we’re going to wrap up the show with some sort of 10,000 feet view of things. As I mentioned earlier, you were there at the beginning when we the sort of the science, climate science community formed and sort of shaped itself. Maybe it hasn’t wrapped itself in glory with its alarmism or pretension of certainty. You’ve been there at the beginning, you’re here now, you see climate activists getting pretty crazy, throwing soups on paintings and gluing themselves to roads. Do you see the world coming to its senses and in a sense, correcting itself, healing itself and saying, look, okay, there are alternatives to fossil fuels we can grow and think our way out of this challenge. We don’t need these top-down mandates. What do you think this is going to keep spinning off like a top that can’t stop, You know, it’s got its own political and economic forces behind it. Which do you see?

Judy: Well, I think we’re at an inflection point and I think COVID and the Ukraine war has sort of, you know, given us a bit of a kick. We’re starting to realize that maybe we can’t control these things and that Ukraine, the path that we’re on with renewables makes us very vulnerable in a lot of different ways. And so, people are realizing this and not too many people are willing to sacrifice their security and economic well-being by tearing down their energy infrastructure and replacing with this. As people try to do this and look at the practical issues involved and the utilities engineers, the transmission engineers and the grid operators start looking at that and they say, don’t do this, don’t do this. You know, that then that’s sort of a reality check. The engineers have sort of been kept out of this discussion. It’s all been activists and politicians. They need to talk to the engineers, and we need to just acknowledge that it’s going to take us most of the 21st century to make this transition. And, you know, I’m a techno optimist. I think this is all going to happen in a very nice way. There’s so much in the way of innovation in every aspect, you know, of our energy infrastructure, smart local grids and on and on it goes. So, I’m fairly optimistic about this, but we need to view climate change as an ongoing predicament. Whatever it’s caused, we need to adapt to it and a key element and adaptation is reliable and abundant electricity. And once we understand that, we’re going to do just fine for the remainder of the 21st century.

Joe: All right, you’re back. Okay, that’s a great way. I love the final theme there. Making energy cheap, reliable, and abundant is our goal. And we know from history that bottom up seems to work far better than top down. We’ll tip our hat to Hayek as our final statement. So, thank you very much for joining me today, Dr. Curry. Your thoughts are original, courageous, and consistently, I think, good. So, thank you for joining me. Thank you for your book. For our listeners, let me throw in one final plug. Where can they find your blog? I say it’s Climate, etc., but I honestly don’t know the email address and then the name of your book, where can we buy it?

Judy: Okay, my blog is Climate Etc. at The name of my book is Climate Uncertainty and Risk. The good news is that it’s selling well. The bad news is that it’s out of stock at U.S. Amazon. You can still buy it from Barnes & Noble. You can get the Kindle version, but if you want a hardcover or softcover, Barnes & Noble is the best option right now. I’m working with my publisher to replenish the stock at Amazon. But yeah, I’m pretty excited about the book. This is my, it’s a very different kind of book. And I hope that you’ll read it and enjoy it and learn from it. And it’ll spark some different kinds of thinking and new discussions.

Joe: Wonderful. Well, I got the Kindle version, and it only came out two days ago. So, it was speed reading late night burning the oil and I loved it. I’m going through the second pass and clicking on all the hyperlinks in the footnote. So, it’s really a wonderful compendium of climate science. So, thank you for your work, your book, your blog, and thank you for joining me on Hubwonk today.

Judy: Hey, thank you. My pleasure.

Joe: This has been another episode of Hubwonk. If you enjoyed today’s show, there are several ways to support Hubwonk and Pioneer Institute. It would be easier for you and better for us if you subscribe to Hubwonk on your iTunes Podcatcher. It would make it easier for others to find Hubwonk if you offer a five star rating or a favorable review. We’re always grateful if you want to share Hubwonk with friends. If you have ideas or comments or suggestions for me about future episode topics, you’re welcome to email me at Please join me next week for a new episode of Hubwonk.


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