Judith Curry Bids Adieu to Academia

curry-2One of my failings here is not bringing regular attention to the important work of Prof. Judith Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, and her terrific website Climate, Etc. Prof. Curry was the chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and was for a long time a member in good standing of the so-called “consensus” on climate change. Her CV shows a long list of accomplishments and publications at the highest level of scientific inquiry.

But as she looked closer at some of the details of the case for catastrophic climate change, she began to change her mind. And for her public expression of honest doubts about the fine points of the scientific evidence and computer models the predictable thing happened: she was excoriated, in the most appalling ad hominem way, by the climatistas (Michael Mann in particular, which is ironic since the un-manly Mann is suing National Review and  Mark Steyn for defamation). Needless to say, Curry deserves to be regarded as one of the heroes of climate realism.

I guess I’ll offer the excuse that the main reason I haven’t shared more of her excellent work here is that it is often very dense and very long, and not easy to adapt to our relatively shorter form. Curry gets off into the weeds of climate science, always in a calm and respectful way, unlike her climatista critics. I’ve only met Judith once, but my impression from reading and listening to her is that she is not much interested in politics, and like many scientists just wants to do good scientific work. She may be largely apolitical for all I know, though for what it’s worth she once testified before a congressional committee as a Democratic expert witness. Unfortunately the furies of the neo-Stalinist climate science and policy community demand absolute conformity to the party line.

Hence it is melancholy news to read today that Judith is resigning from Georgia Tech:

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech. Before reflecting on a range of things, let me start by answering a question that may have popped into your head: I have no plans to join the Trump administration (ha ha).

Technically, my resignation is a retirement event, since I am on the Georgia State Teachers Retirement System, and I need to retire from Georgia Tech to get my pension (although I am a few years shy of 65). I have requested Emeritus status.

So, I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I  most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position?

I’m ‘cashing out’ with 186 published journal articles and two books. The superficial reason is that I want to do other things, and no longer need my university salary. The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

Like most of Judith’s posts, this one is quite long and detailed and excellent. Here’s one more important highlight if you don’t have time for the whole thing:

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.

How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

Let me relate an interaction that I had with a postdoc about a month ago. She wanted to meet me, as an avid reader of my blog. She works in a field that is certainly relevant to climate science, but she doesn’t identify as a climate scientist. She says she gets questioned all the time about global warming issues, and doesn’t know what to say, since topics like attribution, etc. are not topics that she explores as a scientist. WOW, a scientist that knows the difference! I advised her to keep her head down and keep doing the research that she thinks interesting and important, and to stay out of the climate debate UNLESS she decides to dig in and pursue it intellectually. Personal opinions about the science and political opinions about policies that are sort of related to your research expertise are just that – personal and political opinions.  Selling such opinions as contributing to a scientific consensus is very much worse than a joke.

Prof. Curry is going to pursue private sector ventures now, and won’t disappear from the climate world completely. You can—and should—follow her on Twitter, @curryja.

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