The discourse on climate change takes a new twist as acclaimed climate scientist Judith Curry questions the widely held notion of an “overwhelming scientific consensus” on the matter, suggesting that this consensus might be more manufactured than genuine. Curry argues that scientists might be driven by personal incentives to exaggerate the risks of climate change to gain fame and financial benefits.
According to Curry, who once spread concerns about climate change herself, scientists have reasons to overstate the potential threats of global warming. She acknowledges that her own study, which appeared to show a substantial increase in hurricane intensity, was embraced by the media and environmental advocates to amplify the connection between extreme weather events and global warming.
Curry explains, “We found that the percent of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes had doubled. This was picked up by the media… Tie extreme weather events to global warming!” However, she now reflects on the unintended consequences of her research being used to fan climate alarmism.
While her work gained her prominence and led her to be treated like a “rock star” by environmental advocacy groups, Curry’s subsequent experience was a humbling one. Critics pointed out gaps in her research, including years with low hurricane activity. Rather than defending her work, Curry took the critical feedback to heart. “Part of it was bad data. Part of it is natural climate variability,” she admitted.
Curry’s journey towards skepticism took a significant turn with the Climategate scandal, which exposed alarming efforts by some climate researchers to hide data that contradicted the crisis narrative. Leaked emails revealed attempts to avoid transparency and manipulate journal editors. Curry states, “Avoiding Freedom of Information Act requests. Trying to get journal editors fired.” This experience showed her the existence of what she calls a “climate-change industry” that incentivizes alarmism.
She traces the origins of this industry back to certain officials within the United Nations environmental program who aimed to advance their anti-capitalist agenda by seizing on climate change. The creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the subsequent direction of funding by national agencies created a self-reinforcing cycle where researchers realized that making alarmist claims was the pathway to securing funding and advancing their careers.
Curry also points to the influence of journal editors, noting that some editors are biased towards alarmism. She describes a journal editor’s political rant that signaled an end to debate within the scientific community. This kind of editorial direction further reinforced the dominant narrative.
Curry remarks, “That’s what we’ve got now: a massive government-funded climate alarmism complex.” Her critique challenges the assumption of a monolithic consensus on climate change, highlighting the complex interplay of incentives, agendas, and personal motivations shaping the narrative around one of the most pressing issues of our time.
As discussions on climate change continue, Curry’s perspective adds an important layer to the debate, encouraging a more critical examination of the factors that drive scientific consensus and influence public policy decisions.