John Christy: The Climate Real Deal

BizNews TV interviewed Dr. John Christy last week as shown in the video above.  For those who prefer to read what was said, I provide a lightly edited transcript below in italics with my bolds and added images.  BN refers to questions from the interviewer and JC refers to responses from Christy.

BN: Joining me today is Dr John Christy, climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama State climatologist since 2000. Dr Christy, thank you so much for your time. You’ve described yourself as a climate nerd and apparently you were 12 when your unwavering desire to understand weather and climate started. Why climate?

JC: Well I think it was more like 10 years old when I was fascinated with some unusual weather events that happened in my home area of California. So that began a fascination for me, and I wanted to try to figure out why things happen the way they did. Why did one year have more rain–that’s a big story in California, does it rain or not–and another year would be very dry. Why were the mountains covered with snow in one April and not another. In fact I have here April 1967 that I recorded as a teenager. This has been a passion of mine forever, and as it turns out now that I’m as old as I am, I still can’t figure out why one year is wetter than the other.

BN: Well you seem to be getting a lot closer than most people would. I think it was in 1989 when you and NASA scientist Roy Spencer pioneered a new method of measuring and monitoring temperature records via satellites, since that time up until now. Why did you feel you needed to develop a new method to begin with, and how did it differ in terms of the readings of established methods at the time?

JC: Well the issue was we only had surface temperature measurements and they are scattered over the world. They don’t cover much of the world at all, actually mainly just the land regions and scattered places on the ocean. And the measurement itself is not that robust. The stations move, the instruments changed through time, and so it’s a very difficult thing to detect. In fact a small little change in the area right around the station can really affect the temperature of that station

So Roy Spencer and Dick Mcknight came up with an idea about looking at some satellite data. This is the temperature of the deep layer of the atmosphere, so this is like the surface to about 8000 meters. And so if we could see the temperature of that bulk atmospheric layer, we would have a very robust measurement, and the microwave sensors on the NOAA Polo orbiting satellites did precisely that. And so we were the first to really put those data into a simple data set that had the temperature, at that time, for month by month since about November 1978.

BN: Okay, and how do readings differ from the climate science at the time?

JC: First of all they differed because we had a global measurement. We really did see the entire Globe from satellite, because the orbit of that satellite is polar and the Earth spins around underneath. So every day we have 14 orbits as the Earth spins around underneath. We see the entire planet so that’s one big difference.

The other one is that the actual result did not show as much warming as what the surface temperatures showed. And we’re doing even more work now to demonstrate that a lot of the surface stations are spuriously affected by the growth of an infrastructure around them. And so there’s kind of a false warming signal there. You don’t get the background climate signal with surface temperature measurements; you get a bit of what’s happening in the local area.

BN: Your research has to do with testing the theories posited by climate model forecasts, so you don’t actually do any modeling yourself. But what criteria do you use to test these theories?

JC: That’s a very good question, because in climate you hear all kinds of claims and theories being thrown out there. For a lot of people who don’t really understand the climate system it’s a quick and easy answer just to say: Oh humans caused that, you know it’s global warming, something like that is the answer. When in fact the climate system is very complex, so we look at these claims and Roy Spencer and I are just a few of the people around the world that actually build data sets from scratch. I mean we start with the photon counts of the satellite radiometers, or the original paper records of 19th century East Africa, for example. We do all this from scratch so that we can test the claims that people make.

Once we build the data set, we test it to make sure we have confidence in the data set, that it’s telling us a truth about what’s happening over time. And then we check the claim. So for example, we make surface temperature data sets that go back to the 19th century. Someone will say: Well this is now the hottest decade, or that more records happen this decade than in the past. And we can demonstrate, in the United States especially, that’s not the case. You would need to go back to the 1930s if you want to see real record temperatures that occurred at that time.

And for climate models we like to use the satellite data set since it’s a robust deep layer measurement; it’s measuring lots of mass of the atmosphere, the heat content really. That’s a direct value we can get out of the climate model, so we are comparing Apples to Apples: What the satellite produces and observes is what the climate model also generates, and we can compare them one to one.

In a paper Ross McKitrick and I wrote a couple of years ago, we found that 100 of the climate models we’re warming the atmosphere faster than it was actually warming. So that’s not a good result if you’re trying to test your theory of how the climate works with the model against what actually happens.

BN: How much do you think the deeply over-exaggerated predictions of Doom and Gloom have to do with the methodology substantiated by confirmation bias?

JC: That’s an interesting question because we’re a bit confused as well. We have been publishing these papers since 1994 that have demonstrated models warm too much relative to the actual climate, and yet we don’t see an improvement in climate models and trying to match reality with their model output. Now I think a number of modelers understand that: yes the there is a difference there and the models are just too hot. But what is the process that’s gone wrong in the models is a difficult question for these folks. Because models have hundreds of places you can turn a little knob, change a coefficient, and that will change the result. It’s not a physical thing, it’s not based on physics; it’s the model parameterizations— the little pieces of the model that try to represent an actual part of the atmosphere. For example, when do clouds form? That’s a pretty big question. How much humidity in the atmosphere is required to create a cloud? Because once the cloud forms it reflects sunlight and cools the Earth. So that’s it that’s one of the big questions.

So in testing the models we like to use the bulk atmospheric temperature; it’d a very direct measurement that models produce and so we can then say there’s a problem here with climate models.

BN: To what degree did your observation on data differ from their forecasts?

Generally it’s about a factor of two. At times it’s been more, but on average the latest models (CMIP6) for the Deep layer of the atmosphere are warming about twice too fast, and that’s a real problem. I think when now we’re looking at over 40 years with which we can test these models, and they’re already that far off.

Figure 8: Warming in the tropical troposphere according to the CMIP6 models.
Trends 1979–2014 (except the rightmost model, which is to 2007), for 20°N–20°S, 300–200 hPa.

So we should not use them to to tell us what’s going to happen in the future since they haven’t even gotten us to the right place in the last 40 years.

BN: Given that your real world data refuted what the forecasts were every time for decades, why then (and I recognize that this is conjecture) why are, let’s say, 97 or 99 % of scientists so firmly behind climate crisis narrative?

JC: Yeah I don’t know how many are really fully behind that crisis climate narrative. I saw a recent survey where about 55 percent might have been of the opinion that the climate warming was going to be a problem. Warming itself is not a problem: I mean the Earth has been warmer in the past than it is today, so the Earth has survived that before. And I don’t think putting extra plant food in the atmosphere is going to be a real problem for us to overcome. I do think the world is going to warm some from the extra CO2, but there are a lot of benefits that come from that.

You’re you’re dealing with a question about human nature and funding and so on. I think we all know that the more dramatic the story is, especially in the political world, the more attention you will get. Therefore your work can be highlighted and that helps you with funding and attention and so on. And part of what’s going on here. Then there’s the other real stronger political narrative: that there are groups and in the world political Elite that like to have a narrative that scares people, so that they can then offer a solution. And so it’s a simple way to say: elect me to this office and I will be able to solve this problem.

Then you are facing people like us who actually produce the data and we can report on extreme events and so on and say: Well you know there isn’t any change in these extreme events, so what’s the problem you’re trying to solve? And then we look at the other side of that issue and say: Okay if you actually implement this regulation or this law, it’s not going to make any difference on the climate end, so it’s a you kind of lose on two ends on that story.

BN: You’re a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and also director of Earth Sciences also at Alabama in Huntsville, these are prominent positions. How have you managed to hold on to them with climate views that are so divergent from the norm?

JC: Well the environment in the state of Alabama is different than what you have in Washington. I’m from California way across the country, and I tell people that one of the reasons I like to live in Alabama because in Alabama you can call a duck a duck; that you can just be direct about what’s going on and and you’re not going to be given the evil eye or cast out. As it is now in the climate establishment, you know, saying that all the models are warming too much and that there is not a disaster arising that causes great consternation. Because the narrative has been built over the last 30 years that we are supposed to be in a catastrophe. To come out and say, well here’s the data and the data show there is no catastrophe looming; we’re doing fine, the world is doing fine, human life is thriving in places it’s allowed to. So what’s the problem here you’re trying to solve.

BN: Did you ever manage to get your findings to policy makers that have influence to do something about it?

[An important proof against the CO2 global warming claim was included in John Christy’s testimony 29 March 2017 at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The text and diagram below are from that document which can be accessed here.

IPCC Assessment Reports show that the IPCC climate models performed best versus observations when they did not include extra GHGs and this result can be demonstrated with a statistical model as well.

Figure 5. Simplification of IPCC AR5 shown above in Fig. 4. The colored lines represent the range of results for the models and observations. The trends here represent trends at different levels of the tropical atmosphere from the surface up to 50,000 ft. The gray lines are the bounds for the range of observations, the blue for the range of IPCC model results without extra GHGs and the red for IPCC model results with extra GHGs.The key point displayed is the lack of overlap between the GHG model results (red) and the observations (gray). The nonGHG model runs (blue) overlap the observations almost completely.

JC: Well, I’ve been to Congress 20 times, testified before hearings. So the information is there and available, but I can’t force Congress to make legislation that matches the real world. The Congressional world is a political world, and things happen there that are kind of out of my reach and ability to influence.

BN: According to your research, you’ve also said that the climate models underestimate negative feedback loops. Can you explain to me what is this mechanism and the effect of overestimation of the loops on understanding climate for what it is?

JC: That’s a very complicated issue, and I don’t understand it all for sure, but we can say just from some general results and general observation what’s going on here. One of those General observations is that when a climate model warms up the atmosphere one degree Kelvin, it sends out 1.4 watts per meter squared so the air atmosphere warms up and energy escapes to space 1.4 watts. When we use actual observations of the atmosphere, when the real atmosphere warms up one Kelvin it sends out 2.6 watts of energy. That’s almost twice as much so that tells you right there that the climate models are retaining or holding on to energy that the real world allows to escape when it warms. So that’s a negative feedback: as the atmosphere warms for a bit the real real world knows how to let that heat escape; whereas the models don’t and they retain it and that’s why they keep building up heat over time.

BN: What other variables do you look at?

JC: The state climatologists I deal a lot get very practical questions that people ask. They want to know: is it getting hot or is it getting wetter. Are rain storms getting heavier and are the Hurricanes getting worse and so on. I actually wrote a booklet called a practical guide to climate change in Alabama. But it covers a lot of the country as well. It’s free, you can download it from the first page of my website The Alabama State climatologist. I answer a lot of these very practical questions and as we go down the list: droughts are not getting worse over time, heavy rainstorms are not getting worse over time, here in the Southeast in fact. Ross McKitrick and I also had a paper where we went back to 1878 and demonstrated that the trends are not significant. Hurricanes are not going up at all; in fact 2022 is going to be one of the quietest that we’ve had in a while. Tornadoes are not becoming more numerous, heat waves are not becoming worse. So one after another, the weather that people really care about, that if it changes could cause problem or catastrophe, we find those events are not changing, they’ve always been around.[Title below in red is link to Christy’s booklet.]

A Practical Guide to Climate Change in Alabama

BN: Some of the biggest critics of climate skeptics say: okay yeah it’s not fair one extreme weather event doesn’t say much, but they argue that there are very particular trends that have been on the increase. Recently have you observed this at all?

JC: That’s exactly the kind of thing we build data sets to discover. For example there is a story, and there is some evidence for it, that in the last hundred years there’s been an increase in in heavy rain events in part of our country, not all of it just part of the country. So I built a data set that went back in fact back to the 1860s. And we looked at that very carefully, and found that when you go back far enough, there were a lot of heavy events back then. And so over the long time period of 140 years or more we don’t see an upward trend. It’s unusual in that sample of time 140 years that we don’t see a change in those kind of events. So that’s why I think it has great value to build these data sets so you can specifically answer the question and the claim that is being made

One of the worst ones was made by the New York Times when they were talking about how many record high temperatures occurred in a recent heat wave around the country. So I looked at that carefully, and they were allowing stations to be included that only had 30 years or even less than 30 years of data. Some had a hundred years but a lot of them just had 30 years. Well when you become very systematic, you say: I’m only going to allow stations that have a hundred years so that every station that measured in 2022 can be compared with the entire time series. Then their story falls apart because the 1930s and the 50s were so hot in our country that they still hold the records for the number of high temperature events.

The scary thing for me is that as much as it completely falls apart, there’s no logic to it,
yet it’s still firmly stands as what most people believe.

You have to credit those in the climate establishment and the media or whoever is behind all this, that they have been successful in scaring people about the climate. Because now you find that even in grade school textbooks. Almost every new story that comes out, and this is where this establishment is very good, they make sure every story has some kind of line in it about climate change. They don’t ever go back and talk to someone who actually builds these data sets who says is that really the worst it’s been was 120 years ago. They just make those claims.

Other than the fact that sea level is rising a bit, the extreme events are just not there to really cause problems now. We are in a problem of having greater damages occur because of extreme events, and mainly because we’ve just built so much more stuff and placed It In harm’s way. Our coastlines are crowded with Condominiums, entertainment parks and retirement villages, and so on. There’s so many more of them that when a hurricane does come, it’s going to wipe out a lot more and so for the absolute value of those damages has gone up. But the number of hurricanes, their strength and so on, the background climate has not caused that problem. It’s just that we like to build things in places that are dangerous.

We have records of sea level rise, and it’s on the order of about an inch per decade, except in places where the land’s sinking. You can find that on the Louisiana Gulf Coast and places like that, but otherwise it’s about an inch per decade. I tell folks that an inch per decade, two and a half centimeters a decade is not your problem. It’s 10 feet in six hours from the next hurricane that’s your problem. If you can withstand a rise of sea level of 10 feet in six hours then you’re probably going to be okay. But if you can’t then a hurricane can really cause problems, and so we just have more exposure to that kind of his situation now than we’ve had before.

BN: What about the trend with sea level rise? Should we be worried about future Generations having to deal with issues that might not affect us in our lifetime but eventually will threaten their lives?

I think your listeners would need to understand that sea level is a dynamic variable–It goes up, it goes down. It has been over a hundred meters lower than today just in the last 25,000 years, and there was a period from about 15 000 years ago to 8 000 years ago where the sea level rose about 12 centimeters per decade for seven thousand years. That’s a lot more than two and a half centimeters a decade as it’s doing now, so the world has managed to deal with rising sea levels before. If we go back to the last warm period about 130 000 years ago, the sea level then was higher than it is now by about five meters or so. So just naturally we would expect at least another five meters of sea level; it won’t happen tomorrow, it won’t happen this Century. But slowly it will likely continue to rise and so that should be placed in your thinking if you’re building a dock for say a military port or something you want to last a long time. Put a cushion in there, a way to handle another half meter of seat level rise in the next hundred years, and you should be okay.

BN: About your temperature records: How much has the Earth warmed let’s say over the last four years?

JC: Yes. With this November we finished 43 years of measurements. In that time the temperature has risen half a degree Celsius. And you might want to look at other things about the world. World agricultural production has expanded tremendously. Nations are now exporting grain more than they had before, because people are pretty smart and figure out how to do things better all the time. Growing food is one thing they figured out how to do better as time passed, so the climate warming of a half degree has not caused a a major catastrophe at all. Wealth has increased around the planet, now some governments are trying to prevent you from growing your wealth, but that’s a hard thing to stop people who like to have food; they like to have conveniences in their life and that’s hard to pass laws that say you can’t enjoy the life the way you want to.

BN: How much of the warming are you reliably able to say is as a result of human activity?

JC: Okay. The answer is none in the sense that you said reliably. I can’t come up with an answer for that reliably. Warming from humans assumes warming that is not due to El Nino; or warming that’s not due to volcanic suppression of temperatures earlier in the record, which comes up to about a tenth of a degree per decade.

Are there other factors that we can say for sure have played a role in the incremental warming of the planet over the last few decades.  We see that we’ve had a couple of volcanoes in the first half of that period Eyjafjallajökull and Pinatubo and those cool the planet in the first half of that 40 years. So that tilted the trend up and that’s where I come up with a one-tenth per decade is the warming rate, which means the climate is not very sensitive to carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas warming. It’s probably half or even less as sensitive as models tend to report.

BN: So if CO2 exposure or insertion into the atmosphere were to double what would the results be?

JC: I actually had a little paper on that and we’re kind of expecting maybe about 2070 or 2080 it will be double from what it was back in 1850. And the warming of that amount uh will be about a degree, 1.3 C is what I calculated. The general rule I found about people is they don’t mind an extra degree on their temperature. In fact if you look at the United States the average American experiences a much warmer temperature now than they did a hundred years ago. Because the average American has moved South; the average American has moved to much warmer climates–California, Arizona Texas, Alabama, Florida and so on. Because cold is not a whole lot of fun. You know, skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing and so on, that’s fine. But the average person likes it to be warm and so that’s why many people in our country have moved to warmer areas. So I don’t think that 1.3 Kelvin is going to matter much whether people really care about those extreme events and so on.

BN: What do you your temperature records tell you about previous hotter temperatures?

JC: Since 1979, what we see is an upward trend in the in the global temperature that I think is manageable. But it goes up and down the 1997-98 El Nino was a big event and in 2016 El Nino was a big event. We also see the downs that come from a volcano that might go off and cool off the planet. Those are bigger effects than that small trend that’s going up. The global temperature can change by two tenths of a degree from month to month when we’re talking about a tenth per decade. Then people say, you know a month to month we can handle but we can’t handle 20 years worth of a small change. That just doesn’t make sense and and the real world evidence is pretty clear that that humans have done extremely well as our planet has been warming a little bit, whether it’s natural or not.

BN: Can you tell me about the Milankovich Cycles?

Milankovich Cycles are the orbital cycles of the earth orbit around the Sun and its tilt of the axis and the distance from the Sun. It is not a perfect circular orbit around the sun, it’s kind of an ellipse and it changes through time. All those factors work together to put a little bit more solar energy in certain places and less than others. These cycles are likely related to the Ice Ages we talk about.

If you can melt the snow in Canada in the summer, then you won’t have an ice age. So the snow falls in the winter and if you can’t melt the snow in Canada in the summer because the Earth is tilted away a bit in July and August. Then the snow hangs around all summer long, the next winter more snow that piles up the next summer it doesn’t melt and so on the next year. You get this mechanism that adds and extends snow cover leading to an ice age

So the tilt of the axis and other parameters I just mentioned can moderate how much sunlight comes in the summertime in Canada. And it’s up to 100 watts per meter squared which is a lot of energy difference over time. That’s probably the strongest theory that has a good amount of evidence that those orbital changes can cause huge changes in the climate from ice ages to the current interglacial.

BN: There’s claims that the way that humans are living is causing daily Extinction of two to three hundred different species. Is this a natural course of Evolution?

JC: You know 99 % of the species that have ever lived are extinct, so extinction is is pretty natural.  Obviously humans cause some extinctions. When you destroy the environment of a small place and that was the only place that particular species lived then yes you know humans caused that extinction Did climate change from humans cause any extinctions? I think that jury is still out because most species love the extra carbon dioxide. Plants do specifically and then everything that eats plants loves that, so you might want to say the extra carbon dioxide actually helped in some sense the whole biosphere.

But I think that what humans do to the surface and to water, if it’s not clean properly and if you just really poison the surface in the air, then that can cause some real problems for the species that are living out there. And that’s why we have rules about not putting poison in air or in the water.

BN: Does that qualify as climate change?

JC: No.  To say carbon dioxide is a poison, you really have to scratch your head on that because plants love the stuff. It invigorates the biosphere. When did all of this Greenery evolve and the corals occur and grow and develop? it was when there was two to four or five times as much CO2 as is in the air now. Carbon dioxide invigorates the biosphere, so we’re just actually putting back carbon dioxide that had been in the atmosphere earlier. And I don’t think the world is going to have much problem with that in terms of its biosphere. The issue is about the climate going to become so bad that some things can’t handle it and I don’t really see the evidence for that happening.

BN: Critics of your views on climate have argued that you undercut your credibility by making claims that exceed your data and that you’re unwilling to agree with different findings. How do you respond to that?

JC: Show me a finding and let me look at it and if it’s a valid finding, fine I’ll agree with it. But you know you can find anything on the web these days about claims that someone might make but you show me the evidence. Let me see what you’re complaining about and we can have a discussion about that. I just had a paper published last week on snowfall in the western states of the United States that shows for the main snowfall regions there is no trend in snowfall. The amount of snow that’s falling right now is the same as it was 120 years ago. So snow is still falling out in the western mountains of the United States–that’s evidence, that’s data. And so when someone claims that oh my, snowfall is going away out in the west, I said well well here look at this evidence from real station data that people recorded back in 1890 to now.

So I can answer that question with real information. You don’t see many people like me in debates because they’re not offered to me. In fact I’ve been uninvited you know. Someone on a particular panel would say hey let’s get this guy to come here and speak to us, and then I receive the disinvitation because I was not going to go along with the theme of their climate change as a catastrophe presentation

BN: You referred to times in the past that CO2 levels were significantly higher than they are now. Do records show any negative effects as a result of such high CO2?

JC: Well when you say negative, that’s almost a moral question: good or bad that the dinosaurs went extinct? I think they’d the dinosaurs would have an opinion about that. Let me rephrase: If it had to be on those levels today would it negatively impact Humanity? We see carbon dioxide has increased as humans are producing energy so that their lives can be enhanced. There’s a direct relationship between how much carbon or energy you’re able to use and carbon is the main source today and your ability to thrive.

Think about it we didn’t leave the Stone Age because we ran out of rocks. We left the Stone Age because something better came along, you know, Iron, Bronze and so on. In terms of energy we didn’t leave the wood and dung age because we ran out of trees or excrement, we found a better source that was carbon: coal, oil and so on. And transportation: we didn’t leave the horse and buggy age because we ran out of horses. It was because Henry Ford made a vehicle that was cheap and affordable. My great grandfather who was in destitute poverty in Oklahoma in the 1930s had a Model T. And another thing about Henry Ford: He didn’t go around getting the government to kill all the horses so you’d have to buy his cars. Horses were still available for the poorest people you know. And he didn’t make the government go out and build gas stations or drill for oil, that was done at the market for the private level.

But today we have a government that says this is what we want for the energy structure, and so we’re going to be using your taxpayer money to put out all these charging stations and force you to buy electric cars or at least subsidize them tremendously, and put up all these windmills and so on at Great expense and great environmental wreckage.

I can assure you that without energy life is brutal and short, and so energy is a thing that has caused our lifespans to double so that children no longer fear about diseases that used to wipe out Millions. Because of the advances that energy has brought through electricity and experimentation and all the sciences that we have developed now. All that’s based upon that access to energy.

So yes developing countries are going to get their energy, they’re going to find the energy they need. I’m not making this as a prediction, just using this as an observation. Right now it’s carbon that’s the cheapest and most effective and very high density. So we will see these countries use carbon to advance and we should not stand in their way. Because they want to live like us who already have pretty big carbon Footprints.

If you want to have some comfort in that, remember the carbon dioxide we’re putting back into the atmosphere is invigorating the biosphere and it also represents people living longer and better lives.  Just no question that as energy is made available and affordable people live longer and better lives. I think that’s going to ultimately be the the inertia that’s going to carry forward this issue past all the preaching about carbon dioxide problems.

Environmentalists would argue that they’re not against electricity and prosperity, they’re just advocating for a better cleaner way to do it. It’s a tremendous misconception that a windmill or a solar panel can somehow give you cleaner and more reliable energy than what you have now. That’s just not true. To build a windmill, there’s tremendous environmental wreckage that you have to go through in terms of all the minerals you have to yank out of the earth and process. And processing takes energy by the way. And then building all these transmission lines. The energy is so diffuse, it is so weak in wind and solar that you have to gather up huge amounts of land to put it together. Robert Price said it well when he called it the iron law of power: the weaker the source of energy the more stuff and material you need to gather it, to concentrate it and to make it useful.

You have to spend huge amounts of dollars in environmental cost to make a windmill or make a solar panel, which by the way doesn’t last forever. So this carbon that already has a tremendous amount of energy in a very small dense space means that its environmental footprint is much much smaller than what you have with solar or wind. In fact it’s about one to a thousand or two thousand in terms of the square footage you need.

Look at windmill and solar panel farms. Not only are they just ugly but they cause tremendous environmental damage in their construction and maintenance. What are the long-term effects decades from now? If we just continue to get our energy from fossil fuels how bad can it get?

Well start with how good it can get. People will have access to affordable energy so they’re going to live longer and they’re going to live better lives when you have access to this. The impact on the climate is about the only thing you can think of. Well the sea level is going to continue to rise since it’s been rising for several hundred years, and at a manageable rate by the way. And the atmosphere might warm some more, but certainly not in terms of some catastrophic effect that will cause us to lose our ability to thrive.

I’m just very optimistic that people are clever and they can figure out how to adapt to whatever is going to happen. The real issues I deal with as a state climatologist are the extreme events that we know are going to happen that you’re not ready for. I mean that flood that happened 50 years ago is going to come back again. And it’s going to cause some real problems if you don’t build your infrastructure and put your houses or industry where they can be safe. If you don’t build up on the coast too much, so then you won’t be clobbered by a hurricane or something like that. It’s these kind of natural extreme events to which we’re far more vulnerable right now, rather than some small and gradual change that the climate system might undergo.

BN: I did read somewhere that someone has said, and I’m sure you must get it a lot, whether you get any funding from the fossil fuel industry. Do you?

JC: No I do not, and I made that decision way back in the early 1990s. I might make a fossil fuel company mad by some of them information I would produce, but so be it. I can put my head to bed at night and not be worried about: Did I accommodate some agenda somewhere? I’m just after what observations say. Can I build the best observational data sets to answer the questions of climate that we have, and that’s what I want to do.

BN: I suppose one of the biggest tragedies about it would be that it would discredit the real science and the fundamental research that you’re doing. Just that it’ll be a non-starter because people will immediately dismiss it.

JC: That’s unfortunate because the perception then is that, well if a fossil fuel company paid someone to do some research they really wanted to know the answer about something and this person was completely honest did the work properly and provided the answer to the fossil fuel companies is as. Well that answer would be tainted because it came from a fossil fuel company. Well hello: Think about what environmental advocacy groups and pressure groups do all of the time. They pay tremendous sums to people so they can come up with an answer that gives them their leverage in claiming this is a catastrophic problem. So I can at least take that perception off the table.

BN: Lastly are you aware of any ways in which geoengineering could possibly be affecting the natural balance of things? Is it being done more than we’re aware of and could it backfire?

JC: Anytime humans do something they’re going to have an impact, no question about that. So you could call it geoengineering but inadvertently we have made some desert valleys cooler because now we irrigate crops. We have taken water that fell someplace and moved it to another place. So that’s a bit of geoengineering there. And by the way a lot of those places feed a lot of the world, so you can’t say it’s bad I suppose.

But the other question about geoengineering is:
Can we do something to prevent a perceived problem here?

And that’s the real danger I think, because you don’t know the consequences when you start tinkering with a very complex and dynamic system. And so I would say stay away from that. Suppose someone did a big geoengineering experiment and something bad happened somewhere. Well that country would sue the world and say: look you made this bad thing happen to us you are liable. And so then we’re getting nowhere in terms of preventing some problem on the planet.


  1. Jaime Jessop · December 19

    I’m glad you’ve done this transcript. I tried watching the video but the young woman interviewing him is so affected, I found it impossible to watch!


    • Ron Clutz · December 19

      Yes, her mannerisms were strange. To her credit, her comments were brief and served as prompts for Christy to educate us.


  2. Bruce Sanders · December 19

    Good insights from this interview.   Christy: “I do think the world is going to warm some from the extra CO2, but there are a lot of benefits that come from that.” Me: so he “thinks”  . . .  please ask him for the data he uses to have this thought.  I am unable to find, even after 20 years of working on this issue, any atmospheric data that illustrates CO2 influences anything.  Thanks, Bruce


    • Ron Clutz · December 20

      Bruce, as you know I am persuaded by the evidence so far that CO2 global warming is negligible. My summary of the claim and facts against it is here:

      Global Warming Theory and the Tests It Fails 2021

      That being said, I understand that Christy takes a reasonable and defensible position. He has repeatedly said that no one knows what will be the climate effects from adding some CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. And I agree: The future is unknowable, by definition the future is a matter of opinion. Christy sticks to the facts, ie. data, measurements of what has happened in the past.

      That is the basis for knowledge about planetary behavior in the past. He dismisses the climate models’ predictions because they fail to replicate the past temperature record. He makes a strong case that the models err in retaining heat content which the real world evidently sheds into space.

      He offers his opinion, not claiming any more certainty than others’, that there could be some future warming from added CO2, but not dangerous and in fact beneficial along with more CO2 for the biosphere.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: John Christy: The Climate Real Deal - Climate-
  4. HiFast · December 21

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


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