JC navigates the new media
by Judith Curry
With the new media, it’s astonishing how much trouble a mild-mannered grandmother speaking common sense about climate change can cause without leaving her home.
I’m at a bit of an inflection point.
After my resignation from Georgia Tech in 2017, I was very busy building up my company Climate Forecast Applications Network. Not to mention busy with several very active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
In 2020, I entered into a contract with Anthem Press to write a book Climate Uncertainty and Risk. The era of Covid isolation seemed like the perfect time to write a book. I submitted the book to Anthem in August 2022; it is still undergoing peer review, which is proceeding very slooooowly. Writing the book was a head exploding experience (I will write more on the book soon, once it actually goes to press).
Now I’m trying to figure out what’s next (in addition to continuing to build my company), and I’m experimenting with several new media options. One might ask what I’m trying to accomplish here?
I like doing wicked science: where complex problems and politics intersect, and public communication of the same. I am appalled at the state of both the scientific and policy debates surrounding climate change. I am hoping that my little voice can help bring some common sense to this situation. The work of my company and also my personal interests are moving me in the direction of energy, agriculture and adaptation to weather extremes. Now that I’ve left academia, I can be 100% my own person; I want to flex my wings a bit, and I want to help people. And last but not least, I need to hone my interview and public writing skills in anticipation of publication of my book next summer.
Starting ~2018, this blog entered somewhat of a snooze mode, for reasons mentioned above. Posts were mainly by guest experts or Week in Review posts. The Week in Review posts served the important function of archiving articles that might be relevant to my book. Now that the book is submitted, I have been writing more blog posts (no more Week in Review posts).
For awhile, blogs became unfashionable, as podcasts and twitter became ascendant. WUWT remains the only heritage climate blog with a substantial following. Substack.com has been a game changer, providing an organizing framework for long form writing on blogs (where writers can also get paid). I am a paid subscriber to about half dozen Substack blogs, and subscribe unpaid to about another half dozen.
In the climate space, Roger Pielke Jr (paid) and Andy Revkin (unpaid) have moved to Substack. At this point, I plan to keep Climate Etc. as is and completely under my own control, thus avoiding any possible censorship or institutional pressure.
Bottom line: I will be ramping up the number of blog posts. I very much enjoy the community at Climate Etc. and very much appreciate your participation through comments and direct emails to me. I am especially appreciative of the experts contributing guest posts. I feel like I have a community of e-friends from all over the world.
I am not very good at sound bite interviews, either written or audio interviews. I almost never respond to such requests any more. However, I do like the long-form podcast interview (30+ minutes). I’m being invited to do more of these; I have been putting many of these off to the new year, when the timing will be better to talk about my new book.
In recent weeks I have done two long-form interviews:
Both are interesting and different from each other. I expect there will be a follow up to the EISM interview; post interview we both realized that we had missed the most relevant topic for our interaction – risk governance.
If you only have time to watch one, watch BizNews, where the interviewer gave me pretty free reign. This interview went viral on youtube, with 500,000 views in 7 days. Intimations of trouble ahead were a “Context” statement on climate change from the UN attached to my interview, designed to tell people the “truth” about climate change (when in fact the statement describes the “truth” of UN climate politics). On day 7, when the video hit 500,000 views, it apparently disappeared from YouTube. Searching for “Judith Curry”, “Judith Curry climate”, “Judith Curry BizNews” did not show the video. Now, you can only find it by searching for “BizNews TV”, and then you can find it on the channel under “Popular Videos”. (note: you can also find it from a google search of “Judith Curry BizNews”)
My BizNews interview was shadow banned by YouTube. They didn’t completely ban it, but made it impossible to find. If the interview had been titled “Climate Change Common Sense” instead of “Dissident Climate Scientist Judith Curry . . .” it probably wouldn’t have been banned (but it probably wouldn’t have gotten 500K views, either)
One lesson learned from these interviews is that I need to make sure these interviews actually make it onto my calendar (I expect an e-calendar invite; problems arise when the invite arrives 10 mins before the interview and I have forgotten all about it). With at least a little advance notice, I can avoid doing the interview in a ratty t-shirt and can lose the eyeglasses with the reflective plastic lenses.
Also, in reading the BizNews comments (about 8K, nearly all positive), seems I need to lose my ‘cackling’ laugh. Also there is irritating rubbing of my nose (noted esp in WUWT comments). Hopefully that will get better as I (hopefully) recover from shingles. I have postherpetic trigeminal neuralgia (bad nerve pain on the left side of my face that is focused on my nose), which has been going on since August (lightweight plastic glasses are more comfortable).
The problem with some of these interviews is that they go on for 60+ minutes. No one has that much time to listen, when they can read the text much faster (which is why I rarely listen to podcasts myself). I guess multi-tasking (listening while driving, walking or at the gym) can work. I’m not a podcast listener myself, other than when driving on long road trips.
I signed up for twitter in 2009, but didn’t really “get it.” I didn’t use my account actively until about 2012. I mostly used twitter as a source of information and links to articles (this is where nearly all of the items for Week in Review came from). I tweeted the CE blog posts, and occasionally retweeted something. Over the years, my account attracted 30K followers. About 2 years ago, I noticed that my number of followers stalled and my account rarely received any notifications of people liking or retweeting or responding to my posts. Oh well.
So around Nov 1, Elon Musk bought and took over twitter. A week later, my follower #s, likes and retweets started growing by leaps and bounds. BishopHill tweeted “First tweet from @curryja that I’ve spotted in ages.” So what happened? Seems like my twitter account was “shadow banned” so no one would see my tweets unless they really went looking. Shadow banning is not as severe as outright banning. Many physicians and epidemiologists were outright banned from twitter for questioning the “party line” on Covid. Tom Nelson (climate science) is now back on twitter after being banned. And what is going on in climate and Covid space is NOTHING compared to what has been going on in sex/gender space.
Elon Musk is having journalists dig into all the old twitter files and emails to understand all of the underhanded censorship that twitter had engaged in. The first installment of the findings can be read here [LINK]; it seems like this effort is being sabotaged internally at twitter [LINK] Despite huge number of twitter employees fired by Musk, it seems like he didn’t fire enough. Here is Part II of the twitter files. Apparently numerous further installments are forthcoming. Us tweeps are just riveted by all this. p.s. things are starting to break fast; here is Part III on Jan 6.
No question that Musk is introducing chaos into twitter, but it badly needed shaking up. Musk’s strategy of break things, try new things, abandon them if they don’t work, and then repeat has made many advertising clients nervous.
A number of celebrities and scientists have left twitter; apparently the idea of Musk and free speech uncensored by left wingers does great “violence” to their souls. Many climate scientists have left, although ones with large # of twitter followers such as Mann and Hayhoe have stayed. The climate scientists leaving twitter have joined Mastodon, which is open source microblogging software, with individuals hosting topical microblogs. I took a look; crazy complicated and heavily siloed.
The brilliant thing about twitter is that it is impossible to keep yourself totally siloed, no matter how many people you block. Close minded, groupthinking, whiny climate scientists are not doing themselves a favor by siloing themselves at Mastodon. But the twitterverse doesn’t seem to be missing them; I hope they are having fun talking to each other.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of what Musk is trying to do, and mostly I am very grateful to no longer be shadow banned by twitter. I look forward to the next installments of the twitter files, which will hopefully explain shadow banning among other things.
Twitter is the indispensable tool for wicked scientists.
The Musk/twitter saga is raising important issues about free speech and censorship, particularly in context of social media. This is not a simple issue. No sane person wants to participate or advertise on a platform with hate speech, threats of harm, violent or pornographic images. But where to you draw the line? This topic is worthy of its own thread; it will be interesting to see how this evolves.
I have been asked previously to write (and have done so occasionally) op-eds by WSJ, Financial Times, Fox News on specific topics. I haven’t been all that enthusiastic about doing these. They are difficult to write, with stringent word limits, and not always on the topic that I would most like to write about at that particular time. Invariably the editor picks a different title, sometimes one that grates and doesn’t really reflect the actual article IMO.
I’ve been asked by SkyNews in Australia to contribute an occasional (once per month) column/op-ed on climate and energy topics of relevance to Australia. The environment in the US is so toxic and noisy on this topic, so writing outside the U.S. makes sense to me. Trust is a big issue for me, I feel comfortable working with SkyNews.
The articles are supposed to be 500-600 words; difficult for me since I’m a long-form writer. I am getting around this by writing a longer essay and then breaking it into parts that are individually coherent but part of a larger theme and longer series. The style of writing is also a challenge, need to use words very economically with simple sentence structures (this is good discipline for me anyways).
My first article was published this week, I should probably do separate threads on these articles.
The faux urgency of the climate crisis is giving us no time or space build a secure energy future
Well lets see how all this goes. At least right now, this is fun and interesting, and I have some small hope of making a difference. More importantly I expect my 2023 to focus on marketing my new book, which is a unique and I hope important contribution to the literature and dialog on climate change.