Curry’s departure from academe will weaken the field of climate science, which needs people to ask hard questions that differ from the mainstream, said Roger Pielke Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado who previously worked with Curry and recently switched fields from climate science to sports governance after facing intense pressure of his own. Curry has consistently been willing to stick out her neck to ask questions that other scientists avoid for reasons of political expediency, he said. Purposely choosing a “different song sheet to sing off of” has earned her an unfair level of criticism, Pielke said.
“If you only look at her academic career, absent the glossy overlay of the climate debate, you would say this is a pretty distinguished academic who had a pretty successful career,” he said. “The facts that she was excoriated by her peers, smeared and so on just illustrates having a tenured position isn’t a guarantee of academic freedom.”
Certainly, neither Curry nor Pielke has sat on the sidelines during the wars over climate science. Both have been accused of aggressively attacking those who critique their work. In an interview, Curry accused Mann and Oreskes of inciting what she says is a vocal minority of scientists who pressure anyone with a conclusion that breaks from the notion that extreme action is needed now to mitigate the worst consequences of human-caused global warming.