Guest Post: The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness - An Interview with Judith Curry

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James Stafford of

The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness - An Interview with Judith Curry

As the global warming debate increases in its intensity we find both sides deeply entrenched, hurling accusations and lies at one another in an attempt to gain the upper hand. This divide within the scientific community has left the public wondering who can be trusted to provide them with accurate information and answers.

The IPCC, the onetime unquestioned champion of climate change, has had its credibility questioned over the years, firstly with the climategate scandal, then with a number of high profile resignations, and now with the new “Gleickgate” scandal (1) (2) – One has to wonder where climate science goes from here?
We have just had the pleasure of interviewing the well known climatologist Judith A. Curry in order to get her thoughts on climate change, the IPCC, geo-engineering, and much more.

Judith is the current chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and hosts sensible discussions on climate change at her popular blog Climate, etc.

Considered somewhat of a black sheep within the scientific community Judith was a one time supporter of the IPCC until she started to find herself disagreeing with certain policies and methods of the organization. She feared the combination of groupthink and political advocacy, combined with an ingrained "noble cause syndrome" stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress, and corrupted the assessment process.
OP: What are your personal beliefs on climate change? The causes and how serious a threat climate change is to the continued existence of society as we know it.

JC: The climate is always changing. Climate is currently changing because of a combination of natural and human induced effects. The natural effects include variations of the sun, volcanic eruptions, and oscillations of the ocean. The human induced effects include the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, pollution aerosols, and land use changes. The key scientific issue is determining how much of the climate change is associated with humans. This is not a simple thing to determine. The most recent IPCC assessment report states: “Most [50%] of the warming in the latter half of the 20th century is very likely [>90%] due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” There is certainly some contribution from the greenhouse gases, but whether it is currently a dominant factor or will be a dominant factor in the next century, is a topic under active debate, and I don’t think the high confidence level [>90%] is warranted given the uncertainties.

As I stated in my testimony last year: “Based upon the background knowledge that we have, the threat does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation.”

OP: You have said in the past that you were troubled by the lack of cooperation between organizations studying climate change, and that you want to see more transparency with the data collected. How do you suggest we encourage/force transparency and collaboration?

JC: We are seeing some positive steps in this regard. Government agencies that fund climate research are working to develop better databases. Perhaps of greatest interest is the effort being undertaken by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which is a (mostly) privately funded effort to compile and document a new data base on surface temperatures, in a completely open and transparent way.

OP. Do you feel climatologists should be putting more effort into determining the effect of the sun on our climate? As the IPCC primarily focuses on CO2 as the cause of climate change – Is the importance of CO2 overestimated and the importance of the sun is underestimated?

JC: I absolutely think that more effort is needed in determining the effect of the sun on our climate. The sun is receiving increased attention (and funding), and there is a lively debate underway on interpreting the recent satellite data record, reconstructing past solar variability, and predicting the solar variability over the 21st century. Nearly all of the solar scientists are predicting some solar cooling in the next century, but the magnitude of the possible or likely cooling is hotly debated and highly uncertain.

OP: You are well known in climate and energy circles for breaking from the ranks of the IPCC and questioning the current information out there. What do you see as the reasons for the increase in skepticism towards global warming over the last few years.

JC: Because of the IPCC and its consensus seeking process, the rewards for scientists have been mostly in embellishing the consensus, and this includes government funding.  Because of recent criticisms of the IPCC and a growing understanding that the climate system is not easily understood, an increasing number of scientists are becoming emboldened to challenge some of the basic conclusions of the IPCC, and I think this is a healthy thing for the science.

OP. What are your views on the idea that CO2 may not be a significant contributor to climate change? How do you think such a revelation, if true, will affect the world economy, and possibly shatter public confidence in scientific institutions that have said we must reduce CO2 emissions in order to save the planet?

JC: Personally, I think we put the CO2 stabilization policy ‘cart’ way before the scientific horse. The UN treaty on dangerous climate change in 1992 was formulated and signed before we even had ‘discernible’ evidence of warming induced by CO2, as reported in 1995 by the IPCC second assessment report.  As a result of this, we have only been considering one policy option (CO2 stabilization), which in my opinion is not a robust policy option given the uncertainties in how much climate is changing in response to CO2.

OP. There has been quite a bit of talk recently on geo-engineering with entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson pushing for a “plan B” which utilizes geo-engineering to manipulate the environment in order to cool the atmosphere.
Geo-engineering could be much cheaper than reducing emissions, and also much quicker to produce results and scientists are lobbying governments and international organizations for funds to experiment with various approaches, such as fertilizing the oceans or spraying reflective particles and chemicals into the upper atmosphere in order to reflect sunlight and heat back into space. What are your thoughts on geo-engineering? Is it a realistic solution to solving climate change or is it a possible red herring?

JC: With regards to geo-engineering, there are two major concerns. The first is whether the technologies will actually work, in terms of having the anticipated impact on the climate. The second is the possibility of unintended consequences of the geoengineering.

OP. You have been noted to criticize the IPCC quite openly in the past on several topics.
Even going so far as to say: “It is my sad conclusion that opening your mind on this subject (climate change controversy) sends you down the slippery slope of challenging many aspects of the IPCC consensus.”
Do you believe that the organization as a whole needs to be assessed in order to better serve progress on climate change? What suggestions do you have on how the organization should function?

JC: The IPCC might have outlived its usefulness. Lets see what the next assessment report comes up with.  But we are getting diminishing returns from these assessments, and they take up an enormous amount of scientists’ time.

OP. Would renewable energy technologies have received the massive amounts of funding we have seen over the last few years without global warming concerns?

JC: I think there are other issues that are driving the interest and funding in renewables, including clean air and energy security issues and economics, but I agree that global warming concerns have probably provided a big boost.

OP. What do you believe are the best solutions to overcoming/reversing climate change; is a common consensus needed in order to effectively combat climate change?

JC: The UN approach of seeking a global consensus on the science to support an international treaty on CO2 stabilization simply hasn’t worked, for a variety of reasons.  There are a range of possible policy options, and we need to have a real discussion that looks at the costs, benefits and unintended consequences of each. Successful solutions are more likely to be regional in nature than global.

OP. I saw an interesting comment on another site regarding climate science that i thought i’d get your opinion on as it raises some very interesting arguments:
Climate science has claimed for 30 years that it affects the safety of hundreds of millions of people, or perhaps the whole planet. If it gets it wrong, equally, millions may suffer from high energy costs, hunger due to biofuels, and lost opportunity from misdirected funds, notwithstanding the projected benefits from as yet impractical renewable energy.
Yet, we have allowed it to dictate global policy and form a trillion dollar green industrial complex - all without applying a single quality system, without a single performance standard for climate models, without a single test laboratory result and without a single national independent auditor or regulator. It all lives only in the well known inbred, fad-driven world of peer review.

JC: I agree that there is lack of accountability in the whole climate enterprise, and it does not meet the standards that you would find in engineering or regulatory science. I have argued that this needs to change, by implementing data quality and model verification and validation standards.

OP: Do you believe that the language used in papers and at conferences is a problem? The public just wants straight answers to questions: Is the climate warming, By how much, and what will the effects be? Scientists need to step out from behind the curtain and engage the public with straight answers and in their own words. Is this achievable, or is climate science too complex to be explained in laymen’s terms? Or is it because even climate scientists can’t agree on the exact answers?

JC: I think the biggest failure in communicating climate science to the public has been the reliance on argument from consensus.  We haven’t done a good job of explaining all this, particularly in the context of the scientific disagreement

OP: What resources would you recommend to people who wish to get a balanced and objective view on climate science and climate change.

JC: There is no simple way to get a balanced and objective view, since there are so many different perspectives.  I think my blog Climate Etc. at is a good forum for getting a sense of these different perspectives.

Thank you Judith for taking the time to speak to us. For those who wish to engage in balanced discussion on climate related issues we recommend you visit Judith’s blog Climate etc

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q99x2's picture

Bribe those fk'ers and lets get this thing over with.

markmotive's picture

And guess who the largest per capita greenhouse gas polluters are? Here's a're wrong.

HoofHearted's picture

And why do we even care about greenhouse gas polluters when it isn't even clear whether CO2 is pollution or not really? And if it is pollution, then cut out that breathing. Then the plants have no chance to convert CO2 to oxygen...and we're all screwed, whether human or armadillo or tree.

Dumb arse "climate scientists" need to take my freshman stats class and my colleague's basic logic class.

Fedophile's picture

This doc does a great job of cutting through the bull shit on both sides of the debate

Likstane's picture

Not when the "scientists" believe they are able to determine weather and temp. patterns by looking at supposed 80,000 yr old ice cores.  This guy needs to read the Bible. 

Pinch's picture

OMFG, I didn't realise this site is a hidey hole for the brainwashed deniers! Curry is completely despised in the climatologist community. Climate scientists criticize her for the elementary mistakes and inflammatory assertions (unsupported by evidence) she makes. She admitted in 2010 that "I do receive some funding from the fossil fuel industry" FFS, this is beneath ZH!

i-dog's picture

Meanwhile the climate "scientists" receive funding from the tax collection industry in Washington and Brussels, both of which criminal gangs would like to extend their extortion racket to cover all countries they haven't yet bombed into submission (or overrun in gas-guzzling tanks and supersonic penis extensions) ... under the pretense of "doing it for the planet ... errrm, children". Let's call it quits on that particularly spurious line of argument.

Got any others?

writingsonthewall's picture

It's not surprising that you have projected your own view of 'profit motive' onto everyone else and then use it to justify your dismissal of this area of science.


Most scientists would rather have a nobel prize than a Corvette.


Clearly visualising this idealism is beyond your capabilities

tarsubil's picture

Haha! Yeah, those innocent scientists. All they want is to help people (and get that next million dollar grant so they can bring in more young co-eds to their lab). They are as pure as the driven snow.

writingsonthewall's picture

You dullard - if scientists wanted to make money then they would go into Banking wouldn't they?

That way they wouldn't have to spend 10 years studying first.


"and get that next million dollar grant so they can bring in more young co-eds to their lab"


You clearly have built up sexual tension as that's the last thing on a scientists mind - once again you are assuming the world thinks the same way you do - a desperate pauper who can't get laid and will do ANYTHING to get some.'s only YOU who isn't getting laid.


tarsubil's picture

I remember I needed to get my dissertation signed by a big whig at the University who was acting chair of the program. He has his own building and I couldn't even physically reach his office as the secretary at the front of the building wouldn't let me through. I had to drop it off with her even though making yourself available to students within the program and signing stuff is standard responsibility with being chair. Same guy refused to let a grad student defend when she had worked in his lab for 7 years and had 4 papers published in good journals. She hadn't done enough. Not sure if he was waiting for her to get down on her knees or not. At least the guy was a brilliant scientist which made his building up of his little fiefdom a little less irritating. But what do I know?

writingsonthewall's picture

So you base your 'knowledge of scientits' on one anedoctal experience?


This is why you failed your course - you were fooled by 1 example and extropolated it to cover the entire scientific community!


Very bad science.

barliman's picture


Your choice ...

... you are either incompetent or stupid.

"Most scientists would rather have a nobel prize than a Corvette."

The Nobel prize includes a check for more than $ 1,000,000. A top of the line 'Vette runs $ 100,000.

Either you know nothing about the Nobel prize (incompetence) or you put forward one of the dumbest statements in the history of this site (stupidity).

Pick one.


Death and Gravity's picture

"Meanwhile the climate "scientists" receive funding from the tax collection industry in Washington and Brussels"

Blind ideology talking.

Including the climatologists that are privately employed and scientists (no quotation marks needed) that work in field outside of climatology, but whose work and findings support the conclusions of climatology as it is today?

"Let's call it quits on that particularly spurious line of argument."

Yes. Yours.

blindfaith's picture



There are paid whores in every industry and corner of government.  That, however, does not mean that the facts are not there.  Just like the folks who think Revelation is talking about some future holocaust when the 'story' was ABOUT Rome and Ceasar and his family, Nero and all the other Emperors' destruction in the 80's AD, the folks who won't consider the Warming are folks who won't read the data, history, etc. but just like to pass on the story.

When the UTAH Legislators have to use boats to get to work, then there might, just might be some interest in reading the data and not reacting to folklore alone.

Death and Gravity's picture

It's the same everywhere.

Since climate change denialists rarely have even a semblance of scientific understanding, let alone in the field of climate science, they must by necessity resort to cut-n-pasted 'arguments', which are conveniently found on blogs that are either regurgitations fo the forever repeated mythology of the 'skeptic' crowd, or outright outlets for paid shills of special interests that woudl rather keep the public in the dark.

EatersOfTheFed's picture

Save the Planet.

Kill yourself.

tarsubil's picture

I understand your reaction. No other option for you guys but to denigrate her. She is despised by the climatologist community. Really? Kinda like Ron Paul is despised by AIPAC?

Cole Younger's picture

How does Co2 affect climate? It's a invisible gas which does not block sun light or solar radiation. You can't have it both ways. If it can't block the suns radiation, how can it trap it? The Green house gas theory and its affect on the climate is just that, a "theory" You don't make laws or policies based on a theory.


I have nothing against being green but some common sense needs to be applied. Many who are into the green house gas theory resemble some bizarre hippie cult in both appearance and behavior. This does little to convince me we have a problem. My approach to this subject is a skeptical one always questioning who has the greatest financial gain to be had. As far as I am concerned...and from a  historical stand point.... the sun controls the climate. Yes, there have been periods where volcanic ash clouds blocked sun light and caused earth to be cooler, but there has also been periods where the earth has been warmer. This warming was well before industrialization and the release of so-called green house gases. How do climate scientist explain that? As far as I know, they are pretty mute on warming trends that occurred pre-industrialization.

Death and Gravity's picture

"The Green house gas theory and its affect on the climate is just that, a "theory" You don't make laws or policies based on a theory. "

Atomic theory is also "just a theory", yet nuclear power plants work.

Theory of gravity... "just a theory", yet you dont float away from the surface of the planet.

"theory" does not mean "taken out of thin air".

Ironically, creationists make the same mistake in their flawed reasoning.

(Oh, and the "quantity theory of money" is also, "just a theory", but that doesnt stop expansionist monetray policy from howllowing out your savings, does it?)

Cole Younger's picture

"Atomic theory is also "just a theory", yet nuclear power plants work."

"Theory of gravity... "just a theory", yet you dont float away from the surface of the planet."

There is a differences between theory and fact. Atomic theory moved from theory to fact as you pointed out it works. Gravity is also a fact. The so-called green house gas theory is far from fact. Even climate scientists will not state it is a empirical fact. The argument has always been we should stop what we are doing just in case they are correct. That sounds to me more politically motivated then scientifically sound.

Keep in mind that the scientific community is always looking for a way to generate funds. The greatest portion of these funds come from governments (tax payers) Why do you think they used Al Gore to promote their theory? Because publishing the theory in scientific journals for peer review gave the climate scientists little traction. In general, it was dismissed by most scientists. Al Gore comes along, makes a movie, and gets some attention..and funding...I could care less if one believes that "global warming" (oh sorry...they changed the term to climate change as the earth became cooler) climate change is caused by C02. To prove it is fact one has to look at historical trends and not discount them as a anomaly. Earth has been around allot longer than man and the climate has changed drastically over the millions of years.

writingsonthewall's picture

You need to understand the difference between a 'theory' and a 'scientific theory'.


"A scientific theory is a set of principles that explain and predict phenomena.[1] Scientists create scientific theories with the scientific method, when they are originally proposed as hypotheses and tested for accuracy through observations and experiments.[2] Once a hypothesis is verified, it becomes a theory.[3]"


Note the bits about 'verified hypotheses'


This is why you are a raging 'flat earther' and not a scientist.

Cole Younger's picture

Are you suggesting that global warming...I mean climate change  is 100% do to CO2..If so, please provide the empirical evidence. Playing on words and meaning is just another way of saying you don't have a clue. The historical data suggests the earth goes through warm and cold cycles none of which is due to mans emissions. Solar cycles, earth's orbit, volcanic occurrences, etc. have a greater affect on earth's climate then Co2 emissions. Believe what you want, I don't really care. I won't believe until there is 100% certainty. The earth is currently in a cooling trend, how do you explain that if CO2 is causing such havoc?


Short term trends are just a blip and are meaningless. a couple of degrees up or down means very little. In the 70's the scientist thought we were going into a ice age, now it is global warming, the next decade it maybe a ice age again and so on. The reality is that you cannot base a climate change on a short term cycles ( a couple of decades) and you certainly cannot point to C02 as a cause for global warming..I mean climate change in a short term cycle.

Death and Gravity's picture

No he isn't, nor is anyone informed of the subject. Do the homework and look it up yourself instead of asking for spoonfeeding.

You might want to google for Svante Arrhenius, who did the first lab work 150 years ago, and whos work has been verified uncountable times since then.

"Short term trends are just a blip and are meaningless"

Glad you said that, because that invalidates the rest of the climate change denialists' idiocy when they claim that the warmning stopped in 1997, or 2007, or whatever they have or will pull out their collective, ignorant asses.

samwell's picture

CO2 is not pollution as plants fix the carbon in C02 with the aid of sunlight as an energy source.  The percentage of CO2 in recent earth history has been much higher than it is right now.  Plants are actually carbon starved right relative to say the  early carboniferous period.  Increases in CO2 actually lag the sun spot cycles and are more a result of increased solar activity.  the carbonazis have merely chosen CO2 because it is something they can tax you for producing despite the fact that they are some of the biggest producers of the stuff.  Just ask man-bear-pig masseuse-molestor  al the saint gore how much his monthly heating and electric bill is?  we just have to purchase "carbon offsets", or indulgences, from the "high" priests of AGW like Obongo and his lackeys at solyndra.  these are the same charlatans that brought us the sub prime slime and soon to be sub prime student loan fiasco.  I guess all of these "highly educated" diploma mill graduates can all move to china since there are no more jobs being created here

tarsubil's picture

Isn't it interesting that both peak oil and global warming call for rationing of the most important resource in the world? Huh, how about that?

What if increased CO2 was actually a benefit in terms of shrinking the Sahara and increasing crop yields?

writingsonthewall's picture

Before you start suggesting scientists take your 'logic class' - I would read up on CO2 - then you might realise that plants also produce CO2 - so no, even if we cut it all out of the system - the plants wouldn't die.


I do love to was a neanderthal who puts his hands in the 'pretty fire' to keep them warm.


Logically speaking this makes sense!

tarsubil's picture

"I would read up on CO2 - then you might realise that plants also produce CO2 - so no, even if we cut it all out of the system - the plants wouldn't die."

You should never make fun of anyone else's intelligence.

writingsonthewall's picture

"You should never make fun of anyone else's intelligence."


When someone shows some then I won't - there is no intelligence here - just sponsored bible bashers who think they have the right to drive.

tarsubil's picture

Global Warming skeptics bash the Bible? This is some truly fascinating stuff. Are you a Congressmen?

writingsonthewall's picture

...they do at T-party rallies.


It's no coincidence that the MAJORITY of people who are climate change sceptics also have a bone about when the earth was formed (and by whom).


Maybe your problem is you're associating with nutters in order to serve your own self interest.

greyghost's picture

this is not science. lying,cheating, stealing and just plain cookin the books is not science. just now after a couple of years are the true scientists coming to grips with the stench of fraud that these crooks have fostered on the field of all sciences and scientists. it is why complete and open review must be maintained or else all science is tainted. that is the foundation of research and scientific studies. and oh looky here....another post by oil experts that does not mention....peak that another non scientific approach to crap theory?


writingsonthewall's picture

"this is not science. lying,cheating, stealing and just plain cookin the books is not science"


no - you're confused, the lying, cheating and stealing is done by the corporations - mainly the giant oil producers.


Which is more trustworthy - a scientist who dedicates his life to discovery? - or a  snake oil salesman who dedicates his life to selling things which aren't actually his to begin with?


I rest my case.

redpill's picture

If the UN ceased to exist tomorrow the world would be a much better place.

surf0766's picture

It was just another propaganda tool.

DocinPA's picture

Well.  A shred of truth.  Ms. Curry is to be commended for her honesty.  All of the climate "models" are crap, Phil Jones and Michael Mann are liars and Al Gore is a charlatan.  There are awhole bunch of academics whose funding depends upon AGW being true and even more statists that salivate at the thought of stuffing everybody into clown cars or even better, mass transit.

malek's picture

Ms. Curry is to be commended for her honesty, humbleness, and for not sidestepping the ambiguities.

spdrdr's picture

But, but.......  the debate is OVER, isn't it?

Why then are all these scientists debating the settled science?

(Why have you not categorised ManBearPig as a liar AND a charlatan?)

ACP's picture

Shows you how a reasonable theory called "The Greenhouse Effect" can be morphed, politicized and monetized into the monster it is today. "Global warming" has been going on since the last ice age. They are separate and distinct.

New World Chaos's picture

The main greenhouse gas is water vapor.  You can experience this yourself by freezing your ass of in the desert at night.   I don't see anyone even talking about water vapor because it won't get any political traction.

I think CO2-based global warming is real but easily survivable.  The biggest threat to humanity is world government.  But the left will try to stampede us off the NWO cliff with their bugaboos (global warming, food safety, "economic and social justice", and horrors at the thought of anyone being responsible for anything), while the right will stampede us off the cliff with their bugaboos (terrorism, religion, sex, and drugs). 

i-dog's picture

Who can I vote for to get sex and drugs? ... I'm a little short of both right now!

MachoMan's picture

If you want sex and drugs, just vote for the status quo..., that's where we're headed...  Now, you might not have the freedom to abstain (either physically or emotionally via peer pressure, etc.), but you'll get all the sex and drugs you want.  See generally, aldous huxley.

For anecdotal evidence...  look no further than the prescription epidemic.  [note, it's the cure for belligerent indigents/structural unemployment].

Death and Gravity's picture

It's easily survivable for those of us who don't live in the areas that will be hit the hardest by climage change and its resultant effects.

Of course, judging from the costs of extreme weather in the US alone, which seems to be rising exponentially, every time the hurricane season is over and the destruction is asessed, survival isn't the major problem - the eternal rebuilding thats required will be.

But i suppose thats just a neo-keynesian plot as well.

ABG LINE's picture


Uber Vandal's picture

At best, reliable WRITTEN climate records go back 500 years.

What is 500 years of data when compared to 5,000,000,000 years?


Foamy hit the nail on the head here:


And of course, there is George Carlin:



writingsonthewall's picture

That cartoon just about sums up the sceptics position.


No arguments

No facts

Nothing but angry swearing.


It's not a coincidence it was a short cartoon - that's designed for the short attention spans of it's intended audience.

barliman's picture


I am ALL for none of the above.

This is a far more objective inteview but there are obvious questions still not being asked of anyone professing proof or the possibility of proof of AGW:

  • What is the standardized computer model being used to model the billion plus variables required for global system?
  • Where have the billion plus variables been obtained from actual, unadulterated data sources?
  • What is the mean deviation in results obtained from known error factors in the data sources?

In shorter terms, we are decades from having the hardware and software to model the Earth, its various contributing systems and the external energy sources (i.e. the fricking Universe) that contribute to what we call climate. We are even farther away from having the necessary equations required to obtain verifiable results.


Fedophile's picture

You obviously don't understand Computational Science and have no idea what you're talking about.

  • There is a thing called Google, use it.
  • All the papers list their sources and you'll just have to do the hard work of determining for yourself what is unadulterated and what is not.
  • If small errors in input data (or those caused by truncation error) lead to any significant changes in model output over many time-steps your model is garbage and can't be used.


Approximations to the problem can reduce the complexity to something manageable and they do actually work (when the approximations are proven to be appropriate). There are many examples of appropriate uses of this technique in mathematics, physics, and other sciences.

Don't get me wrong, the climate models need another 10+ years of work but saying that you need to know billions of variables to solve a complex problem is bullshit and the equations we need to describe the problem were worked out decades ago.


barliman's picture


Hmmmmm, long before this I spent time reading & reviewing, considering the different points of view and reflecting on the "approximations"

  • How do the current models simulate the various external energy sources and thier influence on the Earth's ecosystem?
  • How have the "approximations" been proven to be appropriate on a combined system crossing so many disciplines (i.e. chemistry, geology, physics, biology, cosmology, etc.)?
  • Why is it appropriate to take so many independent systems, simplify some, ignore others entirely and hand pick data?

As a reference for the layman, the current models are to reality as the science of physics was prior to Einstein. I was breaking 32 bit modeling systems 30 years ago and then explaining the mathematical basis for the modeling to the people who had told their bosses I had no idea what I was talking about - it was sad when they had to admit my explanation was accurate when their bosses asked them in front of me.

Billions of variables for a set of proven approximations is at the low end of the scale for this problem.