Uber-denier Inhofe misquotes Hadley, gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke — go figure!

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"Uber-denier Inhofe misquotes Hadley, gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke — go figure!"

Once again, the office of Denier-in-Chief (DIC) Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oil) has put out a press release riddled with misstatements. This one has a twist, though: a Valentine’s love letter to denier-eq. Roger Pielke, Jr.

The DIC’s last two releases were notable for their outright lies and distortions [see “Inhofe and Morano keep making stuff up, this time utterly misquoting Revkin on Hansen” and Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Inhofe, CO2 — but not the sun — “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850.]

So it’s no surprise that the DIC’s pre-Valentine’s Day missive is one big disinformation-fest, starting with the headline:

Climate of Change: UK Met Office Issues ‘Blistering Attack on Scientific Colleagues’ For ‘Apocalyptic Climate Predictions’

You will not be surprised to learn that the UK Met Office issued no attack on scientific colleagues for “apocalyptic climate predictions.” Dr. Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office did write a column for the UK’s Guardian that begins:

News headlines vie for attention and it is easy for scientists to grab this attention by linking climate change to the latest extreme weather event or apocalyptic prediction. But in doing so, the public perception of climate change can be distorted. The reality is that extreme events arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change. This message is more difficult to get heard. Scientists and journalists need to find ways to help to make this clear without the wider audience switching off.

That is really all Pope has to say about “apocalyptic predictions.” She doesn’t actually criticize any predictions that I would consider to be apocalyptic.

Indeed, Pope herself is the principal source of the major recent apocalyptic prediction made by climate scientists — ironically in a December article in the Guardian, “Met Office warn of ‘catastrophic’ rise in temperature” (Hadley Center: Catastrophic 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path):

In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5°C by the end of the century.

You want an apocalyptic prediction? Try 5-7°C warming this century. So the implication of the DIC’s press release and headline — that Pope thinks the business as usual emissions trajectory the DIC wants to keep us on is not apocalyptic — is quite, quite wrong.

The only prediction she talks about that comes close to being apocalyptic is:

Recent headlines have proclaimed that Arctic summer sea ice has decreased so much in the past few years that it has reached a tipping point and will disappear very quickly. The truth is that there is little evidence to support this.

While Pope is a climate expert and entitled to make her expert opinion, here she is talking on the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which I think is rather more qualified on this subject (see NSIDC: Arctic melt passes the point of no return, “We hate to say we told you so, but we did”). In any case, Hadley thinks the Arctic will be ice free later this century on our current emissions path — so I guess it is a case of Apocalypse now versus Apocalypse later.

Pope’s article focuses on the treatment of extreme events by scientists and the media — and on how natural variability around the long-term warming trend complicates the issue. I don’t actually agree with her discussion, but I’ll deal with that in a later post.

The DIC hearts Pielke

The press release then launches into a Valentine for denier-eq. Roger Pielke, Jr:

‘Climate policy collapsing’

This latest warning about global warming alarmism follows the declaration that “the political consensus surrounding climate policy is collapsing” by University of Colorado Professor Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. on February 7, 2009.

Pielke, Jr., accepts the UN IPCC view of global warming, bluntly called the current carbon trading based policy proposals to address man-made global warming “fictional and fantasy.”

“The political consensus surrounding climate policy is collapsing. If you are not aware of this fact you will be very soon,” Pielke, Jr., who is in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at University of Colorado, wrote.

Pielke, “accepts the UN IPCC view of global warming,” but, as I’ve shown, he doesn’t actually want to do anything serious about it beyond a laughable [cryable?] “$5 charge on each ton of carbon dioxide produced in the use of fossil fuel energy” (see “Finally, Roger Pielke admits he supports policies that will take us to 5-7°C warming or more“). That’s why I call him a denier-eq. He’s not a denier of climate science like Inhofe or Morano, but his policies would lead to the same 5-7°C warming.

But Pielke did write a denier’s dream post, “The Collapse of Climate Policy and the Sustainability of Climate Science,” that DIC cites. It opens:

The political consensus surrounding climate policy is collapsing. If you are not aware of this fact you will be very soon. The collapse is not due to the cold winter in places you may live or see on the news. It is not due to years without an increase in global temperature. It is not due to the overturning of the scientific consensus on the role of human activity in the global climate system.

Huh? If you missed this collapse, you aren’t alone. Some of you may even be aware that both presidential candidates campaigned on climate action and that Obama in particular could not have been clearer — could not be clearer today (see “Real science comes to Washington“) — in his desire for strong climate action.

Notice how Pielke cleverly implies that we have had “years without an increase in global temperature” without actually saying that’s what he believes. He is the Denier-eq-In-Chief. Let’s call him the DIC-eq.

It is due to the fact that policy makers and their political advisors (some trained as scientists) can no longer avoid the reality that targets for stabilization such as 450 ppm (or even less realistic targets) are simply not achievable with the approach to climate change that has been at the focus of policy for over a decade. Policies that are obviously fictional and fantasy are frequently subject to a rapid collapse.

Yes, for Pielke, the policies that are our only hope of avoiding 5-7°C warming this century are “obviously fictional and fantasy.”

You might think that Pielke would actually identify those policies that obviously fictional and fantasy. But he does not. You already know that Pielke categorically refuses to identify the policies that he would employ to achieve the 450 ppm to 500 ppm target that he himself endorsed on this blog: “We define “acceptable levels” in our Nature paper as 500 ppm (the level focused on by IPCC WG III) and 450 ppm (the level focused on by the EU and implicitly in the FCCC).”

No wonder the DIC loves the DIC-eq. He can be cited as someone who claims to believe the science and the IPCC, but in fact is all but indistinguishable from the DIC himself in terms of policies and positions.

Pielke’s entire analysis is devoid of substance or any specifics, but fundamentally endorses the DIC view:

Has climate science changed since the publication of the IPCC AR4? Not appreciably. Has the acceptance of the IPCC consensus changed among those who make decisions and advise them? Not at all. Does it matter for current commitments among policy makers whether or not, for example, Antarctica has been warming or cooling? Not at all. Or if, to pick another example, whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse might be 4, 5, or 10 meters in Washington, DC in hundreds of years? Not in the least. Battles over climate science are a side show, increasingly looking like a freak show, observed simply for the spectacle.

Huh?

Climate science on likely warming this century, sea level rise, desertification, and duration of impact have all gotten clearer and more dire since IPCC to anybody who is paying attention. As but a small example:

You can find a good, popular discussion of this in the new Yale360 article, “As Effects of Warming Grow, IPCC Report is Quickly Dated: Issued less than two years ago, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a voluminous and impressive document. Yet key portions of the report are already out of date, as evidence shows the impacts of warming intensifying from the Arctic to Antarctica.”

For Pielke, climate science is a “side show,” increasingly “a freak show.” For humanity — for the next 50 generations — climate science is our only life-line.

Climate politics is collapsing because of political realities, and not real or perceived changes in how people see the science. As I have often argued, in the ongoing battle between climate scientists and skeptics there will be disproportionate carnage, because the climate scientists have so much more to lose, and not just as individuals, but also for the broader field, which includes many people simply on the sidelines.

What?

Pielke is questioning the integrity of the entire climate science community, accusing them of operating unscientifically, but rather out of some narrow self — and selfish — interest. This is exactly the attack favored by Inhofe (and formerally Michael Crichton).

Climate scientists “have so much more to lose”? This is beyond the pale, even for Pielke and he owes an apology to the community of climate scientists.

Roger: Shame on you. If you are going to smear climate scientists like this, have the decency to name names.

Climate scientists have nohting “to lose” since they aren’t lying, they aren’t spreading disinformation, they aren’t ruining their integrity — as the “skeptics” are. Quite the reverse. What the climate scientists are doing is quite noble, telling unpleasant truths that hold them up to unjustified public scorn from the likes of Pielke and Inhofe.

Every single climate scientist I know is a serious, dedicated scientist whose primary goal in life is to make the most accurate, reproducible observations possible, to develop theories that best fit the data, and to make projections that best fit the data and theory. If they didn’t do that, they couldn’t look themselves in the mirror let alone sustain their careers as scientists.

They have nothing “to lose” from the debate — except from the baseless smears from the likes of Pielke and Inhofe.

Now, as human beings, climate scientists, like the rest of us (along with the next 50 generations), do have much more to lose if people actually listen to non-scientist denier-eqs like Pielke, and the hardcore denier like Inhofe and Morano. We can lose a livable climate.

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23 Responses to Uber-denier Inhofe misquotes Hadley, gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke — go figure!

  1. JeandeBegles says:

    OK with you, Joe, but the Vicky Pope statement is seriously wrongly worded: holly bread for climate deniers such as Inhofe and alike.

  2. thingsbreak says:

    DIC-eq? I think the word you’re looking for is “troll”. He’s been reduced to repeatedly taking cheap shots at RealClimate and bizarrely categorizes bickering between the denialosphere and a single blog as though it’s indicative of climate science proper.

    And Roger never lets reality get in the way of a good attention-whoring: Oil Industry Ready to Work on Global Warming blares the New York Times headline.

  3. Joe says:

    Jeande — I agree it is poorly worded.

  4. Modesty says:

    It’s often (always?) hard to make any sense of Pielke’s prose, but one interpretation as good as any actually has him calling both Inhofe and himself a freak. Makes me wish I were a cartoonist.

  5. Maarten says:

    Whose bread I eat, whose tune I sing: Who is Pielke funded by? People are often (almost always) doing, what they accuse others of doing, e.g. acting in a selfish or self-interested way.

  6. Noticed Sen. Imhofe’s state was just hit yesterday by the deadliest early tornado event on record. I’m sure it’s just climate variability! :)

  7. danl says:

    I read Pielke’s post over at Breakthrough, and I didn’t fully understand what he meant. Here is my interpretation: by saying that climate debates are a side show, it means that the science is settled. Climate scientists, however, have a lot to lose because the science can only be attacked rather than improved. The collapse of consensus he is talking about is that breakthrough institute line about how cap and trade (and other sensible policy prescriptions) will never be achieved in the U.S.. In another sense, consensus is broken because what scientists want will never happen, and others are recognizing this.

    I don’t agree with Pielke, but my take is that you went a little too hard on him when you say he is smearing climate scientists.

  8. Alan says:

    Inhofe should be removed from the Environment and Public Works Committee. If the Senate rules do not permit this to happen, then the Senate rules should be changed. In a better world he would be brought up on ethics charges for his constant stream of lies. Isn’t there some procedure that could be invoked to extract him from the EPW?

  9. Mark says:

    I tend to agree with gist of Dr. Pope’s article:

    “Overplaying natural variations in the weather as climate change is just as much a distortion of the science as underplaying them to claim that climate change has stopped or is not happening. Both undermine the basic facts that the implications of climate change are profound and will be severe if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut drastically and swiftly over the coming decades.

    When climate scientists like me explain to people what we do for a living we are increasingly asked whether we “believe in climate change”. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief. Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence that humanity’s activities are leading to changes in our climate. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.”

    —–

    The science evidence is indeed overwhelming. Nonetheless, tying specific weather events to global warming further opens the door for contrarian types to point to cold weather at X location on Y date as evidence against global warming. Human-induced global warming is a slow-moving event, in relation to daily or annual weather and human perception (although extremely fast on the geological scale).

    Pope says it best here:

    “The reality is that extreme events arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change. This message is more difficult to get heard. Scientists and journalists need to find ways to help to make this clear without the wider audience switching off.”

    I’d be interested in hearing her suggestion. If it’s a big no-no to even loosely associate any extreme weather event to global warming, when will the subject ever be covered in the press?

    Pielke Jr.’s logic in various rantings is routinely difficult to follow. danl has a reasonable interpretation, but phrases like “climate scientists have so much more to lose” are sloppy at best and disgraceful at worst.

  10. lgcarey says:

    Pope’s Met press release, her Guardian article and the related Guardian interview article are yet the latest example that climate scientists, including Pope, are absolutely clueless about how to communicate science information in the media.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20090211.html
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/11/climate-change-science-pope
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/11/climate-change-misleading-claims

    Her focus on “scientists” as the parties guilty of spreading misinformation and overstatement has produced quite the frenzy in the denialosphere, and is being treated as a major turning point which officially validates the deniers characterization of climate scientists as cranks and fear-mongers – conveniently overlooking the fact that Pope herself strongly affirms (elsewhere!) the validity of the scientific consensus and the real risk of horrendous outcomes. Rather than lending a voice of reason to the climate debates, Pope has simply handed the denialists a very big stick with which to beat legitimate climate scientists for years, if not decades.

  11. paulm says:

    Pope messed up….

    Pope has head up crevasse!
    http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2642420940074392509rPIksc

    I think she has loss the plot.
    Some scientist in the know are on the verge of/in a panic. And rightly so…

  12. paulm says:

    How come no one is commenting on this…

    Obama ‘must act now’ on climate
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7885036.stm

    Generating station in Sun Valley, California, file pic
    McCarthy said Obama had a window of opportunity to draw up green policies

    The planet will be in “huge trouble” unless Barack Obama makes strides in tackling climate change, says a leading scientist.

    Prof James McCarthy spoke on the eve of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he heads.

  13. Mark Shapiro says:

    I searched Pielke Jr’s blog, Prometheus, for quite some time, looking for something useful. It was in vain.

    Somewhat OT, I recommend Eric Pooley’s article:

    http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/hey-wait-minute/2009/02/11/surprise-economists-agree

    Pooley’s original paper is at:

    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/presspol/publications/papers/discussion_papers/d49_pooley.pdf

    Pooley finds a simple, basic consensus among environmental economists that decarbonizing does have a cost, AND that the benefits are far greater.

    Joe, given your current interest in economists, I humbly suggest that Pooley provides a very useful benchmark for judging both economists’ pronouncements and the way journalists report them.

    H/T to (gulp) http://www.env-econ.net/ .

  14. Pope’s article and press release are remarkably stupid – like handing a dagger to your worst enemy and saying, “here, ram this through my heart.”

  15. Mark says:

    In other news, it looks like Gregg has withdrawn his nomination.

    “Gregg cited “irresolvable conflicts” with Obama’s policies, specifically mentioning the $790 billion economic stimulus bill and 2010 census in a statement released without warning by his Senate office.”

    “[Gregg] told the AP he foresaw conflicts over health care, global warming and taxes.”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Gregg-withdraws-as-commerce-apf-14347831.html

    I was a bit wary about Gregg, although I figured he wouldn’t try to rock the boat too much. Hopefully, we can get someone like Richardson to fill the spot.

    Gregg didn’t seem all that trustworthy to me. Above he mentions serious conflicts over the stimulus as a reason for withdrawal. That’s not what he seemed to indicate a week ago…

    “We need a robust one,” he added. “I think the one that’s pending is in the range we need. I do believe it’s a good idea to do it at two levels, which this bill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiatives which actually improve our competitiveness and our productivity.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/04/gregg-supports-stimulus-b_n_163956.html

  16. DavidONE says:

    I was sufficiently disappointed with Pope that I wrote to her:

    Dear Dr Pope,

    Re. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/11/climate-change-science-pope

    I was disappointed to read your article. The wording and layout demonstrates a great naivety in your understanding of how the ‘debate’ over climate change is being played out in the media and amongst lay people.

    While your article is neither inaccurate or misleading, the content is a cherry-filled feast for the Denial Gang. You need only read the comments that follow at The Guardian to see how selectively some people read.
    And immediately the usual Liars and Deniers are making full use of your ill-chosen words – Senator James Inhofe (R. ExxonMobil) and his shameless propagandist, Marc Morano, have taken exactly what they need from your article in order to continue their ongoing campaign: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=672bfd77-802a-23ad-4264-12316616363c

    Is attempting to stifle sensationalism really the most pressing issue for climate science communicators? Are too many people concerned about ACC and are doing too much to avert catastrophic climate change?

    Or are too many people in denial or advocating delay and still producing carbon at a rate that is unsustainable if we want future generations to inherit the relative paradise we see around us today?

    Your ill-considered contribution has not helped further public understanding of the dire consequences of continuing carbon production and has provided ammunition aplenty for the anti-science masses.

    Yours sincerely,

  17. JamesD says:

    I agree with the DIC in most of what he says. I am tired on the malicious slanderous character assassination that Joe Romm is spreading. Everyone is PAID by someone or HOPES to be paid by someone, I see no angels here.

    Why can’t there be an honest open debate on the issue, with evidence brought into the light for examination by all. If a theory of hypothesis is falsified by the evidence, it should be rejected, with a new better theory to replace it. This is NOT happening.

    Computer models are NOT evidence, they are simulations based on the current mathematical understanding of the various relationships between measurable parameters. The modeling of a REAL WORLD system begins with a culling process of variables and parameters. The testing of the model is in the veracity of performance, ie it’s accuracy to define and predict behavior. All of the models FAIL quite miserably with respect to this testing. El Ninos & LA Ninas, PDO’s ignored all not modelled and not predictable.
    I am tired of the arrogance.
    I deserve better then this.
    We deserve better and our kids deserve better then these ego-inflating rants on the character, the funding, the motivation of other people.
    The ONLY way to resolve these issues is to OPEN up the debate to an examination of the real world evidence.

  18. MikeB says:

    James D – you know you are playing Global Warming Bingo http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/04/gwsbingo.php ? You’ve got one (or possibly two) – would you like to try for a whole line?

    BTW – the computer models for climate change in Australia predicts that the south will become dryer, with increasing bush fires, etc, while the north will become more prone to flooding. Would you like to check out Google to see whether the model is correct or not? The REAL WORLD is a real pain sometimes…

  19. Alex says:

    Regional details can still be a challenge for models, but even years ago GCMs were validating pretty well, at least in terms of macro-climatic simulation:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/schmidt_04/

    http://www.ucar.edu/communications/CCSM/accuracy.html

  20. JamesD says:

    MikeB

    See you just can’t take a shot, can you?

    These shots do not help in any way. If you truly understand the issues and have reached a conclusion based on reasoned investigation, then the “shots” would not be necessary or desirable. Anger and frustration is usually the motivation behind the name-calling and character assassination, just like in a school yard. Just another form of bullying, no more, and no better.

    The ONLY way to resolve these issues is to OPEN up the debate to an examination of the real world evidence.

  21. SigM says:

    Conservation is the only answer long term. Who can argue with the economic benifits of it?

    The carbon cap and trade policies are just flat out stupid.

    Here is a temp graph from the ice cores in Greenland. The source is NOAA. We have been a lottttt warmer in the past, so the present is part of climatic variability.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.html

  22. I long ago challenged Marc Morano and James Inhofe to bet over their nonsense, and never heard back.

    Morano latest press dump included someone new to me to as deny human-caused warming, Mark Campbell of the Naval Academy. I politely emailed him to see if he’d bet, and left a reminder for myself here:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2009/02/hoping-for-bet-with-mark-campbell.html

    By the way, if there are any people here who wish to bet against me, just let me know!

  23. Joe,
    You must be aware that the Hadley center issued yesterday a strong warning that even if we succeed to cut by half our CO2 emissions by 2050, there is only a 50% chance to save the planet.
    Isn’t this a catastrophic statement? Who is the Hadley center chief? Vicky Pope! The one criticyzing catastrophic statement.
    Isn’t it worth a thread on your blog?
    (the story is in the Independent and in Huffington)