Welcome N.Y. Times readers to what Tom Friedman calls “the indispensable blog”

For any first time visitors here because of Tom Friedman’s column in the Sunday New York Times, “The Inflection Is Near?” this post is intended as an introduction to Climate Progress. I will blog later Sunday about the column itself, where I call the global economy a “Ponzi scheme.”

Tom describes me as

Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog

I am a Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC think-and-act tank run by John Podesta, the Center for American Progress, whose Action Fund sponsors this blog. You can read my full bio at Wikipedia.

I try to inform and entertain here — and be a one-stop-shop for anyone who wants the inside view on climate science, solutions, and politics. A key goal is to save readers’ time, save you from wading through the sea of irrelevant information — or outright disinformation — on climate and energy that pervades the media and blogosphere.

I write from what I call a climate realist perspective — the emerging scientific view that on our current greenhouse gas emissions path we will will destroy the livability of the climate for 1,000 years. Good posts that lay out that case are:

I also spend a lot of time describing the solution(s), having run the federal program that helps develop and deploy virtually all of the key technologies. Fundamentally we have most of the needed technology now (or soon will), and avoiding catastrophe requires only a small fraction of the nation’s and world’s wealth:

And I also spend a lot of time keeping readers up on the politics of energy and climate action:

And then there is the offbeat stuff:

Oh, and peak oil stuff:

And here’s my best written recent post:

Perhaps my readers will also offer their thoughts.

If you like what you see, subscribe to my RSS feed here.

48 Responses to Welcome N.Y. Times readers to what Tom Friedman calls “the indispensable blog”

  1. Dean says:

    I hope Friedman’s shout-out sends many new readers your way. You deserve them. Your message needs to be heard by everyone.

  2. paulm says:

    This is my first stop on all things climate change.

    Climate Progress is up to date, relevant, thorough, positive and funny.

  3. paulm says:

    Finally, someone starts to worry about nuclear power plants located on coasts that will be inundated in the near future.

    Shall we build more such plants? – I don’t think so.
    What are we going to do about the existing ones????

    ..”Power supplies will also be affected,” added Brown. “The Sizewell B nuclear plant has been built on the Suffolk coast, a site that has been earmarked for the construction of several more nuclear plants. However, Sizewell will certainly be affected by rising sea levels.

    Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures
    Rising sea levels pose a far bigger eco threat than previously thought.

  4. Just discovered your blog from a NYTimes piece entitled “The Inflection Point Is Near”. Thanks to your work (and others) form the science side of human experience which suggests that awareness of climate change is increasing. From the arts too consciousness may be rising – see 350 pictures of compost to metaphor ppm C02 in the atmosphere…

    an attempt to bring art to the picture as well as science. Keep it up and thanks for essential work on all fronts.

  5. Chet says:

    I’m looking forward to jumping in here. Learned about your blog from Friedman’s blog. I’m tired of the controversy over global warming and its sequelae. I know that there is a lot of evidence telling us that things are critical and that we must act yesterday to ward off future disasters. But equally important to me is, I want to know why there are those who believe that the whole global warming thing is a hoax. Who are these people and why do they think this way. It’s important to have as many people on board with the truth. The existing schism and polarity of thinking about this matter is not only destructive and counter productive, it’s downright boring. I’m looking forward to “picking your brain” and getting a better sense of where we stand.

  6. ken levenson says:

    Congrats on the recognition Joe!

    And great intro…but I would suggest adding to your intro links to stories on natural feedbacks. I’ve found them indispensable in conveying the urgency to friends, family and others.

    To quote you from — Water-vapor feedback is “strong and positive,” so we face “warming of several degrees Celsius” —-

    “The major climate models are missing key amplifying feedbacks, some of which were discussed in “Are Scientists Underestimating Climate Change, Part II.” These feedbacks include:” [my bold]

    * The defrosting of the permafrost

    * The drying of the Northern peatlands (bogs, moors, and mires).

    * The destruction of the tropical wetlands

    * Decelerating growth in tropical forest trees — thanks to accelerating carbon dioxide

    * Wildfires and Climate-Driven forest destruction by pests

    * The desertification-global warming feedback

    * The saturation of the ocean carbon sink

    The feedbacks are what make climate change so unforgiving…and so unique.

  7. Joe says:

    Welcome Carll — great pics.

    Welcome Chet — pick away!

  8. Gail says:

    Joe, Thanks for educating us all and CONGRATULATIONS for the NYT story. Your blog is the most comprehensive and lucid on this topic I have found.

  9. Nancy says:

    Climate Progress is a must-read blog for anyone who wants honest, scientific, up-to-the-minute climate change information. I can’t go a day without it! Thanks, Joe!

  10. DavidONE says:


    That’s a useful list from Ken and prompts a ‘feature request’ for you – a terse, one-stop reference article, fully cited that is kept up-to-date with the latest science:

    1. the basic science
    2. evidence of the damage done so far
    3. feedback mechanisms
    4. what’s going to happen if we do not act
    5. what we must do to mitigate

    The article could be used to inform family and friends who know little about the subject, and also as a quick riposte to the Denial Gang.

    In fact, I may consider doing this as a standalone website, and invite some of the known ‘good guys’ to participate. Anyone interested? If you post regularly here or at greenfyre or Deltoid email david at 1cog dot com (ignore my website – it’s six years old and in dire need of an update ;)).

  11. Joe says:

    David — that is a good suggestion.

    Right now, I am trying to fill that gap with “Most Popular Posts” on the right hand bar. I need to think how to make that a little more complete.

  12. You are indispensable… Like so many others, this is my first stop for climate news.

    This week is going to be an incredible one for climate science, folks, with the emergency climate summit in Copenhagen this week. I wrote about a new rainforest study that highlights a decrease in carbon uptake (and received a nice note from the lead author. Just today, I’ve found a few others.

    This one is notable… Dramatic flooding expected from climate change

    And so is this one… Will the arctic be ice-free in 2013?

  13. Prashanth says:


    Over the past few months I have been doing a lot of research on climate change especially to see what initiatives I can take as part of my company’s CSR committee but somehow I have never come across this treasure trove before. some of the content here is awesome! And I am glad I have found it.

    Congratulations on the recognition from Friedman, from what I can see here this site truly deserves it!

    Adding you to my blogroll!

  14. Peggy Prichet says:

    Thanks to Thomas Friedman for sending me to your blog. I certainly believe we have a problem, but I know very few of the facts and look forward to learning more from reading this blog.

    Peggy Prichett

  15. HamBrown says:

    From another who trooped over from Friedman’s column and got enthralled with all the information so concisely laid out. I must have “wasted” an hour going from article to article. I would love to know how many extra hits you get over the next day or so. As one who was deeply involved in Obama’s campaign, I believe strongly in the deep good sense of the people of this country to eventually come to the right conclusion.

  16. TKCollier says:

    What is your response to this solution?
    James Lovelock, the 90 year-old Scientist & originator of theoriginator of the Gaia theory, which describes Earth as a self-regulating planet. The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won’t do it.

    [JR: I have been meaning to blog on biochar for a while — indeed, someone out there has been promising me a piece for a few months (you know who you are). It may well be part of the solution, though like many proposed solutions, we just don’t know how practical and affordable it will be at the necessary scale yet, which is staggering.]

  17. TomG says:

    This is great news.

  18. JaredTendler says:


    I came here from Thomas’ reference and am excited to have found you. I’ve been long on motive to encourage my friends to wake up that our environmental needs aren’t just about carbon, but short on resources to provide them that were clear and informative. I now have one.

    I have a question for you. It seems to me that there are two major elements of this challenge, 1) science and technology behind both the research and the solution, 2) changing the attitudes and behaviors of the masses. My question is for the latter and I’m curious how much research and technology is going into this part of the problem? and if so, can you direct me to them as well. Thank you!


  19. Joe says:


    I am glad to have you here. There is certainly far less serious research on #2 than #1.

    Now, I confess I tend to blog more on #1, but if you look around you see I do try to discuss messaging, although that is obviously less scientific and more subjective.

    I tend to believe that a great many people understand we can’t keep doing what were doing. But for the overwhelming majority to come to that view and then actually change requires 1) our leaders speak with one voice [rather than, say, a large fraction of our leaders denying there is a problem and in those who offer the only realistic solutions], 2) peak oil, and 3) the climate to get obviously worse.

    Sadly, I fear #2 and #3 will occur before, #1

  20. Norman Dale says:

    I agree with Friedmann about your indispensability.

    A question which perhaps leads to a suggestion: somewhere on your site do you have something of a “field guide” to the climate change deniers, the prominent names of the small but vocal minority who are determined (and often well-remunerated) to create an illusion of widespread dissension and controversy about anthropogenic climate change?

    It would be very useful to have such a bestiary, streamlining the necessary rebuttal of lay folk who, in good intentions or otherwise, pipe up in local media that so-and-so from such-and-such university says that humans can’t possibly effect global climate change. By way of example, where I live there is a frequent correspondent to the local newspaper who cites the “authority” of an Australian named “Bob Carter” who, in that writer’s view, has compellingly disproven anthropogenic climate change. It would be a great resource to be able to readily look up background on and critiques of such “authorities” as one responds to local deniers.

  21. @ Norman Dale…

    Both Desmog blog and have resources that will help. Have a look.

    (But I’m not putting in the links, as two links seem to send comments into moderation).

  22. Jack says:

    Now, if only I could get my denier friends to read, this is where I would send them.

  23. Ted Wolf says:

    Congratulations, Joe, on a well-deserved step-up in visibility! Good to know there will be (lots of) new readers at Climate Progress! Getting YOU syndicated would be a nice next step.

  24. David B. Benson says:

    Jack — Deniers read? :-)

    Joe Romm — Pleased for your newly acquired visibility.

  25. Joe,
    I was pleased to read Tom’s mention of you and Climate Progress. Your good and hard work has its rewards!

  26. John Hollenberg says:


    Here is the link to research on Climate Deniers:

  27. Bravo, Joe. I echo Nancy.

    DavidONE makes a good suggestion: categorize the denier arguments and provide a detailed rebuttal to each one of their talking points. The Dark Side has many well-paid flacks hard at work contributing to ignorance, while only a few are striving to present the truth.

  28. Luckyleif says:

    Permit me to disagree, with both Mr. Friedman and Dr. Romm.

    No, there isn’t an “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) crisis. The claim is a lie, fostered by people with no credibility – politicians, mostly. In other words, I’m a Sceptic. (I avoid the word “denier”, since it was obviously chosen by Gore to suggest “Holocaust Denier.”)

    A question for Dr. Romm and other readers: you’ve perhaps seen Mr. Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). About 15 minutes into it, Mr. Gore stands in front of a projection of temperature and CO2 content analysed from an Antarctic ice core, tells us that there’s a “strong correlation” between the two, and goes on to claim that increasing CO2 causes increasing temperature. This confuses correlation with causality. However, analysis of the time relationship between the two variables reveals that changes of CO2 FOLLOW temperature changes by several hundred years. This time lag is documented in Chapter 6 of the report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s well known that warming sea water releases dissolved CO2, and that cooling sea water absorbs CO2. I claim that temperature controls atmospheric CO2, not vice versa as Mr. Gore claimed.

    [JR: Snip. Long-debunked disinformation alert. You have described amplifying feedbacks that make the problem more dangerous (!) not more ignorable.]

  29. lgcarey says:

    This is great news, Joe! You have by far the most useful and comprehensive site collecting lay-accessible info on the scientific, policy, political and technological issues in regard to climate, my first stop for realistic, fact-based information. You should indeed have a much wider audience, as this issue is so important. (There is so much junk flying around in the blogosphere that it’s tremendously useful to have solid dependable sites such as yours, and the others that you link to.)

  30. ken levenson says:

    I’m afraid I can’t resist noting: given NY Times brutal internal politics, make no mistake, Friedman’s glowing mention of Climate Progress is the equivalent of Friedman giving Revkin and the lame Science section editors the shiv. Ouch!

  31. David B. Benson says:

    I just reran the numbers on algae and it is even more discouraging:

    about 1 mi² of algae farm for 10 MW generation 80% of the time.

  32. paulm says:

    A new world order?

    Job Losses Hint at Vast Remaking of Economy

    …651,000 more jobs disappeared in February, a sense took hold that growing joblessness may reflect a wrenching restructuring of the American economy.

    many companies are abandoning whole areas of business.

    “These jobs aren’t coming back,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. “A lot of production either isn’t going to happen at all, or it’s going to happen somewhere other than the United States. There are going to be fewer stores, fewer factories, fewer financial services operations. Firms are making strategic decisions that they don’t want to be in their businesses.”

  33. Thom says:

    How odd that Tom Friedman, a sort of jack of all trades writer, mentioned your blog, why “science” columnist Tierney keeps mentioning that hack Roger Pielke Jr.

    Anyways, having people come here is a definite win for people trying to get good information. Keep up the good work, Romm.

  34. Steve Bloom says:

    Good point, Thom. It’s also worth mentioning that Friedman has a much bigger following than Tierney.

  35. Bill Reiswig says:


    This blog is my favorite addressing things from a climate perspective. I have also been absorbed the last few years trying to understand oil depletion/peak oil and the relationships with climate change and what this means for how “we” should proceed. I tend to think that to some degree our problems can’t be solved by technology as much as by dropping our slavish addiction to growth, and to adopting economies of “localism”. Changing these outlooks is as much a cultural change as anything.

    One reason I find your blog so refreshing is that in the midst of what is really crisis the size of what we have never seen before, you are unapologetic about focusing in on it as the most important issue we all have, and that you are tough and uncompromising in your criticisms. Keep it up, you provide a important voice in all this.


  36. hapa says:

    paulm: the manufacturing jobs won’t be other places either, much — the contraction is global. yes financial services will shrink, because it is made of lying criminals who blew up the world economy and whose social contribution is mostly made up of their political donations. will there be fewer stores, in ten years, when things are more comfortable? silvia has no way of knowing that. sure people won’t spend as easily and greening rules will probably cut into shopping for instant closet clutter but that’s not a very big part of what people buy at shops.

    to do the earth work that needs doing it will take domestic manufacturing.

    my general impression of that article though was that it was saying about the same as this:

    “after catastrophic fire, restaurant owner expects fewer customers”

    very astute….

  37. Roger says:

    Kudos, Joe. You’re the man. I admire your handling of deniers. Keep it up!

  38. kt says:

    the first 25 readers recommendations on Friedmans “the inflection” would seem to clear up the mystery of where all the anger and passion are hiding. it is really great to see this all coming together after loosing the last ten years. congrats also to Paul Gilding.

  39. Wes Rolley says:

    While Friedman may like Climate Progress, I wonder when John Podesta will join the club. Ii looks like scientist Romm is relegated to his own little corner of the world while Center for American Progress features Berlin and Sussman selling CCS and the path to clean coal. Of course, these are the policy wonks from big time law firms so they must know… right?

    If I were a betting man, I would say Berlin / Sussman win the debate and that Hansen / Romm lose. Coal stays in and we will pour $ Billions in to CCS to just feel like we are doing something, money that could be better spent on other things for more benefit.

    Wes Rolley: CoChair, EcoAction Committee, Green Party US

    [JR: I think you are failing to draw the distinction between aggressively pursuing R&D, and actually believing CCS will prove to be a massively scalable, affordable, and practical solution. I have spoken to Berlin, Sussman, and Podesta many times on this subject — and there really isn’t the kind of difference opinion that you seem to think.]

  40. hapa says:

    politics makes for strange bedfellows is a bad fit for our entrenchment. “politics relegates good sense to pillow talk” is more our speed, eh?

  41. Tina says:

    I found you through a reference to Friedman’s op-ed column from Sharon Astyk. I have been reading through some of your older posts and really like your writing style. You provide a great informational service with a quirky sense of humor — a much needed combo for such difficult issues.

  42. Rick C says:

    Thanks Thomas Friedman! This site is great.

  43. deborah says:

    thank you for your work — nytimes articles lead me here. now bookmarked!

  44. Floyd Smith says:

    To all of you new visitors,

    I’ve only been reading ClimateProgress for about six months, but it’s excellent and indispensable, just as Thomas Friedman says. Joe Romm “gets it” thoroughly, knows his stuff and writes well.

    Any criticisms? Only minor ones: some “inside baseball” that has more to do with long-running insider arguments than with building the case, and some whimsical names for opponents (denier-eqs?) that I find a bit distracting.

    But! This is a magnificent ongoing work, and the only regret we all have on discovering Joe and Climate Progress is that we didn’t discover it sooner.


    PS Unlike on most blogs, read or at least scan the comments; they’re often quite informative (excepting perhaps this one.)

  45. Eric Thomas says:

    I hope the Thomas Friedman piece is flooding your site with readers. You deserve them. Thank you for the invaluable work you do.

    I was giddy to read an article in the times taking issue with “the whole growth model. I did, however, take issue with Friedman’s conclusion that “We must have growth,” even if it is of a different sort. I wrote a piece about it on my blog:

  46. Chet

    ” I want to know why there are those who believe that the whole global warming thing is a hoax. Who are these people and why do they think this way?”

    Here’s a good place to start:

    “Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason: The Role of Ideology”
    by Johnny Rook

    I have created a blog of my own, with a long article (now over 60 pages long) that seeks to expose the denier PR and fraud, while showing how much consensus there is. I’m a layman, so I use lots of quotes and links to articles and websites like this. I think you might find it to be a decent springboard for what you’re looking for. That’s been my intent, to steer people to real climate science websites and hopefully away from the nonsense that is so widespread on the internet.

    I also welcome any suggestions, criticism or encouragement about my blog from those who are more knowledgable.


    “Now, if only I could get my denier friends to read, this is where I would send them.”

    I agree. I leave links to this site (and others, but none as much as this one) all over the internet. One way to do that is to make comments on articles and blogs and direct readers to good sources like Climate Progress.

    You might want to also get your denier friends to read the new book “The Carbon Age” by Eric Roston. It’s a great read that explains in no uncertain terms what humans are doing to the natural short term carbon cycle. Having read the book, one would be hard pressed to entertain any skeptic notions about natural cycles, or most of the other popular skeptic arguments.

    Here’s a quote from the book.

    “Humans have sped up the global carbon cycle at least one hundred times faster than usual, transforming the world into one that we eventually might not recognize as our own.
    Manmade global warming is a geological aberration, nearly meteoric in speed. Human speed has crunched the geologic timescale in to half a century. Events that typically unfold over many thousands or millions of years have begun to occur within a human life span.”

    “Life has always been driven by geology. The flow of carbon through living things entwines evolution with the inanimate forces of nature. But there is no evidence before now to suggest that biology has ever accelerated the long term carbon cycle onto a short term path. Nothing other than meteorites have changed geology as quickly as humanity. Industry is a powerful new path of interaction between life and geology.”

    “In a short period of time, humanity has gone from an influential species, to the most powerful driver of evolutionary and geological change on the planet – more powerful than plate tectonics, silicate rock weathering, solar hiccups, or orbital perturbations. Some scientists, amateur astronomers, and Hollywood filmmakers look fearfully to the skies for civilization ending bolides. They should look inward. We are the meteor.
    Industrial energy policy is a biogeochemical force and should be thought of as a cousin of earthquakes, volcanoes, pandemic disease, erosion and other phenomena that shape the face of the earth.”

    A little different from claims by Arthur Robinson (of Oregon Petition infamy) that industrialization increases biodiversity and that the more CO2 we pump into the atmosphere the healthier the environment will be.

    Here’s the take home message, from the book, that cuts through much of the denier nonsense, at least for me. It’s what he is referring to in regard to accelerating the long term onto the short term carbon cycle.

    It took 60 million years for coal to develop in the earth, by precipitating out of the short term carbon cycle, and being locked away in coal deposits and into the long term carbon cycle. Now we are releasing this 60 million year accumulation of carbon back into the atmosphere and thus, back into the short term carbon cycle, in 150-200 years, or a geological nanosecond. This is an unprecedented occurance, probably in the history of the planet.

  47. Vemamasyted says:

    Great site this and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  48. HuhNeept says:

    excellent site this nice to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)