Foreign Policy’s “Guide to Climate Skeptics” includes Roger Pielke, Jr.

Warning:  Please put your head in a vise before reading further.

Andy Revkin has just written the most illogical climate post on Earth.  Or maybe he’s written the most logical climate post on the Bizarro World Htrae. asserts (here) that a key litmus test of whether the IPCC is serious about restoring its credibility and good name is if it puts Roger Pielke, Jr. (!!!) on the author team of a special panel report, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

Revkin sheds his reporter’s hat in the piece to campaign for Pielke, his long-time Rolodex BFF, since he manages to omit every single reason why that would be a uber-low priority for the IPCC as it goes about making a few needed improvements and defending its good name.  Revkin fails to interview or even link to all but one of the dozens of scientists and science bloggers and others who have debunked Pielke in recent years. Of course, being consistently wrong is no impediment to being an IPCC author, as John Christy can attest.

Guess who the one person Revkin links to is?

On the one hand, Pielke is identified by Revkin as “a researcher at the University of Colorado with a long publication record” who deserves to be an IPCC author — indeed, who must be an IPCC author to restore the organization’s credibility. On the other hand, here’s how I’m identified:

Here’s the test. Roger A. Pielke Jr., a researcher at the University of Colorado with a long publication record on climate and disaster trends was one of the 31 experts nominated by the United States to be an author of that study, but was not among the 13 chosen. While he has been an aggressive critic of the panel’s practices on his blog, and a frequent target of energy and climate campaigners, Dr. Pielke’s research record in this particular field stands on its own.

Yes, I’m “energy and climate campaigners.”  Well, at least I’m plural!

UPDATE:  Pielke challenges me to a “debate” and I reply.  See also “Debate the controversy!

Anyway, welcome, Andy Revkin, to the ranks of “energy and climate campaigners.” I’m glad to see you lobbying hard to make your guy an IPCC author, insisting that is somehow a litmus test of the new IPCC.

Roger Pielke, Jr. is the single most disputed and debunked person in the entire realm of people who publish regularly on disasters and climate change.  He trashes the reputation of any scientist who even suggests that there is the tiniest link whatsoever between climate change and extreme weather “” even though he himself has stated such a link exists (click here, reposted below).

Consider Pielke’s knee-jerk response to Sen. Inhofe’s recent McCarthyite tactics to criminalize science, documented by climate whistleblower Rick Piltz here.

The science blog Rabett Run had pointed out:

This is indeed a Sister Soljah moment for the Pielkes…. Has Inhofe gone so far that even they will acknowledge and denounce his Climate McCarthy act, or not? Will they hide their ethics in the sand and do their Sgt. Schultz act?

But Pielke wrote his post on the subject merely calling Inhofe’s despicable move “a bit of clown-like bluffing” — and then he goes about attacking Rick Piltz.  Rick Piltz!  He says Piltz “focuses on the Inhofe report to … use these scientists for his own partisan purposes.”  To Pielke, defending scientists from Inhofe’s ‘Climate McCarthy act’ is using them for “partisan purposes.”  Seriously.

Foreign Policy’s “Guide to Climate Skeptics.

Pielke was just included on Foreign Policy‘s “Guide to Climate Skeptics.”  He disputed that, of course, but then, that’s what he does.  At least Foreign Policy didn’t back down, as Alternet did — see ClimateChangePsychology’s post, “ censors Buffalo Beast article on climate villains — deletes Roger Pielke, Jr., under pressure.”  Indeed, if you want to know how Pielke and company operate, you must read the science blog Rabett Run (click here) which noted, “It sure looks like the Climate McCarthy’s won here….  The Buffalo Beast and AlterNet editors blew it” by backing down in the face of pressure from “Pielke and friends.”).

As an aside, the term “climate skeptic” is meaningless, since all real scientists are skeptics.  What is most telling about the Foreign Policy piece isn’t their inclusion of Pielke, it’s the quote from Pielke about John Christy, who was also included as a climate skeptic:

“I respect him,” Pielke says. “I disagree with him, but I respect him.”

Now Christy has made far more egregious scientific blunders than most people Pielke regularly attacks, ones that just happened to all be in the direction of Christy’s skeptical views (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“)  But that doesn’t stop Christy from trying to smear scientists who haven’t made such mistakes (see here).  See also “Earth to John Christy: Misleading for free is wrong, too.”  In the Vermont case on the state’s effort to embrace California’s tailpipe GHG emissions standards, the car companies brought in Christy as an expert witness to rebut Hansen (see here). In one footnote on the sea level rise issue, the judge noted, “it appears that the bulk of scientific opinion opposes Christy’s position.”  The little respect that Christy shows the facts or other scientists is is reason enough not to respect him.

No, I’m not comparing Pielke to Christy.  It’s easy to tell where Christy stands, but impossible to tell where Pielke stands.  He asserts that he accepts the basic IPCC conclusions and in particular that he supports very strong emissions concentration targets — but then he trashes any scientist who actually proposes a plausible plan as “politicizing science” while only offering the mildest of policy proposals himself (see Finally, Roger Pielke admits he supports policies that will take us to 5-7°C warming or more).  That allows him to be quoted as a “contrarian” by the media (at least those who aren’t paying attention) — someone who supposedly believes in the science but is critical of scientists.

Ken Caldeira

Revkin says his litmus test for the IPCC’s credibility is a target of “energy and climate campaigners.”  But in fact he is far, far more a target of scientists and science bloggers.  Climate scientist Ken Caldeira was so shocked at Pielke’s remarks on IPCC chief Pachauri, he wrote me (click here) an email titled, “I can’t believe the New York Times has done it again “¦” that reads in its entirety:


Does Roger Pielke Jr really believe that Pachauri is exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center?

If Pielke is going to make insinuations in the New York Times about the ethics of Dr Pachauri, he owes it to us to make his beliefs clear. He should state clearly which of the following two statements he believes:

(a) Dr Rajendra Pachauri is exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center.

(b) Dr Rajendra Pachauri is not exaggerating the climate change problem in order to obtain more funds for his nonprofit research center.

For a man with a $49,000 salary, donating all of his consulting fees to nonprofit organizations would ordinarily be seen as a sign of professional integrity and dedication. It is outrageous that Pielke attempts to turn this around and use it to insinuate an ethical lapse. It makes one wonder about Pielke’s motives.

PS. You can quote this if you would like”¦.

Revkin only links to one post I did criticizing Pielke, and not even a technical critique, and yet 0n matters of technical accuracy, Roger Pielke, Jr., is probably the most debunked person in the science blogosphere.

Science Bloggers

Here’s just a selection from Tim Lambert (Deltoid) at Science Blogs:

  • Pielke Pity Party:  Roger Pielke Jr has attempted to trash me using innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation. I correct the record.
  • Another Pielke train wreck:  Roger Pielke Jr has greatly miscounted the number of news stories about a new climate study, leading him to make spurious charges of bias.
  • Pielke Jr vs drafts:  Roger Pielke Jr has been abusing draft documents to score points again.
  • Pielke train wreck continues:  More carriages have come off the rails in the Roger Pielke Jr train wreck. Pielke finally does a hypothesis test. Trouble is, it’s an unpaired t-test, which would only make sense if GISS and HADCRU were independent of each other….
  • Pielke train wreck:  If you haven’t been watching the Roger Pielke Jr train come off the rails and the carriages smashing into each other and exploding, I suggest you look at this post from James Annan: Roger Pielke has been saying some truly….

And then you can start on James Annan’s blog, with

But this isn’t just about being consistently wrong, which, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, “science” and “facts” being relative as we all know they are.  It is Pielke’s anti-fact nature, though, that you seem blind to, Andy, which is why he is the last person who should be a litmus test for the IPCC’s effort to restore its good name as an organization that is “just the facts, ma’am.”  Read those posts.  Interview the authors.

Here’s James Annan again:

Of course being the political scientist that he is, RPJnr is dropping the crucial rider and simply presenting the claim that the trend has a high bias. That transforms the claim from irrelevant to wrong….

UPDATE: This is getting rather surreal, which unfortunately seems to be a feature of many exchanges with RPJnr.

After Berkeley economist Brad DeLong posted an email from someone pointing out that Pielke (Jr) is “dishonest and wrong,” came this must-read email exchange where DeLong notes Roger “appears to go completely off the rails in email.”  Do read the comments for the many links to various debunkings of Pielke from various science bloggers, like this one:

Brian Schmidt said…

Roger Pielke Jr. has written that Jim Hansen supported open-air carbon capture and sequestration. Actually, Hansen supports biomass power-generation with point source carbon capture and sequestration. That’s a very big stretch to use Hansen as supportive of Roger’s quest for continuing the practice of sticking CO2 in the air and catching it later.

Also, Roger listed Hansen as supporting deep-ocean sequestration of captured CO2, a less-safe but possibly less-expensive form of sequestration (compared to other sequestration possibilities) that would be helpful for Roger’s interest. Actually, Hansen supported geological underground sequestration that is also under the ocean, the safest but most-expensive sequestration option.

Documentation here:

Then there’s the climate scientists at RealClimate.  Here’s a classic debunking of Pielke from 2008, “RealClimate: Model-data-comparison, Lesson 2.”  And here’s Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf after one recent comment by Pielke (emphasis added):

… we’re discussing Supplementary Material and a response to one of those 90,000 review comments now, not even the report itself. You’ve been working hard to scandalize your personal quibbles with IPCC here – how consistent is this with your self-proclaimed role as “honest broker”? Stefan

I know that Revkin wants to make this about me vs. Roger, but I ain’t the one who framed Roger, he did it to himself.

Sure the blogosphere is a rough place, and I get into my fair share of tiffs, mainly with the hardcore disinformers — but then again I’m not running to be on some IPCC panel, let alone the savior of the IPCC’s credibility, with you as campaign manager.  I might add that I am certainly qualified to be one on a few of the chapters in the Working Group III Report “Mitigation of Climate Change,” but I can only imagine how Roger would go ballistic if I were named as an author, and how you would quote him gleefully saying how that only serves to undermine the independence and credibility of the IPCC (and I seriously doubt you would call him an energy and climate campaigner).

Pielke wrote on my blog that

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).

Now I think you’ll agree that stabilizing at 450 to 500 ppm requires a whole lot of very specific policies and a high price for carbon starting pretty damn soon.

Indeed, the Hadley Center makes the rather obvious argument that if you want stabilization at those levels, you would need “early and rapid decline” in emissions and “Action starts in 2010″³ (see Hadley Center study warns of “catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path). Even the staid International Energy Agency makes the same painfully obvious point, that global emissions must peak by 2020 and that the price for CO2 in 2030 might hit $180 a ton (see “Must-read IEA report explains what must be done to avoid 6°C warming“).

But Pielke’s primary proposal is “a $5 charge on each ton of carbon dioxide” and then use the money to develop clean tech technologies and infrastructure!!!  You might as well bring a squirt gun to a firestorm.

But God forbid a climate scientist actually proposes even a moderate set of policies to get to 450 ppm, as Pielke will immediately come down hard attacking that scientist as politicizing science.

Indeed, while I have focused in this post on what countless climate scientists and science bloggers have said about Pielke — since my critiques can be so easily dismissed by you as that of a “campaigner” — let’s look at what Pielke says.  Let me go through once again how, in Dr. Rahmstorf’s words, Pielke works hard to scandalize personal quibbles.

[Regular readers can skip the rest of this.  Apologies for the length of this post, but I’m trying to do the reporting that Andy left out.  Feel free to add your own links in the comments.]

Scandalizing Personal Quibbles

Last June, Pielke launched one of the most absurd attacks in his career “” on a few innocuous sentences in the terrific new NOAA-led report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.  Pielke launched the strongest possible accusation on his blog — “misrepresenting science in a government report” — on the basis of four sentences in this 196-page, 13-agency report:

While economic and demographic factors have no doubt contributed to observed increases in losses,[346] these factors do not fully explain the upward trend in costs or numbers of events.[344,347] For example, during the time period covered in the figure to the right, population increased by a factor of 1.3 while losses increased by a factor of 15 to 20 in inflation-corrected dollars. Analyses asserting little or no role of climate change in increasing the risk of losses tend to focus on a highly limited set of hazards and locations. They also often fail to account for the vagaries of natural cycles and inflation adjustments, or to normalize for countervailing factors such as improved pre- and post-event loss prevention (such as dikes, building codes, and early warning systems).[348,349]

You will note that these sentences don’t actually make any strong scientific statement about the link between climate change and increased insurance-industry losses from weather-related disasters. Indeed, this paragraph is immediately followed by:

What is known with far greater certainty is that future increases in losses will be attributable to climate change as it increases the frequency and intensity of many types of extreme weather, such as severe thunderstorms and heat waves.

So it is impossible to suggest, as Pielke does, that the authors are stating or even implying that there is a high certainty of a very large connection between climate change and insurance losses. Now what is particularly laughable about Pielke’s attack is that he himself told Nature in 2006:

Clearly since 1970 climate change (i.e., defined as by the IPCC to include all sources of change) has shaped the disaster loss record.

Yes, that is what Pielke said. You can look it up yourself (see Pielke in Nature: “Clearly, since 1970 climate change “¦ has shaped the disaster loss record”).

Can anybody (other than Pielke) tell me how Pielke’s 2006 statement is consistent with his harsh assault on the credibility of the climate report and the integrity of the authors? Can anybody tell me who but the most uninformed journalists would rely on anything Pielke says about real science or real scientists?

Pielke isn’t a “skeptic.”  He is a disinformer.  He disinforms every debate he enters. After his smear of Mills, no other word fits him.

In fact, here’s an extended excerpt from the 2006 Nature story, “Insurers’ disaster files suggest climate is culprit” (PDF here):

Insurance companies, acutely aware of the dramatic increase in losses caused by natural disasters in recent decades, have been convinced that global warming is partly to blame. Now their data seem to be persuading scientists, too. At a recent meeting of climate and insurance experts, delegates reached a cautious consensus: climate change is helping to drive the upward trend in catastrophes.

The meeting, held near Munich on 25-26 May, was jointly organized by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company, and the University of Colorado in Boulder. It brought together climate, atmosphere and weather researchers with economists and insurance experts to discuss what could be behind recent disaster losses, both economic and human”¦.

Delegates seem to have found the record persuasive. Their consensus statement, to be released on 8 June, says there is “evidence that changing patterns of extreme events are drivers for recent increases in global losses””¦.

Dissent over the issue is clearly waning,” says Peter H¶ppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks department, who co-chaired the workshop with Roger Pielke Jr, director of the University of Colorado’s Center of Science and Technology Policy Research. “Climate change may not be the dominant factor, but it has become clear that a relevant portion of damages can be attributed to global warming.”

Previously sceptical, Pielke says that he is now convinced that at least some of the increased losses can be blamed on climate: “Clearly, since 1970 climate change has shaped the disaster loss record.”

Now remember, the NOAA-led report did not assert climate change was the dominant factor in the recent disaster loss record. In fact, the report merely says that “Analyses asserting little or no role of climate change in increasing the risk of losses tend to focus on a highly limited set of hazards and locations.”

Ironically, Pielke then proceeds to prove this criticism correct by then focusing in his post on a very highly limited set of hazards — hurricanes. I won’t repeat all of his torturous “logic” — his entire post is the blog equivalent of waterboarding — but you can see how he cleverly leaps from quoting his narrow paper on hurricane damages to the very broad assertion, “The CCSP report however, says the opposite, that these factors do not explain the upward trend in costs or numbers of events. To support this claim they provide two citations” [Evan Mills in Science and the 2007 IPCC report].

Now what is doubly ironic about Pielke falling into the exact mistake that the USGCRP report warns against is that in a blog post three days after his post attacking the report, Pielke praises a new article, “Tropical cyclone losses in the USA and the impact of climate change “” A trend analysis based on data from a new approach to adjusting storm losses” (subs. req’d), which concludes:

In the period 1971-2005, since the beginning of a trend towards increased intense cyclone activity, losses excluding socio-economic effects show an annual increase of 4% per annum. This increase must therefore be at least due to the impact of natural climate variability but, more likely than not, also due to anthropogenic forcings.

Yes, you read that right.

Pielke says an article that concludes there is a better than 50% chance that human-emissions are contributing to increased losses from hurricanes since 1971 is “a valuable paper”

Pielke of course dismisses the two citations the USGCRP use for their very mild claim, one of which is the IPCC, that Pielke claims to believe in. The other cite is a 2005 Science paper by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Evan Mills (a report coauthor), “Insurance in a Climate of Change,” which states (PDF here with figures and citations):

Global weather-related losses in recent years have been trending upward much faster than population, inflation, or insurance penetration, and faster than non-weather-related events….

According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, climate change has played a role in the rising costs of natural disasters. As an illustration of the linkages, the distribution and frequency of lightning strikes is expected to shift under climate change, and insurers indeed observe a notable increase in losses during periods of elevated temperatures.

This is another innocuous paper, used to support a very innocuous statement in the report, but Pielke uses it to smear the entire report and the author, Evan Mills, in the most over-the-top fashion because Mills has done some consulting with the insurance industry:

Imagine if an industry-funded government contractor had a hand in writing a major federal report on climate change. And imagine if that person used his position to misrepresent the science, to cite his own non-peer reviewed work, and to ignore relevant work in the peer-reviewed literature. There would be an outrage, surely….

How can we explain how such a patently bad paragraph full of misrepresentations appeared in a U.S. government report?

… So a person responsible for misrepresenting science in a government report has ties and presumably financial interests with companies that have an interest in climate policy outcomes? No, couldn’t be. Could it?

[Pause to clean up gray matter now scattered all over the vise.]

The paragraph Pielke attacks isn’t filled with misrepresentations. It isn’t filled with a single statement that Pielke or anyone else has disproven. Indeed, the thrust of the paragraph is no different than a statement Pielke himself made in Nature, no different than the conclusion of a journal article Pielke himself has praised.

I have known Evan Mills professionally for almost two decades. He is a world-class scientist, highly regarded in his field. His remarkable resume is here. His response in Science to Pielke’s original critique of his article is here. Unlike Pielke, Mills is trained scientist who works for one of the preeminent science-based institutions in the world, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and must meet the highest ethical standards.

Many insurance companies are desperately trying to understand and respond to climate change despite the best efforts of Pielke to smear anyone who suggests there is even the tiniest link between climate change and extreme weather. Obviously, we should encourage our leading insurers to consult with our top scientists.

To Pielke, any scientist who consults with an insurance company is forever tainted.

I would add that Mills is not the first scientist Pielke has smeared on this issue of a link between climate change and extreme weather/insurance losses due to extreme weather. Pielke said that the 3000 scientists listening to Gore at the AAAS meeting were “willing silent collaborators” to “the misrepresentation of climate science” because they did nothing while Al Gore made the link, albeit with very careful wordchoice (see “Unstaining Al Gore’s good name, Part 1“).

Merely listening to innocuous comments is enough for Pielke to slam your integrity.

In Pielke’s brand of political correctness, there simply is no word choice acceptable to even discuss the link, except of course whatever he feels like saying or blogging on, which is perfectly acceptable.

This is the guy Revkin says must be an IPCC author on a report on this very subject if the IPCC is to restore its credibility.

An exploded mind is a terrible thing to waste.

[This post has been updated.]


59 Responses to Foreign Policy’s “Guide to Climate Skeptics” includes Roger Pielke, Jr.

  1. ken levenson says:

    Pielke Jr. seems to have a Svengali like hold on Revkin….beyond explicable. All the while all of Pielke’s writings have built nothing more than a house of cards made of mirrors…
    “Jane, get me off of this thing!” – George Jetson

  2. David B. Benson says:

    I would comment but my head exploded anyway!

  3. Joe says:

    You didn’t take my ad-vise!!

  4. Ivy Bear says:

    Does this guy actually do any real research in political science? All I see on his web site is a lot of “multidisciplinary” research papers. A lot of garbage political science gets through into those journals because the natural scientists who edit them don’t know how to differentiate between real political science and junk. I’d like to see some real political science publications in the mainstream political science journals before I would take this guy seriously.

    Ivy Bear

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    I cannot follow this squibble or squabble or scrabble or whatever. It makes me sad and frustrated.

    But, I cannot fathom why or how anyone who has been writing for The New York Times (on climate and energy) would be seen to have the credibility to suggest someone to be on, or not be on, an IPCC working group or panel. And yes, that includes Andy.

    And, this is especially the case, in my view, if the topic or aim has to do with how the IPCC should go about strengthening credibility. How can Andy, or The New York Times, think that they have the credibility to provide advice to the IPCC on credibility? I mean really! The New York Times should be focused on rebuilding its own credibility, first and foremost. I really don’t think they get that, do they?

    I’ll leave it at that for now. Seeing this whole thing, this afternoon, makes me sad and frustrated.


  6. MarkB says:

    I’ve noted on Revkin’s blog that Revkin quotes Pielke Jr. often and always uncritically, and have pointed out biases in Pielke’s blog presentations. I guess he’s now a full-fledged advocate for Pielke, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  7. dhogaza says:

    Nice rant, Joe, and very well deserved.

    One commenter over there, Chris Dudley, who makes the rounds (here, too, at time, IIRC) said something over at dot earth which is very observant.

    He told Andy that Andy is susceptible to flattery.

    I think there’s something to that. RPJr and he are, as you put it, Rolodex BFFs and Andy’s objectivity is out the window.

  8. jyyh says:

    2. The IPCC has dramatically underestimated the scale of the stabilization challenge.

    *Where has this panel stated so, I’d like a citation? If you take the anthropogenic additions to CO2-levels (in the atmo- AND the hydrosphere) as reported in the IPCC-report as your guide regarding the stabilization, you’d be immediately convinced of the magnitude of the task, which is huge, immense, or staggeringly high (or something else, but still massively massive, depending on what corresponds to the actual number in your vocabulary).

    3. Geoengineering via stratospheric injection or marine cloud whitening is a bad idea.

    * what would be injected (sulfoxides?)? As the SO3 entering in the clouds dissolves in the droplets as H2SO4 you’d be giving a sulfuric acid rain to an area where it drops down. Stratospheric injection would be more energy intensive and the SOx are heavier than air. They’d drop (at least) during the nights (to the tropospheric levels) and eventually have the same effect as an injection to lower layers of the atmosphere. If so, yes, it’s a bad idea.

    4. Air capture research is a very good idea.

    *What would be captured? Nitrogen for fertilization (Haber-Bosch process), a fuelling tube for a jet plane (NATO), or air-borne CO2? It’s an idea, though we already know how to do it. (There has not been, as of now (Nov-12-2009), large scale experiments, f.e. with olivine dust, that I know of)

    5. Adaptation is very important and not a trade off with mitigation.

    *As I’m a darwinist, I get confused when people use the word ‘adaptation’ in some other sense than in the “adaptation to changing conditions”. This is something an individual, or a species, has to do in order to survive or make better. It doesn’t include free-will. So, adaptation, in some form, will happen as the humans are a species among others, and the free-willed individuals may mitigate. Nothing more of this.

    6. Current mitigation policies, at national and international levels, are inevitably doomed to fail.

    *I don’t know what mitigation policies you mean, are there some? ‘Inevitably doodmed’? Who does the dooming? You? ‘Inevitably’, is rather a strong word, would ‘likely’ or ‘possibly’ do? Since you don’t say what policies you’re thinking (there have been some quite extensive propositions) this position can’t be meaningfully answered.

    7. An alternative approach to mitigation from that of the FCCC has better prospects for success.

    *Again, you don’t specify what an alternative, and would that alternative include some or most of the FCCC’s (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, if that is what you meant) propositions, so this is also a meaningless claim.

    8. Current technologies are not sufficient to reach mitigation goals.

    *Current technologies (understood as a ‘technological unit’) are not, but building, installing AND using more of the same low-carbon technology might be (Remember, I see adaptation as something that happens.), and what are the goals you are talking of? Do you have mitigation goals?

    9. In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly.

    *I cannot comment on this, since I come from a different culture, and think demonstrating one’s opinions is allowed, and that this includes also former criminals who have done their time of imprisonment. Are you saying you think leading scientists shouldn’t be allowed to do that? Do you consider yourself as a leading scientist? What sort of institution would that be that would rate scientists to ‘leading’ and ‘trailing’, if that’s what you meant? What is the idea of science, in your opinion?

  9. Andy Revkin says:

    Amazing feat of re-direction. Nearly all about Pielke’s blogging and nothing about his peer-reviewed publications. (Or did I miss something in that multi-thousand word riff?) Here’s a rough sift:

    Any reason you didn’t direct your blast at, say, Chris Field, co-lead of Working Group 2 for 5th IPCC assessment (who says he’s eager for Pielke to contribute), Michael Oppenheimer (“He fits” in this extremes report), Richard Klein (strong endorsement)?

    Oh, I almost forgot that the Obama Administration, in submitting Pielke’s name, described all of the candidates as “impressive.” Was that a mistake on their part? Any reason you’re not bothering to alert the White House to this (near) blunder?

    [JR: No re-direction, Andy. Just “direction.

    You put some world-class scientists on the spot and what are they supposed to say? Gimme a break. They were making politic statements. They can’t get into the game you were playing with them. And I seriously doubt they even follow the blogosphere closely enough to know the whole story. Now, I didn’t think it was your job to campaign for authors for IPCC reports. This isn’t the best actor nomination for the Oscars. I thought your job was to report the facts in an unbiased fashion.

    You missed the whole point of my post. This isn’t about whether Roger is qualified in the narrow technical sense that he has a bunch of publications on that specific subject. It’s about whether 1) his being an author would actually be a net-positive for the IPCC’s effort to restore its good name — let alone serve as some sort of litmus test and 2) whether you of all people should be campaigning for individual IPCC authors and holding the IPCC’s credibility hostage to your … un-objective opinion on the matter.

    For the record, you have no idea what I have or haven’t done in private.]

  10. Dean says:

    The Pielke Jr process is another form of the faux balance aspect for journalists. Since Pielke publicly accepts the concept of AGW and doing something about it, he is given greater credibility in criticizing the IPCC by some journalists. Thomas Fuller would be another who is in the thrall Pielke as the definition of the Honest Broker. So rather than trying to find two people to support and oppose something, Pielke does both at the same time, and has found himself a unique niche. They seem to miss that Pielke Jr is one of the biggest name-callers in the business among those who do actually publish papers.

  11. noetoh says:

    Well Joe, now that you’ve taken Pielke to task, you must just be chomping at the bit, then, to debate him in person. I see that Pielke’s asked again for that very opportunity.
    Are you going to take him up on it? I noticed that last time he challenged you to a debate, you said you didn’t want to travel — but that was before you flew to Copenhagen and Costa Rica. So now he’s offering to come to your city.
    So? What do you say?

    [JR: Why would I want to debate someone who fabricated a ridiculous smear against me and against many climate scientists.

    The question is why waste any more time on him? He isn’t a climate scientist and doesn’t dispute the science and asserted on this blog we must stabilize at 400 to 450 ppm CO2. So not much to debate there. And he certainly isn’t an expert on climate solutions. He simply isn’t relevant to the debate anymore.

    The fact that he is so widely debunked should tell you that he puts out a lot of misinformation and disinformation. As I’ve said many times, it is a waste of my time to give him a platform to spread mis- and dis-information and then have to use all my time debunking it.

    I mostly try to ignore him now, but he is prolific and popular with a small slice of the media, so I devote maybe 0.2% of my posts to him these days.]

  12. Les Johnson says:

    Roger Pielke jr has challenged you to a debate, Joe. Your town, and the time of your choosing.

    As an incentive, I will donate 2000 USD to the winner’s charity of choice, with the winner as determined by audience voting after the debate.

    Speaking of which, Joe. When will you finalize the betting details with Tom Fuller?

    [JR: Zzzzz. I’ve explained many times why one doesn’t want to give a platform to people who spread mis-and dis-information and then have to use all my time debunking it. And audience voting can’t prove anything unless you know the audience’s beliefs before and after, which is not possible. Turns out the anti-science ideologues fib!]

  13. The Wonderer says:

    When is the panel going to be selected, and by whom? Is dotEarth relevant to the process in some way?

    Who do you think should be on the job, and who should lead it? For my money, I think it’s a damn shame Richard Feynman isn’t around anymore.

  14. Ando says:

    Roger says he wishes to debate Joe. I’m just forwarding the request.

    “Since he [Joe] doesn’t allow me to post at his site, I’d appreciate it if and readers who might pass a link along to this challenge in the comments to his site, and then lets see how he responds. Meantime, please keep the comments here substantive and respectful.”

    [JR: Yes, keep the comments here substantive and respectful, something Roger most certainly does not do for the climate scientists and science bloggers he regularly attacks, as about a dozen links above show.]

  15. Jonathan H. Adler says:

    So does that mean you’ll depate Pielke or not? Like many others, I’d love to watch a webcast of the two of you exchanging views in person, and I can’t see any reason you’d refuse.


    [JR: You don’t read this blog, do you? I’ve explained my position on this sort of things many times.]

  16. Ivy Bear says:

    What exactly would this debate be about? The issue at hand is not the qualifications of Dr. Pielke. The question here is the highly problematic reporting and obvious bias exhibited by Mr. Revkin for one particular individual not being on the IPCC.

    What gives Mr. Revkin the right to establish a “litmus test” for the IPCC to comply with to maintain its scientific legitimacy? For me, this is no longer reporting, but taking sides in a dispute between Dr. Pielke and the decisions of the IPCC. I see no special qualifications for Mr. Revkin to self-appoint himself as the arbiter of IPCC decision making on the composition of the panels.

    There are thousands of individual scientists who don’t participate in the IPCC or the National Research Council who could be included. The question regarding the IPCC panel is not about one individual. Rather, are there persistent patterns of exclusion of specific viewpoints from the reports? Then there would be a story. But that would take some research. I guess the blogosphere doesn’t make research based reporting required. It is much easier to portray this issue as an individual drama. Easy does not always equal good reporting. I would urge Mr. Revkin to reread Dr. Boycoff’s paper, posted on Climate Progress a couple of days ago. There he says:

    “The ensuing finger-pointing plays into the conflict, drama and personalized stories that drive news. It also distracts attention from critical institutional and societal challenges regarding carbon consumption that calls citizen behaviors, actions and decisions to account.”

    Real reporting or drama? What is going on here? The only good use of the NY Times,it appears, is to line the inside of my hibernation den.

    Ivy Bear

  17. Steve Bloom says:

    Attention is what RP Jr. is after, so I wouldn’t advise anyone to debate him.

    Joe, you linked to some of James Annan’s stuff on Klotzbach et al., but it only got worse after that. Klotzbach et al. was an attack on a fundamental aspect of climate science in that it claimed a significant warm bias in the surface temperature record, so the fact that it was such bad science is a reflection on the scientific reputations of all four of its authors, but there’s a larger point to be made:

    What was a political scientist like RP Jr. doing as a co-author on a science paper to begin with? Since he’s not a physical scientist of any kind let alone a subject matter expert, what exactly did he contribute? It only compounds the bizarreness for him to have become the chief public defender of the paper after James and many others began to point out its numerous flaws.

    For Andy Revkin, in the immediate aftermath of Klotzbach et al., to pretend that climate scientists would or should have any interest in letting RP Jr. anywhere near the reins of an important collaborative process is more bizarre, if that’s possible. If anything, Revkin should be investigating the paper and its authors, including in particular the paper’s promotion of Watts.

    (Small quibble: I actually think Christy is more debunked than RP Jr., but we can agree to disagree on that. :))

  18. Wit's End says:


    two thoughts, neither new.

    Andy is a [snip] with ears.

    Anybody who disagrees with that is a paid or duped troll.

    Put me into permanent moderation Joe! It’s okay, I understand…I just can’t help myself…

  19. Lou Grinzo says:

    Great. First we get giant inflatable beavers at the Olympics closing ceremonies (or so my wife tells me; I missed it), and now this Revkin-Pielke bromance outbreak.

    Holy crap. Did I trip and fall through the looking glass without realizing it???

  20. Les Johnson says:

    Joe: your

    [JR: Zzzzz. I’ve explained many times why one doesn’t want to give a platform to people who spread mis-and dis-information and then have to use all my time debunking it. And audience voting can’t prove anything unless you know the audience’s beliefs before and after, which is not possible. Turns out the anti-science ideologues fib!]

    No, Joe. This is a chance for you to debate an expert, Roger Pielke jr, who you have just slagged, with no chance of rebuttal on his part.

    [JR: Huh? He has his own blog so I don’t really see how one can say he has no chance of rebuttal. And I didn’t “slag” him — I responded to a Revkin post that made it seem like I a mere ” energy and climate campaigner” was the sole person who had debunked him. So I quoted others debunking him and quoted him slagging real climate scientists. But I have a long-standing policy of not allowing people to post misinformation here, which he has repeatedly broken.]

    A debate in your choice of venue, at your time of choosing, in your home town. Basically, you would be choosing the audience. At worst, it would be Joe Q Public, who you are theoretically targeting for your message, anyway.

    Lets up the ante Joe.

    I will match every dollar you put up, to 10,000 USD, to the winner’s charity of choice. If you win, you don’t pay and I do, to your charity.

    If you lose, we both pay to Medecin san Frontiers. The winner is determined by an audience, which, as you choose the time and venue, is really chosen by you.

    The only restriction on audience, are first come, first serve at the door, via a public advertisement.

    The format of the debate to be agreed between you and Roger.

    So, whadya say, Joe?

    [JR: As they say on “Law and Order”: “asked and answered.” This isn’t about me vs. Roger. It is about Roger versus dozens of climate scientists and science bloggers.]

    [JR: UPDATE — I see you write “if Joe turns my latest offer down, I will send the original 2000 USD I offered up, to Medecin san Frontiers.” Now that is win, win! I don’t give Pielke a platform to spread his misinformation and attacks on scientists, and Medecin san Frontiers gets $2000.]

  21. Steve Bloom says:

    Chris Field in particular doesn’t need to pay attention to the blogosphere to understand the degree to which RP Jr. is a burr under the saddle of scientific progress, as this incident of a few weeks ago did the job nicely. Inquiring minds want to know exactly how it was RP Jr. ended up in that BBC studio. I’m sure Andy thinks this is how scientific disputes should be resolved.

  22. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for this, Joe, and I hope it becomes the definitive reference on the subject.

    Pielke is a subject of fascination and even macabre adoration by normally crisp bloggers like Eli Rabett and Tim Lambert. There is something about Roger’s written work that makes people feel as if they have been propelled into another dimension.

    In one piece, Roger will say that he more or less accepts the basic conclusions of IPCC, that it is getting rapidly warmer, and that human caused GHG’s are the primary cause. Then, he will make a statement like this, talking about Senator Inhofe: “Talking about persecution of scientists is a good way to get a debate going”. Or, Roger’s acting as the “honest broker” in trying to open the lines of communication between Anthony Watts, whose knowledge of climate science is zero, and serious climatologists who actually publish papers on the subject.

    This is all done with decent grammar, and a cheerful style that shows that Pielke has absolutely no indication that he is aware of the fact that his remarks lead one into a quite bizarre world. We did learn one thing from all of this, though: now we know why Political Science majors end up selling insurance or becoming lawyers. Pielke was at least smart enough to add a PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper in this case).

    While I appreciate the detail in this post, we really need a Hunter Thompson or Jonathan Swift to unravel the man. Ian Murphy, my writing partner on the Buffalo Beast piece, is at work on what should be a fascinating (and funny) addition to the growing discipline of Pielkology.

  23. John Hollenberg says:

    Put head in vice… turn handle hard clockwise… take hammer and pound on handle… OK, that was a lot better than reading that Andy Revkin wants RP on the IPCC. Obviously, I should have taken your advice Joe :-)

  24. The Wonderer says:

    I violated my New Year’s resolution and followed your link to that NYT blog. That post is more confused and without perspective than I have seen there previously. The entire way the discussion is framed over there now drives me insane.

    I rue the day that study panels would be selected via résumé wars based on a 15 minute Google scholar search, or that the selection panel has to publicly justify its decision person-by-person with their rationale on each candidate.

    And then there is the quote that a climate report should “provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.” I don’t think the “everything you do is wrong” position is really a competing scientific viewpoint, although it would be interesting if someone came up with a competing theory to AGW and was able to defend it to the same standards.

    Here are some of the competing scientific viewpoints that I’d like to see debated: 1) will sea level rise by 2100 be closer to 1 meter or 4?; 2) in what year will key Himalayan glaciers disappear?; and 3) is AGW with a 2-6 degree C warming for each doubling of CO2 certain, or only very likely?; and 4) what is the most effective policy for reducing global emissions and for keeping atmospheric CO2 below 475 ppm? Sadly, this is not where the public debate lies.

  25. Chris Dudley says:

    Joe in #9,

    Andy has as much right to be an activist as anyone else. He is a freelancer now, not a representative of the gray lady. But, he does have a past that is festoon with developing sources. I doubt Pielke ever ignores a call or email from Andy which must be endearing. It is not an easy transition to make from journalist to activist. Look at Hithcens’ rather awkward maneuvers. It is enough that Andy is beginning to be willing to stand for something for now. Let’s teach him other principles as things progress.

  26. Oh goody… time to restore Pielke back onto the Beast’s list: Top 14 Climate Villains.

    “This article was originally titled The 15 Most Heinous Climate Villains, and included Roger Pielke Jr., who is actually a cool dude. Our sincerest apologies to him and the Breakthrough Institute for our evil act of “Climate McCarthyism.””

    They are not really a climate blog, and so they caved in to pressure from the highly partisan Breakthrough Institute. Thanks Joe for setting this straight.

    Hmmm, perhaps it is time for a list of top 15 villainous think tanks?

  27. MarkB says:

    Andy Revkin (#9),

    Pielke’s blogging, which includes smearing climate scientists and a lot of disingenuous and dishonest rhetoric, is highly relevant. In your last response to me when I mentioned the hurricane consensus report involving Landsea’s switch, you immediately shot back with a Pielke blog post. You quote his blog regularly and uncritically. I think all some of us folks are asking is you look at his words a bit more critically. His behavior is more transparent to some of us.

  28. MarkB says:

    Dean (#10) has it right, particular with the last line. Pielke has nothing but “respect” for contrarians, and nothing but attacks and smear on the scientists who he pretends to agree with. There’s a phrase for that: “concern trolling”. The point of such things is to build trust with the target audience.

  29. Joe,

    Anticipate legions of anti-science deniers from Climate Fraudit & WattsUpHisWatt in surges of drive-by taunts & insults, but relegating Pielke Jr. to the trash bin of also-forgottens is for the best.

    Must say, though, we are very much disappointed in Andy Revkin’s flagrant heralding of Pielke Jr. & his self-serving attacks on the integrity of honest, reputable scientists. Sadly, we may have already seen the best days of Dot Earth.

    Andy, tell us it ain’t so.

    [JR: I get drive-bys all the time, as with my appearance on FoxNews. But it seems to me that the notion that Revkin could put forward Pielke as some sort of litmus test for the credibility of the IPCC needed a response — since it really puts the IPCC in an untenable position, damned if you, damned if you don’t.

    I would rather ignore Pielke, and rarely write about him these days. That’s why I focused on what others have written and said about him — and what he has said about scientists.]

  30. Doug Bostrom says:

    Ivy Bear says: February 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    For me, this is no longer reporting, but taking sides in a dispute between Dr. Pielke and the decisions of the IPCC. I see no special qualifications for Mr. Revkin to self-appoint himself as the arbiter of IPCC decision making on the composition of the panels.

    Well, it’s not reporting but rather “blogging.” But Revkin’s blog is rather unusual; he is slipstreaming both in his own reputation as an ex-journalist as well as that of the Times. It’s a very strange situation, where a fellow “quits” as a journalist with the NY Times yet is still able to write with all the authority of the Times, under their masthead. Very strange. I wonder if the folks running the Times have fully thought this through.

    As to Pielke Jr., the fellow who thinks whether or not scientists with stellar research credentials and productivity are criminals is an excellent debate topic, he’s free to contribute to the IPCC as a commenter and I’m sure such comments as he makes will be listened to with whatever attention his contributions to the field of climate science warrant. His profile guarantees he’ll be heard.

    On the other hand, inserting Pielke into the IPCC in an official status would seem an ideal way to politicize the IPCC’s activities, something I’m sure Revkin would abhor?

  31. Former Skeptic says:


    Although I abhor “debates” with deniers for the reasons Steve gave above, Tim Lambert has shown that a well-prepared debater vs. a buffoonish denier, even with the cards stacked in favor of the deniers, can be very effective in discrediting them to folks who are still unsure of the facts. The Monbiot vs. Plimer debate that occurred during Copenhagen, where Plimer was conclusively shown to be a total fraud, also demonstrated this.

    Give it some thought, Joe. Yes, we know that RPJr. is a shifty, “honest” brokerbastard that is hard to pin down especially on the interwebs, and regular readers are well aware of your justified animosity with Roger the Dodger. However, a properly conducted debate on a mutually-agreed topic (on, lets say, the interface between climate science and policy, or on recommended policies towards solving climate change) in which you are prepared for will go a long way towards destroying whatever credibility Roger has left amongst the as-yet uninformed.

    Get him to whine or cry in public like he did in his pity party – I’d love to see him blather and get all his fishy metaphors mixed up again – and it’ll be all worth it. :-)

  32. rjtklein says:

    Joe, in response to Andy Revkin’s comment (#9), you write:

    “You put some world-class scientists on the spot and what are they supposed to say? Gimme a break. They were making politic statements. They can’t get into the game you were playing with them. And I seriously doubt they even follow the blogosphere closely enough to know the whole story.”

    Thank you for the compliment. But for the record, I was not making a political statement, and I had no reason to consider Revkin asking me a question a game. And rest assured, I have a fairly good impression of what people write in blogs.

    [JR: My apologies if there was any confusion. A “politic” statement does not mean anything like a political statement. I was not saying you were making a political statement.]

    I wrote a comment over at Pielke’s blog, which I ended with “What would be valuable though, is if everybody could apply the same standards they expect from the IPCC in their interpretations of the scientific knowledge base. Including on blogs.”

    Perhaps I should have added that ad-hominem attacks are not part of the IPCC mandate and standard.

  33. Sou says:

    I think the Revkin piece is just another nail in the coffin for Pielke Jr. Though Pielke Jr has done a pretty good job of nailing his own coffin and doesn’t really need any extra help.

    It’s about time the NY Times handed over the blogging to someone who has a better understanding of the climate. Revkin does them no credit whatsoever.

    (As an aside, since twitter feeds were added to dotearth it’s become too slow to load, so I’ve just about given up visiting the site. I used to pop over there to help debunk Andy’s misinformation and that of all his deniosaurs.)

  34. Anne says:

    This is what Pielke says in a recent blog of the post that Rick Piltz of ClimateScienceWatch prepared in reaction to Inhofe’s McCarthyite report witch-hunting scientists:

    PIELKE JR: “Senator Inhofe is not alone in serving up red meat for his partisan followers. Over at ClimateScienceWatch, Rick Piltz focuses on the Inhofe report to also use these scientists for his own partisan purposes. In his comments he adds a good deal of intensity to the issue, writing about “trials” and “possible referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.” This is just as over-the-top as the Senator’s report, and just as unhelpful — if Piltz’s concern is to improve the role of climate science in policy and politics (I assume that such improvement is not high on Senator Inhofe’s agenda).”

    As I turn my piercing eyes directly into those of RPJr, I have this to say with utter gravity: ‘I know Rick Piltz, Rick Piltz is a friend of mine. And, Roger Pielke Jr., you are no Rick Piltz.’ Accusing Piltz and CSW of “using scientists for his own partisan purposes” is like accusing Martin Luther King of using blacks for his own partisan purposes. In case no one is noticing, scientists in general and climate change scientists in particular (referring to the vast interdisciplinary nature of climate-relevant science) are under vicious attack — there are even death threats now being hurled at them!!! Inhofe, Barasso, Sensenbrenner, et al are waging a fierce attack against the IPCC and the USGCRP scientists and President Obama is DOING NOTHING to defend them!
    That is what Andy Revkin, the NYT, the Wash Post, all MSM should be writing about. It’s scary, like pre-Hitler days were scary. There is a jihad against scientists that is confusing the hell out of the public, raising “reasonable doubt” in the minds of otherwise intelligent folk. The result is public policy paralysis of the type we’ve seen in the US Senate. If Revkin et al can’t keep their eyes on that ball, and are willing instead to admit some sort of systemic fault with the IPCC that really only needs mild tweaking here and there for an excellent and highly inclusive process, then we’re all in a heap of trouble.

    C’mon boys. It’s time to take the mud-slinging out back and get down to the urgent business of finding real solutions to what looks to be the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.

    Where’s that damn vice grip when you need it?????

  35. Bernie says:

    Dr. Klein:
    Many thanks for a voice of sweet reason. I would add, though you are certainly free to disagree, that Pielke Jnr is far more qualified to be on the list for looking at possible climate related disasters than say Dr. McCormick, based on my reading of her essay, Hot or Not?: Recognizing and Managing the Health Impacts of Climate Change found here: .

  36. Jonah says:

    Yay, let’s gather all the trolls in _this_ thread, yelling into the void about some sort of ‘debate’, never to occur. C’mon people, I bet if you write in all capital letters, Joe will totally cave in and do it.

    (Ok, now everyone else sneak out, and let’s discuss useful things.)

  37. rjtklein says:

    Bernie, if you are the same Bernie who commented on Pielke’s blog here, then I don’t quite understand what you’re getting at. Joe’s post here is not about McCormick, and I already said on Pielke’s blog that I have nothing to add to what I wrote elsewhere.

    Joe, thank you for the clarification. This is what my dictionary has to say:

    politic |ˈpäləˌtik|
    (of an action) seeming sensible and judicious under the circumstances : [with infinitive] I did not think it politic to express my reservations.

    You didn’t use the word “politic” in combination with an infinitive but with a noun; hence the confusion. But if what you’re saying is that you consider my comment to Revkin sensible and judicious, then of course I’m happy to agree with you!

    [JR: My apologies for the confusion. The definition you quoted is perfect. I have nothing to add to it.]

  38. AT says:


    From Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: pol·i·tic
    Pronunciation: \ˈpä-lə-ˌtik\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English politik, from Middle French politique, from Latin politicus, from Greek politikos, from politēs citizen — more at police
    Date: 15th century
    1 : political
    2 : characterized by shrewdness in managing, contriving, or dealing
    3 : sagacious in promoting a policy
    4 : shrewdly tactful

    Perhaps more #2 & #4, than #1 or #3, is what Dr. Romm was getting at?

    [JR: Klein’s dictionary had what I was trying to say, but #4 here comes close.]

  39. Peter Houlihan says:

    It is worth mentioning Revkin’s comment moderating process. He highlights certain comments and I was upset to see him praising the following comment in his Pielke piece:

    Mountain View, CA
    February 25th, 2010
    7:15 am
    In the year 2000, Climate scientists at East Anglia announced that children in the UK will grow up not knowing what snow is.

    Well they have plenty of snow. The greater danger is that they will grow up not knowing what science is, given the constant bombardment of nonsense from climate scientists.”

    Does Revkin endorse the idea that we are constantly being bombarded by nonsense by climate scientists? If not, why did he promote this comment?

    [JR: Was there a link to the original claim of what the scientists said? Or was this just hearsay?]

  40. Laurie Dougherty says:

    Ivy Bear #4,

    I had a very similar thought. Not only does RPJr not publish in political science journals, he is a political scientist doing economic analysis with methods he developed, yet he does not publish in economics journals either, so his methods are not subject to informed critique.

    I’m not really up on Pielke’s oeuvre, but since reading Andy Revkin’s (latest) peon to RPJr., I have been trying to make sense of his 2008 article in Natural Hazards Review (Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005, Roger Pielke, Jr., He ( doesn’t seem to know that regression analysis is a technique for differentiating the relative effects of relevant variables.

    In the article he ( claims to compare his own approache to the normalization of US economic losses from hurricanes to another approach that came to similar conclusions; however the article neglects to mention that the other analysis (Collins & Lowe 2001, in a nonrefereed electronic forum of the Casualty Actuarial Society) is based on his own methodology with a couple of “improvements” in defining the variables used used for population and economic growth.

    So RPJr. gets to have it both ways – claiming to be peer-reviewed but not by people who know what he is talking about.

    I discovered Dot Earth at its very beginning and had great hopes that DE would bring the complex of issues involved with sustainability into the mainstream media. I became a frequent, at times daily commenter on DE, and got my 15 minutes of fame when a few things I wrote were highlighted there. But Dot Earth has become more and more captive to the climate change deniers and right wing element generally. By not offering a forthright challenge to the assault on climate scientists, and by giving deniers credence and equal time, Andy fueled the witch hunt. I haven’t paid much attention to DE for a couple of months – every time I do, I feel like I’ve stepped further and further through the Looking Glass.

  41. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #38: Neither Eva nor Revkin provided a link for Eva’s “get” (Revkin’s term), but someone else was able to locate the full article (from 2000). It turned out the scientist predicted less and less snow (which indeed has been the measured trend) with intermittent heavy snow winters that would be very disruptive (like what just happened this year), which is to say he pretty much nailed it.

    [JR: I was pretty sure it was that article they were talking about. Another bogus smear!]

  42. lgcarey says:

    What Laurie Dougherty (#39) just said. I had high hopes when I first visited DotEarth a couple of years ago – but for quite a while Revkin has been steadily descending into blatantly false equivalence between science and anti-science. I can’t even stand to visit there any more, and regret following Joe’s link today. I know it’s a blog, but it’s mind-boggling to having someone who’s supposed to be a seasoned journalist shilling to have a specific author designated, as his self-imposed litmus test for the legitimacy of the entire IPCC process. What has happened to journalism? Through the Looking Glass, indeed.

  43. Dean says:

    I would say that I think that Pielke is qualified to be on this committee, but not uniquely qualified. The problematic aspect is that the reason there is a campaign to get him on is because, effectively, he has attacked many prominent scientists. Of course that isn’t the reason his campaigners see. They think he is the True Honest Broker. But he got that status by attacking scientists.

    And I don’t mean that he criticized their work. He called them liars, plagiarists, and many other serious things. More recently, he has focused his aim on the IPCC. Because he does this while still supporting the basics of AGW, they consider his an honest broker. Which by the way, is the name of his book (Honest Broker). He doesn’t claim to be an honest broker in the book so much as identifying what he considers one to be. But his journalism fan base has defined hims as THE honest broker.

    I used to be a regular on his blog. When I pointed out to him that he does this so much, his response was that my problem was common on the internet: I couldn’t see that his attacks were well supported and those of his opponents weren’t. I’ve followed some his attacks through and came to the conclusion that many were ill-supported and very sloppy. But in the faux balance scheme of things, the merit of an argument matters little.

  44. Chris Dudley says:

    Laurie #39,

    I’ve noticed your absence. It is worth remembering what Andy is good at. He is very skilled at taking published scientific ideas and making them accessible. Suppose editors at Science or Nature highlight some new paper. Andy can run with that selection and do a great job turning it into a compelling read. The interface between science and society is something that he really gets sometimes and his skill with (almost dependence on) narrative make his contributions important.

    But, he is almost completely lacking in any ability to judge the quality of the science on his own. He gets what is exciting but not what is substantive largely out of a lack of appreciation for mathematics. Entering the blog world and leaving behind the filters provided by science editors, he gets off track more easily. That tends to diminish his relevance and reputation so he loses readers like you.

    I think he is resolving this by becoming an activist now. As an activist, you don’t need a lot of readers, just the right readers. But, there is much more to it. It will be interesting to watch him learn.

  45. Neven says:

    “Pielke has nothing but “respect” for contrarians, and nothing but attacks and smear on the scientists who he pretends to agree with.”

    This is my number 1 problem with Pielke jr.

  46. Arthur Smith says:

    DotEarth is the reason I even became involved in climate discussions in the first place, defending science from the nonsense-purveyors there. But I’ve given up on Revkin, not even following him on Twitter any more, after several recent episodes that just show an appalling lack of judgment, or worse.

  47. Jeff Huggins says:

    Battles of (and Into) Irrelevance

    Before I offer a point here, I’d like to say that I’m NOT saying that these disagreements aren’t important in some senses and/or in narrow ways.

    But, there is a danger (a big one, and it is already happening) that intense battles that seem relevant, on a narrow and discipline-specific and personal level, distract from the much larger picture.

    I would argue that, to a large degree, squabbling with Andy Revkin, while the large status-quo ships sail smoothly forward, will not get anywhere. Rather than squabbles with Andy or others, we need the following sorts of things to happen:

    * Substantial and warranted pressure (brought about by hundreds of thousands of people, and prominent intellectuals and credible leaders) put on The New York Times itself, and major media, to examine themselves, “find responsibility”, and “up the bar” on their coverage of climate change by a large factor.

    * Large-scale boycotts of ExxonMobil, a few leading coal companies, Koch, and a few others. Here, I’m talking about millions of people.

    * Responsible activation of college campuses and students to “speak out” and help protect their own futures. Here again, I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of people, and dozens and dozens of campuses.

    This squabbling with Andy does no — or very little — good. As far as I can tell, he will still be writing with his sense of “balance” and so forth even when the average temperature in the state of New York is eight degrees higher than it is today and when many islands and coastal areas have drowned.

    I’ve seen this sort of thing time and time again: people squabbling while the ship sinks.

    To be clear, also, there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to conveying the science to the public. That is important, of course, but much more than that will be necessary. Changes (of the magnitude necessary) will not occur until the sorts of things I’ve mentioned above help bring them about. Is there any disagreement on that point? Does somebody think that sufficient change will come about just by (somehow) helping Andy report in a way that is more reflective of the matter — scientifically and etc. — and of the actual stakes involved?

    Forget Andy. Instead, focus on activating Obama, focus on ExxonMobil and Koch, focus on Murdoch and NewsCorp, focus on informing and activating university students (in responsible ways, of course), and focus on The New York Times, Bill Keller, and etc.



  48. demiurge says:

    Ah, the joys of living in an insular community with a constantly reinforced world view.

    [JR: Yes, that pretty much describes the anti-science crowd.]

    Point of fact, all significant demographics and pollings are trending against the progressive view on climate change as of this moment in time. You’ve lost the support of main stream America, and without that support it is very unlikely that a policy towards combating AGW can be sustained.


    [JR: You are spreading misinformation about the polling trends, as I’ve blogged many, many times.]

  49. johna says:

    BBC environment reporter Richard Black blogs about reforming the IPCC – ‘Tough love.’ He asks if the process can be expanded to ‘more constructively’ involve Pielke Jr and Steve McIntyre and ‘make use of their expertise.’ (whatever that might be) Many folks earnestly assume (e.g. Dr Curry) that other voices must have responsible goals. Three years ago I spent a few months reading those two confusing bloggers. One problem is – experts work free for the IPCC and I doubt the fossil fuel industries and other enemies of the Earth can [snip]

    [JR: Didn’t read this comment closely enough. Been a busy day. McIntyre clearly is happy to advance the agenda of fossil fuel companies, as I’ve shown. Pielke advances an agenda all his own.]

  50. Mark A. York says:

    I’ve added my share of comments to Dot Earth, but for the most part, as it is with most news media sites, deniers take over. They’re allowed to repeat defamatory attacks using the same disproven nonsense that it becomes so tiresome anyone with any sense of the issue walks away. I figure this is the idea. Moderation can cull a lot of it but this is nonexistent. CJR is atrocious.

  51. MarkB says:


    Moderation can indeed help, but worse than lack of moderation is when the moderator (Revkin in this case) encourages the nonsense. See #39, which, by my observations, is certainly not an isolated incident.

  52. Peter Houlihan says:

    #48 “constantly reinforced world view”

    And how is that view reinforced? By actually reading the peer-reviewed literature and not relying on blogs as a primary source.

  53. Peter Houlihan says:

    #39 JR. Even if that claim were found in a paper, we need to trust the journalist got it right or reported it truthfully.

    Given my knowledge of the media, that assumption can’t be made. As a graduate student I recall a fellow student of mine giving an interview about his research on moose. In the interview he offhandedly mentioned that moose sometimes incidentally consume fish when feeding on aquatic vegetation. The title and main focus of the article became “Moose eat fish”, as if they were primarily piscivorous by nature.

    To Revkin’s credit he did provide a tinyurl link to the article. However, the article was very unclear about what the time interval was for the end of snowy winters (theoretically it is not an implausible long-term prediction) and the commentator highlighted forgot to mention that the climatologist also predicted occasional years with major storms.

    Revkin delved further into misunderstanding when he praised the highlighted commenter for digging up an article that was using an example of weather when talking about the impact of climate change. When in reality a prediction about a long-term decline in snow fall is a climate prediction – they were predicting that England would fall into a climate regime that was warmer and less snowy. While one winter storm is weather, the pattern of storms over many decades is climate (temperature, precipitation, seasonality).

    But then again my biggest beef was his highlighting a comment that smeared climate scientists as a group.

  54. Wit's End says:

    Speaking of a witch hunt as mentioned by Laurie, #40, it’s well worth reading this blog and watching the video at the end! (sent to me by RPauli)

  55. mike roddy says:

    Laurie and Arthur, I hope you start commenting here more often. You were two of the very best commenters on Dot Earth, and I always loved to see your names.

    I was stubborn a little longer than you, and mostly go there now when I’m in a bad mood. It’s been hijacked by people who know less about climate science than my junior high school age son. Lately, even Andy sometimes fits that description.

  56. Andy says:

    RP Jr. is disqualified from serving on any sort of IPCC committee since he has advocated policy positions. According to both himself and Mr. Revkin, the adoption of advocacy by scientists is the whole source of the IPCC’s woes. Major double standard here.

  57. Reiner G says:

    Andy 56
    you misunderstand the concept. Scientists can occupy many roles, but an honest broker should not engage in stealth advocacy at the same time.

  58. Mark Bahner says:

    Why would anyone refuse to debate someone else if the outcome would be more money to a charity like Nobel-Peace-prize-winning Medicins Sans Frontiers?

    [JR: Because unless this donor (who has never contacted me with any such offer) is just some sort of bizarrely heartless person, they would NEVER let their charity be held hostage to this nonsensical challenge. I’m supposed to legitimize Pielke’s incessant disinformation and his attacks on me and countless scientists because some supposed donor is holding needy people hostage. What’s next — if I don’t debate, they’ll drown some puppies? Seriously, where do you people come from?]

  59. ShellyT says:

    Why not just debate the guy and blow him away with your intelligence and grasp of the facts? I’d like to hear it.

    A lot of people would like to hear it. I don’t even know who Roger Pielke is, which means his influence might be a little less than you give him credit for.

    [JR: I explain the reasons why in the Bastardi thread. The fact you haven’t heard of him is one of the many reasons not to debate him. Outside of a small circle of media who quote him, he’s not terribly relevant to the overall debate. Just giving equal time to his misinformation is, as Juan Cole, a “win” for him, “since a false position is being given equal time and legitimacy.”]