And yes, I just re-confirmed with Gore’s office that Pielke is as wrong today in his false claims as he was 2 years ago
Roger Pielke, Jr. has repeated on his website several false accusations against Al Gore from 2 years ago, which I debunked here and here. His goal is to smear Gore, me, and indeed anyone who tries to explain the science of how global warming is driving more extreme weather.
My apologies to long-time readers for having to go through this again, but I think it’s important to see the tactics and strategy of the breakthrough bunch aka the false narrative industrial complex (FNIC). In fact, the man who spreads more disinformation and smears more climate scientist than anybody on the blogosphere, Anthony “shout them down” Watts, just reposted some of Pielke’s false accusations, because “Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. … wrote to me and suggested I share this with my readers.” From there it went straight to the full right-wing anti-science media. That’s how the FNIC works. Amazingly, Roger is now bragging about the ability he has to team up with the hard-core anti-science websites and drive traffic to his site.
Only Roger Pielke, Jr. can call the unvarnished truth a lie. No doubt that is one reason Pielke was included in Foreign Policy‘s “Guide to Climate Skeptics”. No doubt it is one reason top climate scientists like Kevin Trenberth and Ken Caldeira have called Pielke out for his misleading scientific claims and for his false accusations against climate science experts.
Pielke remains one of the most debunked people in the blogosphere:
- A Few Things Ill Considered : “His [Pielke’s] latest effort at sabotaging productive discourse on climate science and policy is a really low blow, putting to rest any lingering hopes one might have had that he still had some integrity stashed away in there somewhere.”
- James Annan’s blog: “The consistently wrong chronicles“¦. Roger Pielke has been saying some truly bizarre and nonsensical things recently.”
- Tim Lambert (Deltoid) has a whole category on Pielke: “Roger Pielke Jr has attempted to trash me using innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation. I correct the record.”
- See also RealClimate and Brian Schmidt and Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf
Standing against Pielke’s — and Watts’s — effort to sabotage productive discourse on climate science and policy means standing with top climate scientists, with Nobelist Al Gore, and with those trying to explain climate science to the public. I am proud to do so.
One of Pielke’s most famous false claims in 2009 concerns one slide Gore used in his famous PowerPoint presentation. That false claim led to NYT reporter Andy Revkin falsely equating George Will with Al Gore in an infamous article, “In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall,” which I debunked at the time.
I am amazed that Pielke would repeat his false claims now — and quote Gore’s office in his defense. He knows that Gore’s office utterly debunked those charges two years ago, and I assume he must know that I would call Gore’s office to confirm once again that Pielke’s entire characterization is false. And I did.
The breakthrough bunch — which includes Pielke and Matt Nisbet — have a very specific false narrative about Gore that is essential to their “blame the victim” attacks on environmentalists and scientists. They want to convince people that environmentalists in general and Gore in particular have knowingly exaggerated the science and purposefully pursued a polarizing message. It isn’t true, and that’s why I’m going to debunk it again. I will deal with Nisbet’s false narrative on this later, though it bears repeating that 2 of the 5 original expert reviewers Nisbet chose disputed his attack on Gore.
Pielke also has another false narrative that leads him to smear the name of anybody who merely talks about the fact that
- Scientists have been predicting for years that human-caused global warming would lead to an increase in extreme weather events, and
- Now scientists and other groups are in fact seeing that increase in extreme weather events and attributing it in part to global warming (see “Why do disinformers like Pielke shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?“
As you read the post below, bear in mind that Pielke himself told the journal Nature in 2006, “Clearly, since 1970 climate change “¦ has shaped the disaster loss record.” But don’t you dare say anything like that — or even remain quiet when someone else says something like it — because then Pielke will smear you publicly like he did Al Gore and hundreds of the leading scientists in the country.
Also bear in mind that Munich Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, reported in September that its “natural catastrophe database, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events.” It concluded, “it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change.”
PIELKE’S COUNTERFACTUAL HISTORY
So here is the latest counterfactual at rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com reposted by Watts:
I do my best to ignore Joe Romm, but when he blatantly lies about me I sometimes feel compelled to respond. In today’s installment Romm writes:
[The] false accusation that Gore was exaggerating came from none other than Roger Pielke, Jr.
He is referring to the time back in February, 2009 that I called Al Gore out for including a misleading slide in his famous climate change slide show. Far from being a “false accusation” it was one that Al Gore actually agreed with and responded to immediately — Much to Gore’s credit, he agreed that the slide was misleading and immediately pulled it from his presentation. Here is what his spokesperson said at the time (full statement at link above):
We appreciate that you have pointed out the issues with the CRED database and will make the switch back to the data we used previously to ensure that there is no confusion either with regards to the data or attribution.
Al Gore showed some real integrity in trying to get the science more right, something I praised him for at the time.
There is no way to explain just how utterly false this all is in a short post. That’s because three separate things that need debunking:
- Pielke’s original false accusation on his blog about what Gore said (debunked here)
- Revkin’s spinning it up into a major NY Times article accusing Gore of “exaggeration” (debunked here)
- Pielke’s counterfactual history of events, which you just read
If you want the details on #1, I explain here how Pielke started all this by repeatedly misstating what Gore had said in his AAAS talk (video here). These indefensible charges would have died on the gossip grapevine of the blogosphere, had they not been picked up by Revkin.
The key point on #3 is that Gore’s slide (at right, click to enlarge) wasn’t “misleading” — the Belgian group (CRED) who put the data together behind the slide decided to change what they themselves said about the connection between extreme weather and disasters after Gore used it (probably prodded by the counterfactual crowd), as I’ll discuss below. Gore did not “agree the slide was misleading” — he merely replaced CRED’s slide with other data that indicated the same thing since CRED had changed their tune. He wrote a Gore-like statement trying to be as diplomatic as possible about all this. The NY Times itself had actually used the slide in precisely the same way almost a year earlier, and CRED never objected to its use that way. Indeed, the NYT piece explicitly opened, “We are now firmly ensconced in the Age of Extreme Weather….. Who do we have to thank for all this? Probably ourselves.”
Kalee Kreider, Gore’s spokesperson, re-confirmed all this to me yesterday.
Finally, as Kalee told me, “removing that slide didn’t change Gore’s view of the science at all” or what he said about the science. Of course, that is what she told me two years ago. As Kalee said, Gore had more than enough scientific support for what he actually said, “from the IPCC, the US Global Change Research Program, and Munich Re and Swiss Re.” So every charge Pielke levels in his post is utterly false.
REVKIN’S FALSE CHARGE
Let’s look at exactly what Revkin wrote in his infamous piece equating Gore with George Will, “In Debate on Climate Change, Exaggeration Is a Common Pitfall” (original links, emphasis added):
Mr. Gore, addressing a hall filled with scientists in Chicago, showed a slide that illustrated a sharp spike in fires, floods and other calamities around the world and warned the audience that global warming “is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented.”
“¦ Both men, experts said afterward, were guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements.
Mr. Gore removed the slide from his presentation after the Belgian research group that assembled the disaster data said he had misrepresented what was driving the upward trend. The group said a host of factors contributed to the trend, with climate change possibly being one of them. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore said he planned to switch to using data on disasters compiled by insurance companies.
It is important to see what Revkin did here.
This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented.
But that sentence ain’t damning. So in the article, he writes:
Mr. Gore “¦ showed a slide that illustrated a sharp spike in fires, floods and other calamities around the world and warned the audience that global warming “is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented.”
Except, of course, Gore didn’t do that. Revkin is certainly entitled to his opinion as to what Gore meant by “this” but he surely doesn’t know. The only way to find out would be to have asked Gore, but he didn’t do that.
If Gore was somehow trying to overstate the case, why would he been so careful and accurate in his word choice just a little earlier on the video when he said:
It is the view of many scientists that the intensity of hurricanes is affected by the warming issues.
Kalee Kreider, Mr. Gore’s spokeswoman on environmental matters (and a personal friend), explained how the former Vice President works, in an email (from 2009):
Vice President Gore consults with scientists regularly to try to ensure the accuracy of his slideshow on both the content of the slideshow itself and the language he uses to describe the research. As a layperson he does the best he can to describe complex scientific principals to the broader public about an issue he regards as the most important issue our civilization is facing.
The scientific literature and many scientists have made a link between global warming and some extreme weather events. It is possible to accurately state what that link is, which I argue Gore has done (see Part 1). It is possibly to inaccurately state what that link is “” intentionally or unintentionally. Pielke and Revkin are arguing that Gore was intentionally and obviously inaccurate in how he stated the link at the AAAS. But they have no case. They have to hypothesize what Gore was saying or intended to say because they just don’t know — and they never asked him.
Remember, Pielke 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” — and Revkin makes him a primary source. Gore said in 2009 “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented” — and Revkin smears him and Pielke smears Gore and everyone who listened to him!
If you are going to slam someone for “exaggeration,” let alone multiple “inaccuracies and overstatements,” in the New York Times, it really needs to be based on more than your supposition of what he was trying to say about a complicated subject. This goes double for smearing Gore, who has endured the most brutual assault on his integrity with the charge of exaggeration based on invented quotes. For instance, Gore has been brutally mocked for the false accusation that he claimed to have “invented the Internet,” when that was not what he said. To see how many false charges of exaggeration have been made against Gore on the basis of things that he just didn’t say, read this article.
For the record, if you watch the video it is fairly obvious what Gore is trying to say. He shows a bunch of slides of individual extreme weather events around the world and then sums them up in one big slide. What he means by “this” is “all this.”
Second, Revkin did not identify multiple “inaccuracies and overstatements” in Gore’s case. The only “expert” Revkin links to who did, Roger Pielke, mistated what Gore said (as I showed in Part 1).
Third, Revkin did not accurately represent what the Belgians said:
Mr. Gore removed the slide from his presentation after the Belgian research group that assembled the disaster data said he had misrepresented what was driving the upward trend. The group said a host of factors contributed to the trend, with climate change possibly being one of them.
In his blog post, Revkin says that what he published was their “full response.” You can read it here.
But the Belgians don’t say “he had misrepresented what was driving the upward trend.” How could they? Gore never made such a representation. Yes, they imply Gore made a misrepresentation when they write:
Before interpreting the upward trend in the occurrence of weather-related disasters as “completely unprecedented” and “due to global warming”, one has to take into account the complexities of disaster occurrence, human vulnerabilities and statistical reporting and registering”¦.
But Gore didn’t say the upward trend was “due to global warming.” That would be the Belgians putting words in Gore’s mouth. Seems to be a contagious disease.
To be clear: What might have been worthy of criticism by Revkin, is if Gore had said or strongly implied that “there is a scientific consensus that this trend is due exclusively (or even primarily ) to global warming.”
But there is no evidence to suggest that is what Gore believes or even that was the impression he was trying to leave. Again, minutes earlier he was careful to say “It is the view of many scientists that the intensity of hurricanes is affected by the warming issues.” No exaggeration, inaccuracy or misstatement there.
Significantly, the way Revkin has written the piece, some might come away with the impression that Gore was admitting he had done something wrong or had said something wrong when he agreed not to use the slide any more. He was not. Go back and read Kalee’s email to Revkin (here) “” or ask Kalee, as I did. And why should he have made such an admission when he didn’t do or say anything wrong?
And this brings us me to my final point: It is almost entirely irrelevant what the Belgians said and did about the slide after Gore’s talk. To make the charge of “exaggeration” stick, what matters is what Gore knew the Belgians said and did before his talk. That should have been made clear to readers.
Revkin does not tell the reader that the Belgians had not objected to the use of that slide by Charles Blow in the New York Times in May 2008 to argue global warming was contributing to the trend in weather-related disasters nor that the Belgians had back-tracked on their own attribution of climate change. And as Kalee told me, the Gore team had gotten CRED’s annual report to make sure he understood how CRED itself was interpreting and explaining the data.
So Revkin left readers the misimpression that Gore could possibly have known he might have been misrepresenting the Belgian’s data in the first place.
To elaborate “” after the Blow article ran, the Gore folks contacted the Belgian research group to get their 2008 report, Annual Disaster of Statistical Review. As far as Gore could possibly know when he used the slide, the Belgians believed what they wrote:
Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one “” even if its impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future.
In other words, climate change is probably helping to create the remarkable rise in weather-related disasters and would likely become more important in the future. That was precisely what Blow had also said and had not been criticized for.
Revkin writes in the article, “The group said a host of factors contributed to the trend, with climate change possibly being one of them.” But to be fair to Gore, Revkin should have written something like “The group NOW SAYS climate change is possibly one of them.”
To repeat, when Gore gave his speech, all he could have known is that the group had said in its annual report “” which is surely more authoritative than an e-mail “” that “Climate change is probably an actor in this increase.”
The Belgians are entitled to change what they “believe” after the fact, but Gore can’t be accused of exaggeration on the basis of some after-the-fact email that somehow revokes their annual report. Revkin makes the Belgian reaction and the word “possibly” seem damning to Gore. But, as I’ve shown, it isn’t.
The bottom line is that Revkin had no case whatsoever.
Contrary to Revkin’s assertions in print, Former Vice President Al Gore is not guilty of “exaggeration,” let alone “guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements.”
Not only did Gore do nothing worthy of the NYT‘s criticism, but in fact he acted honorably and in the highest traditions of science journalism.
What I wrote two years ago is still true: Gore deserves a retraction and apology from Revkin and others.
BACK TO PIELKE
Back in 2009, Pielke not only attacked Gore for supposed “blatantly” misleading the audience with “scientific untruths,” but he attacked every single member of the audience for not objecting:
And of all of those scientists in attendance, here is a list of those who sought to set the record straight on blogs and in the media:
OK, I couldn’t find any, but if you know of any such reactions, please share in the comments”¦. But as the non-response to Al Gore’s in-your-face untruths shows, the misrepresentation of climate science for political gain has many willing silent collaborators.
So for Pielke the entire audience of three thousand scientists are “willing silent collaborators” in the “misrepresentation of climate science” because of their supposed “non-response to Al Gore’s in-your-face untruths” shows.
But this string of “in-your-face untruths” doesn’t exist. Please listen to the video yourself and try to find them. Remember, we aren’t talking about one or two ambiguous word choices here. You need to find a bunch of blatant in-your-face untruths.
In fact, the blatant untruths are all by Pielke in his effort to smear any scientist or journalist or climate expert who dares explain the growing scientific evidence that humans are changing the climate and making the weather more extreme in ways scientists have been warning about for many years.
The case is becoming more rock solid — see Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment and links therein. Again, as Munich Re, which has the most comprehensive natural catastrophe database in the world, reported last year, “the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change.”
Pielke and the entire false narrative industrial complex can’t stomach the scientific reality — so they attack the messengers with blatant untruths.