"The Strange Case of Dr. Pielke and Mr. Hidebound on delaying climate action"
Roger Pielke has jumped the shark.
The ultraconservative Washington Times, in yet another media piece that misunderstands the recent Nature article on warming (see here), writes:
Roger A. Pielke, environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado, and not previously a global warming skeptic, reacted to the Nature article: “Climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global-warming policy.”
Who is this “not previously a global warming skeptic”? Let me call him Mr. Pielke, since, unlike Dr. Jekyll’s, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Pielke and Mr. Pielke look exactly the same. The friendly non-skeptical heretic Dr. Pielke explicitly said on this blog that the “acceptable level” of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide is 450 to 500 ppm (see here). The friendly Dr. Pielke has also said achieving such a target would require more than 14 wedges (see here), which is a bloody lot of effort.
But Mr. Pielke says climate models have no practical use. Yet it is climate models that tell us that if we don’t stabilize near 450 ppm, the consequences for the climate and humanity will be an unmitigated catastrophe. If climate models are of no practical use, then why go to all that effort mitigating? Why not do nothing — as the Washington Times prefers — and just go to 1000 ppm?
That’s why Mr. Pielke is the go-to guy for quotes on not mitigating …
… as in the L.A. Times story which said Pielke’s “research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it” or as in his Senate testimony, “if a policy goal is to reduce the future impacts of climate on society, then energy policies are insufficient, and perhaps largely irrelevant, to achieving that goal.” Mr. Pielke seems hidebound on reaching 1000 ppm, which, of course, would be suicidal for humanity (see here).
Lots of scientists are engaged with Pielke in debate (see James Annan at “Putting Roger out of his misery” or William Connolley here). But that is pointless, because just when you think you have Mr. Pielke cornered, he drinks his magic potion and becomes Dr. Pielke, and has no memory whatsoever of anything he has said or done while he was Mr. Pielke. Dr. Pielke wants to stabilize at acceptable levels, but Mr. Pielke spends all of his time trying to convince people how that makes little or no sense because it would be too difficult and costly or because adaptation is a better strategy or even because maybe we’re not really warming after all.
[If only there were some advanced technology that kept, oh, I don't know, a digital record of what people said before, so you could actually point out their repeated transformation into someone completely different. Guess we'll have to wait for a technology breakthrough.]
In a recent post, “The Politicization of Climate Science” — the title tells you this one was written by Mr. Pielke — he strangely misinterprets a recent semi-humorous post of mine “Breaking News: The Great Ice Age of 2008 is finally over — next stop Venus!” I’d normally rebut this but
- Someone named Jon in the comments section of his blog does a better job than I could have — his exchange with the humorless Mr. Pielke and the witty Dr. Pielke is priceless!
- Having realized that debating the Pielkes is pointless, I’m going to try to stop doing so — although that won’t stop me from commenting on his/their words from time to time, since Mr. Pielke, at least, does a lot of damage to the stabilization effort that Dr. Pielke embraces.
[UPDATE: Pielke has had 3 days now to explain on his blog how his quote was taken out of context or whatever explanation he can come up with for how a denier newspaper managed to get him on the record with a statement that gives great comfort and support to the denier/delayer crowd -- but he has chosen not to, which I think that speaks for itself. Pielke is endeavoring to post a reply to this here, and I'm sure once he figures out how to do that (and relevantly so), it will appear. I made a serious mistake earlier when I blindly accepted his (Dr. Pielke's) claim that he supported stabilizing at around 450-500 ppm without getting an answer to the central question, If you were running national and global climate policy, what level of global CO2 concentrations would be your goal and how would you achieve it? I can find no discussion by him anywhere as to how he would achieve anywhere near 500 ppm, although he calls my plan "fantastically delusional." In fact, he says we need more wedges. And so we have Dr. Pielke the stabilizer and Mr. Pielke -- who is much more important because he's always quoted in the media and he does most of the blogging -- who is to do everything he can to undercut the rationale for action.
I assert that until Mr. Pielke explains what policies he would adopt to get us to anywhere near 450 or 500 ppm, that in fact he is really on the side of the do-no-serious mitigation, 1000-ppm-is-fine crowd. And I'll save him some time -- if the answer is "breakthrough technologies," then you've joined the delayer-1000 crowd.]
I end with the near-final words of Dr. Jekyll:
I find it in my heart to pity him.
It is useless, and the time awfully fails me, to prolong this description; no one has ever suffered such torments, let that suffice; and yet even to these, habit brought–no, not alleviation–but a certain callousness of soul, a certain acquiescence of despair; and my punishment might have gone on for years, but for the last calamity which has now fallen, and which has finally severed me from my own face and nature. My provision of the salt, which had never been renewed since the date of the first experiment, began to run low. I sent out for a fresh supply, and mixed the draught; the ebullition followed, and the first change of colour, not the second; I drank it and it was without efficiency. You will learn from Poole how I have had London ransacked; it was in vain; and I am now persuaded that my first supply was impure, and that it was that unknown impurity which lent efficacy to the draught.
About a week has passed, and I am now finishing this statement under the influence of the last of the old powders. This, then, is the last time, short of a miracle, that Henry Jekyll can think his own thoughts or see his own face (now how sadly altered!) in the glass. Nor must I delay too long to bring my writing to an end; for if my narrative has hitherto escaped destruction, it has been by a combination of great prudence and great good luck. Should the throes of change take me in the act of writing it, Hyde will tear it in pieces; but if some time shall have elapsed after I have laid it by, his wonderful selfishness and Circumscription to the moment will probably save it once again from the action of his ape-like spite. And indeed the doom that is closing on us both, has already changed and crushed him.
Half an hour from now, when I shall again and for ever re-indue that hated personality, I know how I shall sit shuddering and weeping in my chair, or continue, with the most strained and fear-struck ecstasy of listening, to pace up and down this room (my last earthly refuge) and give ear to every sound of menace…..