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Why do disinformers like Pielke shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?

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"Why do disinformers like Pielke shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?"

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Would the New York Times have Bernard Madoff as a business columnist?  Only if they hated business.

So why does the NYT let John Tierney write a “science” column?  The “founding principles” of his NYT blog are the clearest anti-scientific statement you will ever find by anybody claiming to be covering science (see “here“).

And, of course, Tierney makes up stuff up to smear real scientists (such as John Holdren and Steven Chu), which is only science as practiced by “political” scientists, like, say Roger Pielke, Jr.  And that’s my segue.

Why does anyone who cares about science quote Roger Pielke, Jr. on scientific matters? We’ve already seen one major NYT reporter tarnish his reputation by relying on Roger Pielke Jr.’s anti-scientific –  and anti-scientist — disinformation (see here).

Pielke has launched what is both the lamest and the most intellectually dishonest attack in his career — on a few innocuous sentences in the terrific new NOAA-led report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.  This attack has been pimped by Swift-boat smearer Morano and Tierney.   Pielke has one primary mission in his professional career — other than working with his colleagues at The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) to spread disinformation aimed at stopping any serious climate action, of course — and that is to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather.

As we’ll see, Pielke’s obsession on this point is so extreme that 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.  Indeed, he has smeared the integrity of many hundreds of the country’s top scientists for merely sitting through a discussion of the issue that doesn’t meet his extreme form of political correctness (see here).

Pielke launches 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 or his fellow word-torturers at TBI) 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 is the uber-denier.  He denies everything, including that which he himself has said.  After his latest smear, 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].

[Note:  Pielke persists in calling it the CCSP report, and while he never defines CCSP, it stands for Climate Change Science Program.  But in fact, the CCSP has been replaced/subsumed by the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) -- see here.]

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?

This is just grotesque.

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.  While Mills works for one of the preeminent science-based institutions in the world, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and must meet the highest ethical standards, Pielke is a senior fellow for The Breakthrough Institute, which has no ethical standards whatsoever (see “The Breakthrough Institute is lying about Obama, misstating what CBO concluded about Waxman-Markey, and publishing deeply flawed analyses. They have become radioactive “” uncitable by any serious journalist or policy analyst“).

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.  To any serious journalist, anyone associate with TBI should be 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 post has gone on long enough.  More in Part 2.  But let me end with the warning sign that should flash in every journalist’s mind when they read or hear a statement by Roger Pielke, Jr.

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29 Responses to Why do disinformers like Pielke shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?

  1. ecostew says:

    Pielke, Jr. – a denier on the gravy train.

  2. MarkB says:

    Pielke Jr. seems to have a problem having his arguments criticized. Note this sentence from the report:

    “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).”

    This applies directly to one of Pielke Jr.’s studies regarding U.S. hurricane damage costs, which to my knowledge attempted to normalize for population growth and distribution but not the important factors (such as flood control or building codes) mentioned here. His study that attempts to adjust for inflation and population, but ignores some of these obvious factors (in his defense, quite difficult to estimate but almost certainly substantial).

    The report also notes:

    “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. ”

    Pielke Jr.’s study covers the contintental U.S., which accounts for a small percentage of the Earth. This is important because the U.S. had anomalously warm temperatures in the 1930′s – on par with the 1990′s and clearly second only to the recent decade. When examining his data, by ranking the warmest decades, we can see a clear correlation between regional warmth and his normalized (albeit strongly flawed as noted above) hurricane damage that isn’t as readily seen chronologically. This suggests that global warming is indeed linked to greater hurricane damage costs. Such a basic and in my opinion obvious next step analysis is missing from Pielke’s work.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Distinguish physical observables of extreme events such as maximum wind speeds from dollar cost losses. For the former, fairly basic thermodynamics and fluid mechanics shows that warmer implies more extreme as the system moves towards a new equilibrium. For the latter, obviously adjust for population density but also building codes. For this last, I give an example. Hurricane Andrew was quite the disaster in Florida. Stuructural engineers went to study why and eventually ASCE issues suggested building code revisions. Florida and several Gulf Coast states adopted these new codes. For residential housing, a main change was simple: use more but smaller nails; do not pound the nails all the way through to stick out the other side. Houses built to the new codes in Mississippi survived Hurricane Katrina quite well, only minor damage for the most part. Amazing.

  4. Yuebing says:

    Chart on page 58 (62 of 196) of the new CCSP report titled:

    “Signifigant Weather-Related US Electric Grid Disturbances”.

    and captioned:

    “The number of incidents caused by extreme weather has increased tenfold since 1992. The portion of all events that are caused by weather-related phenomena has more than tripled from about 20 percent in the early 1990s to about 65 percent in recent years. The weather-related events are more severe, with an average of about
    180,000 customers affected per event compared to about 100,000 for non-weather-related events (and 50,000 excluding the massive blackout of August 2003).201 The data shown include disturbances that occurred on the nation’s large-scale “bulk” electric transmission systems. Most outages occur in local distribution networks and
    are not included in the graph. Although the figure does not demonstrate a cause-effect relationship between climate change and grid disruption, it does suggest that weather and climate extremes often have important effects on grid disruptions. We do know that more frequent weather and climate extremes are likely in the future,68 which poses unknown new risks for the electric grid

    Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson,
    (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf

  5. r simpson says:

    We have had severe weather before AGW and climate change became worn out political expressions.

    [JR: We just haven't had this much severe weather, but thank you for your irrelevant comment.]

  6. Alan D. McIntire says:

    According to global warming models, temperatures would increase
    much more in the arctic and antarcitc, where there is little water
    vapor, than in the tropics, where there is plenty of water vapor.
    The net result would be a decreased temperature gradient between the
    equator and the poles. Our planet’s weather is driven by the heat
    exchange between the tropics and the poles.
    With a smaller gradient, weather would be less severe. Pielke is correct – A. McIntire

    [JR: Uhh, no. Gosh, that is a nice sounding but long debunked denier talking point. Global warming models have a long predicted more extreme weather, which we are now seeing, as the observational literature documents.]

  7. Dave says:

    It’s fascinating how people like Pielke, Jr. think by claiming to have voted for Obama, it somehow makes their position more valid. Or, like Anthony Watts, point to their environmentally friendly practices to try to appear more moderate or mainstream. Sorry, but neither of these are relevant to judging the merits of the position put forth by them regarding anthropogenic climate change. It’s just a disingenuous attempt at appealing to populist sentiment (i.e. to appear as if they’re not motivated by being a shill for industry).

  8. Daryl T says:

    [JR: We just haven't had this much severe weather, but thank you for your irrelevant comment.]

    Complete and utter BS Mr Romm and you know it. Extreme weather frequency is not unusal nor unprecedented when looked at over the available record. Nor is there any trend higher.

    [JR: Snip. This is a long-debunked denier talking point. Post your disinformation elsewhere please.]

  9. thom says:

    Pielke Jr. serves as a handy tool for lazy journalists looking for the “controversy” or “tension” in a story. You always need the “other side” in a news article.

    It just makes you wonder why reporters even call the guy up when he doesn’t even publish much, other than opinion pieces.

  10. jtelms says:

    Thom is right on. He looks to have only 6 peer-reviewed papers so far in 2009. Slacker!

  11. Philip H says:

    Joe,
    You’ve missed the central point in the “why” of Pielke’s stance – it gets him in the news and on blogs. He’s famous, he’s an “expert” and so he’s getting his narcissism fed. He may also be or have been a decent scientist, though for the life of me I can’t remember which field he claims to work in.

    Regardless, while you do a general service pointing out the obvious fallacies in his arguments, you also give him what he most obviously wants – attention.

    [JR: That is why my policy tends to be to ignore him -- and the other shameless disinformers at the Breakthrough Institute -- until he breaks through to the MSM. Hmm. I wonder if that's why they call it the Breakthrough Institute? Anyway, somebody has to debunk such crap if only for the search engines.]

  12. Carl says:

    “[JR: Uhh, no. Gosh, that is a nice sounding but long debunked denier talking point. Global warming models have a long predicted more extreme weather, which we are now seeing, as the observational literature documents.]”

    I’m confused about how GCMs can predict changes in the probability of extreme weather. GCMs have no skill in regional forecasts, let alone describing the weather or statistical changes in the amount of it. It just doesn’t sound plausible that “GLOBAL CIRCULATION models” can model extreme weather with any skill. Am I wrong in my logic?

    [JR: I can't speak to the details of individual GCM models, but in general, global warming drives higher temperatures and more evaporation, which means wet areas get wetter and dry areas get drier. When there is rainfall, it is expected to come in more intense rain events. The entire climate/temperature bell curve is shifted towards more extreme heat waves. Hurricanes I have blogged on at length and models predict, as expected the worst hurricanes become more severe. Droughts become more severe (both drier and hotter). And finally, the subtropics expand (google "Hadley Cell"), which also increase droughts. Not really rocket science. Much of this has been statistically documented to be occurring now.]

  13. Carl says:

    OK, I just wanted to make sure we weren’t relying on GCMs for severe weather prediction; they have a hard enough time dealing with the troposphere, building hurricanes into GCMs is just frightening.

  14. Mark says:

    Wake up people, ‘cap-and-trade’ is a method to achieve global ‘contraction and convergence.’

    The ‘contraction’ would be the economies and incomes in developed nations getting lower.
    The ‘convergence’ would be the per-capita GDP of all of the worlds nations becoming more or less the same (equal) as developing nations increase theirs.

    The ultimate goal is reducing the disparities in incomes both within nations as well as among nations.

    Remember, Carol Browner was a member of Socialist International’s ‘Commission for a Sustainable Society’ that listed 3 main goals: One of the was for the US to reduce its economy, another was for global governance. When it was reported by the Washington Times that Browner belonged to this group, Socialist International removed her picture and name from their website.

  15. Ian Forrester says:

    Just to avoid confusion, Pielke Jr. is no scientist. Pielke earned a B.A. in mathematics (1990), a M.A. in public policy (1992), and a Ph.D. in political science, all from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    His interests include understanding the politicization of science, decision making under uncertainty, and policy education for scientists in areas such as climate change and disaster mitigation.

    (All info from Wiki).

    One could add that he has progressed from “understanding the politicization of science” to being a leader in that field, which of course, is to the detriment of science. Why on earth the discipline “political science” was ever coined to describe the crass world of politics is a mystery to me.

  16. Leland Palmer says:

    My wife an I visited Los Angeles during the firestorm conditions there last year.

    As we came into town, over Cajon Pass, if I recall right, there were fires burning on both sides of the freeway.

    The news was full of news about the fires, but nobody that I talked to about them in that weekend would utter the words “global warming” – it had apparently become a taboo to suggest that L.A. was living on the brink of disaster.

    Only some very brave and extremely expert fire fighting techniques prevented extensive loss of life, I think. The firefighters were setting backfires, and were working heroically to suppress the spotfires caused by millions of burning embers.

    Of course the insurance loss was high. Insurance rates in the area skyrocketed. Long term, the insurance companies might even make money off of the fires, due to the increased insurance rates.

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/November_2008_Viewer_Images_From_Los_Angeles_Fires.html

    Of course the insurance data supports global warming as the cause. In one study I read in Science in 2005, the authors found a 600 percent increase in wildfires with only a one degree C rise in temperatures in the Western U.S.

    But, in order to be a denier, it is necessary to attack the data from insurance companies, which because of their hard headed business nature are a source of information that the “conservative” base of the Republican party might actually pay attention to.

    The case for increased severity of hurricanes is weaker, possibly because the heat sink hurricanes transfer heat to (the temperate zones) is heating at least as fast as the tropics. So predictably, Pielke attacks the hurricane data, and uses that to question the data from fires and other disasters which have a strong correlation to global warming.

    It all makes a really nasty pattern, which highlights the elite control of our mass communications system, which we are seeing here in very stark and unmistakable terms.

    Build the strawman, attack the strawman, defeat the strawman. All in a day’s work for the deniers.

  17. Orson says:

    Palmer:

    First, Cali wild fires are worse after wet winters, causing the overgrowth of brush that provides their fuel.

    Second, that Science study on wildfires in the US West in 2005 was clearly junkscience, since it failed to control for the lack of management of western forests, including up to a century of fire suppression, creating climax forests closest to housing interfaces.

    As an environmental scientist, count me as another uber denier ; ) I only visit here for amusement.

  18. Deep Climate says:

    Some breathtaking instances of intellectual dishonesty, or else sheer incompetence, can be found in Tom Yulsman’s interview with Pielke and subsequent comments at CEJournal.

    http://www.cejournal.net/?p=607

    Pielke is notorious for talking up the most vicious (and ill-informed) AGW critics, while losing no opportunity to attack the real scientists.

    “[Steve] McIntyre now publishes regularly in the peer reviewed literature. Lucia Liljegren works at Argonne National Lab as an expert in fluid dynamics and blogs quite well on climate predictions for fun.”

    McIntyre (of “hockey stick” critique fame), has published exactly one peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal (in GRL in 2005), while Lucia’s analyses of short-term climate trends have been thoroughly demolished (and have yet to see the light of day in publication).

    Meanwhile, his attacks on actual scientists show breathtaking gall. Pielke’s absurd contentions have included the bizarre claim that NASA climate modeller Gavin Schmidt “admits to stealing a scientific idea from his arch-nemesis, Steve McIntyre.” It’s ludicrous enough to claim that resolving and reporting the source of a Antarctic data anomaly is “stealing a scientific idea”, but then to claim that Schmidt actually confessed to to the supposed scientific larceny is beyond contemptible.

    As seen in subsequent comments at the CEJournal post, Pielke was also caught out playing the “baseline” game in his comparison of IPCC projections and observations of global temperature trends. He claimed that observations were below TAR (Third Assessment Report) projections, but used a single year, 1990, as his baseline (zero) reference point. It just so happens that 1990 was about 0.1 deg C above the long term trend, thus irredeemably skewing the analysis. Of course, there are several different valid ways to baseline for the purposes of such comparisons (e.g. averaging over a given period, or smoothing). But choosing a single year is not one of them.

    Why would any journalist take this guy seriously?

    [JR: Yulsman is an apologist for Pielke, nothing more, nothing less. And given how Pielke operates, that is a full-time job.]

  19. Anna Haynes says:

    Full NYT front page image for today, with Exxon ad, is here at Newseum (today only)

  20. Alex J says:

    Hmmm. Maybe we should write to Exxon and complain about the NYT’s anti-science activities/question their sponsorship? :-) Seriously, though, when is some well-endowed group going to get a counter-ad published challenging these fossil fools?

  21. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Orson-

    Palmer:

    First, Cali wild fires are worse after wet winters, causing the overgrowth of brush that provides their fuel.

    Second, that Science study on wildfires in the US West in 2005 was clearly junkscience, since it failed to control for the lack of management of western forests, including up to a century of fire suppression, creating climax forests closest to housing interfaces.

    As an environmental scientist, count me as another uber denier ; ) I only visit here for amusement.

    Yeah, the prospect of the climate system going out of control always makes me giggle, too. Sometimes, I get the hiccups from all the hilarity.

    Actually, the Science study found that most of the wildfires were at high altitudes, in rough terrain, far from human habitation. And of course, it was a peer reviewed study.

    California had 1.2 million acres burn last year, when a couple of hundred thousand is “normal” except that there are no normal fire years, anymore.

    Certainly, mangement of western forests has had an effect on fuel loads.

    Most people who have seriously looked at the issue concede that forest management can explain only a part of the problem. The managers of the U.S. Forest Service concluded long ago that global warming was contributing to their rapidly increasing budgets:

    Watch the 60 minutes video:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/18/60minutes/main3380176.shtml

  22. Mark says:

    Attributing California wild fires to climate change is sensationalist at best, IMO. I’m speaking only from observations as I grew up in California and have lived there 48 years. The state gets variable amounts of rain 4 months out of the year and turns green, which turns brown and dry by June, which is fire waiting to happen. It’s the same every year. Fire is the default setting.

    I don’t even see how you could measure with any accuracy what “normal” is anymore, in terms of frequency and severity. While the elemental environment hasn’t changed, many factors contributing to fire frequency and severity have changed significantly; population growth, forest management practices and fire suppression.

    Claiming climate change has a measureable effect on California wildfires is the same as throwing a bucket of water into a lake and claiming you changed the water level. While you may be technically correct, the measure is insignificant.

  23. David B. Benson says:

    Orson — What do you deny?

    fluid mechanics?
    thermodynamics?
    physics in general?

    :?

  24. Mark says:

    Re: Ian Forrester, June 23rd, 2009 at 10:01 am:

    Ian, thanks for the background of Pielke. While we’re on backgrounds, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri has no background in science or climatology and he heads the IPCC!

  25. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Mark-

    Attributing California wild fires to climate change is sensationalist at best, IMO. I’m speaking only from observations as I grew up in California and have lived there 48 years. The state gets variable amounts of rain 4 months out of the year and turns green, which turns brown and dry by June, which is fire waiting to happen. It’s the same every year. Fire is the default setting.

    Well, I have lived most of my 53 years in the state as well. My older brother’s house was narrowly missed by the Yosemite/Mariposa fire last year, which burnt nearly a complete circle around it, but missed a couple of square miles around his house. That fire burned faster and hotter than anything I have ever seen before, or heard about before.

    L.A. last year, when my wife and I were there, was at firestorm conditions.

    It’s never sensationalism to tell the truth, IMO.

    From the Interagency Fire Center (a consortium of U.S. government agencies dealing with fire) Quadrennial Review for 2009, forcasting the next 25 years of fire fighting in the U.S.:

    The effects of climate change will continue to result in greater probability of longer and bigger fire seasons, in more regions in the nation. What has already been realized in the past five years: Shorter, wetter winters and warmer drier summers, larger amounts of total fire on the landscape, more large wildfires will persist and possibly escalate in an irregular pattern termed asymmetric fire. Fire mitigation efforts must be prepared to cope with moving potentially to a 10-12 million annual wildfire acres range over the next five years.
    Cumulative drought effects will further stress fuels accumulations.

    The current drought cycle is expected to last for another twenty years. In terms of impact, competition for water in ecosystems, continued problems with exotic invasive and insect kill, and faster drying of vegetation will make fuels more flammable and drive fire behavior. Drought effects in the Southeast, Southwest, and West will make these areas especially vulnerable in terms of fire risk.

  26. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Mark-

    Ian, thanks for the background of Pielke. While we’re on backgrounds, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri has no background in science or climatology and he heads the IPCC!

    http://blogs.newsobserver.com/category/tags/Rajendra-Pachauri

    Pachauri spent much of the 1970s as a graduate student and teacher at NCSU, earning a master’s degree and a joint Ph.D. in industrial engineering and economics.

    After teaching briefly at NCSU, Pachauri returned to his native India and soon assumed his current duties as head of The Energy and Resources Institute, a nonprofit scientific and policy research organization that focuses on global warming and energy issues.

    It sounds like he has a pHD with a dual major in engineering and economics, and a few years of experience heading up The Energy and Resources Institute, in India.

    Sounds pretty educated, to me.

    And Yale has just named him head of the Climate and Energy Institute at Yale University. I guess they overlooked his terrible lack of an environmental or chlimatology degree. Perhaps they thought a dual major in economics and engineering (both closely related to climate change solutions and adaptation) plus a lot of experience heading up an environmental institute, plus the acclaim and support of his peers, was sufficient qualification to run their institute.

    Of course, to the deniers, there is something wrong with just about everyone who disagrees with them, it seems.

  27. Aubrey Meyer says:

    In response to ‘Mark’ on Contraction and Convergence [C&C].

    As the author of this concept/model: -
    http://www.gci.org.uk/briefings/ICE.pdf

    . . . I do not recognize his comments.

    C&C says nothing about per capita GDP. C&C addresses future ghg emissions globally [contraction] with a view to organising the international sharing of these [convergence] consistent with the global objective of the UNFCCC – safe a stable ghg concentrations in the atmosphere [contraction and convergence].