28 February 2010

A Challenge for Joe Romm

[UPDATE #2: Did I say wow? ljohnson ups the ante in the comments, copying a message posted at Romm's:
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.
Let me say that I'll split the match with Joe, meaning that we can raise as much as $20,000 to a worthwhile charity just for participating in a debate.

Maybe others might pitch in and we can make some good of this.

Thanks ljohnson!]

[UPDATE: Wow. In the comments ljohnson writes of my debate challenge:
I will donate 2000 USD to the winner's charity of choice, with the winner as determined by audience voting after the debate.
Thanks ljohnson! My charity is listed to the left. Now we can surely do some good with a debate.]

Joe Romm has broken his own world record for the longest blog post complaining about me with a new post coming in at a staggering 4,016 words. I encourage everyone to have a look, keeping in mind that Joe Romm is the leading voice for action on climate change at the Center for American Progress. I suppose Joe and CAP think that their tactics are somehow effective. The image to the right is, ironically enough, included in Romm's magnum screed.

In an effort to turn this episode into something constructive and educational, I'd like to formally challenge Joe Romm to a public debate on climate policy to be held in Fall, 2010 in his home town at a date convenient for him, so that he does not have to travel and the timing can be made to fit his schedule. I'm willing to give Joe a chance to back up his bluster with a serious public debate. He wouldn't turn down such an opportunity, would he?

Since he 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.


  1. He wouldn't turn down such an opportunity, would he?

    I'd put money on it.

  2. "Since he doesn't allow me to post at his site, "

    LOL. Why is this so typical of AGW-beleivers?

  3. Why would anyone want to listen to two old white men debate?

  4. Roger: I just posted this to Joe's site:

    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?

  5. Roger:

    The most difficult aspect will be setting / agreeing the terms of the debate...

    Good luck with this though! (And Lucia - really: all the rest of us ol'white guys...!)

  6. Why would anyone want to listen to two old white men debate?

    Lucia, dear, Roger's not old. I know: I'm old.

  7. I was lambasted online this bad once. One need only recall that such a post says a lot about the poster, and not about the postee. He really jumped the shark with this one.

  8. Medecins san frontiers. Good choice, especially with the earthquakes lately.

    We will wait on Joe, then.

    Lucia, would you hold the money? I think even Joe would not doubt you, as trustee.

  9. After writing 4,000+ words on me Romm says he does not want to debate because . . .

    "The question is why waste any time on him at all? 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."


    That didn't take long.

  10. Romm is a coward - it's that simple.

  11. I'm confused. What then were the 4000 words about if you're not relevant to the debate? It was tl;dr for me. Can someone summarize?

  12. I just raised the ante. From Climate Progress:

    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.

    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?

  13. Perhaps if you would agree to spot him a 4000 word head start in the debate he would relent.


  14. Roger: to show that I was serious, if Joe turns my latest offer down, I will send the original 2000 USD I offered up, to Medecin san Frontiers.

    I will e-mail my receipt from MsF, to you, as proof.

  15. -14-ljohnson

    Your generosity is remarkable! I suggest that we give Romm a bit of time to do the right thing.

    We can (and should) turn this into something positive.

  16. Promise him the definitive Wiki edit?

  17. It's more selfish, than generous, Roger. I enjoy seeing intellectual bullies brought down a notch or two.

    As Joe has turned me down before, a surrogate will have to do.

  18. I'm waiting for the allegations of Big Oil fronting the money somehow....

  19. I tried - I really tried! - to make it through Romm's post in one sitting, but 4000 words of his usual "tone", in overdrive, since it's dealing with Roger...I just couldn't make it...

    One of TIME's heroes of the environment!?

    /face in palms...

  20. Wow!

    Will the audience be allowed to ask questions? If so, please send a formal invitation to Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams!

  21. This thread may be the most appropriate place for comments not allowed through to Climate Progress regarding this subject, but just in case it helps:

    While, due to Romm's prolific nature, Climate Progress mirrors have been on-request at AIC, this seemed like a good time to open one preemptively.

    If it can serve for a cleaner thread here for Dr. Pielke, or anyone else in any way, here's a thread for rejected or deleted comments from the Climate Progress post.

  22. I'm up for it. $2000 from me too.

  23. I will also donate to Médécins Sans Frontières if Roger Pielke Jr writes 10 pieces critical of denialists this year. Perhaps starting with the Surface Stations Project that has claimed fraud etc before publishing.

  24. The moderation policy of a blog is telling.
    I am sceptical to whether people that censor opinions on their blog have intellectual honesty. Romm did so with my post where I suggested a higher standard for debate (the messsage: I like to criticize others, but it is not allowed to criticize me). I am pleased with the moderation at Realclimate and also here at Pielkes blog.

    Having said that, I would hate that "followers"
    of different prominent persons in the climate debate adopt a party mentality. That will only reinforce the "binary" debate, but what is needed is the usual critical debate to move forward (intellectually and politically). I hope also for more constructive resistance to Pielkes blog post and I do think that he will approve to that.

  25. Wow, that constitutes spending only 0.2% of his time on you? Prolific output!

    People like him and posts like that are the reason why I have become a skeptic and lukewarmer.

    Btw, the bit about Pachauri is particularly amusing, especially after all the murky goings on Richard North uncovered - which I would bet will lead to an investigation and new IPCC rules governing conflicts of interest if it is to survive.

  26. Wow 4,016 words he must see you as very dangerous to his cause. It almost reads Pielke must be stopped! The train that has come off its track is the IPCC and he knows it.

  27. ljohnson--
    No I won't hold the money.

    MikeMcHenry-- Romm often write very, very long, stream of conciousness type posts. I have long suspected he dictates into speech recognition software and then just clicks "publish".

    All: If these two old white dudes do have a debate, I hope they'll live cast the debate. I'll set up a chat so we can watch and make remarks in parallel!

  28. Andreas Bjurström: I agree with you on moderation policy and intellectual honesty. But my understanding is that RealClimate also publishes comments selectively. That is, I've heard at least two people claim that they're not allowed to post on RealClimate. Am I wrong? I hope so!

  29. Roger-

    If Joe doesn't take up your offer, I'm happy to debate you. Although I recognize I'm not as tempting an opponent ...


  30. From the center for american progress website

    "Our ability to develop thoughtful policy proposals and engage in the war of ideas with conservatives is unique and effective."

    They all believe they are engaged in an ideological war. Which maybe they are.

    Unfortunately, it feeds the 'Climate Change is just a scam for more government' meme.

  31. Lucia #27

    I have used speech recognition software. This post is heavily formated with embedded links. He may have roughed it out with SRS, but a lot of time when into the finish product. It comes across as fanatical. What audience is he playing to? Those who are on the fence on AGW? Certainly his fellow true believers don't need it. It reminds of Hugo Chavez raging about US imperialism.

  32. rjtklein (#28),
    About moderation policy at realclimate:
    I entered the discussion presuming that realclimat would have a strong political filter. But all my posts passed through, although I was patronized by the moderators at first, and they asked questions to find out whether I was a sceptic (which I am not). Many sceptics (and some very annoying believers that stain their own side) are allowed to post, but I do not know whether some are not allowed, I would guess so?

  33. There is an easy way for this to go forward, salve tender egos, and guarantee the winner.

    Trade positions. 8>)

  34. rjtklein,

    It is sad fact but true. RealClimate ruthlessly censors comments that go 'off message', however, they seemed to have loosed up a little since climategate. In fact, one of the CRU emails quotes Mann stating this policy explicitly.

    One of the more odious things they have done frequently is allow an initial critical comment. Dismiss it with a strawman argument but then refuse to post any rebuttle by the original poster. This leaves readers with the impression that the critic slunk away in shame after being soundly dispatched by the RC strawman.

    RealClimate is a case study in everything that is wrong with the climate science field.

  35. OT: I know it's too late now, but it's a pity that niether you, nor your esteemed father, made a submission to the UKs Parlimentary Technology and cience commitee. Reading, the submitted evidence, it seems very much your field (policy etc). Anyway, you might enjoy reading those submissions. Oral eveidence today - parlimentlive. nother of topic diversion: lthough, ofcourse, you have a perfect right to determin the pronunciation of your patronym, I have often been irked by US pronunciation of German names - for instance, Nietzsche as 'eechee'. Wouldn't 'Pilka be more correct and euphonious. Much respect, Lewis

  36. Lucia (27), Mike (31)

    Romm has mentioned on his blog that he uses speech recognition software. I've long suspected this to be one of the reasons why his posts often ramble on. He may embed the links, but it sure doesn't look he does much editing for clarity.

    Also, for anyone who's interested, I have a post on Romm's rationale for not debating Roger:


  37. I posted this at the CP blog, but (shockingly!) it was not allowed to appear. Romm will continue to lob attacks, ostensibly as a proxy ("This isn't about me vs. Roger") ha! Romm appears willfully ignorant of the irony in all of this, and apparently is more than content in lobbing bombs from a safe distance:


    JR: “The question is why waste any time on him at all?”

    Joe, this is rich, especially after “wasting” 4,000 words attacking Pielke!! Surely even you can see the irony in this.

    JR: “The fact that he is so widely debunked should tell you that he puts out a lot of misinformation and disinformation.”

    Joe, your criticisms of Pielke are (rightfully) increasingly seen as histrionic and irrelevant, particularly because you steadfastly refuse to man up and debate Pielke in a neutral and independent format. How do you think you can be taken seriously when you refuse to back up this screed with action?"

  38. Sadly, as I was unable to find a bookie to take the other side, I didn't actually win any money on my bet in #1. But I woulda.

  39. Judging by the animosity and length of JR's rant, he is really, really concerned about what you are saying, Roger. Oh, well, things are not going so well for the over-the-top alarmists these days. LOL.

  40. What Raven said at #34.

    Still it's fun to go over there, drop a fact or two amongst the rantings, wait for the sure-to-occur nonsensical, non-factual, frequently just plain foolish, and non-responsive responses knowing full-well that the primary objective is to convince you to stop dropping in with facts.

    My experiences with raypierrie, both at RC and DotEarth, have provided lots of data for this behavior, or whatever it is. He is batting 1000 when it comes to ignoring fact-based challenges to his statements. And gavin seems to have an unlimited supply of strawmen, while dhogaza has the most flimsy strawmen ever; short, thin, single-straw versions.

    If OT nuke it to the round file.

  41. Joe's post was just sad, liberally sprinkled with invective and words such as trashed and smeared. Also there was much referencing Romm friendly blogs as sources of "good information". Circle the wagons and circle the argument. From that posting I just don't see a mind adept enough for a valid debate.

  42. Raven and edaniel,

    I must admit I don't visit RealClimate quite so often, but that's some disconcerting news about a site which I thought set out to serve an important purpose.

    If it's true, as edaniel says, that the people behind RealClimate have problems with facts, then how come each of them have such impressive publication records? I mean, if they're wrong and you're right, then why not beat them in their own game and publish peer-reviewed articles that show they're wrong? It would be most helpful to the IPCC to be able to cite peer-reviewed journal articles.

    Mind you, I suggest the same to people criticising Roger. I have in fact suggested to Joe Romm that publishing corrections of Pielke's work in the peer-reviewed literature would be a more effective way of proving him wrong (and perhaps educating Roger) than having disrespectful exchanges on blogs.

  43. rjtklein,

    Climate science consists of a lot of opinions rather than facts. For example, it is the opinion of a dendrochronologists that tree rings are consistent proxies for temperatures over 1000s of years.

    The same problem with opinions being disguised as facts shows up whenever records are adjusted to remove hypothetical biases or estimates of unknown data are used as inputs to climate models.

    This reliance on opinion makes it very difficult to convince people that a different opinion has merit if it is not in their interest to accept that different opinion.

    For example, there are many experienced numerical modellers who feel the climate models have no predictive power because of all of the non-physical adjustments required to ensure they can produce a stable output. Climate modellers cannot accept this opinion because they would be out of work if they did.

  44. rjklein, the subjects of discussions on almost all blogs do not generally raise to the level of "published peer-reviewed literature". At least that's been my experience.

    Take a look around over at my blog and let me know about any errors you spot.

    What metric do you use to determine what constitutes an "impressive publication record"? I would like to apply it to my publication record.


  45. rjklein: You need to consider that McIntyre and McKitrick actually DID publish peer-reviewed articles that showed the RC Team's hockey stick papers were wrong. It's just that RC ran a very effective PR smear campaign (made especially effective by censoring all comments that didn't fit--which really says something about their "science") to discredit those articles. Only because of Climategate are there now a great many people who understand the poor science associated with the hockey stick. And ironically "peer review" probably would never have uncovered the serious problems uncovered in Climategate, even corruption of "peer review," itself! There is certainly a place for "blog review." Even "pub review!).

  46. Roger isn't worth debating but he is worth 4,016 words Hmmm. Sounds like somebody is afraid of losing a debate.

  47. There was a song that came out in the late 50's written by Sheb Wooley that describes such fear:

    "Well I saw the thing comin' out of the sky
    It had the one long horn, one big eye
    I commenced to shakin' and I said "ooh-eee"
    It looks like a purple eater to me

    It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
    (One-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater)
    A one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater
    Sure looks strange to me (One eye?)

    Well he came down to earth and he lit in a tree
    I said Mr. Purple People Eater, don't eat me
    I heard him say in a voice so gruff
    I wouldn't eat you cuz you're so tough..."

  48. rjtklein:
    Dr. Klein, it is always interesting to hear from an informed source who has joined the climate blog debate. I am assuming you have not been a frequent visitor?
    As to your questions concerning moderation at RC, my interpretation is that prior to the CRU meltdown in November, RC was very severe in its moderation and was barely tolerant of dissenting viewpoints regardless of the merits of the posting. After CRUGate, Gavin did a pretty impressive job handling and responding to a flood of critical comments - some of which were pretty scathing. Since then the moderation has returned to the former party line type of moderation with any positive statements about prominent skeptics being subject to censure.
    At the same time you might find it interesting to compare the general tone of comments and reactions thereto on other blogs - dot.earth is a good one since it is hosted, as you know, by the pro-AGW Andy Revkin. Andy said he was going to do an analysis of comments during a particular active blog on the Santer/McIntyre debate - http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/climate-auditor-challenged-to-do-climate-science/?sort=newest - I do not know whether he ever actually did it and, if he did, what his conclusions were.
    Based on my scanning of the 500-plus comments, the quality and tone of the comments varies dramatically between the Warmers and the Skeptics. You can draw your own conclusions.

  49. Hello, and thanks for the comments. I'm a frequent enough visitor to know where the various blogs stand with respect to climate science and politics, and that real academic debate on blogs, with the occasional exception, has almost come to a standstill. It has made me ambivalent about blogs. While I appreciate them as sources of occasionally useful information, I regret that the polarisation of views has made exchange of opinions near-impossible. For your information, I'm not that new here; I have posted before on Roger's blog, but I try to limit my posting to issues I actually know something about. Typically these are issues that don't attract much attention though.

    For all the attention that climate blogs receive nowadays, academic debates aren't won through the use of rhetorical trickery and personal attacks, let alone misrepresentation of facts and censorship. Nobody stands to gain anything from a bloggers' catfight, and the mutual disrespect and (both open and passive) aggression on display only fuel the fire of the ignorant. Climate change is not a football game: there's no need to play for the cheerleaders.

    I'm well aware that there is a difference between academic debates and political debates, and in the previous paragraph I deliberately referred to academic debates. I know that the use of rhetorical trickery and personal attacks is important in political debates, but as far as I'm concerned climate _science_ is still an academic issue. Climate _policy_ is a political issue (although climate policy itself can be analysed academically as well). Of course climate science and climate policy are (and should be) linked, but the behaviour of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere doesn't depend on how the political wind blows.

    I hope this clarifies my position but at the same time leaves it sufficiently ambiguous to prevent anyone from sticking silly labels on me ("believer", "denier", "alarmist", "team"). Feel free to read my publications if you want to find out more about what I do (homepage).

    I hope this is my last post here in this series, because this discussion really isn't about me. I'd be happy to go back to analysing issues that are considered irrelevant by most.

    Just two direct responses to comments above:

    edaniel: I can't find your publications on your blog, and typing in your name and "climate" in google scholar doesn't help either. Could you provide a link to your publication record?

    jae: I think the McIntyre and McKitrick paper is a good example of how science does become stronger through a debate in the peer-reviewed literature. Some might say it should never have been published, and you refer to smear attacks, but that's irrelevant. What is relevant is that this paper, once published, then triggered a reply by Mann, Bradley and Hughes in PNAS, and I'd say we're all the better for these kind of exchanges. The same goes for the retraction of the Siddall et al paper from Nature Geoscience.

  50. I don't think 4,106 words is a lot for Joe Romm. Much as I like his blog, he does use too many words to get where he's going. However, I wish you would both debate and get it over with too. It might do some good for someone to hear what you both have to say. Bring it on. But don't wait until Fall. Do it this summer when we're all in the throes of a heat wave, and maybe that will nudge Congress a little bit. Get some media coverage lined up too.
    Or do it live online.

  51. re: #49 rjtklein

    Nope, Google and even Google Scholar don't find many of my publications. You have to go to the publisher's site, or even the specific journal in some cases. The publisher in some cases is a professional organization. Plus, even with the knowledge that I have about where and when some papers were published, I still can't find all of them on the Web. Using 'climate' as a key word won't help.

    Not all my research results are available for publication in the open literature. Many private companies do not allow publication of certain information in the open literature. There is also the matter of the nature of the subject areas when employed by certain organizations within the government.

    The Impact Factor of a Journal says nothing about the impact of a specific paper in that journal. The citation count for papers says nothing about the content of the paper; both praise and condemnation are possible. With the extremely rapid growth in the number of journals available for any subject area, journal-shopping is a very real possibility.

    With an impressive publication record plus 3 bucks you can get a cup of coffee at some places. Just look at our gracious host. He has an impressive publication record, readily acknowledged by many outstanding in his field ( the same as farmers ), and he can't even get invited to sit in on committee meetings. Committee meetings !! :-)

    My original inquiry was not sufficiently specific. I should have asked for the technical evaluation criteria and success metric that determines "an impressive publication record". I could then apply the method to my record.

  52. edaniel,

    What makes publication record impressive is both its volume and its impact. As a result, measuring someone's publication record is not straightforward, and none of the existing metrics are undisputed.

    That said, the very simple and fairly recent h-index has been quite effective and is now fairly widely used, probably because of its simplicity and because it combines publication volume with impact. The h-index defines impact as the number of citations to individual publications. As an example, when somebody has an h-index of 4, it means that s/he has published four papers that have each been cited at least four times.

    This metric obviously works only with publications that are in the public domain and can be read and cited by others. I understand that this does not hold for your publications. In your case, another metric for your publications' impact is needed, but I'm afraid that's not my field of expertise.