06 March 2014

Essay in The New Republic

I have an essay in The New Republic here following up on the "debate" with John Holdren. This post is so that readers can engage with me and ask questions. All are welcome but do note that this blog has a comment policy.

Note also that at Dot Earth at the New York Times, Any Revkin has posted up a long comment from Martin Hoerling, a NOAA scientist and drought expert. Well worth a read.

Here it is, have a read, then come back if you'd like to discuss.

30 comments:

  1. "... the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which despite a few missteps along the way, has well-summarized these fundamental understandings."

    IMO, this is a very, very generous statement (re: "a few missteps").

    As usual, your essay comments on the intersection of science and policy. It is political ammunition to link extreme weather to climate change. People would get that without any science background. However, you are unmasking that ammunition and that makes you a target.

    Ironically, it is the actions of the attackers which I focus on and I feel their attitude will be more harmful than their non-scientific speculations. Of course, I've been following this issue for years but I get the feeling the public is starting to take notice.

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  2. Roger there are some serious charges leveled at the IPCC that the EPA, Holdren, and Obama should react to, but probably will not. Have you seen this?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/06/more-reax-to-lewis-and-crok-what-the-ipcc-knew-but-didnt-tell-us/#more-104567

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  3. Roger - My question is did John Holdren contact you to discuss the issues that he had with your testimony before his public attack? I may be old school but that is a courtesy usually extended to one another by professionals. TIA

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  4. -3-Papa Zu

    No, there was no interaction beyond that which I reported here:
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2014/03/john-holdrens-epic-fail.html

    Thanks

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  5. Would John Holdren be making these claims if he were personally liable for their accuracy?

    A scientist working for a private company (an IPO as an example) is held personally liable for the accuracy and full disclosure of scientific information. A private sector scientist making any misleading statement is subject to both criminal and civil actions.

    A private sector scientist has no “free speech” protection when advancing expert opinion to the media. The SEC views as illegal any improper promotion or publicity prior to the filing. The term for this illegal activity is “gun jumping” and incredibly there is no equivalent restriction for government scientists opining on policy issues.

    No-one is forced to buy an IPO. However, everyone is forced to comply with a new law. The enforceable standards for government scientists, as such, should be even higher than a scientist in the private sector. And yet these public protections are for all practical purposes non-existent.

    I will believe in an honest broker when expert claims are balanced by the risk of jail time and litigation.

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  6. Pat Moffitt –

    Steve McIntyre’s background in the mining / minerals industries involved producing analyses that would support investment decisions and might even be used to attract outside investors. In that environment shenanigans with data are subject to civil and criminal prosecution. That’s a big reason why he’s been a champion of transparency. In principle they should share their data and methods to gain acceptance of their results.

    That researchers funded by the public refuse to make available their data and algorithms is a further insult, akin to biting the hand that feeds them.

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  7. Pat Moffitt
    A search on government muzzling of scientists results in an embarrassment of riches : for GW Bush, Stephen Harper of Canada, and for the UK.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/watchdog-to-probe-alleged-muzzling-of-scientists/article10610508/
    http://www.news.slashdot.org/story/13/06/14/1327229/uk-government-muzzling-scientists
    http://www.ironmagazine.com/blog/2012/fda-caught-spying-on-its-own-scientists-to-muzzle-whistleblowers/

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  8. Hi Roger,

    The title of your TNR essay is factually incorrect on two counts. Most importantly, your claim that "....Climate Change Hasn't Increased Extreme Weather" is demonstrably false, and is at odds with the scientific literature. That you would make that fallacious claim is self defeating.

    Also, I am not aware of Holdren attacking you as you claim. That would be a very serious act. Rather, he was trying to set the record straight after GOP Senator Sessions made some unfair accusations. That in turn required Holdren to address some of your testimony. The title of his article is "An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr" Using your logic, you must feel "attacked" every time someone has the temerity to critique or question your work and I doubt that is really the case. Instead, such hyperbole by you in public suggests that you are trying to play the victim so as to garner more attention.

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  9. Opit- you seem to be conflating accountability with muzzling.





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  10. Drug Maven: Why do you call these "serious charges," if the authors didn't even submit their work for peer review?

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  11. John Hodren has made climate claims that have profound implications for public policy. These policy questions will largely be adjudicated by government funded science and the un-elected employees of EPA. So why should we trust either Holdren or EPA or for that matter a Holdren equivalent under a conservative President?

    Political actors will use science to advance the cause of their political agenda. It matters not whether it is conservative “muzzling” or communist Lysenkoism. It is just the nature of the political beast. The question is how do we create system where science may be trusted and less politically influenced? What controls does such a system to be trustable to a Democrat under Bush or a Republican under Obama?

    There are decades of evolving regulation and case law attempting to achieve trustable science in the private sector (ex. IPOs, FDA filings etc.) Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Yes -because when it fails there are personal consequences and avenues to redress harms. This “private sector” knowledge can serve as a template to make public sector science more trustable.

    EPA creates regulatory demands that require the professionals representing the public to provide personal certification as to the accuracy of all submitted information. It does not seem unreasonable to demand the same consideration from those that create these regulatory obligations.

    Nor does it seem unreasonable to constrain the power of the President’s science advisor to send political signals as to what is and is not acceptable science. (No small issue given most climate funding comes from the Executive branch)

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  12. David Appell said...

    Drug Maven: Why do you call these "serious charges," if the authors didn't even submit their work for peer review?

    For once Appell, can you critique their work, not the venue. Did you even read it? Be honest. Your a shallow hit & run artist.

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  13. Doug Maven - Let's note that you totally avoided my question.

    Why should I take seriously anyone who avoide the peer reviewed, standard channels of science?

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  14. . David Appell said...

    Doug Maven - Let's note that you totally avoided my question.

    Wow, Appell, Fenton Comm. must be paying you quite a sum to troll s actively as you do. With regard to peer review - you mean like MBH, Steig, Marcott, etc. Is wasn''t pal -oops, I mean peer review that showed these papers to be wrong, it was our good friend, the blogosphere that discredited them. Lewis and Crok are serious people and you should feel free to critique if you can. C'mon Appell, take a crack at it. Put your skills up against Nick Lewis, if you dare.

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  15. I'm just curious when Appell published his last peer reviewed paper. He's been silent since, right?

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  16. Albatross,

    You say "your claim that "....Climate Change Hasn't Increased Extreme Weather" is demonstrably false, and is at odds with the scientific literature. "

    Would you care to give evidence of your claim? I think Roger, and the peer-reviewed literature, have been fairly clear that while changes in some everyday weather (temperature highs, rainfall) can be attributed to global warming, extreme weather events (i.e., hurricanes, tornados, droughts, floods,... you know, things that might require insurance) cannot be so attributed. We might say that there is no statistically significant evidence that changes are due to global warming. This is what the title is referring to.

    By all means, if you have evidence to the contrary, tell us about it. Otherwise, you are trolling.

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  17. Roger said in his post,

    "This post is so that readers can engage with me and ask questions."

    Other than one post he has been absent. That said, maybe he is just busy.

    Here is yet another problematic statement in Roger's article (especially the final sentence)

    "While politicians and environmental advocates routinely attribute natural disasters with human-caused climate change, the uncomfortable reality is that such attribution remains speculative. There is not yet a scientific basis for making such a connection."


    Here is another incorrect statement,

    "However, our research, and that of others, suggests that assuming that these projections are accurate, it will be many decades, perhaps longer, before the signal of human-caused climate change can be detected."

    That might be true for tropical cyclones, but it is certainly not true for heavy precipitation events, extreme heat and sea-level rise. The "signal" of human-caused climate change has already emerged.

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  18. Albatross,
    Since when is 2.8 mm per year sea level rise an extreme event? Extreme cold kills a lot more people than extreme heat, so it might be reasonable to expect warming to reduce the total deaths from extreme temperatures, not increase them. There is no evidence of significantly more severe or significantly more frequent flooding, even if there is some evidence of slightly increased total rainfall and slightly increased maximum rate of rainfall.

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  19. Interesting comments from Michael Tobis. Unlike some of his fellow travelers, he is fair and also correct:

    "While I don’t think [Pielke's] recent congressional testimony was helpful, I can’t help but see his point that Holdren’s response to it was both inappropriate and unconvincing. I wish Holdren had found firmer ground for his response.

    It also seems that there is a genuine rift in the climatological community about how to discuss the relationship between severe events and anthropogenic climate change. As always, I would recommend that society base its actions on IPCC WG I. It is also the case that, like it or not, WG I’s position is closer to Pielke’s position than to Holdren’s.

    I don’t particularly think that those of us (I include myself) who think there is a climate change footprint in severe events already need to shut up about it. But neither do I think we should pretend that our position is scientific consensus.

    The epistemic issues here are subtle and this is hard to work out in public. I think that the Pielke/Hoerling position is statistically naive, and the upshot is probably wrong. Explaining this in plain language is an interesting challenge. It may not be especially easy winning the scientific debate, either.

    Meanwhile it is important not to base defense of a strong climate on the as-yet hard-to-prove emergence of a change in specific classes of severe events at specific locations. That’s hardly the only reason for concern.

    And on this point Roger has a point. Why select unfavorable ground for your battles? The answer, of course, is the press’s obsession with disasters, and the politician’s hunger for press. Perhaps we should do something other than capitulate to it."

    http://planet3.org/2014/03/08/march-open-thread/#comment-76379

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  20. Wow! Michael Tobis actually considering factual reality? Wow!!!!
    .
    Kudos Micheal Tobis.

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  21. Tobias seems quite condescending for someone who admits he is outside the consensus, speaking of someone defending the consensus.

    His one is one holding the intellectual high ground, generously allowing you the right to challenge. But it's progress.

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  22. I ask again. Do unelected "expert" federal employees have a right to political speech? What rules govern the speech or wititngs of say EPA and Mr. Holdren?
    Do these public experts have a legal duty to make full disclosure and divulge uncertainties?

    And if not- why should we trust them and why should the Courts defer to their technical expertise?

    We need to understand the system within which an individual operates to understand the actions of the individual.

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  23. Is this an Honest Broker?
    A FOIA (OPRA) request returned this response from a branch of NJ's Dept. of Environmental Protection:
    “(The Highlands Council*) does not have and is not required by any state or federal statute to have rules or regulations governing the conduct of the Council’s employee’s and associated discipline procedures that specifically govern the “scientific integrity” of its employees.” ……

    “ (The Highlands Council does not) have rules and regulations governing standards of scientific data as well as verification and review policies of all scientific material, data and reports, etc.”

    (The Highlands Council* controls the environmental planning for about 20% of NJ)

    The most important question remains unanswered- what enforceable standards guide the claims of Holdren and regulators?

    And the Highlands Council has refused to answer the most basic of all questions:
    “Are there ANY prohibitions against a Council employee who may “falsify, conceal or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; make a materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or make or use any false writing or fraudulent statement or representation; or make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry” as part of the rule making process?”




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  24. Roger,

    You left out the beginning of Michael's post

    "I am not a huge fan of Roger Pielke Jr.’s; I think he can be seriously wrong sometimes, and I think sometimes he puts his own interests ahead of the public interest.

    But he isn’t reliably wrong like some people are.

    Also, I appreciate his tendency to deal with the topic at hand rather than ad hominem. At least in my experience he doesn’t hold grudges or let personal feelings interfere with his discussion. And it’s in that spirit that I’d like to take on this sticky conversation."


    Having followed your blog and other public musings, I do not agree with him about you not engaging in ad hominem or not letting personal feelings interfering in your discussion. Joe Romm and Holland are two examples.

    Regardless, some of your comments in the TNR article were incorrect and misleading, and you seem reticent to try and defend them here for some reason. Brian and Stephen above are confused on some key points, maybe you will have better luck than I at getting them to understand their confusion.

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  25. Hi Roger,

    Did my response to your last comment get lost in cyberspace, I do not see it in the rejected section either.

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  26. Albatross, you stated:

    "your claim that "....Climate Change Hasn't Increased Extreme Weather" is demonstrably false, and is at odds with the scientific literature."

    You have yet to substantiate this. Examples of the scientific literature you mention would be good. You were asked for some in post 16.


    You also said:

    "Here is another incorrect statement,

    "However, our research, and that of others, suggests that assuming that these projections are accurate, it will be many decades, perhaps longer, before the signal of human-caused climate change can be detected."

    That might be true for tropical cyclones, but it is certainly not true for heavy precipitation events, extreme heat and sea-level rise. The "signal" of human-caused climate change has already emerged."

    Again, please cite the scientific literature that supports this statement.


    And then you said:

    "Regardless, some of your comments in the TNR article were incorrect and misleading, and you seem reticent to try and defend them here for some reason. Brian and Stephen above are confused on some key points, maybe you will have better luck than I at getting them to understand their confusion."

    Where have you so much as attempted to get Brian and Stephen to "understand their confusion"? Why should anyone bother to engage with you when you won't substantiate your statements? Merely telling people they are wrong doesn't make it so.

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  27. Never mind the science, I want to see Albatross find any evidence of ad hominen comment by Roger. (Note: that is, an attack that brings in irrelevant outside criteria about a person. Violent disagreement is not ad hominen.) Note however that Romm is prepared to be particularly virulent on his own bat, http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2009/10/24/204853/delong-and-deltoid-roger-pielke-jr-train-wreck-rabett-meltdown-the-most-debunked-person-in-the-science-blogosphere/#. Do you badger Romm about his poor behaviour Albatross?

    Albatross's method is the repeated, moving, unvalidated attack. Rather amusing when claiming that Roger is guilty of letting his personal feelings get in the way.

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  28. Matt,

    Roger said he was going to engage readers. He has not. I am not getting into an argument with onlookers when I am here to engage Roger. He made the claims I quoted, they are wrong. I suspect he knows as much, or he was being very careless with his wording. Either way, he is surprisingly reluctant to defend his erroneous claims, perhaps because he realizes that they are indefensible.

    As I said to Michael Tobis,

    "Those claims are just flat out wrong, and so obviously wrong that I don’t even feel compelled to offer evidence to the contrary."

    The comment about the signal not being detectable for decades to come for TCs was from a paper Roger co-authored, they did not, however, look at other extremes. There is abundant evidence in the literature about high temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events increasing (e.g., Donat et al. 2013),

    "Results showed widespread significant changes in temperature extremes consistent with warming, especially for those indices derived from daily minimum temperature over the whole 110 years of record but with stronger trends in more recent decades. Seasonal results showed significant warming in all seasons but more so in the colder months. Precipitation indices also showed widespread and significant trends, but the changes were much more spatially heterogeneous compared with temperature changes. However, results indicated more areas with significant increasing trends in extreme precipitation amounts, intensity, and frequency than areas with decreasing trends."

    Re, addressing your confusion I meant to say "....than I would..."

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  29. "There is abundant evidence in the literature about high temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events increasing "

    Albatross,

    Yes, we know all that. That's been well established in the literature. Changes in temperature highs and lows and in rainfall amounts do not constitute "extreme weather," at least not in the sense that Roger uses the term. Those are just changes in regular weather. But I think you already know that, which is why it's clear your just being a troll. Please stop. If you have claims to make, include the evidence to support your claims. Saying "I don’t even feel compelled to offer evidence to the contrary" won't cut it around here.

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  30. Pat re: Mar 6 3:01 If government reporting/commentary is suppressed in the first place, surely it is not logical to complain about comparative lack of accountability. Yet this should be - one would think - the first source for public information, as it is paid for by the public.

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