A request to Roger Pielke Jr to correct the record

As a few of you might know, this blog carried an article that was critical of Roger Pielke Jr, a science and technology policy scholar who runs a popular eponymously titled blog, for his claim that ‘the climate debate is over’. Pielke Jr made the claim in this form:

The debate over climate science is over and has been won by those who assert a human influence on the climate system. This then is what victory looks like. (For supporting evidence on the science and opinion, see chapters 1 and 2 of TCF).

With the first sentence, it is clear that a number of different things are entangled in a yarnball of a statement and is quite open to interpretation. But that is Pielke Jr’s style. As he notes, evidence to support the claim (that the debate is over) apparently presented in two chapters of his book, The Climate Fix.

The next day, commenter PaulM wryly reminded Pielke Jr about his statement. Pielke Jr responded:

Actually I am providing a forum for a genuine debate over whether that debate is over … so far, my original assertions seem to stand 😉

But if you (or anyone) wants to tell me what is wrong with the arguments laid out in Ch 1 and 2 of TCF (where this argument has its full presentation), I’m all ears. Thanks!

There it was – stuff about how he had explained the debate was over in his book chapters. So, I took the second statement above as an assignment. I had read the book a while ago and still remembered bits of it. So I read the first two chapters again, and wrote up a piece. ‘Is the climate debate over?’

All kinds of funny things happened at once. Pielke Jr’s blog is on a Blogger platform, and he implements a moderation-sequenced comment stream. Seeking a wider debate on what appeared to be an overgeneralized statement thrown up to draw attention to a more specific and innocuous point (so I thought), I submitted the piece as a guest post to Anthony Watts. The article went up at WUWT.

Pielke Jr responded on his blog. I was ‘reviewing’ his book, he said. He then launched into what he called a sporting interpretation of my ‘review’, presented excerpts, and went on to say I did not ‘know what [I] was writing about’ ( about parts  that didn’t make sense as a review). He finally thanked me for writing the piece. Several of Roger’s readers essentially took him at his word. What kind of a review is this, they wondered. Meanwhile, Anthony Watts deleted my article from his blog. I won’t go into the circumstances surrounding that here.

For Pielke Jr, the mere fact that Fred Singer and James Hansen agree on the effect of atmospheric CO2 may be enough to shut shop on science and enter the policy kitchen. A World Bank poll may be enough to settle the question of public support for climate action. Others may not agree and even if one did, there is a whole chain of assumptions to be allowed for. It is clear that my article is not a review of his book. Given the link to his original post, the larger context is clear as well. Pielke Jr’s response therefore amounts to deliberate misrepresentation. This is reinforced by his making as though the GWPF’s carrying the article was an act of  Internet preservation of material the original publisher decided not to carry. After declaring that he is ‘all ears’ for any discussion of arguments in his book, Pielke Jr used his own labelling  to avoid discussion. That is fine – he is free to engage or not, but his reluctance to engage ought not to be disguised by misrepresentation.

I request Pielke Jr to set the record straight in this regard.

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3 comments

  1. A. C. Osborn

    I for one would be very interested in why Mr Watts removed your post.
    It was well received by his regular posters and I was quite shocked when it disappeared.

  2. dandy

    Roger was in the Christmas eggnog when he wrote that whopper.

    He’ll likely change it when he sobers up.