02 March 2010

End of Week Deadline for Romm to Agree to Debate

[UPDATE: Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus weigh in here.]

The donor who has offered to match up to $10,000 to charity if Joe Romm will participate in a debate with me has placed an end-of-the-week deadline for securing Joe's acceptance. So far, Joe declines the invitation explaining that he doesn't want to give my views any attention, this following on his 4,000-word screed on me that he published this week.

To make things easier, I have shared with Joe Romm the following concessions (which he immediately deleted from his blog):

a) He can have a veto over the debate moderator
b) He can have a veto over the resolution to be debated
c) He can negotiate with me in advance the charity to be awarded the $20,000
d) The debate can be held at a time and location of his choosing
e) We need not have the audience vote on a winner (which he does not like)

It would require only a few hours of his time and we would raise $20,000 for charity. What might $20,000 do? According to MSF it can do a lot:
Your Donation What It Can Provide


Two high-energy meals a day to 200 children


Vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio or other deadly epidemics


Two basic suture kits to repair minor shrapnel wounds


Infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded children


A sterilization kit for syringes and needles used in mobile vaccination campaigns


A medical kit containing basic drugs, supplies, equipment, and dressings to treat 1,500 patients for three months


Emergency medical supplies to aid 5,000 disaster victims for an entire month


An emergency health kit to care for 10,000 displaced people for three months

I am offering Joe a chance to come out from behind his blog, where he bullies and systematically misrepresents my views. He has a chance to air his arguments about me in public and where I can respond to them directly. He will have a chance to explain why my views are so very wrong. At the same time, regardless of the outcome of the debate itself, we can do some good for people who need help, thanks to a generous donor.

Romm has written more than 75 posts in which he discusses, mentions or comments on me in the past year. He has demanded that the media not talk to me. He has misrepresented my academic work. Has has called me all sorts of names, even equating me with a murderer.

Should Joe Romm turn down this offer, he will reveal his true colors to all -- a bully who hides behind his blog and who would rather call people names than engage in a serious policy debate on a topic of critical importance to our generation. There is no reason for Joe to turn this offer down, other than knowing that his arguments cannot stand up to scrutiny were he to emerge from behind his blog.

Should Joe Romm turn down this generous offer of a public debate on his terms he will be long-remembered for it. Joe, you have until Friday.


  1. I'm afraid that Joe is following a political agenda that is immune to contrary evidence and objective, reasoned argument.

  2. Call it what it obviously is -- cowardice.

  3. Another possibility: Perhaps Romm belongs to those who want the loosers to get the money and the winners to pay.

  4. I'm with Jeff. Mr. Romm does not do well in debate - and would be particularly weak where he had to debate someone who was actually working in the field (instead of just playing it).

    Good luck with this, Roger. But I expect he's going to stay in his cave, listening to nothing but echo.

  5. He seems a bit obsessed. Perhaps this is his attempt at foreplay.

  6. I'd say his behaviour is libelous.

  7. Roger,

    One of Joe's weaknesses is his penchant for exaggeration, but for you to suggest that he has written about YOU 75 times in the last year is ridiculous and suggests that your as guilty of that particular sin as he is. If you actually look at the first five hits on the link that you provided you'll see that:

    1. first link - joe mentions you in a COMMENT response (unflaterringly of course)

    2. second link - he mentions that you questioned his 14 wedges to stabilization (more of a disagreement than an attack no?)

    3. third link - mentions your dad not you. oops.

    4. fourth link - simply references another link "Pielke in Nature: “Clearly, since 1970 climate change … has shaped the disaster loss record.”

    5. fifth link - same as #2, simply mentions that you disagree with him on stabilization strategy.

    Now I recognize that this is the blogosphere where different rules apply, but don't you think a correction of sorts is in order (and maybe a link where he 'equates you with murder'?

  8. -7-Marlowe

    How silly. I've revised. Better now?

    In support of your request for documentation:

    "And yes, as cinephiles know, The Talented Mr. Pielke is a too-apt moniker for Roger, Jr.

    Ripley, of course, is a man “with a talent to survive by doing whatever is required,” which includes murder, lying, and pretending to be someone else. Yes, his entire life is a lie. That’s his talent."

  9. -9-Marlowe

    Oh yeah, I said "more than 75" because a few of the references are to my Dad.

  10. Roger,

    I thought I pointed out fairly clearly that you exaggerated the claim of more than 75 simply by looking at the first 5 on the list of the link that you provided. Isn't it obvious? To be clear, I agree with you that Joe often misrepresents your views and exaggerates, but in this case you're guilty of the same crime!

    Thanks for the reference to Mr. Ripley, but I think that a fair reading of that comparison would suggest that Joe is likely referring to the "lying and pretending to be someone else" not the murder bit. Insulting no doubt. But for you to suggest that he's equating you with a murderer is histrionic and undermines your basic argument...

  11. -10-Marlowe

    How silly, again.

    In your 5 examples he does indeed mention me in 4 of them, right?

    I am not going to debate the merits of Romm comparing me to a murderer. Sorry.

    Unlike Romm I am happy to let you have your say, and in the end, perhaps we agree to disagree. If so, so be it ;-)

    Feel free to have the last word on this silly exchange ...

  12. Roger,

    Sorry I didn't see your correction "which he discusses, mentions or comments on me in"...

    And I do think it's ridiculous that he exhort the media not to talk to you. Even if it were a good idea I think it's counterproductive given the nature of the media...

    But I still think your reference to being compared to a murderer is over the top (even if his reference to Ripley was similarly misguided given the point he was likely trying to make).

    Last word eh? :)

  13. Marlowe is a lot like Hitler.

    By which I mean "has the ability to communicate effectively to masses of people," of course. Any other thoughts that enter your head are entirely incidental.


  14. Ah, the victim bullies the bully. That's a great tactic.

    Let's see what comes out of the Pielke-Morano debate first, where Roger Pielke will undoubtedly call out Morano on his systematic spreading of disinformation. The debate is this month, right? That should prove to be a lot more interesting than taking on Romm.

    Romm is a very aggressive left-wing blogger (something I can't always agree with), but he has never lied about what he stands for. No wiggling or posing. I'm still very unsure if the same can be said of you, Roger Pielke Jr.

    Marlowe, Roger Pielke Jr. has a propensity to exaggerate the results of his searches. "Michael Mann" for instance yields a lot more hits one would expect if one has never seen Heat.

  15. -14-Neven

    The Morano debate is still in the works, we are talking about fall. Morano has agreed, so it is a matter of logistics at this point. Stay tuned.

    And yes, Romm doesn't lie about what he stands for, just about other people's views. If you have questions about mine, just ask ... botched internet search, among my best "denier" credentials ;-)

  16. Roger, good for you - hope both debates go ahead and that they generate some good discussion.

    Some of the comments above are a bit picky - I think what you have said is pretty reasonable.

  17. How would you describe what Morano is doing? I would describe it as deliberately misrepresent and disinform to delay any action whatsoever to mitigate AGW, to serve certain interests that want to keep the status quo for ideological or financial reasons. Would you agree?

  18. -17-Neven

    As a first cut that seems about right.

    Though I'd suggest that Morano is far more shrewd than you give him credit for, which is why he is so good at what he does. More often than not he cherrypicks and is selective in what he presents. I just checked out climatedepot.com and a lot of what I see is selective aggregation and spin.

    But lets be clear, this is just politics. You might not like it, but it is what shrewd political operators do.

    If you want to defeat Morano in political battle you are going to have to do (much) better than accuse him of misrepresenting and disinforming. That sort of strategy probably helps his cause.

  19. Romm has written 75 blog posts regarding Pielke! No way! Way!

    Yet he will not debate? You would think 75 blog posts would be an indicator of wanting to debate. Then again, most contributors and commentators over at The Center for American Progress rely on the anointed/intelligentsia view i.e. the “way things ought to be argument”, arguments with no arguments, positions that lack any empirical data to back up claims.

    Regarding climate, Romm is apparently the “Aristocracy” and can’t be challenged.

  20. Joe Romm is pretty vicious in his personal emails as well. Here is one I received from him.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Joe Romm
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 6:37 AM
    To: Robert Bradley
    Subject: RE: Robert Bradley and humanity's self-destruction

    Please desist, sociopath.

    The majority of Americans do not think climate science is exaggerated, but the majority of conservatives and Republicans do. That is thanks to sociopaths like you.

    Please stop harassing me and Dr. Hansen. He doesn't agree with sociopaths like you.

    When did I ever say the sane people are going to lose the fight to the sociopaths? Obviously, your efforts make it far less likely, but it ain't over.

    Joseph Romm
    Senior Fellow
    Center for American Progress
    Editor, ClimateProgress.org
    From: Robert Bradley
    Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 11:50 PM
    To: Joe Romm
    Cc: 'James Hansen'
    Subject: RE: Robert Bradley and humanity's self-destruction

    Hansen belongs in this--Enron is "Exhibit A" against your convoluted approach. Again, state your tax and act like a man. [What is your carbon price, Joe, how much and when, and let's calculate the climate effects (forgone warming).]

    You are the smartest guy in the room, Dr. Romm. You know the problem and the solution and are trying to save humanity from itself. Right. Well, the majority of Americans think climate alarmism is a little exaggerated, even kooky, and they are just getting tired of the false Malthusian alarms, one after the other. You have, in part, Paul Ehrlich to thank.....

  21. @rbradley:

    Wow. Is that the entire exchange?

    Where did the sociopath theme come from? It seems unconnected to anything in the original email (which was perhaps too strongly worded but wasn't offensive)? Why is linking something to conservatives or Republicans assumed sufficient to prove it incorrect? Why is it that motivations for conservatives or Republican supporters is assumed to be sociopathic?

    Maybe it's just me, but I can't follow the logic of his style of argument. We all might disagree with our opponents, but it seems bizarre to assume that they are automatically wrong in every case, and only motivated by a desire to do evil.

    I could maybe dismiss that email (even assuming it's genuine and not quoted out of context), but much of the guy's blog seems filled with the same kind of stuff. And most amazingly of all, it's not some strange forgotten corner of the internet, but a site that influential journalists and others read. Wow.

  22. When sociopaths consider themselves as normal, it is no wonder they consider others as sociopaths.

  23. "If you want to defeat Morano in political battle you are going to have to do (much) better than accuse him of misrepresenting and disinforming. That sort of strategy probably helps his cause."

    Fair enough. But doesn't debating him help his cause as well by legitimizing him? If somebody deserves the Romm treatment, it's Morano. :-)

    I nevertheless believe Morano should be called out on his tactic, if only to make him realize he is accountable, that there is a very heavy moral price if he turns out to be wrong. He probably believes AGW isn't a problem, otherwise he wouldn't be doing what he's doing. I mean, he can't be that shrewd, can he? Can he?

  24. It's very simple. If AGW turns out to be more problematic sooner than expected, Mr. Bradley's actions will in retrospect be considered evidence of him being a sociopath.

    The logic in Romm's thinking is that he is 100% convinced that AGW will be a very big problem if something isn't done. Reading what Mr. Bradley has written so far, would induce one to think he believes nothing or very little should be done.

    Perhaps AGW will turn out to be no problem whatsoever, and in this case Mr. Romm will be the sociopath. I somehow believe that after some gnashing of teeht Mr. Romm will actually be very happy that AGW isn't the threat he currently fears it is.

    But what if Mr. Bradley is wrong?

  25. The difference between Romm and Morano is Morano's positions could change under the right circumstances.

    I would view 'the right circumstances' to be honest discussions about cost effective solutions.

    The 'Green at any cost' folks are the ones impeding progress on 'Climate Change' if 'Climate Change' exists.

  26. For the record, disappeared comment at Climate Progress:

    Roger Pielke Jr. says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Dear Joe-

    Your use of the word “attack” is ironic as is your use of the term “misrepresentation”.

    However, since we obviously disagree on how to get to 450 ppm, then that sets the stage for a useful debate on climate policy. If your views are so superior to mine, then there should be no problem airing them in public, no?

    I am happy to agree in advance with you that ad hom arguments are not to be allowed. Also, I am happy to negotiate with you in advance the charity to accept the proceeds so that it won’t matter who wins. I am also willing to forgo any audience vote, if that is a concern. You can also have veto power on the moderator and the actual format. Is there anything else you’d like?

    From what I understand you will hear from Foreign Policy soon. This will take only a few hours of your time and will serve a good cause. Lets turn this debate into something positive, what do you say?


  27. Copner:

    There is more to the exchange, but that is the essence of it.

    It began when I emailed Hansen and cc'd Romm praising Jim for his rejection of cap-and-trade, a position which drew Joe's ire (he is mad at just about everyone, isn't he?). I once worked at Enron where cap-and-trade was going to be gamed to death by our traders, and I related that to Hansen....

  28. Neven asks: "But what if Mr. Bradley is wrong?"

    Well, first of all, I believe that the balance of evidence is toward the very bottom of the IPCC temperature range (where Gerald North of Texas A&M's estimate is, for example). So the science is trending positively and away from alarmism (what's new?).

    But given a range of possible outcomes, and the reality of "government failure" in the face of "market failure," the proactive strategy is societal wealth and resiliency, not chasing tenths of a degree of avoided warming 50 or 100 years out via mitigation.

    I advocate radical capitalism as the best strategy, something beyond what countries around the world are now contemplating. Free migration to adapt to worst case events, for example, would be easy in a world of economic freedom.

    We need radical capitalists, not radical statists, in the face of political inaction.

    Visit www.masterresource.org for more on this perspective. Maybe even Roger Jr. can come our way on this perspective....

  29. The 'Romm' treatment that some are giving here to Morano ['don't debate him; don't legitamize him] seems hypocritical.

    My familiarity with and admiration for Roger, Jr. and Sr. came from links on Climate Depot.

  30. Joe at Climate Progress has “The rise of anti-science cyber bullying” by Clive Hamilton (Professor of Public Ethics at Australia’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics): http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/02/the-rise-of-anti-science-cyber-bullying/

    Here is my comment (any chance he will let it through?)

    19. Rob Bradley says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm
    Hey Joe:
    Would you like to apologize for calling me a “sociopath” repeatedly in an email? Isn’t that about the same as what is being criticized here?

  31. Joe deleted it.

    What an intellectual coward--and what a hypocrite to hold other people to a different standard than himself

  32. sdcougar, just curious: What is your view on AGW? Is the atmosphere warming and do human activities have something to do with it?

  33. Bully, intellectual coward, blowhard...I'm underwhelmed by Joe Romm.

    These guys don't like to debate, because their case is so flimsy and they know it. Sorta like why others won't release data, code and methodology. They are cut from the same cloth.

  34. Having watched the UK Parliamentary select committee hearings the other day - link below - I can sympathise with the kind of political lobbying Morano goes in for. If you shout loud enough you might get heard, otherwise you will make little impact.

    But many 'alarmists' are far worse, making exaggerated claims and being quite vicious in their attacks on anyone who does not 100% agree with them.

    I do know that the truth will win in the end. Eventually 'the science' and reality will agree .I predict Roger will contribute far more to that than Romm and Morano.


  35. @Neven:

    > It's very simple. If AGW turns out to be more problematic sooner than expected, Mr. Bradley's actions will in retrospect be considered evidence of him being a sociopath.

    > Perhaps AGW will turn out to be no problem whatsoever, and in this case Mr. Romm will be the sociopath.

    That in a nugget is exactly the strange kind of backward logic that is beyond my comprehension.

    A person can be incorrect about something, even incorrect about important political issues, for reasons other than wickedness or mental disorder.

    Not only does this logic not acknowledge that fact, but it puts causation in the wrong direction: A particular sociopath might propose incorrect policies, but of course you can't assume that only sociopaths propose incorrect policies, and nor can you assume everybody who proposes an incorrect policy is a sociopath.

  36. @rbradley: Even prior to my knowledge of that email exchange, I experienced a certain degree of irony reading Mr Romm writing about the horrors of cyber-bullying.

    Further irony may experienced at the linked site, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-cyber-bullying where the comments include some gems as (admittedly most/all from one individual)

    "Oh, I'm afraid it's going to be worse than that. The bodies will be hanging from trees like christmas orniments. And I have all the rope needed to hang them there. Just waiting."

    "Death is the only cure for Conservative Ignorance."

    "These denialist vermin will have to be exterminated of I'm sorry to say."

    "The issue is strictly at hand is strictly moral. Climate change is projected to eradicate 30% of all species on the planet. Currently the singular Conservative denialist species is preventing action to preserve that 30%. The proper, moral, course of action is clear. Eradicate one species in order to preserve the other 30%" (paragraph breaks omitted)

    "Death is the only cure for Conservatism."

    "Yes. It is high time to get the U.N. out of the U.S. and the U.S. out of existance."

  37. “Rob Bradley says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm
    Hey Joe:
    Would you like to apologize for calling me a “sociopath” repeatedly in an email? Isn’t that about the same as what is being criticized here?”

    Its rather difficult to fathom that Romm or anyone else goes to the point of vicious attacks regarding e-mail messages. The name calling portion is very immature and bush league.

    And yes, Romm does need to apologize.

    However, one must always consider the source, in this case Romm. The source, in this particular case, has invalidate itself on many levels on many occasions. Surely the content of the e-mail presented above (post #20) sent by Romm put an exclamation point after the phrase “invalid source” (!).

  38. Rob
    How do you define radical capitalism? What does it involve?

  39. jgdes:

    Privatization of the subsoil and privatizing government industries, establishing private property rights and the rule of law, having low tax rates--the things to make the average citizen wealthy enough over time to take care of himself or herself and family--and be philanthropic to others.

    Latin American and the Middle East and the whole developing world need to go in this direction, in my view.

    Free trade and free migration are part of all this.

  40. Roger

    I'm afraid I have to call you to task regarding Romm. Joe Romm is a puppet. When a puppet shouts insults at you, do you stand there arguing with a lump of wood, or do you face the puppeteer?

    Romm's masters are at the CAP, and they are Democrat insiders one and all. They have worked at the White House and in Presidential campaigns. They are inside-the-beltway power players, and Romm is their tool.

    Bob Dylan wrote the song Only a Pawn in Their Game to warn people to look past the particular pawn to the player. In this case, the lead player - John Podesta - sat at the right hand of the President of the United States for years. Is Joe Romm really the problem? Podesta worked for the Obama transition team, and I'm sure put people like Holder into play.

    As much as I agree with you on the issues, I'm afraid you're like the police sheriff who spends all his time chasing down street dealers while tons of drugs go through town in trucks. Isn't it time to take on Romm's masters in Washington?

  41. Rob
    We've already been through all that ideological free-market cut, sell, deregulate experimentation before. It was enforced on latin America, Russia, Indonesia and in many other third world countries by the IMF and the World bank's Washington Consensus doctrine. Their own reports say it made people much poorer, with massive asset stripping via turning state monopolies into private foreigner-owned monopolies that tripled the prices.

    Enron was knee deep in this immoral activity too. In South Africa the water cutoffs to people who couldn't pay the massive new tariffs led to a cholera epidemic. In Bolivia they revolted because of the legalized blackmail of their own water. Worse, the World bank and IMF became loan-sharks, stealing from the poor to enrich themselves with massive interest payments.

    The reasons why these experiments failed are widely reported, though Stiglitz reports it best. The "free market" turned out only to be free for criminals, sharks and crony capitalists unfettered by any government watchdogs, because ...hey the market knows best. Turns out it doesn't, that was just untested idealism! Well now it's been well tested now in many places and the poor suffered mightily.

    Not to say that the market economy should be hobbled by statism but it's the people, not the corporate criminals that need the protection. There has to be a balance.

  42. It would be a pity that an emergency health kit to care for 20,000 displaced people for three months would go down the drain because of petty mind games.

  43. jgdes:

    I use the case study of Enron to argue that free-market capitalism is preferable to political capitalism. The New Left historian Gabriel Kolko endorsed my view, although it was very different from his.

    I invite you to read the 13-page introduction to Capitalism at Work online here: http://www.scrivenerpublishing.com/cart/images/Bradley_Intro.pdf
    where I argue that Ken Lay and Enron would be unknown to history outside of the government side of the mixed economy.

    The rest of the book, and particularly the Epilogue (sorry, not on line), make a case for heroic capitalism that is quite different from the crony capitalism that occurred, at best, in the countries you cite.

    So radical capitalism, anyone?

  44. Roger,
    I've recently read the NYT profile/interview of Freeman Dyson, and the blog post by Joe Romm commenting on it. I really think you'll be wasting your time debating with him. Treating Dyson as he did show he's hopeless, and a waste of time. At 86, Dyson is infinitely more lucid, visionary and intelligent than Joe will ever be. Even, thje comment of Jim Hansen, in the profile 'I got bigger fish to fry than Dyson', says a lot of his position and respect for others.

  45. I tried to post over on romms site only to see it deleted iam glad you don't do that here roger it seems so chicken**** to avoid comments.

  46. Getting the subject out into the open would be a start and you would think romm would be more than happy to forward his agenda.With the state of todays media and their unwillingness to report both sides or even attempt to ask some tough questions i think debates like this need to happen at this level.

    Romm seems to be taking the same position that some researchers have taken in the past that being ( believe me because i said so)montra. For all this to move ahead that montra has to be removed if your science is good then by all means prove it. And if you refuse to do so then iam going to question your assertions on the subject. Refusing to explain ones position or assertions doesn't help ones cause joe.

  47. Well it appears joe avoids healthy debate so him and gore have something in common.

  48. "Should Joe Romm turn down this generous offer of a public debate on his terms he will be long-remembered for it."

    Absolutely. It will be in the history books and it will be the subject of countless PhD theses.