What matters is that Roger Pielke Jr. is the most heinous climate villain academia can muster. He’s a Green Herring, a liar. He doesn’t deserve to be eaten by hyenas from the future. He deserves to be kicked in the nuts in the present.My crime? I have cited Ravetz and Functowitz. Seriously, that is it.
The image above depicts the theme of post-normal science from Ravetz and Functowitz, and comes from the website of Steve Schneider, who says:
The climate problem, like the ozone problem (see, e.g., the EPA ozone website or the NOAA ozone website) and, in fact, almost all interesting socio-technical problems, is filled with “deep uncertainties,” uncertainties in both probabilities and consequences that are not resolved today and may not be resolved to a high degree of confidence before we have to make decisions regarding how to deal with their implications. They often involve very strong and opposite stakeholder interests and high stakes. In fact, sociologists Funtowicz and Ravetz (see, for example: Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993) have called such problems examples of “post-normal science.” In Kuhn’s “normal science” (Kuhn, 1962), we scientists go to our labs and we do our usual measurements, calculate our usual statistics, build our usual models, and we proceed on a particular well-established paradigm. Post-normal science, on the other hand, acknowledges that while we’re doing our normal science, some groups want or need to know the answers well before normal science has resolved the deep inherent uncertainties surrounding the problem at hand. Such groups have a stake in the outcome and want some way of dealing with the vast array of uncertainties, which, by the way, are not all equal in the degree of confidence they carry. Compared to applied science and professional consultancy, post-normal science carries both higher decision stakes and higher systems uncertainty, ...I wonder if he also is going to be threatened with violence.
The climate change debate — particularly its policy components — falls clearly into the post-normal science characterization and will likely remain there for decades, which is the minimum amount of time it will take to resolve some of the larger remaining uncertainties surrounding it, like climate sensitivity levels and the likelihood of abrupt nonlinear events, including a possible shutoff of the Gulf Stream in the high North Atlantic.
Here is my full email exchange with Ian Murphy (now formatted in chronological order ... if you want to jump right to my replies to his questions scroll down to my email of Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 8:31 PM):
On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 3:02 AM, Ian MurphyOn Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 8:47 AM, Roger Pielke, Jr.
Dear Mr. Pielke,
Hi! I'm the guy that wrote about you being eaten by hyenas. Don't take it personally.
I've spent the last week reading your literature and trying to decide whether or not to print a correction. I've come to realize that while 98% of things you write and say are green and brilliant, the remaining 2% seems to be firmly against reducing carbon emissions – which is a position I find odd considering what you know about the atmosphere. And Joe Romm characterizes your policy positions as ones that will result in a 5-7 degree Celsius rise in global temp.
I realize that perhaps you didn't deserve to be on the same list as Don Blankenship or Steve Milloy. I know you're not a denier. I never wrote that. And I certainly never meant to imply that you're Holocaust denier. Only assholes evoke Holocaust denial to paint their enemies a ignorant scoundrels. But unless I have misread your position on refusing to cap, trade,regulate or sufficiently tax carbon emissions, they read as corporate cover for our suicidal status quo.
Tell me if I've made a mistake. And if you don't mind, maybe you could tell me what this is supposed to mean:
“Policies to reduce global warming must be pursued independently of policies to reduce climate impacts.”
Thanks for your time,
I've long argued that adaptation and mitigation necessarily must be pursued on twin tracks. They are not trade-offs with one another and mitigation, no matter how successful, does not reduce the need to improve adaptive policies. This seems rather obvious and straightforward. If unclear, please ask again.
As far as: "corporate cover for our suicidal status quo" -- what complete nonsense. If you have questions about my views, please ask them. I'll be happy to answer. I'll also be happy to have my policy analyses produced over the past several decades compared head-to-head with Joe Romm's -- he talks louder, I'll grant him that.
And yes, printing a correction would be absolutely the right thing to do.
All best from Boulder,
On Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 7:52 AM, Ian MurphyOn Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 11:06 AM, Roger Pielke, Jr.
Thanks for writing back! It's expansive of you, considering what I wrote. I now realize that I am profoundly guilty of lazy editing and the piece has been corrected. I am sincerely sorry for the undeserving ad hom attack. Please forgive me.
Mike Roddy, who came up with that list, is convinced you're some kind of tyrant and the cursory information he provided me with had me under the impression that you're against capping, trading, regulating or sufficiently taxing carbon emissions. I think it was this quote that rankled him so:
"Indeed, the whole idea of mandated national emissions reductions reflects an insensitivity to the highly decentralized, historically contingent, uneven manner in which new technologies emerge and diffuse."
Just to be completely clear: does your idea of mitigation include capping, trading, regulating or sufficiently taxing carbon emissions?
Of course, we need to mitigate and adapt, but what kind of mitigation doesn't include emissions reductions? Have I read you wrong? How can we mitigate greenhouse effect warming without reducing CO2? Will the pollution cool us as a global parasol? Please, enlighten me.
Humbly in Buffalo,
Thanks for the follow up. I have a book in press this fall which will provide more than you want to know on my views about how to decarbonize the global economy. Meantime, I suggest starting here to better understand why setting targets and timetables for emissions reductions is unlikely to be a way forward (and if that is of interest I have similar analyses of Japan and Australia):
I discuss the consequences of such "magical thinking" here:
So what then instead? Along with a large group of scholars, last summer we outlined an alternative approach to addressing accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and putting a price on carbon is an important component:
Given the progress made over the past 20 years focused on mandating emissions reductions along a Kyoto-style approach (that is to say, not much)
I continue to be surprised that those of us offering alternative approaches as a way to get past policy gridlock are so routinely castigated as "tyrants" as you suggest. Climate change is incredibly complex, and it is safe to say that no one has all the answers. Given this circumstance I would think that a bit more ecumenicism in the discussion would serve climate policy well.
I do appreciate your reaching out and willingness to correct the record. And again, if you have any questions about the materials I linked to above, just ask, I am happy to respond.
Best regards from Boulder,
On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 3:11 PM, Ian MurphyOn Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 5:28 PM, Roger Pielke, Jr.
Correcting the record was literally the least I could do. I intend to write a piece fully detailing my crimes (with a suitably awful punishment), and this odd obsession Joe Romm and his henchmen have with you in the near future. You guys crushed Roddy in the BTI comments. Easy work. That's the first and only time he's going to write for us. We're definitely jerks, but we also try to be accurate. I'm the only working editor here and sometimes I screw up. It's no excuse, but again, I am truly sorry for the error.
I'm going to try to interview Joe Romm about his bizarre war against you, and I'll get back to you. Thank you for your civility and grace in this matter. You're a nice guy.
Wow Ian, I am floored. Apology accepted, no worries. We all make mistakes, and I very much appreciate your willingness to set the record straight. If you have any questions, please just ask. All best, Roger
On Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 8:42 AM, Ian MurphyOn Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 5:54 PM, Roger Pielke, Jr.
I've had a tumultuous few months, computer crashes, lost data, moving, etc., but I'm still working on my followup to "the 14 Most heinous Climate Villains," which I'm calling "Misadventures in journalism." I've been talking to both Michael and Ted at BTI, and they've been nothing but kind in answering my questions. I have one more round of questions to send Ted, and then I was hoping to ask you a few.
Is that offer still on the table?
Absolutely, send any questions along ... all best, Roger
On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 5:02 PM, Ian MurphyOn Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 8:24 PM, Roger Pielke, Jr.
Awesome. Thanks, again, for being so kind. And I hope that the following questions will clear up some of the hyper-partisan confusion, which surrounds your work. I might have some followups, but here you go:
I came across the concept of post-normal science on your blog post, which links to Jerome Ravetz's essay on wattsupwiththat.com. What the heck is post-normal science and why is it important in terms of climate change?
What role does the blogosphere play in conducting post-normal science?
What lessons can we learn from Climategate?
Now that the IPCC has been so thoroughly discredited, for their “stealth advocacy,” where can people turn to for objective climate science?
You routinely take climate scientists, and fear mongers like Al Gore, to task for conflating single weather events with AGW. Weather is not climate, as you say. You astutely observe that one “Snowpocalypse” is not “consistent with” AGW, and that that's not the best way for CAP to talk about climate change. In that post, you highlight a debate between Daniel Weiss of CAP and Marc Morano of climatedepot.com, which aired on MSNBC. You are likely right to criticize the efficacy of Weiss's argument, but you don't level one criticism against Morano, who is not a friend of things like truth and science. Also, you never explicitly mention that one weather event is not inconsistent with AGW, as has been repeatedly claimed by the denier crowd. Do you understand why some people may see those omissions as irresponsible?
Between whom are you an Honest Broker?
Why won't cap and trade work and what should we do instead?
If carbon reduction strategies fail, for reasons political or scientific, what are our viable geoengineering options?
Great questions ... I'll try to get these back to you by Monday, is
that OK? Thanks ...
Ian Murphy Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 8:25 PMRoger Pielke, Jr. Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 8:31 PM
To: "Roger Pielke, Jr."
Thank you. I tried. Of course, whenever you have the time to respond is OK with me. I'm honored that you're even talking to me. I think the irrational distrust built up between BTI and more traditional environmentalists is very counterproductive and I hope we can cut through some of the confusion.
To: Ian Murphy
Ian- Please find some replies below .. if anything is unclear of if you'd like to follow up, just ask, I'm happy to answer ...
>> > I came across the concept of post-normal science on your blog post,
>> > which
>> > links to Jerome Ravetz's essay on wattsupwiththat.com. What the heck is
>> > post-normal science and why is it important in terms of climate change?
Post-normal science refers to situations in which knowledge is uncertain, values are contested and stakes are high. Climate change is perhaps a canonical example of such a situation. The concept, proposed by Functowitz and Ravetz, leads to a different set of strategies for decision making than one might find in normal science. The highlight the need for an "extended peer community" to participate in evaluating knowledge claims and their implications, which can be interpreted in the context of climate change as opening up scientific discussions to a broader community, including (yes) skeptics and non-professionals. Such opening up is important to build trust in and legitimacy of expert advice.
My book, The Honest Broker, adopts a framework consistent with that proposed by Functowitz and Ravetz, and I argue that where knowledge is uncertain (or contested) and values are in conflict, experts face a choice between open advocacy and honest brokering, where the foprmer is an effort to reduce the scope of political choice (usually to a single preferred option) and the latter seeks to expand choice. Often, experts serve as "stealth advocates" where they claim to be focused only on science, but are really pushing for a particular
course of action. I have argued that such stealth advocacy can lead to a pathological politicization of science.
Climate science is full of stealth advocacy and pathological politicization. Paying more attention to the messy world of post-normal science (and I'd argue, the framework in my book) might offer some guidance on how to navigate the reality of science and politics being deeply and irrevocably intertwined.
>> > What role does the blogosphere play in conducting post-normal science?
The blogosphere is part of the "extended peer community" that - for better or worse, is part of how knowledge claims are presented, debated and evaluated. Understanding that these many and diverse voices are a part of the broad relationship of science and society, rather than something to be excised or defeated through asserting authority or credentials.
At the same time, the blogosphere is also a place where scientists engage in advocacy and stealth advocacy.
So we see the non-professional scientific world impinging upon traditional science via the blogosphere and at the same time we see traditional science engaging politics. From both directions the blogosphere blurs boundaries and really fosters conditions of post-normal science. Post-normal science is not something to be upset about or to deny, it is simply an effort to describe this messy world. for the purpose of better undertsanding that world.
>> > What lessons can we learn from Climategate?
The release or stealing of the emails showed a surprising picture of climate science for many people. It showed scientists who appear to have lost some perspective and focused unhealthily on their political and scientific opponents. The emails showed a willingness to cut corners and even suggest breaking the law. While there are many tactical lessons (like don't write things in your professional emails that you'd regret if released) the larger lesson should be that efforts to defeat the "skeptics" in political battle is just as likely
to backfire. And make no mistake, these scientists were engaged in political battle.
>> > Now that the IPCC has been so thoroughly discredited, for their “stealth
>> > advocacy,” where can people turn to for objective climate science?
I have written (last week at Yale e360) that the IPCC is important and should be reformed. It operates in much too ad hoc a manner and lacks anything resembling mechanisms of accountability. Trust in institutions is just as important as the quality of its products.
>> > You routinely take climate scientists, and fear mongers like Al Gore, to
>> > task for conflating single weather events with AGW. Weather is not
>> > climate,
>> > as you say. You astutely observe that one “Snowpocalypse” is not
>> > “consistent
>> > with” AGW, and that that's not the best way for CAP to talk about
>> > climate
>> > change. In that post, you highlight a debate between Daniel Weiss of CAP
>> > and
>> > Marc Morano of climatedepot.com, which aired on MSNBC. You are likely
>> > right
>> > to criticize the efficacy of Weiss's argument, but you don't level one
>> > criticism against Morano, who is not a friend of things like truth and
>> > science.
In that particular debate Morano wins on criteria science as well as efficacy. He says that he knows that weather is not climate and that he was just having some fun with Al Gore when raising the issue of the blizzards. Whether he believes this or not, he takes the high ground and Weiss concedes it.
But I've frequently clashed with Morano, even challenging him to a debate, which looks like it may take place fall, 2010. But it won't be a debate about science, rather about policy. I have long argued that climate policy suffers when political debates are waged in terms of science, so why in the world would I take that approach myself?
>> Also, you never explicitly mention that one weather event is
>> > not
>> > inconsistent with AGW, as has been repeatedly claimed by the denier
>> > crowd.
>> > Do you understand why some people may see those omissions as
>> > irresponsible?
I apologize, but I have to disagree with this cliam 100%. On Feb 11 I wrote the following, which speaks directly and explicitly to claims made by the "denier crowd":
"Let's see if I can make this simple.
What happens in the weather this week or next tells us absolutely nothing about the role of humans in influencing the climate system. It is unjustifiable to claim that a cold snap or heavy snow disproves or even casts doubts predictions of long-term climate change. It is equally unjustifiable to say that a cold snap or heavy snow in any way offers empirical support for predictions of long-term climate change. This goes for all weather events.
Further, it is professionally irresponsible for scientists to claim that some observed weather is "consistent with" long-term predictions of climate change. Any and all weather fits this criteria. Similarly, any and all weather is also "consistent with" failing predictions of long-term climate change. The "consistent with" canard is purposely misleading.
Knowledge of climate requires long-term records -- on the time scale of a decade and longer. Don't look to the weather to learn about climate, unless you have a long time to watch. Using the weather to score cheap political points in the climate debate appears to be a tactical area of agreement among those who otherwise disagree about climate change. "
I'm not sure how much more clearly I can make the point that you suggest is omitted. I have been making this point for years.
>> > Between whom are you an Honest Broker?
I am not an honest broker. In my book I argue that individuals are ill-suited to such a role, and what we really want in this capacity are pluralistic committees of experts expressing diverse views. The function of the honest broker is to lay our a range of policy options, and the role of the decision maker is to select among those options.
On climate change I am a passionate advocate for the actions that I think make sense. I have never labeled myself an "honest broker" and have consistently explained that such a role is a group exercise.
>> > Why won't cap and trade work and what should we do instead?
Cap and trade won;t work for the simple reason that it is politically impossible to set a price on carbon high enough to induce a technological revolution. A carbon tax suffers the same problem. Cap and trade makes it easier to pretend that something is being done when it is not. If the goal of cap and trade is to stimulate innovation, then there are many other approaches that can be used to that end. I am in favor of a carbon tax, at whatever level is politically acceptable, but the goal is not to try to change behaviors but rather
to raise revenue.
>> > If carbon reduction strategies fail, for reasons political or
>> > scientific,
>> > what are our viable geoengineering options?
I my book I argue that efforts to tinker with the earth system, such as through stratospheric aerosols, don;t meet basic criteria for a technological fix. They are unlikely to work as advertised and the track record of tinkering with earth systems (such as introducing foreign species) is pretty dismal and full of unintended consequences.
One approach that might make sense, though not everyone classifies it as geoengineering, is the air capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air. This can be done via chemical, biological or geological means. The technologies are, lie much else on this issue, not well developed and certainly not ready for deployment at scale. but I'd argue that they should be looked at ... who knows, 20-40 years from now we may wish we had a backup plan if conventional mitigation doesn't work and other forms of geoengineering are infeasible,.
OK, that is a lot of ground, so if anything needs further explication, just ask.
All best from snowy Boulder,
Ian Murphy Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 12:27 AMRoger Pielke, Jr. Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 8:05 AM
To: "Roger Pielke, Jr."
Roger, thank you! Great work. Too bad about the FP piece, you're clearly not a "skeptic." The "telling quote" didn't really prove their point either. I'm going to contact them, too, but I'm hoping you could clarify this for me.
If I read your work accurately, the increased costs associated the extreme weather phenomena can be blamed on human development -- more buildings, more damage = higher costs. You cite a lull in hurricane activity in the seventies, during which time damage costs continued to rise, as proof of this common sense correlation. Correct?
And to completely debunk your FP "skeptic" status:
Do greenhouse gases cause global warming?
Does a hotter atmosphere mean more extreme weather?
And, if not kept in check, will AGW be a source of increased "costs of damage associated with hurricanes, floods, and extreme weather phenomena" in the future?
Sorry to take up yet more of your time, but the scope of this piece keeps growing. Now I have to sort out Foreign Policy, too!
To: Ian Murphy
Some additional replies below . . .
On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 11:27 PM, Ian Murphy
> Roger, thank you! Great work. Too bad about the FP piece, you're clearly not
> a "skeptic." The "telling quote" didn't really prove their point either. I'm
> going to contact them, too, but I'm hoping you could clarify this for me.
Here is the address of the FP editor:
> If I read your work accurately, the increased costs associated the extreme
> weather phenomena can be blamed on human development -- more buildings, more
> damage = higher costs. You cite a lull in hurricane activity in the
> seventies, during which time damage costs continued to rise, as proof of
> this common sense correlation. Correct?
This is just about right. The example I often use is the fact that 1991-1994 was to that point the quietest 4-year period in terms of activity since 1900, yet it was also by far the most costly (to that date).
There has been no increase in storm landfall intensity or frequency since 1900, so why would we expect storm's themselves to account for increasing damage?
> And to completely debunk your FP "skeptic" status:
> Do greenhouse gases cause global warming?
> Does a hotter atmosphere mean more extreme weather?
To be more technically precise, the consensus position of the scientific community, which I accept, is that rising greenhouse gases will led to more extreme events.
> And, if not kept in check, will AGW be a source of increased "costs of
> damage associated with hurricanes, floods, and extreme weather phenomena" in
> the future?
Yes. I have discussed this in the peer reviewed literature and quantified the magnitude of projected increase in the context of continued accumulation of societal wealth:
Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Future Economic Damage from Tropical Cyclones: Sensitivities to Societal and Climate Changes, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Vol. 365, No. 1860, pp. 1-13.
If you have further questions, or if any of the above needs additional clarification, please send them along.
Finally, I note that your friend Mike Roddy foreshadows this piece at Climate Progress::
Ian Murphy Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 10:49 AMRoger Pielke, Jr. Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM
To: "Roger Pielke, Jr."
Roger, I do have one more question:
You wrote: "Post-normal science refers to situations in which knowledge is uncertain, values are contested and stakes are high. Climate change is perhaps a canonical example of such a situation."
Are you saying that the science of climate change is uncertain, or do you mean that the best methods for mitigating and adapting to climate change are uncertain?
Roddy's a well-meaning chap, though he can be a tad excitable. He's not privy to the details of my forthcoming article, but he's right about one thing: I hope to be the best Piekologist possible. That's, apparently, a thing. I'm not going to be completely uncritical of you, but I'm also going to be very critical of myself and others who have misread your work. Objectivity is the goal. Though it may be hard, because I'm sort of a fan of yours now : )
To: Ian Murphy
I write in my forthcoming book that there are many aspects of the climate issue that are uncertain. At the same time, there are some core issues for which there is much less uncertainty.
What I argue is generally accepted by all sides is that (a) human activities are dumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide (and other GHGs) into the atmosphere, (b) CO2 is accumulating, (c) scientists expect that accumulation to have a net warming effect, and have shown that to be the case in the past, (d) but there are other effects as well such as rising seas and more intense extremes, (e) the consequences in (c and d) could be significant for people and ecosystems.
That leaves plenty of areas of uncertainty, such as how much change? how fast? What about specific phenomena, like hurricanes? Or in specific places, like the US southwest? And there are uncertainties on the policy side, how much would it cost to stabilizae? Is it political will or technology at the core?
There are countless uncertainties, even in the presence of a well established core of knowledge. So note that my view is very much that of the IPCC. I am not a climate scientist, so I defer to the IPCC assessment on these matters, which for all of its flaws, remains the best and most authoritative summary of the science. Note that of course the IPCC could be wrong (on either side of the issue), and this simply adds another layer of uncertainties. So the IPCC view sets the stage for post-normal science.
In the debate there are those who like to exaggerate uncertainties and exaggerate certainties, and often they debate these issues, rather than policies than are robust to uncertainties. In other words, we can make progress without everyone agreeing on all of the science issues.
I hope this makes sense. If not, ask again!