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Location: > Prometheus: Author: Pielke Jr., R. Archives

Roger Pielke, Jr. former director of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and is also an associate professor of environmental studies.

Contents:
Witanagemot Justice And Senator Inhofe’s Fancy List
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 30, 2008

Eugene Skolnikoff on The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker January 29, 2008

Two New Blogs to Check Out
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge | Science Policy: General January 28, 2008

Updated IPCC Forecasts vs. Observations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 26, 2008

The Authoritarianism of Experts
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker January 23, 2008

I'm So Confused
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Education | Science + Politics January 20, 2008

Temperature Trends 1990-2007: Hansen, IPCC, Obs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 18, 2008

Worldwatch Wants You to Think
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Technology and Globalization January 18, 2008

New Paper on Normalized Hurricane Damages
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters January 17, 2008

UKMET Short Term Global Temperature Forecast
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 16, 2008

Verification of IPCC Sea Level Rise Forecasts 1990, 1995, 2001
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 15, 2008

James Hansen on One Year's Temperature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 14, 2008

Updated Chart: IPCC Temperature Verification
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 14, 2008

Pachauri on Recent Climate Trends
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 14, 2008

Verification of IPCC Temperature Forecasts 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 14, 2008

Real Climate's Two Voices on Short-Term Climate Fluctuations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 11, 2008

Verification of 1990 IPCC Temperature Predictions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 10, 2008

Radio Interview with Radio Radicale
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker January 10, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science, Part 3
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 09, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science, Part 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 08, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments January 07, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General | Space Policy January 07, 2008

My Comments to Science on Hillary Clinton's Science Policy Plans
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | Science Policy: General | Technology Policy January 05, 2008

Technology ,Trade, and U.S. Pollution
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology and Globalization January 02, 2008

Natural Disasters in Australia
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 02, 2008

Is there any weather inconsistent with the the scientific consensus on climate?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Scientific Assessments January 01, 2008

End-of-2007 Hurricane-Global Warming Update
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters December 26, 2007

On the Political Relevance of Scientific Consensus
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty | Science + Politics | Scientific Assessments December 21, 2007

Laboratories of Democracy? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Laboratories of Democracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy December 20, 2007

Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC, Science and Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | Scientific Assessments | The Honest Broker December 19, 2007

A Follow Up on Media Coverage and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Journalism, Science & Environment December 19, 2007

New Data on the Global Economy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International December 18, 2007

Climate Policy as Farce
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Technology Policy December 18, 2007

Technology Assessment and Globalization
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology and Globalization December 18, 2007

Shellenberger on Bali
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | International December 17, 2007

A Second Reponse from RMS
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Prediction and Forecasting | Scientific Assessments December 17, 2007

China's Growing Emissions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy December 16, 2007

Parable About the Precariousness of Monoculture
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology and Globalization December 16, 2007

Chris Green on Emissions Target Setting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Technology Policy December 14, 2007

A Question for the Media
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Journalism, Science & Environment | Science + Politics December 14, 2007

Reality Check
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | International December 13, 2007

Fun With Carbon Accounting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy December 12, 2007

Waxman's Whitewash
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker December 12, 2007

AGU Powerpoint with Steve McIntyre
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty December 10, 2007

Chutzpah
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker December 10, 2007

Hillary for President
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 10, 2007

Prins and Rayner in the WSJ
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 08, 2007

Precipitation and Flood Damage
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters December 06, 2007

Why Action on Energy Policy is Not Enough
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International December 06, 2007

Revisiting The 2006-2010 RMS Hurricane Damage Prediction
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Prediction and Forecasting | Risk & Uncertainty | Scientific Assessments December 06, 2007

How to Get Good Intelligence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker December 05, 2007

It Will Take More than Holocaust Analogies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy November 26, 2007

John Quiggin on Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 26, 2007

Promises, Promises
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 25, 2007

Optimal Adaptation?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 20, 2007

IPCC and Policy Options: To Open Up or Close Down?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 19, 2007

Prins and Rayner - The Wrong Trousers
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 19, 2007

Neal Lane and Roger Pielke, Jr. on NPR Science Friday
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics November 16, 2007

The Science Advisor at 50
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science + Politics | Science Policy: General November 15, 2007

Not Ambitious Enough
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy November 14, 2007

Geotimes Interview
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker November 12, 2007

Sokal Revisited - I Smell a Hoax
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 07, 2007

NAS Student Forum on Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 07, 2007

Confronting Disaster Losses
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters November 02, 2007

A Range of Views on Prins/Rayner
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy October 30, 2007

Prins and Rayner in Nature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 24, 2007

Late Action by Lame Ducks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy September 29, 2007

The Honest Broker 20% Off!!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker September 20, 2007

Breakthrough Blog
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News September 14, 2007

The Honest Broker Reviewed in Nature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker August 23, 2007

The Honest Broker Reviewed in Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker August 17, 2007

New Publication
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Scientific Assessments August 17, 2007

Normalized US Hurricane Damages
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters June 25, 2007

End of the Line . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 16, 2007

The Importance of the Development Pathway in the Climate Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Sustainability May 16, 2007

Upcoming Congressional Testimony
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 15, 2007

Preview of The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker May 15, 2007

State of Florida Rejects RMS Cat Model Approach
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Prediction and Forecasting | Risk & Uncertainty May 11, 2007

Reorienting U.S. Climate Science Policies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | R&D Funding | Scientific Assessments May 10, 2007

Should the Gates Foundation fund Policy Research?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | R&D Funding | Technology Policy | The Honest Broker May 09, 2007

Policy Research? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Policy Research
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker May 07, 2007

Hans von Storch on The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker May 05, 2007

You Must be a Creationist
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge May 04, 2007

Review of Useless Arithmetic
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Prediction and Forecasting May 04, 2007

I'm Outta Here . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 03, 2007

New Landsea Paper in EOS
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 03, 2007

Bob Ward Responds - Swindle Letter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics May 02, 2007

The Swindle Letter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker April 30, 2007

The Battle for U.S. Public Opinion on Climate Change is Over
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics April 26, 2007

Swing State Al
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics April 26, 2007

The Politics of Air Capture
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Science + Politics | Technology Policy April 26, 2007

Gliese 581
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy April 25, 2007

What does Consensus Mean for IPCC WGIII?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics | Scientific Assessments April 23, 2007

New GAO Report on Climate Change and Insurance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters April 20, 2007

Media Reporting of Climate Change: Too Balanced or Biased?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 19, 2007

A Little Testy at RealClimate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 19, 2007

Some Views of IPCC WGII Contributors That You Won't Read About in the News
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Scientific Assessments April 18, 2007

Bridges Column on The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker April 17, 2007

Laurens Bouwer on IPCC WG II on Disasters
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Scientific Assessments April 17, 2007

On Framing . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics April 16, 2007

Frank Laird on Peak Oil, Global Warming, and Policy Choice
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Technology Policy April 16, 2007

New Peer-Reviewed Publication on the Benefits of Emissions Reductions for Future Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Losses Around the World
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Energy Policy April 12, 2007

This is Just Embarassing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters April 11, 2007

Here We Go Again: Cherry Picking in the IPCC WGII Full Report on Disaster Losses
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters April 11, 2007

Turn the Trade Balance Around
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker April 09, 2007

A Comment on IPCC Working Group II on the Importance of Development
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 07, 2007

NOAA’s New Media Policy: A Recipe for Conflict
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker April 05, 2007

The Honest Broker Available in UK and EU This Week!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker April 03, 2007

A Few Comments on Massachusetts vs. EPA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics April 02, 2007

Sea Level Rise Consensus Statement and Next Steps
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty April 01, 2007

No Joke: 25 to 1
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 01, 2007

Response to Nature Commentary: Insiders and Outsiders
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 30, 2007

Interview at ClimateandInsurance.Org
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News March 30, 2007

Now I've Seen Everything
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting March 29, 2007

Cashing In
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting March 29, 2007

Why is Climate Change a Partisan Issue in the United States?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics March 28, 2007

So Long as We Are Discussing Congressional Myopia . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics March 28, 2007

Pay No Attention to Those Earmarks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Democratization of Knowledge | The Honest Broker March 27, 2007

Unpublished Letter to the San Francisco Chronicle
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 27, 2007

Whose political agenda is reflected in the IPCC Working Group 1, Scientists or Politicians?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Democratization of Knowledge | The Honest Broker March 26, 2007

Praise for The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker March 24, 2007

We Interrupt this Spring Break . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 12, 2007

. . . Meantime, Buy This Book!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News March 01, 2007

Spring Break . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News March 01, 2007

Spinning Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics February 28, 2007

Success-Oriented Planning at NASA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy February 28, 2007

Science, Politics, Variability, Change, Learning, Uncertainty
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty February 27, 2007

University of Colorado Sustainability Initiatives
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Sustainability February 27, 2007

State Climatologists Redux
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics February 26, 2007

Science and the Developing World
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | R&D Funding February 26, 2007

IPCCfacts.org Responds
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 23, 2007

IPCCfacts.org has its Facts Wrong
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters February 23, 2007

Al Gore on Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 23, 2007

Catastrophic Visions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty February 23, 2007

Where Stern is Right and Wrong
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty | Technology Policy February 22, 2007

Mike Hulme in Nature on UK Media Coverage of the IPCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty February 21, 2007

Have We Entered a Post-Analysis Phase of the Climate Debate?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics February 21, 2007

Al Gore 2008, Part 3: Washington Post on California Energy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Science + Politics February 20, 2007

Prediction in Science and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Prediction and Forecasting February 20, 2007

Al Gore 2008, Part 2: A Comparison with the 2004 Evangelical Wedge
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics February 18, 2007

Some Sunday NASA News Vignettes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy February 18, 2007

Should I Care About Cognitive Misers Fighting Over My Wikipedia Biography?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics February 18, 2007

Why Al Gore Will be the Next President of the United States
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 16, 2007

Another Reason to View Adaptation as Sustainable Development
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health February 15, 2007

Final Chapter, Hurricanes and IPCC, Book IV
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters February 14, 2007

Words of Wisdom in The Daily Camera
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker February 14, 2007

An Evaluation of U.S. Self-Evaluation on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 13, 2007

An Inconvenient Survey
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty February 12, 2007

The Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker February 11, 2007

So This is Interesting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics February 10, 2007

Quote from Nelson Polsby
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics February 09, 2007

Air Capture Prize
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Technology Policy February 09, 2007

New Blog at CU!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge February 08, 2007

Clarifying IPCC AR4 Statements on Sea Level Rise
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty February 07, 2007

Lifting the Taboo on Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 07, 2007

Scientific Integrity and Budget Cuts
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics February 07, 2007

Understanding US Climate Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy February 07, 2007

Should A Scientific Advisor be Evaluated According to Political Criteria?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics February 07, 2007

Post-IPCC Political Handicapping: Count the Votes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics February 06, 2007

Upcoming This Week . . . [UPDATED]
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 05, 2007

Loose Ends -- IPCC and Hurricanes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics February 05, 2007

Follow Up: IPCC and Hurricanes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics February 02, 2007

Report from IPCC Negotiations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics February 01, 2007

IPCC on Hurricanes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics February 01, 2007

Does the Truth Matter?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker February 01, 2007

The Cherry Pick
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics January 31, 2007

Even More: Mr. Issa’s Confusion and a Comment on Budget Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 31, 2007

Additional Reactions – Waxman Hearing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 31, 2007

Instant Reaction – Waxman Hearing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 30, 2007

Waxman Hearing Testimony - Oral Remarks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 30, 2007

Mike Hulme on Avery and Singer
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 29, 2007

Congressional Testimony
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 29, 2007

Science and Politics of Food
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Risk & Uncertainty | Science + Politics January 29, 2007

Climate change a 'questionable truth'
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 27, 2007

Richard Benedick on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International January 26, 2007

IPCC, Policy Neutrality, and Political Advocacy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker January 25, 2007

AMS Endorses WMO TC Consensus Statement
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 24, 2007

A Report from the Bureaucracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy January 24, 2007

Recycled Nonsense on Disaster Losses
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 22, 2007

Pielke’s Comments on Houston Chronicle Story
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 22, 2007

Hypocrisy Starts at Home
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Education | Energy Policy January 20, 2007

Kudos for Explicit Political Advocacy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | The Honest Broker January 18, 2007

Change the Climate, Plant a Tree?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 16, 2007

Common Sense in the Climate Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics January 15, 2007

Received Wisdom
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker January 10, 2007

New Literature Review: Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 09, 2007

An Update: Faulty Catastrophe Models?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty January 08, 2007

The Steps Not Yet Taken
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Energy Policy January 08, 2007

The End of Research?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding January 07, 2007

Meantime, Back in the News Section
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy January 07, 2007

Climate Determinism Lives On
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 07, 2007

Who Said This? No Cheating!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Scientific Assessments January 06, 2007

Progressive Radio Network Interview, Today 1PM MST
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 04, 2007

RealClimate Comment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 03, 2007

Climatic Change Special Issue on Geoengineering
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 03, 2007

Profiling Frank Laird
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Technology Policy January 02, 2007

Nonskeptical Heretics in the NYT
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 01, 2007

2007 Office Pool
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 30, 2006

Draft Paper for Comment: Decreased Proportion of Tropical Cyclone Landfalls in the United States
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters December 28, 2006

Calling Carbon Cycle Experts
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Climate Change December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays Prometheus Readers!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 22, 2006

Swiss Re on 2006 Disaster Losses
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters December 22, 2006

And I'm focused on adaptation?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy December 22, 2006

Ryan Meyer in Ogmius
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Prediction and Forecasting December 19, 2006

Misrepresenting Literature on Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Scientific Assessments December 18, 2006

Climate Change Hearings and Policy Issues
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics December 16, 2006

Useable Information for Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics | Scientific Assessments December 15, 2006

Senator Coal and King Coal
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Science + Politics December 15, 2006

The Importance of Evaluation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science Policy: General December 15, 2006

New Bridges Article on 110th Congress
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science + Politics | Science Policy: General December 14, 2006

Follow Up to Flood Policy Presentation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty December 14, 2006

Dan Sarewitz - Lies We Must Live With
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Religion + Science | Science + Politics December 13, 2006

WMO Press Release on Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters December 12, 2006

You Just Can't Say Such Things Redux
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics December 11, 2006

You Just Can’t Say Such Things
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Education | Science + Politics December 11, 2006

Disquiet on the Hurricane Front
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Energy Policy December 11, 2006

Hurricane Trends, Frequency, Prediction
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters December 08, 2006

Inside the IPCC's Dead Zone
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General | Scientific Assessments December 08, 2006

That Didn't Take Long -- Misrepresenting Hurricane Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics December 06, 2006

Andy Revkin on Media on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 06, 2006

The Future of Climate Policy Debates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics December 05, 2006

Fiscal Caution on NASA’s New Moon Plans
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Space Policy December 05, 2006

The Simplest Solution to Eliminating U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 03, 2006

Less than A Quarter Inch by 2100
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 30, 2006

Quick Reactions to Arguments Today before the Supreme Court on Mass. vs. EPA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 29, 2006

AAAS Report on Standards of Peer Review
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | Science Policy: General November 29, 2006

Mugging Little Old Ladies and Reasoning by Analogy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics November 28, 2006

The Benefits of Red Wine and the Politics of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science + Politics November 27, 2006

Why don’t you write about __________?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics November 27, 2006

Politicization of Intelligence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker November 25, 2006

Tol on Nordhaus on Stern
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 24, 2006

Class Copenhagen Consensus Exercise: Feedback Requested
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | International November 24, 2006

William Nordhaus on The Stern Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 22, 2006

Walter Lippmann (1955) on Misrepresentation and Balance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker November 21, 2006

Al Gore at His Best, and Worst
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 20, 2006

What is Wrong with Politically-Motivated Research?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker November 16, 2006

Looking Away from Misrepresentations of Science in Policy Debate Related to Disasters and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics November 15, 2006

More Climate and Disaster Nonsense
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 14, 2006

Naomi Oreskes on Consensus
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science + Politics November 14, 2006

Interview with Richard Tol
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty November 11, 2006

Interview With Chris Landsea
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 10, 2006

Guardian Op-Ed on Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 10, 2006

Earmarking at CU-Boulder
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | R&D Funding November 09, 2006

Some Early Thoughts on the New Congress
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics November 08, 2006

Normalized US Hurricane Damage: 1900-2005
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters November 07, 2006

Sarewitz and Pielke (2000)
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 06, 2006

Honest Broker Sighting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker November 05, 2006

Mike Hulme on the Climate Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty November 04, 2006

Update on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters November 02, 2006

The World in Black and White
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 01, 2006

Stern’s Cherry Picking on Disasters and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 30, 2006

Open Thread on UK Stern Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 29, 2006

Origin of Phrase --Basic Research--?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 27, 2006

Recap: Atlantic SSTs and U.S. Hurricane Damages
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 27, 2006

Another Policy-Related Faculty Position at CU-Boulder
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education October 26, 2006

Conference for Grad Students on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 26, 2006

Atlantic SSTs and U.S. Hurricane Damages, Part 5
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 26, 2006

Atlantic SSTs vs, U.S. Hurricane Damage, Part 4
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 25, 2006

Atlantic SSTs vs. US Hurricane Damage, Part 3
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 24, 2006

Atlantic SSTs vs. U.S. Hurricane Damage - Part 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 24, 2006

What Does the Historical Relationship of Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature and U.S. Hurricane Damage Portend for the Future?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 22, 2006

Frank Laird on Teaching of Evolution
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science + Politics October 20, 2006

Climate Change and Disaster Losses Workshop Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters October 17, 2006

Café Scientifique Tonite in Denver
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics October 17, 2006

Facts, Values, and Scientists in Policy Debates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker October 16, 2006

We Are Hiring! Two Faculty Positions!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education October 12, 2006

Expertise in Biodiversity Governance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biodiversity | Science Policy: General October 12, 2006

A Collective Research Project
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 11, 2006

Limits of Models in Decision
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Prediction and Forecasting October 10, 2006

A Perspective on the 2006 Hurricane Season
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters October 10, 2006

On Language
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics October 09, 2006

More on Royal Society’s Role in Political Debates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics | The Honest Broker October 06, 2006

The One Percent Doctrine
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty October 05, 2006

Follow Up on NOAA Hurricane Fact Sheet
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Science + Politics October 04, 2006

Bob Ward Comments on Royal Society Letter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science + Politics October 04, 2006

Sizing Up Bush on Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics October 04, 2006

Prediction and Decision
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Prediction and Forecasting October 02, 2006

Some Weekend Fun
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. September 29, 2006

Latest Bridges Column
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker September 28, 2006

Inconvenient Truth Panel Discussion at the University of Colorado
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 28, 2006

Caught in a Lie
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 27, 2006

Revealed! NOAA's Mystery Hurricane Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 27, 2006

NOAA's Mystery Hurricane Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 26, 2006

To Limit Choice or Expand Choice?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker September 26, 2006

Follow Up on Royal Society Letter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 26, 2006

Thoughts on an Immediate Freeze on Carbon Dioxide Emissions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 25, 2006

Prometheus Class Assignment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education September 22, 2006

David Whitehouse on Royal Society Efforts to Censor
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | The Honest Broker September 21, 2006

Al Gore on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 19, 2006

Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Stake in the EPA Lawsuit
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 18, 2006

Michael Griffin on Science in NASA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy September 15, 2006

What to Make of This?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 14, 2006

The Promotion of Scientific Findings with Political Implications
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | The Honest Broker September 12, 2006

The Dismal Prospects for Stabilization
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 10, 2006

Ceding the Ethical Ground on Stem Cells
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology September 08, 2006

Follow-up on Ceres Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 08, 2006

Substance Thread - IPCC and Assessments
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 07, 2006

A Colossal Mistake
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 05, 2006

Politics of Pluto
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy September 04, 2006

BA on Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 04, 2006

1 Degree
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 01, 2006

Back to Square One?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty September 01, 2006

Climate Mitigation and Adaptation in India
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 31, 2006

Do the Ends Justify the Means?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker August 28, 2006

Hurricane Damage Futures
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters August 26, 2006

Pop Quiz
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 25, 2006

Scientific Advice at NASA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General | Space Policy August 24, 2006

Dan Sarewitz on Research Questions for Science of Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 23, 2006

Ceres is Misrepresenting Our Work
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters August 23, 2006

Bunk on the Potomac
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters August 20, 2006

Hurricanes and Global Warming: All You Need to Know
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters August 19, 2006

Is IPCC AR4 an Advocacy Document?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 17, 2006

If “Science of Science Policy” is the answer, then what is the question?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 14, 2006

The Ever Increasing R&D Budget
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding August 10, 2006

James Van Allen: 1914-2006
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy August 10, 2006

How to Make Your Opponent's Work Considerably Easier
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 09, 2006

A Pielke and Pielke Special
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 08, 2006

The Politics and Economics of Offshore Outsourcing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Technology Policy August 08, 2006

Beyond the Mug's Game
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty August 08, 2006

Hurricanes, Catastrophe Models, and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty August 07, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm August 04, 2006

Nisbet and Mooney on Media Coverage of Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 04, 2006

Who Believes that GHG Mitigation Can Affect Tomorrow’s Climate?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 03, 2006

Climate Porn
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy August 03, 2006

Amar Bhidé on Getting Beyond Techno-Fetishism and Techno-Nationalism
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm August 02, 2006

National Journal: Who Turned Out the Enlightenment?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker July 31, 2006

Patty Limerick on Wildfire and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 31, 2006

Andrew Dessler Has a Blog
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 31, 2006

Holier Than Thou
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 28, 2006

Man in a Can
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 28, 2006

Hockey Stick Hearing Number Two
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 27, 2006

Conflicts of Interest at the National Academies?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker July 26, 2006

Rep. Rush Holt on Science Advice
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker July 25, 2006

Scientific Leadership on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters July 25, 2006

Jim Hansen's Refusal to Testify
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 21, 2006

Follow up on Criticism of AGU Hurricane Assessment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters July 21, 2006

Congressional Testimony
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 20, 2006

Space Shuttle Flight
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 18, 2006

Upcoming Congressional Testimony
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 15, 2006

Summer Break
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. July 08, 2006

The Honest Broker, Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker July 07, 2006

Letter to Editor, AZ Daily Star
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 07, 2006

Energy Dependence, Part 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy July 06, 2006

Energy Dependence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy July 06, 2006

Straight Talk on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 05, 2006

How to Break Up NASA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 03, 2006

An Honorable Retirement for the Shuttle
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Space Policy June 29, 2006

Westword on Bill Gray
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 28, 2006

The Is-Ought Problem
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General June 27, 2006

Just Barely Unacceptable Risk
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy June 27, 2006

A New Paper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 26, 2006

A(nother) Problem with Scientific Assessments
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Scientific Assessments June 23, 2006

Quick Reaction to the NRC Hockey Stick Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 22, 2006

Eve of the NAS Hockey Stick Report Release
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 21, 2006

Please Critique this Sentence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 20, 2006

We Are Not Ready
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters June 17, 2006

The Climate Policy Equivalent of Graham-Rudman-Hollings
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 14, 2006

Willful Ignorance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International June 13, 2006

Hurricane Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters June 13, 2006

The Curious Case of Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise in the IPCC TAR
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 10, 2006

Confusion on Science Censorship in US Federal Agencies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 08, 2006

Comments on Nature Article on Disaster Trends Workshop
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 07, 2006

Workshop Executive Summary
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 07, 2006

A Marginal View on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding June 07, 2006

Lloyd's on Climate Adaptation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 06, 2006

Climate Change is a Moral Issue
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 05, 2006

Comment from Judy Curry
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 02, 2006

Petropolitics, MoveOn.org, and The Politics of Decarbonization
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy June 02, 2006

Like a Broken Record
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters June 02, 2006

NOAA Protest
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 01, 2006

Cherrypicking at the New York Times
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 31, 2006

Scenarios, Scenarios: Hansen’s Prediction Part II
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 30, 2006

Dave Roberts Responds on The Climate Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 30, 2006

Evaluating Jim Hansen’s 1988 Climate Forecast
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 29, 2006

Playground! After School!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 27, 2006

How Taxonomy is Political
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment May 27, 2006

Appropriate Advocacy by a Science Association
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 27, 2006

Definately Not NSHers
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 27, 2006

The Future Will be Blogged
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology Policy May 26, 2006

Reaction to Comments on Non-Skeptic Heretics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 25, 2006

Gregg, Welcome to the NSH Club!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 24, 2006

Juice or No Juice? Who Decides?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 24, 2006

If You Want to Comment . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 23, 2006

Decisions Matter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters May 23, 2006

Off by 6 Orders of Magnitude
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters May 22, 2006

Climate Change and Disaster Losses Workshop
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 22, 2006

How to Register to Comment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. May 21, 2006

Signs of Change?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 20, 2006

Comment Policy Issues
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 20, 2006

Fox News Documentary
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 18, 2006

A Few Reactions to the Bonn Dialogue on the FCCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty May 17, 2006

More Peer-Reviewed Discussion on Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 15, 2006

Science Studies: Cheerleader, Marketer, or Critic?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Nanotechnology | Science Policy: General May 12, 2006

Scientific Communication and the Public Interest
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 11, 2006

A Bizarro GCC and The Public Opinion Myth, Again
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 10, 2006

11,000 Deaths a Day, Page 8, Ho Hum
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health May 09, 2006

Myths of the History of Ozone Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Environment May 08, 2006

Prometheus at 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 04, 2006

FEMA Disaster Database
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters May 04, 2006

The Next IPCC Consensus?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty May 02, 2006

Nowotny on Curiosity and Control
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 02, 2006

Really, Really, Really Bad Reporting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 01, 2006

Klotzbach on Trends in Global Tropical Cyclone Intensity 1986-2005
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters May 01, 2006

A Very Bad Dream Indeed
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 01, 2006

Al Gore’s Bad Start and What Just Ain’t So
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters April 28, 2006

Cutler and Glaeser on Why do Europeans Smoke More Than Americans? Part II
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Risk & Uncertainty April 27, 2006

Cutler and Glaeser on Why do Europeans Smoke More Than Americans? Part I
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Risk & Uncertainty April 26, 2006

Tenure, University of Colorado, and the Local Newspaper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education April 25, 2006

What We Discussed in Class Today
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 25, 2006

Climate and Societal Factors in Future Tropical Cyclone Damages in the ABI Reports
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters April 24, 2006

Conflicted about Conflicts of Interest?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 23, 2006

BBC on Overselling Climate Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 21, 2006

New Article and Podcast
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General April 20, 2006

Some Simple Economics of Taking Air Capture to the Limit
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy April 20, 2006

Long Live the Linear Model
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General April 19, 2006

An Outsourcing Urban Myth
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | International April 19, 2006

Congressional Opinions on Climate Science and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 18, 2006

A New Article
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 17, 2006

Around the Op-Ed Pages this Sunday
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge April 16, 2006

Are We Seeing the End of Hurricane Insurability?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters April 14, 2006

Advocacy by Scientists and its Effects
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General | Space Policy April 13, 2006

Out on a Limb II: A Verrrry Looong Limb
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters April 12, 2006

Prove It
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | R&D Funding April 12, 2006

Boehlert on NOAA Press Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 12, 2006

Super El Nino Follow Up
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 12, 2006

Politicization of Science 101: How to Use Science to Argue Politics, Manipulate the Media, and Silence your Political Opponents
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General April 10, 2006

University Responsibilities and Academic Earmarks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | R&D Funding April 10, 2006

Op-ed Online
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 07, 2006

Out on a Limb with a Super El Niño Prediction
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 06, 2006

Factcheck.org, part II
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 06, 2006

Fact Checking Factcheck.org
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 05, 2006

Brad Allenby on "Nightmare Science"
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 05, 2006

The Omega-3 Pig
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology April 04, 2006

On the Value of “Consensus”
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 02, 2006

Prometheus Comment Guidelines
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. March 31, 2006

NASA in the Political Minefield
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General | Space Policy March 30, 2006

Pielke Sr. and Jr. Profiled in Nature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge March 29, 2006

Once Again Attributing Katrina’s Damages to Greenhouse Gases
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters March 29, 2006

New Options for Climate Policy?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 28, 2006

Wise Words from James Van Allen to Jim Hansen
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge March 27, 2006

A DEMOS Op-ed on Science and Smoking Bans
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health March 25, 2006

Money Can Buy Happiness
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding March 23, 2006

A View From Colorado Springs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General March 22, 2006

The Big Knob
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters March 22, 2006

Stem Cells and Vulgar Democracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Health March 21, 2006

Representative Boehlert Says "It's Time"
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 20, 2006

Politicization 101: Segregating Scientists According to Political Orientation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 17, 2006

Forbidden Fruit: Justifying Energy Policy via Hurricane Mitigation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters | Energy Policy March 15, 2006

Talk in DC Today
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters March 15, 2006

Hoodwinked!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | R&D Funding March 14, 2006

To Advocate, or Not?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science Policy: General March 14, 2006

Reactions to Searching for a Signal
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters March 13, 2006

Uranium Enrichment and Stem Cells
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | International | Science Policy: General March 09, 2006

Unpublished Op-Ed: Science, Politics, and Press Releases
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 09, 2006

On Missing the Point
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Environment | Science Policy: General March 08, 2006

“Bad Arguments for Good Causes”
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General March 07, 2006

"Tear Down that Wall"
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 06, 2006

AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 06, 2006

Review of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Part 3
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm March 02, 2006

Politics and the IPCC, Again
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 01, 2006

Upcoming Public Lecture in DC at The Smithsonian
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters March 01, 2006

Newsweek on Outsourcing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General February 28, 2006

A Review of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Part 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General February 28, 2006

A Review of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Part 1
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General February 27, 2006

New FAQs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge February 24, 2006

David Goldston on Science Policy in the U.S. Congress
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 24, 2006

New IST Science Policy Blogs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 23, 2006

Consensus Statement on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters February 21, 2006

There is No Line
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 16, 2006

NOAA and Hurricanes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 16, 2006

On Having Things Both Ways
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 15, 2006

Sarewitz in American Scientist
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 15, 2006

Science Suppression: A Personal Story
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 12, 2006

Political Advocacy and the Ethics of Resigning
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 12, 2006

Slouching Toward Scientific McCarthyism
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 11, 2006

More on GM Foods and WTO
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology February 09, 2006

Greenhouse Gas Politics in a Nutshell
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 09, 2006

Political Plate Tectonics and Energy Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy February 08, 2006

What About Democracy?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology February 08, 2006

Transhumanism
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology February 08, 2006

I'll Take the Under
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy February 07, 2006

Especially Special Interests
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General February 02, 2006

The Chronicle on the SOTU
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. February 01, 2006

Stern Report on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 31, 2006

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 31, 2006

Boehlert on Hansen
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 30, 2006

Dangerous Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 30, 2006

Let Jim Hansen Speak
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 28, 2006

How Science becomes Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology January 27, 2006

Hypotheses about IPCC and Peer Review
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 27, 2006

Two Interesting Articles
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 27, 2006

The Elephant in the Floodplain
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters January 26, 2006

And They’re Off . . .
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General January 25, 2006

Public Value of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 25, 2006

Global Spending on R&D
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General January 25, 2006

Partisanship and Ability to Ignore Facts
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge January 24, 2006

Have we really moved beyond PUS?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 24, 2006

United States Competitiveness
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Gathering Storm | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General January 23, 2006

Big Knob Critique Response
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 23, 2006

“Practically Useful” Scientific Mischaracterizations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 21, 2006

On Donald Kennedy in Science, Again
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 19, 2006

A Question for RealClimate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 19, 2006

Past the Point of No Return?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 19, 2006

OSTP AWOL?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 17, 2006

Myanna Lahsen's Latest Paper on Climate Models
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 17, 2006

Indur Goklany's Rejected Nature Letter
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 16, 2006

Re-Politicizing Triana
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Space Policy January 15, 2006

Spring Syllabus Online
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge January 15, 2006

Some Various Quotes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge | Science Policy: General January 13, 2006

Does Disaster Mitigation Mask a Climate Change Signal in Disaster Losses?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 13, 2006

Does Donald Kennedy Read Science?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters January 10, 2006

The Policy Gap on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 06, 2006

Relevant but Not Prescriptive Analysis
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 04, 2006

Partisan Politics and Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 03, 2006

Normative Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 02, 2006

David Keith on Air Capture
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 30, 2005

Responses to Emanuel in Nature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 22, 2005

Sarewitz on Mooney
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General December 19, 2005

Get Ready for Air Capture
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Environment December 15, 2005

Inside the Policy Sciences
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 15, 2005

Matt Nisbet on Framing Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General December 13, 2005

Hurricanes and Global Warming FAQ
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 13, 2005

Exchange in Today's Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters December 09, 2005

Science Studies in Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General December 08, 2005

Preview of AGU Presentation -- The $500 Billion Hurricane
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters December 06, 2005

Stem Cells and that "War on Science"
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health November 28, 2005

Prometheus Reader Feedback Forum
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge November 24, 2005

Tom Yulsman on Religion and Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge November 22, 2005

Two Perspectives on Katrina
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters November 22, 2005

Reflections on the Challenge
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 21, 2005

Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 21, 2005

IPCC and Policy Neutrality?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 18, 2005

Final Version of Paper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 18, 2005

Special AGU Session on Katrina
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters November 18, 2005

Spinning Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 18, 2005

In Other News
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge November 18, 2005

The Role of Social Science Research in Disaster Preparedness and Response
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters November 11, 2005

Avoiding the Painfully Obvious
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 09, 2005

The Abdication of Oversight
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 08, 2005

Scientific Protectionism or Globalization?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International November 07, 2005

Presentation on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 04, 2005

Old Wine in New Bottles
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 03, 2005

Politics, Apollo, Ed David and Richard Nixon
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy November 02, 2005

Challenge Update 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 01, 2005

Interesting Report on my Work
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 01, 2005

Challenge Update
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 01, 2005

Invitation to McIntyre and Mann - So What?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 31, 2005

Welcome Kevin Vranes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge October 28, 2005

Exchange in BAMS on Climate Impacts Attribution, Part 2
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 26, 2005

Ideology, Public Opinion, Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 25, 2005

Exchange in BAMS on Climate Impacts Attribution, Part 1
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 24, 2005

Response from Judy Curry
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 23, 2005

Tag Team Hit Job
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 22, 2005

Another View on Stem Cells
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health October 21, 2005

Being Accurate is Easy, Right?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment October 19, 2005

Stem cell solution – not!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health October 18, 2005

Excellent South Asia Earthquake Resource
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters October 14, 2005

Some Reactions to Chris Mooney
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 13, 2005

There is No War on Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 12, 2005

Miami Herald on Hurricane Research and Operations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding October 11, 2005

Next Week at TPM Cafe
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 08, 2005

Preprint Available
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 07, 2005

More on the Mooney Thesis
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 06, 2005

Katrina as Category 1 in New Orleans?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters October 04, 2005

A Few Comments on the Mooney Thesis
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 03, 2005

Another Misattribution, Climate Scientists Silent
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 03, 2005

Griffin: The Space Shuttle Was a Mistake
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy September 28, 2005

Mr. Crichton Goes to Washington
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 28, 2005

Is Better Information Always Better?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 27, 2005

Bayh-Dole at 25
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 27, 2005

Op-ed in the LA Times
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 23, 2005

Response from William Colglazier on Science Academies as Political Advocates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 22, 2005

Column in Bridges
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters September 22, 2005

Correcting Pat Michaels
   in Author: Others | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 22, 2005

Why Should We Believe NASA?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy September 21, 2005

Revkin on Katrina, Climate Science, Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 21, 2005

Dust Up Over MDGs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International September 20, 2005

Excellent Book on Think Tanks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 16, 2005

Generic News Story at Work
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 16, 2005

Kerr on Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 16, 2005

Politics and Disaster Declarations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 15, 2005

Part III: Historical economic losses from floods - Where does Katrina rank?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 15, 2005

Of Blinders and Innumeracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 13, 2005

New Center Website
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge September 13, 2005

Some Thoughtful Perspectives
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 12, 2005

Kristof on Hurricanes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Environment September 12, 2005

Part II - Historical economic losses from hurricanes - Where does Katrina fit?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 09, 2005

Theodicy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 08, 2005

Theodicy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters September 08, 2005

Manufactured Controversy: Comments on Today's Chronicle Article
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 08, 2005

New Chairman Bioethics Council
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health September 08, 2005

Correction of Misquote in AP Story
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 07, 2005

Making sense of economic impacts - Comparing apples with apples
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment September 06, 2005

Katrina in Context: A Blog Series
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment September 06, 2005

Intelligence Failure
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment September 04, 2005

Correction of Errors in Fortune Story
   in Author: Others | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment September 03, 2005

Hurricane Donations and Comment Function
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge September 03, 2005

"Nobody Could Have Foreseen"
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment September 02, 2005

A Rant on Ceding the High Ground
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 01, 2005

Party ID and ID
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge September 01, 2005

Unsolicited Media Advice
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 31, 2005

Tough Questions on Hurricanes and Global Warming?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 30, 2005

Final Version of "Hurricanes and Global Warming" for BAMS
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 29, 2005

Historical Hurricane Damage
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment August 29, 2005

On Point Radio Interview
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment August 29, 2005

Hurricane Katrina
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment August 28, 2005

Science and Political Affiliations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health August 26, 2005

A Piece of the Action
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 25, 2005

The Best NASA Can Do?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy August 25, 2005

Roger Pielke, Sr.
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 24, 2005

The Other Hockey Stick
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 22, 2005

Reader Request: Comments on Michaels and Gray
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 22, 2005

Information and Action
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge August 18, 2005

Science Budgets
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding August 15, 2005

What Future for the Space Shuttle?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy August 15, 2005

Divergent Views on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 11, 2005

On Hanging Yourself in Public
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge August 09, 2005

Drawing a line in the batter's box?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health August 09, 2005

Paul Krugman, Think Tanks and the Politicization of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 08, 2005

Flood Damage and Climate Change: Update
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 04, 2005

Unprincipled Relativism on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 04, 2005

Stem Cell Politics and Perspectives on Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health August 03, 2005

Poverty of Options and a Hybrid Hoax
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 01, 2005

Pope Vs. Lomborg
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment August 01, 2005

We Are Looking for a Post-Doc
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Job Announcements July 29, 2005

EPA Fuel Efficiency
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy July 29, 2005

A Crisis of Allegiance for the IPCC?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 28, 2005

Trial Balloon from Barton Staffer
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General July 28, 2005

Space Shuttle Russian Roulette
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 27, 2005

Secret Climate Pact and IPCC Chairman
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 27, 2005

Toledo Blade gets it Right
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 26, 2005

Some Thoughts on U.S. Weather Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment July 26, 2005

The Other Discernable Influence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 25, 2005

A Few Comments on Today's Climate Hearing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 21, 2005

Making Sense of University (Re)Organization
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education July 20, 2005

Realism on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 20, 2005

Barton- Boehlert Context
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 19, 2005

Prepackaged News, Scientific Content and Democratic Processes
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 19, 2005

Article on Democracy and Bush Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 19, 2005

Palmer on Partisanship in Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 18, 2005

Column in Bridges
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 18, 2005

Space Shuttle Return to Flight
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 13, 2005

A Few Commentaries on Lomborg Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment July 12, 2005

You Go Dad!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 11, 2005

PPT of HVS Talk
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 11, 2005

London
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge July 07, 2005

How to break the trance?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 07, 2005

On The Hockey Stick
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 06, 2005

Hurricanes and Global Warming, Another Comment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 05, 2005

Upcoming Talk and Panel This Week
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 03, 2005

Summer Break
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News June 16, 2005

Consensus on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 16, 2005

Wise Words on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 15, 2005

Betting on Climate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 14, 2005

The Good Explanation - Apologies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 13, 2005

Interesting Coincidence
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 13, 2005

New Paper on Hurricanes and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 10, 2005

Andy Revkin Responds
   in Author: Others | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 09, 2005

Manufactured Controversy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 08, 2005

The Linear Model Consensus Redux
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 08, 2005

Science Academies as Issue Advocates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General June 07, 2005

Is Persuasion Dead?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge June 06, 2005

When the Cherries Don't Cooperate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Health | Science Policy: General June 06, 2005

Outstanding Article on Politicization of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 03, 2005

What Role for National Science Academies in Policy?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 02, 2005

University Polices on Academic Earmarks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding May 31, 2005

John Marburger on Science Policy Research
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 26, 2005

Hiding Behind the Science of Stem Cells
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology May 25, 2005

Presentation on Climate Change and Reinsurance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 25, 2005

Making Sense of the Stem Cell Policy Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology May 23, 2005

More Cart and Horse
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 23, 2005

Cart or Horse?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy May 19, 2005

Is the “Hockey Stick” Debate Relevant to Policy?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 17, 2005

Science and Policy Guidelines in the UK
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International May 17, 2005

Letter in Science
   in Author: Others | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 13, 2005

Water Vapor and Technology Assessment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment May 11, 2005

Immigration and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 09, 2005

New Publication
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment May 06, 2005

Another Recipe for Politicization of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 05, 2005

Fun With Cherry Picking
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General May 04, 2005

What Kind of Politicization Do You Want?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 03, 2005

Bush Administration Goes Nuclear
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy April 28, 2005

Text of Bob Palmer’s Remarks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 27, 2005

GAO on CCSP
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 26, 2005

How Science Becomes Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 25, 2005

Getting What's Wished For
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 25, 2005

Science, Politics and Deer
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 21, 2005

Follow up on Food Pyramid
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 20, 2005

On Basic Research
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 19, 2005

More on Real Climate as Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 18, 2005

Conflicts of Interest
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 15, 2005

Honest Broker, Part II
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 14, 2005

Bush Administration and Climate Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 12, 2005

Honest Broker, Part I
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 12, 2005

Cure = Disease?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 12, 2005

STS Contrarianism
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 11, 2005

In Seattle? Two Talks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News April 06, 2005

A Forecast of Calm on Landsea/IPCC?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 06, 2005

A Taxonomy of Climate Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 05, 2005

Dilbert on the Honest Broker
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 04, 2005

Evaluation of Research Portfolios
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 04, 2005

Carrying the Can
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 01, 2005

Intelligence and Science for Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 31, 2005

A Misuse of Science?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 31, 2005

Science versus Society
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 30, 2005

The Coming Debate over Nuclear Power
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy March 28, 2005

Tragedy, Comedy and Axiology
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 28, 2005

Tyranny of the Plebiscite
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty March 25, 2005

Politics and Disaster Declarations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 24, 2005

Connecting Dots for a Nuclear Stratagem
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy March 24, 2005

Science Advice at the UN
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 23, 2005

Reaction to UPI Climate Commentary
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 22, 2005

Old Wine in New Bottles
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 18, 2005

Defending Kass but Confirming the Conflict
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology March 18, 2005

More on Politics and Bioethics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology March 16, 2005

Transcript of Marburger Interview
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 15, 2005

How to Increase Fuel Efficiency
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment March 14, 2005

Malaria and Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health March 11, 2005

Book Review in Nature
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment March 11, 2005

Politics and Bioethics Advice
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology March 09, 2005

Cherry Picking, CBA, GAO and EPA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 08, 2005

New Project WWW Page
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 08, 2005

Indian Ocean Tsunami and NOAA's Liability
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General March 07, 2005

Adaptation and Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 02, 2005

Swiss Re on Disasters
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty March 01, 2005

New Paper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change March 01, 2005

Money, Conflicts of Interest and Openness
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health February 28, 2005

More on Why Politics and IPCC Matters
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 25, 2005

More on Cat Models
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty February 24, 2005

Catastrophe Models: Boon or Bane?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty February 24, 2005

Marburger’s Prepared Remarks from CU
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 23, 2005

Politicizing Politicization
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 22, 2005

Data and Salt
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 21, 2005

Harbingers and Climate Discourse
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 18, 2005

Frankenfood or Fearmongering?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology February 16, 2005

McIntyre on Climate Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 14, 2005

Methane Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 14, 2005

Long Live Mode 1 Science – Or Not
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 11, 2005

Space Shuttle Costs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy February 10, 2005

The Cherry Pick
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 09, 2005

Letter in TNR
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 09, 2005

A New Blog on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 08, 2005

Climate Science and Politics, but not IPCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 08, 2005

We Have an Answer
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 04, 2005

Street Fighting
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 04, 2005

Making Sense of the Climate Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change February 03, 2005

Presidential Science Advisers
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 03, 2005

Another Published Student Paper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General February 02, 2005

flooddamagedata.org
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General February 01, 2005

Politics or Science?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 31, 2005

A Friday Hodgepodge
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge January 28, 2005

A Good Example why Politics/IPCC Matters
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 27, 2005

Reader Mail on Political Advocacy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 27, 2005

There is a Lesson Here
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy January 26, 2005

More Politics and IPCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 26, 2005

Long Live the Linear Model
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 25, 2005

Follow Up On Landsea/IPCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 24, 2005

A Third Way on Climate?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 21, 2005

Climate Change and Reinsurance, Part 2.5
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 19, 2005

A Response to RealClimate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General January 15, 2005

The Uncertainty Trap
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty January 14, 2005

NRC Perchlorate Report and NRDC Reaction
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health January 12, 2005

A Couple of Newsletters and Essays
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Climate Change January 11, 2005

Accepting Politics In Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 10, 2005

Climate Change and Reinsurance, Part II
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 07, 2005

Climate Change and Reinsurance, Part I
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change January 06, 2005

Social Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General January 04, 2005

Prometheus Office Pool, 2005
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 30, 2004

Basic Research in USDA?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding December 29, 2004

Shadow Boxing on Climate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 27, 2004

Happy Holidays!!
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 23, 2004

What is climate change?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 22, 2004

National Post Op-Ed
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 22, 2004

This Just In
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General December 21, 2004

Misuse of Science by UNEP
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 20, 2004

A Friday Whip
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge December 17, 2004

Uncertainty and Decision Making
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty December 16, 2004

IPCC-FCCC Issues at COP 10
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 15, 2004

NYT on NRC HST Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy December 10, 2004

Two Points on the NRC Hubble Study
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy December 09, 2004

Confusion, Consensus and Robust Policy Options
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Science Policy: General December 08, 2004

Research as Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change December 07, 2004

About that NSF Budget Cut
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding December 06, 2004

Sources for Space Policy Commentary and News
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy December 01, 2004

NYT as NSF Mouthpiece
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding November 30, 2004

Opening up Space Policy Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy November 30, 2004

Declare Victory and Move On?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 29, 2004

Clear Thinking on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 24, 2004

Wanted: Honest Brokers
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health November 23, 2004

AAAS on 2005 Science Funding
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 22, 2004

A False Dichotomy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 19, 2004

NRC on Advisory Committees
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 18, 2004

Hyperbole and Hyperbole Police
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 18, 2004

Hyperbole Watch
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 15, 2004

Pontifical Academy of Sciences
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 10, 2004

A Hyperbolic Backlash
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 09, 2004

Professors and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 08, 2004

Ghost of the Golden Fleece
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 05, 2004

Politics and the IPCC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change November 02, 2004

A Perspective on Science and Politics in the US
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General November 01, 2004

Follow Up on CRS on DQA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 29, 2004

Science Press Releases, Science Headlines
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 29, 2004

A Report Card for President Bush's Science Policies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 28, 2004

More on Presidential Advisory Committees
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 27, 2004

Sarewitz on California Proposition 71
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health October 26, 2004

More on Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Others | Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 25, 2004

Bring the Policy Back In
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy October 21, 2004

Litmus Test Script
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 20, 2004

A New Essay on Science Funding
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding October 19, 2004

Satellite Reentry Risks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy October 18, 2004

It’s Time to Clarify the role of AAAS in Policy and Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 15, 2004

On Cherry Picking and Missing the Point
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 12, 2004

An Equation for Science in Politics: SM = f(PP)
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Science Policy: General October 11, 2004

If not Dominance, then What?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding October 08, 2004

CRS report on DQA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General October 08, 2004

Interesting Email
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 07, 2004

(Mis)Justifications for Climate Mitigation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 07, 2004

Scientists and the Politics of Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 06, 2004

Data Quality & David Brooks
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge October 04, 2004

Exemption Requested from Data Quality Act
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change October 04, 2004

CALL FOR PAPERS: 2005 MEPHISTOS CONFERENCE
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 30, 2004

Hurricanes and Climate Change: On Asking the Wrong Question
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 29, 2004

Non-Results in Clinical Trials and Beyond
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health September 27, 2004

Fellowships from the National Academies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Job Announcements September 22, 2004

Brian Drain
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 21, 2004

Climate Models, Climate Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 20, 2004

Just About Right
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 15, 2004

CSPO Has New WWW Site and Content
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 14, 2004

Hurricanes and Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 13, 2004

Dangerous Ideas
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | Science Policy: General September 13, 2004

Public Access to Genome Data and the NAS as Policy Advocate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health September 10, 2004

Stem Cells, Stalwarts and Dealers Redux
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health September 09, 2004

University of Washington’s Forum on Science Ethics and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 08, 2004

The Axiology of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 07, 2004

Hurricane Frances Damage Estimates
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 07, 2004

Upcoming Event at ASU
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General September 06, 2004

Population, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and US-Europe Negotiations
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International September 03, 2004

You Heard it Here First
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change September 02, 2004

Hurricane Francis
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge September 02, 2004

Mindset List
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge September 01, 2004

Jay Kay on the Wisdom of Experts and other Things
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General August 31, 2004

Climate Models and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 31, 2004

Politicization of Social Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General August 30, 2004

A Perspective on Scotland’s S&T Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International August 30, 2004

USGCRP and Policy Relevance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 27, 2004

Striking shift? I don’t think so.
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 27, 2004

The New York Times and Our Changing Planet
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 26, 2004

Skewering Academia
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education August 26, 2004

Beyond Dominance
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | Science Policy: General August 26, 2004

Science Education
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science Policy: General August 25, 2004

More on Science Literacy and Democracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science Policy: General August 25, 2004

Democracy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science Policy: General August 25, 2004

Stem Cells and the Misuse of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science Policy: General August 23, 2004

"Skeptical Environmentalist" Article Now Online
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment August 20, 2004

The Politics of Personal Virtue and Energy Policies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy August 20, 2004

Charley’s Damage in Context
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty August 17, 2004

The Insanity of the Climate Change Debate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change August 13, 2004

Reader Challenge
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge August 06, 2004

Follow up On Fate of TRMM
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Space Policy August 06, 2004

Several Minor Housekeeping Items
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge August 05, 2004

Space Shuttle Costs and NASA Dynamics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy August 04, 2004

Radio Interview Q&A
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Hodge Podge August 03, 2004

Op-Ed on Stem Cell Science and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology | Health August 02, 2004

UPI Story on Science Funding
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding July 29, 2004

Radio Interview
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Hodge Podge July 28, 2004

NRC Report on Genetically Engineered Foods
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology July 28, 2004

Distinguishing Climate Policy and Energy Policy: Follow Up
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy July 27, 2004

Two Views of Science in Society
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 27, 2004

Health Research Priorities
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | R&D Funding July 26, 2004

Distinguishing Climate Policy and Energy Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy July 26, 2004

Bipartisan Call to Save TRMM
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Space Policy July 26, 2004

An Appeal to the President to Save TRMM
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Space Policy July 23, 2004

Irony Abounds, Futility Reigns
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 23, 2004

More on Presidential Appointments to Science Advisory Committees
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 23, 2004

Follow Up on HHS as Gatekeeper
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 22, 2004

Understanding Science Budgeting: Veterans/Housing vs. R&D
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding July 21, 2004

Science Inputs and Outputs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General July 20, 2004

More on TRMM Reentry
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Space Policy July 19, 2004

Seeds of Confusion
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding July 19, 2004

Clear Thinking on U.S. and Kyoto
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 16, 2004

Update on European GHG Emissions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 16, 2004

House Hearing on Prizes as Space Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 15, 2004

Confusion about Science and Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Risk & Uncertainty July 15, 2004

NRC Report on Hubble, “Outside Experts,” and Policy Advocacy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy July 14, 2004

Risk Communication: SNL Scoops GAO
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty July 13, 2004

AAAS Leadership Seminar in Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 13, 2004

Yucca Mountain, Politics, Science, and the NRC
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Science Policy: General July 12, 2004

Follow Up on Politics and the Kyoto Protocol
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International July 12, 2004

Presidential Appointments to Science Advisory Committees
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 09, 2004

Graduate Student Enrollment
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education July 09, 2004

Second UCS Report
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 09, 2004

China’s Technology Policies
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | R&D Funding July 08, 2004

Two Different Perspectives on EU Action Under Kyoto
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change July 08, 2004

Scientist Shortage?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 07, 2004

More on John Kerry and Science Budgets
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding July 07, 2004

Sunstein, Surwiecki, and Scientific Consensus
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General July 06, 2004

Cass Sunstein on The Wisdom of Crowds
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 06, 2004

The Kerry-Bush Science and Technology Policy Platform
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General July 05, 2004

Predicting Elections
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge July 05, 2004

I Beg to Differ: Biosafety
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology July 01, 2004

A Special Journal Issue on Interdisciplinarity
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 30, 2004

Understanding Torture: What Role for Science?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge June 30, 2004

Frames Trump the Facts
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Environment | Water Policy June 29, 2004

Follow-up on John Kerry and Science Budgets
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General June 28, 2004

Henry Waxman, HHS, and a Bush Administration Misuse of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science Policy: General June 28, 2004

NASA and Safety
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy June 28, 2004

Publish-and-Perish in Italy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science Policy: General June 24, 2004

Science Budgets and Nobel Laureates for Kerry
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General June 23, 2004

Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Emissions
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty June 22, 2004

Fetal Genetic Testing
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health | Science Policy: General June 21, 2004

Misuse of Science Report from ENVS 4800
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 17, 2004

Legitimizing the Politicization of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 17, 2004

Fast and Loose on Climate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change June 16, 2004

Technology Policy and Commercial Weather Services
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 11, 2004

The Significance of Uncitedness
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General June 10, 2004

Science, Technology, and Sustainability Program at NAS
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Sustainability June 04, 2004

Chinese Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | Science Policy: General June 04, 2004

Brain Drain
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Science Policy: General June 03, 2004

A Lesson in International Politics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International June 02, 2004

Reducing Uncertainty: Good Luck
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty May 31, 2004

A New Essay on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 28, 2004

Using and Misusing Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 28, 2004

Scientist Shortage?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 27, 2004

Op-ed on Kyoto
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 26, 2004

Book Review
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology May 26, 2004

Politicization of Science: Getting the History Straight
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 24, 2004

The Value of Collaboration
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 24, 2004

Mixed Messages on GMOs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology May 21, 2004

Blurring Fact and Fiction: Ingenious
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 21, 2004

GAO Report of Federal Advisory Committees
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 20, 2004

Kyoto Protocol Watch
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 20, 2004

Prometheus in the Washington Times
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News May 20, 2004

The Cherry Pick: A New Essay in Ogmius
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 19, 2004

Update on Prizes in Innovation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 19, 2004

Is Technological Pessimism Bipartisan?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 18, 2004

The Indian Election and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 18, 2004

Generic News Story on Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 17, 2004

Accounting Troubles at NASA
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy May 17, 2004

2004 SACNAS National Conference
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General | Site News May 14, 2004

Conflict of Interest Policies in NIH
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health May 14, 2004

S & T Policy in Iraq
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 14, 2004

Speech by Chairman of the House Science Committee
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 13, 2004

Prizes as Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy May 13, 2004

Hubble Alternatives
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy May 12, 2004

Integration of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment May 12, 2004

Scientific Workforce and Global Geopolitics
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 11, 2004

Scientific Workforce, Supply Side
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 11, 2004

The Grass is Greener
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 10, 2004

What if the Russians Don’t Ratify Kyoto?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 10, 2004

Lomborg on The Day After Tomorrow
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 10, 2004

Remind me what we are arguing about
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 07, 2004

A Myth about Public Opinion and Global Warming
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 07, 2004

The Globalization of Science
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 07, 2004

A Public Understanding of Science Paradox
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education May 06, 2004

NSF Science and Engineering Indicators
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 06, 2004

Biodefense Science and Technology Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Biotechnology May 05, 2004

Technology Policy, Privacy, and Anonymity
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge May 05, 2004

Some Facts on R&D Budgets
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding May 04, 2004

Tony Blair Comments on Climate
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change May 04, 2004

Colorado River and Drought
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Water Policy May 03, 2004

The Sky is Falling
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General May 03, 2004

Policy Relevant Science in the Media
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty April 30, 2004

Science Policy and Fiction
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy April 30, 2004

Singing from the Same Sheet
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy April 29, 2004

So You Want to Be a Grad Student?
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education April 29, 2004

The Day after Tomorrow
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge April 28, 2004

On the PhD and Adjunctification
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education April 28, 2004

UK Foresight on Floods
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment April 28, 2004

NAS President's Address
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 27, 2004

Academic Orthodoxy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education April 27, 2004

More Devil in the Details: Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Environment April 26, 2004

Grade Inflation
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education April 26, 2004

Science Academies in Africa
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 26, 2004

Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) on Science Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 23, 2004

R&D Budgets Redux
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding April 23, 2004

The Paradox of Choice and Policy Alternatives
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General April 23, 2004

Space Shuttle: An Uncomfortable Question
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy April 22, 2004

R&D Budgets
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General April 22, 2004

A Perspective on Science and Policy in India
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty | Science Policy: General April 22, 2004

Tough Questions on Space Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy April 21, 2004

Beyond Kyoto: Yes or No
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 21, 2004

A FCCC Perspective on Climate Policy
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 21, 2004

Federal Research Funds and Universities
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | R&D Funding | Science Policy: General April 20, 2004

Country of Origin Labels for Gasoline
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy | Environment April 19, 2004

Job Opportuity in Climate Change Communication
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Job Announcements April 15, 2004

A Devil in the Details: Climate Change
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change April 15, 2004

Mercury Regulation and the Excess of Objectivity
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Environment April 15, 2004

Climate Change Prediction and Uncertainty
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Risk & Uncertainty April 14, 2004

S&T Policy Jobs
   in Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Job Announcements April 14, 2004



January 30, 2008

Witanagemot Justice And Senator Inhofe’s Fancy List

Witan_hexateuch.jpg

Anyone interested in the intersection of science and politics has to be watching with some amusement and more than a little dismay at the spectacle of professional immolation that the climate science community has engaged in following the release of Senator James Inhofe’s list of 400+ climate skeptics.

The amusement comes from the fact that everyone involved in this tempest in a teapot seems to be working as hard as possible in ways contrary to their political interests.

From the perspective of Senator Inhofe, by producing such a list he has raised the stakes associated with any scientist going public with any concerns about the scientific consensus on climate change. Not only would announcement of such concerns lead one to risk being associated with one of the most despised politicians in the climate science community, but several climate scientists have taken on as their personal responsibility the chore of personally attacking people who happen to find themselves on the Senator’s list. What young scholar would want to face the climate science attack dogs? Of course, those sharing the Senator’s political views may not mind being on such a list, but this does nothing more than further politicize climate science.

And this leads to the repugnant behavior of the attack dog climate scientists who otherwise would like to be taken seriously. By engaging in the character assassination of people who happen to find themselves on Senator Inhofe’s list they reinforce the absurd notion that scientific claims can be adjudicated solely by head counts and a narrow view of professional qualifications. They can’t. (See this enlightening and amusing discussion by Dan Sarewitz of leading experts arguing over who is qualified to comment on climate issues.) But by suggesting that knowledge claims can be judged by credentials the attack dog scientists reinforce an anti-democratic authoritarian streak found in the activist wing of the climate science community. Of course, from the perspective of the activist scientists such attacks may be effective if they dissuade other challenges to orthodoxy, but surely climate scientists deserving of the designation should be encouraging challenges to knowledge claims, rather than excoriating anyone who dares to challenge their beliefs.

I recently chatted with Steve Rayner and Gwyn Prins, authors of the brilliant and provocative essay The Wrong Trousers (PDF), who found themselves , somewhat bizarrely, on Senator Inhofe’s list. Neither has expressed anything resembling views challenging claims of human-caused climate change, however they are (rightly) critical of the political approach to climate change embodied by Kyoto. I asked them what they thought about being on the Senator’s list. Steve Rayner asked if there was some way to sue the Senator for defamation, tongue only partly in cheek. Gwyn Prins offered the following gem:

I think that pointing out that the mere fact of this funny headcounting is worthy of note: In the Anglo-Saxon witanagemot justice was achieved by oath-swearing so the number and the status of your oath-swearers mattered more than the facts of the matter; and this issue is being adjudicated on both sides – denialists and climate puritans – in just such a manner.

He is right of course, and this brings us to the dismay. The climate science community – or at least its most publicly visible activist wing – seems to be working as hard as possible to undercut the legitimacy and the precarious trust than society provides in support of activities of the broader scientific community. Senator Inhofe is a politician, and plays politics. If activist climate scientists wish to play the Senator’s game, then don’t be surprised to see common wisdom viewing these activists more as political players than trustworthy experts. If this is correct then maybe the Senator is a bit more astute than given credit for.

Ultimately, the mainstream climate science community might share with their activist colleagues the same sort of advice Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC) offered to former President Bill Clinton – "chill."

January 29, 2008

Eugene Skolnikoff on The Honest Broker

It is really an honor to see MIT's Eugene Skolnikoff review The Honest Broker in the January Review of Policy Research of the Policy Studies Organization. Professor Skolnikoff has been a leading scholar of science and technology policy for more than four decades. He served on the staff of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and as a consultant to President Carter, in addition to playing many other roles in the academic and applied communities.

He has these nice things to say about the book:

. . . Pielke’s book is a primer that can be a valuable introduction to clarifying the wide roles scientists can and do play, and can be useful in explaining what lies behind some of the controversies so evident today.

The bulk of the book is devoted to elaborating these four roles [of Pure Scientist, Science Arbiter, Issue Advocate, and Honest Broker], providing some background on what earlier scholars have written, elaborating the roles with illustrative issues, and discussing the important underlying elements of values and uncertainty. Pielke clearly has been through the wars on science policy issues and shows his experience and, by implication, his frustration with those scientists who advocate policies they argue are dictated by the scientific facts, without recognizing (or admitting) that their views are a result of their commitment to certain policy outcomes. He demonstrates a solid grasp of science and policy interactions, a sophisticated knowledge of U.S. science policy and institutions, and can write and express important ideas clearly and convincingly. For those reasons, the book is a valuable addition to the science and policy scene.

Professor Skolnikoff takes issue with several aspects of the book, such as its lack of discussions of engineers and technology. More importantly he suggests that I am "arguing that all scientists who call for action, some action, to deal with what they see as possible consequences of emerging evidence have become advocates, whose scientific views can thereby be considered to be politicized." This is indeed what I have argued. He concludes that "Pielke appears to tar all scientists who have strong views on a controversial issue, notably climate change again, with the claim they have simply become advocates and thus closed to alternative evidence."

I actually do not assert that advocates are closed to alternative evidence nor do I cast advocacy in such a pejorative light. In fact, I make a strong case for the importance of advocacy in democratic politics. It is not "tarring" someone to identify them as participating in advocacy, which I define as working to reduce the scope of political choice. What I do take strong issue with is what I call "stealth issue advocacy" in which an expert claims to be focused only on science (or more generally, truth), while really working to advance a specific agenda. Unfortunately, Professor Skolnikoff does not discuss this distinction among advocacy activities.

Overall, it is a thoughtful review, in which Skolnikoff describes the book as "generally valuable and occasionally provocative," which sounds pretty good to me.

Posted on January 29, 2008 12:29 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

January 28, 2008

Two New Blogs to Check Out

Like anyone needs a longer personal blogroll, but here are two that might be worth a look.

William Briggs is a statistician, a delightful writer, and provocatively skeptical about all sort of subjects in exactly the way that scientists should be skeptical. His new blog is extremely thoughtful. For example, he has a post up today titled, "Is climatology a pseudoscience?" and provides a nuanced, and yes, provocative answer.

A new group blog called Science Policy Development has just started up on the heels of the recent NAS Science and Technology Policy Graduate Student Forum. There is plenty of room in the blogosphere for more discussions of science policy and I am hopeful that this group maintains an active presence in science policy discussions.

January 26, 2008

Updated IPCC Forecasts vs. Observations

IPCC Verification w-RSS correction.png

Carl Mears from Remote Sensing Systems, Inc. was kind enough to email me to point out that the RSS data that I had shared with our readers a few weeks ago contained an error that RSS has since corrected. The summary figure above is re-plotted with the corrected data (RSS is the red curve). At the time I wrote:

Something fishy is going on. The IPCC and CCSP recently argued that the surface and satellite records are reconciled. This might be the case from the standpoint of long-term linear trends. But the data here suggest that there is some work left to do. The UAH and NASA curves are remarkably consistent. But RSS dramatically contradicts both. UKMET shows 2007 as the coolest year since 2001, whereas NASA has 2007 as the second warmest. In particular estimates for 2007 seem to diverge in unique ways. It'd be nice to see the scientific community explain all of this.

For those interested in the specifics, Carl explained in his email:

The error was simple -- I made a small change in the code ~ 1 year ago that resulted in a ~0.1K decrease in the absolute value of AMSU TLTs, but neglected to reprocess data from 1998-2006, instead only using it for the new (Jan 2007 onward) data. Since the AMSU TLTs are forced to match the MSU TLTs (on average) during the overlap period, this resulted in an apparent drop in TLT for 2007. Reprocessing the earlier AMSU data, thus lowering AMSU TLT by 0.1 from 1998-2006, resulted in small changes in the parameters that are added to the AMSU temperatures to make them match MSU temperatures, and thus the 2007 data is increased by ~0.1K. My colleagues at UAH (Christy and Spencer) were both very helpful in diagnosing the problem.

It is important to note that the RSS correction does not alter my earlier analysis of the IPCC predictions (made in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007) and various observations. Thanks again to Carl for alerting me to the error and giving me a chance to update the figures with the new information!

January 23, 2008

The Authoritarianism of Experts

Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that we must take a certain course of action because the experts tell us we must? The issue might be the threat of another country or an environmental risk, but increasingly we see appeals to authority used as the basis for arguing for this or that action.

In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise. They write in a recent op-ed:

Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. . .

There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. . .

We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions.

On their book page they write:

[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.

So whenever you hear (or invoke) an argument from expertise (i.e., "the experts tell us that we must ...") ask if we should listen to the experts in just this one case, or if we should turn over all decisions to experts. If just this one case, why this one and not others? If a general prescription, should we do away with democracy in favor of an authoritarianism of expertise?

January 20, 2008

I'm So Confused

Last week I received an email from our Chancellor, Bud Peterson, warning me and my CU colleagues of the perils of engaging in political advocacy activities as a university employee. Here is an excerpt:

TO: Boulder Campus Teaching & Research Faculty, Staff, Deans, Directors, Dept Chairs

FROM: Office of the Chancellor

SENDER: Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson

DATE: January 18, 2008

SUBJECT: Guidelines on Campaign-Related Activities by Members of the University Community

Dear Colleagues:

In light of the many political campaigns currently, or soon to be, underway at the national, state and local levels, I would like to provide you with a set of guidelines we, as members of the University community, should keep in mind as we consider our own activities and level of involvement. The guidelines were developed by the Office of the University Counsel, and if you have questions, I urge you to contact Counsel's office at 303-492-7481.

GUIDELINES ON CAMPAIGN-RELATED ACTIVITIES BY MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY
COMMUNITY

IN GENERAL, UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES MAY NOT:

* Engage in any activity during working hours designed to urge electors to vote for or against any campaign issues, which include campaigns for public office, state-wide campaign issues or referred measures, and local campaign issues or levies.

* Employees wishing to participate in a campaign activity should take personal leave.

* Use office supplies or equipment, including computers, telephones, printers or facsimile machines to create materials urging electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

* Use their University email accounts to urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue, or to forward materials that urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

* Use University-hosted websites to urge electors to vote for or against a campaign issue.

At the same time Chancellor Peterson has endorsed faculty participation in a January 31 political advocacy effort called "Focus the Nation," which seeks to motivate action on climate change.

Here is how The Colorado Daily describes the activity:

There's also a hint of politics involved: the teach-in is scheduled for Jan. 31, shortly before statewide primaries and caucuses, and is timed to place pressure on political candidates. [Colorado's caucus is Feb. 5].

"We wanted to do it right in the height of the early primaries to ensure that climate change is at the forefront of the issues," [Garrett] Brennan [media director for Focus the Nation] said.

After all, raising awareness about climate change is one thing, he said. Actually solving it is another.

"The solutions are pretty cut and dry," Brennan said. "You're not going to create an art installation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Raising awareness - making it personal to people - is multidisciplinary. The solutions are policies that are going to get passed."

That could be one reason that voter-registration group New Era Colorado will be on campus that day, displaying poster-board profiles that detail each candidate's stance on environmental issues.

The website for Focus the Nation lists the policy actions that it wishes to focus our nation's attention on and for me to discuss in the classroom, and here are a few of the options that I am supposed to provide to my students:

To stabilize global warming at the low end of the possible range (3-4 degrees F) will require deep cuts in global warming pollution beginning in about 2020. In the US, reductions in emissions of roughly 15%-20% per decade will be needed.

Place a tax on each ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) embodied in fossil fuels. Set the tax high enough to initially stabilize nationwide emissions, and then have the tax rise over time, generating steady cuts in pollution. Use tax revenue to (1) compensate lower income Americans for higher energy prices, and (2) to assist impacted workers, especially in coal mining.

To the extent that coal use is unavoidable, only allow coal plants that capture and permanently sequester their emissions in geologic formations.

Cap total carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution emitted in the US through a system of a fixed number of permits; auction the permits to emitters; use auction revenue to (1) compensate lower income Americans for higher energy prices, and (2) to assist impacted workers, especially in coal mining.

By 2030, require by law that all new buildings in the US be "carbon neutral" (no net emissions of global warming pollution from fossil fuel combustion).

Set the emerging biofuels sector on a sustainable basis through: (1) A Low Carbon Fuel Standard that sets a goal for reducing carbon intensity in the total light and heavy duty vehicles fuels mix by10 percent by 2020, and (2) Mount a major effort to research, develop, demonstrate and deploy sustainable biofuels feedstocks and technologies.

Prevent CO2 emissions and remove atmospheric CO2 through forest conservation, management and restoration. Include forests in cap & auction system, allowing the trade of forest emissions reductions that are real, additional, verifiable, and permanent.

For the United States as a whole, adopt California’s standards requiring a 23% reduction in global warming pollution from new vehicles sold by 2012, and a 30% reduction in global warming pollution from new vehicles sold by 2016.

I am so confused.

Focus the Nation is unadulterated political advocacy. But my campus forbids me to use my official time, paid for by taxpayers, to advocate for particular campaign issues. But global warming is so important. But my Chancellor forbids me to engage in political advocacy as part of my job. But my Chancellor is the keynote speaker for our Focus the Nation activities. But my job is to teach not indoctrinate. But I actually agree with many of the proposed policies. But it is not my job to use my platform as a professor to tell students what to think; I am supposed to teach them how to think and come to their own conclusions. But if I don't go along I'll be castigated as one of those bad guys, like a Holocaust denier or slave owner. But doing the right thing is so obvious.

Thank goodness I am on sabbatical.

January 18, 2008

Temperature Trends 1990-2007: Hansen, IPCC, Obs

The figure below shows linear trends in temperature for Jim Hansen's three 1988 scenarios (in shades of blue), for the IPCC predictions issued in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007 (in shades of green), and for four sets of observations (in shades of brown). I choose the period 1990-2007 because this is the period of overlap for all of the predictions (except IPCC 2007, which starts in 2000).

temp trends.png

Looking just at these measures of central tendency (i.e., no formal consideration of uncertainties) it seems clear that:

1. Trends in all of Hansen's scenarios are above IPCC 1995, 2001, and 2007, as well as three of the four surface observations.

2. The outlier on surface observations, and the one consistent with Hansen's Scenarios A and B is the NASA dataset overseen by Jim Hansen. Whatever the explanation for this, good scientific practice would have forecasting and data collection used to verify those forecasts conducted by completely separate groups.

3. Hansen's Scenario A is very similar to IPCC 1990, which makes sense given their closeness in time, and assumptions of forcings at the time (i.e., thoughts on business-as-usual did not change much over that time).

The data for the Hansen scenarios was obtained at Climate Audit from the ongoing discussion there, and the IPCC and observational data is as described on this site over the past week or so in the forecast verification exercise that I have conducted. This is an ongoing exercise, as part of a conversation across the web, so if you have questions or comments, please share them, either here, or if our comment interface is driving you nuts (as it is with me), then comment over at Climate Audit where I'll participate in the discussions.

Worldwatch Wants You to Think

prius v nano.png

Worldwatch asks a challenging question:

One car gets 46 miles per gallon, features fancy accessories, and sports two engines with a combined 145 horsepower. The other car reportedly gets 54 miles per gallon, runs on a diminutive 30-horsepower engine, and is positively spartan in its interior trimmings. The first is a darling of the environmentally conscious. The latter is reviled as a climate wrecker. These two vehicles are the Toyota Prius and the newly unveiled Tata Nano, dubbed "the people’s car." Is there a double standard?

January 17, 2008

New Paper on Normalized Hurricane Damages

Normalized Hurricane Damage.png

Our paper on normalized hurricane damages 1900 to 2005 has now been published. By "normalized" we mean taking damages as recorded in the year that they occurred in that year's dollars, and adjusting them to account for societal changes such as population growth, building stock, tangible wealth, and inflation. The figure above shows the results of one of the two approaches to normalization presented in our paper.

The full paper can be found at the link below and an Excel dataset can be found here.

Pielke, Jr., R. A., Gratz, J., Landsea, C. W., Collins, D., Saunders, M., and Musulin, R., 2008. Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005. Natural Hazards Review, 9:29-42. (PDF)

A few brief comments follow.

For those who might be interested in the debate over hurricanes and global warming, there is nothing added to the debate from this paper. Here is what we say that is most relevant:

Pielke and Landsea (1998) found no trends in normalized losses, a finding subsequently replicated by Katz (2002). Recent analyses of longitudinal geophysical data find that there are no trends on hurricane frequency and intensity at U.S. landfall (see, Landsea 2005; Emanuel 2005; Landsea 2007). Because the normalization methodology is subject to assumptions, differences in which can lead to significant changes in results, there is general agreement that normalized data are in general not the best first place to look for changes in underlying geophysical variables, and such changes are best explored using the geophysical data directly (cf. Höppe and Pielke 2006). However, when climate trends or variability have sufficiently large effects on losses, they can be detected in damage data (e.g., Pielke and Landsea 1999).

The two normalized datasets reported here show no trends in either the absolute data or under a logarithmic transformation: the variance explained by a best fit linear trend line = 0.0004 and 0.0003 respectively for PL05, and 0.0014 and 0.00006 respectively for CL05. The lack of trend in twentieth century normalized hurricane losses is consistent with what one would expect to find given the lack of trends in hurricane frequency or intensity at landfall. This finding should add some confidence that, at least to a first degree, the normalization approach has successfully adjusted for changing societal conditions. Given the lack of trends in hurricanes themselves, any trend observed in the normalized losses would necessarily reflect some bias in the adjustment process, such as failing to recognize changes in adaptive capacity or misspecifying wealth. Because we do not have a resulting bias suggests that any factors not included in the normalization methods do not have a resulting net large significance.

Below is an image showing the top 50 storms for one of the normalization methods. For the details on the methods and a whole bunch of analysis, please see the paper.

Normalized Damage Top 50.png

Posted on January 17, 2008 02:54 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters

January 16, 2008

UKMET Short Term Global Temperature Forecast

UKMET Short Term Forecast.png

This figure shows a short-term forecast of global average temperature issued by the UK Meteorological Service, with some annotations that I've added and described below. The forecast is discussed in this PDF where you can find the original figure. This sort of forecast should be applauded, because it allows for learning based on experience. Such forecasts, whether eventually shown to be wrong or right, can serve as powerful tests of knowledge and predictive skill. The UK Met Service is to be applauded. Now on to the figure itself.

The figure is accompanied by this caption:

Observations of global average temperature (black line) compared with decadal ‘hindcasts’ (10-year model simulations of the past, white lines and red shading), plus the first decadal prediction for the 10 years from 2005. Temperatures are plotted as anomalies (relative to 1979–2001). As with short-term weather forecasts there remains some uncertainty in our predictions of temperature over a decade. The red shading shows our confidence in predictions of temperature in any given year. If there are no volcanic eruptions during the forecast period, there is a 90% likelihood of the temperature being within the shaded area.

The figure shows both hindcasts and a forecast. I've shaded the hindcasts in grey. I've added the green curve which is my replication of the global temperature anomalies from the UKMET HADCRUT3 dataset extended to 2007. I've also plotted as a blue dot the prediction issued by UKMET for 2008, which is expected to be indistinguishable from the temperature of years 2001 to 2007 (which were indistinguishable from each other). The magnitude of the UKMET forecast over the next decade is almost exactly identical to the IPCC AR4 prediction over the same time period, which I discussed last week.

I have added the pink star at 1995 to highlight the advantages offered by hindcasting. Imagine if the model realization begun in 1985 had been continued beyond 1995, rather than being re-run after 1995. Clearly, all subsequent observed temperatures would have been well below that 1985 curve. One important reason for this is of course the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, which was not predicted. And that is precisely the point -- prediction is really hard, especially when conducted in the context of open systems, and as is often said, especially about the the future. Our ability to explain why a prediction was wrong does not make that prediction right, and this is a point often lost in debate about climate change.

Again, kudos to the UK Met Service. They've had the fortitude to issue a short term prediction related to climate change. Other scientific bodies should follow this lead. It is good for science, and good for the use of science in decision making.

January 15, 2008

Verification of IPCC Sea Level Rise Forecasts 1990, 1995, 2001

Here is a graph showing IPCC sea level rise forecasts from the FAR (1990), SAR (1995), and TAR (2001).

IPCC Sea Level.png

And here are the sources:

IPCC Sea Level Sources.png

Observational data can be found here. Thanks to my colleague Steve Nerem.

Unlike temperature forecasts by the IPCC, sea level rise shows no indication that scientists have a handle on the issue. As with temperature the IPCC dramatically decreased its predictions of sea level rise in between its first (1990) and second (1995) assessment reports. It then nudged down its prediction a very small amount in its 2001 report. The observational data falls in the middle of the 1990 and 1995/2001 assessments.

Last year Rahmstorf et al. published a short paper in Science comparing observations of temperature with IPCC 2001 predictions (Aside: it is remarkable that Science allowed them to ignore IPCC 1990 and 1995). Their analysis is completely consistent with the temperature and sea level rise verifications that I have shown. On sea level rise they concluded:

Previous projections, as summarized by IPCC, have not exaggerated but may in some respects even have underestimated the change, in particular for sea level.

This statement is only true if one ignores the 1990 IPCC report which overestimated both sea level rise and temperature. Rahmstorf et al. interpretation of the results is little more than spin, as it would have been equally valid to conclude based on the 1990 report:

Previous projections, as summarized by IPCC, have not underestimated but may in some respects even have exaggerated the change, both for sea level and temperature.

Rather than spin the results, I conclude that the ongoing debate about future sea level rise is entirely appropriate. The fact that the IPCC has been unsuccessful in predicting sea level rise, does not mean that things are worse or better, but simply that scientists clearly do not have a handle on this issue and are unable to predict sea level changes on a decadal scale. The lack of predictive accuracy does not lend optimism about the prospects for accuracy on the multi-decadal scale. Consider that the 2007 IPCC took a pass on predicting near term sea level rise, choosing instead to focus 90 years out (as far as I am aware, anyone who knows differently, please let me know).

This state of affairs should give no comfort to anyone: over the 21st century sea level is expected to rise, anywhere from an unnoticeable amount to the catastrophic, and scientists have essentially no ability to predict this rise, much less the effects of various climate policies on that rise. As we've said here before, this is a cherrypickers delight, and a policy makers nightmare. It'd be nice to see the scientific community engaged in a bit less spin, and a bit more comprehensive analysis.

January 14, 2008

James Hansen on One Year's Temperature

NASA's James Hansen just sent around a commentary (in PDF here) on the significance of the 2007 global temperature in the context of the long-term temperature record that he compiles for NASA. After Real Climate went nuts over how misguided it is to engage in a discussion of eight years worth of temperature records, I can''t wait to see them lay into Jim Hansen for asserting that one year's data is of particular significance (and also for not graphing uncertainty ranges):

The Southern Oscillation and the solar cycle have significant effects on year-to-year global temperature change. Because both of these natural effects were in their cool phases in 2007, the unusual warmth of 2007 is all the more notable.

But maybe it is that data that confirms previously held beliefs is acceptable no matter how short the record, and data that does not is not acceptable, no matter how long the record. But that would be confirmation bias, wouldn't it?

Anyway, Dr. Hansen does not explain why the 2007 NASA data runs counter to that of UKMET, UAH or RSS, but does manage to note the "incorrect" 2007 UKMET prediction of a record warm year. Dr. Hansen issues his own prediction:

. . . it is unlikely that 2008 will be a year with an unusual global temperature change, i.e., it is likely to remain close to the range of (high) values exhibited in 2002-2007. On the other hand, when the next El Nino occurs it is likely to carry global temperature to a significantly higher level than has occurred in recent centuries, probably higher than any year in recent millennia. Thus we suggest that, barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature clearly exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.

I wonder if this holds just for the NASA dataset put together by Dr. Hansen or for all of the temperature datasets.

Updated Chart: IPCC Temperature Verification

I've received some email comments suggesting that my use of the 1992 IPCC Supplement as the basis for IPCC 1990 temperature predictions was "too fair" to the IPCC because the IPCC actually reduced its temperature projections from 1990 to 1992. In addition, Gavin Schmidt and a commenter over at Climate Audit also did not like my use of the 1992 report. So I am going to take full advantage of the rapid feedback of the web to provide an updated figure, based on IPCC 1990, specifically, Figure A.9, p. 336. In other words, I no longer rely on the 1992 supplement, and have simply gone back to the original IPCC 1990 FAR. Here then is that updated Figure:

IPCC Verification 90-95-01-07 vs Obs.png

Thanks all for the feedback!

Pachauri on Recent Climate Trends

Last week scientists at the Real Climate blog gave their confirmation bias synapses a workout by explaining that eight years of climate data is meaningless, and people who pay any attention to recent climate trends are "misguided." I certainly agree that we should exhibit cautiousness in interpreting short-duration observations, nonetheless we should always be trying to explain (rather than simply discount) observational evidence to avoid the trap of confirmation bias.

So it was interesting to see IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri exhibit "misguided" behavior when he expressed some surprise about recent climate trends in The Guardian:

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the U.N. Panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said he would look into the apparent temperature plateau so far this century.

"One would really have to see on the basis of some analysis what this really represents," he told Reuters, adding "are there natural factors compensating?" for increases in greenhouse gases from human activities.

He added that sceptics about a human role in climate change delighted in hints that temperatures might not be rising. "There are some people who would want to find every single excuse to say that this is all hogwash," he said.

Ironically, by suggesting that their might be some significance to recent climate trends, Dr. Pachauri has provided ammunition to those very same skeptics that he disparages. Perhaps Real Climate will explain how misguided he is, but somehow I doubt it.

For the record, I accept the conclusions of IPCC Working Group I. I don't know how to interpret climate observations of the early 21st century, but believe that there are currently multiple valid hypotheses. I also think that we can best avoid confirmation bias, and other cognitive traps, by making explicit predictions of the future and testing them against experience. The climate community, or at least its activist wing, studiously avoids forecast verification. It just goes to show, confirmation bias is more a more comfortable state than dissonance -- and that goes for people on all sides of the climate debate.

Verification of IPCC Temperature Forecasts 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007

Last week I began an exercise in which I sought to compare global average temperature predictions with the actual observed temperature record. With this post I'll share my complete results.

Last week I showed a comparison of the 2007 IPCC temperature forecasts (which actually began in 2000, so they were really forecasts of data that had already been observed). Here is that figure.

surf-sat vs. IPCC.png

Then I showed a figure with a comparison of the 1990 predictions made by the IPCC in 1992 with actual temperature data. Some folks misinterpreted the three curves that I showed from the IPCC to be an uncertainty bound. They were not. Instead, they were forecasts conditional on different assumptions about climate sensitivity, with the middle curve showing the prediction for a 2.5 degree climate sensitivity, which is lower than scientists currently believe to the most likely value. So I have reproduced that graph below without the 1.5 and 4.5 degree climate sensitivity curves.

IPCC 1990 verification.png

Now here is a similar figure for the 1995 forecast. The IPCC in 1995 dramatically lowered its global temperature predictions, primarily due to the inclusion of consideration of atmospheric aerosols, which have a cooling effect. You can see the 1995 IPCC predictions on pp. 322-323 of its Second Assessment Report. Figure 6.20 shows the dramatic reduction of temperature predictions through the inclusion of aerosols. The predictions themselves can be found in Figure 6.22, and are the values that I use in the figure below, which also use a 2.5 degree climate sensitivity, and are also based on the IS92e or IS92f scenarios.

IPCC 1995 Verification.png

In contrast to the 1990 prediction, the 1995 prediction looks spot on. It is worth noting that the 1995 prediction began in 1990, and so includes observations that were known at the time of the prediction.

In 2001, the IPCC nudged its predictions up a small amount. The prediction is also based on a 1990 start, and can be found in the Third Assessment Report here. The most relevant scenario is A1FI, and the average climate sensitivity of the models used to generate these predictions is 2.8 degrees, which may be large enough to account for the difference between the 1995 and 2001 predictions. Here is a figure showing the 2001 forecast verification.

IPCC 2001 Verification.png

Like 1995, the 2001 figure looks quite good in comparison to the actual data.

Now we can compare all four predictions with the data, but first here are all four IPCC temperature predictions (1990, 1995, 2001, 2007) on one graph.

IPCC Predictions 90-95-01-07.png

IPCC issued its first temperature prediction in 1990 (I actually use the prediction from the supplement to the 1990 report issued in 1992). Its 1995 report dramatically lowered this prediction. 2001 nudged this up a bit, and 2001 elevated the entire curve another small increment, keeping the slope the same. My hypothesis for what is going on here is that the various changes over time to the IPCC predictions reflect incrementally improved fits to observed temperature data, as more observations have come in since 1990.

In other words, the early 1990s showed how important aerosols were in the form of dramatically lowered temperatures (after Mt. Pinatubo), and immediately put the 1990 predictions well off track. So the IPCC recognized the importance of aerosols and lowered its predictions, putting the 1995 IPCC back on track with what had happened with the real climate since its earlier report. With the higher observed temperatures in the late 1990s and early 2000s the slightly increased predictions of temperature in 2001 and 2007 represented better fits with observations since 1995 (for the 2001 report) and 2001 (for the 2007 report).

Imagine if your were asked to issue a prediction for the temperature trend over next week, and you are allowed to update that prediction every 2nd day. Regardless of where you think things will eventually end up, you'd be foolish not to include what you've observed in producing your mid-week updates. Was this behavior by the IPCC intentional or simply the inevitable result of using a prediction start-date years before the forecast was being issued? I have no idea. But the lesson for the IPCC should be quite clear: All predictions (and projections) that it issues should begin no earlier than the year that the prediction is being made.

And now the graph that you have all been waiting for. Here is a figure showing all four IPCC predictions with the surface (NASA, UKMET) and satellite (UAH, RSS) temperature record.

IPCC Verification 90-95-01-07 vs Obs.png

You can see on this graph that the 1990 prediction was obviously much higher than the other three, and you can also clearly see how the IPCC temperature predictions have creeped up as observations showed increasing temperatures from 1995-2005. A simple test of my hypothesis is as follows: In the next IPCC, if temperatures from 2005 to the next report fall below the 2007 IPCC prediction, then the next IPCC will lower its predictions. Similarly, if values fall above that level, then the IPCC will increase its predictions.

What to take from this exercise?

1. The IPCC does not make forecast verification an easy task. The IPCC does not clearly identify what exactly it is predicting nor the variables that can be used to verify those predictions. Like so much else in climate science this leaves evaluations of predictions subject to much ambiguity, cherrypicking, and seeing what one wants to see.

2. The IPCC actually has a pretty good track record in its predictions, especially after it dramatically reduced its 1990 prediction. This record is clouded by an appearance of post-hoc curve fitting. In each of 1995, 2001, and 2007 the changes to the IPCC predictions had the net result of improving predictive performance with observations that had already been made. This is a bit like predicting today's weather at 6PM.

3. Because the IPCC clears the slate every 5-7 years with a new assessment report, it is guarantees that its most recent predictions can never be rigorously verified, because, as climate scientists will tell you, 5-7 years is far too short to say anything about climate predictions. Consequently, the IPCC should not predict and then move on, but pay close attention to its past predictions and examine why the succeed or fail. As new reports are issued the IPCC should go to great lengths to place its new predictions on an apples-to-apples basis with earlier predictions. The SAR did a nice job of this, more recent reports have not. A good example of how not to update predictions is the predictions of sea level rise between the TAR and AR4 which are not at all apples-to-apples.

4. Finally, and I repeat myself, the IPCC should issue predictions for the future, not the recent past.

Appendix: Checking My Work

The IPCC AR4 Technical Summary includes a figure (Figure TS.26) that shows a verification of sorts. I use that figure as a comparison to what I've done. Here is that figure, with a number of my annotations superimposed, and explained below.

IPCC Check.png

Let me first say that the IPCC probably could not have produced a more difficult-to-interpret figure (I see Gavin Schmidt at Real Climate has put out a call for help in understanding it). I have annotated it with letters and some lines and I explain them below.

A. I added this thick horizontal blue line to indicate the 1990 baseline. This line crosses a thin blue line that I placed to represent 2007.

B. This thin blue line crosses the vertical axis where my 1995 verification value lies, represented by the large purple dot.

C. This thin blue line crosses the vertical axis where my 1990 verification value lies, represented by the large green dot. (My 2001 verification is represented by the large light blue dot.)

D. You can see that my 1990 verification value falls exactly on a line extended from the upper bound of the IPCC curve. I have also extended the IPCC mid-range curve as well (note that my extension superimposed falls a tiny bit higher than it should). Why is this? I'm not sure, but one answer is that the uncertainty range presented by the IPCC represents the scenario range, but of course in the past there is no scenario uncertainty. Since emissions have fallen at the high end of the scenario space, if my interpretation is correct, then my verification is consistent with that of the IPCC.

E. For the 1995 verification, you can see that similarly my value falls exactly on a line extended from the upper end of the IPCC range. This would also be consistent with the IPCC presenting the uncertainty range as representing alternative scenarios. The light blue dot is similarly at the upper end of the blue range. What should not be missed is that the relative difference between my verifications and those of the IPCCs are just about identical.

A few commenters over at Real Climate, including Gavin Schmidt, have suggested that such figures need uncertainty bounds on them. In general, I agree, but I'd note that none of the model predictions presented by the IPCC (B1, A1B, A2, Commitment -- note that all of these understate reality since emissions are following A1FI, the highest, most closely) show any model uncertainty whatsoever (nor any observational uncertainty, nor multiple measures of temperature). Surely with the vast resources available to the IPCC, they could have done a much more rigorous job of verification.

In closing, I guess I'd suggest to the IPCC that this sort of exercise should be taken up as a formal part of its work. There are many, many other variables (and relationships between variables) that might be examined in this way. And they should be.

January 11, 2008

Real Climate's Two Voices on Short-Term Climate Fluctuations

Real Climate has been speaking with two voices on how to compare observations of climate with models. Last August they asserted that one-year's sea ice extent could be compared with models:

A few people have already remarked on some pretty surprising numbers in Arctic sea ice extent this year (the New York Times has also noticed). The minimum extent is usually in early to mid September, but this year, conditions by Aug 9 had already beaten all previous record minima. Given that there is at least a few more weeks of melting to go, it looks like the record set in 2005 will be unequivocally surpassed. It could be interesting to follow especially in light of model predictions discussed previously.

Today, they say that looking at 8 years of temperature records is misguided:

John Tierney and Roger Pielke Jr. have recently discussed attempts to validate (or falsify) IPCC projections of global temperature change over the period 2000-2007. Others have attempted to show that last year's numbers imply that 'Global Warming has stopped' or that it is 'taking a break' (Uli Kulke, Die Welt)). However, as most of our readers will realise, these comparisons are flawed since they basically compare long term climate change to short term weather variability.

So according to Real Climate one-year's ice extent data can be compared to climate models, but 8 years of temperature data cannot.

Right. This is why I believe that whatever one's position of climate change is, everyone should agree that rigorous forecast verification is needed.

Post Script. I see at Real Climate commenters are already calling me a "skeptic" for even discussing forecast verification. For the record I accept the consensus of the IPCC WGI. If asking questions about forecast verification is to be tabooo, then climate science is in worse shape than I thought.

January 10, 2008

Verification of 1990 IPCC Temperature Predictions

1990 IPCC verification.png

I continue to receive good suggestions and positive feedback on the verification exercise that I have been playing around with this week. Several readers have suggested that a longer view might be more appropriate. So I took a look at the IPCC's First Assessment Report that had been sitting on my shelf, and tried to find its temperature prediction starting in 1990. I actually found what I was looking for in a follow up document: Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment (not online that I am aware of).

In conducting this type of forecast verification, one of the first things to do is to specify which emissions scenario most closely approximated what has actually happened since 1990. As we have discussed here before, emissions have been occurring at the high end of the various scenarios used by the IPCC. So in this case I have used IS92e or IS92f (the differences are too small to be relevant to this analysis), which are discussed beginning on p. 69.

With the relevant emissions scenario, I then went to the section that projected future temperatures, and found this in Figure Ax.3 on p. 174. From that I took from the graph the 100-year temperature change and converted it into an annual rate. At the time the IPCC presented estimates for climate sensitivities of 1.5 degree, 2.5 degrees, and 4.5 degrees, with 2.5 degrees identified as a "best estimate." In the figure above I have estimated the 1.5 and 4.5 degree values based on the ratios taken from graph Ax.2, but I make no claim that they are precise. My understanding is that climate scientists today think that climate sensitivity is around 3.0 degrees, so if one were to re-do the 1990 prediction with a climate sensitivity of 3.0 the resulting curve would be a bit above the 2.5 degree curve shown above.

On the graph you will also see the now familiar temperature records from two satellite and two surface analyses. It seems pretty clear that the IPCC in 1990 over-forecast temperature increases, and this is confirmed by the most recent IPCC report (Figure TS.26), so it is not surprising.

I'll move on to the predictions of the Second Assessment Report in a follow up.

Radio Interview with Radio Radicale

You can hear a 12 minute interview with me on my book The Honest Broker with Radio Radicale (Rome, Italy) here.

Posted on January 10, 2008 02:51 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

January 09, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science, Part 3

By popular demand, here is a graph showing the two main analyses of global temperatures from satellite, from RSS and UAH, as well as the two main analyses of global temperatures from the surface record, UKMET and NASA, plotted with the temperature predictions reported in IPCC AR4, as described in Part 1 of this series.

surf-sat vs. IPCC.png

Some things to note:

1) I have not graphed observational uncertainties, but I'd guess that they are about +/-0.05 (and someone please correct me if this is wildly off), and their inclusion would not alter the discussion here.

2) A feast for cherrypickers. One can arrive at whatever conclusion one wants with respect to the IPCC predictions. Want the temperature record to be consistent with IPCC? OK, then you like NASA. How about inconsistent? Well, then you are a fan of RSS. On the fence? Well, UAH and UKMET serve that purpose pretty well.

3) Something fishy is going on. The IPCC and CCSP recently argued that the surface and satellite records are reconciled. This might be the case from the standpoint of long-term liner trends. But the data here suggest that there is some work left to do. The UAH and NASA curves are remarkably consistent. But RSS dramatically contradicts both. UKMET shows 2007 as the coolest year since 2001, whereas NASA has 2007 as the second warmest. In particular estimates for 2007 seem to diverge in unique ways. It'd be nice to see the scientific community explain all of this.

4) All show continued warming since 2000!

5) From the standpoint of forecast verification, which is where all of this began, the climate community really needs to construct a verification dataset for global temperature and other variables that will be (a) the focus of predictions, and (b) the ground truth against which those predictions will be verified.

Absent an ability to rigorously evaluate forecasts, in the presence of multiple valid approaches to observational data we run the risk of engaging in all sorts of cognitive traps -- such as availability bias and confirmation bias. So here is a plea to the climate community: when you say that you are predicting something like global temperature or sea ice extent or hurricanes -- tell us is specific detail what those variables are, who is measuring them, and where to look in the future to verify the predictions. If weather forecasters, stock brokers, and gamblers can do it, then you can too.

January 08, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science, Part 2

Yesterday I posted a figure showing how surface temperatures compare with IPCC model predictions. I chose to use the RSS satellite record under the assumption that the recent IPCC and CCSP reports were both correct in their conclusions that the surface and satellite records have been reconciled. It turns out that my reliance of the IPCC and CCSP may have been mistaken.

I received a few comments from people suggesting that I had selectively used the RSS data because it showed different results than other global temperature datasets. My first reaction to this was to wonder how the different datasets could show different results if the IPCC was correct when it stated (PDF):

New analyses of balloon-borne and satellite measurements of lower- and mid-tropospheric temperature show warming rates that are similar to those of the surface temperature record and are consistent within their respective uncertainties, largely reconciling a discrepancy noted in the TAR.

But I decided to check for myself. I went to the NASA GISS and downloaded its temperature data and scaled to a 1980-1999 mean. I then plotted it on the same scale as the RSS data that I shared yesterday. Here is what the curves look like on the same scale.

RSS v. GISS.png

Well, I'm no climate scientist, but they sure don't look reconciled to me, especially 2007. (Any suggestions on the marked divergence in 2007?)

What does this mean for the comparison with IPCC predictions? I have overlaid the GISS data on the graph I prepared yesterday.

AR4 Verificantion Surf Sat.png

So using the NASA GISS global temperature data for 2000-2007 results in observations that are consistent with the IPCC predictions, but contradict the IPCC's conclusion that the surface and satellite temperature records are reconciled. Using the RSS data results in observations that are (apparently) inconsistent with the IPCC predictions.

I am sure that in conducting such a verification some will indeed favor the dataset that best confirms their desired conclusions. But, it would be ironic indeed to see scientists now abandon RSS after championing it in the CCSP and IPCC reports. So, I'm not sure what to think.

Is it really the case that the surface and satellite records are again at odds? What dataset should be used to verify climate forecasts of the IPCC?

Answers welcomed.

January 07, 2008

Forecast Verification for Climate Science

Last week I asked a question:

What behavior of the climate system could hypothetically be observed over the next 1, 5, 10 years that would be inconsistent with the current consensus on climate change?

We didn’t have much discussion on our blog, perhaps in part due to our ongoing technical difficulties (which I am assured will be cleared up soon). But John Tierney at the New York Times sure received an avalanche of responses, many of which seemed to excoriate him simply for asking the question, and none that really engaged the question.

I did receive a few interesting replies by email from climate scientists. Here is one of the most interesting:

The IPCC reports, both AR4 (see Chapter 10) and TAR, are full of predictions made starting in 2000 for the evolution of surface temperature, precipitation, precipitation intensity, sea ice extent, and on and on. It would be a relatively easy task for someone to begin tracking the evolution of these variables and compare them to the IPCC’s forecasts. I am not aware of anyone actually engaged in this kind of climate forecast verification with respect to the IPCC, but it is worth doing.

So I have decided to take him up on this and present an example of what such a verification might look like. I have heard some claims lately that global warming has stopped, based on temperature trends over the past decade. So global average temperature seems like a as good a place as any to provide an example.

I begin with the temperature trends. I have decided to use the satellite record provided by Remote Sensing Systems, mainly because of the easy access of its data. But the choice of satellite versus surface global temperature dataset should not matter, since these have been reconciled according to the IPCC AR4. Here is a look at the satellite data starting in 1998 through 2007.

RSS TLT 1998-2007 Monthly.png

This dataset starts with the record 1997/1998 ENSO event which boosted temperatures a good deal. It is interesting to look at, but probably not the best place to start for this analysis. A better place to start is with 2000, but not because of what the climate has done, but because this is the baseline used for many of the IPCC AR4 predictions.

Before proceeding, a clarification must be made between a prediction and a projection. Some have claimed that the IPCC doesn’t make predictions, it only makes projections across a wide range of emissions scenarios. This is just a fancy way of saying that the IPCC doesn’t predict future emissions. But make no mistake, it does make conditional predictions for each scenario. Enough years have passed for us to be able to say that global emissions have been increasing at the very high end of the family of scenarios used by the IPCC (closest to A1F1 for those scoring at home). This means that we can zero in on what the IPCC predicted (yes, predicted) for the A1F1 scenario, which has best matched actual emissions.

So how has global temperature changed since 2000? Here is a figure showing the monthly values, indicating that while there has been a decrease in average global temperature of late, the linear trend since 2000 is still positive.

RSS TLT 2000-2007 Monthly.png

But monthly values are noisy, and not comparable with anything produced by the IPCC, so let’s take a look at annual values.

RSS 2000-2007 Annual.png

The annual values result in a curve that looks a bit like an upwards sloping letter M.

The model results produced by the IPCC are not readily available, so I will work from their figures. In the IPCC AR4 report Figure 10.26 on p. 803 of Chapter 10 of the Working Group I report (here in PDF) provides predictions of future temperature as a function of emissions scenario. The one relevant for my purposes can be found in the bottom row (degrees C above 1980-2000 mean) and second column (A1F1).

I have zoomed in on that figure, and overlaid the RSS temperature trends 2000-2007 which you can see below.

AR4 Verification Example.png

Now a few things to note:

1. The IPCC temperature increase is relative to a 1980 to 2000 mean, whereas the RSS anomalies are off of a 1979 to 1998 mean. I don’t expect the differences to be that important in this analysis, particularly given the blunt approach to the graph, but if someone wants to show otherwise, I’m all ears.

2. It should be expected that the curves are not equal in 2000. The anomaly for 2000 according to RSS is 0.08, hence the red curve begins at that value. Figure 10.26 on p. 803 of Chapter 10 of the Working Group I report actually shows observed temperatures for a few years beyond 2000, and by zooming in on the graph in the lower left hand corner of the figure one can see that 2000 was in fact below the A1B curve.

So it appears that temperature trends since 2000 are not closely following the most relevant prediction of the IPCC. Does this make recent temperature trends inconsistent with the IPCC? I have no idea, and that is not the point of this post. I'll leave it to climate scientists to tell us the significance. I assume that many climate scientists will say that there is no significance to what has happened since 2000, and perhaps emphasize that predictions of global temperature are more certain in the longer term than shorter term. But that is not what the IPCC figure indicates. In any case, 2000-2007 may not be sufficient time for climate scientists to become concerned that their predictions are off, but I’d guess that at some point, if observations don’t match predictions they might be of some concern. Alternatively, if observations square with predictions, then this would add confidence.

Before one dismisses this exercise as an exercise in randomness, it should be observed that in other contexts scientists associated short term trends with longer-term predictions. In fact, one need look no further than the record 2007 summer melt in the Arctic which was way beyond anything predicted by the IPCC, reaching close to 3 million square miles less than the 1978-2000 mean. The summer anomaly was much greater than any of the IPCC predictions on this time scale (which can be seen in IPCC AR4 Chapter 10 Figure 10.13 on p. 771). This led many scientists to claim that because the observations were inconsistent with the models, that there should be heightened concern about climate change. Maybe so. But if one variable can be examined for its significance with respect to long-term projections, then surely others can as well.

What I’d love to see is a place where the IPCC predictions for a whole range of relevant variables are provided in quantitative fashion, and as corresponding observations come in, they can be compared with the predictions. This would allow for rigorous evaluations of both the predictions and the actual uncertainties associated with those predictions. Noted atmospheric scientist Roger Pielke, Sr. (my father, of course) has suggested that three variables be looked at: lower tropospheric warming, atmospheric water vapor content, and oceanic heat content. And I am sure there are many other variables worth looking at.

Forecast evaluations also confer another advantage – they would help to move beyond the incessant arguing about this or that latest research paper and focus on true tests of the fidelity of our ability to forecast future states of the climate system. Making predictions and them comparing them to actual events is central to the scientific method. So everyone in the climate debate, whether skeptical or certain, should welcome a focus on verification of climate forecasts. If the IPCC is indeed settled science, then forecast verifications will do nothing but reinforce that conclusion.

For further reading:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2003: The role of models in prediction for decision, Chapter 7, pp. 113-137 in C. Canham and W. Lauenroth (eds.), Understanding Ecosystems: The Role of Quantitative Models in Observations, Synthesis, and Prediction, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. (PDF)

Sarewitz, D., R.A. Pielke, Jr., and R. Byerly, Jr., (eds.) 2000: Prediction: Science, decision making and the future of nature, Island Press, Washington, DC. (link) and final chapter (PDF).

Deja Vu All Over Again

The Washington Post had a excellent story yesterday by Marc Kaufman describing NASA’s intentions to increase the flight rate of the Space Shuttle program. This is remarkable, and as good an indication as any that NASA has not yet learned the lessons of its past.

Challenger_explosion.jpg

According to the Post:

Although NASA has many new safety procedures in place as a result of the Columbia accident, the schedule has raised fears that the space agency, pressured by budgetary and political considerations, might again find itself tempting fate with the shuttles, which some say were always too high-maintenance for the real world of space flight.

A NASA official is quoted in the story:

"The schedule we've made is very achievable in the big scheme of things. That is, unless we get some unforeseen problems."

The Post has exactly the right follow up to this comment:

The history of the program, however, is filled with such problems -- including a rare and damaging hailstorm at the Kennedy Space Center last year as well as the shedding of foam insulation that led to the destruction of Columbia and its crew in 2003. . . "This pressure feels so familiar," said Alex Roland, a professor at Duke University and a former NASA historian. "It was the same before the Challenger and Columbia disasters: this push to do more with a spaceship that is inherently unpredictable because it is so complex."

John Logsdon, dean of space policy experts and longtime supporter of NASA, recognizes the risks that NASA is taking:

Every time we launch a shuttle, we risk the future of the human space flight program. The sooner we stop flying this risky vehicle, the better it is for the program.

Duke University’s Alex Roland also hit the nail on the head;

Duke professor Roland said that based on the shuttle program's history, he sees virtually no possibility of NASA completing 13 flights by the deadline. He predicted that the agency would ultimately cut some of the launches but still declare the space station completed.

"NASA is filled with can-do people who I really admire, and they will try their best to fulfill the missions they are given," he said. "What I worry about is when this approach comes into conflict with basically impossible demands. Something has to give."

It is instructive to look at the 1987 report of the investigation of the House Science Committee into the 1986 Challenger disaster, which you can find online here in PDF (thanks to Rad Byerly and Ami Nacu-Schmidt). That report contains lessons that apparently have yet to be fully appreciated, even after the loss of Columbia in 2003. Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary (emphasis added, see also pp. 119-124):

The Committee found that NASA’s drive to achieve a launch schedule of 24 flights per year created pressure throughout the agency that directly contributed to unsafe launch operations. The Committee believes that the pressure to push for an unrealistic number of flights continues to exist in some sectors of NASA and jeopardizes the promotion of a "safety first" attitude throughout the Shuttle program.

The Committee, Congress, and the Administration have played a contributing role in creating this pressure. . . NASA management and the Congress must remember the lessons learned from the Challenger accident and never again set unreasonable goals which stress the system beyond its safe functioning.

One would hope that the House Science Committee has these lessons in mind and is paying close attention to decision making in NASA. It would certainly be appropriate for some greater public oversight of NASA decision making about the Shuttle flight rate and eventual termination. Otherwise, there is a good chance that such oversight will take place after another tragedy and the complete wreckage of the U.S. civilian space program.


For further reading:

Pielke Jr., R. A., 1993: A Reappraisal of the Space Shuttle Program. Space Policy, May, 133-157. (PDF)

Pielke Jr., R.A., and R. Byerly Jr., 1992: The Space Shuttle Program: Performance versus Promise in Space Policy Alternatives, edited by R. Byerly, Westview Press, Boulder, pp. 223-245. (PDF)

January 05, 2008

My Comments to Science on Hillary Clinton's Science Policy Plans

I was recently asked by Eli Kintisch at Science to comment on Hillary Clinton's recent discussion of science policies. Eli quotes a few of my comments in this week's Science, which has a special focus on the presidential candidates. My full reaction to Eli is below:

Hi Eli-

The document seems typical for this early stage of the campaign -- that is, it blends a heavy dose of political red meat, with the entirely vacuous, with hints of some innovative and perhaps even revolutionary new ideas, accompanied with a range of budget promises that almost certainly can't be met. But most significantly is the fact that she has put some science policy ideas forward to be discussed, which is far more than most other candidates of either party have done related to science.

*The red meat is all of the "I'm not George Bush" type statements, such as the stem cell proposal and re-elevation of the science advisor position.

*The vacuous includes the comment that you starred on political appointees. The meaning of this statement depends entirely on the definition of "legitimate basis" and "unwarranted supression" -- well, what is "legitimate" and "unwarranted"? -- as written it is a political Rorschach test, which can be good politics but certainly does nothing to clarify the specific science policies she would enact. Also, the idea that civil servants and scientists are free from politics in regulatory decision making probably needs more thinking through -- but balancing accountability and expertise probably requires more wonky discussion than a campaign sound bite can provide.

*The most innovative idea is the $50 billion strategic energy fund, which is short on details, but promises real money to an area desperately in need of support. This stands out as something really new and potentially very exciting.

*The promises that probably can't be met include keeping the Shuttle contractors in business while pursuing a new human spaceflight program, while at the same time fully funding earth sciences research and a new space-based climate research program, while putting NIH on a doubling trajectory over the next 10 years, not to mention a bit for aeronautics and the $50 billion for energy research. Good luck finding room in the R&D budget for all of that. But again, more politics than science policy, this time aimed at more specific constituencies looking to see that their concerns get some play.

The biggest criticism I have is the comment about the NIH budget, which her husband set on a doubling trajectory and which was completed under Bush. To suggest that NIH has suffered a lack of support is not a great argument. Also, a minor criticism, the part about the U.S. national assessment on climate change says that Bush hasn't released one for 6.5 years, but Clinton/Gore took more than 7 years to release theirs. The national assessment is more political red meat, and probably tangential to where the action is on climate issues anyway.

Hope this helps, please follow up if clarification is needed . . .

Best regards,

Roger

Roger Pielke, Jr.
University of Colorado


January 02, 2008

Technology ,Trade, and U.S. Pollution

At the Vox blog Georgetown's Arik Levinson asks:

Since the 1970s, US manufacturing output has risen by 70% but air pollution has fallen by 58%. Was this due to improved abatement technology or shifting dirty production abroad?

He answers the question with some very nice empirical research. Here are his conclusions:

What is the bottom line? Increased net imports of polluting goods account for about 70 percent of the composition-related decline in US manufacturing pollution. The composition effect in turn explains about 40 percent of the overall decline in pollution from US manufacturing. Putting these two findings together, international trade can explain at most 28 percent of the clean-up of US manufacturing.

levinson_fig.JPG

Why should we care?

If the 75% reduction in pollution from US manufacturing resulted from increased international trade, the pundits and protestors might have a case. Environmental improvements might be said to have imposed large, unmeasured environmental costs on the countries from which those goods are imported. And more importantly, the improvements in the US would not be replicable by all countries indefinitely, because the poorest countries in the world will never have even poorer countries from which to import their pollution-intensive goods. The US clean-up would simply have been the result of the US coming out ahead in an environmental zero-sum game, merely shifting pollution to different locations. However, if the US pollution reductions come from technology, nothing suggests those improvements cannot continue indefinitely and be repeated around the world. The analyses here suggest that most the pollution reductions have come from improved technology, that the environmental concerns of antiglobalization protesters have been overblown, and that the pollution reduction achieved by US manufacturing will replicable by other countries in the future.

Natural Disasters in Australia

Here (in PDF) is an interesting analysis by researchers at Macquarie University in Australia:

The collective evidence reviewed above suggests that social factors – dwelling numbers and values – are the predominant reasons for increasing building losses due to natural disasters in Australia. The role of anthropogenic climate change is not detectable at this time. This being the case, it seems logical approach that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent investments be made to reduce society’s vulnerability to current and future climate and climate variability.

australia.png


We are aware of few policies explicitly developed to help Australian communities adapt to future climate change (Leigh et al., 1998). One positive example is improved wind loading codes introduced in the 1980s as part of a National Building Code of Australia. These codes have been mentioned already and were introduced for all new housing construction following the destruction of Darwin by Tropical Cyclone Tracy in 1974. As a result, dramatic reductions in wind-induced losses were observed following Tropical Cyclones Winifred (1986) and Aivu (1989) (Walker, 1999) and most recently, Larry (2006) (Guy Carpenter, 2006). While these measures were introduced in response to the immediate threat from current climatic events, the benefits will hold true under any future.

An increased threat from bushfires under global climate change is often assumed. However, our analyses suggest that while the prevalence of conditions leading to bushfires is likely to increase, the impact is unlikely to be as dramatic as the combined changes of all of the other factors that have so far failed to materially affect the likelihood of bushfires losses over the last century. This is not to ignore the threat posed by global climate change, but, at least in the case of fire in Australia, the main menace will continue to be the extreme fires. The threat to the most at-risk homes on the bushland-urban interface can only be diminished by improved planning regulations that restrict where and how people build with respect to distance from the forest. Again these are political choices.

Posted on January 2, 2008 02:17 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

January 01, 2008

Is there any weather inconsistent with the the scientific consensus on climate?

Two years ago I asked a question of climate scientists that never received a good answer. Over at the TierneyLab at the New York Times, John Tierney raises the question again:

What behavior of the climate system could hypothetically be observed over the next 1, 5, 10 years that would be inconsistent with the current consensus on climate change? My focus is on extreme events like floods and hurricanes, so please consider those, but consider any other climate metric or phenomena you think important as well for answering this question. Ideally, a response would focus on more than just sea level rise and global average temperature, but if these are the only metrics that are relevant here that too would be very interesting to know.

The answer, it seems, is "nothing would be inconsistent," but I am open to being educated. Climate scientists especially invited to weigh in in the comments or via email, here or at the TierneyLab.

And a Happy 2008 to all our readers!

December 26, 2007

End-of-2007 Hurricane-Global Warming Update

There are a few new papers out on hurricanes (or more generally, tropical cyclones) and global warming that motivate this update.

katrina-gore.jpg

Before sharing these new papers, let me provide a bit of background.

Regular readers will know that I began studying hurricanes during my post-doc years at NCAR, and even co-authored a book on them (PDF) with my father. I've been fortunate to get to know many of the people in the science community who study hurricanes and also to become familiar with the literature on hurricanes and climate change.

Let me also remind readers that I believe that there is little policy significance in the debate over hurricanes and global warming. Why not? Because no matter who is right, it won't do much to alter the ranking of alternative policies focused on addressing future storm impacts. This is an argument I make in this recent paper, which I'll point to for interested readers:

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Future Economic Damage from Tropical Cyclones: Sensitivities to Societal and Climate Changes, Proceedings of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 365:2717-2729.(PDF)

But from a political perspective, the issue remains of considerable importance, as those advocating action on energy policies based on stemming the impacts from future cyclones place themselves far out on a thin limb. As tempting as it is to invoke the impacts of hurricanes as a justification for action on climate-related energy policies, it really should be a "no go zone."

In 2004, I along with Chris Landsea, Max Mayfield, Jim Laver, and Richard Pasch decided to prepare a short, accessible summary on the state of the debate over hurricanes and climate change, which ultimately was published as a peer-reviewed paper in 2005 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (PDF). In that paper we concluded that the debate over hurricanes (and their impacts) and climate change would not be resolved anytime soon, and we provided three reasons for this:

First, no connection has been established between greenhouse gas emissions and the observed behavior of hurricanes (Houghton et al. 2001; Walsh 2004). Emanuel (2005) is suggestive of such a connection, but is by no means definitive. In the future, such a connection may be established [e.g., in the case of the observations of Emanuel (2005) or the projections of Knutson and Tuleya (2004)] or made in the context of other metrics of tropical cyclone intensity and duration that remain to be closely examined. Second, the peer-reviewed literature reflects that a scientific consensus exists that any future changes in hurricane intensities will likely be small in the context of observed variability (Knutson and Tuleya 2004; Henderson-Sellers et al. 1998), while the scientific problem of tropical cyclogenesis is so far from being solved that little can be said about possible changes in frequency. And third, under the assumptions of the IPCC, expected future damages to society of its projected changes in the behavior of hurricanes are dwarfed by the influence of its own projections of growing wealth and population (Pielke et al. 2000). While future research or experience may yet overturn these conclusions, the state of the peer-reviewed knowledge today is such that there are good reasons to expect that any conclusive connection between global warming and hurricanes or their impacts will not be made in the near term.

If I might pat ourselves on our collective backs for a moment, these conclusions that we reached in 2005 were echoed in 2006 by a much more comprehensive assessment report prepared by the World Meteorological Organization:

A consensus of 125 of the world’s leading tropical cyclone researchers and forecasters says that no firm link can yet be drawn between human-induced climate change and variations in the intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones.

And then in 2007 by the IPCC. IPCC lead author Neville Nicholls characterized the report's conclusions on hurricanes and climate change as follows:

We concluded that the question of whether there was a greenhouse-cyclone link was pretty much a toss of a coin at the present state of the science, with just a slight leaning towards the likelihood of such a link.

So our 2005 paper has held up really well. Did we get some recognition from the IPCC for providing an accurate assessment of the state of the scientific debate and its relevance? Well, no. But maybe we at least could point to a citation in the relevant IPCC chapter, which of course summarized all of the peer-reviewed literature? Actually the IPCC ignored our review. It is not that they were unaware of it. The lead author for the relevant chapter (Chapter 3 of WG 1), Kevin Trenberth, said of our paper at the time it was released:

I think the role of the changing climate is greatly underestimated by Roger Pielke Jr. I think he should withdraw this article. This is a shameful article.

So, despite providing an accurate assessment of hurricanes and global warming in 2005 which was ultimately backed up by WMO and IPCC, given Kevin Trenberth's obvious bias against our views, we weren't really surprised to see our paper go uncited by the IPCC chapter that Kevin was lead author on. I did notice that Trenberth was somehow able to find room to mention his own work 95 times in that chapter, but I digress.

So our assessment of the state of the hurricane-global warming has held up really well. And in fact, I'd say that our assertion of the lack of a conclusive connection seems even stronger today. Over recent weeks I have become aware of 4 significant new papers on hurricanes and climate change that raise important questions about many aspects of the debate. I highlight these four papers not because they point toward certainty in the debate, quite the opposite: they indicate that the debate is alive and well, and uncertainty continues to reign on this subject. And unless you are paying attention to the literature, you'll probably never hear of these papers.

The first paper is one I mentioned a few weeks ago by Vecchi/Soden published in Nature . That paper suggested that identifying the signal of global warming in tropical cyclone behavior would be challenging in the context of ongoing climate variability. I wondered why that paper escaped media attention, despite being published in Nature and being a major contribution to the ongoing debate. Here are three other papers that will probably also escape media attention.

Statistician William Briggs has two new papers. One is in press with the Journal of Climate, and is titled "On the changes in number and intensity of North Atlantic tropical cyclones" (PDF). That paper concludes:

We find that to conclude that there has been an increase in the number of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic basin depends on from what date you start looking. Looking from 1900 gives strong evidence that an increase has taken place; however, data early from that period are certainly tainted by inadequate and missing observations, so the confidence we have in this evidence is greatly reduced. Starting from (the years around) 1966 does not give evidence of a linear increase, but starting from (the years around) 1975 does. These potential increases are noted after controlling for the effects of CTI, NAOI, and the AMO. These differences due to start date could be real, perhaps because of some underlying cyclicity in the data that coincidentally bottomed out around 1975 (after controlling for AMO etc.), or it may just be a good lesson that it's possible to pick and choose your starting date to argue either way: yes, there's been an increase, or no, there hasn't been.

Briggs is presenting a second paper at the upcoming AMS meeting in which he applies the same technique to other basins, in a paper titled, "Changes in number and intensity of tropical cyclones" (PDF). That paper concludes:

We find little evidence that the mean of the distribution of individual storm intensity, measured by storm days, track length, or individual storm PDI, has changed (increased or decreased) since 1975 over all the oceans. Again, there were certain noted increases in the Indian oceans, which may be real or may be due to flaws in the data: this is evidenced by the posteriors from these oceans being very sensitive to the priors used. We did, however, find an unambiguous increase in the variance of the distribution of storm intensity over all oceans. We also found that two components of intensity, storm days and track length, have likely decreased since 1990 over most oceans. Thus, we conclude that mean intensity has not been increasing, at least since 1975, and certainly not since 1990.

A fourth paper has just been published in the journal Risk Analysis by Kenneth Bogen, Edwin Jones, and Larry Fischer, titled, "Hurricane Destructive Power Predictions Based on Historical Storm and Sea Surface Temperature Data." That paper concludes:

Results obtained clearly challenge recent hypotheses about the effect of rising SST on future hurricane destructive potential . . .In contrast to a significant post-1970 positive trend in NAO SST and previous claims that this trend is linked to increased hurricane activity (Goldenberg et al., 2001; Emanuel, 2005; Trenberth, 2005; Webster et al., 2005; Hoyos et al., 2006; Santer et al., 2006; Trenberth & Shea, 2006), this study found little evidence of APDI trend or of a substantial APDI correlation with SST.

These papers suggest that the science of hurricane and global warming is healthy and new voices are bringing new ideas and methods to the debate. This is all good news. But it should also be apparent that the issue remains highly uncertain and contested. If anything, uncertainties have increased since we published our 2005 paper.

So I am going to stand pat with our conclusions first presented in 2005 in that shameful (but accurate) article:

[T]here are good reasons to expect that any conclusive connection between global warming and hurricanes or their impacts will not be made in the near term.

That is where things stand on this subject at the close of 2007.

Posted on December 26, 2007 05:22 AM View this article | Comments (2)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

December 21, 2007

On the Political Relevance of Scientific Consensus

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has released a report in which he has identified some hundreds of scientists who disagree with the IPCC consensus. Yawn. In the comments of Andy Revkin's blog post on the report you can get a sense of why I often claim that arguing about the science of climate change is endlessly entertaining but hardly productive, and confirming Andy's assertion that "A lot of us live in intellectual silos."

In 2005 I had an exchange with Naomi Oreskes in Science on the significance of a scientific consensus in climate politics. Here is what I said then (PDF):

IN HER ESSAY "THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS on climate change" (3 Dec. 2004, p. 1686), N. Oreskes asserts that the consensus reflected in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) appears to reflect, well, a consensus. Although Oreskes found unanimity in the 928 articles with key words "global climate change," we should not be surprised if a broader review were to find conclusions at odds with the IPCC consensus, as "consensus" does not mean uniformity of perspective. In the discussion motivated by Oreskes’ Essay, I have seen one claim made that there are more than 11,000 articles on "climate change" in the ISI database and suggestions that about 10% somehow contradict the IPCC consensus position.

But so what? If that number is 1% or 40%, it does not make any difference whatsoever from the standpoint of policy action. Of course, one has to be careful, because people tend to read into the phrase "policy action" a particular course of action that they themselves advocate. But in the IPCC, one can find statements to use in arguing for or against support of the Kyoto Protocol. The same is true for any other specific course of policy action on climate change. The IPCC maintains that its assessments do not advocate any single course of action.

So in addition to arguing about the science of climate change as a proxy for political debate on climate policy, we now can add arguments about the notion of consensus itself. These proxy debates are both a distraction from progress on climate change and a reflection of the tendency of all involved to politicize climate science.

The actions that we take on climate change should be robust to (i) the diversity of scientific perspectives, and thus also to (ii) the diversity of perspectives of the nature of the consensus. A consensus is a measure of a central tendency and, as such, it necessarily has a distribution of perspectives around that central measure (1). On climate change, almost all of this distribution is well within the bounds of legitimate scientific debate and reflected within the full text of the IPCC reports. Our policies should not be optimized to reflect a single measure of the central tendency or, worse yet, caricatures of that measure, but instead they should be robust enough to accommodate the distribution of perspectives around that
central measure, thus providing a buffer against the possibility that we might learn more in the future (2).

ROGER A. PIELKE JR.
Center for Science and Technology Policy Research,
University of Colorado, UCB 488, Boulder, CO
80309–0488, USA.

References
1 D. Bray,H. von Storch, Bull.Am.Meteorol. Soc. 80, 439 (1999).
2. R. Lempert, M. Schlesinger, Clim. Change 45, 387 (2000).

December 20, 2007

Laboratories of Democracy? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Laboratories of Democracy

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a request from the state of California for permission to exceed national standards on automobile emissions. It was the first such denial since the Clean Air Act was originally passed, marking a departure from 50-some such waivers previously granted.

It was not so long ago that the State Department's Harlan Watson spoke at the 2003 Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on The Bush Administration's enthusiasm for state-level initiatives on climate policy:

I would like to highlight the efforts being made by State and local governments in the United States to address climate change. Geographically, the United States encompasses vast and diverse climatic zones representative of all major regions of the world -- polar, temperate, semi-tropical, and tropical -- with different heating, cooling, and transportation needs and with different energy endowments. Such diversity allows our State and local governments to act as laboratories where new and creative ideas and methods can be applied and shared with others and inform federal policy -- a truly bottom-up approach to addressing global climate change.

At the State level, 40 of our 50 States have prepared GHG inventories, 27 States have completed climate change action plans, and 8 States have adopted voluntary GHG emissions goals. In addition, 13 States have adopted "Renewable Portfolio Standards" requiring electricity generators to gradually increase the portion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar energy. And, at the local level, more than 140 local governments participating in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign are developing cost-effective GHG reduction plans, setting goals, and reducing GHG emissions

Yesterday, EPA's Steven Johnson explains why the Bush Administration is now opposed to state by state efforts to innovate:

"The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution — not a confusing patchwork of state rules," Mr. Johnson told reporters on a conference call. "I believe this is a better approach than if individual states were to act alone."

Climate policy needs more not less opportunities to learn from implementation. The Bush Administration's inconsistent actions are not only ham-handed politics, but just bad policy, whatever one's views on climate change, energy policy, or partisan politics.

H/T DotEarth

Posted on December 20, 2007 02:06 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy

December 19, 2007

Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC, Science and Politics

The current issue of Nature has a lengthy profile of Rajendra Pachauri, its "Newsmaker of the Year." In the profile Dr. Pachauri discusses his personal views on the politics of climate change and his responsibilities as IPCC chair. Here is how he characterizes his own efforts, as quoted in the Nature profile:

We have been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more whatever the cost to the environment that we're on a totally unsustainable path. I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development.

AP Pachauri Gore.jpg

In recent weeks and months, Dr. Pachauri, and other representatives of the IPCC, have certainly not been shy in advocating specific actions on climate change, using their role as IPCC leaders as a pulpit to advance those agendas. For instance, in a recent interview with CNN on the occasion of representing the IPCC at the Nobel Prize ceremony, Dr. Pachauri downplayed the role of geoengineering as a possible response to climate change, suggested that people eat less meat, called for lifestyle changes, suggested that all the needed technologies to deal with climate change are in the marketplace or soon to be commercialized, endorsed the Kyoto Protocol approach, criticized via allusion U.S. non-participation, and defended the right of developing countries to be exempt from limits on future emissions.

Dr. Pachauri has every right to these personal opinions, but each of the actions called for above are contested by some thoughtful people who believe that climate change is a problem requiring action, and accept the science as reported by the IPCC. These policies are not advocated by the IPCC because the formal mandate of the IPCC is to be "policy neutral." But with its recent higher profile, it seems that the IPCC leadership believes that it can flout this stance with impunity. The Nature profile discusses this issue:

The IPCC's mandate is to be 'neutral with respect to policy' — to set out the options and let policy-makers decide how to act. The reports themselves reflect this. Every word is checked and double-checked by scientists, reviewers and then government representatives — "sanitized", as Pachauri puts it. But Pachauri is the face of the IPCC, and he often can't resist speaking out, despite a few "raps on the knuckles" for his comments. He insists that he always makes it clear he is speaking on his own behalf and not for the IPCC. "It's one thing to make sure that our reports are sanitized. It's another for me as an individual to talk about policies that might work. I feel I have responsibility far beyond being a spokesman for the IPCC. If I feel there are certain actions that can help us meet this challenge, I feel I should articulate them."

"I think Patchy needs to be careful," says Bert Metz, a senior researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in Bilthoven, who is one of the co-chairs of the IPCC's working group on greenhouse-gas mitigation. "One of the things about the IPCC is that it lays down the facts. If you start mixing [that] with your own views that's not very wise. But he gets away with it because of his charm." Steve Rayner, director of the James Martin Institute at the University of Oxford, UK, and a senior author with the same working group, feels that Pachauri's personal statements place too much stress on lifestyles and not enough on technologies. But he also concedes that a certain amount of outspokenness is an essential part of the job. "I don't think you can provide inspirational leadership in an enterprise like this unless you are passionate. That's something Bob [Watson] and Patchy have in common. They are both very passionate about the issue and I think that's appropriate."

In general, those who agree with the political agenda advanced by Dr. Pachauri will see no problem with his advocacy, and those opposed will find it to be problematic. And this is precisely the problem. By using his platform as a scientific advisor to advance a political agenda, Dr. Pachauri risks politicizing the IPCC and turning it (or perceptions of it) into simply another advocacy group on climate change, threatening its legitimacy and ultimately, its ability to serve as a trusted arbiter of science.

On this point reasonable people will disagree. However, before you decide how you feel about this subject, consider how you would feel if the head of the International Atomic Energy Association responsible for evaluating nuclear weapons programs were to be an outspoken advocate for bombing the very country he was assessing, or if the head of the CIA with responsibility to bring intelligence to policy makers also was at the same time waging a public campaign on certain foreign policies directly related to his intelligence responsibilities. For many people the conflation of providing advice and seeking to achieve political ends would seem to be a dangerous mix for both the quality of advice and the quality of decision making.

The IPCC is riding high these days, but as Burt Metz says, they need to be very careful. Saying that your organization is "policy neutral" while behaving quite differently does not seem to be a sustainable practice. Policy makers will need science advice on climate change for a long time. The IPCC politicizes its efforts with some risk.

A Follow Up on Media Coverage and Climate Change

Last week I asked a few reporters and scholars why it is that a major paper in Nature last week on hurricanes and global warming received almost no media coverage whereas another paper released last summer received quite a bit more. Andy Revkin raised the issue on his blog which stimulated many more responses. With this post I’d like to report back on what I’ve heard, and what I’ve concluded, at least tentatively, on the role of the media in the climate debate.

First, there are a wide range of explanations for the differences in media coverage of the two papers. Here is a summary of what I heard (warning: not all explanations are consistent with each other):

*The media is biased toward sensational stories, and Vecchi/Soden was not sensational.

*The relevant media was distracted by the Bali climate meeting.

*The relevant media was distracted by the AGU meeting.

*The relevant media had an interest in stories that added to pressure to act on climate change in Bali.

*The media has (recently) begun to downplay research that suggests uncertainty in climate science.

*Nature did not promote the Vecchi/Soden paper, whereas NCAR aggressively promoted Webster/Holland.

*Vecchi/Soden buried their main message, so the news value was hard to see.

*The hurricane/climate change issue is “s/he said-s/he said” and not interesting.

*Hurricane season is over.

One question I asked of several people is the apparent paradox between the recent "balance as bias" thesis which holds that skeptical voices are given too much play in debate over climate change with the claims from several people I spoke to that the media tends to favor alarming stories in the climate debate. The best answer I got to this came from a reporter:

In general, news coverage favors the sensational rather than the mundane. For example, there were tons of stories this year on the arctic sea ice extent. Next year, if the sea ice doesn’t set a record, the coverage will be less by orders of magnitude.

However, within stories on global warming, there is a great pressure to be balanced. So if we have scientists saying human activity is causing the melting, there’s a desire to represent another viewpoint, no matter how much in the minority it may be.

So there’s an overall bias for sensationalism (or alarmism, when it comes to global warming). The simple reason is this attracts eyeballs. But within stories there’s an effort for balance.

To test this out the hypothesis of a general bias against skeptical voices I searched Google News for references (2004 to present) to "climate change" and "hurricanes" for both "William Gray" who advocates no discernible effect of global warming on hurricanes and "Kerry Emanuel" who advocates a very strong effect. There were 268 stories quoting Emanuel and 297 quoting Gray. This would suggest that, on the hurricane issue at least, there is no indication that the media has disfavored skeptical voices. These data don’t say much about the media favoring the sensational, as Gray’s presence in news stories might just be "balance" in a sensationalized story. More work would need to be done to say anything on that.

Looking to the academic literature Mullainathan and Shleifer (2002, full cite and link below) provide the best piece of research that I have seen on media bias. They focus on ideological biases and also what they call "spin." which is the same thing as favoring (or creating) sensational stories as suggested above. They suggest that (emphasis added):

. . . competition is an important argument for free press: despite the ideological biases of individual news suppliers, the truth comes out through competition. We show that, with Bayesian readers, this is indeed the case: competition undoes the biases from ideology. With readers who are categorical thinkers, however, the consequences of competition are more complex. We show that, in the absence of ideology, competition actually reinforces the adverse effects of spin on accuracy. Not only do the media outlets bias news reporting, but the stories reinforce each other. As each paper spins stories, it increases the incentives of later outlets to spin. This piling on of stories means non-ideological competition worsens the bias of spin. Moreover, spin can exacerbate the influence of one-sided ideology. When the first news outlet that uncovers the story is ideological and later ones are not, the first one sets the tone and later ones reinforce this spin. This can explain why and how inside sources leak information to news outlets: their principal motivation is to control how the story is eventually spun.

Our theory of news reporting falls between two extremes. The traditional view is that readers demand, and media outlets supply, pure information about political and economic markets, and thereby facilitate better consumer and voter choice (Coase 1974, Besley and Burgess 2001, Besley and Prat 2002, Djankov et al. 2002, Stromberg 2001, Dyck and Zingales 2002). The opposite but also plausible view, pursued by Mencken (1920) and Jensen (1976), sees the media as entertainment, with no obvious grounding in reality. The perspective of this paper is that media outlets provide neither unadulterated information, nor pure entertainment. News outlets may be biased for ideological reasons. And consumers, while not desiring pure entertainment as might be the case with sensational or human interest stories, do indirectly affect news content because of how they process information. So for reasons of ideology news outlets may bias information to please their owners, and for reasons of consumer psychology they may bias the information to please their readers.

These results have significant implications for media accuracy. They explain, in particular, how the media in the aggregate are likely to get to the bottom of a news story with significant ideological dimension. Ideological diversity serves as a safeguard against spin. Our results are consistent with Richard Posner's (1999) highly favorable assessment of the press in the coverage of the Clinton affair. Our results also show why media bias is most severe in the cases where no or little ideological diversity bears on the story, such as the investigation of Wen Ho Lee. In this case, the bias comes from spin, and spin causes the followers to pile on. Competition among media outlets is not a solution to the problem of spin - indeed, it makes the problem worse. Our paper makes the case for extreme ideological diversity in the media - in such diversity lies the best hope against spin.

If these findings are anywhere close to the mark, then they offer a powerful counterargument to the "balance as bias" thesis. The climate issue is characterized by a wide range of ideological perspectives, and it seems hard to justify why any of those perspectives should not be represented by the media. That means reporting on a wide range of political perspectives and the justifications for those views offered by those holding those perspectives, even if the reporter, or the vast majority of scientists or other groups, happens to disagree with either the politics or justifications. Where there is diversity balance is not bias, but bias is bias.

S. Mullainathan and A. Shleifer. 2002. Media Bias, NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES, Working Paper 9295 NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, October 2002, © 2002 by Sendhil Mullainathan and Andrei Shleifer. http://www.nber.org/papers/w9295

For further reading, see this New York Times book review on media bias by Richard Posner.

December 18, 2007

New Data on the Global Economy

The World Bank has released a valuable new dataset with data on the global economy calculated as PPP and MER. In 2005 the global economy was about $44 trillion (MER) and $55 trillion (PPP). The slide below is taken from the press briefing presentation (ppt).

world economy.png

Posted on December 18, 2007 10:39 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International

Climate Policy as Farce

According to The Telegraph to deal with the issue of climate change the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir David King, has encouraged a "cultural change" among women to prefer men who save energy, rather than hog it, such as by driving Ferrari's. And for those of you unfamiliar with UK newspapers, it is important to point out that The Telegraph is not the UK's version of The Onion.

Ferrari-599-GTB-Fiorano-Models-IMG_8118.jpg

Here is an excerpt:

Professor Sir David King said governments could only do so much to control greenhouse gas emissions and it was time for a cultural change among the British public.

And he singled out women who find supercar drivers "sexy", adding that they should divert their affections to men who live more environmentally-friendly lives.

His comments were greeted with anger by sports car drivers who insisted that their vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions were tiny compared with those from four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Sir David, who is due to retire as the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser at the end of the year, said individuals needed to change their behaviour.

"I was asked at a lecture by a young woman about what she could do and I told her to stop admiring young men in Ferraris," he said.

"What I was saying is that you have got to admire people who are conserving energy and not those wilfully using it."

Sir David, who persuaded the Government to start using the Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that claims to have lower emissions than most conventional cars, added: "Government has so many levers that it can pull - when it comes to the business sector it is quite effective.

"As soon as you come to the individual, however, they will buy a Ferrari, not because it is cheap to run or has low carbon dioxide emissions, but because young women think it is sexy to see men driving Ferraris. That is the area where a culture change is needed."

Meanwhile, Europe is divided about strengthening regulations on emissions from autos:

Emergency talks aimed at setting EU targets to reduce CO2 car emissions are being held today amid fears that bitter wrangling between car manufacturing countries could delay or even derail the process entirely.

The European Commission is due to adopt a draft regulation tomorrow on reducing carbon emissions from passenger cars to 120 grams per kilometre within five years, but a bitter fallout between European heavyweights has plunged the key negotiations into crisis. Member states with car manufacturers that traditionally produce heavy, energy-hungry cars are concerned that the emission targets will unfairly benefit those businesses that make lighter, more efficient vehicles.

France and Germany, in particular, are believed to be at loggerheads over the Commission's proposals. French manufacturers such as Peugeot-Citroen have already reduced their carbon emissions to 140g for their cars, whereas German companies such as BMW, Mercedes and Daimler still lag behind on emission targets because their vehicles are heavier and higher performance models. Sweden, which also tends to make larger cars, is also thought to be unhappy about the proposals, while Italy is backing France.

What is lost among this empty moralizing and trade disputes is that a zero-emission Ferrari would require no need to change the libidinal desires of young women (granting Prof. King's dubious premise), nor an embarrassing trade dispute between countries committed to reducing emissions.

These anecdotes -- frustrating and farcical as they may be -- illustrate a serious underlying point: Much of climate debate is exactly backwards. Advocates are spending far too much time arguing over how important that it is that others change their behavior, usually in ways that those doing the advocating would want regardless of climate change. In this way climate change becomes not a problem to be solved but a political weapon in service of other goals. The alternative to the dominant approach to climate change would be to initiate those steps that will actually make a difference, thus enabling political compromise. As Dan Sarewitz and I have often argued it is often technological advances that enable compromise rather than vice versa. And in the case of climate change those steps that will actually make a difference begin with making the costs of producing alternative energy cheaper than fossil fuels (as Shellenberger and Nordhaus have argued, and now Google), and working to make people and ecosystems more resilient/less vulnerable to climate impacts. Of course many groups are doing exactly this, but they are certainly not those leading the charge on climate policy.

Technology Assessment and Globalization

My latest column for Bridges is out, and it is titled "Technology Assessment and Globalization". This is a subject that I'll be devoting a lot more time to in 2008.

800px-Tsukiji_Fish_market_and_Tuna.JPG

Here is an excerpt:

When my parents brought home our first color television in the early 1970s, they could not have envisioned that they were contributing in a small but significant way to forces of globalization that 30 years later have resulted in their grandchildren asking me for sushi as a treat from our local grocery store.

Read it here and listen to the podcast here.

Posted on December 18, 2007 02:32 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology and Globalization

December 17, 2007

Shellenberger on Bali

Over at the Breakthrough blog, Michael Shellenberger offers some straight talk on the outcome of the Bali meeting.

A Second Reponse from RMS

A few weeks ago I provided a midterm evaluation of the RMS 2006-2010 US hurricane damage prediction. RMS (and specifically Steve Jewson) responded and has subsequently (and graciously) sent in a further response to a question that I posed:

Does RMS stand by its spring 2006 forecast that the period 2006-2010 would see total insured losses 40% above the historical average?

The RMS response appears below, and I'll respond in the comments:

Yes, we do stand by that forecast, although I should point out that we update the forecast every year, so the 2005 forecast (for 2006-2010) is now 2 years out of date. Apart from questions of forecast accuracy, there's no particular reason for any of our users to use the 2005 forecast at this point (that would be like using a weather forecast from last week). It is, of course, important to understand the correct mathematical interpretation of the forecast. In your original post you interpreted the forecast incorrectly in a couple of ways. Over the last 2-3 years we've issued this forecast to hundreds of insurance companies, and discussed it with dozens of scientists around the world, and none of them have misinterpreted it, so I don't think our communication of the intended meaning of the forecast is unclear. However, some explanation is required and I realise that you probably haven't had the benefit of hearing one of the many presentations we've given on this subject. The two things that need clarifying are: 1) This forecast is a best estimate of the mean of a very wide distribution of possible losses. Because of this no-one should expect to be able to verify or falsify the forecast in a short period of time.

This is a typical property of forecasts in situations with high levels of uncertainty. I think it's pretty well understood by the users of the forecast.

One curious property of the loss distribution is that it is very skewed. As a result the real losses would be expected to fall below the mean in most years. This is compensated for in the average by occasional years with very high losses.

In fact the forecast that we give to the insurance industry is a completely probabilistic forecast, that estimates the entire distribution of possible losses, but it's a bit difficult to put that
kind of information into a press release, or on a blog.

2) Your conditional interpretation of the forecast is not mathematically correct. Neither RMS, nor our clients, expect the losses to increase in 2008-2010 in the way you suggest just because they were low in 2006-2007. I can't think of any reason why that would be the case. To get the (roughly) correct interpretation for 2008-2010 you have to multiply the original 5 year mean values by 0.6. That's what the users of our forecast do when they want that number.

I hope that clarifies the issues a bit.

December 16, 2007

China's Growing Emissions

According to this paper by two researchers at the University of California carbon dioxide emissions in China are projected to grow between 11.05% and 13.19% per year for the period 2000-2010. What does this mean? I hope you are sitting down because you won’t believe this.

In 2006 China’s carbon dioxide emissions contained about 1.70 gigatons of carbon (GtC) (source). By 2010, at the growth rates projected by these researchers the annual emissions from China will be between 2.6 and 2.8 GtC. The growth in China's emissions from 2006-2010 is equivalent to adding the 2004 emissions of Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to China's 2006 total (source). The emissions growth in China at these rates is like adding another Germany every year, or a UK and Australia together, to global emissions. The graph below illustrates the point.

Think about that.

China Emissions.png

Posted on December 16, 2007 05:44 PM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

Parable About the Precariousness of Monoculture

In today's New York Times magazine there is an interesting article by Michael Pollan on the consequences of technological innovation in pursuit of ever more efficiency in agricultural production. Here is an excerpt:

To call a practice or system unsustainable is not just to lodge an objection based on aesthetics, say, or fairness or some ideal of environmental rectitude. What it means is that the practice or process can’t go on indefinitely because it is destroying the very conditions on which it depends. It means that, as the Marxists used to say, there are internal contradictions that sooner or later will lead to a breakdown.

For years now, critics have been speaking of modern industrial agriculture as "unsustainable" in precisely these terms, though what form the "breakdown" might take or when it might happen has never been certain. Would the aquifers run dry? The pesticides stop working? The soil lose its fertility? All these breakdowns have been predicted and they may yet come to pass. But if a system is unsustainable — if its workings offend the rules of nature — the cracks and signs of breakdown may show up in the most unexpected times and places. Two stories in the news this year, stories that on their faces would seem to have nothing to do with each other let alone with agriculture, may point to an imminent breakdown in the way we’re growing food today.

The stories that he discusses are pig farming and bee pollination. The bottom line according to Pollan?

Whenever we try to rearrange natural systems along the lines of a machine or a factory, whether by raising too many pigs in one place or too many almond trees, whatever we may gain in industrial efficiency, we sacrifice in biological resilience. The question is not whether systems this brittle will break down, but when and how, and whether when they do, we’ll be prepared to treat the whole idea of sustainability as something more than a nice word.
Posted on December 16, 2007 08:42 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Technology and Globalization

December 14, 2007

Chris Green on Emissions Target Setting

Chris Green, an economist from McGill University (Canada), has written an op-ed for the Global and Mail explaining why he thinks that the setting of long-term emissions targets just kicks the can down the road. This is sure to be an unpopular opinion among many in the climate debate, but ultimately I think he is right. Here is an excerpt:

It is not difficult to set forth the outlines of a potentially effective climate policy. Unfortunately, what may be effective is not necessarily politically acceptable. It now seems that the main barrier to an effective climate policy is the obsession with emission targets — a legacy of the Kyoto Protocol. Emission targets stand in the way of concentrating on actions whose payoff is mainly beyond the targeted time frame. Worse, because of an effective effort by climate-change "campaigners" to portray the Kyoto Protocol as humankind's last best hope on climate change, emission targets have now taken on a life of their own, particularly in political arenas susceptible to grandstanding behaviour. The evidence is all around us.

The fundamental problem with mandated emission reduction targets is that they focus on ends rather than on the technological means of achieving those ends. Because targets are assessed only rarely in terms of what is doable but usually in terms of what pressure groups think ought to be done, target-based policies lack credibility in virtually the same proportion in which they are politically popular. The Conference of the Parties session in Bali will indicate whether there is a sufficient number of countries prepared to say that the target-setting emperor has no clothes, and are ready to put a moratorium on this failed approach to climate policy.

The op-ed is distilled from a longer piece from the magazine Policy Options, and a PDF of that essay can be found here. It is well worth a read regardless of your views on the climate issue.

A Question for the Media

I've generally thought that the media has done a nice job on covering the climate issue over the past 20 years. There are of course leaders and laggards, but overall, I think that the community of journalists has done a nice job on a very tough issue. However, there are times when I am less impressed. Here is one example.

news.stories.png

Nature magazine, arguably the leading scientific journal in the world, published a paper this week by two widely-respected scholars -- Gabriel Vecchi and Brian Soden -- suggesting that global warming may have a minimal effect on hurricanes. Over two days the media -- as measured by Google News -- published a grand total of 3 news stories on this paper. Now contrast this with a paper published in July in a fairly obscure journal by two other respected scholars -- Peter Webster and Greg Holland -- suggesting that global warming has a huge effect on hurricanes. That paper resulted in 79 news stories stories over two days.

What accounts for the 26 to 1 ratio in news stories?

December 13, 2007

Reality Check

From Alan Zarembo writing in the LA Times today, this dose of reality:

Here's a recipe to head off the worst effects of global warming:

1. Start with 30 new nuclear power plants around the world.

2. Add 17,0000 wind turbines, 400 biomass power plants, two hydroelectric dams the size of China's Three Gorges Dam, and 42 coal or natural gas power plants equipped with still-experimental systems to sequester their carbon dioxide emissions underground.

3. Build everything in 2013. Repeat every year until 2030.

latimes13dec07.gif

It's an intentionally implausible plan presented this week by the International Energy Agency to make a point: For all the talk about emissions reductions, the actual work is way beyond what the world can achieve.

As delegates from 190 countries gather here on the Indonesian island of Bali to negotiate a "road map" for the successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, some experts are wondering whether the meeting has lost touch with the reality of tackling climate change.

So far, the thousands of delegates have been consumed by a debate over caps on emissions of greenhouse gases that are the primary cause of global warming.

The United States and China -- the two biggest carbon polluters, each accounting for about 20% of worldwide emissions -- have opposed any hard caps.

But while the debate continues, the most fundamental question of what it will take to achieve meaningful reductions has gone largely forgotten.

December 12, 2007

Fun With Carbon Accounting

Dieter Helm of Oxford has a very interesting paper (PDF) on trends in carbon dioxide emissions in the UK (via Climate Feedback) when they are measured from a consumption basis versus the production basis used under the Kyoto Protocol. Here is an excerpt from the paper:

On the UNFCCC basis, UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 15% since 1990. In contrast, on a consumption basis, the illustrative outcome is a rise in emissions of 19% over the same period. This is a dramatic reversal of fortune. It merits an immediate, more detailed and more robust assessment. It suggests that the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from the UK economy may have been to a considerable degree an illusion. Trade may have displaced the UK’s greenhouse gas appetite elsewhere. . .

The UK’s record against the UNFCCC greenhouse gas indicator is impressive, achieving a fall in emissions between 1990 and 2005. It has already beaten its Kyoto target of 12.5% by 2008–12. Against its own domestic goal of a 20% CO2 reduction by 2010, progress has been
less impressive. The UK’s CO2 emissions have risen slightly recently, and last year lay only 5.3% below 1990 levels. This is despite the fact that the UK’s climate change policy programme focuses effort on tackling CO2.

All of the above figures were produced on a territorial accounting basis. When the account is extended to the Office for National Statistics’ residents’ basis, by including international transport and overseas activities, the picture looks worse. Emissions fell by only 11.9%, as shipping and international aviation boomed. Furthermore, airline passengers and firms from the UK consumed more greenhouse gases during their visits and activities abroad than overseas visitors and firms did in the UK, weakening the UK’s overall performance when these trade activities are included. The trend is an adverse one.

Yet, even this extended scope of measurement does not represent the true picture of the UK economy’s impact on the climate. To understand the UK’s true impact, the greenhouse gas accounts should be reported on a 'consumption basis'. On this basis, all greenhouse gases embodied in UK consumption are counted, and by adding greenhouse gases embedded in imports and subtracting greenhouse gases embedded in exports, the crude calculations presented here suggest that UK emissions have been rising steeply. Between 1990 and 2003 the crude calculation indicates a rise of 19%.

Posted on December 12, 2007 04:55 PM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

Waxman's Whitewash

One of the themes that I have tried to develop on this blog is that policy arguments should be well founded. So along these lines I have on a number of occasions taken issue with the approach of Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to issues associated with how the Bush Administration manages scientific information and scientists in pursuit of its political agenda.

In my view Mr. Waxman's investigative approach has been sloppy and unsophisticated, meaning that in some respects his investigation has come to embody those very same characteristics that he has complained about in the Bush Administration, namely, cherry picking of information, selective reliance on friendly experts, and misrepresenting facts. Some people who have heard my complaints naively assume that I am defending the Bush Administration. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I am a strong critic of many (or more likely most) Bush Administration policies, including how they have handled issues of science communication. My critique of Mr. Waxman's efforts stems from my frustration that it has fallen far short of its potential to improve policies involving science, and instead, represents only so much political red meat, furthering partisan differences and serving to reduce that very small space in political discussions for policy analyses.

Here is a perfect example of Mr. Waxman's sloppiness.

In his report he points to a few emails -- including those from Republican staffer in the Senate, and political appointees in NOAA -- expressing an interest in making FEMA look bad and also "killing" the hurricane-climate issue. From this Mr. Waxman sees that then-director of the National Hurricane Center Max Mayfield (with whom I have collaborated on the issue of hurricanes and global warming) testifies before Congress that he see no evidence of linkage of hurricanes and climate change and thus assumes that natural variability still dominates. Mr. Waxman assumes correlation-is-causation and writes in his report, "this political motivation seems to have impacted NOAA testimony and talking points."

Well, it turns out that they did not talk to Max Mayfield to ask his views, but ABC news did:

For example, Mayfield's written testimony read in part: "the increased activity since 1995 is due to natural fluctuations/cycles of hurricane activity driven by the Atlantic Ocean itself along with the atmosphere above it and not enhanced substantially by global warming."

Mayfield, however, denies that anyone told him to alter his testimony as the Waxman report suggests.

"I want the record to show that no one forced me to say anything on the subject of climate change and tropical cyclones that I didn't believe at the time," Mayfield told ABC News.

"I accept the fact that global warming is real," Mayfield said. "Most meteorologists with knowledge of tropical cyclones think that there will be some impact from global warming on hurricanes. The debate is over how much of an impact."

He says he never heard from anyone on the committee about the incident. "No one ever asked me about the context in which my testimony was given. No one from this committee or any other Congressional committee ever asked me if I was improperly pressured to change my testimony," Mayfield said.

What does Mr. Waxman's committee do? They went back and quietly re-wrote the report after it was released and incorporated Max Mayfield's comments to ABC news. (Link to most recent version in here in PDF.) On the one hand, it is good to see that Mr. Waxman's Committee has corrected the factual record. But on the other hand it is sloppy, at best, to try to cover up your mistakes by rewriting history, which included removing the false claims by the Oversight Committee in the original release of its report. A more appropriate approach would have been to issue a correction or a new press release.

Is the bumbling by the Waxman Committee proportionate to the missteps by the Bush Administration? Certainly not. But they embody the exact same dynamics of manipulating information for political gain. If Congressional oversight is only about scoring political points, then it will do little to improve actual decision making in government. And on that basis, Mr. Waxman has let slip a perfect opportunity to improve science policies. And that is why I am so critical.

December 10, 2007

AGU Powerpoint with Steve McIntyre

Here is a link to a PPT file providing an overview of a paper by Steve McIntyre and I titled, "Changes in Spatial Distribution of North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones," which he will be presenting this week at the AGU meeting.

Here are our conclusions:

Spatially descriptive statistics can contribute to analysis of controversial hurricane issues.

There has been no statistically significant increase in cyclone activity in the western Atlantic basin; the entire increase in measured storm and hurricane activity has taken place in the mid-Atlantic;

Lack of trend in landfall and normalized damage reconciles perfectly with lack of trend in western quartile storm and hurricane indices

The eastward shift cannot be attributed merely to earlier detection.

The shift could be technological or climatological or some combination; there is no plausible statistical basis for saying that the shift to the mid-Atlantic is not as important or relevant as the overall increase.

If the trend only occurs in the mid-Atlantic, should policy-makers care?

Comments welcomed.

Posted on December 10, 2007 11:16 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters | Risk & Uncertainty

Chutzpah

This comment from former Bush Administration official John Bolton is telling, reported in the LA Times,

U.S. intelligence services attempted to influence political policy by releasing their assessment that concludes Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, said John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton on Saturday as alleging that the aim of the National Intelligence Estimate, which contradicts his and President Bush's position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.

"This is politics disguised as intelligence," Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in this week's edition.

When new information does not provide support for policy justifications that you have been making, it simply must be politicized. When it provides support for your arguments, of course, it is free from political influence. It was not long ago that intelligence, according to Mr. Bolton's standards, was apparently unpoliticized (ahem). From the archive of The New York Times:

Now John R. Bolton, nominated as United Nations ambassador, has emerged as a new lightning rod for those who saw a pattern of political pressure on intelligence analysts. And this time, current and former officials are complaining more publicly than before. . .

Some of them are prompted by antipathy to Mr. Bolton, some by lingering guilt about Iraq. Some, perhaps, are nervous about the quality of current intelligence assessments at a time of new uncertainties about North Korea's nuclear program, and ambiguous evidence about whether it is moving toward a nuclear test.

One of those critics, Robert L. Hutchings, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, made the point in an e-mail message, even as he declined to discuss Mr. Bolton in specific detail. "This is not just about the behavior of a few individuals but about a culture that permitted them to continue trying to skew the intelligence to suit their policy agenda - even after it became clear that we as a government had so badly missed the call on Iraqi W.M.D.," Mr. Hutchings said. The most recent criticism of Mr. Bolton to emerge comes from John E. McLaughlin, the former deputy director of central intelligence, who has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Mr. Bolton's effort to oust a top Central Intelligence Agency analyst from his position in 2002 breached what should be a barrier between policy makers and intelligence analysts.

Now I have no idea whether the newest National Intelligence Estimate from the U.S. on Iran is politicized or not, but I do know that its reception reflects a disturbing tendency to substitute criteria of political efficacy for information quality in making judgments about the quality of guidance provided by experts, an argument I develop in The Honest Broker.

It is of course one thing for a die-hard partisan like John Bolton to engage in such behavior, but it is quite another, and of greater concern, when the experts themselves start playing that game.

Hillary for President

After this wise move, what more could you possibly need to know?

Posted on December 10, 2007 03:25 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge

December 08, 2007

Prins and Rayner in the WSJ

In the weekend WSJ there is a thoughtful op-ed by Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner, presenting the argument that they discuss at length in their essay The Wrong Trousers (PDF). Here is how the WSJ op-ed begins:

This week in Bali, Indonesia, delegates are considering climate policy after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. We will witness a well-known human response to failure. Delegates will insist on doing more of what is not working: in this case more stringent emissions-reduction targets, and timetables involving more countries. A bigger and "better" Kyoto will be a bigger and worse failure.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was a symbolically important expression of concern about climate change. It sought to manipulate a basket of diverse greenhouse gases and all their sources. It required its signatories to show demonstrable progress toward a 5% emissions reduction over 1990 levels by 2005. It did so partly through an international cap-and-trade system, and also by establishing a Clean Development Mechanism that would enable big greenhouse-gas emitters to claim credit for reducing emissions which they secured by buying reductions elsewhere, in developing countries.

None of this has worked. Nevertheless, support for "Kyoto" has become the test by which individuals and nations demonstrate whether they are for or against the planet and its poor.

Kevin Rudd's Australian government just showed this. It will ratify the Protocol to show that it is serious about climate change. But Australia, like other countries already signed up to Kyoto, will produce no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth as a result of doing so.

Where emissions reductions have happened, notably in eastern Europe, re-unified Germany and the United Kingdom, they were the result of unrelated policies -- such as the collapse of communism, and with it the shutdown of highly inefficient and polluting industries, or Margaret Thatcher's smashing of union power by destroying the British coal industry, which meant the substitution of coal by cleaner North Sea gas.

Strip out Germany and the U.K. from the EU-15, and European emissions actually increased 10% between 1990 and 2005. In five countries, emissions rates rose more than in the U.S. Without the collapse of Russia and Ukraine, the Kyoto Protocol's "all signatory total" registers rises since 1990. Even in Japan, emission levels are rising. Kyoto's supporters blame nonsignatory governments, especially the U.S. and, (until last week) Australia.

Read the whole thing.

Posted on December 8, 2007 03:27 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

December 06, 2007

Precipitation and Flood Damage

I was just contacted by a reporter who is doing a story based on a news release put out by a group called Environment Colorado. The news release says that Colorado has seen a 30% increase in extreme precipitation over the past 60 years, based on a new study called "When it Rains, It Pours" (PDF).

The thing is, there has been no increase in flood damage in Colorado (from 1955-2003 in our dataset), as can be seen in the following graph.

CO Flood.png

This data has only been adjusted for inflation. Given the pace of growth and development in Colorado, one could make a strong case that flood impacts have gone down pretty sharply in per capita or per unit wealth terms. So it may very well be the case that extreme precipitation has increased, but these measures of precipitation are not well correlated with flood damage, which is what Mary Downton and I found in a 2000 study.

Just for fun I also looked at California, which was the subject of a different press release put out by Environment California, and guess what? Extreme precipitation is up 26% in California, and there is no statistically significant trend in damage, even without considering population growth and development.

CA Flood.png

So while human caused climate change may be responsible for changes in "extreme" precipitation, these measures are not well correlated with damaging floods.

Posted on December 6, 2007 08:02 AM View this article | Comments (4)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters

Why Action on Energy Policy is Not Enough

When in the comments on Tom's post about the recent scientists petition for action on climate change I complained that 200 scientists calling for action on climate change had ignored adaptation, Todd Neff, a local reporter from here in Boulder, helpfully explained to me why climate change is only about energy policy and not human development, and how a focus on the latter implies "pooh-poohing" the former:

Lots of things kill human beings and make them miserable. Poverty and income inequality is real, and 50-1 ratios and 7.3s versus 0.15s should be addressed with real vigor. But that's not what's being talked about in Bali. Pooh-poohing efforts to transform the energy system because poverty remains a problem despite Lyndon Johnson's best efforts strikes me as diverting from the point. These climate scientists are completely ignoring Tay-Sachs disease, too, not to mention tooth decay and this nefarious hiphop prisoner jeans-at-the-knees look that clearly risks widespread tripping among America's male teens.

The view that adaptation is not a part of climate change does seem to be widely shared among environmentalists who would like the climate issue to be narrowly looked at as only an energy issue. Not everyone agrees, particularly folks who work in developing countries. OXFAM for example (PDF) has a different perspective, reflected in this call for action in Bali:

To enable poor countries to adapt successfully, change needs to occur at many levels. Communities must be at the heart of efforts to build resilience, whether through improving economic choices, diversifying livelihoods, protecting eco-systems, or strengthening food and water security. Ministries must be able to integrate climate risk management into their overall planning and budgeting, and must also integrate adaptation into development-planning processes, restructure and strengthen institutions, and provide early-warning systems. In addition, they must ensure that climate risks are integrated into national and local disaster-risk reduction plans, so that they can tackle the underlying vulnerabilities that put communities at risk in the face of the increasing number of climate-related disasters.

Given rich countries' historic role in causing climate change, they now have two clear obligations: to stop harming, by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions hardest and fastest; and to start helping, by providing compensatory finance so that poor countries can adapt before they suffer the full impacts of climate change. . .

In 2005, the G8 countries promised to increase annual aid levels by $50bn by the year 2010. This finance would be a crucial step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, which aim to halve poverty by 2015. But it is still only 0.36 per cent of rich countries’ incomes – just half of the 0.7 per cent target they signed up to in 1970. Importantly, it is also a target that does not account for the costs of climate change. Two years on, aid to poor countries is falling, not rising and, if current trends continue, Oxfam calculates that the G8 will miss their promised increase by a staggering $30bn. This funding deficit would be a major concern even without climate change.

On top of this deficit, climate change will make it harder to realise the MDGs because it threatens the prospects of reaching every one of them. As the Stern Review states, the scale of additional funding needed for adaptation 'makes it still more important for developed countries to honour both their existing commitments to increase aid sharply and help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change.'

Mitigation and adaptation as complements, what an idea! The continued opposition to adaptation among advocates for action on climate change -- whether scientists or members of the media -- remains as baffling as ever to me.

Posted on December 6, 2007 03:42 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | International

Revisiting The 2006-2010 RMS Hurricane Damage Prediction

In the spring of 2006, a company called Risk Management Solutions (RMS) issued a five year forecast of hurricane activity (for 2006-2010) predicting U.S. insured losses to be 40% higher than average. RMS is an important company because their loss models are used by insurance companies to set rates charged to homeowners, by reinsurance companies to set rates they charge to insurers, by ratings agencies for evaluating risks, and others.

We are now two years into the RMS forecast period and can thus say something preliminary about their forecast based on actual hurricane damage from 2006 and 2007, which was minimal. In short, the forecast doesn't look too good. For 2006 and 2007, the following figure shows average annual insured historical losses (for 2005 and earlier) in blue (based on Pielke et al. 2008, adjusted up by 4% from 2006 to 2007 to account for changing exposure), the RMS prediction of 40% more losses above the average in pink, and the actual losses in red.

RMS Verification.png

The RMS prediction obviously did not improve upon a naive forecast of average losses in either year.

What are the chances for the 5-year forecast yet to verify?

Average U.S. insured losses according to Pielke et al. (2008) are about $5.2 billion per year. Over 5 years this is $26 billion, and 40% higher than this is $36 billion. A $36 billion dollar insured loss is about $72 billion in total damage, and $26 billion insured is about $52 billion. For the RMS forecast to do better than the naive baseline of Pielke et al. (2008) total damage in 2008-2010 will have to be higher than $62 billion ($31 billion insured). That is, losses higher than $62B are closer to the RMS forecast than to the naive baseline.

The NHC official estimate for Katrina is $81 billion. So for the 2006-2010 RMS forecast to verify will require close to another Katrina-like event to occur in the next 3 years, or several large events. This is of course possible, but I doubt that there is a hurricane expert out there willing to put forward a combination of event probability and loss magnitude that will lead to an expected $62 billion total loss over the next 3 years. Consider that a 50% chance of $124 billion in losses results in an expected $62 billion. Is there any scientific basis to expect a 50% chance of $124 billion in losses? Or perhaps a 100% chance of $62 billion in total losses? Anyone wanting to make claims of this sort, please let us know!

From Pielke et al. (2008) the annual chances of a >$10B event (i.e., $5B insured) during 1900-2005 about 25%, and the annual chances of a >$50 billion ($25 billion insured) are just under 5%. There were 7 unique three-year periods with >$62B (>$31B insured) in total losses, or about a 7% chance. So RMS prediction of 40% higher than average losses for 2006-2010 has about a 7% chance of being more accurate than a naive baseline. It could happen, of course, but I wouldn't bet on it without good odds!

So what has RMS done is the face of evidence that its first 5-year forecast was not so accurate? Well, they have declared success and issued another 5-year forecast of 40% higher losses for the period 2008-2012.

Risk Management Solutions (RMS) has confirmed its modeled hurricane activity rates for 2008 to 2012 following an elicitation with a group of the world's leading hurricane researchers. . . . The current activity rates lead to estimates of average annual insured losses that will be 40% higher than those predicted by the long-term mean of hurricane activity for the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Southeast, and 25-30% higher for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coastal regions.

For further reading:

Pielke, R. A., Jr., Gratz, J., Landsea, C. W., Collins, D., Saunders, M. A., and Musulin, R. (2008). "Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005." Natural Hazards Review, in press, February. (PDF, prepublication version)

December 05, 2007

How to Get Good Intelligence

In The Honest Broker I have a chapter that evaluates the role of intelligence in the decision to go to war in Iraq. I argue that intelligence was used by the Bush Administration as a tool of political advocacy rather than policy insight. With the release earlier this week of a new intelligence estimate on Iran, it may be that the intelligence community is regaining some of its credibility. The New York Times today explains some changes that have taken place:

Over the past year, officials have put into place rigorous new procedures for analyzing conclusions about difficult intelligence targets like Iran, North Korea, global terrorism and China.

Analysts from disparate spy agencies are no longer pushed to achieve unanimity in their conclusions, a process criticized in the past for leading to "groupthink." Alternate judgments are now encouraged.

In the case of the 2007 Iran report, "red teams" were established to test and find weaknesses in the report's conclusions. Counterintelligence officials at the C.I.A. also did an extensive analysis to determine whether the new information might have been planted by Tehran to throw the United States off the trail of Iran's nuclear program.

One result was an intelligence report that some of the intelligence community's consistent critics have embraced.

"Just possibly, the intelligence community may have taken a major step forward," Senator Rockefeller said.

Posted on December 5, 2007 07:31 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

November 26, 2007

It Will Take More than Holocaust Analogies

Andy Revkin reports on a spat between NASA's James Hansen and Kraig R. Naasz, the president of the National Mining Association. You can go read the details at Dot Earth. After you do that you might mull over the following factoids (emphasis added). . .

From the International Energy Association's 2007 World Energy Report (PDF):

In line with the spectacular growth of the past few years, coal sees the biggest increase in demand in absolute terms, jumping by 73% between 2005 and 2030 and pushing its share of total energy demand up from 25% to 28%. Most of the increase in coal use arises in China and India. . . Higher oil and gas prices are making coal more competitive as a fuel for baseload generation. China and India, which already account for 45% of world coal use, drive over four-fifths of the increase to 2030 in the Reference Scenario. In the OECD, coal use grows only very slowly, with most of the increase coming from the United States. In all regions, the outlook for coal use depends largely on relative fuel prices, government policies on fuel diversification, climate change and air pollution, and developments in clean coal technology in power generation. The widespread deployment of more efficient power-generation technology is expected to cut the amount of coal needed to generate a kWh of electricity, but boost the attraction of coal over other fuels, thereby leading to higher demand.

From some excellent reporting by the Christian Science Monitor:

In all, at least 37 nations [in Asia, Americas, EU, and elsewhere] plan to add coal-fired capacity in the next five years – up from the 26 nations that added capacity during the past five years. With Sri Lanka, Laos, and even oil-producing nations like Iran getting set to join the coal-power pack, the world faces the prospect five years from now of having 7,474 coal-fired power plants in 79 countries pumping out 9 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually – out of 31 billion tons from all sources in 2012.

One can understand why Stanford's David Victor offers a less-than-optimistic view of the issue, here is part of his comment posted at Dot Earth:

The reason coal matters so much is that it offers the best route for getting leverage on emissions–because coal is used mainly in large central generating stations that are managed by professionals and where economies of scale favor the installation of carbon storage, etc.

That means that simple-sounding solutions like shutting coal plants or passing moratoria are politically impractical and also probably will set back the cause. For example, some existing stations may offer cheaper routes for controlling emissions (such as through installation of post combustion capture) than building brand new units. We don’t know which routes will work, and until we know some more–which requires a much larger effort–it is hard to know what exactly to recommend.

Our group at Stanford has started tracking CCS projects, and what’s striking to us is that if you add up ALL the projects you get to an effort that is perhaps 1/100 of what is actually needed to halt emissions. The whole policy effort, so far, is Potemkin–it looks nice on the surface, but there’s little behind the facade. And to pin all that on coal isn’t right. The problem is us.

The reality is that energy from coal is here to stay. That David Victor sees coal plants as part of the solution to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and James Hansen does not illustrates how widely experts who agree on the need to limit emissions disagree on energy policy.

Posted on November 26, 2007 04:34 PM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

John Quiggin on Adaptation

Last week I took strong issue with a view of climate adaptation put forward by Australian economist John Quiggin. After some discussion, John has graciously provided an extended and considerably more nuanced view of his thoughts on adaptation, which we are happy to highlight here. (Thanks, John!):

There is no reason to expect too little adaptation in developed countries, assuming that individuals and firms act in their own interests, and that governments follow standard policy procedures aimed at selecting policies that promote the welfare of their constituents. To the extent that these things don’t happen, international negotiations won’t help.

There is a big reason to expect excessive emissions by all countries (and the excess is much greater for the rich countries) because of the externality problem. Those making the emissions don’t bear more than a tiny fraction of the costs.

Finally, poor countries won’t have enough adaptation because they don’t have enough of anything. The best solution to this is to increase aid (and access to trade) across the board. Given sufficient resources, poor countries can their own decisions on how to allocate them.

Climate change negotiations provide a chance to put pressure on rich countries to compensate poor countries for the damage caused by climate change, or to pay them to participate in mitigation. In the former context, it may be possible to get finance for adaptation projects as part of the global negotiation process and if so, I welcome it.

Taking all of that together, this means the primary focus of international negotiations should be on emissions reductions and mitigation. But if aid for adaptation can be included in the package, that would be a good thing.

While I disagree with John, I can appreciate that his view is identical to that espoused in the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and a logical consequence of its Article 2.

My own view is that Article 2 leads to a devaluing of sustainable development; specifically, it makes little sense in practice to try to separate "climate change adaptation" (where climate change is narrowly defined as those changes resulting from greenhouse gas emissions) from the more general challenge of sustainable development. I argue this point in the following paper:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2005. Misdefining "climate change": consequences for science and action, Environmental Science & Policy, Vol. 8, pp. 548-561. (PDF)

I suspect that the tensions between rich world countries wanting to focus on emissions and developing countries focusing on development will be a central feature of the upcoming FCCC Bali negotiations.

Posted on November 26, 2007 06:09 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

November 25, 2007

Promises, Promises

Three interesting news stories shared by Benny Peiser:

First on adaptation from The Guardian:

A group of rich countries including Britain has broken a promise to pay more than a billion dollars to help the developing world cope with the effects of climate change. The group agreed in 2001 to pay $1.2bn (£600m) to help poor and vulnerable countries predict and plan for the effects of global warming, as well as fund flood defences, conservation and thousands of other projects. But new figures show less than £90m of the promised money has been delivered. Britain has so far paid just £10m. . .

The vast majority of the promised money was expected to be channelled through funds run by an organisation called the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Washington DC, which was to distribute it through programmes run by the World Bank and United Nations. But accounts presented to a GEF council meeting last week show that only $177m (£86m) had been paid into the funds by September 30 this year, much less than the $1.2bn due by the end of 2007 under the Bonn agreement. Another $106m (£51m) has been pledged to the GEF by specific countries, but not yet paid. Britain has pledged to pay another £10m over the next three years, which makes it among the largest donors, but still below its promised level of commitment.

Saleem Huq, head of the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, said Britain should have paid between a fifth and a quarter of the £600m promised to date, based on past contributions to international aid. He said: "Most people in the climate change debate focus on how to cut emissions and how to bring the US, China and India into an agreement. The impact of climate change on poor countries, and the responsibilities of rich countries to help them, gets much less attention." The Department for International Development insisted Britain's share was closer to £30m a year, and that it had "fully met its commitments". It said Britain had given an extra £100m since 2005 to climate change work in the developing world through routes outside the GEF, such as bilateral aid given directly to poor countries.

Huq said this money cannot be counted towards the Bonn agreement because it was part of general overseas aid. "The Bonn agreement is clear that the money paid to help developing countries cope with climate change must be additional. Just counting overseas development aid as money for climate change adaptation cuts no ice and is double counting."

Next on emissions from EU autos:

European Union governments look set to reject calls for taxing cars based on their contribution to climate change.

At a Dec. 4 meeting, finance ministers from the EU’s 27 member states are scheduled to discuss a proposal for reshaping taxes imposed on cars so that they take account of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main climate-changing gas, they emit.

But Portugal, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, has conceded that a breakthrough on this plan is unlikely. This is despite a pledge made by the EU governments earlier this year that they would lead international efforts to fight climate change.

In an internal paper, seen by IPS, the Lisbon government says there is "opposition from a considerable number" of EU countries to "an obligation to introduce a CO2 element into national car taxes."

. . . Angela Merkel, now Germany’s chancellor, advocated in 1994 that a maximum legal limit of 120 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre should be established for cars. Merkel was her country’s environment minister at the time.

Although EU policy-makers have discussed that target ever since then, the Commission suggested earlier this year that a less stringent goal of 130g/km should be set. Ironically, it agreed to that measure after Merkel and the German car industry lobbied the Commission not to opt for the 120g/km limit.

And on that third runway at Heathrow:

Isn't politics wonderful? Within days of Gordon Brown's address to the conservation group WWF, in which he pledged eye-wateringly tough reductions in British emissions of Co2, the Government has announced its support for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. "This time he really gets it," Greenpeace's executive director had enthused after the Prime Minister's "Let's save the polar bear" speech. Yesterday, following the Transport Secretary's endorsement of BAA's expansion plans, Greenpeace was back to its default position, spitting ecological tacks.

You might think this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (or possibly the left hand not knowing what the left hand is doing) especially given the Government's growing reputation for administrative chaos. In fact it is entirely deliberate. The Government both wants to claim "leadership in the fight against climate change" while at the same time it – quite understandably– does not want to do anything which might reduce this country's international competitiveness. It knows that these two objectives are incompatible – very well, then: it will contradict itself. . .

It has been written often enough that any likely reduction in Co2 emissions from our own generation of electricity is not just sub-microscopic in terms of any measurable effect on the climate: the People's Republic of China is now opening two new coal-fired power stations every week. Real "climate change leadership" would be developing "clean coal" technology and selling it to the Chinese – but for some reason that does not fascinate politicians in the way that targets do. It is insufficiently heroic.

We can see the same national self-obsession in the debate over the environmental consequences of opening a third runway at Heathrow: last year China announced plans to expand 73 of its airports and build 42 new ones. Yes, the British government could demonstrate "increased climate change leadership" by blocking BAA's plans to build another runway at Heathrow. Does anyone seriously imagine that the consequence of further congestion and delays will be something other than a transfer of traffic from that airport to others in the immediate vicinity, such as Charles de Gaulle, which already has much more capacity?

Posted on November 25, 2007 08:43 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

November 20, 2007

Optimal Adaptation?

Thomas Henry Huxley once described science as "organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact." The same can be said of economics.

In a unpublished letter to Nature posted as a comment on the Nature Climate Feedback blog Australian economist John Quiggin responds to the recent Prins/Rayner piece in Nature. He explains how economics theory indicates that we really have no reason to worry about adaptation to climate change, because economics theory says so:

Prins and Rayner also assume that because adaptation is as important as mitigation, it should receive equal attention as a focus of public policy. But emissions of greenhouse gases represent a market failure. No individual or nation has a strong incentive to reduce their own emissions. Hence, mitigation requires a global policy response so that this externality is taken into account. By contrast, private parties, in deciding how to adapt to climate change, will, in the absence of policy intervention, bear the costs and receive the benefits of their decisions in most cases. There is no reason to expect too little adaptation.

I suppose one could argue that this thesis is supported by the obvious fact that the world today does indeed have an optimal level of climate adaptation.
bostonherald.jpg
But then again, one might also take a look at Bangladesh and the effects of Cyclone Sidr over the past week to see that such an argument is not only wrong but wrongheaded, and perhaps even morally bereft. The two "private parties" in the photo to the left (courtesy of The Boston Herald) are obviously practicing "optimal adaptation" in the "absence of policy intervention."

Yeah, right.

Posted on November 20, 2007 10:32 AM View this article | Comments (10)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

November 19, 2007

IPCC and Policy Options: To Open Up or Close Down?

With the release of the IPCC AR4 Synthesis report last week, the IPCC made a dramatic statement that has thus far escaped notice. The IPCC has endorsed the Kyoto Protocol process, at once discarding its fig leaf of being "policy neutral" and putting its scientific authority on the line by supporting a policy approach that many people think simply cannot work.

The IPCC Synthesis Report states:

There is high agreement and much evidence that notable achievements of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol are the establishment of a global response to climate change, stimulation of an array of national policies, and the creation of an international carbon market and new institutional mechanisms that may provide the foundation for future mitigation efforts. Progress has also been made in addressing adaptation within the UNFCCC and additional international initiatives have been suggested.

The IPCC has never really been "policy neutral" despite its claims, so such openness in its political advocacy is a welcome change (an "emboldened" stance is also noted by the NYT's Elisabeth Rosenthal).

However, its claims that there is "high agreement" and "much evidence" of the success of the Kyoto Protocol approach are simply wrong, unless one restricts those claims to a fairly narrow group of experts. The ability of the Kyoto Protocol approach to effectively deal with the challenge of climate change is hotly debated (for instance, PDF). And there is considerable evidence that it has done little (or less) in practice. The claim by the IPCC that the UNFCCC has contributed to progress on adaptation is laughable (PDF).

In short, the IPCC appears to be using the language and concepts of a scientific consensus to suggest that there is also a consensus on the policy effectiveness and political worth of the Kyoto approach. This is a perfect example of how science becomes pathologically politicized. There are a wide range of approaches to climate change policy that are consistent with the work of the IPCC working groups. For an example of such an approach, see my congressional testimony from last May which synthesizes the 3 IPCC reports (here in PDF) in a way that suggests that it is future development paths that matter much more than Kyoto-like attempts to limit emissions.

Ultimately, it is fair to ask of the IPCC what its role in climate policy actually is -- is it to provide an assessment of the views of a wide range of experts on questions of relevance to decision makers? Or perhaps it is to survey a wide range of policy options to facilitate decision making by governments? Or is it to pick a "winner" in climate politics and advocate for its agenda above all others?

Is it to open up debate on climate policy or close it down? Judging by the AR4 Synthesis Report the IPCC has chosen the latter path.

The risk is that the IPCC has chosen a losing policy option to advocate for -- "the wrong trousers" to borrow a metaphor -- and thus is more likely to work against the adoption of effective climate policies than it would by presenting policy makers with a wide range of options to chose from, including but not limited to Kyoto. Climate policy debates will be ongoing for years and probably decades. We will need honest brokers if we are to made good decisions about climate policy.

The more that the IPCC resembles an advocacy group with a narrow political agenda tied to the Kyoto Protocol, the more it risks its credibility, legitimacy, and ultimately, its sustainability.

Posted on November 19, 2007 10:21 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Prins and Rayner - The Wrong Trousers

Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner have released the full version of their analysis of the failure of the Kyoto Protocol. It is available as a PDF here. They write:

The idea that the Kyoto Protocol approach to climate change mitigation is the only solution compounds the problem of finding viable responses for real problems. Another solution must be found—or rather other solutions.

It is a thoughtful, hard-hitting, and on target assessment of the current state of climate policy debate. It deserves to be read carefully and broadly discussed. Have a look.

Posted on November 19, 2007 10:15 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

November 16, 2007

Neal Lane and Roger Pielke, Jr. on NPR Science Friday

Presidential Science Advisors (broadcast Friday, November 16th, 2007)

How important are a president's advisors when it comes to making decisions that deal with science and technology? Scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. interviewed seven of the fourteen most recent Presidential Science Advisors, who served under presidents from Lyndon Johnson to George W Bush. In this segment, Ira talks with Pielke about what he learned from the interviews, and about how future administrations might try to manage the massive amounts of scientific advice available.

3PM EST on NPR!!!

Posted on November 16, 2007 08:38 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

November 15, 2007

The Science Advisor at 50

I've got a Commentary in this week's Nature on the President's science advisor. Here is a link to the PDF.

Tomorrow I'll be appearing on NPR's Science Friday to discuss the piece and the past 50 years of presidential science advice. Please tune in at 3PM EST!

November 14, 2007

Not Ambitious Enough

In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman has a column lamenting the failure of politicians to enact a gasoline tax following 9/11. I am a strong supporter for a dramatically increased gasoline tax in the United States. The problem with Friedman’s proposed gasoline tax is that it is not ambitious enough.

Here are some data:

Sources:

U.S. gasoline prices
U.S. gasoline usage
U.S. GDP

On September 11, 2001 U.S. gasoline averaged $1.15 per gallon. By May 1, 2006 it was $2.90 per gallon. The difference of $1.75 per gallon is larger than the gasoline tax proposed by Friedman, and thus allows for a natural experiment on the effects on consumption.

US gasoline consumption in September, 2001 was 8.6 million barrels per day. In May, 2006 it was 9.3 million barrels per day. This does not suggest a strong relationship between price and consumption, although it is certainly possible to argue that consumption would have been higher with lower prices. Clearly, the $1.75 increase per gallon did not lead to reduced consumption.

One can look at the figures from the standpoint of the overall economy as well. In 2001 the US economy generated $3.22 of economic activity for every gallon of gasoline burned. In 2006 it generated $3.91 of economic activity for every gallon of gasoline burned. This does not suggest a strong relationship of gasoline use and economic growth. This is good news because it suggests that gasoline prices might be able to increase considerably without large negative economic effects.

One might argue that the $1.00 per gallon tax would be on top of the supply/demand fluctuations in price. But even gasoline at $4 or $5 dollars is unlikely to lead to dramatic changes in behavior or innovation.

Consider that a gasoline tax of $1/per gallon would have raised only about $3.4 billion in tax revenue in 2006, which is small in relation to overall U.S. incomes taxes, which in 2006 were more than $1 trillion (PDF). Thus it is very (!) misleading when Friedman quotes Philip Verleger in his column as saying, "We could have replaced the current payroll tax with a gasoline tax." Well, I suppose that if the gasoline tax was about $300/gallon under present levels of consumption then that statement would be accurate!

What does the literature say?

There is a very nice review paper on the elasticity of gasoline demand based on a wide range of studies by Graham and Glaister (2002)(PDF). This paper concludes:

There are differences between the short- and long-run elasticities of fuel consumption with respect to price. . . Therefore, it may be right to say that "it won’t make much difference" or "people will use their cars just the same", but only in the short run. The evidence is clear and remarkably consistent over a wide range of studies in many countries that in the long run there is a significant response, albeit a less than proportionate one. . .

So the effects of a gasoline tax are important and take place over the long term. However, the tax would have to be significant enough to generate significant responses, lest it be more symbolic than effective. I am not sure what that is in the United States, but I am sure that $1 per gallon is only a step in the right direction; it is not all that is needed by a longshot.

Both long- and short-term effects of gasoline prices on traffic levels tend to be less than their effects on the volume of fuel burned. . . Raising fuel prices will therefore be more effective in reducing the quantity of fuel used than in reducing the volume of traffic. . .

Anyone who has driven at rush hour in the UK where gasoline costs a lot more than the U.S. will be well aware of this reality. It is therefore misleading to suggest that a higher gasoline tax will reduce congestion, as some have suggested. It won’t. To reduce congestion would require other strategies.

The demand for owning cars in heavily dependent on income. . . The implication is that fuel prices must rise faster than the rate of income growth, even to stabilise consumption at existing levels.

Consider the difference between dollars of GDP per gallon in 2001 and 2006. US GDP increased over this period by 30% while gasoline prices increased by about 90%, and gasoline consumption still increased by 7%.

If goals of energy policy are to dramatically reduce the U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil and to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of the energy system, then a gasoline tax can certainly contribute to that end. However, it is misleading at best to suggest that $1 per gallon can do the job, or make a big step in that direction, when it can’t. Achieving a gasoline tax in the United States would be a monumental political achievement. It would be a shame to see such an achievement undercut by getting the policy wrong by reaching for too little. Of course, that might just be a good characterization of current debates on U.S. energy policy generally.

Posted on November 14, 2007 09:34 AM View this article | Comments (11)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Energy Policy

November 12, 2007

Geotimes Interview

Geotimes has an interview with me online about The Honest Broker.

The interviewer, Nicole Branan, has this to say about the book:

Any scientist would benefit from reading this book, as it is an eye-opener about the scientist-policymaking relationship.

Buy one for yourself and as the holiday season approaches, don't forget all of your scientist friends!

Posted on November 12, 2007 09:10 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

November 07, 2007

Sokal Revisited - I Smell a Hoax

Benny Peiser sent around on his CCNet list a link to the following paper:

Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory? Journal of Geoclimatic Studies (2007) 13:3. 223-231.

It has the following statement within the text:

Moreover we note that there is no possible mechanism by which industrial emissions could have caused the recent temperature increase, as they are two orders of magnitude too small to have exerted an effect of this size. We have no choice but to conclude that the recent increase in global temperatures, which has caused so much disquiet among policy makers, bears no relation to industrial emissions, but is in fact a natural phenomenom.

These findings place us in a difficult position. We feel an obligation to publish, both in the cause of scientific objectivity and to prevent a terrible mistake - with extremely costly implications - from being made by the world's governments. But we recognise that in doing so, we lay our careers on the line. As we have found in seeking to broach this issue gently with colleagues, and in attempting to publish these findings in other peer-reviewed journals, the "consensus" on climate change is enforced not by fact but by fear. We have been warned, collectively and individually, that in bringing our findings to public attention we are not only likely to be deprived of all future sources of funding, but that we also jeopardise the funding of the departments for which we work.

We believe that academic intimidation of this kind contradicts the spirit of open enquiry in which scientific investigations should be conducted. We deplore the aggressive responses we encountered before our findings were published, and fear the reaction this paper might provoke. But dangerous as these findings are, we feel we have no choice but to publish.

Shocking, it seems. But call me a skeptic skeptic - I'm calling this a hoax.

Posted on November 7, 2007 12:32 PM View this article | Comments (11)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

NAS Student Forum on Science and Technology Policy

Full details here . . .

On January 4-5, 2008, the National Academies are sponsoring a two-day public forum intended for students, postdoctoral fellows, and recent graduates interested in studying and careers in science and technology policy.

The forum will feature both invited presentations and interactive discussions that will bring together a cross-section of government, academia, and industry to address practice and opportunities of the science and technology profession.

Apply here!

Have questions or comments? Email us at studentforum@nas.edu

Posted on November 7, 2007 06:50 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science Policy: General

November 02, 2007

Confronting Disaster Losses

From today's Science:

L. M. Bouwer, R. P. Crompton, E. Faust, P. Höppe, and R. A. Pielke Jr. 2007. Confronting disaster losses, Science 318, 753.

Here is an excerpt from the Supporting Online Material:

Societal change and economic development are mainly responsible for increasing losses in recent decades, as convincingly shown in analyses of long-term records of losses (S1). After adjusting for societal changes, resulting time series accurately reflect documented trends (or lack thereof) and variability consistent with the observed climatological record of weather events (S1, S5). This implies that the net result of the adjustments has to a significant degree successfully removed the signal of societal change from the loss record. . .

Within the next 20 years projected changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme events—depending on the time scale and hazard—remain uncertain. The most severe effects of human-caused climate change are expected in the second half of the century
(S6). In the immediate future, disaster losses will increase as a result of societal change and economic development, independent of climate change.

We'll provide the full text as soon as it is posted on our site. Meantime, subscribers to Science can find it here.

UPDATE: Full text here in PDF.

Posted on November 2, 2007 07:59 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters

October 30, 2007

A Range of Views on Prins/Rayner

Here are a few reactions, and my comments in response, to the Prins/Rayner piece in Nature last week, which has generated a good deal of healthy discussion on climate policies.

At his new DotEarth blog Andy Revkin notes perceptively that debate over greenhouse gas reduction policies is emerging between those who think that setting a price for carbon is the most important action to be taken, versus others who think that setting a price for carbon can only have modest effects on efficiency, and by itself will not stimulate a transition to a post-fossil fuel world. Most everyone nowadays, including Prins/Rayner, would seem to agree that putting a price on carbon makes good sense. The debate is over the degree to which setting such a price will lead to a significant change in the trajectory of emissions paths. Prins/Rayner are not optimistic (and I agree), and others are more sanguine.

At Nature’s Climate Feedback, a number of informed commenters respond to Prins/Rayner by raising questions about the effectiveness of Kyoto mechanisms. Prins/Rayner emphasize the symbolic importance of Kyoto, but criticize its practical results. They suggest that more of the same – feel-good symbolism over actual, large emissions reductions – is not what the world needs at this point. On this point reasonable people will disagree, but ultimately atmospheric concentrations will arbitrate the debate.

The Wall Street Journal Energy Blog does a nice job identifying where Prins/Rayner agree with and disagree with the policies of the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, the role of technology in the climate debate has been caught up in partisan bickering. Some argue that all of the technologies that are needed to stabilize emissions (or at least make a big forward step in that direction) are already available. I find this argument unconvincing at best, and more likely just plain wrongheaded. Others, such as Nordhaus/Shellenberger suggest that a massive investment in new technologies are needed, a point on which I, and Prins/Rayner, agree. Many environmentalists do their arguments (and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) no favors by taking an anti-technological investment stance, which seems more like a reflexive reaction to be against anything that the Bush Administration might be for -- Note however that while the Bush Administration often uses the word "technology" in the context of climate change policy, they have never advocated the sort of investment advocated by Prins/Rayner/Nordhaus/Shellenberger.

There will be more to discuss when Prins/Rayner release the long version of their analysis, hopefully soon. We’ll link to it here when available.

Posted on October 30, 2007 07:05 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

October 24, 2007

Prins and Rayner in Nature

Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, and Steve Rayner, of Oxford University have a brave and challenging piece in the current issue of Nature on why we need to rethink climate policy. Here is how it begins:

The Kyoto Protocol is a symbolically important expression of governments' concern about climate change. But as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, it has failed. It has produced no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth. And it pays no more than token attention to the needs of societies to adapt to existing climate change. The impending United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Bali in December — to decide international policy after 2012 — needs to radically rethink climate policy.

Kyoto's supporters often blame non-signatory governments, especially the United States and Australia, for its woes. But the Kyoto Protocol was always the wrong tool for the nature of the job. Kyoto was constructed by quickly borrowing from past treaty regimes dealing with stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain from sulphur emissions and nuclear weapons. Drawing on these plausible but partial analogies, Kyoto's architects assumed that climate change would be best attacked directly through global emissions controls, treating tonnes of carbon dioxide like stockpiles of nuclear weapons to be reduced via mutually verifiable targets and timetables. Unfortunately, this borrowing simply failed to accommodate the complexity of the climate-change issue.

Kyoto has failed in several ways, not just in its lack of success in slowing global warming, but also because it has stifled discussion of alternative policy approaches that could both combat climate change and adapt to its unavoidable consequences. As Kyoto became a litmus test of political correctness, those who were concerned about climate change, but sceptical of the top-down approach adopted by the protocol were sternly admonished that "Kyoto is the only game in town". We are anxious that the same mistake is not repeated in the current round of negotiations.

The Kyoto Protocol was always the wrong tool for the nature of the job.

Already, in the post-Kyoto discussions, we are witnessing that well-documented human response to failure, especially where political or emotional capital is involved, which is to insist on more of what is not working: in this case more stringent targets and timetables, involving more countries. The next round of negotiations needs to open up new approaches, not to close them down as Kyoto did.

Read the whole thing free on the Nature site.

Posted on October 24, 2007 02:13 PM View this article | Comments (2)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

September 29, 2007

Late Action by Lame Ducks

I have a new column out in Bridges on a scenario for the climate policy end game by the Bush Administration -- read it here.

Posted on September 29, 2007 07:23 AM View this article | Comments (4)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

September 20, 2007

The Honest Broker 20% Off!!

Cambridge University Press is offering The Honest Broker at 20% off -- for the coupon code visit the CUP site here.

Posted on September 20, 2007 04:09 PM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

September 14, 2007

Breakthrough Blog

I'll be blogging on climate policy over at the Breakthrough blog, check it out, my first post is up!

Posted on September 14, 2007 05:50 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

August 23, 2007

The Honest Broker Reviewed in Nature

Some quotes from the 23 August 2007 issue of Nature, which has a review of The Honest Broker by Andrew A. Rosenberg from the University of New Hampshire (subscribers can see it here).

Happily, the book by Roger Pielke, Jr. on the engagement of scientists in policy offers a pithy, insightful basis for discussing the contributions scientists can make to advising policy makers. . .

This is a clear, thought-provoking book that helps move us away from thinking of science as 'pure' and distinct from policy. It would make an excellent basis for a graduate seminar. It isn't a textbook, but a think-piece, and we all need to consider carefully our responsibility to engage as scientists in policy making.

Buy your copy today!

Posted on August 23, 2007 10:16 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

August 17, 2007

The Honest Broker Reviewed in Science

Some quotes from the review of The Honest Broker by Georgetown University's Nathan Hultman appearing in the 17 August 2007 issue of Science:

"In The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, Roger Pielke Jr. successfully illuminates these challenges to science and scientists."

"Pielke's framework provides a helpful starting point for investigating factors that complicate the science-society relationship. . . Pielke deftly shows how scientists selections among these options can affect outcomes."

"[T]he book's direct language and concrete examples convey the concepts to a wide audience. By categorizing different roles in the often vexed but necessary relations between scientists and their social world, Pielke clarifies choices not only for scientists but also for the diverse members of democratic society, for whom scientific perspectives are an essential component of better policy."

Buy your copy today!

Posted on August 17, 2007 10:40 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

New Publication

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Mistreatment of the economic impacts of extreme events in the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, in press, corrected proof.

Full text here in PDF.

June 25, 2007

Normalized US Hurricane Damages

The following paper has now been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Natural Hazards Review:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., Gratz, J., Landsea, C.W., Collins, D., Saunders, M., and Musulin, R., 2007. Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005. Natural Hazards Review (accepted) Accepted Version in PDF

The dataset is available here.

Posted on June 25, 2007 04:12 PM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Disasters

May 16, 2007

End of the Line . . .

After three years of blogging, I have decided to take an extended break that just-so-happens to coincide with my sabbatical leave. Oh, I'll be promoting my book here and there, but I won't be posting regularly. It has been a fun experience, even with the obvious downsides, but it is time to close this chapter.

Prometheus, I hope, will continue to provoke and irritate, as is our custom, so don't go far!

Posted on May 16, 2007 02:05 PM View this article | Comments (12)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

The Importance of the Development Pathway in the Climate Debate

Today I am testifying before the House Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. Congress. In my testimony I argue that we should pay attention to development paths in addition to the mitigation of greenhouse gases. You can see my testimony in full here in PDF.

A full reference:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2007. Statement to the House Committee on Science and Technology of the United States House of Representatives, The State of Climate Change Science 2007: The Findings of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change, 16 May.

May 15, 2007

Upcoming Congressional Testimony

I will be testifying before the House Committee on Science and Technology on Wednesday of this week. I'll post my written testimony here beforehand.

Posted on May 15, 2007 12:42 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Preview of The Honest Broker

Google provides a limited preview of The Honest Broker.

Posted on May 15, 2007 12:29 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

May 11, 2007

State of Florida Rejects RMS Cat Model Approach

According to a press release from RMS, Inc. the state of Florida has rejected their risk assessment methodology based on using an expert elicitation to predict hurricane risk for the next five years. Regular readers may recall that we discussed this issue in depth not long ago. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

During the week of April 23, the Professional Team of the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology (FCHLPM) visited the RMS offices to assess the v6.0 RMS U.S. Hurricane Model. The model submitted for review incorporates our standard forward-looking estimates of medium-term hurricane activity over the next five years, which reflect the current prolonged period of increased hurricane frequency in the Atlantic basin. This model, released by RMS in May 2006, is already being used by insurance and reinsurance companies to manage the risk of losses from hurricanes in the United States.

Over the past year, RMS has been in discussions with the FCHLPM regarding use of a new method of estimating future hurricane activity over the next five years, drawing upon the expert opinion of the hurricane research community, rather than relying on a simplistic long-term historical average which does not distinguish between periods of higher and lower hurricane frequency. RMS was optimistic that the certification process would accommodate a more robust approach, so it was disappointed that the Professional Team was "unable to verify" that the company had met certain FCHLPM model standards relating to the use of long-term data for landfalling hurricanes since 1900.

As a result of the Professional Team’s decision, RMS has elected this year to submit a revised version of the model that is based on the long-term average, to satisfy the needs of the FCHLPM.

This is of course the exact same issue that we highlighted over at Climate Feedback, where I wrote, "Effective planning depends on knowing what range of possibilities to expect in the immediate and longer-term future. Use too long a record from the past and you may underestimate trends. Use too short a record and you miss out on longer time-scale variability."

In their press release, RMS complains correctly that the state of Florida is now likely to underestimate risk:

The long-term historical average significantly underestimates the level of hurricane hazard along the U.S. coast, and there is a consensus among expert hurricane researchers that we will continue to experience elevated frequency for at least the next 10 years. The current standards make it more difficult for insurers and their policy-holders to understand, manage, and reduce hurricane risk effectively.

In its complaint, RMS is absolutely correct. However, the presence of increased risk does not justify using an untested, unproven, and problematic methodology for assessing risk, even if it seems to give the "right" answer.

The state of Florida would be wise to err in the decision making on the side of recognizing that the long-term record of hurricane landfalls and impacts is likely to dramatically understate their current risk and exposure. From all accounts, the state of Florida appears to be gambling with its hurricane future rather than engaging in robust risk management. For their part, RMS, the rest of the cat model industry, and insurance and reinsurance companies should together carefully consider how best to incorporate rapidly evolving and still-uncertain science into scientifically robust and politically legitimate tools for risk management, and this cannot happen quickly enough.

May 10, 2007

Reorienting U.S. Climate Science Policies

Last week the House Committee on Science and Technology held an important hearing on the future direction of climate research in he United States (PDF).

The major scientific debate is settled. Climate change is occurring. It is impacting our nation and the rest of the world and will continue to impact us into the future. The USGCRP should move beyond an emphasis on addressing uncertainties and refining climate science. In addition the Program needs to provide information that supports action to reduce vulnerability to climate and other global changes and facilitates the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies that can be applied here in the U.S. and in other vulnerable locations throughout the world.

This refocusing of climate research is timely and worthwhile. Kudos to the S&T Committee.

For a number of years, Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) has led efforts to make the nation's climate research enterprise more responsive to the needs of decision makers (joined by Bob Inglis (R-SC)). Mr. Udall explained the reasons for rethinking climate science as follows:

The evolution of global science and the global change issue sparked the need to make changes to the 1978 National Climate Program Act, and gave us the Global Change Research Act of 1990. It is now time for another adjustment to alter the focus of the program governed by this law.

The debate, about whether climate change is occurring and about whether human activity has contributed to it, is over. As our population, economy, and infrastructure have grown, we have put more pressure on the natural resources we all depend upon. Each year, fires, droughts, hurricanes, and other natural events remind us of our vulnerability to extreme weather and climate changes. The human and economic cost of these events is very high. With better planning and implementation of adaptation strategies these costs can be reduced.

For all of these reasons, we need the USGCRP to produce more information that is readily useable by decision makers and resource managers in government and in the private sector. People throughout this country and in the rest of the world need information they can use to develop response, adaptation, and mitigation strategies to make our communities, our businesses, and our nation more resilient and less vulnerable to the changes that are inevitable.

We must also move aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid future increases in surface temperature that will trigger severe impacts that we cannot overcome with adaptation strategies. We need economic and technical information as well as information about system responses and climate responses to different concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The USGCRP should be the vehicle for providing this information.

The hearing charter (PDF) is worth reading in full.

May 09, 2007

Should the Gates Foundation fund Policy Research?

Well, according Hannah Brown writing in BMJ the answer is "yes" (h/t SciDev.net). It turns out that simply investing money in scientific research or technology development is not sufficient to realize benefits on the ground. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already changed he world for the better, and has much future potential, so it is good that it is learning the limitations of the so-called "linear model" of science and society sooner rather than later. Here is an excerpt from Brown's commentary:

Ask anyone with a passing interest in global health what the Gates Foundation means to them and you'll likely get just one answer: money. In a field long fatigued by the perpetual struggle for cash, the foundation's eagerness to finance projects neglected by many other donors raised high hopes among campaigners that its impact on health would be swift and great. And with the commitment last June by America's second richest man, Warren Buffet, to effectively double the foundation's $30bn (£15bn; {euro}22bn) endowment,1 hopes of substantial health achievements grew higher still.

But despite Bill Gates's prediction at a press conference to mark Buffet's pledge that there was now "No reason why we can't cure the top 20 diseases"2 observers are starting to question whether all this money is reaping sufficient rewards. For although the foundation has given a huge boost to research and development into technologies against some of the world's most devastating and neglected diseases, critics suggest that its reluctance to embrace research, demonstration, and capacity building in health delivery systems is worsening the gap between what technology can do and what is actually happening to health in poor communities. This situation, critics charge, is preventing the Gates's grants from achieving their full potential.

Read the whole thing.

May 07, 2007

Policy Research? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Policy Research

From today's New York Times a tale of incredible myopia all too common in the Bush Administration:

When Jon Oberg, a Department of Education researcher, warned in 2003 that student lending companies were improperly collecting hundreds of millions in federal subsidies and suggested how to correct the problem, his supervisor told him to work on something else.

The department "does not have an intramural program of research on postsecondary education finance," the supervisor, Grover Whitehurst, a political appointee, wrote in a November 2003 e-mail message to Mr. Oberg, a civil servant who was soon to retire. "In the 18 months you have remaining, I will expect your time and talents to be directed primarily to our business of conceptualizing, competing and monitoring research grants."

For three more years, the vast overpayments continued. Education Secretary Rod Paige and his successor, Margaret Spellings, argued repeatedly that under existing law they were powerless to stop the payments and that it was Congress that needed to act. Then this past January, the department largely shut off the subsidies by sending a simple letter to lenders — the very measure Mr. Oberg had urged in 2003.

Posted on May 7, 2007 02:31 PM View this article | Comments (7)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

May 05, 2007

Hans von Storch on The Honest Broker

Hans von Storch interprets The Honest Broker in the context of the climate debate in the Swiss newspaper Berner Zeitung. The review is in German. Info on The Honest Broker can be found here.

Posted on May 5, 2007 06:04 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

May 04, 2007

You Must be a Creationist

Academic blogging is an interesting medium. On the one hand it "flattens" the world of communication and facilitates the public engagement of experts with everyone else. But it also has some strong negatives, on display this week over at Chris Mooney's blog.

Chris, and fellow blogger American University's Matt Nisbet, recently wrote two pieces for Science and The Washington Post, in which they engaged in a little Science Studies 101, pointing out that how issues are framed influences how they are received. Seems pretty straightforward. But in their piece they suggested, correctly in my view, that how some atheists advance their agenda on the back of science may actually backfire in political debates. For their trouble Chris and Matt have been lambasted by the agitprop blogosphere.

One particularly clueless commentator -- a professor with a Harvard degree -- went so far as to suggest that Mooney and Nisbet are in fact creationists! This strategy of allowing absolutely no nuance is the main tool in the agitprop toolbox. Why else would Matt and Chris criticize Richard Dawkins unless they are really creationists at heart?! Such drivel is extremely irritating, as Chris and Matt's reactions indicate and there is really no effective response to it. Here at Prometheus I routinely hear from trolls and others with bad intent and that I must be a Republican (or a Republican sympathizer) since I have advanced some views that some Republicans think make sense. (Outside the blogosphere actually convincing people of the merits of your arguments is viewed in a positive light!;-)

The issue, not surprisingly, is one of framing. The professor alleging the creationist in Mooney and Nisbet describes religious people as his "enemies" suggesting that we are at war with them. Mooney for his part disavows such nonsense:

"Attack"? Those are your words.

"Enemies"? Those are also your words.

I don't see it that way.

We were trying to make a very serious point about how scientists need to rethink communication strategies. We saw Dawkins as a prominent example to use. He is, after all, prominent.

In political debates the agitprop partisans always have the upper hand, as they can level personal attacks, misrepresent your work, make mountains out of molehills, and nanny-nanny-boo-boo call you names all day long. For academic bloggers who don't want to themselves become mindless partisans there are only a few choices, develop a thick skin or get out of the fray. David Brooks' column yesterday on how to handle such people is worth a read (of course, my citing it must be an indicateion my conservative tendencies;-):

. . . they’ll never be open-minded toward you. But the other three-quarters are honorable, intelligent people. If you treat these people with respect, and find places where you can work together, they will teach you things and make you more effective. If you treat them the way you treat the partisans, they’ll turn into partisans and destroy you.

So here at Promethues, until the blogging negatives outweigh the positives, we will stomach those with ill-intent and simply correct the record when necessary and let nonsense stand on its own. The good news, for Matt and Chris and others who find themselves under attack from people who seek to distract from the substance of their arguments is that their arguments must be pretty strong on their merits to attract such passionate attention. So Matt and Chris, keep up the good work, and don't get too exercised about the noise. Not much you can do about that!

Posted on May 4, 2007 06:57 AM View this article | Comments (8)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge

Review of Useless Arithmetic

In the current issue of Nature I review Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future by Orrin Pilkey & Linda Pilkey-Jarvis. Here is my review in PDF. The book's home page can be found here.

May 03, 2007

I'm Outta Here . . .

Only sort of . . . Nature has set up a new blog on climate science and policy and the opportunity to join a blog community of people with very diverse views has proven too good to pass up.

The new blog is call Climate Feedback. It has just gone live with a new post by yours truly on climate variability and trends, plus posts by Hans von Storch and Eduadro Zorita on how the scientific process worked in the case of the "hockey stick". Kevin Vranes will also be blogging there.

As the website gets up to full speed I plan on concentrating my climate-related posts at the Nature blog and more general science policy stuff here. We'll see how it goes.

Have a look!

Posted on May 3, 2007 10:29 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

New Landsea Paper in EOS

Chris Landsea has shared his just-out paper from EOS (PDF) and send the following capsule summary:

The link between the frequency of tropical cyclones [hurricanes and tropical storms] and anthropogenic global warming has become an emerging focus. However, an analysis of the data shows that improved monitoring in recent years is responsible for most, if not all, of the observed trend in increasing frequency of tropical cyclones.

Comments, criticisms, alternative perspectives welcomed!

May 02, 2007

Bob Ward Responds - Swindle Letter

In fairness to Bob Ward, lead author of the "Swindle Letter" we thought it important to highlight comments that he submitted under that thread. -Ed.]

Click through for his comments . . .

Some interesting comments here about the letter. I thought it might be helpful to clarify a few points.

First, I would encourage Russell Seitz not to continue to spread the entirely false rumour that I was sacked by the Royal Society. It is a shame that he is using Prometheus as a platform for his personal smear campaign against me - or perhaps this is an example of him exercising his cherished right to "freedom of speech"?

Some have tried to characterise the letter as a violation of the right to free speech. It is not. The UK's Broadcasting Code specifies that "Views and facts must not be misrepresented". When 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' was broadcast on Channel Four on 8 March, and subsequently repeated on More 4, I believe it violated the Broadcasting Code because it contained major misrepresentations of views and facts. I have submitted a complaint to both the broadcaster and to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator.

Ofcom and Channel Four have yet to rule on the complaints from me and about 200 other people. However, Wag TV, the programme's producers are not obliged to reflect that ruling at all in the DVD version of the programme, and indeed it is being marketed partly on the basis that it was broadcast on Channel Four.

It seems to me and the other 36 signatories that viewers are just as likely to be misled by the misrepresentations within the programme regardless of whether it is watched on DVD or on a TV channel. We wrote to ask the programme-maker to remove the misrepresentations before distributing the DVD. He has so far admitted just one of the seven major misrepresentations, but has steadfastly refused to make any changes.

Free speech comes with responsibilities, and in the UK at least there are regulations that are designed to ensure that the media do not knowingly mislead the public. The letter does not complain about the the airing of different opinions on climate change, and I'm not arguing that the programme-maker shouldn't be able to tell porky pies at dinner parties with his mates from the media. But I do think that programme-makers should take their responsibilities seriously and to consider the public interest.

It remains to be seen whether the confident predictions that the letter will have the opposite effect to that intended will be right. To me, success would be for everybody who is exposed to the misrepresentations in the programme to at least be aware of them.

Posted on May 2, 2007 02:43 PM View this article | Comments (28)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

April 30, 2007

The Swindle Letter

Some of you will be aware that a TV film entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle" was produced by a company called Wag TV and shown on UK TV. The show, which I have not seen, purportedly debunks the science behind climate change. When aired it generated the sort of tempest in a teapot reaction that so often characterizes these sorts of things.

But subsequently, Bob Ward, formerly a spokesperson for the Royal Society and now in a similar role for a catastrophe modeling firm, RMS, Inc., organized a open letter calling for Wag TV, and the film's producer Martin Durkin, to cease and desist plans to disseminate the show via DVD. The letter has stirred up a debate about free speech and the role of scientists in political debates. Mr. Ward explained the letter as follows:

"Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements. Somebody has to stand up for the public interest here."

This episode is similar in some ways to Mr. Ward's efforts when employed by the Royal Society to silence ExxonMobil using the same strategy.

I have a different reaction to this episode than I did to the Royal Society letter to ExxonMobil. Then I argued that the Royal Society was acting inappropriately, given its mission. In this case I take no issue with the appropriateness of Mr. Ward's actions, I just think that they are wrongheaded. The difference is that the scientists organized by Mr. Ward in this case are speaking on their own with the support of a number of advocacy groups. They are not using the authority of the Royal Society, or any other public interest group, to advance their special interests. This is power politics pure and simple in the public arena.

And from that standpoint, I think that Mr. Ward's letter will prove ineffective with respect to the goals that he seeks, and most likely will have the opposite effect to that intended. In such circumstances, I recall how sales of Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist quadrupled after it was criticized by scientists. A link in the comments here in a previous thread from Francis Sedgemore, who I have not met perviously, points to some of his strong, but on target comments, which I stitch together from his two relevant blog posts:

You can take it that I have little time for Mr Durkin or his junk science film, and there should be no need for me to rehash the arguments against it. . .

Ward’s open letter is a very bad mistake, in my opinion. As well as indicating a contempt for free speech, the signitories display a lack of political nous, and I fear that Durkin will run rings around them. . . what annoys me most about all this is how public scientific discourse on climate change is fast degenerating to a level set by the worst elements of the scientifically-illiterate media. . .

What we need is not calls for censorship, but more scientists and science communicators aggressively putting the case for good science. Stern letters and articles in the broadsheets make us all look ridiculous by association. . . if this is to be our response to inaccurate material in the public domain, and the ravings of lunatics, where do we start? How about the bible? "See you in court, Dr Ratzinger. We have ways of making you shut up!"

This is spot on. When members of the scientific community call for silencing of others in political debates, at best it demonstrates that they believe that they cannot win arguments on their merits, and at worst is demonstrates a complete disregard for democracy and the ability of the public to participate in important political debates. Positioning oneself n opposition to fundamental principles of democracy is always a losing proposition.

April 26, 2007

The Battle for U.S. Public Opinion on Climate Change is Over

We've argued here that it has been over for a while, but this survey from the New York Times should make it obvious:

Americans in large bipartisan numbers say the heating of the earth’s atmosphere is having serious effects on the environment now or will soon and think that it is necessary to take immediate steps to reduce its effects, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds.

Ninety percent of Democrats, 80 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said immediate action was required to curb the warming of the atmosphere and deal with its effects on the global climate. Nineteen percent said it was not necessary to act now, and 1 percent said no steps were needed.

Recent international reports have said with near certainty that human activities are the main cause of global warming since 1950. The poll found that 84 percent of Americans see human activity as at least contributing to warming.

The poll also found that Americans want the United States to support conservation and to be a global leader in addressing environmental problems and developing alternative energy sources to reduce reliance on fossil fuels like oil and coal.

For those still looking to play the skeptic game there is also good news as there are still a few left: 4% said recent strange weather was caused by "God/end of world/bible" and 2% said "space junk." ;-) In all seriousness, I don't expect the skeptic game to end any time soon, despite the overwhelming consensus of public opinion.

Swing State Al

This 2008 presidential race poll by Quinnipac University provides some evidence in support of our hypothesis that climate change can prove to be a powerful wedge issue for Al Gore in the 2008 election. Key point:

But former Vice President Al Gore, who is not yet a candidate, runs better against Republican challengers in most Swing State matchups than Sen. Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. . . "Mayor Rudolph Giuliani remains the front-runner, but he and the entire Democratic field should wonder if Al Gore will become an inconvenient truth in the 2008 presidential race and go for the biggest Oscar of them all," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Posted on April 26, 2007 01:23 PM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

The Politics of Air Capture

A while back we prepped our readers to get ready for air capture. This article from a New Jersey newspaper, the Star-Ledger, describes how one air capture technology is progressing and how different interests are already taking political positions on its merits:

Klaus Lackner's invention has been called many things -- a wind scrubber, a synthetic tree, a carbon vacuum, even a giant fly swatter.

The energy guru, inventor and professor at Columbia University prefers to call it an "air extractor." By any name, however, Lackner predicts that the giant machines he is building will one day stop global warming in its tracks.

After three years of intensive experiments, Lackner and scientists at Global Research Technologies LLC, in Arizona, have produced a working model of the device, which can sop up carbon dioxide, the dreaded greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

"Look, it's one arrow in the quiver," said Lackner, reached by telephone. "This begins to offer a solution to an overwhelming problem."

Others were more expansive.

"This significant achievement holds incredible promise in the fight against climate change," said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia. "The world may, sooner rather than later, have an important tool in this fight."

Here is one reaction to the technology:

"There's no magic bullet to save us from the problem of global warming," said Kert Davies, an energy expert for Greenpeace USA in Washington, D.C. Removing greenhouse gases so readily will not encourage people to develop alternate, renewable technologies, he said, and strive for energy efficiency.

Such techno-fixes also miss the point of the environmental degradation brought on by the use of fossil fuels, he said.

Carbon scrubbers won't stop oil spills, habitat-destroying strip mining and ozone, he said. "It's like having cancer and putting a Band-Aid on it," he added.

Besides, Davies said, the devices, which will in principle be larger than the prototype, will be eyesores. "Can you imagine thousands of acres of giant fly swatters across the land?"

If reducing fossil fuels is not really about carbon dioxde, as the Greenpeace spokesman suggests but also about many other benefits, then why shouldn't these benefits play a more central role in energy policy debates? And being so quick to abandon the carbon dioxide argument is not an effective strategy for compelling action on carbon dioxide. Greenpeace has come out in favor of wind power and the required acres of windmills across the land. This is hard to square with CO2-removal technologies as eyesores, unless one recognizes that the aesthetics of a technology appear to be a function of its political role.

I have no idea if Professor Lackner's ideas will prove to have technical merit or not. However, I do believe that all options should be on the table, and we should resist efforts to limit choice prematurely.

April 25, 2007

Gliese 581

This fascinating discovery portends all sorts of interesting ethical, political, and policy questions. I do wonder how much thinking governments, the Vatican, and others have put into developing a response plan for when life is discovered beyond Earth. It'd be surprising if there were no thinking along these lines, then again, maybe not.

Posted on April 25, 2007 12:05 PM View this article | Comments (16)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy

April 23, 2007

What does Consensus Mean for IPCC WGIII?

The IPCC assessment process is widely referred to as reflecting a consensus of the scientific community. An AP news story reports on a leaked copy of the forthcoming Working Group III report on mitigation.

"Governments, businesses and individuals all need to be pulling in the same direction," said British researcher Rachel Warren, one of the report's authors.

For one thing, the governments of such major emitters as the United States, China and India will have to join the Kyoto Protocol countries of Europe and Japan in imposing cutbacks in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases emitted by industry, power plants and other sources.

The Bush administration rejected the protocol's mandatory cuts, contending they would slow U.S. economic growth too much. China and other poorer developing countries were exempted from the 1997 pact, but most expected growth in greenhouse emissions will come from the developing world.

The draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose final version is to be issued in Bangkok on May 4, says emissions can be cut below current levels if the world shifts away from carbon-heavy fuels like coal, embraces energy efficiency and significantly reduces deforestation.

"The opportunities, the technology are there and now it's a case of encouraging the increased use of these technologies," said International Energy Agency analyst Ralph Sims, another of the 33 scientists who drafted the report.

As we've often discussed here, human-caused climate change is a serious problem requiring attention to both mitigation and adaptation. While I can make sense of a consensus among Working Group I scientists on causes and consequences of climate change, and even a consensus among Working Group II on impacts, how should we interpret a "consensus" among 33 authors recommending specific political actions? All of the movement toward the "democratization of science" and "stakeholder involvement" and "public participation" that characterizes science and technology issues ranging from GMOs to nanotechnology to nuclear waste disposal seems oddly absent in the climate issue in favor of a far more technocratic model of decision making. Is climate change somehow different?

April 20, 2007

New GAO Report on Climate Change and Insurance

At the request of Congressman Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a research arm of Congress, has just released a report on climate change and insurance (PDF). The report is excellent and well worth reading for anyone with interest in the subject. Now whether or not an excellent report makes a positive difference in policy making is another matter . . . Here are a few excerpts and my commentary:

On trends in losses:

Taken together, private and federal insurers paid more than $320 billion in claims on weather-related losses from 1980 through 2005. In constant dollars, private insurers paid the largest part of the claims during this period, $243.5 billion (about 76 percent); followed by federal crop insurance, $43.6 billion (about 14 percent); and federal flood insurance, $34.1 billion (about 11 percent). Claims varied significantly from year to year—largely due to the incidence and effects of catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes and droughts—but generally increased during this period. In particular, the years with the largest insured losses were generally associated with major hurricanes, which comprised well over one-third of all weather-related losses since 1980. The growth in population in hazard-prone areas, and resulting real estate development and increasing real estate values, have increased federal and private insurers’ exposure, and have helped to explain the increase in losses. In particular, heavily-populated areas along the Northeast, Southeast, and Texas coasts have among the highest value of insured properties in the United States and face the highest likelihood of major hurricanes. Due to these and other factors, federal insurers’ exposures have grown substantially. Since 1980, NFIP’s exposure has quadrupled, nearing $1 trillion, and program expansion has increased FCIC’s exposure nearly 26-fold to $44 billion. These escalating exposures to catastrophic weather events are leaving the federal government at increased financial risk. FCIC officials told us, for example, that if the widespread Midwest floods of 1993 were to occur today, losses would be five times greater. [p. 4]

How much would that be? The 1993 Midwest floods resulted in $1.3 billion in federal flood insurance costs (Source: PDF). Five times this amount is $6.5 billion, in 1993 dollars. Adjusting for inflation to 2005 dollars gives a total of $8.5 billion, which is about half the costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and more than four times the premiums taken in by the program annually (Source: PDF).

The conclusion? Regardless of climate change federal flood insurance is of questionable financial sustainability without an expectation of major and frequent subsidies. So perhaps greater attention to adaptation might be needed:

Federal insurance programs, on the other hand, have done little to develop the kind of information needed to understand the programs’ long-term exposure to climate change for a variety of reasons. The federal insurance programs are not oriented toward earning profits like private insurers but rather toward increasing participation among eligible parties. Consequently, neither program has had reason to develop information on their long-term exposure to the fiscal risks associated with climate change.

We acknowledge the different mandate and operating environment in which the major federal insurance programs operate, but we believe that better information about the federal government’s exposure to potential changes in weather-related risk would help the Congress identify and manage this emerging high-risk area—one which may not constitute an immediate crisis, but which does have significant implications for the nation’s growing fiscal imbalance. Accordingly, GAO is recommending that the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness to analyze the potential long-term fiscal implications of climate change for the FCIC and the NFIP, respectively, and report their findings to the Congress.

Another factor not mentioned here is the bias against adaptation in climate policy. For example, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (by subscription), Senator Lieberman (mis)used the report to justify changes in energy policies, saying that it:

presents another strong argument -- this one fiscal -- for adopting an economywide, cap and trade, anti-global-warming law.

But the report offers absolutely no information on how changes in energy policies will affect disaster losses. The report certainly offers no recommendations on energy policies. In fact, to the contrary, it cites our Hohenkammer workshop which clearly explained that the most effective responses over coming decades will be adaptive in nature. And as we've discussed on occasion here, there is good reason for concern not just in the public sector about adaptive capacity -- the so-called "catastrophe models" used by private insurers may not leave them as prepared to manage risk as they might think.

Finally, there is this very interesting nugget found in the response by the USDA (Appendix 5, p. 59), which runs the federal crop insurance progam:

The increase in crop insurance indemnities over time reflects the rapid growth of the crop insurance program, not an increase in either the frequency and/or severity of catastrophic weather events. In fact, the severity of loss for the crop insurance program, as measured by the loss ratio, has been generally lower in the 1990's and 2000's than in the 1980's. Thus, if anything, the frequency and severity of catastrophic loss events for the crop insurance program appears to be decreasing.

Interesting, huh?

Posted on April 20, 2007 07:42 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

April 19, 2007

Media Reporting of Climate Change: Too Balanced or Biased?

Cherries ripe for the picking:

Too balanced

Biased

Put me in neither camp. I actually think that the media -- in toto -- has done a good job of covering a challenging and protean issue.

Posted on April 19, 2007 08:59 PM View this article | Comments (19)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

A Little Testy at RealClimate

Based on my most recent interaction, the folks at RealClimate seem less interested than ever on an open exchange of views on scientific topics. But I guess that is what might be expected when one points out that the they are spreading misinformation.

A commenter on a thread on ocean temperatures asked an innocuous question about the new paper by Vecchi and Soden which was discussed here by Chris Landsea . The always cordial Michael Mann replied:

I have no knowledge of (or frankly, interest in) what Chris Landsea may be saying about the paper . . . In short, the Emanuel (2005) study continues to stand on its merit, and I don't see where this paper puts even a dent in it.

I don't much read RealClimate anymore, but when a commenter on the Landsea thread pointed to this exchange in the comments here, I surfed over to find this blatantly false assertion by Michael Mann in response to a follow up comment:

Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion.

Being a science site and all, I assumed that the RealClimate folks would be happy to engage in a discussion of, you know, science. Boy was I was mistaken. Here is my submitted response:

Mike-

You are simply incorrect when you assert: "Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion."

Here is what Emanuel actually says:

"Tropical cyclones do not respond directly to SST, however, and the appropriate measure of their thermodynamic environment is the potential intensity, which depends not only on surface temperature but on the whole temperature profile of the troposphere. . . The above discussion suggests that only part of the observed increase in tropical cyclone power dissipation is directly due to increased SSTs; the rest can only be explained by changes in other factors known to influence hurricane intensity, such as vertical wind shear."

Misrepresenting Emanuel is bad enough, but for a site that often underscores the importance of consensus, your favoring of one single study (on a thread about not favoring one single study) when consensus perspectives exist (WMO, IPCC) does a disservice to your readers.

Here is what RealClimate allowed:

Mike-

You are simply incorrect when you assert: "Emanuel (2005) shows that the warming SSTs are behind the increased TC intensity in the Atlantic. No impartial reading of that paper could come to any other conclusion."

What are they so worried about that they have to protect their audience from the comments of a political scientist?

Here is Michael Mann's (always cordial) response:

Response: Roger, we're not about cherry-picking sentences and out of context quotations here at RC, so you should take that somewhere else. Anybody who has studied the scientific issues involved well knows that SSTs in this context are a proxy for a more complex set of interconnected atmospheric environmental variables which tend to covary with it. We hardly need you to quote Emanuel for us. Figure 1 in Emanuel (2005) comparing SST and TC Power Dissipation in the tropical Atlantic speaks for itself, you might want to take another look. If we do an article on Hurricanes in the near future, you're free to engage in the discussion. But that's not the topic of this post, so we're going to close it out with this. -mike

Heaven forbid a discussion of actual substance over there. If we did we might have to discuss Kossin et al. and how SSTs don't covary with intensity in all basins, and the fact that Emanuel signed on to the WMO consensus, and well, a whole bunch of stuff that is fair game to discuss in scientific circles, but not apparently at RealClimate. In my view the issue of hurricanes and climate remains uncertain and contested and is well worth discussing.

Posted on April 19, 2007 07:48 PM View this article | Comments (34)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

April 18, 2007

Some Views of IPCC WGII Contributors That You Won't Read About in the News

I was surprised to read in E&E News today a news story on yesterday's hearing held by the House Science Committee suggesting that the take-home message was that adaptation would be difficult, hence mitigation should be preferred (for subscribers here is the full story). My reading of the written testimony suggested a very different message, and not one I've seen in the media. Below are some relevant excerpts from IPCC WG II authors who testified yesterday (emphasis added). I know both and respect their views.

Roger Pulwarty (PDF)

Climate is one factor among many that produce changes in our environment. Demographic, socio-economic and technological changes may play a more important role in most time horizons and regions. In the 2050s, differences in the population projections of the four scenarios contained in the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios show that population size could have a greater impact on people living in water-stressed river basins (defined as basins with per-capita water resources of less than 1000 m3/year) than differences in emissions scenarios. As the number of people and attendant demands in already stressed river basins increase, even small changes in natural or anthropogenic climate can trigger large impacts on water resources.

Adaptation is unavoidable because climate is always varying even if changes in variability are amplified or dampened by anthropogenic warming. In the near term, adaptation will be necessary to meet the challenge of impacts to which we are already committed. There are significant barriers to implementing adaptation in complex settings. These barriers include both the inability of natural systems to adapt at the rate and magnitude of climate change, as well as technological, financial, cognitive and behavioral, social and cultural constraints. There are also significant knowledge gaps for adaptation, as well as impediments to flows of knowledge and information relevant for decision makers. In addition, the scale at which reliable information is produced (i.e. global) does not always match with what is needed for adaptation decisions (i.e. watershed and local). New planning processes are attempting to overcome these barriers at local, regional and national levels in both developing and developed countries.

Shardul Agrawala (PDF)

The costs of both mitigation and adaptation are predominantly local and near term. Meanwhile, the climate related benefits of mitigation are predominantly global and long-term, but not immediate. Owing to lag times in the climate system, the benefits of current mitigation efforts will hardly be noticeable for several decades. The benefits of adaptation are more immediate, but primarily local, and over the short to medium term.

Given these differences between mitigation and adaptation, climate policy is not about making a choice between adapting to and mitigating climate change. Even the most stringent mitigation efforts cannot avoid further impacts of climate change in the next few decades, which makes adaptation essential, particularly in addressing near term impacts. On the other hand, unmitigated climate change would, in the long term exceed the capacity of natural, managed, and human systems to adapt.

April 17, 2007

Bridges Column on The Honest Broker

My latest column for Bridges is out and in it I provide an overview of my new book. Here is how it begins:

When former US Vice President Al Gore testified before Congress last month he used an analogy to describe the challenge of climate change:
If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, "Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem." If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action.

With this example Al Gore was not only advocating a particular course of action on climate change, he was also describing the relationship between science (and expertise more generally) and decision making. In Mr. Gore's analogy, the baby's parents (i.e. "you") are largely irrelevant to the process of decision making, as the doctor's recommendation is accepted without question.

But anyone who has had to take their child to a doctor for a serious health problem or an injury knows that the interaction between patient, parent, and doctor can take a number of different forms. In my new book The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (Cambridge University Press), I seek to describe various ways that an expert (e.g., a doctor) can interact with a decision maker (e.g., a parent) in ways that lead to desirable outcomes (e.g., a healthy child). Experts have choices in how they relate to decision makers, and these choices have important effects on decisions but also the role of experts in society. Mr. Gore's metaphor provides a useful way to illustrate the four different roles for experts in decision making that are discussed in The Honest Broker.

The Honest Broker can be found at Amazon US, Amazon UK (and Amazon.ca has it at 40% off) and also through Cambridge University Press.

And as always, OSTINA has produced an excellent issue of Bridges, this one focused on innovation, read the whole thing.

Posted on April 17, 2007 11:09 AM View this article | Comments (6)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

Laurens Bouwer on IPCC WG II on Disasters

In the comments, Laurens Bouwer, of the Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, who served as an expert reviewer for the IPCC WGII report, provides the following perspective (Thanks Laurens!):

Thanks Roger, for this discussion. It clearly points the fact that IPCC has not done enough to make an unambiguous statement on the attribution of disaster losses in their Working Group 2 Summary for Policymakers (SPM). This now leaves room for speculation based on the individual statements and graphs from underlying chapters in the report, in particular Figure TS-15, Chapters 1, 3 and 7, that all have substantial paragraphs on the topic.

As reviewer for WG2 I have repeatedly (3 times) asked to put a clear statement in the SPM that is in line with the general literature, and underlying WG2 chapters. In my view, WG2 has not succeeded in adequately quoting and discussing all relevant recent papers that have come out on this topic -- see above-mentioned chapters.

Initial drafts of the SPM had relatively nuanced statements such as:

Global economic losses from weather-related disasters have risen substantially since the 1970s. During the same period, global temperatures have risen and the magnitude of some extremes, such as the intensity of tropical cyclones, has increased. However, because of increases in exposed values ..., the contribution of these weather-related trends to increased losses is at present not known.

For unknown reasons, this statement (which seems to implicitly acknowledge Roger's and the May 2006 workshop conclusion that societal factors dominate) was dropped from the final SPM. Now the SPM has no statement on the attribution of disaster losses, and we do not know what is the 'consensus' here.

April 16, 2007

On Framing . . .

Recent discussion of Nisbet/Mooney's presentation of "framing" in the blogosphere has been interesting, to say the least. I completely agree with the basic theoretical propositions being shared by Matt and Chris, though perhaps in framing framing in terms of a political battle over religion in modern society they may have misframed their argument -- at least if selling scientists on the inescapable reality of framing dynamics in public discourse was their goal.

In 1997 I wrote the following on the subject:

The characterization of a particular set of circumstances as a "problem" requires attention to who is claiming that a problem exists, their perspectives, and their ability to act (cf. Lasswell 1971). From the standpoint of effective practical action, it is important that a problem be appropriately framed and presented to those with authority and ability to act. There are many examples of modern-day Cassandras who identify important problems that fail to either reach or be understood by decision makers. Hence, the existence of information related to a problem is not a sufficient condition for addressing the problem; attention to a healthy process that actively links that information with a decision maker’s needs is also necessary.

For the full context, have a look at this paper, especially beginning at page 258:

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 1997: Asking the Right Questions: Atmospheric Sciences Research and Societal Needs. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 78:255-264. (PDF)

Posted on April 16, 2007 07:30 PM View this article | Comments (6)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

Frank Laird on Peak Oil, Global Warming, and Policy Choice

Frank Laird, from the University of Denver and also a Center affiliate, has the lead article in our latest newsletter. His topic is peak oil, climate change, and policy choice. Here is an excerpt:

A recent spate of books and articles proclaim the end of oil and an imminent crisis for the world. Likewise, global warming alarms sound from almost every corner of the press. What are policy makers to do? How should policy analysts help decision makers frame the debate and assess the alternatives? Many advocates are trying to do exactly the wrong thing: narrow policy makers’ options through a rhetoric proclaiming that policy makers will have no choice but to adopt their favored technology, so the sooner they get to it, the better. This approach both misunderstands how policy making works and does a disservice to policy makers. . .

Ironically, both renewable and nuclear energy advocates see themselves as possessing the key to an energy-abundant and climate-safe future. Both advocacy communities have been around for decades, have a history of mutual hostility, and think their time is nigh. Yet both groups are using a language of inevitability that suggests a naïveté about public policy, short-changes the policy process, and makes it all the harder to have intelligent, nuanced discussions of the difficult policy choices that lie ahead.

Their central point is that society or governments will have “no choice” but to adopt their preferred solution. They believe that the problems of peak oil and climate change present such severe problems to our society that policy makers will realize that they must adopt nuclear or renewable energy, that the lack of choice will be plain.

This language distorts the reality of policy making and short-changes society by trying to close off debate over the many and possibly creative solutions that policy could bring to bear on these problems. The central fact of policy making is that governments always have a choice. No circumstance, no matter how dire, leaves them with only one choice. To be sure, not all choices are equally good, and anyone familiar with history will know that sometimes governments make bad, even disastrous, choices. But they always have choices to make. Pretending otherwise just misunderstands all we know about public policy.

Read the whole thing.

April 12, 2007

New Peer-Reviewed Publication on the Benefits of Emissions Reductions for Future Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Losses Around the World

I have a paper accepted for publication that projects into the future a range of possible scenarios for increasing losses related to tropical cyclones around the world.

Pielke, Jr., R. A. (accepted, 2007). Future Economic Damage from Tropical Cyclones: Sensitivities to Societal and Climate Changes, Proceedings of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. (PDF)

The factors that comprise the different scenarios include changes in population, per capita wealth, tropical cyclone intensity, and also damage functions as a function of intensity. [Note: Tropical cyclone frequency is not included as scientists presently do not expect frequencies to increase. However, even if frequencies do increase it is possible in the scenarios to equate the effects of frequency in terms of intensity, as discussed in the paper.] The goal of the paper is to delineate a scenarios space as a function of permutations in these variables in order to assess the robustness of mitigation and adaptation responses to future losses. Here is the abstract:

This paper examines future economic damages from tropical cyclones under a range of assumptions about societal change, climate change, and the relationship of climate change to damage in 2050. It finds in all cases that efforts to reduce vulnerability to losses, often called climate adaptation, have far greater potential effectiveness to reduce damage related to tropical cyclones than efforts to modulate the behavior of storms through greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies, typically called climate mitigation and achieved through energy policies. The paper urges caution in using economic losses of tropical cyclones as justification for action on energy policies when far more potentially effective options are available.

Nothing new here for regular Prometheus readers, but now this analysis has been formalized and has gone through peer review. Here are the paper’s conclusions:

This paper finds that under a wide range of assumptions about future growth in wealth and population, and about the effects of human-caused climate change, in every case there is far greater potential to affect future losses by focusing attention on the societal conditions that generate vulnerability to losses. Efforts to modulate tropical cyclone intensities through climate stabilization policies have extremely limited potential to reduce future losses. This conclusion is robust across assumptions, even unrealistic assumptions about the timing and magnitude of emissions reductions policies on tropical cyclone behavior. The importance of the societal factors increases with the time horizon.

This does not mean that climate stabilization policies do not make sense or that policy makers should ignore influences of human-caused climate change on tropical cyclone behavior. It does mean that efforts to justify emissions reductions based on future tropical cyclone damages are misleading at best, given that available alternatives have far greater potential to achieve reductions in damage. The most effective policies in the face of tropical cyclones have been and will continue to be adaptive in nature, and thus should play a prominent role in any comprehensive approach to climate policy.


April 11, 2007

This is Just Embarassing

The Figure below is found in the IPCC WG II report, Chapter 7, supplementary material (p. 3 here in PDF). I am shocked to see such a figure in the IPCC of all places, purporting to show something meaningful and scientifically vetted. Sorry to be harsh, but this figure is neither. [Note: The reference (Miller et al. 2006) is not listed in the report (pointers from readers would be welcomed).]

ipccwgiism-1-1.png

I am amazed that this figure made it past review of any sort, but especially given what the broader literature on this subject actually says. I have generally been a supporter of the IPCC, but I do have to admit that if it is this sloppy and irresponsible in an area of climate change where I have expertise, why should I have confidence in the areas where I am not an expert?

Addendum, a few of the many problems with this figure:

1. Global average temperatures do not cause disaster losses, extreme events cause disasters, mostly floods and tropical cyclones.

2. if you can't attribute disaster losses regionally to changes in extremes, then you can't do it globally with a metric only loosely (at best) related to extremes.

2. A 9-year smoothing in a 35 year record?

3. The IPCC has said that 30 years is not sufficient for such an attribution analysis, a 35 year record with 4 degrees of freedom probably isn't either.

4. The Muir-Wood global dataset (if that is what is used) has huge error bars not noted here. Any global analysis should be matched with a regional summation.

5. The Muir-Wood dataset, without error bars, leads to opposite conclusions using a longer record to 1950. Why didn't they show that? I wonder . . .

6. Studies of floods and hurricanes at the regional level, around the world, do not support a relationship of average global atmospheric temperature and disaster losses.

7. A consensus conference with experts around the world came to very different conclusions. What happened to the importance of consensus?

A more comprehensive synthesis can be found here:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2006. Seventh Annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture: Disasters, Death, and Destruction: Making Sense of Recent Calamities, Oceanography, Special Issue: The Oceans and Human Health, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 138-147. (PDF)

Posted on April 11, 2007 11:48 AM View this article | Comments (17)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

Here We Go Again: Cherry Picking in the IPCC WGII Full Report on Disaster Losses

The IPCC WGII full report is available (hat tip: ClimateScienceWatch). I have had a look at what they say about disaster losses, and unfortunately, the IPCC WG II commits the exact same cherry picking error as did the Stern report.

Here is what IPCC says about catastrophe losses (Chapter 1, pp. 50-51):

Global losses reveal rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s. One study has found that while the dominant signal remains that of the significant increases in the values of exposure at risk, once losses are normalised for exposure, there still remains an underlying rising trend.

The one study? Muir-Wood et al. 2006 that was prepared as the basis for our workshop last year with Munich re on Disaster Losses and Climate Change. Here is what we said when the Stern Report cherry picked this same information:

The source is a paper prepared by Robert Muir-Wood and colleagues as input to our workshop last May on disasters and climate change. Muir-Wood et al. do report the 2% trend since 1970. What Stern Report does not say is that Muir-Wood et al. find no trend 1950-2005 and Muir-Wood et al. acknowledge that their work shows a very strong influence of 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the United States. Muir-Wood et al. are therefore very cautious and responsible about their analysis. Presumably this is one reason why at the workshop Robert Muir-Wood signed on to our consensus statements, which said the following:
Because of issues related to data quality, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, length of time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss record, it is still not possible to determine the portion of the increase in damages that might be attributed to climate change due to GHG emissions . . . In the near future the quantitative link (attribution) of trends in storm and flood losses to climate changes related to GHG emissions is unlikely to be answered unequivocally.

The Stern Report’s selective fishing out of a convenient statement from one of the background papers prepared for our workshop is a classic example of cherry picking a result from a diversity of perspectives, rather than focusing on the consensus of the entire spectrum of experts that participated in our meeting. The Stern Report even cherry picks from within the Muir-Wood et al. paper.

The full discussion by the IPCC WG II has a bit more nuance, but it is clear that they are reaching for whatever they can to support a conclusion that simply is not backed up in the broader literature. Can anyone point to any other area in the IPCC where one non-peer-reviewed study is used to overturn the robust conclusions of an entire literature? Here is the full discussion:

Economic losses attributed to natural disasters have increased from US$75.5 billion in the 1960s to US$659.9 billion in the 1990s (a compound annual growth rate of 8%) (United Nations Development Programme 2004). Private sector data on insurance costs also shows rising insured losses over a similar period (Munich Re Group 2005; Swiss Reinsurance Company 2005). The dominant signal is of significant increase in the values of exposure (Pielke and Hoppe 2006).

However, as has been widely acknowledged, failing to adjust for time-variant economic factors yields loss amounts that are not directly comparable and a pronounced upward trend through time for purely economic reasons. A previous normalization of losses, undertaken for United States hurricanes by Pielke and Landsea (1998) and US floods (Pielke et al., 2002) included normalizing the economic losses for changes in wealth and population to express losses in constant dollars. These previous national US assessments, as well as those for normalized Cuban hurricane losses (Pielke et al., 2003), did not show any significant upward trend in losses over time, but this was before the remarkable hurricane losses of 2004 and 2005.

A ‘global’ catalogue of catastrophe losses was constructed (Muir Wood et al., 2006) normalized to account for changes that have resulted from variations in wealth and the numbers and values of properties located in the path of the catastrophes, using the method of Pielke and Landsea (1999). The global survey was considered largely comprehensive from 1970–2005 for countries and regions (Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, US, Caribbean, Central America, China, India and the Philippines) that had centralized catastrophe loss information and included a broad range of peril types: tropical cyclone, extratropical cyclone, thunderstorm, hailstorm, wildfire and flood, and that spanned high and low latitude areas.

Once the data were normalized a small statistically significant trend was found for an increase in annual catastrophe loss since 1970 of 2% per year (see Fig. SM1.1). However, for a number of regions, such as Australia and India, normalized losses show a statistically significant reduction since 1970. The significance of the upward trend is influenced by the losses in the US and Caribbean in 2004 and 2005 and arguably biased by the relative wealth of the US, in particular relative to India.

More on the figure that they reference in the next post . . .

Posted on April 11, 2007 10:51 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

April 09, 2007

Turn the Trade Balance Around

It is not a prescription drug, but The Honest Broker can be found at Amazon Canada for less than US$20, which is almost US$11 less than at Amazon U.S.. Go figure.

Posted on April 9, 2007 02:40 AM View this article | Comments (2)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

April 07, 2007

A Comment on IPCC Working Group II on the Importance of Development

Implicit in the work of the IPCC, and almost explicit in the report released yesterday, is the overriding importance of how the world choses to develop in the future. In the analysis in the IPCC lies the inescapable fact that how the world chooses to develop, independent of how the world responds to climate change, will modulate future global per capita GDP by a factor of up to 4.7 (the differences between the lowest and highest in the IPCC storylines for the future). By contrast, how the world chooses to respond to climate change, independent of how the world develops, will modulate future global per capita GDP by a factor of 1.05 to 1.20 (i.e., the conclusions presented in the IPCC WG II and the Stern Report).

To put this another way, from the standpoint of global GDP decisions that the world makes that make one storyline more likely to occur than another are between 19 and 74 times more important than decisions that are made about greenhouse gas emissions, under the assumptions provided by the IPCC!

So long as the IPCC, the Stern report, and others use GDP as a metric to advocate action on climate change, then this result is unavoidable. This is the main reason why some people have concluded that decisions about development, otherwise known as adaptation, must be front and center in any discussion of climate change. Yet the IPCC continuously tries to deemphasize the importance of adaptation as development, for instance writing that,

there are formidable environmental, economic, informational, social, attitudinal and behavioural barriers to implementation of adaptation.

Of course the exact same thing could be said about mitigation (but is not said), and by contrast the IPCC always frames mitigation in a positive light:

Many impacts can be avoided, reduced or delayed by mitigation.

It is well past time that the community openly and forthrightly discusses the importance of development pathways as the primary determinant of the future welfare of people and the environment. Carbon dioxide should be a part of that discussion, but not a substitute for it. The IPCC WG II is a small step in the right direction, but there remains a long way to go.

The background and calculations which provide the startling numbers above can be found below.

The IPCC effort is based on a range of plausible scenarios of the future:

Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold. . . . They represent pertinent, plausible, alternative futures.

The IPCC uses four families of scenarios comprised of 40 different scenarios:

*The A1 storyline and scenario family describes a future world of very rapid economic growth, low population growth, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies. Major underlying themes are convergence among regions, capacity building and increased cultural and social interactions, with a substantial reduction in regional differences in per capita income. The A1 scenario family develops into four groups that describe alternative directions of technological change in the energy system.

* The A2 storyline and scenario family describes a very heterogeneous world. The underlying theme is self-reliance and preservation of local identities. Fertility patterns across regions converge very slowly, which results in high population growth. Economic development is primarily regionally oriented and per capita economic growth and technological change are more fragmented and slower than in other storylines.

* The B1 storyline and scenario family describes a convergent world with the same low population growth as in the A1 storyline, but with rapid changes in economic structures toward a service and information economy, with reductions in material intensity, and the introduction of clean and resource-efficient technologies. The emphasis is on global solutions to economic, social, and environmental sustainability, including improved equity, but without additional climate initiatives.

*The B2 storyline and scenario family describes a world in which the emphasis is on local solutions to economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It is a world with moderate population growth, intermediate levels of economic development, and less rapid and more diverse technological change than in the B1 and A1 storylines. While the scenario is also oriented toward environmental protection and social equity, it focuses on local and regional levels. (link)

The IPCC went to great efforts to suggest that any of the scenarios are possible future outcomes:

The broad consensus among the SRES writing team is that the current literature analysis suggests the future is inherently unpredictable and so views will differ as to which of the storylines and representative scenarios could be more or less likely.

And importantly, the scenarios do not consider any policies specific to human caused climate change:

The SRES storylines do not include explicit policies to limit GHG emissions or to adapt to the expected global climate change.

The IPCC concludes that:

All four SRES "futures" represented by the distinct storylines are treated as equally possible.

The role of policy making is to shape the future in preferred ways. The IPCC scenarios suggest different global outcomes based on decisions that societies around the world make, independently and jointly, starting today. Let’s consider such decisions with respect to one metric used by The Stern Report and the IPCC: wealth as measured by global per capita GDP. Let me acknowledge up front that GDP is not the only metric that matters, but it is one proposed by both Stern and IPCC, so I use it here.

The IPCC Working Group II report released yesterday (PDF) concluded that "global mean losses could be 1-5% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 4 degrees C of warming." This conclusion is consistent with the conclusion of the Stern Report which concluded that business as usual could lead to economic losses of 5% to 20% of per capita GDP. In the analysis below we will therefore use both 5% and 20% as the possible impacts of climate change.

The IPCC finds global per capita GDP to be $4,000 in 1990. Under each of its four storylines it describes global per capita GDP for 2100 as follows (in constant 1990 dollars):

A1: $74,900
A2: $16,100
B1: $46,600
B2: $22,600

Under each storyline people around the world are significantly wealthier than they are today. The IPCC SRES report is careful to avoid a judgment of whether or not this is desirable. But because both Stern and IPCC WGII identify losses in GDP as being problematic, and a cause for action, we can safely conclude that both reports identify a higher GDP as being a better societal outcome than a lower GDP.

Now what happen when we factor in the effects climate change? For a 4 degree increase according to IPCC WGII these values would decrease by 5%:

A1: $71,200
A2: $15,300
B1: $44,300
B2: $21,500

And unmitigated BAU, according to Stern could reduce these values by as much as 20%:

A1: $59,900
A2: $12,900
B1: $37,300
B2: $18,100

So how the world chooses to respond to climate change, independent of how the world develops, will modulate future GDP by a factor of 1.05 to 1.20 (i.e., 5% to 20% found in IPCC WG II and Stern).

But implicit in the IPCC storylines, is how the world chooses to develop, independent of how the world responds to climate change, will modulate future GDP by a factor of up to 4.7 (i.e., the GDP in A1 divided by the GDP in A2). To put this another way, from the standpoint of global GDP decisions that the world makes that make one storyline more likely to occur than another are between 19 and 74 times more important than decisions that are made about greenhouse gas emissions, under the assumptions provided by the IPCC! [19 ~= 3.7/0.2 and 74 = 3.7/0.05]

This is the main reason why some people have concluded that decisions about development, otherwise known as adaptation, must be front and center in any discussion of climate change.

The IPCC WG II report acknowledges this point when it writes:

An important advance since the IPCC Third Assessment has been the completion of impacts studies for a range of different development pathways taking into account not only projected climate change but also projected social and economic changes. Most have been based on characterisations of population and income level drawn from the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). [2.4]

These studies show that the projected impacts of climate change can vary greatly due to the development pathway assumed. For example, there may be large differences in regional population, income and technological development under alternative scenarios, which are often a strong determinant of the level of vulnerability to climate change. [2.4]

To illustrate, in a number of recent studies of global impacts of climate change on food supply, risk of coastal flooding and water scarcity, the projected number of people affected is considerably greater under the A2-type scenario of development (characterised by relatively low per capita income and large population growth) than under other SRES futures. [T20.6] This difference is largely explained, not by differences in changes of climate, but by differences in vulnerability.

The unavoidable conclusion: we should be discussing development pathways, and not simply carbon dioxide.

Posted on April 7, 2007 09:24 AM View this article | Comments (12)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

April 05, 2007

NOAA’s New Media Policy: A Recipe for Conflict

The Department of Commerce, the parent agency of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has released a new media policy for its employees (thanks to an alert Prometheus reader for pointing us to it). The new policy was prepared in response to criticisms levied against the agency for its media policies related to agency scientists which some viewed as over-bearing and too politicized. Unfortunately, the new policy does little to address the challenges of public communication in highly politicized contexts, and probably makes things worse.

The new media policy can be found here in PDF. It seeks to draw dark lines between different activities and information. For instance, the policy seeks to distinguish a "Fundamental Research Communication" from an "Official Communication." A FRC is defined as:

means a Public Communication that relates to the Department's programs, policies, or operations and takes place or is prepared officially (i.e., under Section 6.03a. 1-4) and that deals with the products of basic or applied research in science or engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, so long as the communication does not contain information that is proprietary, classified, or restricted by federal statute. If a communication also includes matters of policy, budget, or management, then it is not a Fundamental Research Communication.

By Contrast, an OC is defined as:

any Public Communication by an employee that relates to the Department's programs, policies, or operations and takes place or is prepared:

1. At the direction of a superior of the employee;

2. Substantially during the official working hours of the employee;

3. With the substantial use of U.S. Government resource(s); or

4. With substantial assistance of U.S. Government employee(s) on official duty. All news releases and similar documents are Official Communications.

This effort to distinguish research from other activities sets up a first point of inevitable conflict:

Although, by definition, an Official Communication is not a Fundamental Research Communication, for an Official Communication that deals with the products of basic or applied research in science or engineering, the role of the public affairs office is to assist with presentation, style, and logistics of the science or engineering information, not to alter its substance in any way.

It is impossible to preserve the precise substance of a scientific paper in a press release, unless one simply reprints the entire scientific paper. Even the choice of what to present and what not to present will alter the meaning in some manner, and the job of a press release is to simplify. In this circumstance, if a scientist does not like how their work has been presented, they need only cry that their work has been altered in some way, which of course will be true. If the Public Affairs official complains, then the dispute could wind up on the pages of the New York Times. This may or may not be desired, but NOAA should recognize that conflict is the inevitable result.

Or consider a research paper on NOAA's forecast process in the National Weather Service, is this an FRC or an OC? And who decides? There will be considerable overlap between the two, setting the stage for conflict.

Another inevitable point of conflict is found in the description of how communications are to be approved:

Based on the operating unit's internal procedures, all written and audiovisual materials that are, or are prepared in connection with, a Fundamental Research Communication must be submitted by the researcher, before the communication occurs, to the head of the operating unit, or his or her designee(s), for approval in a timely manner. These procedures may not permit approval or non-approval to be based on the policy, budget, or management implications of the research.

The guidelines do not explain how the agency will enforce the prohibition against using criteria of policy, budget, or management as criteria for approval or nonapproval. This is because this directive in unenforceable. Consider the simple example of a scholar doing work on the policy implications of hurricane evacuation planning. If the policy research element of this work is flawed – say, it doesn’t reflect the realities of interagency communication -- does this directive prohibit using criteria of “policy” to request that the author rethink his/her work?

The guidelines then have an odd passage suggesting that individual units within the agency will have accepted scientific positions:

Department researchers may draw scientific conclusions based on research related to their jobs, and may, subject to Section 7.01, communicate those conclusions to the public and the media in a Fundamental Research Communication. However, if such a conclusion could reasonably be construed as representing the view of the Department or an operating unit when it does not, then the researcher must make clear that he or she is presenting his or her individual conclusion and not the views of the Department or an operating unit.

Scientists always have their individual views, which they publish in the literature. Whether or not they conform with an agency perspective would seem to be irrelevant. In fact, while agencies do have to have clear views on policies, why should an agency even have its own views on scientific conclusions?

The following passage might have been the core of a more sensible media policy:

Only spokespeople designated by the Appropriate Public Affairs Office are authorized to speak for the Department or its operating units in an official capacity regarding matters of policy, budget, or management.

The following is bizarre:

If, in the course of the Official Communication, an unexpected topic arises that is not the intended subject matter, the employee shall promptly notify the head of the operating unit or Secretarial office, or their designee(s).

In the FAQ explaining the policy, DOC makes matters worse when they try to cleanly separate fact from opinion:

It is not acceptable for government employees to use government resources to promote personal activities or opinions. Department researchers may draw scientific conclusions based on fundamental research related to their jobs and may communicate such information. Personal opinions that go beyond scientific conclusions based on fundamental research related to their jobs are personal communications. If employees wish to publicize their personal opinions, they may do so on their own time, as long as it doesn’t violate federal law.

This is simply unenforceable. Consider that several NOAA scientists signed a joint statement last year on hurricane policies. Their views certainly included their personal opinions. Had they provided their views from their office, on their phone, or identified as a government employee, they would be in violation of the policy. This is nonsense.

I could go on. DOC will, in my opinion, inevitably have to revisit this fundamentally flawed policy. When they do, they should take another look at NASA’s communication policy for some guidance (PDF). When creating such policies, sometimes less is more. The key distinctions to be made are not about what can be said, as drawing bright lines between science and policy, fact and opinion, which are doomed to fail in practice. The key distinctions are to be made between those who are authorized to represent agency policies and those who are not. And any government employee who feels that they cannot support the policies of the agency has opportunities to motivate change from within, and ultimately if they feel strongly enough the chance to resign and seek change from the outside.

Any government employee who uses their position to subvert government performance risks their job. If they lose their job for such a reason, then their supervisor, politically appointed or not, will experience public and political scrutiny. Recent goings on in the Department of Justice speak to this issue.

DOC and NOAA should let the mechanisms of the U.S. government work, rather than trying to over-proceduralize the communications process. Their efforts have likely created the conditions for more not less conflict.

Disclaimer: I am a fellow of CIRES here at University of Colorado. CIRES is a NOAA joint institute. I have benefited from NOAA support of my research over the past 15 years.

April 03, 2007

The Honest Broker Available in UK and EU This Week!

For our readers across the pond, you'll get it first (available here and here). We look forward to comments and criticisms!

Posted on April 3, 2007 07:37 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

April 02, 2007

A Few Comments on Massachusetts vs. EPA

We discussed the lawsuit in depth here at Prometheus not long ago (here and here). Now the Supreme Court has rendered a judgment. The outcome is along the lines that we anticipated (see Office Pool 2007), with the Supreme Court deciding 5-4 that EPA has authority to regulate carbon dioxide, but seemingly withholding judgment on whether EPA must regulate CO2. But a close reading of the majority opinion (warning: by this non-expert) suggests that the ruling in fact leaves EPA little alternative other than to promulgate regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

First there is a science error in the majority opinion, though it seems clear that it would not change their judgment of injury. It states:

. . . global sea levels rose somewhere between 10 and 20 centimeters over the 20th century as a result of global warming.

According to the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report this value is more like 3 to 5.5 centimeters (from figure 11.10b here) with the rest of the 10 to 20 centimeters total due to natural causes. The Supreme Court has attributed all sea level rise to global warming which is incorrect. I had argued in earlier discussions that missing from this case, in arguments by both sides, was some evidence that the 3 to 5.5 centimeters of increase over the 20th century due to human-caused climate change can be related to some injury. However, given the line of argument taken by the majority opinion it appears that what would matter is that this number is quantifiable at all, not its relative magnitude, hence my opinion that an accurate reporting of actual 20th century sea level rise due to global warming would not have affected the reasoning. In footnote 21 the majority opinion explains this point as follows:

Yet the likelihood that Massachusetts’ coastline will recede has nothing to do with whether petitioners have determined the precise metes and bounds of their soon-to-be-flooded land. Petitioners maintain that the seas are rising and will continue to rise, and have alleged that such a rise will lead to the loss of Massachusetts’ sovereign territory. No one, save perhaps the dissenters, disputes those allegations. Our cases require nothing more.

The majority opinion also notes that redressability of harms also does not need to be precisely quantified or large:

That a first step might be tentative does not by itself support the notion that federal courts lack jurisdiction to determine whether that step conforms to law.

The bottom line?

Here is the SC take home message:

We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand EPA must make an endangerment finding, or whether policy concerns can inform EPA’s actions in the event that it makes such a finding. . . We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.

In other words, if EPA wants to continue to avoid promulgating regulations on greenhouse gases, then it needs to come up with a better excuse than than those used so far under the Bush Administration. However, it seems clear from the text of the opinion that the majority does in fact render an opinion on whether EPA must make an endangerment finding. I am not an expert on Supreme Court rulings, but the following passage goes pretty far down the path of prescribing exactly what regulatory action EPA should take:

The alternative basis for EPA’s decision—that even if it does have statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gases, it would be unwise to do so at this time—rests on reasoning divorced from the statutory text. While the statute does condition the exercise of EPA’s authority on its formation of a “judgment,” 42 U. S. C. §7521(a)(1), that judgment must relate to whether an air pollutant “cause[s], or contribute[s] to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,” ibid. Put another way, the use of the word “judgment” is not a roving license to ignore the statutory text. It is but a direction to exercise discretion within defined statutory limits. If EPA makes a finding of endangerment, the Clean Air Act requires the agency to regulate emissions of the deleterious pollutant from new motor vehicles. Ibid. (statingthat “[EPA] shall by regulation prescribe . . . standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class of new motor vehicles”). EPA no doubt has significant latitude as to the manner, timing, content, and coordination of its regulations with those of other agencies. But once EPA has responded to a petition for rulemaking, its reasons for action or inaction must conform to the authorizing statute. Under the clear terms of the Clean Air Act, EPA can avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.

EPA has refused to comply with this clear statutory command. Instead, it has offered a laundry list of reasons not to regulate. For example, EPA said that a number of voluntary executive branch programs already provide an effective response to the threat of global warming, 68 Fed. Reg. 52932, that regulating greenhouse gases might impair the President’s ability to negotiate with “key developing nations” to reduce emissions, id., at 52931, and that curtailing motor-vehicle emissions would reflect "an inefficient, piecemeal approach to address the climate change issue," ibid.

Although we have neither the expertise nor the authority to evaluate these policy judgments, it is evident they have nothing to do with whether greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change. [emphasis added]

The language here suggests that if greenhouse gases contribute to climate change, then EPA has no other choice other than to regulate. The majority opinion states that they have neither expertise not authority to make policy judgments, but do so anyway. I’d welcome Supreme Court experts weighing in on this. Is this sort of prescriptive language common? Is it actionable in future lawsuits?

If my interpretation is correct (big if) then regardless of what excuse for inaction that EPA under President Bush comes up with, the language of this opinion gives considerable latitude for a subsequent lawsuit suing EPA for its failure to regulate. I doubt that there is enough time left in the Bush Administration for this to occur. Nonetheless it will be a trump card to hold over the next president, Democrat or Republican. A similar lawsuit helped break the gridlock over ozone depletion leading to a negotiated settlement resulting is U.S. participation in the Vienna Convention (details here in PDF). Would there be a similar agreement possible on climate change? If so, what would petitioners ask for and what would a president agree to? Could all of this be trumped by Congress?

April 01, 2007

Sea Level Rise Consensus Statement and Next Steps

In a paper by Jim Hansen that we discussed last week, he called for a consensus statement to be issued on global warming, West Antarctica and sea level rise, from relevant scientific experts. A group of scientists have beat him to the punch issuing a consensus statement last week:

Polar ice experts from Europe and the United States, meeting to pursue greater scientific consensus over the fate of the world’s largest fresh water reservoir, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, conclude their three-day meeting at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences with the following statement:

Read the whole thing, but the take home point is that there remain substantial uncertainties, as indicated in the following parts of the consensus statement:

*Satellite observations show that both the grounded ice sheet and the floating ice shelves of the Amundsen Sea Embayment have thinned over the last decades.

*Ongoing thinning in the grounded ice sheet is already contributing to sea-level rise.

*The thinning of the ice has occurred because melting beneath the ice shelves has increased, reducing the friction holding back the grounded ice sheet and causing faster flow.

*Oceanic changes have caused the increased ice-shelf melting. The observed average warming of the global ocean has not yet notably affected the waters reaching the base of the ice shelves. However, recent changes in winds around Antarctica caused by human influence and/or natural variability may be changing ocean currents, moving warmer waters under the ice shelves.

*Our understanding of ice-sheet flow suggests the possibility that too much melting beneath ice shelves will lead to "runaway" thinning of the grounded ice sheet. Current understanding is too limited to know whether, when, or how rapidly this might happen, but discussions at the meeting included the possibility of several feet of sea-level rise over a few centuries from changes in this region.

What is the policy significance of this statement?

1. Decisions about climate change will have to be made is the face of considerable uncertainties as those related to sea level rise will not be reduced anytime soon.

2. There is the "possibility of several feet of sea-level rise over a few centuries from changes in this region." This contrasts strongly with Jim Hansen's assertion that

"Spatial and temporal fluctuations are normal, short-term expectations for Greenland glaciers are different from long-term expectations for West Antarctica. Integration via the gravity satellite measurements puts individual glacier fluctuations in proper perspective. The broader picture gives strong indication that ice sheets will, and are already beginning to, respond in a nonlinear fashion to global warming.There is enough information now, in my opinion, to make it a near certainty that IPCC BAU climate forcing scenarios would lead to disastrous multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale" (PDF).

Who will eventually be proven correct? I have no idea. Nor do I think that it matters at all from the perspective of policy (compare Naomi Oreskes' views on this subject here) . The significance of this difference in views has more to do with issue of scientific advice than sea level rise itself -- if scientists create an expectation that our decision making should be guided by consensus views of relevant experts, then they should take care when abandoning that approach to scientific advice when less politically convenient.

3. Bottom line: Sea level rose about 20 cm over the past century. The IPCC expects that it may rise from less than that amount to about 60 cm over the next century. RealClimate says they see another 40 cm possible in the IPCC report. And there is a long thin probability tail of higher amounts with low probability and high consequences.

So, What are the Next Steps?

**Mitigation actions can have only a small effect on sea level rise in the short term (e.g., from no impact decades hences to small impacts a century out) and thus respond primarily to the longer term threats of sea level rise more than a century in the future.

**The most (and only) effective responses to sea level rise over the century timescale will be adaptive. So once again we see that mitigation and adaptation respond to fundamentally different aspects of the climate issue. Mitigation and adaptation should occur in parallel.

**Mitigation and adaptation policies to in response to sea level rise have been looked at (notably in the work of Richard Tol, e.g., here), but far more needs to be done (e.g., as argued here in PDF and here in PDF). Sea level rise has, like so many aspects of the climate issue, fallen into the trap of the "prediction game" at the expense of research on the possible consequences of alternative policies in response to that which we already know. The sea level rise issue risks becoming simply a "poster child" for mitigation rather than an issue deserving more attention itself.

So my recommendation is: Rather than arguing over which predictions of the climate future (or which scientists) are correct, we know enough about the general trend in sea level rise and the possibility of a large increase to begin thinking and talking in far more depth about a wide range of possible policy responses, especially adaptation. Such discussions have to go beyond the simplistic use of future sea level rise as a argument to mitigate. Under any scenario of mitigation the adaptation challenge remains essentially the same, and similarly under any adaptation efforts the mitigation challenge does not change. Absolutely no science on the prediction of future sea level rise will alter this basic reality.

No Joke: 25 to 1

Andy Revkin has a piece in today's New York Times on the challenges facing climate adaptation. He reports that money being spent on human-caused climate change in developing countries under the Framework Convention on Climate Change is biased in favor of mitigation over adaptation by a factor of 25 to 1:

But for now, the actual spending in adaptation projects in the world’s most vulnerable spots, totaling around $40 million a year, “borders on the derisory,” said Kevin Watkins, the director of the United Nations Human Development Report Office, which tracks factors affecting the quality of life around the world.

The lack of climate aid persists even though nearly all the world’s industrialized nations, including the United States under the first President Bush, pledged to help when they signed the first global warming treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 1992. Under that treaty, industrialized countries promised to assist others “that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation.” It did not specify how much they would pay.

A $3 billion Global Environmental Facility fund maintained by contributions from developed countries has nearly $1 billion set aside for projects in poorer countries that limit emissions of greenhouse gases. But critics say those projects often do not have direct local benefits, and many are happening in the large fast-industrializing developing countries — not the poorest ones.

This situation exists despite the following consensus view from the IPCC:

In its most recent report, in February, the [IPCC] panel said that decades of warming and rising seas were inevitable with the existing greenhouse-gas buildup, no matter what was done about cutting future greenhouse gas emissions.

My former colleague (and boss) at NCAR, Mickey Glantz aptly sums up where this leaves climate policy:

Michael H. Glantz, an expert on climate hazards at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who has spent two decades pressing for more work on adaptation to warming, has called for wealthy countries to help establish a center for climate and water monitoring in Africa, run by Africans. But for now, he says he is doubtful that much will be done.

"The third world has been on its own," he said, "and I think it pretty much will remain on its own."


Posted on April 1, 2007 04:31 PM View this article | Comments (5)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

March 30, 2007

Response to Nature Commentary: Insiders and Outsiders

Three leaders in the adaptation community submitted a letter to Nature responding to our commentary published last month (here in PDF). Nature won't be publishing their letter, but we are happy to reproduce it here. Below is the letter and our response to it, followed by a bit more commentary from me.

We take issue with the commentary by Pielke et al. (Nature 445: 597). The authors accuse mitigation advocates of incorrectly arguing that efforts on adaptation detract from mitigation. We agree that the argument is spurious. Yet, the authors make the opposite argument which we also take issue with: that mitigation detracts from adaptation. The notion that the UNFCCC allows investments in adaptation to be reduced by investments in mitigation is unfounded.

Both mitigation and adaptation are needed. Global warming threatens to destabilize ice sheets, causing sea level rise to rise for centuries. It also threatens to cause widespread disruption of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. It is not clear how adaptation will offset these impacts. Thus, mitigation is needed to slow down global warming and avoid its worst effects.

As the authors note, adaptation is also needed because climate change is underway and further warming is inevitable. The climate change adaptation community has long recognized that effective adaptation has to address shortcomings in natural resource management as well as addressing the added risks introduced by climate change. This is not a diversion, but a necessary response to an unprecedented threat facing humanity.

Joel B. Smith
Stratus Consulting Inc.
Boulder, CO USA

Ian Burton
University of Toronto
Toronto

Saleemul Huq
International Institute for Environment and Development
London

And here is our response, which we shared with the authors by email:

A criticism from arguably the three leading voices on adaptation for our not paying sufficient attention to mitigation underscores our point. You letter fails to acknowledge our main point -- that two views of adaptation are present in the current discourse. Of course, you are all well aware of this because it is you who has done the most to introduce the broader definition!

The narrow view of adaptation that we describe is indeed linked tightly to mitigation (as for instance reflected in the Stern Report) and does indeed compete with the broader view of adaptation as sustainable development (this tension is reflected in the IPCC reports which use both definitions inconsistently). Some of your own work arguing for the broader definition makes this absolutely clear. Our article was about how these two framings of adaptation compete with one another.

To fail to recognize this distinction is I think to mischaracterize our piece. If every response to advocacy for a greater emphasis on adaptation as sustainable development is countered by a criticism that describes the importance of mitigation, it is fair to ask who is creating the perception of a trade-off.

In response to climate change, we can (and must) do more than one thing at once. But to do so requires that we stop defending mitigation reflexively every time someone makes a strong argument for adaptation. Our piece argued that these agendas should be decoupled which is what the broad definition of adaptation helps to achieve. By not acknowledging this distinction, your letter in response brings them together again and creates ambiguity.

We do appreciate the feedback and it is indeed a sign of progress on this issue if we can begin debating the dimensions of adaptation, rather than if we should be adapting at all.

And I would further point to a recent Pew Center report co-authored by Joel Smith and Ian Burton (PDF) which included the following argument indicating that adaptation is indeed tightly tied to mitigation under the FCCC:

. . . .the adaptation effort has suffered from ambiguities in the [FCCC] regime. One concerns the very definition of adaptation, which is nowhere explicit in the Convention. In that adaptation is referenced only in the context of climate change, the implication is that support under the Convention must be directed to activities addressing primarily if not exclusively human-induced impacts. Yet, as noted earlier, and in expert meetings convened under the Convention, adaptation strategies often are most effective when addressing the full continuum of climate risk. In addition, there appears significant confusion over the terms for adaptation funding through the GEF. As the GEF was established to address global environmental issues, projects supported through its principal trust fund must deliver a "global environmental benefit." In the area of adaptation, most funding flows through the separate dedicated funds established under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. Although guidance from the parties is not explicit on the point, the GEF’s position is that the "global environmental benefits" test does not apply to these funds. Yet there remains a widespread perception among potential recipients that it does.

This is identical to the argument that we made in the Nature commentary and that I analyze in depth in this paper (in PDF)!

And Saleemul Huq (with Hannah Reid) write:

For example, the six case studies on adaptation to climate change undertaken under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (see Agrawala, this Bulletin) define adaptation to climate change narrowly so that it refers to only those climate change impacts that are deemed to be directly attributable to human-induced climate change, rather than to adaptation to the broader range of impacts associated with "climate variability". A narrow definition of climate impacts would tend to then only produce a small range of adaptation responses as being necessary and hence requiring funding – in essence addressing only a very narrow set of examples of adaptation development linkages (i.e. the "tip of the iceberg" in Figure 2) and hence missing the much larger set of relevant adaptation-development linkages where there are additional co-benefits.

It is difficult for me to see how these perspectives differ at all from our own expressed in Nature as follows:

The focus on mitigation has created policy instruments that are biased against adaptation. Under the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, rich countries pay costs that poor countries incur by adapting to the marginal impacts of climate change — but they can in principle avoid these costs through enhanced mitigation efforts. This provision of the Protocol exemplifies the failure to take adaptation seriously: not only are the funds involved provided on a voluntary basis by rich countries but they are held hostage to mitigation. The logic is that greenhouse-gas reductions will, in turn, reduce marginal adaptation costs. In practice, this means that the UNFCCC will pay "costs that lead to global environmental benefits, but not those that result in local benefits". To those experiencing devastating losses from climate impacts in developing countries, such logic must sound surreal: policy 'success' means not investing in adaptation even as climate impacts, driven mainly by non-climate factors, continue to mount.

The only difference that I can see between Smith, Burton, and Huq and Pielke, Prins, Rayner, and Sarewitz is that we are a bit less polite about discussing the big fat elephant in the room. And that just might be attributed to a difference between insiders and outsiders in the FCCC community.

Posted on March 30, 2007 11:16 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Interview at ClimateandInsurance.Org

I am interviewed by the website ClimateandInsurance.org, check it out here.

Posted on March 30, 2007 08:00 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

March 29, 2007

Now I've Seen Everything

NASA's Jim Hansen has discovered STS (science and technology studies, i.e., social scientists who study science), and he is using it to justify why the IPCC is wrong and he, and he alone, is correct on predictions of future sea level rise and as well on calls for certain political actions, like campaign finance reform.

In a new paper posted online (here in PDF) Dr. Hansen conveniently selects a notable 1961 paper on the sociology of scientific discovery from Science to suggest that scientific reticence can be used to predict where future research results will lead. And he finds, interestingly enough, that they lead exactly to where his views are today.

What evidence does Dr. Hansen provide to indicate that his views on sea level rise are correct and those presented by the IPCC, which he openly disagrees with, are wrong? Well, for one he explains that no glaciologist agrees with his views (as they are apparently reticent), suggesting that in fact his views must be correct (a creative use of STS if I've ever seen one;-). If holding a minority view is a standard for predicting future scientific understandings then we should therefore apparently pay more attention to all those lonely skeptics crying out in the wilderness, no?

I find it simply amazing that Dr. Hansen has the moxie to invoke the STS literature to support his scientific arguments when that literature, had he looked at maybe one more paper, indicates that Bernard Barber's 1961 essay, while provocative is not widely accepted (see, e.g., this book or this paper). And even if one accepts Barber's article at face value which argues that scientists resist new discoveries (Thomas Kuhn, hello?), what Dr. Hansen doesn't explain (as he is throwing out the IPCC model of scientific consensus) is why his views are those that will prove to be proven correct in the future rather than those other scientific perspectives that are not endorsed by the IPCC. (Dr. Hansen appears to ignore Barber's argument in the same paper suggesting that older scientists are more likely to be captured by political or other interests when presenting their science.)

If we can use the sociology of science to foretell where science is headed, we could save a lot of money not having to in fact do the research. The climate issue is full of surprises and this one just about takes the cake for me. Now I've seen everything!

Cashing In

At least one IPCC lead author appears to be trying to cash in on concern over climate change. With the help of several University of Arizona faculty members, including one prominent IPCC contributor, a company called Climate Appraisal, LLC is selling address specific climate predictions looking out as far as the next 100 years. Call me a skeptic or a cynic but I'm pretty sure that the science of climate change hasn't advanced to the point of providing such place-specific information. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that if such information were credible and available, it'd already be in the IPCC. The path from global consensus to snake oil seems pretty short. I wouldn't deny anyone the chance to make a buck, but can this be good for the credibility of the IPCC?

March 28, 2007

Why is Climate Change a Partisan Issue in the United States?

Several people asked me to comment on this Jonathan Chait essay from the L.A. Times last week in which he sought to explain the partisan nature of the climate issue. While I think there are some elements of truth in Chait's perspective, I think that he misses the elephant in the room.

Climate change is indeed a partisan issue. This is confirmed time and again by opinion polls, most recently this poll released last week.

Chait seeks to explain this partisanship as follows:

How did it get this way? The easy answer is that Republicans are just tools of the energy industry. It's certainly true that many of them are. Leading global warming skeptic Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas), for instance, was the subject of a fascinating story in the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago. The bottom line is that his relationship to the energy industry is as puppet relates to hand.

But the financial relationship doesn't quite explain the entirety of GOP skepticism on global warming. For one thing, the energy industry has dramatically softened its opposition to global warming over the last year, even as Republicans have stiffened theirs.

The truth is more complicated — and more depressing: A small number of hard-core ideologues (some, but not all, industry shills) have led the thinking for the whole conservative movement.

Your typical conservative has little interest in the issue. Of course, neither does the average nonconservative. But we nonconservatives tend to defer to mainstream scientific wisdom. Conservatives defer to a tiny handful of renegade scientists who reject the overwhelming professional consensus.

National Review magazine, with its popular website, is a perfect example. It has a blog dedicated to casting doubt on global warming, or solutions to global warming, or anybody who advocates a solution. Its title is "Planet Gore." The psychology at work here is pretty clear: Your average conservative may not know anything about climate science, but conservatives do know they hate Al Gore. So, hold up Gore as a hate figure and conservatives will let that dictate their thinking on the issue.

Chait's suggestion that non-conservatives defer to the scientific mainstream while conservatives do not gets the cart and horse mixed up. Chait falls victim to the idea that for some people -- those rational beings in the reality-based community -- political perspectives flow from a fountain of facts. And if one's entire view of the relationship of science and politics is grounded in very recent Republican-Democrat conflict it is easy to see how this perspective might be reinforced. On the very hot-button issues of climate change and the teaching of evolution, Republican political agendas require confronting current scientific consensus.

But a broader look at science and politics shows that challenges to a current scientific consensus occurs across the ideological spectrum. Consider genetically modified agricultural products and the European Union. The EU has strongly opposed these products for political and cultural reasons (sound familiar?) in the face of a scientific consensus that indicates little risks. Consider also smoking, where a robust scientific consensus exists, yet far more people smoke in left-leaning Europe than in the United States. When I testified before Congress last February I pointed out that the Democrats organizing the hearing had decided not to invoke a recent consensus statement on hurricanes and global warming in favor of relying on a few selected studies most convenient to their political agenda. The reality is that we all filter facts through our pre-existing values and biases, and each of use is perfectly capable of ignoring or selectively interpreting facts as is convenient. Those who stubbornly refuse to accept the previous sentence would be a good example of these dynamics.

The blindingly obvious and somewhat banal answer to the question why climate change is a partisan issue is that climate change is a partisan issue because it has evolved as a partisan issue. The fact that at some point the issue took on partisan characteristics has led to a reinforcement of the partisanship. The important question to ask is how it is that climate change became a partisan issue. There are several answers to this question.

1. George W. Bush. Everything George Bush touches becomes a partisan issue (and seems to break). George Bush squandered an opportunity to become a great president in the aftermath of 9/11 and instead will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. In this context, his early-2001 decision to unceremoniously abandon the Kyoto process and flip the bird at Europe more than anything fed the partisan nature of the climate debate. In the 1992 presidential election climate change first became a high-level partisan issue as Al Gore and George H. W. Bush used the issue to score political points, with GHWB calling Gore "ozone man" and promising to counter the greenhouse effect with the "White House effect." Of course the deeper history, back to the 1970s, involves the Republicans as the party of the extractive resources industries and the Democrats as the party of alternative energy. These debates conveniently mapped right onto the 1980s emergence of climate change as Dan Sarewitz and I documented in 2000 in the Atlantic Monthly. Of course, if one were to go back to the 1950s and 1960s these partisan roles were somewhat reversed, as Frank Laird documents in his excellent book on the history of solar energy.

2. Al Gore. Long before George W. Bush was in politics Al Gore was in the business of politicizing the climate issue. I have no doubt that he feels strongly about climate change, but his actions for several decades bely his oft-stated claim that climate change is not a partisan issue. Today Al Gore's leadership on this issue is by its very nature a partisan issue:

Appearing before a Congressional Committee, Gore said that Global Warming is "not a partisan issue; it’s a moral issue." However, polling data suggests that among the general public it’s a very partisan issue. By a 65% to 9% margin, Democrats say that Gore knows what he’s talking about. By a 57% to 11%, Republicans say he does not. Those not affiliated with either party are evenly divided.

So long as the main protagonists in the U.S. climate issue are the opponents from the overwhelmingly partisan 2000 presidential election, how in the world can the climate issue be anything other than partisan?

3. The Chorus. Given the dynamics described above, it is entirely natural that the climate debate attracts participants ranging from experts to the lay public, who together I call the chorus. And people are attracted to the issue because of its partisan nature, and the nature of blogs and media coverage amplify the voice of the chorus. And in turn the chorus reinforces the partisan nature of the debate through several forms of dynamics.

First, climate change is a perfect issue for the scientization of politics. This refers to the tendency to characterize political debates in terms of technical disputes -- remember the Hockey Stick? There is an endless supply of climate science to debate and discuss and always the presence of irritating skeptics who challenge the current consensus (see discussion at RealClimate). This situation elevates the authority of subject matter experts in political debates, which makes it appealing for some experts, but also inevitably politicizes the expert community as they self-segregate according to political perspectives.

Second, self-segregation is not unique to experts. A short tour around the web reveals the truth of Cass Sunstein's notion of internet-based "echo chambers" in which people talk only with those who share their views and lambaste as evil subhumans those who they disagree with. It is a rare discussion on climate change that involves a thoughtful exchange of ideas from people who hold fundamentally different political views. The self-segregation has the effect of increasing the partisan nature of the debate as people come to believe more strongly of the absolute truth in their views and the absolute lack of morals in their opponents.

Third, forced segregation. For those who do not fit easily into the partisan nature of the climate debate, partisans go to great effort to force these perspectives into a partisan framework. For instance, here at Prometheus we've consistently advanced views on climate policy (held long before George Bush came around) that emphasize the importance of adaptation and immediate, no-regrets mitigation to occur in parallel (see my 2006 Congressional testimony for the full spiel), and we've experienced a steady effort by some to frame our views as "right-leaning" simply because they are not "left-leaning." The repeated attacks on us from the environmental Gristmill blog are a case in point, despite the fact that there appears to be an enormous substantive agreement in our views. Of course, if the political right actually accepted the views on policy that we have been advocating then those on the political left would probably be rejoicing! On the climate issue, because the chorus has little stomach for perspectives that deviate in any sense from the partisan framing, it is any surprise that the partisan framing dominates?

The bottom line is that climate change is a partisan issue. It will likely remain so in the United States for a long time. Political action will happen nonetheless simply because the Democrats have succeeded in making it a political issue during a time of their ascendancy. If Al Gore runs for president, as I suspect he will, it will further increase the partisan nature of the debate. To the extent that Democrats continue to raise expectations that climate change is central to their agenda, action will inevitably occur. Republicans will eventually accept that action will occur and will do the best to use it as a vehicle to advance their own interests, as typically occurs in all political situations. For those interested in effective policy action, as opposed to scoring political points real or symbolic, there will be a continuing need to keep a focus on policy options and their likely consequences. Die hard partisans will do there best to make that task difficult as discussion of options requires the sort of nuance not present in political horse races.

Soon climate politics in the United States will come to resemble the current dynamics in the EU, in which the issues will be messier and more complicated. When that occurs, like old Cold Warriors the climate partisans will long for the days of good guys and bad guys, and will likely hang on too long to the past.

So Long as We Are Discussing Congressional Myopia . . .

I had a chance to meet Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) last year at an informal dinner at the home of Thomas Lovejoy, head of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. In my conversations with Mr. Gilchrest I found him to be extremely thoughtful and exactly the sort of person that anyone would welcome representing them in Congress, Republican or Democrat. My views were reinforced when I saw Mr. Gilchrest sitting with Congressional committees looking into global warming even though he wasn’t on those committees but was attending simply to educate himself, one time when I was testifying.

So it was with some surprise that I read the following about Mr. Gilchrest in a news story last week:

House Republican Leader John Boehner would have appointed Rep. Wayne Gilchrest to the bipartisan Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming — but only if the Maryland Republican would say humans are not causing climate change, Gilchrest said.

"I said, 'John, I can't do that,'" Gilchrest said in an interview.

Gilchrest didn't make the committee. Neither did other Republican moderates or science-minded members, whose guidance centrist GOP members usually seek on the issue. Republican moderates, called the Tuesday Group, invited Boehner to this week's meeting to push for different representation.
. . .
Gilchrest expressed his interest in the committee several times to Boehner and Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, telling them the best thing they could do for Republican credibility was to appoint members familiar with the scientific data.

"Roy Blunt said he didn't think there was enough evidence to suggest that humans are causing global warming," Gilchrest said. "Right there, holy cow, there's like 9,000 scientists to three on that one."

The fact that the Republican leadership seeks to ensure political unanimity via a litmus test on the science of climate change should be a surprise to no one. More troubling is the fact that the participation of one of our most thoughtful public servants on an important select committee is a casualty of such political myopia. Not only will policy discussions be impoverished by such actions, but it is also hard to see how it works in the favor of the Republican political agenda.

March 27, 2007

Pay No Attention to Those Earmarks

According to a column in the Wall Street Journal Congress, in its wisdom, has decided to prohibit the ability of its Congressional Research Service (CRS) to publish reports documenting congressional earmarks, or targeted spending inserted in appropriations bills (aka "pork-barrel spending"). This is a bad decision.

The thinking in Congress must be that if they don't report the existence of earmarks then no one will know what is going on. As has been documented time and again here we see an effort to shape political outcomes by manipulating the availability of information. In this case the incentives are not partisan, but institutional, as members of both political parties in Congress have a shared incentive to keep earmarks out of the public eye. Earmarks are often associated with irresponsible public spending (e.g., the Alaska "bridge to nowhere") and are especially problematic in the R&D enterprise, as I've discussed here previously.

Congress is doing the public a disservice by seeking to aggressively limit information on spending that it makes available to the public. This behavior is likely to be counterproductive when at the same time several Congress committees are conducting useful investigations of the Executive branch's heavy-handed information management strategies. In general, openness and transparency are good principles, and that is the case here as well.

Here is an excerpt from the WSJ column:

Nothing highlighted Congress's spending problem in last year's election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors.

Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)--a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency--has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS."

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. "CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals," stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan.

When Sen. Coburn and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina submitted earmark inquiries recently, they were both turned down. Each then had heated conversations with Mr. Mulhollan. The director, who declined to be interviewed for this article, explained that because the appropriations committees and the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were now preparing their own lists of earmarks, CRS should no longer play a role in the process. He also noted that both the House and Senate are preparing their own definitions of earmarks. "It is not appropriate for us to continue our research," his directive states.

That is sophistry. The House rule making earmarks public, which was passed in January, doesn't apply to earmarks for fiscal year 2007, the year Mr. Coburn wanted his report on. There is no Senate rule, and a proposed statute defining earmarks hasn't become law. OMB's list of earmarks applies only to fiscal year 2005.

And in any case, CRS works for Congress, so it is bizarre for it to claim work being done by the executive branch as a reason to deny members information it was happy to collect and release in the past. When I asked a CRS official if the new policy stemmed from complaints by appropriations committee members, she refused to answer the question, citing "confidentiality" concerns. . .

Today squeeze plays on CRS are not uncommon, and they have come from both parties. In the 1990s, GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey was so angry with a CRS report questioning the workability of a flat tax that he temporarily zeroed out the agency's budget. Rep. Henry Waxman, as a member of a Democratic minority, demanded and got revisions to CRS reports on how prescription drug pricing rules in his bills would work. "Everyone expects Waxman and others to be even more insistent on getting what they want now [that he's in the majority]," says another CRS staffer.

Unpublished Letter to the San Francisco Chronicle

A few weeks ago Henry Miller had an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle that discussed our recent commentary in Nature on adaptation (PDF). We sent in a letter in response that for whatever reason the Chronicle decided not to publish. So we have reproduced it here:

Dear Editor-

We appreciate that Henry Miller (Sunday, March 11, 2007) highlighted our recent commentary in Nature magazine which called for greater attention to adaptation in climate policy. In that article we argue that advocates of mitigation (i.e., reducing greenhouse gas emissions) frequently go too far when they present energy policies as an alternative to societal adaptation to the impacts of a changing climate. Unfortunately, Dr. Miller commits an equally grave mistake by suggesting that adaptation can take the place of mitigation. Any effective approach to climate policy will require that we both mitigate and adapt. The urge to present adaptation and mitigation as somehow in opposition is a reflex shared by those on opposing sides of the debate over greenhouse gas emissions. On climate policy we must walk and chew gum at the same time.

Roger Pielke, Jr., University of Colorado
Gwyn Prins, London School of Economics and Columbia University
Steve Rayner, Oxford University's James Martin Institute
Daniel Sarewitz, Arizona State University


Posted on March 27, 2007 12:44 AM View this article | Comments (14)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

March 26, 2007

Whose political agenda is reflected in the IPCC Working Group 1, Scientists or Politicians?

Recent discussion here on Prometheus and elsewhere has indicated two very different perspectives on who controls the IPCC’s Working Group I on the science of climate change. The different views reflect various efforts to legitimize and delegitimize the IPCC. However, the different perspectives cannot be reconciled for reasons I describe below, placing scientists in an interesting double bind.

The first view is that the IPCC is subject to governmental control at the start and at the finish, and thus is an overtly political document. It is after all the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. From this perspective the IPCC is very much a political document with political officials setting its agenda in the form of of the questions that it is to address and political officials also acting as gatekeepers on the resulting scientific report.

This view on the back end was expressed by Michael Mann, of Penn State University and RealClimate, who commented in New Scientist earlier this month:

Allowing governmental delegations to ride into town at the last minute and water down conclusions after they were painstakingly arrived at in an objective scientific assessment does not serve society well.

On the front end of the report, Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M, suggested that this too was controlled by politicians and not scientists, writing in the comments on another Prometheus post:

. . . you have to conclude that the [IPCC chapter] outline represents the questions member gov'ts want to know in order to respond to climate change.

The second view is that the IPCC is squarely in the control of the scientific community with governmental officials having a right to approve the IPCC report on the front and back ends but with no authority to alter it’s substance in any way for political purposes. Twenty distinguished climate scientists who participated in drafting of the recent IPCC Summary for Policymakers wrote a letter objecting vehemently to an article in the New Scientist suggesting that political officials had any influence whatsoever on the report.

At all stages, including at the final plenary in Paris, the authors had control over the text . . In particular, our co-chair Susan Solomon is robustly independent and has been determined to maintain the credibility of the science throughout the four-year process. . . The wide participation of the scientific community, the scientific accuracy and the absence of any policy prescription in this report are the characteristics that render this report so powerful. . . Another related misconception, promulgated by [New Scientist], is that the Summary for Policymakers was written by and for the government delegations, and changes were made to the scientific conclusions before and during the Paris plenary for political purposes. In fact, the Summary for Policymakers was written by the scientists who also wrote the underlying chapters. The purpose of the Paris plenary was to make clarifications in order to more succinctly and accessibly communicate the science to the policy-makers. The scientists were present in Paris to ensure scientific accuracy and consistency with the underlying report. Those of us also involved in previous assessments were pleasantly surprised that there were far fewer alterations made to the text at this final meeting, and that there were very few attempts at political interference.

So here is the double bind that scientists find themselves in: Some scientists, like Andrew Dessler (cited above), wish to assert that the IPCC is essentially value-free reflecting the revealed truths of the climate system as discerned by objective climate scientists with no political agenda. From this perspective, the only political agenda that the IPCC reflects is that imposed upon it by governments on the front end in the form of questions that they would like to see answered. It is otherwise scientifically pure. Other scientists, like Michael Mann (cited above), hold a very different view seeing the IPCC as reflecting a political agenda of member governments who have in fact corrupted the objective views of the climate scientists. From this perspective, the IPCC does in fact reflect a political agenda that shaped it on the back end.

If governmental representatives in fact have no influence on content of the IPCC only an ability to approve, as suggested by the twenty authors of the letter to the New Scientist, then all decisions made by the IPCC about what information to present in the report reflect the values and judgments of the scientists participating. Many scientists do not like this assertion because it suggests that the IPCC is not accountable to anyone, and stands as a technocratic exercise far from any sort of democratic governance of science. If instead governmental officials do in fact have influence, then the IPCC has some greater accountability and perhaps meets some criteria of democratic governance, but at the same time many scientists do not like this assertion because then the IPCC risks losing its legitimacy as its conclusions would then reflect the political agendas of its overseers. So does the IPCC Working Group I reflect a political agenda or not?

The only way that this double bind could be broken would be for the IPCC to do two things. First, on its front end it would need to have a formal, transparent, and systematic process for eliciting the demands for information from policy makers in the forms of questions asked and information sought. (Dan Sarewitz and I describe such a process in this paper: PDF.) There was in fact no such process on the front end.

Second, on the back end the IPCC would need an accepted process that allowed member governments to ask questions seeking to clarify and focus the report, opposed to changing its content. The IPCC authors suggest that this is in fact what happened, but its critics assert the opposite. So whatever the reality, it seems clear that the following statement from the twenty IPCC letter-writers holds up: "A legitimate criticism perhaps is the poor communication to the general public of IPCC procedures."

Everyone seems to agree that the IPCC reflects a political agenda, the question is who’s political agenda? Is it that of the participating scientists? Do participating scientists in fact have a "political agenda" or instead do they have many competing political agendas? Or is the political agenda of the IPCC that of the participating governments? But do participating governments in fact have a "political agenda" or many competing political agendas?

The answers to the questions are all unclear. The IPCC tries to have things both ways by asserting governmental participation without governmental influence. This makes no sense, and participation is meaningless absent influence. As a result, how people view the legitimacy of the IPCC will therefore most likely be an inkblot test on their views of governance by experts versus the democratization of knowledge. One thing seems clear, global governance of the IPCC would be much more straightforward, and its role far easier to understand, with some explicit answers to who controls the IPCC, scientists or governments?

March 24, 2007

Praise for The Honest Broker

Three people who I have a lot of respect for have read my book and offered some kind (far too kind, actually) words:

With an analytical honesty unmarred by hidden agendas, Roger Pielke brilliantly brings the murky interface of science and politics into perfect focus. Scientists and policy makers alike need to read this book, and need to absorb its wisdom.

Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

Roger Pielke Jr. has produced a beautifully clear account of the often murky relationship between scientific advice and the policy process. While his distinction between pure scientist, science arbiter, issue advocate, and honest broker may not fully satisfy purists in Science and Technology Studies (STS), it ought to be compulsory reading for every science graduate and all decision makers in government, business, the judiciary, or campaigning groups who claim that their decisions are rooted in scientific evidence. It is also an invaluable guide to the ordinary citizen who just wants to navigate through the confusion and contradiction that often seems to surround the use of science in policy debates.

Steve Rayner, James Martin Professor of Science and Civilization, University of Oxford

Decision-making can be an important problem, both in everyday life and when science, politics and policy are involved. The Honest Broker broadens the options of decision-making by going beyond the traditional roles of the 'pure scientist' or the 'issue advocate'. Scientific knowledge can be integrated with stakeholder concerns if the policy context is taken into account in an adequate way. Based on extensive experience in the analysis of decision-making relating to scientific and technological issues, Roger Pielke Jr. goes a long way to be an honest broker himself: between science and democracy.

Helga Nowotny, Vice-President of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council and Fellow at Wissenschaftszentrum Wien

Should be available in a week or so, here is the Amazon link to order the paperback version.

Posted on March 24, 2007 11:55 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

March 12, 2007

We Interrupt this Spring Break . . .

. . . to bring you a link to an article titled "The Convenient Truth" by Jonathan Rauch in the National Journal on climate policy. Now back to the blogging break . . .

Posted on March 12, 2007 03:43 PM View this article | Comments (4)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

March 01, 2007

. . . Meantime, Buy This Book!

Out any day now:

hb.jpg

Posted on March 1, 2007 02:23 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

Spring Break . . .

I'll be taking a spring blogging break . . . back in April! But stay tuned, Kevin is in charge while I'm offline.

Posted on March 1, 2007 02:19 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Site News

February 28, 2007

Spinning Science

We have had a lot of discussion here about the process of producing press releases. Last month, I participated in a congressional hearing in which several scientists argued strongly that official press releases should be faithful to the science being reported. A press release put out by the University of Wisconsin today is a case of a press release completely misrepresenting the science in the paper that it is presenting. I am going to speculate that because the press release errs on the side of emphasizing a global warming connection where there is in fact none indicated in the paper that there will be little concern expressed by the scientific community about its inaccuracies.

UPDATE: NSF issues its own release "New Information Links Atlantic Ocean Warming to Stronger Hurricanes" compounding the misrepresentation. The NSF release (like the UW version) contradicts its own headline:

The Atlantic is also unique in that the physical variables that converge to form hurricanes--including wind speeds, wind directions and temperatures--mysteriously feed off each other to make conditions ripe for a storm. But scientists don't understand why, Kossin adds.

The press release is titled: "New evidence that global warming fuels stronger Atlantic hurricanes." The first paragraph of the release says:

Atmospheric scientists have uncovered fresh evidence to support the hotly debated theory that global warming has contributed to the emergence of stronger hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.

The paper, by Jim Kossin and colleagues appears in today's Geophysical Research Letters and actually says nothing like this (paper here in PDF). It does say the following:

**Over the past 23 years there are no global trends in tropical cyclone activity in any basin except the Atlantic. This is an important finding because it contradicts the findings presented in 2005 by Webster et al. that there have been global trends. Kossin et al. call into question a straightforward relationship of SST and tropical cyclone activity. This is news.

**The paper does find the Atlantic to be more active over the past 23 years. No one in the world has ever questioned whether or not the Atlantic has been more active over the past 3 decades. Any assertion that the Atlantic has become more active is hardly "fresh evidence." This is not news.

*The paper does not engage in attribution, and openly admits that a 23-year record is too short for attribution studies (i.e., that indicate causes of trends).

Here is what Kossin et al. say in their conclusion:

Efforts are presently underway to maximize the length of our new homogeneous data record but at most we can add another 6–7 years, and whether meaningful trends can be measured or inferred in a 30-year data record remains very much an open question. Given these limitations of the data, the question of whether hurricane intensity is globally trending upwards in a warming climate will likely remain a point of debate in the foreseeable future. Still, the very real and dangerous increases in recent Atlantic hurricane activity will no doubt continue to provide a heightened sense of purpose to research addressing how hurricane behavior might change in our changing climate, and further efforts toward improvement of archival data quality are expected to continue in parallel with efforts to better reconcile the physical processes involved. If our 23-year record is in fact representative of the longer record, then we need to better understand why hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin is varying in a fundamentally different way than the rest of the world despite similar upward trends of SST in each basin.

The University of Wisconsin press release is either a cheap publicity grab or a deliberate attempt to spin the paper's results 180 degrees from what it actually says.

Success-Oriented Planning at NASA

NASA is delaying the next launch of the space shuttle due to a hail storm that damaged the external tank. However, according to NASA this delay won't cause any problems meeting their launch schedule this year:

[N. Wayne Hale Jr., the shuttle program manager, in a briefing from Cape Canaveral, Fla.] said that despite the latest delay he believed that the launching schedule had enough flexibility to allow the five flights that are planned for this year.

Anyone want to bet that NASA will in fact launch the shuttle 5 times in the last 7 months of 2007? Consider the following data from a paper we did in 1992 (PDF):

shuttle.png

NASA is either fooling themselves or fooling us. Neither is a particualrly good way to run the nation's space program.

Posted on February 28, 2007 08:35 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy

February 27, 2007

Science, Politics, Variability, Change, Learning, Uncertainty

The issue of floodplain management in the city of Boulder reflects in microcosm many of the themes that we discuss on this site. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Daily Camera today:

Boulder's water board approved a flood plan Monday that predicts hundreds more homes and businesses will be inundated in a 100-year flood than previously believed.

But the new flood study predicts the University of Colorado's South Campus property will stay dry in a 100-year flood, worrying residents who don't want to see the former gravel mine developed.

The city's current map places 363 structures in the flood plain. The new study predicts more than three times as many buildings — 1,137 — would take on some level of water in a 100-year flood, which has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year.

Some issues raised by this circumstance:

1. The climate varies and changes faster than the built environment. Yesterday's "100-year flood" is today's "50-year flood." Any flood policy based on the assumption of long-term stasis in climate is bound to fail.

2. Scientific understandings change faster than the built environment. Policies should be flexible to the possibility that we may learn more in the future, and such learning may result in revisions to our expectations for risks and vulnerabilities. Any policy that is based on an assumption that we know all we are going to is likely to fail.

3. People have different vested interests in particular scientific outcomes. In Boulder, people with different views about development have strong feelings about how the floodplain should be designated, based on how they think that will affect the chances of development. It would be foolish to think that such considerations can be ignored or kept separate from the political process of designating floodplain restrictions.

4. All important decisions are characterized by some degree of uncertainty. An important analytical question is not whether we can remove uncertainty (we can of course by chose to ignore it), but to design decision processes that are robust in the face of uncertainties.

The case study of flood policy in Boulder, Colorado reflects all of these issues.

Posted on February 27, 2007 07:19 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty

University of Colorado Sustainability Initiatives

Not long ago we raised some questions about how well the University of Colorado's commitment to sustainability was actually being reflected in actions. Recent remarks by our Chancellor, G.P. "Bud" Peterson, at a conference on sustainability last week suggest that our campus leadership is in fact now taking this issue seriously. Here is an excerpt:

First, on behalf of CU-Boulder I have pledged to participate in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC), which will solidify our goal of reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. CU-Boulder will begin immediately, a detailed inventory of our current emissions; then, within two years, the campus will outline short and long-term strategies for emission reductions to reach the PCC goal of "climate neutrality" - zero net GHG.

This is a bold challenge, but CU-Boulder has an excellent record to build upon. Today, the University purchases 10 percent of the campus's electricity from renewable sources, and we have reduced our electrical consumption by 13 percent per square foot since 2001. In addition, CU-Boulder has helped to generate 3.2 million rides per year on RTD buses through participation in RTD's Ecopass program, created a recycling program that is diverting 1600 tons from landfills annually (and has saved the campus about $2.4 million in avoided costs over the past three years alone) and pioneered water conservation programs that save over 110 million gallons annually on campus.

Most of all, our students are to be credited for their leadership in helping to make the recently completed ATLAS building at CU-Boulder the first public building in the state of Colorado to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification - one of only seven buildings statewide to achieve such a designation.

With the need for a centralized heating and cooling facility to be built, we must take new and stronger measures to offset our purchase of electricity from sources that increase our carbon output. To assist in this process, I am pleased to announce that in the next fiscal year, we will begin investing $250,000 annually in projects to reduce campus energy consumption, particularly electrical consumption. At some point in the near future, we expect we may seek new funds or a reallocation of a portion of the $250,000 for renewable energy production systems on campus properties or close to the campus.

I am also asking that investments beyond the $250,000 per year be considered for future funding as a pressing campus priority in order to aggressively pursue options for greatly reducing CU-Boulder's GHG emissions. To offset our carbon output in the meantime, our campus has committed to spending an additional $50,000 per year for the purchase of renewable wind energy.

Finally, I am pleased to announce one more measure that I believe will lay the groundwork for even more progress toward sustainability. That is the establishment of the Chancellor's Committee on Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CCEES), a working group to be led by Vice Chancellor for Administration Paul Tabolt, charged with setting sustainability goals for the campus and advising the university on all environmental matters.

Posted on February 27, 2007 06:52 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Sustainability

February 26, 2007

State Climatologists Redux

Let's start by acknowledging that the position of "State Climatologist" is problematic simply because it is federally designated role and not an official state government position. So there is ample room for confusion as to who the person in the position actually speaks for, and NOAA should indeed address this -- which could easily be done by changing the title to "NOAA-designated climate services extension officer" or something inscrutable like that. Even so, a statement like the following should concern anyone, regardless of their views on climate change:

Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my my administration.

. . . from a 13 February 2007 letter (PDF) from Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner to Delaware's State Climatologist, as designated by the federal government and approved by the State of Delaware (PDF), David Legates.

It seems fairly obvious to me that if Governor Minner is truly concerned about the confusion between the federal designation and the Delaware executive branch, then she should be discussing with NOAA options for changing its use of the designation "State Climatologist" rather than telling Mr. Legates not to use the federal designation, which the state has previously approved under her own signature. The letter she has written to Mr. Legates makes it look like her concern is in fact not possible confusion about the designation, but instead the fact that David Legates holds different views on policy than those of her administration. If she wants to have advisers on climate change determined by political criteria, that is of course her right.

I can imagine that if the Bush Administration sent the exact same letter to Jim Hansen, there might be some greater reaction than we have seen to Ms. Minner's letter.

My reactions to this letter, and (non) reactions to it, echo my concerns with the approach that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has take to overseeing the issue of the politicization of science. If the concern is really procedural -- that is, who gets to speak what information under what designation -- then the response should be focused on improving those procedures. The selective focus on certain individuals and certain perspectives instead makes these complaints about the "politicization of science" themselves politicized. While this might work to the short-term advantage of certain agendas in political debate, what won't be addressed by this approach are those processes that foster the pathological politicization of science.

Posted on February 26, 2007 07:24 AM View this article | Comments (3)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

Science and the Developing World

At SciDev.net, David Dickson has a thoughtful editorial on how the scientific community and others advocating increased investments in S&T in the developing world should temper expectations on what these investments in alone can achieve. Here is an excerpt:

The current danger lies in promoting policies that see S&T as drivers of social progress and economic development, rather than components of innovation programmes in which other factors — from regulatory policy to education and training — are just as important.

The scientific community is particularly prone to this one-dimensional approach. Arguing that heavy investment in research and development is enough to promote economic growth naturally appeals to those keen to see scientific laboratories flourish across the developing world.

But experience has shown that such investment is only part of the solution. The real challenge lies in embedding science in all spheres of government policy, and introducing educational, regulatory and fiscal measures to enable innovation to flourish across the economy.

Until this happens, demands for more money for science will inevitably be seen as little more than self-interested pleading from the scientific community. [emphasis in original]

Posted on February 26, 2007 05:47 AM View this article | Comments (5)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | International | R&D Funding

February 23, 2007

IPCCfacts.org Responds

Here is the prompt and satisfactory response I received late today:

We regret that your views were misrepresented on IPCCfacts.org, and have removed the post.

The intent of the site is to follow the conversation around the IPCC
report and, where mischaracterizations about the report are made,
clearly and directly present the IPCC findings. We stand behind our
presentation of the IPCC report findings.

We regret the error.

Sincerely,

Joel Finkelstein


Posted on February 23, 2007 08:15 PM View this article | Comments (4)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

IPCCfacts.org has its Facts Wrong

There is a webpage called IPCCfacts.org that is grossly misrepresenting my views on hurricanes and climate change, which is bizarre given my strong endorsement of the recent IPCC report. Anyone wanting to get "facts" on the IPCC should look elsewhere than IPCCfacts.org, like to the actual IPCC. Here I set the record straight and request that IPCCfacts.org correct their mistakes.

It is always nice to know who is misrepresenting one’s views and it this case the group’s origins are a bit hard to discern, but it is connected to Fenton Communications, which coincidentally is also associated with RealClimate. IPCCfacts.org receives funding from the United Nations Foundation.

Anyway, IPCCfacts.org misrepresents my views on the recent IPCC report on the subject of hurricanes and climate change. As anyone who reads Prometheus knows, I was quite complementary of the IPCC’s judgment on this issue. Nonetheless, IPCCfacts.org sees fit to cite my views as representing a "myth":

Myth: The report shows that the overall number of hurricanes is expected to decline, undercutting the argument that global warming produces extreme weather events.
"So there might be a human contribution [to increased hurricanes] ... but the human contribution itself has not been quantitatively assessed, yet the experts, using their judgment, expect it to be there. In plain English this is what is called a ‘hypothesis’ and not a ‘conclusion.’ And it is a fair representation of the issue." –Roger Pielke Jr. climate scientist, University of Colorado, Blog post, February 2, 2007.

First, the report indicates that there is little confidence in estimates of how the number of hurricanes will change—up or down.

Second, the really important issue is not frequency, but intensity and damage potential. Hurricanes and other tropical cyclones draw their energy from warm ocean waters, which typically, under the right conditions, lead to increases in the size and intensity of hurricanes. The warmer ocean waters that result from global warming thus provide an environment suitable to the generation of larger hurricanes.

And larger hurricanes are characterized by all the elements that increase potential destructiveness: higher wind speed, greater intensity of rainfall and higher storm surges in advance of landfall.

In response, first a minor point -- they call me a "climate scientist" which is only accurate if one includes climate impacts under that designation, which is typically not done. I don’t characterize myself as such. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) certainly does not.

Second, the quote from me that they suggest represents a "myth" comes from this blog post. The part that they ellipsis out is the following parenthetical:

(and presumably this is just to the observed upwards trends observed in some basins, and not to downward trends observed in others, but this is unclear)

At no point (in the post that they reference or anywhere else) do I suggest that there will be less hurricanes, nor do I suggest that such a decline undercuts the argument for an increase in extreme events in the future. Where they get this impression I have no idea. This is simply a gross misrepresentation. In fact, my writings say much the opposite, such as the following (PDF):

For future decades the IPCC (2001) expects increases in the occurrence and/or intensity of some extreme events as a result of anthropogenic climate change.

Peer-reviewed papers I have co-authored (here in PDF and here in PDF) that survey the literature on tropical cyclone science, impacts, and policy are actually 100% consistent with the IPCC SPM.

And of the blog post of mine that they cite summarizing the IPCC SPM, here is what one of the scientists on the U.S. delegation had to say:

Thank you for your thoughtful and balanced assessment of what the IPCC SPM says. You have got it right. Your careful analysis on what the report says and how it compares to the WMO consensus statement is most appreciated.

Then IPCCfacts.org start talking about the size of hurricanes, a discussion which is nowhere to be found in the IPCC SPM. In short, IPCCfacts.org have got their facts wrong and are spinning some "myths" of their own.

Posted on February 23, 2007 09:00 AM View this article | Comments (12)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

Al Gore on Adaptation

From the International Herald Tribune,, Al Gore reiterates that despite many efforts to characterize adaptation and mitigation as complementary, he prefers to persist in viewing them as competing:

Trying to prevent global warming is certainly worthwhile, said Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado.

But he said capable people are not adequately putting their minds to the challenge of adapting to climate change, which is inevitable in coming decades because of continuing emissions and because of the damage done already.

"If all we do is try to mitigate we're going to miss a big part of the challenge," Pielke said.

The world's leaders also need to address other problems that are likely to be aggravated by global warming, such as tropical diseases, drinking water supply and increasing storm vulnerability, Pielke and several colleagues argued in the scientific journal Nature.

Many global warming activists are suspicious of such recommendations. They feel that too much reliance on adaptation will lull the world into a false sense of security, decreasing the motivation to reduce greenhouse gases.

"We really have to focus on prevention," Al Gore said on Tuesday during a question-and-answer session at Columbia University in New York City.

He warned that if we fail to avert the worst of global warming, the dire environmental consequences will overwhelm any adaptive measures.

We've had a number of prominent people react in private to our recent article on adaptation in Nature (PDF) by suggesting that we really should have emphasized mitigation instead.

I wonder how many criticisms of Mr. Gore's exclusive focus on "prevention" (sorry, prevention is not in the cards, ask the IPCC) we will hear about. My guess is not more than one -- and you're looking at it. Lots of inconvenient truths to go around, it seems.

Posted on February 23, 2007 01:56 AM View this article | Comments (39)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Catastrophic Visions

The last time that we pointed to an essay by Brad Allenby of ASU it generated much thoughtful discussion. I expect no different from this provocative piece in the latest CSPO Newsletter from ASU titled Dueling Elites and Catastrophic Visions. Here is an excerpt:

. . . consider two of the primary dialogs of our times that, while superficially quite different, are in fact disconcertingly similar in intent and tone. One is the current U.S. Administration’s insistence on a continuing and inescapable threat of ubiquitous and unpredictable terrorism, a campaign which appears designed to create on-going fear and insecurity in the population. (That the cultural animosity underlying increases in anti-US attitudes is to a significant degree a result of Administration choices and policy is either supreme irony or Machiavellian brilliance, depending on who one listens to.) This campaign is characterized by constant reference to worst case scenarios (e.g., nuclear attack on an American city), patterns of government intervention in common activities that reinforce a siege mentality while providing no obvious additional protection against threats (e.g., certain TSA procedures and requirements at airports), few public details regarding actual threats or specific situations, and the implicit message that the current state of affairs will persist for the indefinite future.

The second is the significant acceleration in stories and publicity regarding predictions of planetary disaster as a result of human activities, especially global warming. This challenge is characterized in remarkably similar terms as the terrorist threat: ubiquitous and uncertain with a potential for unexpected disaster, an emphasis on worst case scenarios, and suggestions that extraordinary government intervention is required and justified because all other values pale in comparison to the threat. So, for example, Vice President Gore recently stated that global warming was "infinitely" worse than the Iraq quagmire, while UK environment secretary David Miliband suggests issuing all British adults with annual carbon allowances. Indeed, the UK government has formed a study group to report back on the idea; Nature (442:340) reports that researchers favor such quotas as "a sensible way to extend emissions trading to the personal level." The connection between social engineering and environmental disaster as lever could scarcely be clearer. Similarly, a recent report in Science notes the reluctance of some climate scientists to consider geoengineering solutions to global climate change not because they don’t work, but because they don’t require social engineering (314:401-403). As one European climate scientist complains, "You’re papering over the problem [by even considering geoengineering options] so people can keep inflicting damage on the climate system without having to give up fossil fuels." Whether scientists should arrogate to themselves the responsibility for deciding for everyone that fossil fuels should be given up, as opposed to other alternatives to managing climate change, is apparently not to be subject to dialog.

Posted on February 23, 2007 01:30 AM View this article | Comments (1)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Risk & Uncertainty

February 22, 2007

Where Stern is Right and Wrong

The Christian Science Monitor adds a few interesting details to Nicolas Stern's recent U.S. visit. On mitigation Stern explains why the debate over the science of climate change is in fact irrelevant:

Even if climate change turned out to be the biggest hoax in history, Stern argues, the world will still be better off with all the new technologies it will develop to combat it.

If mitigation can indeed be justified on factors other than climate change, which I think it can, then why not bring these factors more centrally into the debate?

Stern also dismissed two other arguments for inaction: that humans will easily adapt to climate change and that its effects are too far in the future to address now. Putting the burden of dealing with climate change on future generations is "unethical," Stern said.

Once again adaptation is being downplayed as somehow being in opposition to mitigation. Stern may in fact believe that we need to both adapt and mitigate, but that is certainly not what is conveyed here. The Stern Review itself adopted a very narrow view of adaptation as reflecting the costs of failed mitigation. When framed in this narrow way there is no alternative than to characterize adaptation and mitigation as trade-offs, and in today's political climate guess which one loses out?

February 21, 2007

Mike Hulme in Nature on UK Media Coverage of the IPCC

Nature published a letter in its current issue on media coverage of the recent IPCC report. The book he refers to is co-edited by our own Lisa Dilling. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

Nature 445, 818 (22 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/445818b; Published online 21 February 2007

Newspaper scare headlines can be counter-productive

Mike Hulme
Tyndall Centre, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

. . . Communicating science to wider, public audiences, however — in this case on matters of important public policy — is an art that requires careful message management and tone setting. It seems that confident and salient science, as presented by the IPCC, may be received by the public in non-productive ways, depending on the intervening media.

With this in mind, I examined the coverage of the IPCC report in the ten main national UK newspapers for Saturday 3 February, the day after the report was released. Only one newspaper failed to run at least one story on the report (one newspaper ran seven stories), but what was most striking was the tone.

The four UK 'quality' newspapers all ran front-page headlines conveying a message of rising anxiety: "Final warning", "Worse than we thought", "New fears on climate raise heat on leaders" and "Only man can stop climate disaster". And all nine newspapers introduced one or more of the adjectives "catastrophic", "shocking", "terrifying" or "devastating" in their various qualifications of climate change. Yet none of these words exist in the report, nor were they used in the scientists' presentations in Paris. Added to the front-page vocabulary of "final", "fears", "worse" and "disaster", they offer an insight into the likely response of the 20 million Britons who read these newspapers.

In contrast, an online search of some leading newspapers in the United States suggests a different media discourse. Thus, on the same day, one finds these headlines: "UN climate panel says warming is man-made", "New tack on global warming", "Warming report builds support for action" and "The basics: ever firmer statements on global warming". This suggests a more neutral representation in the United States of the IPCC's key message, and a tone that facilitates a less loaded or frenzied debate about options for action.

Campaigners, media and some scientists seem to be appealing to fear in order to generate a sense of urgency. If they want to engage the public in responding to climate change, this is unreliable at best and counter-productive at worst. As Susanne Moser and Lisa Dilling point out in Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), such appeals often lead to denial, paralysis, apathy or even perverse reactive behaviour.

The journey from producing confident assessments of scientific knowledge to a destination of induced social change is a tortuous one, fraught with dangers and many blind alleys. The challenging policy choices that lie ahead will not be well served by the type of loaded reporting of science seen in the UK media described above.

Have We Entered a Post-Analysis Phase of the Climate Debate?

The New York Times today has an interesting summary of a debate between Sir Nicolas Stern and Professor William Nordhaus of Yale University on the economics of climate change. The article raises the question, for me at least, at what point do policy analyses cease to matter? In the language of my forthcoming book -- The Honest Broker -- has climate politics become "abortion politics"? The answer to my own question is that, yes, we may indeed be in a situation where analysis is viewed as being more useful as a tool of persuasion than clarifying the consequences of a wide range of alternative courses of action. In such a situation policy analyses will be far less important than the political dynamics.

A recent example of such a situation that will be familiar to most readers is when the Bush Administration decided to invade Iraq and then fixed the intelligence to meet the policy. Any analysis that supported invasion, regardless of its intellectual merits, then became "right" even if for the "wrong reasons." Sure, some policy analyses were still needed after that decision, for instance, to determine whether 110,000 versus 130,000 troops would be needed. But I view this as a far different sort of analysis than focusing analytical attention on the broad question of what might have been done about Saddam Hussein. In that situation, once the politics were settled, then such wide-ranging analyses became completely irrelevant. But arguably that is exactly the sort of analysis that mattered most of all and for the lack of which were are suffering today Climate change, of course some will say, is different.

Here is an excerpt from the Times article, which describes these dynamics:

Technically, then, Sir Nicholas’s opponents win the debate. But in practical terms, their argument has a weak link. They are assuming that the economic gains from, say, education will make future generations rich enough to make up for any damage caused by climate change. Sea walls will be able to protect cities; technology can allow crops to grow in new ways; better medicines can stop the spread of disease.

No one knows whether this is true, let alone desirable, because no one knows what life will be like on a planet that is five degrees hotter. "If ever there was an example where there was uncertainty, this is it," said Martin L. Weitzman, a Harvard economist who attended the debate.

While sitting there, I was reminded of the speeches that Alan Greenspan gave a few years ago about the risks of deflation. It wasn’t the most likely outcome, he said, but the consequences of it could be so bad that policy makers had to take steps to prevent it. Focusing attention on this point — the catastrophic risks of climate change — is Sir Nicholas’s biggest accomplishment, whatever you think of his math.

As Mr. Weitzman puts it, the Stern Review is "right for the wrong reasons."

Even its critics seem open to this idea. When Mr. Nordhaus and Sir Nicholas were exchanging e-mail messages before the debate — to their credit, some academics keep their arguments from becoming personal — Mr. Nordhaus sent a note that summed up his view. “I think it’s a great study, but it’s 50 years ahead of its time,” he recalled writing. "Since everybody else is 50 years behind the times, if you average the two, you might come out just right."

In other words, it’s time for a tax on carbon emissions.

Once your have the political answer in hand, analysis then ceases to be a tool that provides insight on alternatives and then becomes a tool of marketing, and sometimes a way to limit debate. Harvard's Martin Weitzman acknowledges this explicitly in the review paper (here in PDF) on Stern cited in the Times article:

The Stern Review is a political document –in Keynes’s phrase an essay in persuasion –as much as it is an economic analysis, and in fairness it needs ultimately to be judged by both standards. To its great credit the Review supports very strongly the politically- unpalatable idea, which no politician planning to remain in office anywhere wants to hear, that the world needs desperately to start confronting the reality that burning carbon has a significant externality cost that should be taken into account by being charged full-freight for doing it. (This should have been, but of course was not, the most central “inconvenient truth”of all in Al Gore'’s tale about inconvenient climate-change truths.) As the Review puts it, “establishing a carbon price, through tax, trading, or regulation, is an essential foundation for climate-change policy.” One can only wish that U.S. political leaders might have the wisdom to understand and the courage to act upon the breathtakingly-simple relatively-market-friendly idea that the right carbon tax could do much more to unleash the decentralized power of greedy, self seeking, capitalistic American inventive genius on the problem of developing commercially-feasible carbon-avoiding alternative technologies than all of the command-and-control schemes and patchwork subsidies making the rounds in Washington these days. As I have made clear here, a generous interpretation might also credit the Stern Review with intuiting the greater significance of insuring against catastrophic uncertainty than of consumption smoothing for the climate problem, even if this intuition remains subliminal and does not formally enter the analysis through the front door.

To be honest about the economic-analysis side, the Stern Review predetermines the outcome in favor of strong immediate action to curtail greenhouse gas emissions by creating a very low value of r ~1.4% via the indirect route of picking parameter values   p ~ 0 and n~ 1   1that are more like theoretically-reasoned extreme lower bounds than empirically-plausible estimates of representative tastes. In this sense, it must be said staightforwardly that the subconsiously-reverse-engineered output of PAGE and the goal-oriented formal economic analysis of the Review are not worth a great deal. But we have also seen that a fair recognition of the truth that we are genuinely uncertain about what interest rate should be used to discount costs and benefits of climate changes a century from now brings discounting rates down from conventional values r  6% to much lower values of perhaps r ~  2-3%, which would create a more intermediate sense of urgency somewhere between what the Stern
Review is advocating and the more modest measures to slow global warming advocated by its mainstream critics. The important remaining caveat is that such an intermediate position is still grounded in a conventional deterministic consumption-smoothing approach to the
economic analysis of climate change that, at least formally, ignores the issue of what to do about catastrophe insurance against the possibility of rare disasters.

On the political side of the Stern Review, my most charitable interpretation of its urgent tone is that the report is an essay in persuasion that is more about gut instincts regarding the horrors of uncertain rare disasters whose probabilities we do not know than it is about economic analysis as that term is conventionally understood. Although it is difficult enough to analyze people’s motives, much less the motives of a 600-page document, I can’'t help but think after reading it that the strong tone of morality and alarm is mostly reflecting a fear of what is potentially out there with greenhouse warming in (using ponderous terminology here to make sure the thought is exact) “the inherently-thick left tail of the reduced-form posterior-predictive probability distribution of the growth rate of a comprehensive measure of consumption that includes the natural environment.” I have argued that this inherently- thick left tail of g is an important aspect of the economics of climate change that every analyst –Stern and the critics of Stern –might do well to try to address more directly. History will judge whether the economic analysis of the Stern Review was more wrong or more right, and, if it was more right, whether as pure economic analysis it was right for the right reasons or it was right for the wrong reasons.

February 20, 2007

Al Gore 2008, Part 3: Washington Post on California Energy

The Washington Post has an excellent article on California’s energy policies (Thanks BK!), which adds some context to our ongoing analysis explaining why Al Gore will be the next president of the United States. Here are several key excerpts:

Do 2004 Blue states in fact have higher energy costs?

The reason for California's success is no secret: Electricity there is expensive, so people use less of it. Thanks to its use of pricey renewables and natural gas and its spurning of cheap coal, California's rates are almost 13 cents a kilowatt hour, according to the Energy Information Administration. The other most-energy-frugal states, such as New Jersey and New Hampshire, charge about 12 cents and 14 cents a kilowatt hour, respectively. Hawaii, which relies on oil-fired plants, tops EIA's list at about 21 cents.

"If the history of energy consumption in the U.S. has taught us anything, it is that cost drives conservation," says Chris Cooper, executive director of the Network for New Energy Choices.

Three of the nation's most profligate users of energy -- Wyoming, Kentucky and Alabama -- have one thing in common: low prices. Their electricity prices range from 5.25 cents a kilowatt hour to 7.06 cents, according to the EIA.

"What's dirt cheap tends to get treated like dirt," Rosenfeld says.

The District, also a wasteful user of energy, has a rate of 10.70 cents a kilowatt hour, only after recent rate increases. Virginia charges average 6.78 cents, and Maryland is at 10.03 cents.

Answer: Yes, consider:

CA, NJ, NH, HI, MD = Blue
WY, KY, VA, AL = Red

What are some of the effects of increasing energy prices?

Many manufacturers complain that the high electricity prices make the state an unappealing place to do business. Since 2001, California has lost 375,000 manufacturing jobs, a 19.9 percent drop that slightly exceeded the nationwide decline of 17 percent. Some firms -- such as Buck Knives, with 250 jobs, or bottle manufacturer Bomatic, with 100 jobs -- moved to states such as Idaho or Utah, where they said expenses, including energy, were lower.

Gino DiCaro, a spokesman for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, says manufacturing investment is also "stalled" because of uncertainty about how the new legislation authorizing limits on greenhouse gases will affect energy costs.

"We've lost a lot of manufacturing jobs and we can't replace them," says DiCaro. While it's hard to blame the state's high energy costs alone, he says, "we know that . . . energy is one of the largest portions of a manufacturer's operating budget."

But at some point do high prices become a virtue?

But for those homeowners and businesses staying in California, the high prices have provided a big incentive for greater efficiency.

Laura Scher, chief executive of Working Assets, a wireless, long distance and credit card company that donates part of its revenue to socially progressive organizations, said she checked her home's meter every week during the electricity crisis in the summer of 2001 and unplugged her family's second refrigerator. "Part of it is our prices got really high," she said. But she added that California's habits go back much further. "It's sort of a culture to be an energy conserver here," she said.


Prediction in Science and Policy

In the New York Times today Corneila Dean has an article about a new book by Orrin Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis on the role of predictions in decision making. The book is titled Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future.

Here is an excerpt from the book’s description at Columbia University Press:

Writing for the general, nonmathematician reader and using examples from throughout the environmental sciences, Pilkey and Pilkey-Jarvis show how unquestioned faith in mathematical models can blind us to the hard data and sound judgment of experienced scientific fieldwork. They begin with a riveting account of the extinction of the North Atlantic cod on the Grand Banks of Canada. Next they engage in a general discussion of the limitations of many models across a broad array of crucial environmental subjects.

The book offers fascinating case studies depicting how the seductiveness of quantitative models has led to unmanageable nuclear waste disposal practices, poisoned mining sites, unjustifiable faith in predicted sea level rise rates, bad predictions of future shoreline erosion rates, overoptimistic cost estimates of artificial beaches, and a host of other thorny problems. The authors demonstrate how many modelers have been reckless, employing fudge factors to assure "correct" answers and caring little if their models actually worked.

A timely and urgent book written in an engaging style, Useless Arithmetic evaluates the assumptions behind models, the nature of the field data, and the dialogue between modelers and their "customers."

Naomi Oreskes offers the following praise quote:

Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis argue that many models are worse than useless, providing a false sense of security and an unwarranted confidence in our scientific expertise. Regardless of how one responds to their views, they can't be ignored. A must-read for anyone seriously interested in the role of models in contemporary science and policy.

In an interview the authors comment:

The problem is not the math itself, but the blind acceptance and even idolatry we have applied to the quantitative models. These predictive models leave citizens befuddled and unable to defend or criticize model-based decisions. We argue that we should accept the fact that we live in a qualitative world when it comes to natural processes. We must rely on qualitative models that predict only direction, trends, or magnitudes of natural phenomena, and accept the possibility of being imprecise or wrong to some degree. We should demand that when models are used, the assumptions and model simplifications are clearly stated. A better method in many cases will be adaptive management, where a flexible approach is used, where we admit there are uncertainties down the road and we watch and adapt as nature rolls on.

I have not yet read the book, but I will.

Orrin participated in our project on Prediction in the Earth Sciences in the late 1990s, contributing a chapter on beach nourishment. The project resulted in this book:

Sarewitz, D., R.A. Pielke, Jr., and R. Byerly, Jr., (eds.) 2000: Prediction: Science, decision making and the future of nature, Island Press, Washington, DC.

Our last chapter can be found here in PDF.

Posted on February 20, 2007 10:20 AM View this article | Comments (5)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Prediction and Forecasting

February 18, 2007

Al Gore 2008, Part 2: A Comparison with the 2004 Evangelical Wedge

Last Friday I speculated that Al Gore will win the 2008 presidency in no small part due to the emergence of climate change as a wedge issue. A wedge issue well used in a political campaign will serve to split your opposition's base and lead to a turn-out advantage among those motivated to vote. As a Pew Research analysis explained:

In electoral politics, however, what often matters most in measuring an issue's potential impact is not whether a great many people care about it, but whether even a relatively small number care about it enough to base their vote on it. Indeed, the classic "wedge issue" is one that draws more of one kind of partisan than another to the polls.

So to explore this issue further I thought I'd compare the climate issue to evangelicals in the population. In the 2004 election the mobilization of evangelical voters was widely attributed as a successful strategy for George W. Bush. Here is what I found.

First, I gathered data on the self-described proportion of voters who call themselves 'evangelical" from a poll taken in 2003-200 by the Annenberg Center (here in PDF). The following graph, left panel, compares the ranking of Evangelical voters with rank in percentage of 2004 presidential vote received by George W. Bush. Note that data was available for only 34 states. The right panel repeats the graph I presented in the earlier Gore post comparing the ranking of per capita CO2 emissions with rank in percentage of 2004 presidential vote received by George W. Bush.

redblue3.png

The rank correlation between evangelicals and Bush vote is 0.69. Recall that it was 0.67 between per capita CO2 and Bush vote. Very interesting! (Note Ohio and Florida in that swing-state zone.)

Now compare the distribution of states in the following chart, color coded to represent the vote outcome in the 2004 election.

redblue4.png

So what should you take from this comparison? If evangelical issues did indeed serve as a "wedge issue" in 2004 to the benefit the Republicans and George W. Bush, then the baseline conditions for the climate issue leading to 2008 suggest that it is equally amenable to exploitation for political gain among the Democrats, but particularly (and perhaps uniquely) for Al Gore.

Posted on February 18, 2007 10:10 AM View this article | Comments (14)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

Some Sunday NASA News Vignettes

A few items on NASA stitched together . . .

In a Q&A with the New York Times Sunday Magazine, NASA’s Drew Shindell predicts that we’ll know less about the climate system if his group at NASA doesn’t get more funding:

If your department is that politicized, how does that affect research? Well, five years from now, we will know less about our home planet that we know now. The future does not have money set aside to maintain even the current level of observations. There were proposals for lots of climate-monitoring instruments, most of which have been canceled.

To understand NASA’s budget priorities doesn’t require one to be a rocket scientist. This Reuter’s news story contains what may be the most laughable cost estimate from NASA that I’ve seen in a long time, for deflecting a killer asteroid from hitting the Earth.

[Former NASA astronaut Rusty] Schweickart wants to see the United Nations adopt procedures for assessing asteroid threats and deciding if and when to take action.

The favored approach to dealing with a potentially deadly space rock is to dispatch a spacecraft that would use gravity to alter the asteroid's course so it no longer threatens Earth, said astronaut Ed Lu, a veteran of the International Space Station.

The so-called Gravity Tractor could maintain a position near the threatening asteroid, exerting a gentle tug that, over time, would deflect the asteroid.

An asteroid the size of Apophis, which is about 460 feet long, would take about 12 days of gravity-tugging, Lu added.

Mission costs are estimated at $300 million.

NASA’s track record of cost and schedule performance does not lead one to optimism about any projection of costs, as indicated by this report from the Seattle Times:

Boeing received a bonus of $425.3 million — 92 percent of the potential award — for work on the international space station that ran eight years late and cost more than twice what was expected, according to federal auditors.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report set for release today that the fee was paid on a $13.4 billion so-called "cost-plus" contract where NASA reimburses all costs and pays a bonus for exceptional performance. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin received similar bonuses for troubled programs.

"NASA paid most of the available fee on all of the contracts we reviewed — including on projects that showed cost increases, schedule delays and technical problems," the GAO said in its report for U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who chairs the House Science Committee.

Maybe they should have instead sent that bonus money to Dr. Shindell’s lab. Alternatively, if in fact we’ll know less in five years, maybe we should stop climate research altogether, as it seems like we know a lot right now . . .

Posted on February 18, 2007 08:08 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Space Policy

Should I Care About Cognitive Misers Fighting Over My Wikipedia Biography?

Some time ago a few of my students emailed me (from a bar somewhere I believe) to alert me to the fact that I had a Wikipedia biography page. I had known this already because one of the site administrators had emailed me for a photo. I never though much of it, but my students seemed to think it was cool (or maybe they were laughing at me, it is sometimes hard to tell;-).

It has recently come to my attention that over the past few months some folks are engaged in a minor skirmish over my biography, something I assume is fairly common on biographies, and elsewhere in Wikipedia (Politicization of knowledge? Go figure). It appears that some anonymous people are using the biography to try to paint me as a . . . Republican (cue breaking glass!;-). (Perhaps they are some of the less thoughtful Grist readers, as opposed to most who comment there, where character assassination in mainline posts appears to be accepted behavior.)

First, let’s state for the record that such insinuations are simply wrong. I suppose they are advanced by the disingenuous for the benefit of a small set of cognitive misers for whom such labels are useful shortcuts that help to avoid actually engaging in the substance of my academic policy work. Apparently some feel threatened enough by my work enough to try to influence how I am publicly perceived. To get a sense of the sort of juvenile editorial changes taking place over there, one recent edit removed references to liberal-leaning groups who had favorably cited my work.

I typically don’t pay much attention to such things because the folks who care only about assigning political labels in litmus-test fashion are probably not the ones who are going to be too interested in policy analyses anyway. After all, why spend the time understanding nuances of a complex topic when a pejorative political label is available as a convenient mental shortcut? We saw some of this from the rabid right in the (mostly deleted) comments here on my recent post about Al Gore.

I have also recently learned that Wikipedia frowns upon an individual editing their own biography, which seems fair, so rather than seek to create a more accurate page myself, I have decided to ask Prometheus readers if this is an issue I should even be concerned about, and if so, what to do about it.

I don’t have much quibble about the details of the specific facts presented in the current entry. But the facts selected for highlighting do cherry pick one of literally hundreds of media appearances (i.e., Fox News) and one of hundreds of articles (i.e, Regulation), I suppose the selectivity is to make the point that I have at times interacted with people on the political right. (Shock! Horror!) For the record, I was happy to accept an interview with Fox News (as I do with most all requests from the media) as their viewers (in my opinion) would benefit from hearing about the stuff we do, just like CNN viewers (for whom I have also appeared). And I also happily accepted an invitation to rework one of my peer-reviewed articles for Regulation (published by the libertarian Cato Institute) as their readers (in my opinion) would also benefit from hearing about the stuff we do, just like The New Republic readers (for whom I’ve also published).

To be absolutely clear, as a policy scholar I am happy to have people from any political persuasion show in interest in our work, and I’ll continue to write for and speak with people who are interested that come from a range of perspectives -- Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Republican, Socialist, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, etc. etc.. I won't give in to efforts to intimidate by casting perjorative political labels. Ideally, members of all of these political parties will see the inescapable wisdom is our work, though I won't hold my breath;-) And for the most part I’ll also continue to ignore the more inane criticisms.

So my question, Prometheus readers, is: should I care about the Wikipedia biography?

Posted on February 18, 2007 01:50 AM View this article | Comments (34)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

February 16, 2007

Why Al Gore Will be the Next President of the United States

Al Gore will be the next president of the United States. He will win with at least 293 electoral votes, and perhaps in a landslide. This post explains why.

Last week I posted up a graph from The Economist that I found intriguing. The graph showed how California’s electricity usage was about half the national average and even less than the average in the "Red States" (i.e., those that voted Republican in the 2004 Presidential election). In the comments astute Prometheus readers pointed out some important issues, and this motivated me to look at some data a bit more closely and here is what I found and why I think it is important. This post is intended to motivate discussion and comment. My students can tell you how well I predicted the last presidential election;-)

The difference in per capita carbon dioxide emissions between Red and Blue states (from the 2004 elections) is startling (data on CO2 emissions expressed in million metric tons available here in xls. and state population data available here in .xls, and in this analysis I use 2003 values. Election data is from CNN.com).

Red State

Mean (state): 31.7
Median (state): 24.4

Blue State

Mean (state): 15.2
Median (state): 14.4

This means that in 2004 the per-state carbon dioxide emissions in states that voted for George Bush were about twice as large on a per capita basis than those in states that voted for John Kerry. The figure below shows a scatter plot of where each of the 50 states ranks (from 1 to 50) on per capita carbon dioxide emissions and the share of the popular vote won by George W. Bush in 2004. The correlation is a stunning 0.67.

redblue1.png

Global climate change was a non-issue in the 2004 elections, so this relationship was a correlate of other factors that determined the election and therefore not a direct factor in the election outcome. It does however provide a baseline for understanding the role of carbon dioxide emissions in the politics of the 2008 election.

2008 will be different than 2004. Elites have decided that global climate change is an issue worth politicizing, that is to say, worth making an issue in politics. Therefore, carbon dioxide emissions will be an issue in the 2008 election.

Obvious point #1: Policy proposals focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions all involve placing a cost on carbon. Proposals that have been advanced include a cap (on total emissions) and trade (of permits to emit under the cap), a carbon tax, incentives to adopt renewables (e.g., RPS), and others. The specifics matter less than the fact that all involve adding costs to emissions that today are not present (other than as externalities).

Obvious point #2: Additional costs on carbon dioxide emissions will disproportionately hit those voters (and businesses that employ voters) in states with high carbon emissions per capita. Now individual voters may not be so sensitized to this issue. But industry, professional associations, state elected officials and agency officials, national politicians, and others whose careers are based on the provision and use of energy will surely be aware of this issue and its consequences. It is true that some in industry, even in the energy industry, have joined the calls for action on carbon dioxide. But it seems reasonable to think that the smaller the cost (or perceived cost) of policies on carbon dioxide, the more likely that such policies will be accepted. Similarly, the higher the costs, the greater the likelihood of opposition.

Consider the following table which shows the 50 states listed with highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions at the top to the lowest at the bottom, shaded to indicate how they voted in the 2004 presidential election. With few exceptions the higher per capita emitting states voted Republican and vice versa.

redblue2.png

It is likely that no matter what happens, in 2008 the reddest red states will likely stay red and the bluest blue states will stay blue. This leaves two categories of states to consider, outliers and swing states.

The outliers include Idaho (50th in per capita CO2 emissions, 2nd highest in 2004 vote share to George Bush), Pennsylvania (19 and 33), Florida (40 and 15), Arizona (37 and 25), Delaware (22 and 39), and Virginia (35 and 23). I am going to assume that ID, DE, and PA are unlikely to change in 2008, and while FL, AZ, and VA may be in play, they don’t have to be in the scenario I am here developing.

This leaves the swing states, defined as the states in which the difference between Republican and Democrat in 2004 was less than 5%. These states and their per capita CO2 emissions are (bold indicates a 2004 Red State):

Oregon 11.3
New Hamp. 15.8
Michigan 18.1
Wisconsin 18.9
Nevada 19.1
Colorado 19.5

Minnesota 19.7
Pennsylvania 21.6
Ohio 22.8
Iowa 26.3
New Mexico 30.3

If climate change is a major issue in 2008 then there is a decided advantage in these states to the Democrats, both for holding on to the 2004 state victories and for changing the others from Red to Blue. Colorado and Nevada are below the national average for carbon dioxide emissions and Ohio and Iowa stand to benefit immensely from an ethanol bidding war (already underway). New Mexico has less to gain but also less to offer in terms of electoral votes.

If it seems a stretch to use per capita carbon dioxide emissions as a factor in thinking about electoral politics, consider the following in the aftermath of the 2006 mid-term congressional election:

States with 2 Republican Senators

Average CO2 emissions 36.3 (median = 28.4)

States with 2 Democratic Senators

Average CO2 emissions 14.7 (median = 14.4)

States with 1 Democratic and 1 Republican Senator

Average CO2 emissions 23.1 (median = 22.2)

How will Al Gore win the presidency?

He will continue to take actions that will keep climate change an important issue that cannot be neglected in political discourse. This will involve congressional testimony, a book release, a global set of coordinated concerts, and other actions. He has been nominated for an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. He'll get some help, whether intended or not as the international community is focused on climate change and even the Bush Administration is now helping to keep the topic in play. These factors together will ensure that the issue remains salient and Mr. Gore remains at the fore. He will enter the race late and dramatically. The "will he or won't he" story will overshadow his competition. And on the major campaign issue of the Iraq War he is exceedingly well positioned.

Hillary Clinton cannot compete with Mr. Gore on climate change (and she has an Iraq vote to explain, plus other issues), and is probably weaker on this issue than John McCain, and not much different than other Republicans who might gain the nomination, especially those who still have time to articulate an aggressive position of climate change. By comparison, consider how the three parties in the U.K. are falling over each other to be viewed among voters as the more aggressive on climate change. For John Edwards and Barak Obama, climate change is just not their gig. If Al Gore can win his party’s nomination, which is certainly not guaranteed, the general election would be his to lose.

If he does run, and he does win his party’s nomination, then as of right now I predict that he will get at least 293 electoral votes, comprised of the 2004 blue states plus NV, CO, OH, and IA. Add in a surprise or two (e.g., FL – two hurricane seasons between now and the 2008 election, AZ, VA) and it is then a landslide.

2008 will be the climate change election and Al Gore will be the next president of the United States.

Posted on February 16, 2007 02:36 AM View this article | Comments (35)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

February 15, 2007

Another Reason to View Adaptation as Sustainable Development

This news story from Reuters highlights the consequences of neglecting certain areas of research and policy:

One billion poor suffer from neglected diseases: WHO

Last Updated: 2007-02-14 9:44:10 -0400 (Reuters Health)

JAKARTA (Reuters) - One billion people in tropical countries are still suffering from debilitating and disfiguring diseases associated with poverty, but many remain untreated due to official neglect, health officials said on Wednesday.

Despite the existence of inexpensive and safe treatment, those who suffer from diseases such as leprosy, elephantiasis and yaws remain untreated due to a lack of resources and political will, said Jai Narain, South East Asia director of communicable diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO).

"These tropical diseases have been neglected by policy makers, by the research community and also by the international community," Nairan told a news conference at the start of an international meeting to tackle tropical diseases.

"But at the same time these diseases cause considerable amount of suffering, disability, disfigurement and even social economic impact, particularly for populations which are extremely marginalised," he said.

Nairan said the fact that the diseases were not in the headlines and not global problems like polio, HIV/AIDS and malaria contributed to the lack of attention.

"These diseases are closely related to poverty. The elimination of such diseases would be a significant step toward poverty reduction," he said. Many who contract the diseases suffer from discrimination and are shunned by their communities, said Nyoman Kandun, director general for communicable disease control at the Indonesian health ministry. . . .

Posted on February 15, 2007 07:03 AM View this article | Comments (5)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Health

February 14, 2007

Final Chapter, Hurricanes and IPCC, Book IV

Two years ago NOAA's Chris Landsea resigned from participating in the IPCC citing concerns that the chapter on hurricanes had been politicized, specifically citing the role that Kevin Trenberth, IPCC convening lead author for the chapter that covered hurricanes, had playing in an October, 2004 media event hyping a hurricane-global warming connection.

With this post we'd like to follow up and in the process close the book on this particular dispute -- at least for us here at Prometheus. The "hurricane wars" are probably far from over, but we should acknowledge that both Chris Landsea and Kevin Trenberth both come out of this situation looking pretty good. Both can and should feel vindicated. Read on if you are interested in a few final details from the last chapter in this story.

The first signs that there might be a happy ending to this saga were evident in June, 2005 when Kevin Trenberth authored a commentary in Science in which he wrote:

[T]here is no sound theoretical basis for drawing any conclusions about how anthropogenic change affects hurricane numbers or tracks, and thus how many hit land.

This led me to conclude at the time:

Landsea and Trenberth are scientifically on the same page, and the perspectives now being espoused by Trenberth [in Science] are (in my interpretation) entirely consistent with what Landsea argued at the time he stepped down from the IPCC.

So it shouldn't have been too surprising when the IPCC accurately reported the state of scientific understandings of tropical cyclones and climate change in its recent summary for policy makers, despite some last-minute concerns. (Of course, the WMO Consensus Statement was probably the most significant factor shaping the IPCC's final judgments.) When the full IPCC WG I report comes out, I have no doubts there will be some room for quibbling about the details on this subject, but the big picture presented in the SPM appears to me to be just about right.

Yesterday in an online Q&A with the public organized by the Washington Post Kevin Trenberth addressed an explicit question about this issue:

Washington, D.C.: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chris Landsea resigned a year ago from the IPCC and leveled charges that the IPCC, and you in particular, had a overly-politicized view of global warming trends. (link to washingtonpost.com here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29397-2005Jan22.html). Specifically, I believe that Landsea objected to the fact that some on the IPCC would "utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming." I assume that you disagree with Mr. Landsea. Do you believe that recent hurricane patterns have been negatively affected by global warming?

Kevin Trenberth: This is what the IPCC says in the Policy Makers Summary: "There is observational evidence for an increase of intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea surface temperatures. There are also suggestions of increased intense tropical cyclone activity in some other regions where concerns over data quality are greater. Multi-decadal variability and the quality of the tropical cyclone records prior to routine satellite observations in about 1970 complicate the detection of long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity. There is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones. " This was agreed to by the US Govt and crafted by the lead authors present (including me). Landsea's comments were not correct.

Dr. Trenberth stuck to what the IPCC concluded and did not take the bait offered by this questioner. He was also taking the high ground in claiming that the IPCC SPM accurately reflected the current state of the science. But Chris Landsea should feel good as well because there can be no doubt that his actions helped to ensure that the IPCC got things right in the end.

Kudos to both, but it's time to move on.

Posted on February 14, 2007 03:56 PM View this article | Comments (7)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Disasters

Words of Wisdom in The Daily Camera

There is an excellent letter to the editor in today's Daily Camera (our local newspaper) by Robert Davis, who comments favorably in reaction to a recent op-ed by Chris Mooney and Alan Sokal. Mr. Davis wisely distinguishes advice as policy analysis, and underscores the importance of honest brokers of policy alternatives. Here is Mr. Davis' letter in full:

Your editorial pages for Feb. 11 contained an abundance of thoughtful and relevant writing. In particular, the piece by Mooney and Sokal offers a welcome defense of science as evidence-based reasoning that deserves protection from ideologues ("Taking the spin out of science," Feb. 11).

As a policy analyst who worked as a civil servant in the office of one of the president`s cabinet secretaries through three administrations, I would offer the caution that scientists themselves can become ideologues and need to be reminded of their roles in the decision-making apparatus of a government.

Effective and helpful policy analysis for the head of an agency includes laying out all of the alternatives for addressing a particular problem and exploring the consequences of each alternative. It is in this phase that scientists make their most valuable contribution.

In the case of global warming, we need desperately to know the consequences of the actions we might take. I include costs as one of the consequences, and, of course, probabilities must be addressed, because, in any policy-making, certainty is the rarest of commodities.

Scientists are least helpful when they try to short-cut the policy analysis by prescribing what we must do. At this point, they stop being scientists and the most visible among them become pontificating celebrities. Any government has an obligation to keep its scientists from making fools of themselves, but it is a fine line to hoe.

Certainly, we want the opinions of scientists at the appropriate point in the process of making policy. Without judging the Bush administration or its critics, I would maintain that we have a right to expect that scientists be held to the rules of rational, effective and disciplined policy analysis.

ROBERT DAVIS
Boulder

Posted on February 14, 2007 12:32 PM View this article | Comments (2)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

February 13, 2007

An Evaluation of U.S. Self-Evaluation on Climate Policy

The Bush Administration has provided the most substantive presentation of its climate policies (that I have seen at least) in the form of a speech yesterday by Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs before the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, Germany. With this post are a few reactions to this self-evaluation of U.S. climate policies presented by the Bush Administration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I come to a different conclusion than the Bush Administration when evaluating U.S. climate policies.

The speech begins by acknowledging that the US policies on climate change are not so warmly received in Europe, with Mr. Volker suggesting that the U.S. is "misunderstood." Then there is this unfortunate spin:

As all of you know, President Bush devoted a significant portion of his State of the Union address last month to the subject of climate change-and to what the U.S. intends to do about it.

Here is that "significant portion" in full:

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

The Bush Administration seems yet to appreciate that being well understood requires a basis in trust, a condition that is hard maintain in the face of constant spin and heavy-handed information management. Those still following Mr. Volker after this statement were treated to an in depth self-evaluation of U.S. policies, well worth reading.

Mr. Volker starts out with "some clear, simple statements":

*The United States, and this Administration, care deeply about climate change.

*We agree that human activity contributes to global warming.

*We support the recent IPCC report, in which U.S. scientists played a leading role.

*We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

*We have made tremendous investments in reducing emissions.

*We are working multilaterally to do so.

*We are continuing these efforts.

*These efforts are producing results that stand up favorably against anyone in the world.

Just because we haven't joined the Kyoto Protocol doesn't make any of these statements less true.

Mr. Volker then directly confronts the U.S.-Europe split on climate change:

Now, I know there is a deeply held view among many in Europe that the U.S. Government doesn't get it. That we don't care about climate change, that we are doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that Europe, while perhaps not perfect, is doing a far better job of tackling the issue than the United States. This proposition--no matter how simple, no matter how widely held, and no matter how much it fits a pop-culture "blame-the-United States" paradigm--is completely wrong, on every point.

This statement (remember, delivered in Germany) is quite bold and aggressive. What accounts for this new-found self-confidence and aggressiveness? Mr. Volker does not make his audience wait long for the answer:

Let me start first with the data, because it is important to have the facts on the table. No question: The United States is the world's largest emitter of CO2. Everybody in the room knows this. But this fact says no more about the United States, than the fact that Germany leads Europe in emissions says about Germany.

The United States is number one in greenhouse gas emissions primarily because it is the number one economy in the world. With 5% of the world's population we produce 25% of global wealth. And despite being relatively clean and green, Germany leads Europe in emissions, because it is Europe's largest economy. Our emissions are not out of line with the size of our economy. And it's worth noting: the International Energy Agency is forecasting that China, with a smaller economy, is expected to surpass U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2009.

More important than current emissions is the trend line. What is actually happening to emissions? Are they being reduced? This, after all, is what Kyoto is supposed to address.

According to data from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from 2000-2004--the most recent period for which we have good, comparative data--U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 percent. This is an increase, but a very modest increase. The EU-25, on the other hand, increased collective emissions by 2.1 percent.

And, no, this is not because the new EU members added since the 2004 expansion run dirtier economies than the previous 15 members, and this then bumps up the numbers. Actually, the new members have the opposite effect. Those nations--by moving away from some older energy technologies like brown coal--are part of the good news story. If the new EU members did not bring down the average, the old EU-15 would get a worse report card--having increased emissions by 2.4 percent during this same time period.

Germany, I should state, had an admirable record of actually cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 0.7 percent during this time period--but Germany's efforts were overshadowed by increases in most other EU economies.

Now let's be honest--even a 2.4 percent increase for the EU-15 is a very modest increase. But given the way this issue gets talked about publicly in Europe, I would venture to say that few people in Europe know that from 2000 to 2004, EU-15 emissions grew at nearly double the U.S. rate, and that Europe, at least during this period, has been moving away from-not towards-its Kyoto target of an 8 percent cut.

The Bush Administration has finally, clumsily, begun moving toward a realpolitik approach to climate change, one that I recommended almost three years ago:

. . . consider this amazing fact: if President Bush in 2001 had, instead of pulling out of the Kyoto process, simply committed the United States to participate and then did nothing else differently since that time, then the United States would be closer to meeting its Kyoto targets than EU members Ireland, Spain, Austria, Portugal, and about even with Denmark.

Ironically, expressing support for the Kyoto process but not taking dramatic action to implement it is the exact climate policy pursued by the Administration of Bill Clinton whose approach to climate policy is substantively very similar to the approach of the Bush Administration. But the two administration's approaches to climate politics could not be more different.

Of course, success in international politics does not necessarily mean good policy will result. . .

The Bush Administration’s new, aggressive approach is based on the surprising discovery that European greenhouse gas emissions have increased faster than those in the United States. Mr. Volker’s talk is even suggestively titled "Post-Kyoto Surprise: America's Quiet Efforts to Cut Greenhouse Gases Are Producing Results." Because the United States over 2000-2004 did relatively better than Europe in the rate of greenhouse gas emissions growth, this has apparently given the Bush Administration the sense that they can thumb their nose at the Europeans and say "nya-nya-nya." An approach more politically effective (from the perspective of the Bush Administration) might have instead been to share in the difficulties of reducing emissions, rather than presenting the US-EU as being opposed to one another. I have doubts that the Bush Administration will ever learn the merits of diplomacy.

What goes unsaid by Mr. Vokler is that a more relevant metric of policy success (as compared, say, to political posturing) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not the level of emissions of the EU, but rather the absolute amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And on this count both the United States and Europe are performing quite poorly, the small differences between the two over 2000-2004 is pretty much irrelevant.

More fundamentally, a reduction in the growth rate of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions has occurred not by policy design, but by happenstance. To be fair, the Bush Administration has always emphasized reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of economic output, but its targets have been no more aggressive than the long-term rate of transformation of the economy to being less energy intensive. The Bush Administration would be on more solid ground claiming policy success for reductions in emissions intensity greater than the background trend if it had actually presented such outcomes as policy goals at sometime in the past. Instead, it has stumbled upon an outcome that it never actually sought and claimed it as the result of intentional policy action.

It surely must be uncomfortable for the EU to see the Bush Administration trumpeting its greenhouse emissions reductions "successes" after rudely pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. And on the count the Bush Administration once again demonstrates its utter incompetence in international relations to the detriment of its own political agenda. Upon learning that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were less than that of the EU over a short 4-year period, rather than rubbing the European’s noses in their own struggles over climate policy, the Bush Administration might have instead taken a more conciliatory approach. It has once again favored playing politics rather than focusing on the real policy challenges presented by climate change. Ironically, those favoring a more aggressive approach to emissions reductions should welcome the Bush Administration’s ham-handedness in helping to keep the issue alive. A more politically sophisticated approach might not have the same results.

Finally, the notion of adaptation does not appear in the Bush Administration’s self-evaluation. Any climate policy that purports to be comprehensive but does not discuss adaptation must be considered incomplete at best and more likely a failure.

Posted on February 13, 2007 09:04 AM View this article | Comments (21)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

February 12, 2007

An Inconvenient Survey

Last Friday I visited Savannah, Georgia to participate in a viewing and discussion of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” This is the second time I have had a chance to participate in such an event, and it was a pleasure to participate in this event (including getting to see a thoughtful talk by Georgia Tech’s peter Webster).. This time I thought I’d collect a bit of data. So like the college professor that I am I gave a pop quiz right after the movie. After watching a documentary on climate change one should have the basic facts down, right? Unfortunately, no. Here is the pop quiz I gave with answers on the other side.

1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 4th Assessment Report last Friday. It projects a likely global average temperature increase for 2100 of (degrees C):

A. 1.1 to 6.4
B. 1.5 to 4.5
C. 5.0 to 11.5
D. 7.0 to 9.0

2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 4th Assessment Report last Friday. It projects a (mid-range) global average sea level rise for 2100 of:

A. 16 inches
B. 48 inches
C. 10 feet
D. 70 feet

3. If the Kyoto Protocol is fully implemented, including US participation, the effects on global average temperatures in 2080 would be:

A. Undetectable
B. Reduce the projected increase by 0.5 degrees
C. Reduce the projected increase by 1.0 degrees
D. Reduce the projected increase by 2.0 degrees

4. If the global greenhouse gas emissions magically stopped right now global average temperatures would:

A. Stop increasing immediately
B. Continue increasing for many decades

5. In order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide requires that net global emissions be reduced from today’s levels:

A. to 1990 levels
B. by 20%
C. by 50%
D. by 100%

Answers:

1. A
2. A
3. A
4. B
5. D

No one in the audience of about 200 people admitted to getting all 5 correct. Judging by the show of hands very few came close to the correct answers on 1, 2, 3 or 5. Most people did get #4 correct. In fact, on 1, 2, and 3 the overwhelming answers were C and D and 5 it was A and B. And this was a very educated, engaged audience. I would venture that a scientific survey would find that Mr. Gore’s movie is more apt to mislead than bring the viewer to a clear understanding of the center of gravity of scientific opinion on climate change.

Is it alarmist? By effect on its uninformed audience, I'd hypothesize based on this nonscientific data set that it is.

What was most troubling was the comments of a few people in the audience who reacted pretty negatively to my remarks. One person commented (paraphrase):

We are here to talk about the end of the world and you want to talk about hurricanes. It is energy policy only we need to talk about, not disasters.

Of course Mr. Gore’s movie is chock full of references to disasters, most notably Katrina. The amazing thing to me is that about 6 people from Savannah that I spoke to in some depth, including taxi drivers and lawyers, mentioned to me that Savannah is fortunate to be in a hurricane shadow – it can’t be hit. The reality is that it can and will be hit, and hit hard. And to the extent that the focus on climate change distracts from hurricane preparation, when that fateful day occurs, the resulting disaster will inevitably be worse.

And if you don’t think that the focus on climate-change-as-energy-policy distracts from the need to adapt to climate change, consider this amazing admission from a state official in New Mexico, reacting to our recent paper in Nature:

The problem, Pielke said, is that advocates fear efforts to adapt to climate change will blunt calls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

That fear has affected New Mexico's ambitious governmental climate change effort.

A report last year from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer concluded that "adaptation" is critical to coping with climate change and population growth.

But most of the state's climate change effort has focused on cutting greenhouse gas emissions rather than on coping with the collision between a growing population and a changing climate.

Jim Norton, one of the state officials heading up the effort, agrees with Pielke that adaptation is critical. But there was a fear, Norton said, that too much emphasis "could sort of divert attention away from solving the problem of growing greenhouse gas emissions." [emphasis added]

Reducing emissions is a challenge well worth undertaking. But when it becomes such an overwhelming focus that nothing else is allowed, especially adaptation in mal-adapated communities, then a virtue becomes a vice. An Inconvenient Truth mislead because it suggests that we only need do one thing to respond to the threat of climate change. The reality is that we must do many things, among which we must evaluate tradeoffs, costs and benefits, risks and uncertainties. And that is a real inconvenient truth.

February 11, 2007

The Honest Broker

The Honest Broker is soon going to the printer with Cambridge University Press. Amazon has the cover up, here it is:

hb.jpg

If you are qualified (an editor, in the media, a popular blogger, etc.) and you would like a review copy, please email me at pielke@colorado.edu with your details and I will add you to the list I am sending to CUP. Others can pre-order the book here and here. Thanks!

Posted on February 11, 2007 11:54 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | The Honest Broker

February 10, 2007

So This is Interesting

Bjorn Lomborg writing in The Guardian 7 February 2007:

Imagine if the director of the CIA published a new assessment of Iran, saying: "I hope this report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action."

We wrote here on Prometheus 25 January 2007:

Imagine, by contrast, if the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, another organization with an agenda to be "policy neutral," were reported in the media to say of the agency’s latest assessment on Iran, "I hope that the report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action."

Not a huge deal, and maybe just a simple coincidence, but we academics tend to notice and be a bit prickly about such things . . .

February 09, 2007

Quote from Nelson Polsby

Nelson Polsby, a political scientist widely respected for his pioneering studies of Congress and political parties, died earlier this week. This interesting quote is from an interview with Prof. Polsby in his obituary in

"There are often too many facts and not infrequently too many different versions of the facts. Rather than speaking for themselves, various facts have what we have come to refer to as spokespersons."
Posted on February 9, 2007 02:08 PM View this article | Comments (8)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

Air Capture Prize

This prize looks to raise the stature of air capture technologies that we have discussed here before (Hat tip: James Annan).

February 08, 2007

New Blog at CU!

Tom Yulsman, an occasional contributor here and professor of Journalism here at CU, along with colleagues have started a new weblog focused on Environmental Journalism. Check it out here!

Posted on February 8, 2007 09:27 AM View this article | Comments (0)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Hodge Podge

February 07, 2007

Clarifying IPCC AR4 Statements on Sea Level Rise

The statements in the IPCC’s AR4 SPM released last week on sea level rise have led to some confusion and conflict over what exactly they said and how it compares to the 2001 IPCC TAR. The IPCC could have made it easier for all of us by presenting the data in a comparable manner. This post reflects my efforts to make sense of this situation. I hope that experts on the subject will weigh in on my initial thoughts.

I conclude that the IPCC has indeed lowered its top end estimates of sea level rise over the 21st century relative to 1990, in contrast to the conclusions at RealClimate which suggest that this has in fact not occurred. For details, please read on.

First, what did the IPCC 2001 TAR say about sea level? It reported:

For the complete range of AOGCMs and SRES scenarios and including uncertainties in land-ice changes, permafrost changes and sediment deposition, global average sea level is projected to rise by 0.09 to 0.88 m over 1990 to 2100, with a central value of 0.48 m

Some information was not included:

In addition, Warrick et al. included an allowance for ice-dynamical changes in the WAIS. The range we have given does not include such changes. The contribution of the WAIS is potentially important on the longer term, but it is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice from the WAIS and consequent accelerated sea-level rise are very unlikely during the 21st century.

and

The range we have given also does not take account of uncertainty in modelling of radiative forcing, the carbon cycle, atmospheric chemistry, or storage of water in the terrestrial environment.

This is quite similar to the just-released IPCC AR4 (PDF) which says:

Models used to date do not include uncertainties in climate-carbon cycle feedback nor do they include the full effects of changes in ice sheet flow, because a basis in published literature is lacking.

The IPCC AR4 does apparently incorporate information from Greenland and Antarctica:

The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica at the rates observed for 1993-2003, but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future.

It suggests that on the increasing side that:

For example, if this contribution were to grow linearly with global average temperature change, the upper ranges of sea level rise for SRES scenarios shown in Table SPM-3 would increase by 0.1 m to 0.2 m. Larger values cannot be excluded, but understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood or provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea level rise.

Over at RealClimate they seem to have added to the confusion by asserting incorrectly:

Note that some media have been comparing apples with pears here: they claimed IPCC has reduced its upper sea level limit from 88 to 59 cm, but the former number from the TAR did include this ice dynamics uncertainty, while the latter from the AR4 does not

As documented above the TAR did not include such uncertainties, writing of its Figure 11.12:

Note that this range does not allow for uncertainty relating to ice-dynamical changes in the West Antarctic ice sheet.

I asked RealClimate about this, and they responded:

The TAR range included mass-balance estimates for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (though did not include dynamical changes - i.e. changes due to changes in ice streams, calving, grounding line movement, etc which were then thought to be small). Recent observations point to the vital importance of such terms in assessing the net mass balance, thus since they are highly uncertain, it was thought more prudent to not include the mass-balance terms this time around. Our statement above should probably state that "the former number from the TAR did include some ice-sheet mass balance uncertainty, while the latter from the AR4 does not"

What RealClimate fails to acknowledge is that because the TAR did not consider dynamical uncertainties, then a similar uncertainty range would have to be added on top of the TAR top end estimate to make it apples-to-apples with the top end uncertainty in the AR4. So in effect they cancel out and are not relevant to this discussion.

Presumably when the IPCC AR4 says "a basis in published literature is lacking" it is indeed prudent not to speculate. I would assume that there is also no basis in the published literature to conclude that sea level rise might stop instantaneously next year, so they didn’t include that either;-)

So what then do we get when comparing the two reports? The following figure shows the TAR and AR4 estimates on the same graph, taken from the TAR with the AR4 values superimposed. The AR4 ranges are delineated using the same color scheme as the TAR, but with rounded ends. The AR4 values are for 2090-2099, which I have presented as 2095. There is, as noted above, some error term on the upper end of the range. But it should be applied to both the TAR and AR4 estimates, so for comparative purposes they basically cancel out.

Thus, I conclude that the top end estimate has indeed come down from the TAR to the AR4, and those making this observation are accurately representing the AR4. Why didn't the IPCC just say so?

ipccsealevel.png

Lifting the Taboo on Adaptation

Our article is online with Nature. A copy of the full text can also be found here in PDF. Comments welcomed.

Pielke, Jr., R.A., Prins, G., Rayner, S. and Sarewitz, D., 2007. Lifting the taboo on adaptation. Nature, 7 February.

Posted on February 7, 2007 01:05 PM View this article | Comments (12)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Scientific Integrity and Budget Cuts

I am watching the Senate Commerce Committee's hearing this morning on "Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity." I note in this hearing a conflation of allegations of Bush Administration interference in science communication with research budgets for climate scientists. Both Rick Piltz's testimony and that of Rick Anthes emphasized science budgets. Seems to me that such claims are crassly opportunistic. Here are some actual climate science budget facts that should give some pause to such arguments:

From 1995 to 2001:

Climate science funding was cut from $2.234B to $1.886B (constant dollars), representing a cut of 15.6%. With respect to climate science funding as a proportion of domestic discretionary spending the cut is 23%.

From 2002 to 2006:

Climate science funding was cut from $1.792B to $1.674B (constant dollars), representing a cut of 6.6%. With respect to climate science funding as a proportion of domestic discretionary spending the cut is 20%.

Data from Rick Piltz's testimony and the Congressional Budget Office. Note that funding in 2000 and 2001 are virtually identical.

If the Bush Administration's cuts represent an assault on scientific integrity, then why wouldn't the larger cuts by the Clinton Administration also fall under that same category?

In my mind, conflating research budgets with heavy-handed Bush Administration communication policies is a mistake.

Understanding US Climate Politics

This graph from the 25 January 2007 issue of The Economist says a lot about the politics of energy policy in the United States. According to the article, "California's greenhouse-gas emissions per person are on a par with those of Denmark. Relative to the size of its economy, they are lower."

economist.gif

Posted on February 7, 2007 08:32 AM View this article | Comments (31)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy

Should A Scientific Advisor be Evaluated According to Political Criteria?

Consider NASA’s James Hansen who complained that he was being interfered with by the Bush Administration which saw Mr. Hansen’s views as inconvenient with respect to their policies on climate change. Dr. Hansen is, by his own admission, outside of the scientific consensus on climate change, as reflected by the IPCC. Should Dr. Hansen’s ability to speak or even hold his job be a function of the political views of the officials who happen to be in office? Hold on to your answer for a moment and click through . . .

Now consider the State of Oregon and its state climatologist:

In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title [of state climatologist] from Oregon State’s George] Taylor. The governor said Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists.

"He is Oregon State University's climatologist. He is not the state of Oregon's climatologist," Kulongoski said.

Taylor declined to comment on the proposal other than to say he was a "bit shocked" by the news. He recently engaged in a debate at O.M.S.I. and repeated his doubts about accepted science.

In an interview he told KGW, "There are a lot of people saying the bulk of the warming of the last 50 years is due to human activities and I don't believe that's true." He believes natural cycles explain most of the changes the earth has seen.

A bill will be introduced in Salem soon on the matter.

Sen. Brad Avakian, (D) Washington County, is sponsoring the bill. He said global warming is so important to state policy it's important to have a climatologist as a consultant to the governor. He denied this is targeted personally at Taylor. "Absolutely not," Avakian said, "I've never met Mr. Taylor and if he's got opinions I hope he comes to the hearing and testifies."

Kulongoski said the state needs a consistent message on reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change.

The Governor says, "I just think there has to be somebody that says, 'this is the state position on this.'" [emphasis added]

Whatever one thinks about the science of climate change, one should have concern about scientific advisory positions being determined by purely political criteria, as described in the interview with Oregon's governor. Imagine if George Bush said what the Oregon governor said above in regards to James Hansen -- "I just think there has to be somebody that says, 'this is the U.S. position on this.'" We saw exactly this sort of treatment of intelligence expertise with the Bush Administration's shenanigans leading to the Iraq War.

One should also be concerned about double standards among observers. Both Hansen and Taylor are admittedly outside the IPCC's scientific consensus on climate change and both are inconvenient for the elected officials for whom they serve. Do we really want to go down a path where politicians are able to manipulate governmental advisors to suit their policy preferences? Do the rest of us need any semblance of intellectual coherence on this issue? Or should we instead have of scientific advice simply reflect a convenient political litmus test?

February 06, 2007

Post-IPCC Political Handicapping: Count the Votes

The National Journal has updated its poll of opinions on climate change among members of the U.S. Congress, which it first presented last April. The results, with a few exceptions, are much the same. What the poll indicates are that while there are indeed partisan differences on how members of congress view the science of climate change, there is nonetheless a strong majority of members who accept that "it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made pollution." Given this finding, one might wonder what marginal value exists in continuing to debate the science (one answer found below). Here are a few further details.

In its February 3, 2007 issue the National Journal finds (PDF) that 97% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans answered yes (or "consensus" or "part of cause") to the question: "Do you think it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?"

Let’s assume, for the present discussion, that "beyond a reasonable doubt" is interpreted identically to the IPCC’s "very likely" (meaning >90% certainty, the NJ poll was taken before IPCC's release last week). Let’s also assume that the poll of 72 members is in fact representative of the 535 total. Finally, let’s set aside the debate of whether partisanship drives views on science or vice-versa.

What does this poll signify?

It means that in the Senate there are 57 members who believe that there is no "reasonable doubt" on the cause of global warming, and in the House this number is 258. These are strong majorities.

With respect to the policy questions asked by the National Journal here is how the numbers break out for those favoring various policies:

Mandatory CO2 Limits:

House 243
Senate 54

Carbon Tax

House 123
Senate 27

Cap and Trade

House 290
Senate 65

These counts (again, if an accurate reflection of members’ positions) suggest a few important conclusions.

1. The issue of science is no longer relevant to debate in Congress. A majority in both chambers accepts the human role in climate change, and further a majority accepts the need for action, including mandatory caps on carbon dioxide.

2. A carbon tax is largely unrelated to debate over the science. Even if the entire House were to be comprised of members who accept the science of climate change, as this factor alone drove voting behavior, the vote would be even. However, among Democrats only 50% favor a carbon tax, indicating that there are significant factors at play beyond just views of the science. If one posits that Republican views on a carbon tax are different than Democrats (big stretch), let’s say half as favorable (to be generous) with respect to their views of the science, then this would mean that Congress would have to be at least 75% Democratic to get a majority favoring a carbon tax. Under the present political landscape – not gonna happen.

Bottom line – the votes for action appear to be there. So too is broad public acceptance of the reality of climate change and a need for action. Why then is not action happening more quickly?

There are probably a few answers:

1. When push comes to shove. It may be the case that among many people global warming is an issue with more emotional affect than implications for action. In the U.K. for instance, where climate change is squarely on the agenda, only 11% of respondents to a recent poll indicated that they would fly less to reduce their emissions. The current debate in Europe reflects the difficulties of actually reducing emissions even in the context of apparent strong political and public support.

2. Political overreach. Some who want action on climate change have suggested that it might be best for the 110th Congress not to act in order to wait for a Democratic president to be elected in 2009 (or a least someone who is not GWB). The thinking is that even stronger legislation will be possible under those conditions. This might be wishful thinking. A good rule in politics is to take what you can when you can get it.

3. Those skeptics. Just when you thought that we’d seen the end of the debate over climate skeptics, it turns out that some scientists are busy trying to keep them in the limelight. Yes, you read that right. Consider that immediately upon release of the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers the RealClimate blog immediately followed up its 1,280 word review of the IPCC SPM with a 1,585 word essay on some anti-IPCC statement from a group of self-appointed climate skeptics. Without RealClimate’s generous lavishing of attention and imputed significance, the anti-IPCC document would probably have gone unnoticed by most folks. Like old Cold Warriors longing for the Soviet Union the complete and utter domination of the IPCC consensus view seems difficult for some to accept. This issue runs far deeper than bloggers worried about being out of a job, as it will no doubt manifest itself in debates over climate change research budgets. A strong case can be made that now that the science is settled, at least from the standpoint of justifying mitigation, that there is ample room to downsize significant aspects of the climate research enterprise. After all, plate tectonics is not a big area of research.

4. Fighting is more fun than winning. The dynamics of debate over climate change in the blogoshpere might be a good indication of the broader political dynamics for many. It is easy to transform the issue into skeptic vs. nonskeptic in order to debate science, or Republican vs. Democract to debate politics, or environmentalist vs. capitalist to debate the economy/environment, or any of a number of wedge issues that people find fun and exciting to discuss. We see that achieving pragmatic action on real issues -- which might involve moving beyond the science or reaching a political compromise with one's sworn enemies seems pretty tame and unexciting for many. I have little doubt that for some people, climate change is all about the fight, not the victory, so preserving conflict is paramount.

Bottom line from this post: The votes are there. What is lacking, as I’ve often asserted, are a wide range of policy options to exploit the current political receptivity. In the absence of good options, it is likely that we’ll continue see symbolic action (at best) and loud exhortations, as the battle over climate change continues.

February 05, 2007

Upcoming This Week . . . [UPDATED]

A preview of what to expect this upcoming week here on Prometheus:

On Wednesday Nature will be publishing a commentary that I co-authored with Gwyn Prins (University College London/Columbia University), Steve Rayner (Oxford University’s James Martin Institute), and Dan Sarewitz (ASU). The piece is titled "Lifting the Taboo on Adaptation." We’ll post it here as soon as it is available.

This just in from the House Science and Technology Committee staff:

I just now got out of a meeting with the senior Republican Members of the Science Committee and they decided they want to go in a different direction for Thursday's IPCC hearing. Rather than have you testify, they want me to find a witness from industry for the hearing.

So no testimony for me this week . . .

On Thursday, I have been invited by the House Committee on Science and Technology to testify at a hearing along with leading IPCC scientists. I’ve been asked to discuss the relationship of scientific advice and policy making. This week’s testimony will be straight out of The Honest Broker. Despite my occasional comments about sausage factories, it is an honor to have a chance to present some of our work to policy makers, and I welcome the attention being given to the challenge of connecting science to decision making. Tune in here later this week for my prepared testimony, oral remarks, and reactions. Do note that your favorite "perfidious corporate lapdog"/"closet Republican" (to pick two of my favorite quotes from last week;-) was once again invited by the congressional minority. As always your comments and reactions are welcomed – positive, negative, or indifferent.

On Friday, I’ll be appearing in Savannah, Georgia at an event with Georgia Tech’s Peter Webster where we’ll watch a screening of An Inconvenient Truth and then give short presentations on science and policy issues of climate change immediately after. Here is how a local Savannah paper described the upcoming event:

The film will be followed by a discussion led by Georgia Tech climatologist Peter Webster, who Bonnell said "truly believes we're about to fry," and Roger Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who stands in the middle of the climate change debate, calling himself a "nonskeptical heretic."

"I'd say don't be put off by the person speaking, just look at the ideas," Bonnell said. "We're hoping people will be engaged by what they say."

Should be an interesting week.

Posted on February 5, 2007 03:39 PM View this article | Comments (4)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change

Loose Ends -- IPCC and Hurricanes

Just a few loose ends that may be of interest to those following this issue:

1. The International Institute for Sustainable Development continues their invaluable tradition of providing a window into the negotiations with first-hand reports. Here is what their report says about the negotiations over hurricanes in the IPCC:

Regarding tropical cyclones, the US drew attention to a consensus statement produced at a recent WMO cyclone workshop about the difficulties of detecting cyclone trends, and cautioned that using the terms "global" and "trend" to describe an increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones could open the IPCC to criticism. The Netherlands and the Philippines agreed that the proposed language, "satellite records suggest a global trend toward more intense tropical cyclones since about 1970, correlated with observed warming of tropical sea surfaces temperatures," was too strong. Germany and Kenya disagreed, deferring to the judgment of the Coordinating Lead Authors in assessing the scientific literature. The Coordinating Lead Authors clarified that the WMO workshop participants were hurricane scientists and not climate scientists, and that this statement, released six months after the WGI AR4 underlying report was submitted, was not peer-reviewed or open to comment. The issue was referred to a contact group, where participants discussed variability in the data and shortcomings in the modeling approaches, highlighted the importance of reflecting the main conclusions of the underlying chapter, and noted recent studies in support of both sides. As there was common ground on the robustness of evidence within the North Atlantic, the agreed text focused on the “observational evidence for an increase of intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic” and included a more detailed discussion of the factors that complicate identification of long-term patterns. A row in the table on extreme weather events (Table SPM-1) on "intense tropical cyclone activity increases" was modified to reflect the text agreed in the contact group, adding "in some regions." [emphasis added]

Of all groups I would think the IPCC Coordinating lead Authors could do better than offer a critique suggesting that the relevant experts were not "climate scientists." (Close readers will recall that we've seen that argument made here at times.) In any case, the team that wrote the WMO statement was populated by many leading researchers who by any definition are indeed "climate scientists," including luminaries like Tom Knutson and Kerry Emanuel.

2. Randy Dole, a member of the U.S. delegation to the IPCC sent in this nice comment referencing my interpretation of the SPM statements on tropical cyclones:

Thank you for your thoughtful and balanced assessment of what the IPCC SPM says. You have got it right. Your careful analysis on what the report says and how it compares to the WMO consensus statement is most appreciated.

Thanks Randy!

February 02, 2007

Follow Up: IPCC and Hurricanes

The IPCC report is out (PDF) and here is what it says about hurricanes (tropical cyclones). Kudos to the scientists involved. Despite the pressures, on tropical cyclones they figured out a way to maintain consistency with the actual balance of opinion(s) in the community of relevant experts.

Here is the discussion of observed changes:

There is observational evidence for an increase of intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea surface temperatures. There are also suggestions of increased intense tropical cyclone activity in some other regions where concerns over data quality are greater. Multi-decadal variability and the quality of the tropical cyclone records prior to routine satellite observations in about 1970 complicate the detection of long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity. There is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones.

Interestingly, in a table that discusses attribution of trends to anthropogenic causes it reports that there are some trends observed in some regions in tropical cyclone behavior, writing that these trends "more likely than not" represent the "likelihood of a human contribution to observed trend." But then this statement is footnoted with the following qualification:

Magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed. Attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies.

So there might be a human contribution (and presumably this is just to the observed upwards trends observed in some basins, and not to downward trends observed in others, but this is unclear) but the human contribution itself has not been quantitatively assessed, yet the experts, using their judgment, expect it to be there. In plain English this is what is called a "hypothesis" and not a "conclusion." And it is a fair representation of the issue.

The projections for the future are as frequently represented in the literature:

Based on a range of models, it is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing increases of tropical SSTs. There is less confidence in projections of a global decrease in numbers of tropical cyclones. The apparent increase in the proportion of very intense storms since 1970 in some regions is much larger than simulated by current models for that period.

This comment on the process was offered by Australia's Neville Nicholls, who was one of the authors responsible for drafting the language on tropical cyclones:

"I was disappointed that after more than two years carefully analysing the literature on possible links between tropical cyclones and global warming that even before the report was approved it was being misreported and misrepresented. We concluded that the question of whether there was a greenhouse-cyclone link was pretty much a toss of a coin at the present state of the science, with just a slight leaning towards the likelihood of such a link. But the premature reports suggested that we were asserting the existence of much stronger evidence. I hope that when people read the real report they will see that it is a careful and balanced assessment of all the evidence."

The open atmosphere of negotiations in the IPCC is probably something that should be revised. How anyone can deny that political factors were everpresent in the negotiations isn't paying attention.

February 01, 2007

Report from IPCC Negotiations

From NOAA's Randy Dole in Paris, lifted from the comments:

Roger and all,

I generally stay out of blogs, but as a member of the US delegation here I would strongly counsel against premature judgment. Once the final document is out, I hope that you and others will fairly compare what the final report says with the WMO consensus statement. I suspect that an objective analyst who carefully reads both the IPCC and WMO documents - that is, does not cherry pick - will find far more common ground than might now be anticipated.

The two reports are not identical of course, nor should they be, but in the end the careful reader will see far more areas of agreement than current reports might suggest. For those who are relying on press reports or any earlier drafts of the IPCC SPM, you will simply be misled.

In short, wait for the report, look carefully at what it says, and then evaluate and critique. This would be the fair process.

See you back in Boulder,

Randy Dole

P.S.: A little after midnight here in Paris, still at UNESCO, but the final draft has been approved. Just waiting for one final review to ensure all agreed upon changes have been made.

IPCC on Hurricanes

The IPCC Summary for Policy Makers is not out yet, but if this report in the Washington Post is in fact true, then we are in store for some controversy:

Global warming has made stronger hurricanes, including those in the Atlantic such as Katrina, an authoritative panel on climate change has concluded for the first time, participants in the deliberations said Thursday.

This will be controversial for several reasons. First, the WMO consensus was written by a range of scientists, including Kerry Emanuel and Greg Holland, who have argued that there is a strong global warming signal, but who have also accepted that their colleagues have valid arguments as well. Second, the IPCC cannot consider recent studies since it has a publication deadline (exactly what that is I don’t know but it was spring-ish 2006). Thus, the IPCC is a bit like a time machine telling us what the literature said about a year ago. The WMO statement incorporates more recent literature. However the IPCC is being presented as new. Third, the IPCC’s lead man on hurricanes and climate change is a fervent partisan in the debate itself. Whether his views are correct or not, it does not help the legitimacy of the process to see a carefully constructed consensus statement among 120 scientists with diverse views overturned by a very (very) narrow set of participants that may be only a few people.

This issue no doubt will become even more politicized than before, with partisans on both sides rejoicing or attacking. For my part, the IPCC overturns the WMO statement with some considerable risk to its own credibility. Of course, we’ll have to wait until May to actually find out the basis for this rejection.

Does the Truth Matter?

Here are seven paragraphs from the conclusion to Alan Mazur’s excellent book True Warnings and False Alarms: Evaluating Fears about the Health Risks of Technology, 1948-1971 (Resources for the Future, 2004, pp. 107-109, buy a copy here)-- the concluding subsection is titled "Does the Truth Matter?" .

Mazur distinguishes between a "knowledge model" and a "politics model" for understanding public debates involving science. These distinctions are somewhat (but not entirely) related to the concepts of the "linear model" and "interest group pluralism" that I discuss in my forthcoming book, which is really about how to reconcile the fact that there are elements of both models in the reality of decision making. Neither of Mazur’s models accurately describes how the world works, we need both. Some of the more useful debates and discussions following my testimony his week reflected a paradigm clash between those who view the world through the lens pf the "knowledge model" and those – like me – who accept that the "politics model" also reflects some fundamental realities as well. Here is the excerpt:

In a democracy, the people or their representatives are free to spend public money as they see fit. Interest groups compete to channel funding to their favorite causes. If U.S. society chooses to allot far more money to cleaning up toxic waste sites, which harm few people, than to prevent teenagers from smoking, which creates an enormous health burden, that is our privilege as a nation.

Still, many risk analysts are disturbed when we fail to maximize the number of lives save per dollar of risk remediation. They point out that actions taken by government to avoid the consequences of an alleged hazard are often unrelated to the severity or scientific validity of the hazard (EPA 1982; Breyer 1993; Graham and Wiener 1995; Mazur 1998). The inference is that policy should be better aligned with science, and that irrational or inefficient elements of policymaking should be eliminated (but see Mazur 1995 and Driesen 2001 for limitations on this positions).

Yet public policy does not always flow directly from scientific knowledge. A value-laden subject decision is always involved, one that requires weighing pros and cons, costs and benefits, winners and losers. A wise policy choice for one party with certain interest may not be the wisest choice for a party with different interests. These considerations raise a question: does scientific evaluation of a warning matter at all?

Essentially two models show how science is applied to public policy. The first – call it the "knowledge model" – assumes that scientists can obtain approximately true answers to their research questions with methods that are fairly objective. This knowledge is used to inform public policy. For example, scientists can determine the health risks from exposure to fluoride at levels adequate to prevent cavities. Policy makers then use this finding as one factor in deciding whether to add fluoride to community drinking water. Such decisions cannot follow from facts alone, but facts ought to influence outcomes. If health risk is high, that should help shift the decision against fluoridation; if low, that should encourage fluoridation. The model makes no sense to anyone who denies that science can find correct answers.

The second model – the "politics model" – can be applied whatever one’s view concerning the objectivity of science. Here partisans use scientific findings as political capital to sway policy in the direction they prefer. If such partisans favor fluoridation, they will claim there is little health risk; if they oppose it, they claim a high health risk. I makes no difference if the findings are correct, objective, or honest as long as they are persuasive. The actors bury findings that work against their position, or attack them as invalid or inapplicable. In the politics model, scientific claims are used polemically, just like any other kind of political argumentation (Mazur 1998; Brown 1991).

The politics model has many proponents. Partisans in a particular controversy often see their goal as sufficiently important to justify any interpretation of scientific data that is favorable to their cause. During breaks from writing this final chapter, I am reading John McPhee’s (1971) laudable biography of David Brower, a major environmentalist of the postwar period. McPhee repeatedly describes Brower’s habit of making up “facts” to support his arguments against industrialists and developers. The biographer seems to regard this as an endearing tactic of the "archdruid" in his advocacy for wilderness preservation. Like McPhee, we sympathize with those who fight the good fight, accepting their argumentation when in other contexts it would be vexing.

But the politics model loses its appeal if applied to the entire array of technical controversies affecting policy. Science that is sufficiently malleable to serve any position in one controversy can serve any position in all controversies, and in that event science does not matter at all. The famous parable of “the tragedy of the commons” tells how each shepherd maximized his own herd’s grazing on the village green until no grass remained for anyone (Hardin 1968). In the same way, if each technical expert interprets data for his or her own convenience, with no attempt at objectivity, there will be no experts left with unimpeachable credibility, and we will all suffer for it. [emphasis added]


January 31, 2007

The Cherry Pick

I am doing a lot of travel this week, and that means lots of time in airports with a wireless connection. So apologies for the bloggarea . . . all this discussion of cherry picking has led me to think it would be worth pointing to an earlier essay on this topic:

The Cherry Pick, May, 2004

Do note that this essay was written almost three years ago before I really figured out the language of "honest brokers of policy alternatives" that you'll see in my new book.

Posted on January 31, 2007 12:14 PM View this article | Comments (2)
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Science + Politics

Even More: Mr. Issa’s Confusion and a Comment on Budget Politics

At the Waxman hearing yesterday one of the more unproductive exchanges was between Mr. Issa and Dr. Brifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The UCS released a report chronicling responses to a request for information from climate scientists about their perceptions about politics and science. Mr. Issa focused on the statistical power of the survey, which is the wrong way to look at it. The responses were the responses. They are not evidence of a larger population – the responses ARE the population. That being said the UCS supports my own contention that politics and science are inherently intermixed.

The UCS survey does have its own problems. For instance it lumped in budget issues as political interference. Dr. Shindell also did this at the end of the hearing. If not giving scientists enough money is evidence of political interference then what isn’t? Here are some representative examples cited in the UCS report about how to improve climate science “integrity” (p. 22):

”I believe that climate research at NASA is being undermined by the current administration. This is accomplished not through direct threats of intimidation, but through lack of funding. . .”

“The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has not received sufficient funding . . .”

“Problems with climate research in the federal government mainly have to do with funding . . .”

“I have not worked directly on climate change since funding was eliminated in my area. Other areas of much less importance have been emphasized as a result.”

“Funding for climate research is a factor of 5-10 below critical mass to develop a designed climate observing system.”

[This last one is my favorite - $10-$20 billion, right!]

By adding the politics of the budget process into the mix the UCS has revealed that climate science is indeed very political indeed.

Additional Reactions – Waxman Hearing

Here are a few additional thoughts on yesterday’s hearing and reactions to it.

Here are some impressions – and they are just speculations -- on the politics of the issue of "science suppression" and where it might be headed. First, one notable feature of yesterday’s hearing that you only would have noticed if you were there or watched was the reaction of Rep. Christopher Shays, a moderate Republican. He seemed pretty ticked off at the hearing at the testimony of Rick Piltz in particular and gave him a brief hard time. Mr. Shays commented that he came to the hearing expecting to hear about science suppression but that he had instead heard minor complaints about report edits in a partisan context. He may have been posturing (always possible), but if he was indeed sincere, then Mr. Waxman may have to engage in a bit of logrolling to maintain/retain any sense of bipartisanship in this area of oversight.

Second, the hearing has received a lot of media attention; it even overshadowed the Senate hearing the same day on climate policy. This is of course good for Mr. Waxman and increases pressures on the Bush Administration. But it also raises the bar for future attention pretty high. What does the committee do next? They could invite a few more agency officials, Jim Hansen comes to mind, but there would be a good chance, from a media perspective, of being the same story, which may not generate the same buzz.

Third, President Bush is a lame (very lame) duck, and the presidential election season is getting closer every day. There is not much time available for oversight investigation of any sort. Meantime, the principle bad guys in the story in the Bush Administration have resigned or moved on (in one case to ExxonMobil). Both NASA and NOAA have changed their media policies (for the better?). The Union of Concerned Scientists continues to release reports indicating that science and politics intermix, but if they don’t watch out, they might do such a good job that people might start thinking that . . . science and politics intermix. The Bush Administration can stonewall Mr. Waxman’s request for documents for a long time, and I wouldn’t bet that Mr. Waxman would issue subpoenas on this issue, since the lack of responsiveness by the Administration is almost certainly just a politically useful as the documents themselves. For all of these reasons it seems like there will be diminishing political returns to the issue of "science suppression" especially in the context of Mr. Waxman’s interest in other areas of oversight with more political traction, like the war in Iraq.

For the above reasons, I speculate – and it is just speculation – that we have seen the high water mark on Congressional attention to the issue of “science suppression.” I hope that I am wrong. It would be very informative and useful for Mr. Waxman to bring in media relations officials from various science agencies to examine what they do and how they do it. But I am not expecting this to happen. It is more likely that some other committee, such as the Science Committee takes up aspects of this issue if only to demonstrate ownership of their own turf. Therefore, for the Waxman committee I will put the over/under on future hearings on science suppression at one (bumped up from 0.5).

Finally, I fully expect that scientists who are exploiting their authority to advance their political views do not appreciate someone pointing out the close relation of science and politics. This also goes for those advocates who argue for their political agenda based on an appeal to objective, impartial authorities. Telling enough is that most public responses to my testimony along these lines have carefully avoided responding to anything that I actually wrote. I expect the loudest public complaints from those scientists most active politically. There is a stark contrast between what I see on the web versus what is in my inbox, which is reassuring.

January 30, 2007

Instant Reaction – Waxman Hearing

There is much I could say about the hearing today. Apparently parts of it were on C-Span and will be replayed, and I think the streaming video is available for anyone who wants to subject themselves to four hours inside the sausage factory . . . .

For me the most interesting set of exchanges illustrated exactly the dynamics I discussed in my prepared testimony (available here in PDF). First, Representative McCollum spent some time getting NASA’s Drew Shindell on record explaining that the views of Soon and Baliunas (two scientists who wrote a controversial paper cited by the White House in opposition to the findings of the IPCC) did not and could not overturn the IPCC consensus. (I completely agree with this point.) Dr. Shidell gave in far to easy (and contributed) to the discussion that because the scientists in question had the wrong degrees, that they need not be taken seriously. (I disagree with that – science should be judged on its merits.)

Then, Rep. Welch, apparently not even appreciating the irony, took issue with my invocation in my testimony of the WMO consensus statement on tropical cyclones, which has recently been endorsed by the AMS Executive Council. I pointed out that the Committee's background memo was highly selective in its presentation of hurricane science, which seems fairly obvious, but which they apparently did not like me doing. He claimed that th