The Climate Hawk Pledge

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorOct 25, 2010 11:26 PM


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On one thing David Roberts and I agree on: Grist has a sucky comment software. Seriously, David has written what he promises to be his last post on Climate Hawks, linking in a roundup to all the approving nods he got in the blogosphere, and the tiny minority of dissenters. Woe to ThingsBreak for sharing a lonely, distant star with me. I can't promise this will be my last post on the topic, but I am going to make a prediction: Climate Hawks never gets off the ground (and by that I mean beyond the fantasy stage) unless journalists start using it as shorthand and/or Thomas Friedman inserts the term in three columns within a three month period. (Krugman the dove can't get it to fly.) There is, of course, a related Judith Curry angle to this discussion of climate hawks, courtesy of John Rennie, the former editor in chief of Scientific American. (Roberts, in his latest post, thanks Renne for expanding his "understanding of the term.") In the second of two posts applauding the Climate Hawk coinage, Renne explains why he believes it's a useful term:

"Climate hawk" is a statement about one's stance on policy, not on the science. One of the problems that has muddied climate discussions is that there has not been a simple way to separate people's positions on the science from their positions on the appropriate policy response. Having such labels is extremely useful"”arguably, essential"”not only as a way of hemming in individual discussions ("Are we debating the science or the policy response?") but also as a way of clearly pegging exactly what people stand for.

Then, after noting how Judith Curry has become a hero to skeptics for her vocal criticism of climate science, Renne suggests that Curry might be good test case for the utility of the Climate Hawks moniker:

Curry seems to have misgivings about the uncertainties in the climate science, but she agrees that we need to cut CO2 emissions and take whatever other steps are necessary to head off possible climate disasters. Indeed, if she feels a policy response is required, then it seems clear that whatever problems she has with the state of the science, they aren't big enough to negate that conclusion. Understanding this much about her position and being able to state it clearly is therefore huge in policy discussions that invoke her name. If Curry identified herself as a climate hawk (a purely hypothetical possibility at this point), then her usefulness to those who would cite her to undermine proposals to cut CO2 emissions plummets. She could also probably make peace with many of her scientific colleagues who think she is willing to be a pawn of the climate denialists. On the other hand, if she doesn't want to call herself a climate hawk, it clearly opens up a discussion about why.

If Renne is correct, then it stands to reason that Judith can put an end to the cold war between herself and many of her esteemed members of the climate science fraternity by simply taking the pledge: I am a climate hawk. And if she refuses, well..either way, I'm sure some interesting discussion will ensue. I'll follow up with an email to Judith after I post this and see if she would like to take the pledge. UPDATE:

Curry declines.

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