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Environment

The KrugRomm Hybrid

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorFebruary 7, 2011 7:20 PM

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Did Joe Romm ghostwrite Paul Krugman's column in today's NYT? Let's look at the uncanny similarities between Krugman's op-ed and an argument advanced by Romm in several of his recent posts. For example, Krugman writes today (my emphasis):

After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn't so much why they're happening as why they're happening now. And there's little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

If you click on that link Krugman provides, it'll take you to this Romm post, where he wonders aloud (my emphasis):

The question is why specifically now have the Egyptians and Tunisians rioted after decades of anti-democratic rule?

Why indeed? Here's what Krugman emphasizes:

While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we'd expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate "” which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.

That's precisely the linkage Romm plays up in his post, when he writes (my emphasis) that

leading political experts say the Middle East rioting is driven in part by the dramatic rise in food prices, which the agricultural experts say is driven in large part by oil prices and the extreme weather we've seen in the last few months. Of course, the climate science experts have been saying for a while now that the extreme weather is driven in large part by human emissions...Now the question is, why are food prices are at record levels? Again, realitypretty much speaks for itself here. Extreme weather is a major contributing factor "” and our top climate scientists say global warming has contributed.

I have to say, if you're a blogger banging out posts from your kitchen table, this is as good as it gets, when a prominent NYT columnist is taking his cue from you. Krugman has previously written that he "trusts Joe Romm on climate." Perhaps it's time for him to amend that to "I trust Joe Romm on climate andpolitical science." UPDATE: Roger Pielke Jr. weighs in on Krugman's column. I'm interested to see other reax when it comes in, so if you spot something, leave a comment. UPDATE: Andrew Revkin has a nuanced big picture take.

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