Environment

What's Good for the Goose

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMar 18, 2010 7:21 PM

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In the Do As I Say, Not As I Do category: in a recent comment thread at Real Climate, here's Eric Steig admonishing one of the more churlish climate bloggers:

Eli, with all due respect (and I do have a lot of respect for you), and at the risk of your calling me naive again, please don't stoppoing making this personal. If you have something to say about scientific work, say it. If you are merely going to use people's names -- e.g. Peter Cox -- with no context, then you are a) assuming the readers here know what you're talking about (I certainly don't) and b) risking casting unwarranted aspersions on people. The point of this post was "what the science shows is totally different than what is being said about it", NOT to speculate on the the underlying motivations of the authors or anyone else. Feel free to speculate about that on your own blog, but not here.

Let's leave aside the Freudian typo and go now to Steig's response to another commenter on the same thread:

I don't doubt your sincerity. Many colleagues of mine that I know are sincere seem to think Pielke is "reasonable." All I can say is that well meaning people thought that Joe McCarthy was 'reasonable' too. Those people weren't paying attention (or they had rather un-American values). Now: read this post by Stefan (Sealevelgate) in which he is unambiguously saying that IPCC is conservative (not alarmist), and then read RP Jr's post in which he misconstrues Stefan's post to mean that "another leading scientists says that IPCC is flawed." THERE is stealth advocacy for you. Look me in the eye and tell me you think Piekle is being "reasonable" here. (Note: I grant you that it is possible that Pielke may just be too stupid to have understood what Stefan wrote. But I doubt that.)

Speaking of Roger Pielke, Jr., (who was not the subject of that Real Climate post), he's got a book review out in the current issue of Nature (it's freely available) that is sure to elicit primal screams from his various antagonists, especially these passages:

Climate science has become deeply politicized and climate politics is in gridlock. Climate change is at risk of becoming an issue of cultural politics, similar to the evolution debate in the United States and elsewhere. If the climate-policy debate is to continue as it has, we should expect more of the same. An alternative way forward would start by admitting the limitations of science in compelling political agreements, and by admitting that we do not know how to complete the challenge of decarbonizing the global economy. There may be greater prospects for political consensus if scientists acknowledge their humility rather than asserting their authority.

My beef with the review is that it's way too short (1,775 words) to adequately distill four books. It's not fair to the authors. Multi-book reviews warrant much more space for overview and discussion. Roger's review reads like a well-written book report with his summary conclusion tacked on at the end. He should have been given at least another thousand words to air out the book's arguments. I tell you what would be interesting: seeing Bill McKibben review the same four titles in the New York Review of Books.

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