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Environment

Who Am I?

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Apsmith over at Daily Kos has tried to unravel how Michael Tobis got himself top billing on a recent Glenn Beck show. Because I pop up (somewhat mysteriously--"who is Keith Kloor?") as one of the culpable parties, I feel it's important to correct some of his misleading inferences. I wanted to leave a comment on his post but because I'm not registered at the site, it would take 24 hours for the comment to be approved. First, since many readers of this blog are just becoming familiar with me, well, who am I? I'm a magazine journalist who has focused largely on environmental and archaeological topics. (A full representation of my work, including links, will soon be available on this blog.) From 2000 to 2008 I was an editor at Audubon Magazine. It's a small staff and I'm proud of my work there. Great people too. In addition to my editing responsibilities, I also wrote numerous stories for the magazine. During this period, as well as before I was at Audubon, I have written for various publications, ranging from Smithsonian to Science. My favorite environmental magazine (partially because I love the Southwest) is High Country News, and I'm honored to now write for them as well. I'm also an adjunct professor at New York University, where for the last four years I have taught magazine writing to both undergraduates and graduates in the journalism program. Currently, I'm spending an academic year at the University of Colorado, Boulder, as one of five Ted Scripps Fellows at the Center for Environmental Journalism. My project is on drought and prehistoric cultures in the Southwest. Now, as to some of the sinister connections inferred by apsmith: It's true that Roger Pielke Jr. is a political scientist at the the University of Colorado, where I'm a Fellow. But until two weeks ago I had never met Roger or had any exchanges with him. I did, however, attend a AAAS panel four or five years ago, where Roger gave a climate change-related presentation. My criticism of alarmist, over-the-top rhetoric by environmentalists made its first appearance in this blog several weeks ago, when I started taking potshots at Joe Romm. (See here and here.) Soon after that, Michael Tobis uttered his unfortunate comments during an exchange with Roger Pielke, Jr, on his blog, which I noted here. What's been interesting to me is that the majority of blog comments I've received in the wake of all this controversy have related to Roger Pielke Jr. Nearly all of them have come from environmentalists who have cast aspersions on Roger's motives and characater. Roger has a well-established record of engaging his critics on blogs, so it's no surprise that Roger has tried to answer the many criticisms leveled at him on this blog. I give him a lot of credit for doing so. Because I'm deeply interested in the relationship between drought and how it has affected prehistoric societies, I'm also interested in climate change. As it happens, archaeologist Brian Fagan has recently published a nice book called The Great Warming, examining the role of drought in the collapse of ancient civilizations. I recommend it for anyone interested in the topic. I mention this because any future societal impacts resulting form anthropogenic climate change are currently uncertain. We can speculate on all sorts of worst-case scenarios, and that's legitimate. I happen to believe that if we continue on our present course of greenhouse gas buildup, we increase the likelihood of experiencing extreme weather events. That will undoubtedly lead to great human tragedies and increased geopolitical instability. There should be a vigorous debate on all this. But I object to the over-heated and hypberbolic rehetoric that has dominated the discouse (from both sides of the political spectrum) these last two weeks.

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