Climate Gutterball

What are we to make of the ugly campaign still being waged against Andy Revkin for this piece, and, in a parallel effort, against Roger Pielke, Jr, who, in mid February had pointed out that climate data was misrepresented in a Gore slide show at the AAAS conference?

What are we to make of Michael Tobis, a University of Texas climate scientist,  who on his blog recently said this about Revkin:

I don’t think his dragging Gore into Will’s muck was a minor transgression of a fine point of propriety. I think it was palpably evil.

Palpably evil. Chew on that one for a minute.

Oh, but wait, Tobis is just getting warmed up. In the comment thread of his post, he has this exchange (which I’m excerpting) with Roger Pielke Jr (who Tobis and other bloggers blame equally for his role in the Revkin piece that equates Gore with Will). Tobis:

It is difficult for me to state how grave I think the transgression of ethics committed by Revkin and Pielke in this matter is.

Consider some statistical expectation of human lives that will likely be lost as a consequence of the delay due to this confusion. I think such a number could present a very grave picture indeed.

Pielke Jr.:

If you think that it was unethical for me to point out that Gore was misrepresenting the relationship of disasters and climate change (based on my research I should add), then I am really amazed.

What kind of scientist says that misrepresentations are OK or should be ignored if politicians with the right values are making them?

[And maybe I read you wrong, but are you really suggesting that Revkin and I are complicit in “statistical deaths”? Please do clarify that odd claim …]

Tobis obliges:

Implying an equivalence between Gore, who is constantly treading a fine line between effective politics and truthful description of risks, and George Will, who is wrong from beginning to end in conception, detail and emphasis is unacceptable because it perpetuates this dangerous skew.

As for the scope of the ethical risk, let us consider the possibility that the behavior of the Times and the Post this year increases the chance of an extreme event with a premature mortality of a billion people by a mere part per million, a per cent of a per cent of a per cent. The expected mortality from this is a thousand people. Is that morally equivalent to actually killing a thousand people? It’s not all that obvious to me that it isn’t.

Pielke is incredulous:

Wow.

These sort comments give far more ammo to your political enemies than anything I could ever say or do.

Eye opening stuff.

It’s worth reading the exchange in its entirety to see the debased logic now being employed by some climate advocates.

I have a theory as to why Tobis and Joe Romm, to cite two of the most relentless and over-the-top critics of Revkin and Pielke, Jr., are so hellbent. That’s in the next post.

6 Responses to “Climate Gutterball”

  1. […] Keith Kloor, a journalist, summarizes the exchange I had this week with that climate scientist: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2009/03/02/climate-gutterball/ What are we to make of Michael Tobis, a University of Texas climate scientist,  who on his blog […]

  2. Brian G Valentine says:

    Just wait till you hear Tobis when he has something “extreme” to say.

  3. […] 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. […]

  4. Hank Roberts says:

    Hmmm ….


    Hmmm, give far more ammo to political enemies. How could that be, when this is a quiet, if passionate, conversation in a pro-climate-consensus corner the blogosphere, where Michael has been trying to give the benefit of the doubt and get to understanding what motivates Roger Pielke Jr? What does Pielke mean by this? Michael doesn’t even know he has any “political enemies”!
    Now the chronology gets a little interesting. That last comment from Pielke was March 1, 2009 at 7:10 PM. At 12:31 pm March 2, Keith Kloor posted a copy of much of Tobis’ comments with expressions of increduility. Who is Keith Kloor? I’d certainly never heard of him before. Apparently he is a journalist who is currently a fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. The same place Pielke works. And about half the comments on his 1-month-old blog seem to be from one Roger Pielke Jr. Interesting.”

    From:  http://www.no-one-owns-me.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/7/225548/4097/896/705913

    Hmmm.  Worth checking, is “about half” accurate as of the time it was said?

  5. […] That last comment from Pielke was March 1, 2009 at 7:10 PM. At 12:31 pm March 2, Keith Kloor posted a copy of much of Tobis’ comments with expressions of increduility. Who is Keith Kloor? I’d certainly never heard of him […]

  6. Brian Valentine says:

    but but but … Michael Tobis seems like such a nice guy.  He’s usually just so … so receptive to viewpoints other than his own. 
    He hardly EVER resorts to “name-calling” or “character assault”

    – unless, of course, someone happens to suggest that Al Gore is a “charlatan” or a “fearmonger trying to make himself wealthy at other people’s expense and misery by resorting to lies”

    – or that man-made-global warming is a “fraud.” 

    Then Mr Tobis will trash you all over his and anybody else’s website he knows about for as long as his temper will hold on

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