Climate Fun House Mirror

I know that Roger Pielke, Jr.’s loudest critics view him as a stalking horse for climate skeptics and deniers, so I’m sure they will find it useful that he’s been included in this absurdly titled and absurdly packaged Field Guide to Skeptics.

Surely the authors of this Foreign Policy article are aware that climate skeptic is a loaded term, commonly used to categorize people who either doubt the science behind anthropogenic climate change, or argue that mitigation of carbon emissions is not necessary at this point in time.

Roger is not one of those people. I know because I’ve read enough of his body of work to know where he stands. Hell, even the Foreign Policy writers seem to know this, because they end their profile of him with this quote:

For his part, he thinks, “Climate change is a huge problem, and it’s a problem linked to human activity. Greenhouse gases are an important part of that, but it’s not only greenhouse gases. And we need to respond accordingly.”

So I think Roger is justifiably perplexed at being labeled a climate skeptic by a major magazine, when he wonders aloud:

Am I the only one who finds this a bit incongruous?


UPDATE: An editor’s note added to the Pielke portion of the FP article tries to explain:

The aim of the list was, as the introduction states, to separate “the noise from the serious concerns” with regards to those offering critiques of either climate science or institutions charged with presenting climate science to the public or policy-makers; the article was explicitly not intended to equate the viewpoints of all people contained on the list.

If they wanted to separate “the noise from the serious concerns,” then they were doomed from the outset when they highlighted the article on the website’s roving homepage, with an illustration of a polar bear on a melting iceberg, above this header:

Deny! Deny! Deny! FP’s Guide to Climate Skeptics

UPDATE 2: Predictably, Joe Romm is happy to note the FP designation during one of his patented rants against Roger. I do hope Romm has the courage to take up Roger’s invitation to a debate. Don’t bet on it, though. Deep down Romm knows that William Connolley is right about this.

29 Responses to “Climate Fun House Mirror”

  1. Marlowe Johnson says:

    I think it would be more accurate to call Roger a climate agitator or perhaps less charitably a climate obstructionist to the extent that he seems to agitate a lot of people and provides useful cover for those who seek delay mitigation policies…

  2. Roger Pielke, Jr. says:

    Marlowe- Can you explain what it means to “useful cover for those who seek delay mitigation policies”?  And cite an example?


  3. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Wow that was fast Roger!  What I mean is that your work in the blogosphere (both on your blog and elsewhere) is routinely promoted by those who oppose/object to climate science and/or any mitigation policies.  See here for example:

    I’d have thought that this is fairly obvious and would frankly be very surprised if you believe otherwise.  You only need to look at the orientation of 95% of the commenters on your blog for confirmation 🙂

    Now to be clear your published work is a different animal altogether, which is one of the reasons why I find your choice of issues you discuss on your blog and the manner in which you frame them perplexing — but we’ve been over that ground before….

  4. Roger Pielke Jr. says:


    So that I am clear … you are not objecting to the substance  of what I write, but rather you are evaluating it according to how you feel about who happen to promote my work.  Is that a fair summary?

    My blog discussions closely follow my published work — politics and science, disasters, decarbonization.

  5. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Roger for the most part I agree with your published work , in particular about the unhealthy obsession with reduction targets rather than actual policies.   But I’d disagree that tone of your blogging is consistent with the tone in your papers; to some extent that’s understandable given that they’re really two different mediums.

    To be clear though I’m not ‘evaluating’ your work.  I’m simply making an observation that your blog comments are frequently used by those with a delay/obstruct agenda and almost never (that I’ve been able to see) by those who favour action on climate change. 

    Given your own views on the need for action to address climate change doesn’t this bother you?  And perhaps more to the point, why do you think it is that you’re  work is  so often misrepresented and used by that particular crowd?  I’m trying to think of another academic that fits into this  particular dynamic and I must admit I’m at a loss…

  6. Roger Pielke Jr. says:


    I’m not sure I understand the distinction that you are making between my blog commentary and my published work.  Sure there is a vast difference in tone and style, as you say they are different media.  At the same time, the substance is much the same.

    It is very difficult for me to respond to generalities.   Can you offer up something more specific?

  7. Marlowe Johnson says:

    not without a lot of effort 🙂 as it’s not something I actively document; it’s  more of an impression having read your work and your blogs over the years.  but frankly i’m more interested in the larger issue about how your work and blogging efforts are used and the disconnect between your views and those who promote your work.  Can we talk about that instead?

  8. Marlowe Johnson says:

    and in fairness I already gave you a specific example in reference to your original request in post #2…. 🙂

  9. Keith Kloor says:

    I’d like to weigh in at this juncture. Marlowe, do you mean to say that it is Roger’s blog–and not his published work–that is being used as fodder by the Morano wing of the skeptic universe? I had thought that some of the antipathy of climate advocates towards Roger predates his blogging–and is because of the findings of his disaster research.

    Regardless, I too would like to see some evidence of Roger’s blog comments being used by the delay/obstruct crowd. And please don’t cite aggregators like Morano. He’s linked to my posts, as well Tom Yulsman’s, and both of us believe that AGW is for real.

  10. Marlowe Johnson says:


    You’re right Morano is probably not the best of examples…here’s another…

    hmmm….after trolling through google I was actually surprised by the lack of additional material, so I guess a retraction of sorts is in order.  Guess I’m guilty of not doing some research first :).

    But I would still suggest that Roger’s blog – as it stands now – is quite unusual to the extent that commenters seem to be coming from a place that is far removed from his own position…

  11. Keith Kloor says:


    On your last point, I would agree. It’s something that’s puzzled me for some time. Here’s two thoughts on that.

    1) I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge a blog solely on the commenters, or even make blanket assumption based on the tenor or substance of those comments. I made that mistake with Climate Progress once and ended up insulted many people who read Joe but perhaps don’t comment there.

    2) Of those commenters at Roger’s site, I have a theory: those that would identify themselves as anti-AGW, I’m thinking there’s cognitive dissonance there. They love the part of Roger that tweaks climate scientists and enviros, but they willfully ignore the part of him that believes that greenhouse gases is responsible for climate change and should be addressed.

  12. Marlowe Johnson says:


    Agreed on both counts.  And in fairness I’m probably coming across more harshly on Roger than he deserves; in part this is probably because I wish he’d knock a few heads by rebutting some of the more ridiculous comments there.  I appreciate that probably isn’t his style, but I do think it would help to reduce the signal to noise ratio in the comments.  During the Prometheus days the discussions seemed much more interesting but maybe I’m just being nostalgic…

    and FWIW I think that many of the commenters at CPare just as ridiculous and wish Joe and would do more there to reign in the discussion (I actually think the real climate folks do a much better job of this)…hyperbolic flame wars aren’t terribly interesting once you’ve seen a few thousand of them…

  13. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    Marlowe, Keith- 

    I don’t dwell too much on the demographics of those who choose to comment on my site.   There are plenty of skeptics in the comments to be sure, but so to are there a lot of skeptics at Revkin’s site, Ben Hale’s, Tom Yulsman’s etc.  In fact, the only place where there aren’t a lot of skeptics is where they are winnowed out by moderation, like at Romm’s.

    I don’t mind hearing from people who I disagree with.  the alternative is an echo-chamber.  But if you look closely there is also some valuable commentary/debate in the comments.  Marlowe, for instance, shows up occasionally to offer a substantive response 😉

  14. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, that equation of RP Jr.’s commenters with Romm’s is a monument to your distorted perspective.  In the real world, as contrasted to the semi-fictional journalistic one, both sides are rarely equal.

    Marlowe, this current kerfuffle is a classic example of RP Jr. doing what he does best. 

    I should not fail to mention the ongoing Klotzbach et al. incident (read from the bottom if you have the time), regarding which none of RP Jr.’s journalist pals have commented.  One might start by asking what a political scientist was doing on such a paper to begin with and how it was that said political scientist became the chief public defender of the paper notwithstanding that he lacked sufficient subject matter knowledge to do so. 

    His Sourcewatch page (however did he get one of those?) has some informative material.  For oodles more, search RealClimate, Rabett Run and Deltoid.
    Those who want to understand RP Jr.’s behavior will be helped by bearing in mind Oscar Wilde’s dictum that “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

    My own pet hypothesis is that RP Jr. is composed in substantial part of administratium. 🙂

  15. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    Steve Bloom has written an entire paragraph about me without a single substantive claim.  Apparently, someone said something somewhere about something I wrote and it really should be read.

    Steve, should you wish to engage on any matter of substance regarding my views, I’m happy to engage.  Should you rather not, well trhat speaks for itself;-)

  16. Keith Kloor says:


    I set my watch to your arrival to this thread. You’re actually a bit late. I suppose some of the other Pielke furies you mentioned will be stopping by sometime soon to sling a few turds as well.  (Deltoid, Eli, time’s a’ wasting…)

    Really now, you need to do better than quoting a liberal wiki page and partisan bloggers.

  17. Steve Bloom says:

    Stooping to the scatological, Keith?  Tch.

    Roger, I linked to the substance.  Anybody who wants to see can go look for themselves.  I supect Marlowe at least will.  Keith ?  Nah, he’s a journalist and so wouldn’t want to see information that interferes with his chosen narrative.

    Your continued seeming mystification as to how you’ve come to be held in such low regard by climate scientists and climate activists is absurd, but I suppose it’s a necessary part of the act.  Keep producing on deadline, maintain instant avilability for comments, and above all stay firmly in the imagined Broderist middle cherished by most journalists, and continued media face time is guaranteed.  Your credibility, not so much.   

  18. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    Steve, that response does indeed speak for itself 😉

  19. Steve Bloom says:

    Oh yeah, Keith:  It’s not strictly speaking counter-factual to describe some of the sources I linked or listed as “partisan,” but James Annan and RealClimate?  That’s tantamount to taking RP Jr,’s side against the entire climate science establishment.  Get real. 

    As an exercise, try listing all of the climate scientists RP Jr. has fought with in public, and ask yourself what that says about him.  Then ask yourself what the continued reliance of so many journalists on contrarian but scientifically valueless sources like him and Lomborg says about those journalists.  Of course it says that seemingly credible sources who will attack the science are in very short supply, but what about the big picture?    

  20. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    Steve, what is “my side”?  From where I sit it is the side calling for integrity in climate science.  Are you against that?

    Are James Annan and RealClimate really ” the entire climate science establishment”? 

  21. Steve Bloom says:

    Based on what provable breaches of integrity, Roger?  I don’t see any.  What I see is a potential over-reaction by the scientific community to unfounded charges of breaches of integrity, which will be very damaging to the extent that they distract scientists from continuing their research (as with the Met Center’s idea to pointlessly rework the surface data).

    Re my use of “tantamount,” perhaps you should look up the meaning.

  22. Steve Bloom says:

    Oh yes, your “side”:  Climate science policy media whores, an impolite but accurate term.    

  23. Keith Kloor says:


    If you want to play the link game (and I read all yours, btw), let’s take a ride over to Stoat’s place for some of his recent posts on Roger. For starters, we can do this one.

    I mention William because he’s been critical of Roger in the past but he also recognizes the sham and dirty characterization you, Romm, et al have been peddling for years.

    He’s had the courage to call BS on all this bogeyman crap about Roger.

    It doesn’t bother me in the least that William has had his differences with Roger. That’s called open and honest debate. But at least he hasn’t trafficked in the garbage that you regularly dispense.

    Why can’t you NOT be like Romm for just once and emulate William instead, someone I know you also respect. Just stop the petty trash talk and debate Roger on your differences.

  24. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, now you’ve gone ahead and proved once again that you’re not paying attention to details in your rush to stuff things into a pre-determined meme.  Deadline problems?

    Anyway, you’ve mistaken a criticism of Romm for support for RP Jr. in more than the narrow area stated.  This more recent comment from William is probably a fair summation of his view:

    ‘(M)uch of the stuff about Disasters and Hurricanes that he writes is both Correct and Unwelcome in certain circles.  But when Roger takes his “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” attitude into areas that he doesn’t know so well – climate science being an obvious one – he can fall apart rather badly (the trend stuff was a disaster for him) and he has no fall-back strategy, since he cannot admit error[.] ‘

    William’s sometimes-scathing criticisms of RP Jr.’s forays into physical science have been extensive, thus the many dears in the subject of this pithy post (and do follow all the links).   Does he use more polite words?  Sure, but you seem to be claiming more than that.

    I don’t agree with all of RP Jr.’s disaster stuff, but much of it is correct and there’s no question as to his qualifications.  Where I possibly part from the substance of William’s view is regarding RP Jr.’s adaptation stuff, which in my opinion is dangerously fraudulent even though there’s no doubt that he’s also qualified to work in that area. 

    Getting back to Romm, I don’t think either you or William quite understand what’s going on with Climate Progress, a point I won’t bother elaborating on now since I’ve done so here before and been ignored.  I just think it’s funny how interested you are in what Morano is doing, but are so personally offended by Romm that you won’t deign to analyze his efforts beyond a surface gloss. 


  25. lurkervin says:

    “dangerously fraudulent”

    Bloom’s got to put up something on this big claim.  Otherwise I’ll call BS.

  26. Steve Bloom says:

    Dangerous:  No amount of adaptation will be sufficient in the face of  the consequences of too little mitigation.  Valuable coastal real estate, e.g., can be armored against a few meters of sea level rise, but ten meters would be tough.  Expecting our descendants to happily bear the titanic cost of relocation because we assume they’ll be richer is irresponsible. 

    Fraudulent:  Minimizing the danger of delayed mitigation is itself a kind of fraud.  RP Jr. is guilty of excessive optimism about nonexistent (in the sense of deployable at a sufficient scale) technology like chemical air capture.  Also, he’s argued that when considering appropriate mitigation measures it’s reasonable to limit concern about the impacts of dangerous climate change effects to a 50-year horizon.  There’s a longer list, but I’d have to check to make sure I’m not confusing his specific arguments with others holding similar views.

  27. Keith Kloor says:


    You might be the only one that understands “what’s going on with climate progress.”

  28. lurkervin says:

    Shorter Bloom: I got nothin’.

  29. Steve Bloom says:

    So, lurkervin, you don’t follow this stuff at all, do you?  

    Keith, the point isn’t your failure to understand, it’s your failure to not even try.  Joe has been mean to some of your friends, so you trash him without putting much thought into it.  You’re not much of a journalist if you can’t manage to put a little distance between yourself and those feelings. 

    Say, why not do a post on the latest chapter in Andy Revkin’s ongoing shameless promotion of RP Jr. (shorter:  “how dare you not put my source on that committee!”)?  I mean, being part of the same “middle” in the climate “debate,” you must have some special insights.

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