Stephen Schneider's Criticism of Roger Pielke Jr.: A Self-Aggrandizer, Trickster, and Careerist

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Jul 2012 11:48:00 GMT

Our guest blogger is Paul Thacker.

Yesterday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) gave the latest version of his global-warming-hoax speech on the U.S. Senate floor. Amid his bevy of references to anti-scientific opinionators, he cited University of Colorado political scientist Roger Pielke Jr., the son of the climate-change denying climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr., to claim that “long term . . . there is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change.”

Pielke Jr. tweeted in response: “Sounds like here Mr. Inhofe is relying on sound science, r you against that? ;-)”

Despite Pielke Jr.’s “sound science” assertion, his Inhofe-endorsed claim is false, as the eminent climate scientist Stephen Schneider described to me in 2009. Because he had no interest in a “blogging war” with the Pielkes, he didn’t publicly criticize Pielke Jr.’s mendacity.

Two years ago this month, Stephen Schneider died. He was a great man. We could all learn something from him. Over several years, he and I had several discussions by email, person, and phone about how to deal with scientists who willfully distort scientific knowledge. In part, I think these people assault the very foundation of what makes us distinct from other animals: the ability to improve on prior knowledge in science.

During one of our discussions in 2009, I forwarded Schneider a Roger Pielke Jr. claim similar to the one Inhofe cited yesterday. I asked Schneider why Roger engaged in this type of really unprofessional behavior.

Below, you can see Schneider’s reply.

- Forwarded Message -
From: Stephen H Schneider
To: Paul D. Thacker <__@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:13 AM
Subject: Re: Why does Pielke continue to prevaricate?

Thanks Paul, I guess, never any fun dealing with Roger Jr. I can’t figure him out, except that one consistent pattern emerges-he is a self-aggrandizer who sets up straw men, knocks them down, and takes credit for being the honest broker to explain the mess-and in fact usually adds little new social science to his analysis. I saw him do it at AAAS four years ago and called him on it afterward and he walked off steamed when I told him he just made assertions and that good scientists show empirical evidence. He is not worth arguing about, frankly.

Moreover, note the sleazy way he said it: no peer reviewed paper showing greenhouse EMISSIONS was causing increased damages. You missed that emissions part and assumed he meant climate change-he probably wanted you to miss it. How can we know which percentage of the damages are due to Ma Earth or due to us-no way to precisely separate them except by detection and attribution studies-which do separate them but not at the scale of a locality with hazardous damages. SO it is a set up. Like saying Katrina can’t be proved related to global warming driven by humans. Of course, warming didn’t make the hurricane, but it’s passing over warmed Gulf certainly had some impact in increasing intensity, but how much of that warming was from greenhouse emissions versus other factors-impossible to say and no one would in a peer reviewed journal. So it is a cherry picked framing that he then uses in broad conclusion form and you fell for it-like most probably would!! If he said there are no papers associating observed WARMING to damages, he’d be destroyed-just see the many examples in IPCC. He is subtly saying nobody did double attribution-see the attached from Terry and me on what that is. It is typical of a trickster and a careerist-which is how I personally see him-and so do most of my colleagues these days who I have discussed it with. Please do not copy or forward this-I am uninterested in a blogging war with either him or his father-as Sr. is wont to do.
Cheers, Steve
PS-On the link you gave in your email is Roger’s fifth point-note the trick:
“5. There are no peer-reviewed papers documenting a link between GHG emissions and the long-term trend in disasters.” This is a statement that nobody published a double attribution study on hazards-he’s close to being right on this trick, but not quite right if you count ecosystems as threatened-like in the attached.

Stephen H. Schneider
Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies,
Professor, Department of Biology and
Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
Mailing address:
Yang & Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building – MC 4205
473 Via Ortega
Ph: 650 725 9978
F: 650 725 4387
Websites: climatechange.net
patientfromhell.org
- Original Message -
From: “Paul D. Thacker”
To: __@yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, March 2, 2009 7:25:25 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Why does Pielke continue to prevaricate?


I would like to say that Roger Pielk Jr. has recently blogged that there are no peer-reviewed articles linking climate change and an increase in disasters.

See here: http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/qa-thread-to-in-response-to-joe-romm-5017

This is clearly not true. A viewpoint on this very issue was published several years ago in Science. And viewpoints, while not necessarily filled with new data, ARE peer-reviewed.

See here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/sci;309/5737/1040.pdf

Certainly Roger saw the article because he sent in a letter with cherry-picked data trying to refute it. But disagreeing with an article’s conclusion is a little different from arguing that the article doesn’t…actually…exist. Isn’t it?

But that’s what Roger does. Why does he continue to mislead?