Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pink Helicopters, the Equilateral Commission and Auris Dei

Sooner or later when party A (Eli) says there has been an organized, well-financed and effective effort against something, party B (the Boulder branch of the Ethonian Society) will haul out the the "you gotta believe in Black Helicopters, the Trilateral commission and Opus Dei argument. This happened over at Inkstain in something that developed into a useful exchange of bodyslams and information. Most of this post comes from there with some additional comments. Kevin V. and the Roger P. both sullied the reputation of the Rabett (didn't think that was possible, did you mice). Worse, Roger cried that Eli was stalking him, but a cute bunny can turn away wrath with a few calming words

Calling Eli a believer in pink helicopters, the Equilateral Commission and Auris Dei (can’t you get anything right) is marginal but all this pales compared to the gross unfairness of labeling a bunny a stalker. What are you, a carrot?

Now, far be it from ER to say that all conspiracy theories are not flown in on Black Helicopters, there are any number wacko belief systems out there that cannot be stamped out, such as all those WMDs in 2002 Iraq being sent to Syria and Iran, GM suppressing the 100 mpg water carburetor and more. A fine selection can be found many places on the net, still, one can ask a few questions and Eli did:

1. Do you agree or disagree that there has been an organized, well-financed effort to stop or delay action on AGW? (My answer is that this happened)

2. Do you believe that that action has been effective or do you claim that the same policy path would have been followed in any case. (My answer is that the campaign was effective and a different policy path would have been followed, although it would not have completely met the challenge. If nothing else I can point to the tobacco case as an exemplar)

The answers were interesting (somewhat bending the timeline here using the wayback machine, with both Roger and Kevin agreeing to 1 and claiming on 2

Kevin: you’d make more sense if you could prove that without Exxon-funded think tanks trying to obscure on climate change that we’d have strong abatement/mitigation policies in place by now. But we wouldn’t, and if you think we would you’re delusional.
Roger was rather more Delphic
Don’t know. It is not clear to me that there is any quantifiable relationship between political advocacy, policy commitments, and greenhouse gas emissions (except as you point out those policies implemented for non GHG reasons which have GHG effects, a big lesson there). For the flip side look at Europe. The actual effects of post-FCCC GHG mitigation advocacy and policies on real-world GHG emissions in Europe, where there is no serious organized opposition to GHG policies, is pretty hard to see. One thing they teach us in policy school is to be careful about policy evaluation by counter factual. Data is always better.
but the thrust is the same. Yet, it is difficult to deny that campaign produced qualitatively different US energy policies. As Eli pointed out to John F, anyone holding such opinions will assign little to no responsibility to those who carried it out. Since their motives remain even after their campaign has been discredited, this attitude enables the Exxons and Western Fuels of the world to affect policy going forward in ways which impose further delays and damage.

An interesting point about the claims on EU emissions is that the picture is much more variegated than a simple lumpenstaat EU picture would show. There is, of course, the ex-Warsaw Pact countries whose economies collapsed in the early 90s and who eliminated a lot of pollution friendly industry by modernization (aka increasing efficiency and decreasing emissions), the core industrialized EU (UK, France Benelux, Germany [BRD part]+ Sweden, etc.) where emission growth has been slightly negative to slightly positive, and the industrializing rim (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland) where the 90s say rapid emission growth but where it is now leveling off. In any case, EU emissions in all categories are low compared to US/Canada/Australia,

Even within the US, there are low emitting states such as California which HAVE set policy on energy use and emissions, which shows that policy can affect emission levels. Answers to the next two levels show the depth of climate nihilism on the eastern slope:

3. Do you believe that any level of GHG CO2 equivalent mixing ratios would be so dangerous/costly as to be avoided through serious mitigation. If so where (My answer is 550-600 ppm, although to avoid that action will have to be taken almost immediately. In this I differ significantly with Tol and Nordhaus on when we have to start although not the end point.)

Roger:450, though likely not in the cards. 550-600 also unlikely. As you know I don’t think that this is the best way to frame the problem or think about action. It is a little like saying, would you prefer a poverty rate of 10% or 8%? Well, lower is better, the question is how do you get there? Not by arguing about ideal poverty rates I’d say. The stabilization rate we get will be the result of many individual policies justified on their own merits, not a top down target, which is exactly as policies are in fact developing around the US and elsewhere.
The relax and enjoy it version of climate science **.

4. What level of GHG mixing ratios can be dealt with through adaptation? (My answer is 450-500 at most but there will have to be mitigation to prevent the mixing ratio from rising above this. )

4) Poorly posed — adaptation will occur whatever the level of CO2 is - 950? Yes. 1500? Yes. Much adaptation is needed at 380 ppm. Adaptation and mitigation are not trade-offs but complements. Adaptation is needed at any levels of GHG concentrations. See our recent Nature piece.

Rabett Run has consistently said that both adaptation and mitigation are needed, but Roger's answer avoids the question (have to be more specific in the future) which was at what level would ONLY adaptation be sufficient.

UPDATE: In the comments, Roger Pielke Jr. writes:
To answer your last question - at _no level_ is only adaptation sufficient. Clear enough?

Now go stalk a carrot for a while.
Which is as clear a statement on this issue as could be wished.

UPDATE 2: See the new post on pink helicopters where Steve Bloom provides a much better answer to what is happening in the EU

** Best expressed by Bert Brecht

Ja; mach nur einen Plan
sei nur ein großes Licht!
Und mach dann noch´nen zweiten Plan
gehn tun sie beide nicht.
Denn für dieses Leben
ist der Mensch nicht schlecht genug:
doch sein höch´res Streben
ist ein schöner Zug.


Anonymous said...


There really isn't anything meaningful that will come out of any attempt at rational exchange with Roger and crowd. (nice to see that Kevin Vranes is fully onboard).

Of course Roger is an enabler and he undersands that he is to some degree. Why do you think he gets so angry when you point it out? Why do you think he works so hard to promote himself as "in the middle" while hinting that eminent scientists are "out on a limb."

And then there's the payment Roger took to write for Cato's Regulation magazine. Of course that's not enabling the right-wing think tanks, is it Roger?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...


The black helicopter reference was to your continual ad hom ways of suggesting that I have some hidden agenda to thwart action on climate change, and not a reference to the role of conservatives in trying to do the same ... but fixing the facts to the slime is now expected, as this post indicates. (BTW, do get a primer on EU energy and emissions policy history.)

To answer your last question - at _no level_ is only adaptation sufficient. Clear enough?

Now go stalk a carrot for a while.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

Anonymous- I'd be happy to engage a real person, but someone obviously too ashamed of their lies to sign their name? Not so much . . .

Anonymous said...

Let's see, typical Pielke Jr.

1. Restate the charge - Eli has been implying that Roger gives aid and comfort to denialists through his comments. Roger distorts Eli's claim, by stating that he "have some hidden agenda to thwart action on climate change."

Of course, Eli never implied that in the first place.

2. Roger states his opponents' argument that adaptation is not sufficient - Of course, adaptation is not sufficient. That's why people have been complaining about Roger's incessant harping on the need for adaptation.

3. Roger downplays the fact that he was paid thousands of dollars to write for Regulation, a Cato publication which long worked to undermine the science/policy on smoking and now does the same on climate change.

The fear by Roger is that people will come to see him as a tool of Exxon Mobil which has been funding Cato's climate change nonsense.

Don't worry, Roger. Probably only one or two journalist read this blog. I'm sure you'll be getting a call for a quote sometime within the next few days. Just be patient

Anonymous said...

It might also be that Roger Pielke Jr. is still amarting from looking like a fool during his last appearance in Congress.

His answers to the Democrats was classic stupid.

Mus musculus

EliRabett said...

Roger, thanks for your answer about adaptation. Our positions on that appear symmetric, necessary but not sufficient, which, of course with the other issues on which we agree means immediate action is needed on mitigation to avoid or sadly at best to limit serious damage. Although the time lost before the WGII and WGIII reports come out will be regretable, they will come down to the same points.

This demonstrates how the science of climate change has become more settled in the last 5-10 years and how this has narrowed the grounds for policy change.

As to the second, less important point, Eli has been fairly careful not to impute motive, but he has pointed out effect and method. The most that has been said wrt motive is that someone in policy studies has to be aware of effect and methods. Now you may find exceptions to this, to which the remark moderation in all things including moderation replies.

While I fully understand your discomfort at the opinions of the various anonymice running about here, you might look to the motes in your own blog, who while perhaps not anonymouses are fairly opinionated and direct.

Anonymous said...

I know one way we can quickly clear up Roger's funding from the Cato Institute. He could just scan a copy of the contract/check and place a link to pdf on his blog.

That way people will quit implying that he's a shill.

Anonymous said...

Pielke, pielke, pielke, pielke.....Can't believe someone like you is a professor. This can't be tenure-track position, can it?

Here's an interesting riddle, Mr. Proponent of Adapatation.

How do polar bears adapt to sea ice loss? When you have an answer with some substance, please post.

ankh said...

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are - Bertold Brecht

Lab Lemming said...

I reckon that at 350 ppm, adaption only would be fine- if only we could stay there...

Anonymous said...

Personally, I agree with Roger Pielke on one thing: you spend too much time worrying about what Pielke says and thinks.

It really makes little difference what he thinks. He is entitled to believe otherwise, but that don't make it so.

Anonymous said...

Adeptly adapting to mitigation,
Now seems a form of recreation,
Among a few who can't deny,
That AGW's real and pigs can't fly.