Saturday, August 19, 2006

Going off the deep end......

Ethon* again comes whispering that Roger Pielke Jr. has gone off the deep end in his jerimands against the IPCC. Roger, of course, believes that only he can have an opinion being totally unbiased and all. Roger starts with the strawman setup

The IPCC claims that it is "policy relevant, but policy neutral." What this phrase actually means is clear as mud.
You know, kind of like when Roger did not understand that the AR4 labling the influence of greenhouse gases on the global warming dominant, meant, at least according to the dictionary, commanding and controlling, prevailing over all others. He thought that was pretty weak/

Frankly me and Eth are shocked, just shocked at this latest set up for jumping on the AR4 when it appears. The last little goody requires one to assume that the science is outcome neutral. That outcomes are consequence neutral and that the pallette of policies available are infinite. The answer to all three questions is NO.

The AR4 WGI report probably (a Sally Randism, look it up fans) says that even if emissions stop today, significant warming is built in, and that if greenhouse gas concentrations rise, global temperatures will rise even further, as will sea level and other nasties. Further, WGII probably points out that on balance these changes will have VERY negative consequences, and WGIII probably says that without significant changes the world will blow right by 2x CO2, what SHOULD the head of the IPCC (and don't you think Bob Watson is smiling) say, "Oh well, never mind? We report, you decide?"

The facts set forth in the AR4 strongly limit the choice of responses and in doing so are policy relevant. The IPCC is neutral on which of the range of sensible choices set forth in the WGIII report should be made. It is not, nor it should be neutral on the issue of whether action is needed.

And oh yes, since we are already committed to 2xCO2, and since as bad as 2xCO2 will be 3x CO2 is a lot worse, that means that any response will have to include both mitigation and adaptation. Anyone arguing that there is a simple choice between the two is simply simple or a simple charlatain. Of course, people who insist that adaptation is the only way, never put a cost on it. What is the value of Florida after all?

At about the same time as the big bird blew into his study, Eli was reading Glenn Greenwald's commentary on the Washington Post's faux moderation and scholarly thoughts. It was so on the mark, that we have decided to adopt it for our comment on Roger's POV.
There is nothing commendable or impressive about always being restrained and muddled and ambivalent in one's tone and views. It is not a sign of intellectual prowess to be open-minded to frivolous claims or corrupt and dangerous behavior. And when the claims are particularly frivolous, and when the corruption and dangers reach a certain level of severity, self-important ambivalence -- hospitality to extremist ideas ..... is actually irresponsible, reckless, and morally and intellectually bankrupt.
There is more there that could be adapted (the correct policy) word for word (with maybe a word missing as above) about our friendly first and second order denialists. At this point the only open question, as is the case with the Post, and it is not very open, is who are they trying to fool, themselves, or the rest of us?

*Ethon was a gigantic eagle born of the monsters Typhon and Echidna. As punishment for stealing fire from Mount Olympus, Zeus had Prometheus chained to Mount Caucasus, where Ethon was set to gnaw on his liver. from the Wikipedia


Anonymous said...

It strikes me as extremely odd that Mr. Pielke would have made any comments about something he said he had not read:

"I haven’t see [sic] the draft of the report so I don’t know if it is accurate or not, but assuming that it is, it raises a few interesting issues in the context of our recent discussion of the notion of consensus." -- Roger Pielke

That strikes me as downright moronic.

EliRabett said...

Anon, he almost certainly had read it but quoting from a newspaper gave him a modicum of implausible deniability.

coby said...

I like your Greenwald quote, it is good and very apropriate.

One of the keys to understanding Roger is realizing that as soon as you say "we should do something", you are a policy advocate and as soon as you pick up a phone to tell a friend about your research you are politicizing your science. I find defining things like that a bit less than useless though.

I do think you have him pegged in terms of false open-mindedness as a way to avoid having a real opinion.