03 December 2009

Interviews With Pielke Sr.

There are two informative interviews with my father that have been posted up over the past few days. Over at DotEarth, Andy Revkin published an interview with my father over the CRU emails and broader issues. My father writes:
There is no question, for course, that the human addition of carbon dioxide is a major climate forcing, both with respect to its warming influence but also its biogeochemical effect. However, there are other equally or more important climate forcings in terms of altering climate patterns such as droughts, floods and extreme weather.
And over at Pajamas Media, Charlie Martie also talks my father, in a wide-ranging and informative interview. The whole interview is worth a read, here is how it starts:
Both those who denounce “global warming” as a hoax and RealClimate’s claim that this is a “tempest in a teapot” are incorrect. With respect to the role of humans in the climate system, there is incontrovertible evidence that we exert both warming and cooling effects. The warming occurs through the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and certain aerosols, and cooling [occurs due to] other types of aerosols. Land use change due to human land management also effects warming and cooling forcings.

With respect to the RealClimate dismissal of the emails, however, there are serious issues exposed by the emails — including the goal of these scientists to prevent proper scientific disclosure of their data, as well as to control what papers appear in the peer reviewed literature and climate assessments. The IPCC assessment, with which major policy decisions are being made, involves the individuals in the emails who have senior leadership positions.


  1. Roger:
    Your father's interview to PajamaMedia is exactly the kind of measured statement that I would expect from a scientist on an issue that has significant implications for public policy. His is the voice of reason. For me it differs from both Mike Hulme's and Judith Curry's statements by reasserting the dominant role of scientists as the discoverers of scientific facts via the well-tried mechanisms of the scientific method - including the need for open and respectful scientific discourse.

    It also contrasts strongly with unpleasant and disturbing diatribes of Santer, Romm and the editorial writer at Nature. The CRU emails speak for themselves and as such they largely confirm what your father has been saying.

  2. Thanks for the link, Roger.

    (I've got to figure out how to get Google to not use the old cognomen.)

  3. Whether one thinks that AGW is a hoax or something closer to settled science, I think that the emails can seen to show a group that considers itself to be harrassed and hassled by people whose science they do not respect, and who suggest actions (whether or not taken) that remind of a circle-the-wagons attitude (apologies to those whose English does not include this phrase).

    While there are more detailed issues to deal with in this, to me the larger issue is that for a highly politicized scientific discipline, and one with potentially massive impacts on public policy, scientists are going to need to avoid the circle-the-wagons attitude, have even greater patience, and treat those who present scientific, even somewhat psuedo-scientific, critiques, with as much or more respect than they may deserve in some cases.

    If a paper gets through review that they think is a travesty, they should still use standard channels and methods to voice disagreement, maybe in bulk, but still the normal channels. While the difference a paper with mistakes and egregious errors may be obvious to some, the normal procedures need to be used in any case.

  4. Roger,

    Respectfully, I wonder if your father would offer his definition of what constitutes a “major climate forcing”.

    Does 1.1C qualify?

    Remember, that is a mid-range calculation. Others calculate considerably less forcing than that.

    Also remember that the hypothetical positive feedback from water vapor response is increasingly not merely contradicted by observational data, but actually turned on it’s head (a negative feedback is observed).

  5. Roger,

    Your dad recognizes that there are major problems with the temperature databases because of his studies and the work of Anthony Watts. I would be curious if he is willing to call for a complete overhaul. And demand that the science amateurs defer to the pros when it comes to software and statistics?

    Now that the GISS code is partially available, a software pro named E M Smith, blogging at ChiefIO, http://chiefio.wordpress.com/gistemp/ has some interesting findings. Of course, he's appalled at the quality of the code. But the interesting thing is this -- "When you look at the longest lived cohort, those over about 100 years lifetime, there is no warming signal present in the data to speak of. When you look at the much shorter lived cohorts, you find a very strong warming signal, especially in the winter months. On further inspection of the data it looks like a lot of thermometers “arrived” at places with low latitudes AND at airports (newly built as the “jet age” arrived)."

    If he is correct, the warming actually IS merely an artifact of the Hansen's adjustments. It seems possible that even the most basic data is so fundamentally flawed that we should start all over.

  6. SBVOR, you might find it easier to read some of Dr Pielke Sr's own papers, either those linked from the PJM article, or available at his own blog.

  7. Dean:
    You clearly must not have seen how Mann et al have treated both Roger and Roger's dad. When I first read RealClimate 2 years or so ago, Roger SNr was a frequent contributor and always displayed a reasonableness and a cautionary attitude. His reasonableness and cautionary attitude were roundly criticized.
    That said, your presumption that Jones et al are just normal scientists trying to advance their science is not supported by their behavior at RealClimate, in their interactions with some of their less ardent peers, their responses to legitimate requests for data and code, and now in the emails.
    When they walk like a ducks, quack like ducks and look like ducks...why not call them ducks.

  8. SBVOR: A minor point: Schwartz later upped his sensitivity to 1.9 +or- 1K as the result of constructive criticisms (ie not the Annan/Tamino/Schmidt vacuous drivel).

  9. -6-StY,

    I have read (and linked to) some of Dr. Pielke Sr's papers. His blog is found in my bloglist.

    I have long been aware of his opinion regarding the severity of CO2 as a forcing factor. But, I have never seen him quantify what, in his view, qualifies as a "major climate forcing" factor.

    I don't think 1.1C qualifies as such. If he does, I would like to see him say so directly. If he disagrees on the issue of climate sensitivity, a simple explanation would be appreciated.

  10. -8-jgdes,

    Thanks for the update! I will take a closer look at it.

    Based upon my understanding to date, one question (to either Pielke) might be:

    Has this calculation of climate sensitivity been skewed by the documented warming bias in what Schwartz describes as “global mean surface temperature”?

    Even if 1.9C (give or take 1C) is the correct answer, I still question (strongly) the alleged “wisdom” of throwing $45 TRILLION at a “solution” which is pretty much certain to have no measurable impact on the course of climate change.

    IF a little bit of climate change is the price for lifting billions out of poverty, I say:

    1) It’s a price well worth paying.
    2) Adaptation makes far more sense than trying to micromanage the climate.
    3) The evidence proves that, with or without human contributions, we will -- if our species lives long enough -- have to adapt to far, far, FAR more serious climate changes than anything we could ever dream of causing.

  11. "There is no question, for course, that the human addition of carbon dioxide is a major climate forcing,"

    NO QUESTION that anthropogenic CO2 is MAJOR forcing?

    Why do I finf myself constantly struggling to find a scientist in the climate field who uses correct scientific language.

    There is always a question - in all theories, results or conclusions. That is the point. In this area specifically it is still not measurable within acceptable bounds of uncertainty.

  12. Thank you Dr Piekle, but as Bob Dylan said, "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows".

  13. I do not understand what the phrase "should also adopt a complementary and precautionary resource-based assessment" means in the following statement. Does it mean we should apply the so-called precautionary principle?

    “We recommend that the next assessment phase of the I.P.C.C. (and other such assessments) broaden its perspective to include all of the human climate forcings. It should also adopt a complementary and precautionary resource-based assessment of the vulnerability of critical resources (those affecting water, food, energy, and human and ecosystem health) to environmental variability and change of all types. This should include, but not be limited to, the effects due to all of the natural and human caused climate variations and changes.”

  14. I think a problem is that the public isn't offered enough raw data. In the newspapers, often only the _conclusions_ of research are made public. I think that very often (of not by definition), conclusions are always biased.
    Hence, the conclusions should be accompanied with the raw data it's based upon. Then the science is more open for attack, which it should be.
    If some scientists (or activists) want to use the precautionary principle, they always should say so, when they publish their raw data and conclusions, if those conclusions point to 'yes, our high CO2-production is a significant cause of (negative) change which should be stopped'.

    BTW, it's not only the newspapers... Also most blogs and other internet phenomenoms lack raw data.