What's Good for the Goose

By Keith Kloor | March 18, 2010 10:21 am

In the Do As I Say, Not As I Do category: in a recent comment thread at Real Climate, here’s Eric Steig admonishing one of the more churlish climate bloggers:

Eli, with all due respect (and I do have a lot of respect for you), and at the risk of your calling me naive again, please don’t stoppoing making this personal. If you have something to say about scientific work, say it. If you are merely going to use people’s names — e.g. Peter Cox — with no context, then you are a) assuming the readers here know what you’re talking about (I certainly don’t) and b) risking casting unwarranted aspersions on people. The point of this post was “what the science shows is totally different than what is being said about it”, NOT to speculate on the the underlying motivations of the authors or anyone else. Feel free to speculate about that on your own blog, but not here.

Let’s leave aside the Freudian typo and go now to Steig’s response to another commenter on the same thread:

I don’t doubt your sincerity. Many colleagues of mine that I know are sincere seem to think Pielke is “reasonable.” All I can say is that well meaning people thought that Joe McCarthy was ‘reasonable’ too. Those people weren’t paying attention (or they had rather un-American values). Now: read this post by Stefan (Sealevelgate) in which he is unambiguously saying that IPCC is conservative (not alarmist), and then read RP Jr’s post in which he misconstrues Stefan’s post to mean that “another leading scientists says that IPCC is flawed.” THERE is stealth advocacy for you. Look me in the eye and tell me you think Piekle is being “reasonable” here. (Note: I grant you that it is possible that Pielke may just be too stupid to have understood what Stefan wrote. But I doubt that.)

Speaking of Roger Pielke, Jr., (who was not the subject of that Real Climate post), he’s got a book review out in the current issue of Nature (it’s freely available) that is sure to elicit primal screams from his various antagonists, especially these passages:

Climate science has become deeply politicized and climate politics is in gridlock. Climate change is at risk of becoming an issue of cultural politics, similar to the evolution debate in the United States and elsewhere. If the climate-policy debate is to continue as it has, we should expect more of the same.

An alternative way forward would start by admitting the limitations of science in compelling political agreements, and by admitting that we do not know how to complete the challenge of decarbonizing the global economy. There may be greater prospects for political consensus if scientists acknowledge their humility rather than asserting their authority.

My beef with the review is that it’s way too short (1,775 words) to adequately distill four books. It’s not fair to the authors. Multi-book reviews warrant much more space for overview and discussion. Roger’s review reads like a well-written book report with his summary conclusion tacked on at the end. He should have been given at least another thousand words to air out the book’s arguments. I tell you what would be interesting: seeing Bill McKibben review the same four titles in the New York Review of Books.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: books, climate science
MORE ABOUT: books, climate science
  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Dear Keith,

    Hi ho, hi ho, into the quote mine you go.  Eric’s response was to something rather Delphic Eli had written

    “OK, Eli has an Andreas question, why is the name Peter Cox missing in all this?”

    The discussion being about Amazon dieback to savannah.  When Eli wrote back:

    “Eric, you have Eli very wrong. Peter Cox has done a lot of modeling of Amazon die back. Simply wondering why this has not been part of the discussion. For example:

    Eric responded

    “[Response: Eli, I'm not questioning your intentions. I'm just asking you to be clear. This time you are being clear. Thank you!--eric]”

    but there never really was a discussion of the modeling;)

    Thank you for proving Eric’s point about the McCarthyite Pielkesphere.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Eli,
    He most certainly was questioning your intentions. And why the urge to run away from something you do best: cast aspersions and question people’s motives.

    Also, I could have also referenced Steig’s other gratuitous  potshot, to make my point. Anyway, all I’m doing here is noting how Steig tells you one thing–to not personalize the debate–while he goes ahead and does just that–in the same thread!

  • Steve Bloom

    Eric was afraid Eli would alienate Samanta, a concern that I have to say struck me as naive.  In any case Simon Lewis went ahead and made the same point much more thoroughly.  Note the lack of any further remonstrance from Eric. 

    In any case scientific agreement about RP Jr. seems to headed toward consensus, so everyone has something to be happy about. 

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    Allow Eli to sink to your level: )
    Tu madre

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Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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