Not me, silly. I still have no clue why I blog.
But I have in my possession the first draft of Joe Romm’s recent post, “Why I blog.” It’s a rough, bullet-point version that was smuggled out of Romm’s kitchen window by a source who shall remain anonymous. Here it is:
I joined the new media because the motherf#!$*! mainstream, status quo, false-balance media are so utterly, miserably, failing to report on the looming end of civilization.
What I have learned most from my blog is that hyperbole works! The louder I shout, the more insults I hurl, the more credible I become.
I am channeling the spirit of George Orwell. He was a truth teller. So am I. Don’t believe me? I’ll blowtorch your name in public.
I dicate all my posts not just because I love the sound of my voice, but because I love the poetry of my meandering 2,000 word posts, and the artistic beauty of those 50-word headlines.
I blog because it gives me more pleasure than the treadmill. Also, I simply would burst from acid reflux if I didn’t have a vehicle to truth-tell.
I blog because my brother lost his house to Hurricane Katrina. That singular event, which I admit, had nothing to do with global warming, motivated me to become an unflinching truth-teller.
George Orwell. Note to self: insert more references to Orwell.
A key goal of my blog is to save you time by being as verbose as possible. I know that sounds like a contradiction. It’s not. I never contradict myself. Remember, I am a truth-teller. The point is, you don’t need to bother going anywhere else for truth-telling. Everything you need to (and should) know about climate science, climate politics, and the motherf#$%&! status quo media is what I tell you.
On that note, F-you Andy Revkin! I’m the man! Not you! And I’m gonna drum that home from hell to high water.
I blog because I love my commenters. They reinforce my basest instincts, they appreciate my truth-telling and they never fail to say that in the most adoring terms.
The ultimate reason that I blog is because it’s too late for humanity. But I want the cockroaches who will inherit hell and high water to know that somebody was out there yelling from the rooftops.
The ultimate, ultimate reason that I blog is because there’s a great hunger for such ravings. That is what keeps me going. Your hunger for my rants. Thank you all for lapping it up!
Do conservation biologists make ethically questionable trade-offs when trying to save a species? This is the argument that Marc Bekoff makes in a provocative New Scientist essay. Bekoff, who is a biologist and an animal rights advocate, asks:
Can people who value individual lives work with those who are willing to sacrifice lives for the good of a species or an ecosystem? What role should animal sentience play in such decisions?
Bekoff has long been questioning the practices and ethics of conservation biology. I first talked to him 12 years ago, when I wrote this piece about a controversial program that reintroduced Canada lynx to Colorado. (Earlier this year I wrote a short post about the lynx reintroduction program and Bekoff.) I wish I had more time to talk about his current essay, but I wanted to put it out there and get some of your reaction.
Count Homer-Dixon among those who believe it will take a major, unequivocal climate shock to spur worldwide action on global warming. Meanwhile, he writes:
Policy makers need to accept that societies won’t make drastic changes to address climate change until such a crisis hits. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for them to do in the meantime. When a crisis does occur, the societies with response plans on the shelf will be far better off than those that are blindsided. The task for national and regional leaders, then, is to develop a set of contingency plans for possible climate shocks “” what we might call, collectively, Plan Z.
Some work of this kind is under way at intelligence agencies and research institutions in the United States and Europe. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has produced one of the best studies, “Responding to Threat of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes.” But for the most part these initiatives are preliminary and uncoordinated.
We need a much more deliberate Plan Z, with detailed scenarios of plausible climate shocks; close analyses of options for emergency response by governments, corporations and nongovernmental groups; and clear specifics about what resources “” financial, technological and organizational “” we will need to cope with different types of crises.
Let me thus amend Eli’s 4th bullet point to read:
The Mitigation-centric blinders drives the procrastination penalties for Adaption to tragic proportions.
This is going to be a treat. Teofilo, who writes the fantastic Gambler’s House blog, will be filling in for me all this week.
Teofilo is a seasonal park ranger at Chaco Canyon, a native of New Mexico, a second year grad student at an east coast university (Masters in urban planning) and a thoughtful critic of some of my work. I am thrilled that Teofilo will be blogging here on issues and themes related to the environment, climate change, sustainability, and archaeology, among other areas.
Teofilo has many fans other than myself, including the science journalist John Fleck, who has raved about Gambler’s House:
It’s a terrific blog for a lot of reasons. The incredible insight born of listening to people’s questions is one big one.
I look forward to peeking in to Teofilo’s posts and the threads that develop from them.
being green is hard. My wife and I recently built what is arguably the greenest home for miles around. OK, stop. This is a good time to define “green.”
The greenest home is the one you don’t build. If you really want to save the Earth, move in with another family and share a house that’s already built. Better yet, live in the forest and eat whatever the squirrels don’t want. Don’t brag to me about riding your bicycle to work; a lot of energy went into building that bicycle. Stop being a hypocrite like me.
I prefer a more pragmatic definition of green. I think of it as living the life you want, with as much Earth-wise efficiency as your time and budget reasonably allow. Now back to our story.
I recommend you read it. Adams clearly went to great lengths to build his green house, but he has no illusions about the tradeoffs involved, the psychological appeal of being an “early adopter,” and the aesthetics of hippies. The piece is hilarious and spot-on.
If only more environmentalists talked like this.
How interesting: I turn my site into a reader-friendly forum where all sides of the climate debate can meet and have a constructive and civil discussion, and suddenly my name is being dragged through the bloggy mud. Have we hit a nerve somewhere?
The latest spate of notoriety is sufficiently negative to warrant a response. I’ll try to be brief.
To start, let me say that I don’t regard this post by Michael Tobis as anything more than a reasonable rebuttal. I actually like Michael and respect him very much, even though we keep having these dust-ups. I can imagine us laughing about it over beers one day if I ever make it to Austin, Texas (or he comes to NYC).
I don’t think that would ever be the case with Eli Rabett, who left a few droppings in this post. Or Arthur Smith, who appears to have wasted too much of his time parsing a handful of my posts from the last year and half. Same with Tim Lambert, who is only too happy to publicize Arthur’s handiwork. It seems to be personal with these three guys. I sense their intent is to harm my reputation, and since I work as both a freelance journalist and part-time journalism professor, I feel compelled to respond.
Because Arthur did expend so much energy on my behalf, he does deserve a lengthier response than what I gave at his place. The problem is that he uses this Rommian style that ends up sucking the life out of you before you’re even finished with the post. Arthur, please, have some mercy next time and leave out all the minutia.
Anyway, there’s no way I’m going to do a point by point rebuttal. That would eat up the rest of August. Instead, here’s how this will go. I’ll give brief answers to each of Arthur’s five “strikes” that he accuses me of. Interested readers who want to follow along should open up a new tab with his post and read us side by side. Here we go.
1) The charge: I am unfairly critical of Joe Romm.
Answer: It is strange to me that Arthur feels compelled to defend “America’s fiercest climate blogger” (a tag Romm proudly advertises on his site), a guy who often uses brass knuckles to regularly slam reporters whose stories don’t meet Romm’s satisfaction. It is also odd to me that Arthur failed to mention the stink bomb Joe dropped on me last year (see, Romm is more than up to the task to defend himself), or the thorough deconstruction of this bomb by Stoat (in an in-line commentary). Nuff said when it comes to Romm.
2) The charge: The first time I supposedly quote-mined something Michael Tobis said.
Answer: I stand by what I wrote back then in this post. Michael and I had several long exchanges on this in subsequent posts at his blog and mine and we just disagree on the meaning of his language. I firmly reject the charge of quote mining.
3) The charge: I misrepresented (in this post) the thrust of David Brin’s article on climate skeptics.
Answer: It’s bizarre to me that Arthur ignores Brin’s own acknowledgment (here and here) that I got his article generally right. In any event, if I had badly mischaracterized his piece, and Brin (who has multiple forums) only realized it later on, wouldn’t he have mentioned it? Not a peep.
4) The charge: That I took a quote from climate scientist Gavin Schmidt out of context, making it sound conciliatory, and highlighted it in a post.
Answer: This is quite a skewed reading of the quote on Arthur’s part. At any rate, Arthur should know that I’m fairly diligent about checking all quoted material with sources that I have interviewed or communicated with, including single quotes or passages I might want to highlight in my blog. So prior to the post that Arthur takes offense to, I emailed Gavin and told him what I wanted to do. I explained my intent, gave him the quote of his that I wanted to use (which appeared in a comment thread of an existing post) and the context it would appear in. He replied, “feel free.”
5. The charge: That I distorted a comment from Michael Tobis in one of my threads and used it as ammunition in a separate post where I called him hypocritical.
Answer: I’m going to cop to this charge–but not the assertion that I did it willfully. I’ve thought about this a lot since that post appeared and have concluded that I should have been more careful in my choice of words. I happen to think that there are worse things than being called hypocritical (such as evil or deceptive), but I’m now inclined to agree that I treated Michael unfairly in that post. I made a poorly constructed argument for hypocrisy and in doing so made some leaps I shouldn’t have, and for that I apologize to Michael.
There you have it: Arthur hurls four knuckleballs wide and outside. One curveball for a strike. I suppose now I’ll have to keep my eyes out for spitballs too.
What does the rancorous climate change debate have in common with the rancorous debate over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan?
Nothing, really. But I’m going to make some comparisons anyway, because as readers of this blog know, I aim to break down divisions. So there was an excellent NYT op-ed several days ago by William Dalrymple, in which he wrote:
Most of us are perfectly capable of making distinctions within the Christian world. The fact that someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn’t mean he’s in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors.
Yet many of our leaders have a tendency to see the Islamic world as a single, terrifying monolith.
I see a similar monolith in the way climate skeptics (the deniers!) are portrayed by their opponents, and I see a similar monolith in the way mainstream climate scientists (the catastrophists!) are portrayed by their opponents. The climate debate is both shaped and poisoned by these two monolithic stereotypes.
That brings me to this thoughtful post on the mosque controversy over at Savage Minds, and this passage:
Clearly the United States would be better off if our leaders, journalists, and citizens knew a little more about Islam. But there are also some lessons here about the semiotics of racism which I would like to think offer some insights beyond the 24 hour news cycle.
Substitute climate science for Islam and hyperbole for racism. Would that constitute another analogy?
If Judith Curry, a climate researcher at Georgia Tech, ever found herself marooned on an island, where the other inhabitants included a tribe of climate skeptics led by Anthony Watts and another tribe of climate scientists led by Gavin Schmidt (whose enforcer, despite being a physicist, was Joe Romm), she’d probably end up living alone in a cave.
This is a roundabout way of mentioning the chilly reception that a new PNAS paper by Curry and one of her colleagues (PDF here), is receiving over at WUWT. Like Policy Lass, what interests me most is the harsh response, and how, as Lass observes, Curry now stands accused of drinking Kool Aid with both sides in the climate debate.
Judith, welcome to one of the seven hells in journalism, where you get to be loathed by all. (But we secretly love it!) In this fiery climate sphere, Andy Revkin reigns as lord master, where he is regularly slammed by Romm and his echo chamber at Climate Progress AND the hardcore skeptic wing.
But back to the show. One commenter at WUWT, noting the negative reaction to Judith, gives her a backhanded compliment when he writes:
I have to applaud Judith Curry on having the guts to present her paper in the boxing ring of climate blogs where the wild and ignorant rule. but also these that think unbiased and try to address problems in creative ways. I just hope she was not counting on any mercy here.
Here’s Judith’s devastating parry: I don’t want your stinkin’ mercy, I’m just lookin’ for some evidence of sentient thought.
Okay, I paraphrased.
Seriously, there are rumblings of an unfair and heavily moderated thread at WUWT over this paper (see here and here, for example), so I thought I’d provide a vehicle for the disaffected or suppressed to come on over here and express yourself. All I ask is that you be polite.
More broadly, I think it’s worth pointing out that Judith Curry occupies a peculiar space in the climate debate, where neither camp trusts her to carry water for them.
UPDATE: In fairness, I should also note that Curry’s PNAS paper is taken up in full by Willis Eschenbach over at WUWT.
I think Tom Yulsman has been covering climate change as long as Andy Revkin (which means several decades). So I’m digging this new radio gig he’s added to his portfolio. (Tom, in addition to being a co-director at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, is a long-time friend and colleague.) Check out the show he did this week with Peter Stott, who is head of climate monitoring and attribution at the United Kingdom’s Met Office, which Tom discusses today in a blog post, provocatively headlined
Global warming did not “cause” Russian heat or Pakistani Floods
Here’s an excerpt of today’s interview with Stott:
I think . . . some people are too easily jumping from the very clear evidence that climate is changing, and that we’ve seen systematic changes in our climate system over the last few decades, to saying that particular individual extreme weather events are therefore due to climate change and therefore will become more frequent in the future . . .
The example with the current terrible situation in Pakistan is a very good case in point. Although our understanding of the climate system does tell us, and the observations do tell us, that there have been increases in extreme rainfall events, we don’t know about the particular circumstances in Pakistan, and the particular weather situation there, whether that is the sort of thing that will become more frequent or not. And, therefore, [we don't know how to] respond to such a situation in terms of the longer-term adaptation response, for example.
Meanwhile, in a related thread at my place, it’s interesting to see the contortions of some who are talking up the greenhouse gas link to the aforementioned disasters. For example, Michael Tobis, a climate blogger who I equally applaud and admonish from time to time, seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. Here, he says:
The tightly coupled events in Russia and Pakistan and the related events in China are of a different order than we have seen before. Treating this as just another example of extreme weather is inadequate; it may look logically coherent but it really isn’t.
Then, further down in the thread, he writes:
It is impossible to predict what these weird events will be. The simulation models are too coarse and too conservative, and we wouldn’t know what to look for in their output anyway. You can’t really do statistical attribution on single events, and causality is pretty complicated in a tightly coupled system. So it’s hard to say much about this beyond that we should not only expect the unexpected, we should expect a great deal more of it.
The wider discussion in the media that this summer’s extreme weather has prompted must be confusing to the average person who doesn’t ordinarily pay attention to the particulars of this debate. On the one hand, we have scientists and climate bloggers like Tobis essentially saying, the events in Russia and Pakistan are not your normal, naturally occuring weather disasters.
On the other hand, we have climate scientists and Tobis essentially saying, we can’t definitively attribute AGW to these single weather events in Russia and Pakistan, but we should expect these kinds of disasters to occur much more often in the future.
I don’t know. Do those hoping to spur public engagement and political action on climate change really want to swing on that pendulum?
Climate change activists might want to pay attention to this cautionary tale out of Florida.
The failure of Everglades restoration, with its many false starts, but especially the story of the latest failed attempt to overcome entrenched economic interests, has parallels to the two train wrecks that derailed action on climate change–last December in Copenhagen and more recently in the U.S. Congress.
The contemporary politics of Everglades restoration is a tortured story of compromise that can be summed up in the classic political axiom: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (Hmm, where have climate activists heard that before?) Mainstream Florida greens operate by this maxim, which is understandable, given the multiple stake holders involved and the economic interests arrayed against them. (Hmm, where have climate activists seen this dynamic before?) At some point, however, this strategy has to be evaluated for performance. Which begs the question: Is meaningful Everglades restoration underway?
Hardly. Will it happen anytime soon? That was the hope and expectation after the state of Florida in 2008 agreed to buy huge tracts of land totaling 187,000 acres from the United States Sugar Corporation and convert it back to marshland. A year later, amid a deepening recession, the deal was scaled back to 79,000 acres, and according to this NYT investigation, the terms were not exactly favorable to the Everglades.
By this month, as the Times reports, the land purchase has shrunk to 27,000 acres, a fraction of what was promised in 2008.
You might think this would give long-time Everglades environmentalists pause. Here’s what Eric Draper from Audubon of Florida had to say:
I like this deal because it’s doable.
(Where have climate activists heard rationales like that before?)
So why do mainstream Florida greens still cling to the illusion of progress? And why are they still championing a watered down land deal that is widely believed to have scarce ecological value to the Everglades? On his NYT post, Damian Cave provides some instructive responses:
“It’s insecurity,” said Alan Farago, the conservation chairman at Friends of the Everglades. He said that Florida’s environmentalists would take whatever they could get because they felt so defeated after so many failed attempts to save the Everglades, after seeing algae blooms on their shores, after seeing developers given carte blanche while endangered species suffered.
“The environmentalists have been sitting on the floor under the table waiting for crumbs to fall on them for years,” said Sydney Bacchus, a hydro-ecologist and frequent expert witness in Everglades cases. “I don’t blame them for cheering about these lands being purchased “” it’s a crumb they’ve been tossed off the table and they’re grabbing at it frantically because they haven’t even gotten crumbs for years.”
(Hmm, where have climate activists seen mainstream enviros settling for similar “crumbs”?)
Despite the River of Grass being an iconic national landscape, despite a multi-billion-dollar plan to revive it, despite the many years a broad coalition has championed its cause, the Everglades ecosystem remains at death’s door.
And greens wonder why they can’t get any traction on climate change.