I was just thinking about Roger Pielke Jr. and Judith Curry, and the interesting situation they have found themselves in.
The hole they dug and climbed into. The corner they’ve painted themselves into. The metaphor that mightily mired them.
I’m talking about the situation they’ve created for themselves over the last few years as they’ve sunk into various states of denial of the reality or importance of global warming and its effects. Don’t confuse the two of them, they are very different. If anything, Roger is a true believer warmist who has a particular ax to grind that blinds him to the bigger picture, while Curry has gone pretty much all the way down the rabbit hole insisting that we can’t know anything about global warming because we don’t everything about global warming.
The recent Congressional hearings at which the two of them testified (along with a full on denier whom I’m ignoring right now, and actual scientists Michael Mann) exemplify this problem they have. There they were, tooling along with their denial or uncertainty or ax grinding, questioning the science and the appropriate policy, sucking up to the Republicans on the committee … until suddenly, near the end of the hearings … WHAM!!!!! Game over. Like the hovering lake fly that believes the trout to be a benevolent god right up to the moment the trout sucks the fly into its gut. (Apologies to Terry Pratchett.)
These thoughts were coming to me as I listed to Ira Flatow interview Mike Mann on Science Friday. I wasn’t quite sure if I would write up my thoughts, when I suddenly noticed some activity on Twitter. Apparently, Roger Pielke Jr was also listening to Ira interview Mike, and he had a reaction.
(Note: I had to sneak on an twitter sans-account to see Roger’s comments, since he blocked me long ago. Oddly, his dad, Roger Pielke Sr. recently started following me on Twitter, so I suspect the Pielkes are spying on me. Anyway, since Roger avoids direct communication with me, ever since I criticized some of his work, if you know him, do send him this post because I’d love to hear his response!)
Anyway, Mike said some stuff and Roger’s hair caught on fire. Then, Judith Curry jumped in to egg Roger on. And now her hair is on fire too. I am not going to respond here to that particular fight; Rather, I want to relate the thoughts I had prior to the Twitternado. But, for your edification, I provide the following links and documentation.
Here is where you go to listen to the Science Friday podcast. (Listen to all of it, both interviews are quite interesting!)
Then, here are the tweets that I know of:
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) April 7, 2017
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) April 8, 2017
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) April 8, 2017
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) April 8, 2017
— Judith Curry (@curryja) April 8, 2017
— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) April 8, 2017
It occurred to me that my thoughts are best demonstrated via the medium of speculative fiction. Or, more exactly, a speculative fiction screenplay.
A Congressional Hearing Room. Congressman Smitty Lamar, a conservative anti science Texan, is running the hearings. The topic is, “Climate Change and Why Science Is Always Being Done Wrong By Scientists.”
The witnesses include Jane Curry, a retired professor of climate science who is now well known for her belief that scientists don’t know anything about science, and Roger Pielke III, a political scientist who is well know for his assertion that climate change is not a bad thing, no matter how bad it is, because we can adapt to anything, and once we’ve adapted to something it is no longer bad, right?
Both witnesses have had a fairly comfortable life in academia, living off the largess of the US Government, who has funded nearly 100% of their research. They hope to continue to get grants, or to work on government funded projects. They also do accept that climate change might be an important problem, though Jane believes we can never know and Roger believes that it can never matter, and they would like the government to acknowledge it just enough to keep funding work on it.
Smitty Lamar, on the other hand, along with his colleagues on the Committee of Science, believe that the government should not spend another dime on climate change research, and that the academic structure in which this research should be done needs to be disassembled, possibly made illegal. He feels that scientists should no longer be in charge of deciding what is important, or what research to do, or what the research means. This should all be decided by the Committee of Science of the Congress. Lamar and his colleagues see this as part of a general shift in the US towards accepting Russian and Soviet cultural, political, and economic themes, like Oligarchy and Giant Propaganda Machines. (Little known fact: Smitty Lamar’s recently acquired pet schnauzer is called “Lysenko.”
A third witness for the hearing is the famous climate scientists Michael Person, who is a well established figure in the earth system science community and is there to represent the 97% of the other climate scientists, who clearly, according to Smitty Lamar, have it all wrong.
Lamar: Dr. Person, could you please tell the Committee why the American People should believe you when you say that climate change, global warming as some call it, is real, and why we should care?
Person: Well, for one thing, we can see it. Global surface temperatures have been going up for decades…
Lamar [interrupting]: So the only thing you have to offer us is “consensus” [The term “consensus” stated with saccharine voice]. Let me tell you something, Dr. Person. Science is NOT a popularity contest. The simple fact that every scientists agrees on the same basic facts means nothing to this body. Dr. Curry, what do you think about climate change?
Curry: Well, I’m here to tell you that I just don’t know, and nobody else does. Even the IPCC has said that there is a 0.00002% chance that global warming is not actually happening, and furthermore, a 0.000000456% chance that it is not related AT ALL to human activities.
Lamar: Very well, thank you Dr. Curry. Now, Dr. III, what is your opinion about climate change?
III: Well, yes, the Earth is warming, and yes, things have changed, and yes, humans have something to do with it, but my research shows that nothing of any importance has actually happened. For example, if we take all the hurricanes, and ignore the vast majority of them because they happen in other countries, and then take all the ones that threaten us and ignore them because the happened to not hit us even if they did wipe out some Caribbean islands, and then take the remainder that happen to occur on land and ignore one or two of the biggest ones on technical grounds, then, really…
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III, I appreciate your comments. Now, I would like to propose to you that we change the way we do science, so that this crazy idea of consensus is cast aside and that we allow the opinions of the minority rule, pay attention only to the few who believe something entirely different from the rest of the community, that this would be a good thing. Dr. Person, your thoughts?
Person: Well, that is exactly the opposite of how science works, Congressman. Consensus is not a beauty contest as you call it, but it does involve …
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. Mann. Dr. Curry, what do you think?
Curry: Yes, indeed, we are a repressed minority, and the rest of the scientific community treats us very badly, they are all bullies …
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. Curry, Dr. III, let’s hear your feelings on this matter.
III: I agree with my colleague Dr. Curry. Dr. Person is one of the worst. They are always telling us that our data are no good, or our conclusions are wrong, and they are constantly being mean to us by insisting that our work is subject to review and analysis of the rest of the community of…
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III. Now, I think the American People deserve the red, white, and blue truth here, and they need to be given a break, and we need to stop spending valuable time and energy learning things that we already know are highly inconvenient. So, I’m proposing that all federal funding for climate change research, and research in all cognate fields, be terminated, and the federal agency NOAA be terminated and all climate change related work at NASA and EPA be stopped, and also, since a mere majority of highly biased climate scientists believe in any of this anyway, that we purge all the data and make it against the law to spend public money on any of this, just like we did with firearms related morbidity and mortality research.
Dr Person, what do you think about my proposal?
Person: Well, that would be the exact opposite of what we should…
Lamar [interrupting]: Actually, Dr. Person, I wanted to ask you a different question. Are you now or have you ever been a tree hugging hippie?
Person: Um … I don’t think so. Well, I did go to a conference at Berkeley once, but I never had long hair or anything…
Lamar [interrupting]: Dr. Person, I expect you to provide proof for the record as soon as you can, over the next few days, that you have never had hair. Now, Dr. Curry, what is your response to the termination of all funding for science and illegalization of all science related activities????
Curry: Um…. gulp….
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. Curry. Dr. III, I ‘m sure you agree with me?
III: Well, um, actually … gulp …
Lamar [interrupting]: Thank you Dr. III. That is all the time we have for today. Besides I have to rush off to a meeting with my friend Alec….
I’ll leave you with this:
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