I’ve stayed out of this fracas and watched it all unfold from the sidelines on Twitter the last two days. My entry into it (with this post) was prompted by an unlikely catalyst: Keith Kloor, who I find myself agreeing with on this rare occasion. He writes in The Dirty Art of Character Assassination:
Meanwhile, the poisonous debate has grown worse, with self-appointed soldiers of the warring sides seeing enemies at every turn. Some of these climate soldiers are always on the lookout, like snipers, eager to take out (or at least undermine) a perceived foe. A case in point happened on Twitter today, when climate blogger Dana Nuccitelli fired this missive:
At this point, I asked Dana to clarify which tornado experts claim Roger is “misleading the American public”? He didn’t respond. What he did do is move the goalposts. But even that was incorrect, as Brooks quickly pointed out.
What happened next was astonishing: Rather than apologize, Dana twisted himself into semantic knots in an effort to show that Roger was in the wrong. I tried asking several more times:
I’ll let you know if I hear back.
In comments, the vitriol flowed as Dana dug his own hole even deeper. Some selections:
Dana continues to embarrass himself and the community that he purports to represent.
I co-authored a 2013 peer-reviewed paper which indeed concluded that “Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950.”
See it here: http://sciencepolicy.colorado….
Dana may not like those conclusions. He may disagree with them. That is fine, happens all the time in science. Rather than trying to accuse me of “misleading the public” by claiming falsely that other experts had made that accusation, he might instead try to explain where our analysis of tornado data is mistaken in its analysis or conclusions. I am happy to hear his arguments, were he to actually make any. The idea that a climate blogger can somehow dictate what an academic can and can’t say about their own research gives a window into some of the deep pathologies in the climate debate.
I did state in my Congressional testimony that “The inability to detect and attribute changes in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and drought does not mean that human-caused climate change is not real or of concern.” Dana is picking the wrong fight — wrong topic and wrong person.
I will continue to discuss our published research, and will do so accurately and faithfully to what we conclude in the peer reviewed literature. I’d ask Dana to follow the same standards.
You’re shifting the goalposts again, Roger. I didn’t say anything about your research. I’m not in a position to say if it’s wrong or right. Your statements to Congress, which I quoted in my comment, are not consistent with your research. You left out the critical caveats that the data aren’t sound enough to make conclusive statements – instead you made those conclusive statements to our policymakers. That is exactly the type of behavior criticized by Markowski et al. in their Op-Ed, as I quoted in my comment.
And really, can’t you make your arguments without claiming I’m ’embarrasing myself’? Let others make that kind of judgment for themselves, if you believe your arguments are sound. I suspect your abusive comments are due to the fact you know you’re in the wrong, and are trying to distract from the fact that you refuse to admit your errors.
Why don’t you just admit your Congressional testimony was misleading in the manner criticized by Markowski et al.? We all make mistakes. I’m willing to admit my initial Tweet was imprecise, because while the Op-Ed criticized comments similar to yours, they didn’t name you specifically. That was my mistake.
Dana, this will be my last reply to you as you continue to lie and misrepresent.
The following statement is indeed 100% consistent with our peer-reviewed research, despite your claims to the contrary: “Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950.”
Our paper (linked above) states, based on a careful examination of multiple datasets using multiple methods: “we can deﬁnitively state that there is no evidence of increasing normalized tornado damage or incidence on climatic time scales.”
You can argue that scientists have accused me of misleading the public and you can claim that my testimony is inconsistent with my research. In both cases the evidence shows you to be not simply wrong, by misleading and even lying.
I do appreciate your willingness to dig in your heels and continue this display. I agree with you that those paying attention will be fully empowered to reach fair conclusions.
Thanks again for the exchange. Very educational, and not just for me.
Markowski et al.:
“Tornado records are not accurate enough to tell whether tornado intensity has changed over time.”
Pielke Congressional testimony:
“Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950”
Someone is wrong. If you want to argue Markowski et al. are wrong, then do it. But don’t try to hide behind what you said in your paper, because that’s not the issue at hand. The issue is the above quote from your Congressional testimony.
And I agree, this has been very educational. Though I didn’t learn much about you that I didn’t already know.
Tom Fuller jumped in with this:
Nucitelli: (non-existent experts say) “Pielke is misleading the public.”
Nucitelli: “I didn’t say anything about your research. I’m not in a position to say if it’s wrong or right.”
At the most macro of levels, the thrust of Pielke’s research findings are not being contested. If there is a climate change signal in the phenomena Pielke has studied, it is either or both too slight or too recent to discern.
At the general level of climate discussions Pielke’s findings clearly are an effective (if not conclusive) counter argument to those claiming that Xtreme Weather is already upon us. As even the IPCC does not claim this (but rather echoes the ‘too slight, too recent to discern’ position), Nuccitelli’s blasts (which are, as Keith points out) not unusual, can be taken as political agitprop against someone he perceives as an enemy.
At the specific level of Pielke’s findings, they have not been effectively disputed in the literature that I have seen. What has happened is that other research has focused on phenomena not covered by Pielke and saying ‘That’s where the Xtreme Weather is!’
As for Pielke’s comment on this thread, Pielke is clearly wrong. Nuccitelli and the community he purports to represent are impervious to embarrassment–witness the acceptance of slipshod science that favors their side, such as Lewandowsky, Prall, Anderegg et al, etc., and their blithe embrace of criminal behavior by Peter Gleick simply because he’s on the side of the angels.
Nuccitelli’s just a hitman and it’s important to recognize that in this dispute he has won despite being wrong on the facts and sleazy in his approach. Every published slam against Pielke (in this case–there are dozens of other targets) becomes a reference point that he can use himself to say (a la Joe Romm) that Pielke has been debunked.
These garbage tactics work, so they don’t stop. They trashed Pielke’s father–mercilessly, wrongly and just as sleazily. Why would they spare his son?
Maurizio points out:
Dana Nuccitelli says:
Thanks for posting this. I’m putting together a list of contrarians making this bogus argument to rub it in their faces in 10 days when the IPCC report comes out and proves them wrong (which it will). Pielke Jr. made a similarly inept argument today (only plotting the multi-model mean and ignoring the envelope of model runs and uncertainty range).
So much for these two being ‘honest brokers’ or, you know, competent at interpreting data.
And it gets even worse: Kloor himself takes on Dana here, saying “Stop playing the victim card. It’s unbecoming.”
Astonishingly, even William Connolley had things to say about Dana’s behavior that I agreed with, and let me tell you, it is a unique day indeed when Mr. Connolley and I agree upon anything.
All of this could have been avoided by a simple admission of making a mistake, and offering an apology. Everybody would have been moving on.
Instead, we have a spectacle of unprecedented stubbornness, coupled with the sort of egotistical stonewalling we’d expect to see from a politician, something that people are going to remember for quite some time.
This quote might be an apt summary of what we’ve witnessed from Dana:
“There is one thing that has disappeared, not just from the U.S. but from the entire world, is the idea of ever being embarrassed by anything.” ― Fran Lebowitz