Oh no! More snarking

Yes indeed. Sorry. Weeelll. No I’m not, really.

Anyway, so I was idly browsing my “shared by” in google reader and came across My Rebuttal to Romm which is by Keith Kloor who I know nothing about other than that I read Joe Romm ranting at him at some point. Kloor defends himself – read it if you’re interested – but more amusing was a comment left there which said: I’m not sure the whole huge post needs to be answered point-by-point. Morano feels comfortable just pointing to Romm posts and letting them speak for themselves though it didn’t say where this Morano linking occurred. But http://www.climatedepot.com/ (an amusing parody of denialdepot) seems to do it (in the interests of sanity I haven’t linked it): look at the current front page and there is a link to http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/01/keith-kloor-trash-journalist/, under what is a fairly neutral link-text. You do have to wonder, as the commentator suggests: what does it tell you about Romm that Morano is happy to link to him?

Why does Romm hate Kloor so much? I don’t know. Probably he is jealous of Kloor’s column in Nurture :-). You’ll immeadiately notice the rabid scepticism in that piece, of course.

[While I’m here: don’t miss Where’s the Science at ScienceBlogs? – thanks mt :-)].

[Update: Malformed html somewhat mangled this post; fixed at 2009/11/03:18:50 UK time -W]

83 thoughts on “Oh no! More snarking”

  1. Sure enough, Morano links to Romm’s post on me today over at Climate Depot, using this hed: “Joe Romm trashes Climate Depot again…” Romm’s diatribes are like chum to Morano.

    As I’ve said many times before on my own site, Romm is a very smart guy, clearly well-intentioned, but he consistently overreaches and totally loses me with his nasty tone, ad hominems and guilt-by association tactics (all amply on display in his post on me). For some reason which I have yet to grasp (can you help?) this ends-justifies-the-means approach is both applauded and excused by Romm’s many admirers. Of course, it appears that the commenter you reference at my site is basically saying that this is strategically counter-productive to Romm’s ultimate goal.

    Lastly, your Nurture link is broken.


  2. Hank,

    Can you not parrot Romm for one minute and explain to me where the slur occurs? Please pinpoint it.

    This assertion that Romm makes and which you echo is made even more amazing given Romm’s own modus operandi, which again, is exemplified in his post on me, as well as in the multiple posts he’s written on Roger Pielke, Jr., The Breakthrough Institute, among many others.

    I mean, come off it, already. At least be honest here. And, BTW, who’s the one asking for a “specific quote” so he can “trash” someone. Not me. It’s hard for me to take you unswervingly Romm loyalists seriously when you can’t wipe the scales from your own eyes.

    Again, if you want to have an honest debate over this, let’s talk about the efficacy of ends-justify-the-means. That’s what’s going on here.


  3. I haven’t a clue who Keith Kloor is, but if he wants to start a ‘Romm is bad for the level of discourse’ bandwagon, count me in.

    Blogs need not have the sterility of academic publications; a bit of personality and snark make things fun. But let’s take a deep breath and avoid ranting.


  4. I’ve got to agree with Keith here. Romm’s scorched earth policy toward anyone who has the temerity to disagree with him in any way makes useful discourse on the hard questions we’re all trying to talk about impossible. His tactic of refusing to post Keith’s comments on his blog, in essence refusing to allow Keith to defend himself in the forum where the criticism was made, is both typical of Romm and also unacceptable.


  5. John,

    An honest inquiry here from me: Following Hank’s observation, if you find Romm ‘unacceptable’, is Keith’s potshot at Romm’s parents also unacceptable?

    [I think you’re following Romm here too closely -W]

    I have to admit, I seldom read either Romm or Kloor, unless one of the more measured voices on the blogs thinks they have something data-rich to say and link to them. Two sides of the same coin, I’m afraid, from where I sit and read, when it comes to tone and to advancing the debate. Which is a pity, too — we could all use more steady, energetic voices out there.

    [I had a brief read through Kloor. There wasn’t anything obviously terrible there. what would you point to comparable to Romm? -W]


  6. delayed oscillator–

    I have an honest inquiry too: other than this blog (which I like precisely for its reasonableness), could you point me to several of the “more measured voices” in the climate blogosphere you speak of? Perhaps I’m already reading them, but I’m rather starved for “measured voices” in the climate debate, so I’d be obliged if you could give a few of your favorites. I mean that sincerely. And rather than take up our host’s bandwidth for this sideline issue, feel free to email me at keith.kloor@gmail.com)

    As for my alleged “pot shot” at Romm’s parents, it should not surprise you that I disagree with this characterization, but your question was not directed at me, so I’ll let John speak for himself.


  7. Longer Stoat (inside the mangled link):

    But climatedepot.com seems to do it (in the interests of sanity I haven’t linked it): look at the current front page and there is a link to http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/01/keith-kloor-trash-journalist/, under what is a fairly neutral link-text. You do have to wonder, as the commentator suggests: what does it tell you about Romm that Morano is happy to link to him?

    Why does Romm hate Kloor so much? I don’t know. Probably he is jealous of Denial Depot (an amusing parody of Kloor’s column in Nurture :-). You’ll immeadiately notice the rapid scepticism in that piece, of course.

    Do I win the hidden post challenge? I almost got it all – even the typos.

    Still – I want and need the Denial Depot link. That’s the only part I couldn’t get. Or do you mean the whole thing is a Keith Kloor parody? That’s pretty harsh.

    [Oh b*ll*cks, that is broken. And I can’t fix it at work – sorry. You’ll have to wait till I get home 😦 -W]


  8. [W., new #8 – please delete previous one]

    Longer Stoat (inside the mangled link):

    But climatedepot.com seems to do it (in the interests of sanity I haven’t linked it): look at the current front page and there is a link to http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/01/keith-kloor-trash-journalist/, under what is a fairly neutral link-text. You do have to wonder, as the commentator suggests: what does it tell you about Romm that Morano is happy to link to him?

    Why does Romm hate Kloor so much? I don’t know. Probably he is jealous of Denial Depot (an amusing parody of Kloor’s column in Nurture :-). You’ll immeadiately notice the rapid scepticism in that piece, of course.

    Do I win the hidden post challenge? I almost got it all – even the typos.

    Still – I want and need the Denial Depot link. That’s the only part I couldn’t get. Or do you mean the whole thing is a Keith Kloor parody? That’s pretty harsh.


  9. Eli pointed out the problem — your mother, etc. — elsewhere.
    The pretend-cluelessness is part of the icky act.

    If you care about the science, point to the science.
    The rest is just noise at a time people are trying to think.

    [Romms point is just noise, certainly. It looks to me like tribalism – Romm is on “our side” so must be good so Kloor must be bad -W]


  10. No, I don’t by choice read Romm, nor Kloor. They pop up, I page down.

    I followed William’s link, saw the same ‘parents’ line Eli commented on there, thought ‘ick’, hit the ‘back’ arrow and said so here.

    That’s as far as I’ve waded into whatever this mess is. I don’t understand doing it, and I sure don’t see adding more of it helping.

    I expect lots more kerfuffle working up to December, and to see people trying to stir every squabble into a nastier one — for their amusement, or for the disruption, or to drive off anyone new coming to try to learn about climate from people who claim to take the science seriously.

    Does the world have a problem we should cooperate to solve?
    Is that more important than taking offense easily even when you have to work with offensive, snarky, difficult people.

    People are difficult. Owie.

    We have a problem. Document what you know, show it in a way that will convince ordinary people to change how they live.

    Use what tools you have. This guy has a camera.

    Can you do as well with words?


  11. William has nearly put his finger on the issue as I see it.

    To Hank and his fellow Romm enablers:
    You can’t have it both ways. You express outrage at this supposed “smear” of mine against Romm’s parents. Never mind the tortured reading of said passage to achieve this “smear.” But let’s just say, hypothetically, that you guys are right–and just to be clear, you’re not.

    But let’s say you are, that I somehow insulted them. Now you go back and read everything else Joe wrote in that post and stack it up against what you read from Tom Yulsman at CEJournal, what you’ve read of my magazine work (if you’ve bothered to look at it), my posts at my blog, and you tell me with a straight face that what Joe Romm wrote about me wasn’t an all-out smear job. He’s not even artful at it or even close to the truth–it’s that refutable. Hell, it became so obvious to him that he even had to change some of the text and delete some of his response to me (which he had to own up to after I noted it in my blog).

    Then you go and look at the body of his work at Climate Progress dating back several years, and you read some of the golden oldies he wrote on Roger Pielke Jr,and S & N at The Breakthrough Institute, you read all the obvious distortions, the vitriolic, personalized nature of posts on these guys, to cite just a few of his favorite targets, and you tell me with a straight face that none of what he wrote there rises to the level of a smear.

    Many of you (you listening Lambert?) have good reason to be upset over Dubner & Levitt’s latest book. What’s the matter: criticism of the type William wrote isn’t enough for you? So you justify Romm feeding Caldeira a quote so Romm can use it in his arsenal to “trash them”? Ends justify the means, eh?

    You Romm apologists need to spare me your hypocritical outrage. When you apply the same standards to him that you do to me, then let’s have a reasonable talk about our differences. But so long as you’re willing to excuse and overlook the way Romm too often conducts himself at Climate Progress, then it’s hard to take your complaints about me seriously.

    Any takers?

    [I think the Caldeira is a bit of a problem. My reading of this is that the Freaks “trapped”, “induced”, “repeatedly asked till they got the right response” or some other such combination of words. Anyway, they ended up with a quote from Caldeira that misrepresented his views. Everyone reading that knew it; Romm knew it; so he wanted a quote from C that said: yes I’ve been “misquoted”. He knew exactly what he wanted C to say, and indeed so did I: which I would have phrased as “look, you’ve been quoted as saying this by the Freak’s, and it clearly doesn’t represent your views, please give me a quote that (a) makes that clear and (b) does tell us what you think”. So while the exact text that Romm used is regrettable in that case, what he did there was fundamentally correct – it produced the truth, instead of what the Freaks produced, which was wrong -W]


  12. Yes, Joe Romm can be over the top – but who else posts as much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions? There are lots of places to go for the science, but right now there are bills before the US Congress and an international meeting coming up, and the solution to AGW is ultimately a political one.


  13. People defending Romm (and I don’t mean the way Connolley has mentioned the Caldeira miquote “incident”) remind me of that old saying, “He May Be a Bastard, But He’s Our Bastard“.

    I have stopped reading Romm long ago when I realized his only goal is to preach to the converted. I might be missing “much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions” but then it is a fact that it is very hard to understand when Romm is right and when he is wrong, given that all critical replies have to be searched via Google (this is a problem on RC as well). And to anybody with Usenet 1990’s experience, vitriolic attacks must surely appear supremely boring.

    I don’t mind if people want to become the Pope of AGW but given the size of the climate problem, I just do not see how any “useful truth” can be produced by somebody’s utter unhelpfulness in bringing people together rather than split them in “144k vs the damned”.

    What can be in Romm’s future, in fact, if not more occasions to “overreach” against more and more people, as soon as they will say anything not of his liking. Just wait…one of this days, it will happen to Connolley too.

    And so it is just a matter of time before Romm will only be talking to himself.


  14. William,

    Not sure what you mean, ‘following too closely’ — I’d guess I’ve read 2-3 of his posts ever, including the first Superfreakonomics post. ‘fraid I have to agree with Hank and Eli here.

    [You appear to have accepted the you-dissed-my-parents idea rahter readily -W]

    Haven’t read much of Kloor either, the post I was thinking of was this one:


    My comment went unanswered but I think it was valid.

    [The post looks quite tolerable to me. Michael Tobis is to be applauded for being open to the idea of geoengineering, but he’s delusional if he thinks the climate activist community is also open to it. is certainly a defensible point of view -W]


    I see you have some interesting posts on your blog — the recent one pointing to the American Scientist piece was a good heads-up and your archaeology and western US stuff is interesting and not something I see elsewhere.

    But honestly, your clear visceral dislike for Romm (which now appears to be mutual) and your nearly constant postings about him (until recently, he was the largest tag by far in your tag cloud) make your blog difficult to read (seriously: if I wanted to read about Romm I would, you know, read ClimateProgress). Moreover, your willingness to lump anyone who disagrees with your content or tone into groups of imagined ‘Romm enablers’ and to sneer at climate scientists and ‘advocates’ alike does little to create a productive or ‘oh wow, cool’ environment — 2 things I look for in a blog (both these things exist at John Fleck and Michael Tobis’ blogs, to name just two, even on the rare occasion I disagree with them).

    In any case, you can have the last word if you desire — apologies to William for using his real estate and bandwidth.


  15. William,

    I’m inclined to agree with you, and this is the gist of what Eric Pooley said to Romm, as well. However, for me I see Romm’s suggestion for a quote in the context of how he asked for it: “I want to trash them…”

    Reading that brought into stark relief (to me, at least) Romm’s MO in cases like this–whether he is right or wrong. Romm wasn’t just after the truth; he wanted to tear them down in a personal way, and I have a big problem with that. What happens when he’s wrong about someone (as he is with me) and he uses the same bloodsport tactic? That’s why I raise the larger issue of how he conducts himself in these debates. To me, this was just another example of what I find really objectionable to his type of discourse, and his motivation was plain for all to see in that email revealed by Dubner.


  16. D.O. (15)

    I sincerely don’t mean to lump readers of this blog into one group. My apologies if that’s how it came across. I’ll be more precise in the future.

    I agree with your assessment of Tobis’ and Fleck’s blogs. I admire them both as well and I should aspire to their thoughtful approaches.

    Lastly, I would disagree that I post “constantly” about Romm (though I suppose it seems that way more recently). I only have about one third to one half of my posts tagged. I need to get the rest tagged, but I didn’t bother the first three or four months after I started blogging last winter.

    The bulk of my posts on Romm have taken issue with his tone and slashing, “scorched-earth” style, as Fleck put in an earlier comment


  17. Hank –

    I must admit that I winced a bit when I read Keith’s reference to Joe’s parents. I wouldn’t have gone there. But given Joe’s repeated references in his blog to their journalistic past, I admit I was wondering exactly the same thing.

    As for Keith’s persistent calling out Romm on his misbehavior, I’ve appreciated it. If Romm were merely one more vitriolic blog, I’d be happy to see him a) read by a people who already agree with him, and b) ignored by everyone else. But the attention he’s gotten from people like Friedman makes him an Important Voice. The fact that he engages in slash-and-burn, ad hominems, guilt by association attacks (Keith Kloor as Morano’s BFF? C’mon, that’s just BS, and the person who says stuff like that needs to be treated appropriately in response.) makes him a problematic figure.

    For those who accept the science, and the need for action on greenhouse gas reductions, there are hard and open questions about what might be the best path forward. We need to be having serious and thoughtful discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. Joe’s decided that he knows what’s right, which is fine, but his approach of labeling and trashing those who disagree with him, of essentially trying to silence them (“unquotable and uncitable”) rather than thoughtfully discussing the differences, makes him a harmful figure at this point.


  18. I did read both Romm and Dubner on the Freakonomics misrepresentation of Caldeira “incident”. It’s clear that Dubner’s account was way more misleading.

    [We agree there. Good -W]


  19. “but who else posts as much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions?”

    I never go to Romm unless somebody makes a convincing case that I should, and I don’t find myself at all lacking in awareness of the political issues. The generalist news media is not good with science, but it does fine with political process. One might say that’s the only thing they really have expertise in. No need for ‘scorched-earth’ commentary from anybody else (nice phrase from Fleck).

    I tend to agree with what Kloor has said on here (except for the bit on Caldeira, which Connolley has already clarified). To Kloor, keep in mind that Romm is not a practicing climate scientist. He’s got a few publications, but they generally relate to technology and economics. If you want measured voices, Grumbine certainly has that. And while RC certainly has occasional snark, it’s nowhere near offensive or irritating; the scientific substance far, far outweighs the snark. Engage with them honestly, and you’ll be treated well by them (if not all the commenters). Show enduring scientific illiteracy, and yes, they might toss in an insult.


  20. Even if one were to accept all of Kloor’s criticisms of Romm at face value, surely there are more pressing issues in the public discourse on climate science.

    The vicious sustained attacks on climate science and climate scientists on Fox News or in the National Post pose a much bigger problem than Romm’s rhetorical excesses.

    Sure, call out Romm on whatever you think he’s done wrong. But how about sparing a bit of that outrage for the likes of Patrick Michaels, Marc Morano and Tom Harris, who have done so much to confuse the public on climate change issues.


  21. Deep Climate: Lay people may not be great at science, but they are pretty good at sniffing out hypocrisy. If Romm were a nobody, it wouldn’t matter, but he’s made himself a prominent voice. The ‘rhetorical excess’ only feeds into the public’s perception that climate science has been politicised; it detracts from the science itself.

    I allow that not all voices should maintain a chinese wall between science and policy, or rather science and politics. But if you’re going to make the latter your niche, you can still do so with restraint and politeness.


  22. Keith,

    I’m willing to admit that Romm indulges in rhetorical excesses, and that may in the end make him less convincing.

    But in the grand scheme of things, much greater damage is being done by Competitive Enterprise Institute, Fraser Institute, Morano, Harris, FoxNews, National Post etc. etc. And they are much more deceitful.

    Do you agree? If not, why not? And, if so, why do you not criticize them?


  23. 1) Leave people’s mamma out of this stuff.
    2) Romm is a blowhard and lacks any sense of humor that I can see, but contentwise (once you’ve waded through the stuff that should have been edited away) he seems fairly sound. Certainly, Caldeira was badly misrepresented by Dubner/Levitt and I think HOW C.s quote was acquired is less important then the fact that, in the end, it reflected the situation accurately.
    3) The Romm/Kloor back and forth reminds me of an old-style flame war where everyone runs around pretending to be outraged but in the end a good time is had by all.


  24. Wow.

    Let’s set the record straight. I have been ignoring Kloor’s trash talk for months — even though he has, among other things, directly questioned my honesty and sanity! But I finally decided to expose Kloor as a trash journalist after he tried to smear me on Nature blogs and went after my parents.

    Contrary to his claims here, he trashes me and other climate science advocates week after week with language that is way out of bounds as anyone can see by visiting his blog. He is in no position to take issue with my occasional strong “tone” and supposed “scorched-earth” style. Quite the reverse.

    [I’ve visited his blog, . It doesn’t match your description. Lower down you provide some out-of-context quotes to try to prop up this mischaracterisation, but it won’t work -W]

    Kloor tried a scorched earth smear of me in his first Nature blogs post and it was so bad the editor changed it. Indeed, Kloor did that even though he had already read Pooley’s piece (and linked to it), so he knew that as WC says “what he did there was fundamentally correct – it produced the truth, instead of what the Freaks produced, which was wrong.” As an aside, Kloor doesn’t even know the difference between slander and libel.

    Let’s review some other examples from Kloor — which again I ignored for months (there is no “back and forth” between us, just his attacks, and my ignoring him until now, and I’ll ignore him again from now on as best I can):

    On October 18, Kloor suggested Michael Tobis is “delusional.”

    [You’ve done so much out-of-context quoting that no-one is goig to trust you any more. sure enough, the full quote reads rather differently: Michael Tobis is to be applauded for being open to the idea of geoengineering, but he’s delusional if he thinks the climate activist community is also open to it.

    On October 17 Kloor wrote:

    “More proof that environmentalists can’t chew gum and talk about climate adaptation at the same time comes in this post from David Roberts at Grist.

    “The cognitive dissonance from this crowd continues to amaze me.”

    Note the broad brush smear against all enviros. The substance of Kloor’s attack here was also wrong as I explained in my post.

    [No, Kloor is correct in that Roberts is wrong: entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson said something heroically, world-historically stupid: “If we could come up with a geoengineering answer to this problem, then Copenhagen wouldn’t be necessary. We could carry on flying our planes and driving our cars.” Branson is correct. Copenhagen is to address the problems of excess CO2. *If* they could be solved by geoengineering (I see no evidence that they could all be) then Copenhagen would be unnecessary. Kloor could with profit have used more neutral language, but you are not the one to be critcising him for that -W]

    On October 9, I wrote of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award, “Obama and his international negotiating team led by Secretary of State Clinton have helped create the first genuine chance that the entire world will come together and agree to sharply diverge from the catastrophic business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions path. This award simultaneously acknowledges what they have achieved and pushes them and the world toward delivering on Obama’s promise. It is well deserved.” Kloor quotes those words and writes:

    “It’s all about politics with Romm, which if he was honest, he would at least own up to in this case. He knows the award isn’t deserved; any sane person can see that.”

    And this beyond-the-pale attack was merely over something that is essentially a matter of opinion. For the record, as I noted on my blog, Zbigniew Brzezinski that same day on PBS said, “Well, I feel he definitely deserved it, but he also has to earn it.” Just what I said, but Judy Woodruff didn’t say Brzezinski was dishonest and insane.

    [This isn’t a beyond-the-pale attack, obviously. You can’t possibly be so offensive yourself and yet be so easily offended, if you wish to avoid charges of hypocrisy -W]

    All this came from a guy who criticized me by saying “That’s not how reputable journalists operate–we don’t set out to deliberately trash people.” That’s all Kloor does is trash me and Roberts and Tobis and our “crowd.”

    This from a guy who brags in his blog “I’ve been an adjunct journalism professor.”

    What serious journalist would write, On August 12,in a big wet kiss titled “Morano Bridges the Climate Divide” (whose opening line is “Yes, you read that right”):

    “If you think the public discussion of climate change is best served by a free flowing exchange of information and perspectives, then Morano’s Climate Depot is one of your gateways, like it or not.”

    [It is a shame you didn’t read on. You’d have found Romm, who is smart and knowledgeable, is also often preachy and hyperbolic. If you’re a climate skeptic and you read Romm via Climate Depot, your worst biases about climate advocates are probably going to be reinforced. or even But if, on the other hand, you read Michael Tobis, who Morano has linked to prominently numerous times in recent weeks, then you might be pleasantly surprised to find a civil, logical, and eloquent voice. That’s certainly not the impression Morano wants you to walk away with. He always prefaces his links to Tobis by labeling him a “climate fear promoter,” in an effort to bias your reading of his post. But those Morano-directed readers have also engaged Tobis in comment threads and have found an equally civil and reasonable forum. -W]

    Seriously. I don’t think I have to repeat here all the reasons that is just outright laughable and anti-journalistic.

    For Kloor, Morano is just helping us all develop a “healthy habit” by being “a true news aggregator” — when in fact over 90% of Morano’s links are to disinformers and deniers and outright anti-scientific smear-jobs.

    [I agree that Morano is wrong about climate science. I don’t read climatedepot. But I don’t think you should be so absolutely and impolitely and automatically dismissive of someone just for suggesting that Morano may on occaision do something useful. Just for fun, because I know you like mt, I’m going to ask his opinion of that piece -W]

    On September 15, Kloor actually criticizes Morano, “He exploits everything–even a noble man’s death– to score cheap points for his side.” Duh. But quickly goes on to say:

    “Look, I’m already on record about the value of Morano’s site. I also get a ton of traffic every time he links to me; I’m glad when it happens because as I have argued, he has a constituency that I think is important to communicate with. Let me also say I have a soft spot for him. The guy is unfailingly congenial and polite. And he has a sense of humor.”

    Tell that to John Kerry. Or Murtha. Or the hundreds of serious climate scientists who Morano and Inhofe have repeatedly smeared over the years for doing nothing more than trying to inform the public about the dangers of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions. Or the countless environmentalists whose tireless efforts to preserve a livable climate have been met with lie and lie after lie.

    Morano isn’t “communicating” with his “constituency” — he is feeding them a pack of lies.

    [Well, he is linking to you 🙂 -W]

    Now maybe you all think I should have just kept on ignoring these vicious attacks forever. I decided one response was merited given his attacks on my parents and his effort to smear me on Nature blogs. I don’t hate him. But I did get tired of his crap. I will endeavor to ignore him again, even if he persists in trashing me and other climate science advocates week in and week out.

    [If you can’t say anything polite, then I think that would be your best policy -W]

    Sure, a small fraction of my posts use very tough language — usually reserved for those who are actively spreading disinformation aimed at undermining efforts to preserve a livable climate. Sure, they get a disproportionate amount of attention — that’s life on the blogosphere.

    But a large fraction of Kloor’s posts are nothing but slash and burn, mainly aimed at me.

    And yet he parades himself as if he were some sort of serious journalist in a position to pass judgment on others that he deems go to far.

    The bottom line is that if the standard is set by the fraction of Kloor’s blog posts that have an over-the-top slashing tone — then my blog is Sesame Street or maybe Paula Abdul in comparison.

    I’ll touch on the Caldeira story in a separate comment.


  25. Joe:

    I have the utmost respect for you and generally admire your passion in blogging, but sometimes breaking a butterfly on the proverbial wheel is not worth the hassle. Yes, Kloor certainly erred in my opinion when he mentioned your parents (rule no.1 in playground fights is the ol’ “yo momma” gambit), but your missive, justified or not, is misdirected and will be used as ammunition by contrarians. Save your poison pen for the Pielkes instead!


  26. Sigh. I was so ready to let this go and move on. Well, Joe, you pretty much cut and pasted your original post on me right into this comment thread.

    Rather than bore William’s audience with a point-by-point counter, here’s part of what I wrote in my original rebuttal:

    “Honestly, the stuff he throws out in the second half of his post amounts to a string of selective quotes from various posts of mine, all taken out of context–and all meant to buttress Romm’s contention that I am some poseur journalist. (And he never provides links to the actual posts.)”

    But just for kicks I’ll take up Joe’s cited examples on my own site sometime tonight. (It’s election day in the States and I’m on daddy-day care, as there is no school.)

    But before I take my leave, I’m going to ask Joe once again to release the comment I left on his site last night. It took him a day to publish my previous response to him and I suspect he had no choice. Well, after he took some additional shots at me last night in the comment thread of his post on me, I figured I’d at least respond. I’ll just go ahead and put my response up at my own place.


  27. I don’t entirely understand why this soap opera is playing out here, but thank you to William for doing some refereeing.

    I don’t even understand what David Roberts was trying to say. Branson was not talking about solar shields or sulphate aerosols; he was talking about reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. I think Branson will find that removing CO2 at 385 ppm and storing it to be rather more expensive than not emitting it in the first place, or at least capturing it before it’s diluted. But David Roberts didn’t touch on that; he put up a bunch of graphs of various things like paper consumption, deforestation and overfishing. What was he trying to say? That Branson is heroically stupid because his fix for CO2 doesn’t also stop overfishing?

    [I think Roberts was trying to say two things. The first (which doesn’t work, because of the way Branson phrased his comments) was that geoengineering by, say sulphate aerosols of solar shields might fix the temperature problem globally, but not regionally, and wouldn’t address the other CO2 problems (ocean acidification most obviously). This is a common and perfectly valid complaint against geoengineering, but *it doesn’t work against the quote Branson provided*. The second (which is the not-so-secret-agenda) is that even *if* geoengineering could indeed fixup all of our CO2 problems perfectly – perhaps by removing it cheaply, though there is no sign of that being possible – then that to some people would be a bad thing because they want to fix our addictions to cars and cheap tat and so on by using the stick of CO2 to beat us with. I have some sympathy with that view point, but it won’t work -W]


  28. Hmm, well, what do you expect me to say to an article that compares Michael Tobis favorably with a blog that gets twenty times as much attention, and that from twenty times more influential people?

    “Hear! Hear!” comes to mind immediately.

    That said, while I think Joe Romm’s approach is a mixed blessing, it’s not without its benefits. I’d much prefer if he produced as much well-researched material without automatically dismissing any opposing ideas.

    As Keith pointed out, Morano is clever and funny, and I allow myself to enjoy his trickery. I have no illusion that what he is trying to do is remotely ethical or constructive, but there’s no need to prevent my outrage at being tinged by admiration and amusement.

    I agree with Keith that there are sometimes constructive side effects to Climate Depot. I have found interesting articles through Morano, and get the heads up on the latest denialist spin as well. That doesn’t excuse the intent. Morano is wrong on the substance, far more so than Romm has ever been, and we’ll all be much better off the day he gets the memo.

    I agree with Keith that anything that keeps the conversation moving is good, and anything that tends to separate us out into two opposing teams pulling on a rope is not. And I have little choice but to agree that Michael Tobis is exemplary in this regard!

    (Many thanks, Keith, and many thanks also to John Fleck for his recent commendation of my approach as well.)

    [Thank you Michael. In an effort to provide clarity, let me make it clear that I agree with your That doesn’t excuse the intent. Morano is wrong on the substance, far more so than Romm has ever been, and we’ll all be much better off the day he gets the memo. -W]


  29. Speaking as someone whom Joe Romm has banned from his site, I have a couple of things to add here.

    Kloor’s reference to Romm’s parents was inappropriate. Kloor should admit it, and then get back to substantive discussion of the issues.

    But I chalk that up to an error in judgment that’s quite common in the blogosphere. I’m sure many of us have been guilty of similar comments. I certainly have. But let’s compare that to Romm’s unrelenting need to vent a seemingly bottomless rage toward people all out of proportion to even the perceived offense. The latest eruption began when Romm allegedly wrote an email to Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist, saying that he wanted to *****”trash”**** the authors of SuperFreakonomics. Kloor took Romm to task for that, and rightly so. Then, this past weekend, Romm posted a diatribe thousands and thousands of words long against Kloor, with the headline “Meet trash journalist Keith Kloor.”

    It seems like “trash” is one of Romm’s favorite words, and “trashing” is one of his favorite activities.

    With the release of Romm’s email to Ken Caldeira, we get a peak behind the curtain. All of us can draw our own conclusions.


  30. It’s unbelievably frustrating that we’re talking about how Romm got his quotes from Caldeira, as opposed to what Caldeira actually thinks – which Romm appears to have done a fair job of representing. It isn’t Romm’s fault that people are focusing on the distraction, but he did provide the distraction.

    [Well sort of. I already knew what C thought – he thought what Romm got him to say, not what the Freaks got him to say. So the fault at base lies with the Freaks – they made this entire molehill up -W]

    I’d like to know whether Levitt and Dubner did not understand what Caldeira was saying, didn’t listen very carefully, or if they tuned him out when he said things they didn’t like – not on any merit, but just because their approach prefers the counterintuitive over the conventional.

    [I think it is clear that L+D had an agenda – write some spicy sexed up stuff – but I’ve said that before: https://wmconnolley.wordpress.com/2009/10/superfreakonomics_global_cooli.php -W]


  31. William, your link for DenialDepot in the opening text is wrong.

    [Sigh. I seem doomed to stuff up this post multiple times -W]

    Is there even one common issue all those snarking could work together on, as an example of how to collaboratively save the world without giving up the joy of snark?

    This one would be topical:

    “Plumer reminds us over at The New Republic’s website that Dubner has yet to “address any of the errors that scientists like William Connolley have pointed out,” which Olive Heffernan summarized ….”

    [Nice try, but I’m not a scientist any more 🙂 -W]


  32. The eater of carrots has a good point… IMHO If Romm just stayed with focusing on the provable wrong doings… they would not be able to shoot him down by pointing at selective quoting.

    I mean how much better would not this have been if Romm just had pointed out that bringing the parents in to this is just low and bad “journalism” and that getting the truth out about what Calderia thinks really is what is important.

    However as with Morano I think that it is nothing wrong to point out a spade when one sees one. Morano deserves no credit for what he is doing, Zero.


  33. “like” means equal to or similar to;
    “such as” means include.
    — Grammar Nazi

    Anyone can claim to point out errors; some people, such as you, have done that notably well. Some scientists have, like you did — working up to the same standard.

    See, a pundit (in the pundit’s worldview) would be _superior_ …. I better stop now.


  34. Kloor writes:

    “So you justify Romm feeding Caldeira a quote so Romm can use it in his arsenal to “trash them”? Ends justify the means, eh?”

    At the risk of being characterized as a “Romm apologist”, this is a clear red herring. Caldeira wouldn’t have ok’d the quote if he didn’t support it. Levitt and Dubner grossly misrepresenting Caldeira and hurting his reputation in the process is orders of magnitude worse than this silly nitpick.

    And for the record, it’s best to leave one’s parents out of a public discussion, whether or not you had ill-intent. Are egos so high that apologies are beyond everyone?


  35. The reason Morano links to Romm, MT and other “alarmist” blogs is to get the troops out there to argue. He’s linked to me a couple of times, presumably for the same reason.

    This puts a different light on W’s response to Joe Romm:

    Morano isn’t “communicating” with his “constituency” — he is feeding them a pack of lies.

    [Well, he is linking to you 🙂 -W]

    I’m sure W. is jesting, of course.

    However, let’s be clear: Joe Romm may be many things, but he’s not a liar. Morano is.

    Case in point (read more at Deep Climate):

    Sept. 25: Mojib Latif of Kiel University in Germany told a UN conference earlier this month that he is now predicting global cooling for several decades. – Marc Morano, Climate Depot (CFACT).

    I’m all for the “free flowing exchange of information and perspectives”. But not at the expense of any semblance of truth.


  36. And for the record, it’s best to leave one’s parents out of a public discussion, whether or not you had ill-intent.

    Maybe his parents never taught him that.


  37. DeepClimate (#38): you may have noticed from #26 that Romm has just been caught providing “out-of-context quotes”, so much so “that no-one is going to trust [him] any more” (presumably Connolley just refers to not trusting Romm any more about quoting, but there’s little preventing one from expanding the lack of trust to whatever has seen Romm over-react)

    Romm has also been found wrong about Kloor/Branson, and invited to stay quiet rather than being impolite. So you may be right that Romm “is not a liar” but it looks like the only thing saving Romm’s soul at this point is his “substance”. Good luck with that!


    W. (#30): One thing I disagree with you and Tobis about is that we would “all be much better off the day [Morano] gets the memo”.

    For most intents and purposes, Morano’s blog is “noise”. In the big scheme of things, his “getting the memo” would be as important as getting the Tiljander samples in or out of the Mann reconstruction…

    And it is up to the people that are convinced there is something to be done about AGW, to find a way to get something done about AGW. How can you measure in fact the success of the unconvinced? Given that their goal is to see nothing done, their work is easier by far.


  38. Kloor, in your post at Nature’s blog that started this whole event, you screwed up the difference between “slander” and “libel.” [Irrelevant personalisation cut – W]

    When Nature went back and altered several parts of your post, that explained even more.

    [You seem to be curiously familiar with what would appear to be non-public knowledge. Which post at Nature are you referring to, and what is your evidence that it was altered? -W]


  39. It appears to be getting lost here, but Romm did not approach Caldeira as a jounalist, but as a colleague. Evidently the two have known each other for quite a while. The Kloor/Yulsman/he who must not be named line assumes not.

    The interesting question is how Keith Kloor got the Nature gig.

    And guys, if you’re gonna talk about Eli, give link

    Finally, Stoat, your mom’s so low she digs tunnels.


  40. I find it amusing that some journalists get worked up about Romm’s acquisition of the Caldeira quote even while assiduously ignoring the world-spanning Colossus of Dubner’s crime.

    Do they know about the dozens in Blighty, Eli?


  41. > Paul Kelly, Chicago Comedian

    “… As luck would have it, the internet provides many targets in the form of blog feuds. The blog I’ve picked to help me quit smoking is …”

    Oh, good. This can only improve the level of discourse here.

    I hope for more along the lines of the Mt. Rushmore illustration.


  42. Romm writes, “For Kloor, Morano is just helping us all develop a “healthy habit” by being “a true news aggregator” — when in fact over 90% of Morano’s links are to disinformers and deniers and outright anti-scientific smear-jobs.” So… Joe is the final authority on truth? Only Joe can discern real science from superstition? Gosh, I never knew what a treasure we have in Joseph Romm. Infallible. No arrogance here, move along.


  43. Excellent hosting, Wm.

    Is it just me, btw, or are Americans weirdly sensitive about their parents, even when evoked in a quite reasonable way?

    [No! Don’t mention the parents! Aieee! -W]


  44. This is baffling thread, really baffling.

    As an interested but casual reader here (interested because climate change and what people are saying about it seems, well, interesting- and important; casual because I have a life in the real world and don’t time to follow all links and read all the primary sources) I’ve always liked this blog for its brevity, humour and level-headedness, but the last few posts (and their comment threads) have lost me.

    This one in particular.

    Somebody please tell me what’s going on here, and why it’s important.

    [To take your last point first, it probably isn’t. It has nothing at all to do with climate science, and all to do with personalities.

    The background: Joe Romm’s “climateprogress.org” has emerged as a popular blog. I find it well over the top in terms of his vitriol towards “opponents”; Romm has a very black-and-white us-and-them view of the world. I happened to notice him attacking Kloor; and I happened to notice Kloor replying. Initially, I had not a clue where the right lay. This has become an investigation into that issue; I’m now firmly convinced that, in this respect at least, Kloor is to be preferred. To appease those who will say “but in the big picture, Romm generally gets the science right” I’d say, cautiously, yes I broadly agree, with the strong caveat that he frequently over-eggs the pudding. What Kloors take is on the science I have no idea -W]


  45. It isn’t at all important, geodoc. If you have a limited amount of time to spend learning about climate issues, don’t spend it on this topic. Save your time for actual science.


  46. > parents

    There’s precedent in the great literature of the past:


    JOHN has been examining GRANDFATHER. He now leans forward to him.

    (in an over-friendly voice)
    Hello, Grandfather!


    He can talk then?

    Course he can talk. He’s a human being, like.
    Isn’t he?

    Well … if he’s your Grandfather, who knows?

    The lads all laugh.

    ———— http://www.aellea.com/script/ahdn.htm


  47. Stoat, as you requested….Kloor started the whole thing with his repetitive negative postings on Romm and by posting another hit against Romm on Nature’s blog, relying on Roger Pielke Jr. as his stand in critic. Well, Nature had to edit the original, apparently to protect themselves from Kloor. Here’s what happened after an editor redacted portion and created the new version that removed the “slander” jab at Romm (psst, Keith it’s actually libel) and also edited out Kloor’s “disclosure.” For someone like Kloor, who claims to be a journalism professor, this is all a bit disturbing.

    [So we’re comparing:

    Roger Pielke Jr., never one to shy away from a battle, believes that Dubner and his co-author Steven Levitt have indeed been slandered by Joe Romm over at Climate Progress. Dubner’s “smear” charges seemed to have hit a nerve with Romm, who has written multiple, lengthy posts in just the last 24 hours to defend himself. **Regardless of who claims the high ground in this episode, Bradford Plumer reminds us over at The New Republic’s website that Dubner has yet to “address any of the errors that scientists like William Connolley have pointed out,” which Olive Heffernan summarized here:


    Roger Pielke Jr., never one to shy away from a battle, believes that Dubner and his co-author Steven Levitt have indeed been critized by Joe Romm over at Climate Progress. Dubner’s charges have been denied by Romm, who has written multiple, lengthy posts in just the last 24 hours to defend himself. Regardless of who claims the high ground in this episode, Bradford Plumer reminds us over at The New Republic’s website that Dubner has yet to “address any of the errors that scientists like William Connolley have pointed out,” which Olive Heffernan summarized here:

    I can’t get excited by that.

    More amusingly, Nature have snipped:

    **Full DISCLOSURE: As a scientist journalist, I’ve weighed in on the matter on my own blog, especially on the point of Romm trying to feed a quote to Stanford climate scientist Ken Caldiera, who has found himself caught in the middle of the escalating dispute between Romm and Dubner and Pielke Jr.

    from the original, which makes your initial comment over there rather strange -W]


  48. Thom’s comparison is, as such things go, really interesting.
    Why on earth did someone edit out the “disclosure” line?

    I kept flipping back and forth between the two, sure any editor would have _added_ the disclosure, not removed it.

    And (sigh) removing without any evidence.

    Gee, do you suppose anyone since me has actually commented over there? I don’t, I promise, have any special relationship with Nature that I’m aware of that they’d leave my comment and nothing since. Maybe nobody’s commented since.

    Alas, they’re not attracting any attention at all, then.

    Perhaps they need a small furry animal avatar. Ideas?

    [Kloors post there – which looks like a defence of the Freaks – is poor, but thats not the problem. Nature’s constituency is scientists, who want science, and not blogs, or so I’d guess -W]


  49. William, reading Olive’s introduction to the Nature blog site, I think they were trying to draw attention to the science for nonscientists who don’t subscribe to their magazine. Remember, they started out with policy– RPJr, usually thought of at the time as a big draw for the general public interested in science policy. Well, that worked out as it did. But they are still trying to attract attention.
    They don’t need to attract their scientist subscribers to it.

    Science education matters. Or, it used to. In that line, this is well worth a read for the news value. I didn’t see it til today and only by accident via a Google search that popped it up. I usually don’t read Romm, but this is good.

    No frothing. Serious, heartfelt, straightforward report.



  50. Hmph. Let’s see how long it requires for “moderation” there.
    Here’s the timestamp and comment, fer what it’s worth:

    Hank Roberts
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.


    Are _any_ of Nordhaus, Shellenberger, Kloor, or Yulsman actually old enough to remember the McCarthy era from personal experience?

    I find it hard to believe any of you could recall life in those times, and think some guy on a blog is remotely comparable.

    You’re looking at the television or the words — not the reality of the power McCarthy had.

    You can’t be old enough to remember the reality, and think these are comparable situations.

    I was five years old, a college faculty brat, sitting in front of a tiny little 12″ black and white television, having heard since I started to understand how hard it was for teachers simply to try to teach. My parents and their peers had fought a war, and come back, and started to live — and were afraid, though they didn’t want to show it. McCarthy was powerful and had done great damage.

    I remember this — when it was first broadcast — and I remember the beginning of hope that it gave after people realized it had happened.

    “Card carrying Communist” witch hunts? People losing their jobs on suspicion and anonymous accusation? The blacklists? The utter fear among academics of teaching something that would get them denounced?

    You’re way off base.

    Romm’s maybe a Jerry Rubin or an Abbie Hoffman — he’s theatrical, he’s dramatic, I can’t read him very long, any more than I can read a lot of public bloggers who are so heartfelt they have trouble keeping their heads screwed on straight — though he’s far better than most. Sometimes he’s a flamer, sometimes he’s a clown, often he’s an attention-getter, and, always, he’s got to be more careful of his facts and cite his claims better– like any public speaker on anything important.

    And we’re in the midst of a great extinction, and he knows it.

    And you guys don’t, apparently, or you’d care more and show more knowledge and you’d be scared to death and trying to spend your lives on this problem, and you might even get a little erratic yourself instead of arch and polished.

    But, man, I remember Joe McCarthy
    Joe Romm is no Joe McCarthy.
    Not even close, not even comparable.

    You look at that video, and look at the videos of some of the really slick, sophisticated, anti-environmental spokespeople. You’ll see a similarity, for sure.

    Joe Romm’s not one of those. He’s maybe _trying_ to be that smooth and orgnaized, but he’s just never got the self control to be the kind of sleaze that McCarthy was, and he’s never had anything remotely like the power McCarthy had.

    Get real, kids. You’re not repeating history here.

    Look at it. Think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAur_I077NA

    As posted. I hope I’ve been fair to all mentioned who are involved, concerned, or enjoying watching from their location in whatever hypothetical afterlife they may have deserved.


  51. Hank,
    At some point, Joe Romm’s doctrinaire and partisan excesses cannot be excused by his passion. Unlike “a lot of public bloggers” he is, after all, paid by a think tank to spew his venom and exaggeration. He divides people at a time we really need to come together.


  52. *cough*


    “… our team pieced together the story of a far-reaching, multinational backlash by fossil fuel industries and other heavy carbon emitters aimed at slowing progress on control of greenhouse gas emissions. Employing thousands of lobbyists, millions in political contributions, and widespread fear tactics, entrenched interests worldwide are thwarting the steps that scientists say are needed to stave off a looming environmental calamity, the investigation found.”


    Oh, yeah, taming Romm would improve the level of discourse for sure. If business as usual is your idea of right practice.


    “… see Morano’s recent debate with Joe Romm [links in original]. Joe tries to be patient in debating Morano, and to correct him as much as possible–a valiant attempt, but it’s simply impossible to correct everything Morano says as he bowls you over with dubious assertions.”

    “… while it may be justified (not to mention hard to resist), it’s rather pointless to get mad at Morano, or CFACT, over this. They’re playing the game to win, and they’re very good at it. Frankly, we should be paying close attention to their tactics, and even trying learn from them.
    … good science can easily get defeated by good rhetoric.
    … you can learn to be a good TV debater, a stunningly effective advocate for your own side…but who has time to really make an art of it? Who is funded to do this?
    So far as I can tell, it’s generally conservatives, that’s who. And that, my friends, is the latest installment of “why reason loses”…. April 9th, 2009 by Chris Mooney

    But you said on your humor blog something about getting involved in blogsquabbles about Romm to help you vent while you’re quitting smoking. How’s that working out for you?

    You might find a better way, e.g. one of these:

    Keep at it; save your own life first.


  53. Hank, I was right with you until you got to the part about extinction and passion and emotion and whatever else. No, emotion does not justify any excess. It sounds like you’re giving into emotionalism, instead of dispassionately analysing a problem and thinking about solutions. I don’t care how bad you think a problem is, one needs to be analytical in order to assess and counteract it.


  54. I’m not prescribing for everyone. But I think there are people, maybe a majority, who won’t be convinced by a dispassionate analysis from the biologists or ecologists or climate scientists, and will be convinced by emotional appeals.

    [But this is no good. “emotional appeals” can be made on either side and will judged by emotion -W]

    Someone has to make them for the scientists — and someone has to make sure the science is well documented too.

    “Although he was much more than a defender of Darwin — he led the movement toward the professionalization of science, for example — Huxley is best known for his public exchange in 1860 with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. The bishop, a clever, witty debater, opened himself to attack by making a gentle joke about Huxley’s ancestry. Huxley, furious, replied famously to the effect that he would rather be descended from an ape than a bishop…..”


    I’ve watched scientists lose public ‘debates’ for decades now by being dispassionate — on surface nuclear testing; on DDT; on lead in gasoline …. you can think of your own examples. I’m thinking of specific events I attended. Everyone’s got their own, but I doubt anyone can name an event where the average crowd was convinced by calm presentation of facts when someone opposing the science was emoting.

    You need both, somewhere. People aren’t dispassionate by nature, and don’t believe a scientist who doesn’t show any passion. Science is an awfully new thing in history and we really don’t know how to use it well as a species.

    Try this one as an example of doing public explanatory science as well as anyone I can think of.


    Yeah, lots of people screw it up when they get emotional trying to explain science to people who can’t do it themselves. Nobody said it was easy. Heck, nobody’s promised us it’s even possible.


  55. And this is promising:

    “… The term “denialism,” used by Mr. Specter as an all-purpose, pop-sci buzzword, is defined by him as what happens “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”

    In this hotly argued yet data-filled diatribe, Mr. Specter skips past some of the easiest realms of science baiting (i.e., evolution) to address more current issues, from the ethical questions raised by genome research to the furiously fought debate over the safety of childhood vaccinations.

    Among the toes on which he stomps: those of Prince Charles (cited for presumption and ignorance in his advocacy of organic farming), Dr. Andrew Weil (whose promotion of vitamin supplements is equated with snake-oil salesmanship), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (accused of writing an antivaccine article “knit together by an almost unimaginable series of misconceptions”) and The Huffington Post, “which has emerged as the most prominent home for cranks of all kinds, particularly people who find scientific research too heavily burdened by facts.”

    That’s an excerpt from the NYT review of:

    How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives
    By Michael Specter
    294 pages. The Penguin Press.

    Not dispassionate.


  56. I’m bowing out of this stuff, I can’t keep up, and the stakes are clearly far higher than I could manage anyhow. Just discovered Joe Romm’s bet on temperature, apparently one of some number of sizeable bets I never heard of. Clearly I don’t read this stuff, so why am I bothering.

    In closing, from this

    JR: I am expecting the planet to warm more than 0.2°C next decade, particularly if there is not a major volcano.

    UPDATE2: So far, no serious players in the denier-sphere have stepped up to take this bet. I should make clear that I am, of course, using the the Nate Silver rule….
    2. You are a regular (at least once weekly) contributor to a political, economics or science blog with an Alexa traffic global ranking of 50,000 or lower.

    The reason for the latter requirement is because I want to be able to shame/humiliate you if you back out of the challenge or refuse to pay, as I’d assume you’d do the same with me.

    Down in the responses, Tom Fuller says:
    October 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Mr. Romm, I’ll take your bet. Examiner.com is rated by Alexa as site number 151 in the U.S. and number 476 in the world. I post pretty much every day on it. I live in the U.S. and will happily provide you with my address and telephone number if you’ll reciprocate.

    Hubristically yours

    Tom Fuller

    Pass the popcorn, please, I’m going to settle in and watch.

    [I can’t say I care for that post of Romm’s. He seems to make the elementary logical mistake of confusing “I’m reporting that the climate may cool over the next few years” with “I’d like to bet on…”.

    For the record, climate warming is not a linear phenomenon, it is an accelerating phenomenon is wrong.

    I don’t like Romm’s way of attacking anyone who fails to toe his party line -W]


  57. Hank’s questioning of the comparison The Breakthrough Institute makes between Romm & McCarthy (a comparison, BTW, which I don’t make in any of my own Romm-related posts or comments) is a legitimate topic for debate.

    It seems worthwhile for The Breakthrough Institute to address this in the comments thread of their own post–or here, if they should find their way over.


  58. > I don’t like Romm’s way of attacking anyone who
    > fails to toe his party line -W]

    Me neither. He’s nowhere as good at the attacking as the professionals opposing action on climate change, either.

    I don’t like _anyone’s_ attacking people and trying to win in politics and policy by using rant and rhetoric. I don’t like how that tactic often wins, either. And it does, at all levels from school boards on up. So it gets used.

    I also don’t like being in a small minority with the gradeschool teachers, reference librarians, and their ilk.
    Heck, I can’t even do good blogsnark, though I study at the feet of those who do assiduously.


  59. As an aside — for thoughts on the success of bad anti-thinking in politics, David Brin is often worth reading.


    Contempt for the Masses seems to come as naturally as breathing. And you (or I) never happen to be one of the innumerable fools, out there. You (or I) are in the know!

    Now we’ll move on to another silly notion that folks routinely seem to love to fall for. That history runs in patterns and even predictable cycles. Here’s the second half of that infamous “Tytler Quotation” we examined last time — a touchstone of modern neoconservative cant. The portion that claims there are predictable patterns that control the destiny of peoples and nations….

    … I find illusory “cycles” far less rewarding than the notion of “attractor states”… or pitfalls that seem relentlessly to pull in cultures, because of repetitive traits in human nature.

    Oligarchic feudalism is one such attractor. (Find the exceptions: agrarian societies that avoided this trap. I can name only eight.) Another attractor is fear-driven xenophobia. Machismo is one more. Put a dozen or so of these together and you start getting a really good picture of our tragic history. (And yes, because these themes keep recurring, matters can thus look a bit cyclical. But that’s like saying the fundamental reason that a car moves is because the wheels turn.)

    But leadership also matters, e.g. Athenian democracy did not fail till Pericles died, and then just barely. And that is where miracles keep happening to America. here America finds NEW attractor states…. bad presidents are followed by good ones, citizenship triumphs (barely) over anomie and cynicism, and seminal decisions transform the world.

    Example. America’s current deep indebtedness is portrayed as a pit of ruin. Yes, it is a pit, a difficult one. But nobody looks at what we got, in exchange for it.

    What did we get for the debt, other that lots of expensive cars and cheap tube socks?

    Well, we saved the world. Because of anti-mercantalist trade patterns, set up by Marshall, Truman and Acheson, and then Ike. Pax Americana was the first empire ever to eschew and reverse mercantalist temptations. The result was a steady export-driven UPLIFTING of Europe and Japan, then Taiwan, Korea, China, and so on… till 2/3 of the world is now out of grinding poverty and sending their kids to school…..


  60. Hank,

    As far as I can tell, Michael Specter’s take on “denialism” in relation to AGW focuses at least as much on opposition to certain energy solutions, than denial of the phenomenon itself.

    Humanity has nearly suffocated the globe with carbon dioxide, yet nuclear power plants that produce no such emissions are so mired in objections and obstruction that, despite renewed interest on every continent, it is unlikely another will be built in the United States.

    I understand Specter’s point: “Deep greens” opposed to any practical form of AGW mitigation, other than the holy grail of pure renewable energy, are a potential impediment to progress.

    He may be right, but surely that is not the most pressing problem of AGW “denialism”. It’s clear that Specter has little patience for the more tradional form of AGW denialism, but the above quote suggests his approach on this particular issue has a peculiar emphasis to say the least.


  61. Mr. Shellenberger, click the link.
    The comment has appeared now, with thoughtful responses.

    But as you’re here — could you explain that third arm in the image, which CEJournal copies from your original? The one poking out between Mr. Romm and the person next to him?

    It’s a right hand, but wearing a wedding ring, and a shirt cuff the same color as the one Mr. Romm is shown wearing.
    Was that picture Photoshopped?


  62. Eli’s answer to Specter starts with pointing out that a division of the answer into adaptation and mitigation is a procrutean bed which forces many actions into places they logically cannot fit. The Bunny’s Five Fold Way


    Is, on reflection, a much more useful way of thinking about the problem. For example, air capture from the atmosphere clearly goes under mitigation, reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, while CO2 capture from a coal plant belongs under amelioration. EWIL.


  63. Irony alert:

    Those giving too much attention to the people who started this will recognize theirony: McCarthy’s fall began when he needlessly and nastily dragged a name — “Fred Fisher” — into public view, for pure spite.

    The response is history, documented here:

    —excerpt follows—-

    At long last

    Today is the fiftieth anniversary of an event that should not go unremarked on Language Log: it’s exactly half a century today since a pair of well-crafted sentences rang out across a Congressional hearings room in Washington DC and began a process that was of great importance to the integrity and honor of our country:

    > Have you no sense of decency, sir?
    > At long last, have you left no
    > sense of decency?

    In the early 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy was famous for his aggressive anti-communist stance, and speeches in which he claimed to be in possession of long lists of names of communists in the State department, the military, and elsewhere in government. He made full use of his position as chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations and its Permanent Committee on Investigations. He destroyed the careers of many people by claiming that they had belonged to communist front organizations or associated with communists. His success at this owed a lot to the fact that he was able to play (as Harvard law dean Erwin Griswold put it) “judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one.”

    On June 9 in 1954, McCarthy was pursuing a somewhat peripheral vendetta against the Army over the drafting of a member of his staff…. out of sheer malice, McCarthy decided to place into the record the quite gratuitous information that the law firm representing the Army, Hale and Dorr of Boston, employed a young lawyer, Fred Fisher ….”

    It was no secret, but by dragging anyone’s name into widespread public attention, McCarthy knew, he put people in jeopardy.
    That was his method all along.

    Shameful behavior, for those capable of feeling shame.

    Why? History, kids. Look it up. Hint:


  64. 1. I think too much attention’s paid to Romm’s vitriol and not enough to accuracy. I think he’s mostly right and not intentionally exaggerating, but he still pushes things too far. If he gets the facts right, then tone is secondary.

    2. William sez “For the record, climate warming is not a linear phenomenon, it is an accelerating phenomenon is wrong.” What time frame are you talking about? Compared to 20th Century as a whole, the warming of the last few decades has accelerated and will most likely accelerate more to hit 3degrees C at 2xCO2.

    [That is hardly acceleration. Look at the IPCC temperature projections. Its hard to even know what Romm means by this -W]


  65. “Disappointing”, William? I didn’t know I had expectations to live up to. But you run a blog, which kind of means your setting yourself up as some kind of expert…or something.

    [I’m disappointed by you flinging around accusations of “intellectual dishonesty” behind my back, so to speak. I’d have hoped that if you wanted to accuse me of that, you’d do so to my face -W]

    So why did you just leave that question hanging:
    >Why does Romm hate Kloor so much? I don’t know.

    when the answer is so obvious? There was no need to suppose that Romm was simply envious of KK getting a bit of press, when Romm clearly articulates exactly whet his problems with KK were.

    I call leaving a highly leading question swinging when you could so easily answer is yourself intellectually dishonest. I call making a nasty inference when the truth is not hidden intellectually dishonest.

    Obviously you don’t. Perhaps you could inform us what term you would use.

    [Well, you’ve now turned up here and said the same, which is better. But I think you’re wrong; you’re wrong to so dislike Kloor that you’re blind to Romm’s errors. The link that you provide over at Deltoid (http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2009/11/01/204856/keith-kloor-trash-journalist/) as evidence of why Romm hates Kloor is appalling, killer evidence of the flaws in Romm; not of any flaws in Kloor. You’re sounding like the you-must-be-for-us-or-against-us-polarise-yourself-now-I-insist type.

    For reference, my opinion of Romm is that he is one of the heart-in-the-right-place-but-so-well-over-the-top-that-he-isn’t-helping types; see Foaming at the mouth with Joe Romm. And my opinion of Kloor? More nuanced -W]


  66. Stoat:

    The link that you provide over at Deltoid [… is] evidence of why Romm hates Kloor is appalling, killer evidence of the flaws in Romm;

    Sorry, Stoat, you’ve repeatedly chanted the ‘Romm is over the top, Romm is over the top, Romm is over the top‘ mantra, but with zero evidence to show for it.

    [I don’t need to provide the evidence – you’ve provided it for me. We read the same Romm post very different ways. I’m right, of course, and you’re wrong; but I can forgive you for being wrong; many people are, after all.

    The rest Burrowed. -W]


  67. > you-must-be-for-us-or-against-us-polarise-yourself-now-I-insist

    That’s only the science-based types. I wonder if it’s an ironic effect of hard argument about actual science.

    The “anything but the IPCC” crowd is _very_ tolerant. They argue for all sorts of mutually inconsistent anything-but notions in cheerful good-fellowship.


  68. > science-based types

    I should clarify that–the polarization demands don’t come from scientists, who can disagree quite sharply about ideas while tolerating uncertainty; it’s from people who have a Plan based on something they read about the science, who understand its every implication, are ready to lead the world and demand to be followed. There’s one in every possible direction, all pointing away from the middle ground.

    [That sounds correct -W]


  69. Is he?


    I was expecting your link to provide some evidence for that, but I don’t see it.

    There is clear evidence in this very thread; that you don’t see it does not speak well of you.

    FrankD is disappointing, too

    Not to me. OTOH, You are disappointing to many. To quote you:

    I don’t need to provide the evidence – you’ve provided it for me. We read the same Romm post very different ways. I’m right, of course, and you’re wrong; but I can forgive you for being wrong; many people are, after all.

    Except that I don’t forgive you for being intellectually dishonest. And your arrogance is unearned.

    I’m disappointed by you flinging around accusations of “intellectual dishonesty” behind my back, so to speak. I’d have hoped that if you wanted to accuse me of that, you’d do so to my face -W

    So every discussion of you on every blog must be reposted on your blog? The point came up because Keith Kloor linked to this thread, saying you “shredded” Joe Romm’s piece (when you didn’t even touch on the content) and Joe Romm — by smearing him with guilt-by-association because Morano linked to him (whereas later in the comments you talk about Morano linking to Tobis, and make clear that such linking alone doesn’t say anything negative about the person linked to — quite a double standard). Anyway, Kloor referenced you at Deltoid, FrankD commented on Deltoid … duh. Nothing “behind your back” — that’s absurd. You now know of the discussion because I linked to it here, and FrankD commented here.

    as evidence of why Romm hates Kloor is appalling, killer evidence of the flaws in Romm; not of any flaws in Kloor.

    What an absurdly dishonest retort. The issue is not whether Romm has flaws, or even whether Kloor has flaws, but why Romm hates Kloor. As FrankD said, “Romm clearly articulates exactly whet his problems with KK were.” You don’t have to agree with Romm to get the picture.

    As for Kloor, he has displayed plenty of flaws, some of which are demonstrated and discussed at length at that Deltoid thread. And you’re venturing into the same territory, and others can see it clearly, even if you don’t.


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