2012-02-17 05:53:05Roger Pielke 'Challenge'
Chris Colose


I don't know if anyone is interested in picking this up (or if we already did in the past), but Roger Pielke Sr. decided to move the goalposts when I e-mailed him about the tropical thermostat article we just published. Here is our correspondence (please keep this here).  I really have no interest in this:




Roger Pielke,

In response to the WUWT article (and your embracement of it) on the tropical thermostat see,

In case you would like to contribute to the discussion...





Hi Chris

  Thank you for alerting me to their post. My experience with Skeptical
Science (as I have documented extensively on my weblog) is they are not
really interested in a constructive debate. I have given up trying with

  I presented several papers that show evidence of self-regulation (each
in the peer reviewed literature), and that is where the debate really
needs to take place.

Best Regards




He then e-mailed me a second time

P.S. Skeptical Science never even responded to my request for their
answers to these two questions:

1. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it
dominate climate change?

2.  What evidence exists that the multi-decadal global climate models can
skillfully predict i) the real-world observed behaviour of large-scale
atmospheric-ocean circulation features such as ENSO, the NAO, the PDO,
ect. and ii) CHANGES in the statistics (patterning and in time) of these
circulation features?

I posted on this in


The questions would challenge them too much, I assume, so they have
ignored them.






Please keep in mind that SkS is run by multiple authors, each of which have their own specific interests and topics of choice that they post on.  Personally I am not very active on the site, but I don't have my own blog running anymore so it's a good place for me to post an article if I feel inclined to do so. 

The posts are largely voluntary, in which people submit what they feel are worthwhile articles for internal review and after suggestions/edits, it would get published. If someone seen your challenge, then they may have felt compelled to write on it (I've not seen any indication that they were aware of your post, but again, I'm inactive there for large intervals of time and don't check the "authors only" forums frequently)...one of the moderators would be a better contact for this.  I personally am not really interested enough in inter-blog "challenges" of this sort.

All I intended to convey to you was my post on the Willis Eschenbach tropical thermostat, and your follow-up to it. And I would respond to comments in the form of discussion/debate on that article independently of how other authors would.





Hi Chris

  I was in direct contact with one of their contributors - Rob Honeycutt
where we exchanged a number of e-mails. He said they would respond to my
questions (this was months ago) and they never did. I had an extensive
interchange with commenters and presenters on the weblog last year (these
exchanges are summarized in detail on my website).

My conclusion of their weblog is that it is a place for the "convinced" to
vent their views and, for some, disparage those who do not (e.g. see their
small links on the upper left of their weblog home page - Christy Crocks.
ect). To my knowledge, most people do not pay any attention to their
weblog because of their tone and arrogance in some of their posts, and
certainly in their comments.  Rob was cordial and we constructively
interacted in our e-mail exchanges but this approach is not a general case
for a number of others on that weblog.

Because of your interest (and your alerting me to your post), however, I
will post on the self-regulation issue later next week on my weblog. It is
actually quite easy to show this self-regulation exists, at least to some
extent, if one accepts the IPCC radiative forcings as being reasonably

As a side issue, you might be interested in these several new papers of

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke,
G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing with complexity and
extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability
perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in
Geosciences, in press.

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling .
what's the point? Eos Forum. Jan 31 2012 issue

Pielke Sr., R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F.
Hossain, K. Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P.
Kabat, and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Land use/land cover changes and
climate: Modeling analysis and observational evidence. WIREs Clim Change
2011, 2:828.850. doi: 10.1002/wcc.144.

I would also welcome your answers to the two questions posed in my earlier
e-mail, which I would be glad to post on my weblog (and you can repost
elsewhere as you see appropriate).

Best Regards


2012-02-17 07:03:16
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

ISTR that my discussion fizzled out because he refused to comment on the statistical significance (or lack of) of the evidence for his hypothesis (something along the lines of "global warming ended in 200X") and merely repeatedy said it was "obvious".  I don't think this is an inreasonable question to ask, and I feel I was being constructive in helping him to express an hypothesis explicitly and unambiguously so that it could be properly discussed.  IIRC I even gave suggestions on how he could provide a statistical argument to support his hypothesis. 

That sort of behaviour doesn't encourange me to want to discuss anything further with him if he can't acknowledge the problems with his position (finding the flaws in a scientiic position is a common component of peer-review, so Prof. Pielke shouldn't be uncomfortable with that).

Also, it seems to me that the question

1. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it
dominate climate change?

is so vaguely worded as to be essentialy meaningless. 

To be constructive, perhaps rather than making challenges, he should state his hypothesis, present the evidence for and against, and we might have an interesting discussion.


2012-02-17 08:00:46
Dana Nuccitelli

No interest, we had several post exchanges with Pielke.  He acted like a typical denier, making false statements, and then shifting the goalposts when we proved they were false, never admitting any of his errors.  I think we gave very brief responses to his 2 questions, but he was determined that we focus exclusively on them, even though they're rather dumb questions.

He's also asked several prominent climate scientists (i.e. Trenberth) the same questions as a bizarre series on his blog, and usually gets similar answers (i.e. 'this is kind of a stupid question', but phrased more politely).

But no, we have no interest in re-opening that discussion with Pielke.  I think we pretty much revealed that he has a bias in blaming climate change on anything but CO2 (predominantly regional effects, as that's where his research focuses).

2012-02-17 08:07:21
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

the second question looks like it is setting up a straw man, the model projections don't assume the ability to predict these atmosphere-ocean circulation patterns, only simulate them.  I'd be interested to hear from Prof. Pielke how he would even estimate the changes in the statistics of the PDO in the observations, never mind predict them!

I agree with dana, he would be welcome to post here, but I have no interest in responding to these two meaningless/misleading questions.

2012-02-17 09:52:01
Julian Brimelow

His questions were largely ignored because they are bullshit and do nothing to advance nor improve our understanding of the science.  They are designed to obfuscate and help him argue a straw man-- in other words, bait.

As others here have noted, other sceintists have answered his questions, and were not exactly enthralled.

Pielke sounds incredibly petulant in thie above exchange.

He is so focussed on trying to get people to chase his blimp (i.e., the two questions) that he is ignoring that we spent a great deal of time engaging him-- perhaps he is doing this to try and help forget how we convincingly dessimated his other arguments.

As for this claim made by him "The questions would challenge them too much, I assume, so they have  ignored them."

Nope, his assumption is wrong. The reasons are those given above.  That, and we are not interested in chasing blimps and debating nonsensical statements.

2012-02-17 10:40:41



As I recall it, a lot of time was spent trying to pin him down on issues related to these "questions". All of this is archived somewhere. If you hear from RPs later, you might spend 5 minutes to find the discussion, and stick the knife in by mailing him the link.

2012-02-17 12:33:00
Dana Nuccitelli

You can just do a search for "Pielke" - all the relevant posts have his name in the title.  As Alby says, he was trying to get us to chase his blimps (irrelevant, goalpost shifting questions), and then would throw a temper tantrum any time we tried to focus on the issues we were discussing, or caught one of his many errors.  Then he would write blog posts about what big meanies we are at SkS.  It was pathetic.

2012-02-18 11:41:23


OT but ... how come Pielke always pushes his papers, appropiate or not to the discussion at hand? He looks much more like a salesman than a scientist.

2012-02-18 12:38:02
Dana Nuccitelli

Same reason he insists that we focus on regional effects (his area of research).  He wants to feel important.  That's my theory anyway, I'm no psychologist :-)

2012-02-18 15:10:26


Regional effects and mesoscale interactions are his hammers. Everything therefore looks like a nail - or, perhaps, a potential threat to the importance and income of his hammer business.