UPDATE: Pielke pretends this argument is about science (Scroll to bottom of post for corrective.)
Hurricanes respond to their immediate environment, not a global average increase in heat!
You can tell that science and good judgment are going out the window when writers start throwing exclamation points into their arguments. And Dr. Pielke certainly sacrifices science, objectivity and caution in a recent attack on AP Science writer Seth Borenstein.
Borenstein is one of those infuriatingly even-handed mainstream media reporters who are always guarding against accusations of bias. Borenstein clearly understands the science of climate change and he reports it accurately, but you can tell from this passage how carefully he couches his work:
“Global warming has probably made Hurricane Gustav a bit stronger and wetter, some top scientists said Sunday, but the specific connection between climate change and stronger hurricanes remains an issue of debate.”
“Measurements of the energy pumped into the air from the warm waters — essentially fuel for hurricanes — has increased dramatically since the mid 1990s, mostly in the strongest of hurricanes, according to a soon-to-be published paper in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems by Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.”
“Warmer water makes the surface air warmer, which means it could contain more moisture. That means more hot moist air rises up the hurricane, serving as both fuel for the storm and extra rainfall coming back down, said Peter Webster, professor of atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech.”
This, however, is not careful enough for Pielke, who without even seeing the Trenberth paper quoted above, states flatly that global average temperature as NO effect on hurricanes.
Really? None? What if global average temperatures went up 10 degrees? What if net global average increases had gross consequences in specific regions (as we know they do)? How can Pielke, who argues so frequently for an “open debate” on science, be so certain of his rectitude that he sprinkles his prose with signs of his insistence!?!? Hmmm!?
Already on uneven ground, Pielke finally embarrasses himself with this statement:
The focusing on global warming as the reason for any hurricane (or making it more likely to occur or become more intense) ignores that natural variations are not only more important than indicated by the AP news story, but also that the human influence involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited global warming [which, of course, has not occurred since at least mid-2004!].
This last exclamation-pointed aside is unworthy a scientist of Pielke’s background. Real scientists don’t worry about the possibilities of warming becausea single year was warmer than another year. They worry because nine of the 10 hottest years in recorded history have occurred in the last decade. They worry because humankind has increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by one-third and they worry because CO2 has an undeniable warming effect, easily proved by any first-year physics student.
Yet Pielke and his ilk cling to a three-year variation in a highly variable weather pattern as proof! that global warming has stopped!
He should be embarrassed! And when he gets over himself, he should phone Borenstein and apologize. That would provide the only hope that the good Dr. Pielke! has to be taken seriously in the future.
In a hasty response to this post, Roger Pielke complains that the foregoing commentary is ad hominem, saying: “If the Desmogblog were interested in the science, it would present counter arguments to the statements they quote from (Pielke’s own blog) Climate Science.”
Let me say this about that:
1. The DeSmogBlog has only a passing interest in science and (as previously demonstrated, sometimes painfully) no avowed scientific expertise. Our interest AND our expertise is in public relations – particularly in the manipulation of the public climate change argument by people who have abandoned science in favour of advocacy, but who consistently fail to admit this shift. Careful (or even casual) reading of the above post will demonstrate that I didn’t take issue with Dr. Pielke’s science links. I took issue with his characterization of what those links might demonstrate, and particularly with the implied hysteria! of his repeated use of exclamation points – a piece of punctuation that I have never seen employed in actual scientific writing.
2. If Dr. Pielke is feeling put-upon by my critique, I apologize. According to the biographical link that I provided above, Dr. Pielke has had an honorable academic career and remains, even in what appears to be semi-retirement – a researcher in good standing at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at UC-Boulder. Given his academic record and current performance, Dr. Pielke compares extremely well against scoundrels and layabouts like Dr. S. Fred Singer or Dr. Tim Ball. But I come back to my point: Pielke’s highly punctuated outburst does a disservice to his own record. His argument that three years of temperature records constitutes a reliable trend is, again, unworthy a scientist of his accomplishment. And his criticism of Borenstein – indeed, his implication that Borenstein is spinning the news – is unwarranted, unfair, unprofessional and, if we must resort to Latin, by implication ad hominem.
3. At the risk of talking science, Dr. Pielke takes specific exception to my reporting of the average global temperature over the past 10 years. I hate to get into duelling graphics, in part because it would encourage people to think that Pielke’s choice of graphs is relevant, but here is the UK MET office Hadley Centre’s most recent record of global average temperature. To the degree that this might be considered a discussion about science, I stand my ground.