The Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Roger Pielke, Jr., believes that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are causing the Earth to warm, yet he challenged the faux-science du jour by telling a Congressional committee that extreme weather events have not increased because of human-caused climate change. As a result, he drew a 6-page long rebuke by the President’s science advisor, John Holdren.
Professor Pielke wrote an op-ed which appeared in the Wednesday edition of The New Republic online. He argued that Holdren's strong rebuke, and the forced adherence to the orthodox climate change script, hampers the ability to convince the non-believers.
In this debate the facts are on my side. The claims I made in my congressional testimony are no different from the ones made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ("Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded") and broadly supported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Even Warren Buffett recently explained that more extreme events haven't affected his insurance investments, but that "I love apocalyptic predictions" because they increase insurance rates, earning him more money. When Holdren links specific weather events to human-caused climate change—such as the California drought or the cold winter—he is exaggerating the state of scientific understandings.
His subsequent attack on me has him serving not as science advisor to the president, but rather wielding his political position to delegitimize an academic whose views he finds inconvenient. We academics wouldn't stand for such behavior under George W. Bush and we shouldn't under Barack Obama either.
Our debate aside, Holdren’s exaggerations on climate science will make it harder, not easier, to establish a bipartisan consensus for action on climate change.
As background, I am an expert on the relationship between natural disasters and climate change. I have published extensively in the scientific, peer-reviewed literature over the past several decades. I believe the basic science of climate change is sound and has been for decades. Humans influence the climate today and will into the future, mainly through the emission of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, and this influence poses unknown, but potentially large and irreversible risks in the future. The conclusions lay at the core of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which despite a few missteps along the way, has well-summarized these fundamental understandings.