The Intersection

John Tierney, Roger Pielke, Jr., and Chris Horner have the knives out.

Joe Romm and Tim Lambert have begun the defenses.

I find the attacks pretty baseless. But I’d like to hear readers thoughts on all of this, as I may well be writing more about it….

CORRECTION: The Roger Pielke Jr. post is from August. It is not part of a wave of attacks on John Holdren. Sorry about that mistake.


  1. #1 David Bruggeman
    December 22, 2008

    This all buries a bigger problem. With so many appointees in different parts of the government interested in climate change, how bright are the lines of decisionmaking? Both Chu and Holdren will have the ability to speak directly to the President, but what happens when they disagree? Does Browner’s opinion trump them both? (If Chu and Holdren never disagree, that’s a problem.)

    Another concern is whether or not Holdren will pay any attention to other aspects of science and technology that are part of his portfolio. I hope he does, that his ego can take the possibility that he may not be the administration’s key contact on climate change issues.

  2. #2 DaleP
    December 22, 2008

    Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame also an attack, “Crackpot John Holdren will become Obama’s science adviser”.
    Trying to come to a fair appraisal of Motl is the work of several posts, I think. He both has real, honest skepticism and statements that seem out of left field.

  3. #3 Brian D
    December 22, 2008

    DaleP, Eli Rabett sums up Lubos as The Bouncing Czech. After seeing this, I grew more than a little concerned.

    Michael Tobis also weighed in, although it isn’t as substantive a defense as Romm or Lambert.

    Looking through the *comments* on Tierney’s article, it seems that the folk defending Tierney go through his bashing of the Club Of Rome’s Limits To Growth first. In other words, the attack on Holdren doesn’t appear motivated by climate or antiscience ideology so much as cornucopianism vs. reality. This also maps onto why Tierney cites Lomborg, the spiritual successor to Julian “the quantity of copper is not finite” Simon.

  4. #4 Wes Rolley
    December 22, 2008

    The attacks on Holdren make as much sense as allowing Sen. Inhofe to repost his list of 650 Scientists. I would give Pielke credit for much more honesty than Inhofe. Still, if you believe the science, as Holdren does, as fail to act would future generations not consider you culpable for failing to act?

    Personally, I found that data that Hansen presented at the recent AGU annual conference to be very convincing. Not many are actually referring to it as it was really an extremely alarming position. When Hansen sent copies out via email, it was entitled The Venus Syndrome.

    At the same time, I watched Monbiot’s interview with Faith Birol that was posted by the Guardian. In that, Birol talks about doing the very things that Hansen fears.

    To know, and not to act, is intellectually dishonest at best. The worst is maybe cowardice or complicity in species extinction.

  5. #5 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    December 22, 2008

    Wow Chris, a post I have on Holdren’s view on science and politics from _last August_ counts as getting “the knives out” and an “attack”?

    Still playing the good guy-bad guy game I see . . .

  6. #6 Chris C. Mooney
    December 22, 2008

    I’m embarrassed that I didn’t note the date on the post. I confess full error.

  7. #7 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    December 22, 2008

    Chris, Mistakes happen. It’d sure be nice if you were to correct your post . . . happy holidays!

  8. #8 Eric the Leaf
    December 22, 2008

    To me, the alarming aspect of Monibot’s interview was the new IEA estimates for peak oil, which of course is just a reflection that the IEA is now starting to get real. However, the IEA is still engaged in magical thinking and overestimates reserve growth potential as well as optimistically suggesting a complete turnaround in the 40-year trend for oil discovery. Birol also overestimates the likely contributions from the Canadian tar sands. Thus, 2020 date for peak oil is wishful thinking. Light sweet crude may already have peaked. We may well be on the order of 15 years too late for any meaningful mitigation of peak oil.

    As for the attacks on, or defense of, Holdren, it doesn’t really make any difference. He’s the pick and time will tell if he helps to implement any effective policies.

  9. #9 SLC
    December 22, 2008

    Real DaleP

    I would point out that Mr. Motl is also a birther (for those who haven’t been following the brouhaha over President Elect Obamas’ presidential eligibility, a birther is an individual who denies that the President Elect was born in Hawaii).

  10. #10 eddie
    December 22, 2008

    I think Mr Motl may actually be a string theorist.

  11. #11 Steven Earl Salmony
    December 29, 2008

    Many too many economic powerbrokers have been playing “the only game in town” the way everyone “in the know” has been participating in the construction of a global, leviathan-like “house of cards” called the global political economy.

    Can we share an understanding of the many attacks on Earth and climate scientists like John Holdren by saying loudly and clearly that their assailants’ activities are venal efforts to spread garbage and junk science, based upon nothing more or less than the duplicitous promulgation of ideological idiocy?

    It appears that the many arrogant and hostile efforts toward Earth and climate scientists are for the sole purpose of shoring-up and building trust in a con game; to support the most colossal pyramid scheme in human history…..a modern version of the ancient Tower of Babel. Only this modern ‘edifice’ is an Economic Colossus, one not made of stone but rather built out of filthy lucre as a house of playing cards. The entire game is a patently unsustainable, gigantic ruse perpetrated by a tiny, greedy minority of outrageously conspicuous consumers who are recklessly consolidating and relentlessly hoarding great wealth and power.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
    established 2001

  12. #12 Dark Tent
    February 24, 2009

    “Trying to come to a fair appraisal of Motl is the work of several posts, I think. He both has real, honest skepticism and statements that seem out of left field.”

    I believe Motl is out in “right” field, but apart from that, I’d simply observe that when Lubos Motl calls people like John Holdren “crackpots”, it is the textbook example of “psychological projection”.

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