Roger Pielke, Jr. is usually very hard to pin down. But at least it is now plain for everyone to see that his climate policies are no different from Bjorn Lomborg’s, or George Bush’s for that matter (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah”). Following Pielke’s “specific policies” would inevitably result in the self-destruction of humanity as we know it. So something useful has come out of our back-and-forth.
I posted earlier that Pielke’s primary if not sole criticism of John Holdren is that he was a scientist who dared to advance “political views” and push “political outcomes” — views and outcomes which consist almost entirely of Holdren’s use of the phrase “early and deep cuts in US greenhouse-gas emissions” as the climate policy we need based on his understanding of the science.
Pielke published what he says is a “setting the record straight” piece, but he never actually disputes my criticism. The bottom line for Pielke, like Tierney and CEI: if you are a climate scientist who calls for “early and deep cuts in US GHGs” then you must be attacked for politicizing science. You must be told to shut up.
Pielke does (try to) dispute one of my claims — but in so doing reveals that in fact I was right:
As his fit winds up, Romm shows that he is either willfully misinformed or just lying to support his ad hom’s when he writes (bold in original):
Pielke absolutely refuses to detail the specific policies he would embrace to stabilize at concentrations he says are needed
Geez Joe, how’d you miss those peer-reviewed papers, op-eds, Congressional testimony, and five years of blogging on climate policy? Luckily, I just assembled some of my various writings on mitigation policy here.
The IPCC SPM WG III writes, “The range of stabilization levels assessed can be achieved by deployment of a portfolio of technologies that are currently available and those that are expected to be commercialised in coming decades.” Assessed stabilization ranges include 450 ppm CO2eq (or about 400 CO2).
2. We define “acceptable levels” in our Nature paper as 500 ppm (the level focused on by IPCC WG III) and 450 ppm (the level focused on by the EU and implicitly in the FCCC).
Now I think you’ll agree that stabilizing at 450 to 500 ppm requires a whole lot of very specific policies and a high price for carbon starting pretty damn soon.
Indeed, as I just blogged, the Hadley Center makes the rather obvious argument that if you want stabilization at those levels, you would need “early and rapid decline” in emissions and “Action starts in 2010” (see Hadley Center study warns of “catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path). Even the staid International Energy Agency makes the same painfully obvious point, that global emissions must peak by 2020 and that the price for CO2 in 2030 might hit $180 a ton (see “Must-read IEA report explains what must be done to avoid 6°C warming“).
Now you’d think given how often Pielke himself has attacked me for underestimating (!) how many wedges are needed to stabilize at 450 ppm — I say 12 to 14 in this post — you’d think Pielke’s “specific policies” would be far more aggressive than mine. You would be wrong.
Pielke does claim at his famous “writings on mitigation policy here” post that “If we’ve underestimated the size of the challenge we have also underestimated the costs, perhaps by a lot from a baseline that is already very large.” In fact the IEA (and I) have not underestimated the size or the cost, but if Pielke is right and we’re wrong, then does Pielke propose a higher price for CO2 than the IEA or I do?
No. While rejecting a cap-and-trade system entirely, he writes:
Instead of cap and trade, Chris Green and I have suggested that we should instead focus on a low price on carbon, a tax, to raise revenue to invest in technology. Dan Sarewitz and I have argued that innovation must be at the core of mitigation policy (PDF).
If you click on the first link, you will have to click yet again to find his actual specific recommendations:
We believe that soon-to-be-president Obama’s proposal to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years on developing carbon-free energy technologies and infrastructure is the right first step …
We do not pretend that any fiscal solution will be politically easy, but we would note that a $5 charge on each ton of carbon dioxide produced in the use of fossil fuel energy would raise $30 billion a year. This is more than enough to finance the Obama plan twice over.
How much is $5 per ton from the perspective of U.S. consumers? Not that much. It would add less than 5 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas and would increase the average cost of electricity in the United States by a fraction of a cent per kilowatt hour.
Critics of our proposal will no doubt be quick to dismiss it because the impact of $5 per ton on consumer behavior is exceedingly small, and they wish to see large effects right away …
The problem with the climate debate has been that too much focus has been on how to solve the problem, and not on how to start solving the problem. We believe that the Obama energy proposal is the right place to start, and a low price on carbon will ensure that it can be financed with minimal impact on the economy.
[Pause for laughter to die down.]
[I still hear a few chuckles.]
Yes, Roger Pielke, Jr.’s “specific policies” to stabilize at 450 to 500 ppm are a $5 per ton of CO2 charge used to fund clean tech development and deployment.
You might as well bring a squirt gun to a firestorm.
Anyway, if you think that qualifies as “specific policies” that would stabilize us as 450 to 500 ppm, then that would make me a liar. Since they don’t, well …
Technology development and deployment is terrific. We should spend a lot more on it as I have been arguing for decades. But it definitely won’t shut down existing coal plants and probably won’t even stop hundreds of gigawatts of new coal plants from being built
If this is your policy then you are not a Delayer-equivalent, you are a flat out “I want 10°F warming” delayer or delayer10F. Frankly, you are also someone who is in such denial about the urgent need for immediate GHG reductions that you are equivalent of a global warming denier.
So yes, Pielke would seem to be a Denier-eq, since he has the same precise policy recommendations — much more R&D&D&D — than Denier-eq Lomborg has, the same precise policy recommendations that Denier Bush and Chency have.
Here’s a quiz. Who said:
We need to emphasize how voluntary innovation and experimentation are preferable to bureaucratic or international intervention and regulation.
Not Pielke, of course. It’s GOP strategist Frank Luntz, in his infamous memo advising conservatives on how they can sound like they care about the climate without actually doing anything.
Another quiz. Who said (PDF):
Indeed, the whole idea of mandated national emissions reductions reflects an insensitivity to the highly decentralized, historically contingent, uneven manner in which new technologies emerge and diffuse.
That is Pielke! In one of the papers he says lays out his “specific policies” for stabilizing at 450 to 500 ppm.
One last quiz. Who said:
It’s important not to get distracted by chasing short-term reductions in greenhouse emissions. The real payoff is in long-term technological breakthroughs.
No, it’s not Roger Pielke, Jr., though it sounds just like him.
It is President Bush’s Science advisor, John H. Marburger, III summing up the “technology, technology, blah, blah” strategy of Luntz/Bush in 2006. Don’t get distracted by actions to save the climate from destruction. The real payoff is in long, long, long-term investment.
Yes, it is Marburger that is apparently the science adviser who shares Pielke’s views.
Anyway, it is finally clear in black and white that Pielke is just a denier-eq in sheep’s clothing and that his “specific policies” to stabilize at 450 ppm to 500 ppm are indistinguishable from the policies that will lead to 1000 ppm or more and 5-7°C.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to ignore him more in the future — which I’m sure will make many of you happy. But I do something useful has come out of our back-and-forth.