Archive for March, 2006

Prometheus Comment Guidelines

March 31st, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Here at Prometheus we are approaching our second anniversary. Our weblog started out as a student project (Thanks TSR!), which became an experiment in outreach, and now more-or-less a fixture of our Center. The good news is that Prometheus has a wide readership and many valuable comments from thoughtful and appreciated visitors. But at the same time, as our reach has grown, there has been a recent increase in less thoughtful comments, some in the form of hijacking posts, and some in the form of simple anger directed at me and often directed at another commentator. Given these recent events and in order to maintain a high quality site I propose the following guidelines for comments:

1. We’d prefer that you identify yourself in your post. There is a very high correlation between quality posts and people who identify themselves.

2. We’d like discussions to focus on the subject of the post. There are plenty of open thread discussions online elsewhere.

3. Make arguments supported by data. We think that the value of this site is that in enables communication among people with different perspectives to share views and learn from one another.

4. It is OK to disagree with posts or other comments. We discuss a lot of complicated and political issues here on which people will inevitably have different views on. We can learn from people coming from different perspectives.

5. All perspectives are welcomed here. We do not censor or otherwise filter comments, except for the ubiquitous spam and very rare profane submission. I’d like to keep this policy in place, which will be most likely if there is collective sharing in the value of these guidelines.

6. Above all, be respectful to each other in your posts. Don’t make comments personal, don’t sling insults. Do make forceful, well crafted arguments.

7. Help us maintain these standards by explicitly policing one another.

These guidelines are obviously subject to change and we’d welcome your suggestions for improving them. We are very happy with our growing readership, and want to continue to maintain our same high standards. For my part, I will seek to avoid engaging with commentators who chose not to follow these guidelines.


NASA in the Political Minefield

March 30th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

NASA, which has come under fire recently for its management of scientist’s access to the media, has run more issues involving politics. According to the Houston Chronicle today,


Pielke Sr. and Jr. Profiled in Nature

March 29th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Here is a link to the article.

Once Again Attributing Katrina’s Damages to Greenhouse Gases

March 29th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Last fall we took issue with Kevin Trenberth, NCAR scientist and IPCC lead author responsible for the chapter on hurricanes, when he gave a presentation to policy makers that attributed part of Katrina’s rainfall to greenhouse gas emissions, and suggested that the added rainfall may have caused the New Orleans flooding and damage.

When I blogged this, some folks accused me of misquoting him or “putting words in his mouth.” Fortunately, Kevin has spoken to the media this week in New Zealand on this subject, and we can let his own words speak for themselves. Here is a how the Dominion Press reported Kevin’s thoughts on Katrina:


New Options for Climate Policy?

March 28th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

At times we have complained about the lack of a formal mechanism to introduce new and innovative policy options into the climate debate resulting in a Manichean battle over Kyoto. In a short essay for Foreign Policy in Focus, William D. Nordhaus, of Yale University and one of the leading authorities on the economics of climate change, would seem to agree with this perspective in the context of mitigation. Here is an excerpt:


Wise Words from James Van Allen to Jim Hansen

March 27th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

From a recent interview with NASA’s Jim Hansen:

You grew up in Iowa and studied at the University of Iowa under legendary astrophysicist James Van Allen, discoverer of the radiation belt surrounding the Earth. Did that background prepare you for the public debates you’ve taken up?

The example I gave of Van Allen’s influence on students was his demeanor. He was just calm. He didn’t get flustered. When I went to NASA, I heard that his proposal for an experiment on a mission to Jupiter was not selected because NASA headquarters was not very happy with him; he criticized NASA repeatedly for its emphasis on putting men in space instead of automated spacecraft. When I mentioned that to him in a letter, he just said, “I know that my positions have not endeared me to people at NASA headquarters, but I take the position that I’m dealing with honorable men.”

It’s a good attitude.

A DEMOS Op-ed on Science and Smoking Bans

March 25th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

The folks at DEMOS, a think tank in London, continue to produce really thoughtful stuff. This short op-ed by Jack Stigloe is right on:


Money Can Buy Happiness

March 23rd, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

From the Science Coalition:

Dear President Bush,

As members of The Science Coalition, an alliance of more than 60 of the nation’s leading research universities, we are writing to commend you on your efforts to spur new ideas and keep America competitive by significantly increasing funding for physical science and engineering research. Investments in basic science research, most of which is carried out by America’s universities, are a crucial step in continuing America’s status as a leader in innovation.

A View From Colorado Springs

March 22nd, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Colorado, Colorado Springs is not far from Boulder, perhaps two hours drive on a good day. But in some respects it seems pretty distant. A link to an editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette appeared in my inbox (thanks!) on Senator James Inhofe’s request for information on UCAR/NCAR, which is here in Boulder. Here is how it begins:

[Disclaimer: I worked for UCAR/NCAR 1993-2001 and am hardly an unbiased person in this matter. You've been warned. Comments after the excerpt below.]


The Big Knob

March 22nd, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

In 2000, we wrote a paper titled, “Turning the Big Knob: Energy Policy as Means to Reduce Weather Imapcts.” The metaphor implied that some viewed energy policies as a means for decision makers to tune the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in such a way to modulate the number or intensity of extreme events, and thereby also modulate the resulting societal impacts. Frequent readers of Prometheus will know that this subject has been the subject of many discussions on this site of late, and will know that we think that while there are good reasons for concern about climate change, and for reducing GHG emissions, the Big Knob strategy is a loser when it comes to disaster impacts.

Upon hearing from several critics of our work comments to the effect that no one really believes that GHGs can be used to intentionally modulate hurricanes or their impacts, I thought it worth showing the figure below. This was part of a major media campaign by a leading (and typically very thoughtful) environmental group last fall focused specifically on hurricanes (not GHG reductions generally). This image was taken from their WWW site at the time. See the Big Knob?