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Countdown to Copenhagen

Has continuing criticism of the controversial Superfreakonomics book taken an ugly turn? Co-author Stephen Dubner believes so and fires back at his NYT blog, asserting that critics have:

“given the impression that we are global-warming deniers of the worst sort, and that our analysis of the issue is ideological and unscientific. Most gravely, we stand accused of misrepresenting the views of one of the most respected climate scientists on the scene, whom we interviewed extensively. If everything they said was actually true, it would indeed be a damning indictment. But it’s not.”

Roger Pielke Jr., never one to shy away from a battle, believes that Dubner and his co-author Steven Levitt have indeed been critized by Joe Romm over at Climate Progress. Dubner’s charges have been denied by Romm, who has written multiple, lengthy posts in just the last 24 hours to defend himself. Regardless of who claims the high ground in this episode, Bradford Plumer reminds us over at The New Republic’s website that Dubner has yet to “address any of the errors that ”">scientists like William Connolley have pointed out," which Olive Heffernan summarized here:

Meanwhile, Real Climate’s Gavin Schmidt has scolded the Superfreakonimics authors for embracing geoengineering, which Schmidt asserted:

“is neither cheap, nor a fix, and the reasons why it is very likely to be a bad idea are ethical and legal, much more than its still-uncertain scientific merits.”

Incidentally, the book is being published today. Eric Pooley, former managing editor of Fortune magazine, who is friendly with one of the co-authors registers his disappoinment in the book over at Bloomberg. The controversial book, Pooley writes:

“turns out to be the same pile of misinformation the skeptic crowd has been peddling for years.”

In recent weeks, the big news on the U.S. business front has been about all the companies, such as Apple, quitting their membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the latter’s hostility to regulatory action on global warming. Now it seems that the climate issue is dividing energy producers as well. The NYT reports:

“Some supporters of global warming legislation believe that the division in the once-monolithic oil and gas industry, as well as other splits among energy producers, could improve the prospects for the legislation.”

On the world stage, India has recently signaled that it wants to be more of a team player at Copenhagen. On the other hand, as the preliminary Bangkok talks wound down a week ago, India environmental minister Jairam Ramesh tried to dampen the “exaggerated expectations” for the upcoming December conference. Now, it appears that India is, in fact, eager to take a more conciliatory stance at Copenhagen, but this turnabout is not playing well on the homefront, according to today’s story in The Times of India.

Finally, in a stunt that you likely won’t see on any late night tv show, the goverment of Maldives over the weekend held a cabinet meeting underwater to publicize the Indian Ocean nation’s vulnerability to rising seas from climate change.

Keith Kloor is a freelance science writer based in Brooklyn, New York.


  1. Report this comment

    Paul said:

    What a nonsense disclosure, Keith. You haven’t just “weighed in on the matter on my own blog.” There’s almost not a week that goes by in which you don’t have something derisive to say about Joe Romm, often times in concert with Roger Pielke Jr.

    So there’s no surprise that when there’s a controversy over a book replete with climate change errors that have been discussed at length across the internet, that you should focus on charges of “slander” by Roger Pielke Jr. against Romm. Are either you or Pielke Jr. lawyers who can speak competently about “slander”? Are you aware that unfairly raising charges of slander is also a form of slander?

    This is extremely unprofessional. But par for the course for a blog that got off to an extremely rocky start by having Roger Pielke Jr. as one of its original authors.

  2. Report this comment

    Hank Roberts said:

    I’d hoped for something different here, not posturing self-referential pointers to blog squabbling about who’s got the best seat and truest commentary on the apocalypse.

    Please do better. Once is happenstance, and is enough for a Nature blog.

    Real questions have been raised by, among others, Romm and Connolley.

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