Friday, February 26, 2010

Fun and games with Roger Pielke Jr. at the NY Times

(UPDATE:  as I mentioned in a previous post, I'll be mostly offline for the next few weeks, and will have to see if anything interesting develops.)

Here's my original post about Roger's disturbing vagueness in describing Hansen's support for sequestration from biomass power, used in order to validate Roger's support for open air chemical capture.

Roger accuses me of lying about his definition of open air capture, which he claims to have clearly mentioned as including biological means.  His proof is something written ten months after my critique.

It's there in the comments to that post, and may get played out in a Dot Earth post and comments.  Here's what I wrote to Dot Earth:

Roger Pielke Jr. (#32) is disturbed when I mention (#29) how he misinformed people about Hansen's position on open air carbon capture (supporting sequestration from biomass plants), in relation to Roger's support for chemical versions of open air carbon capture. I think I gave a pretty decent summary in the comment, and at the quotes of Roger's own work at the link. 
As for his defense that he has expressly defined open air capture to include biological means, he defends by linking to something he wrote in December 2009. My critique was written in February 2009 about a paper Roger published in the same month, where Roger describes air capture as that "which refers to the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the ambient air. Air capture has received remarkably little attention in debates on policy responses to climate change, but this seems to be changing (e.g., Jones, 2008). By contrast, the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from power plants has received considerable attention (e.g., IPCC,2005)".
He does indeed once mention Hansen's specific idea that Roger somewhat disjointedly ties to his own definition (although Roger fails to understand Hansen's proposal for sequestration), and I disclosed that in my February 2009 documentation. Two other uses of Hansen by Roger in that paper and a linked FAQ kept Hansen's support as a vague generalization not linked to biomass power plants, and even this one more specific mention fails to indicate that it is all that the reference supports, not the chemical capture idea that is Roger's interest.
So is Roger misinforming his readers in the actual paper that I critiqued? The question is whether someone who failed to go and read the Hansen reference would have the idea that the reference is supportive of chemical capture. That's how Roger's work appears to me to be read. If Hansen is supportive, it's not shown by the reference Roger provided in the paper I critiqued, and Roger's time travel to a definition that he wrote ten months later (or to any other external source) does not rescue that paper from misinforming people.
Similarly, someone who read Roger's comment #32 above and didn't carefully compare references would likely think that Roger had pointed to something that I had concealed in Roger's paper that I was critiquing, rather than Roger quoting a totally different paper written long after my critique. These nested levels of misinformation indicate the challenge involved in dealing with his work. I confess that I can rarely keep up with him.

Maybe I'm the one who's losing perspective.  I welcome that advice in a comment or an email if so.

UPDATE:  The comment above hasn't been posted yet to Dot Earth, but I hope it will be (UPDATED UPDATE:  it's up, as is Eli's comment).  And I shouldn't throw out the baby with the Pielkeian bathwater - sequestration may prove too expensive to use even concentrated sources like power plants, but maybe not.  Hansen's idea is intriguing.  Roger's idea is much less so but like geoengineering, something we may have to consider.  The main problem I have with Roger's paper is the misleading way it describes Hansen's position.


  1. Brian-

    In the future, if you have questions about what I might mean about something, please do just send me an email and I'll be happy to respond.

    You should note that in Feb, 2009 I wrote in response to a similar question:

    "“bio-sequestration” is a form of air capture, as I use the term"

    My citation of Hansen has nothing to do with chemical air capture, but the idea of direct removal. Hansen writes, "a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost surely requires a means of extracting [greenhouse gases] from the air". That is it. Whether he supports chemical air capture or not is irrelevant to any argument that I have made.

    Again, I ask that you set the record straight at the NYT on this issue. It is not complicated and your allegations are wrong.

  2. Roger, it's interesting that you think your comment supports your perspective that using Hansen wasn't misleading, when you're reacting to someone who read your work pretty close to the way that I did.

    Had you said both in the FAQ and the paper, each time you brought up Hansen, something to the effect that "Hansen supports only bio-sequestration, but I consider that a form of air capture and therefore similar to my interest in chemical capture," then it would've been accurate, while not being especially supportive of your position.

    So no, I consider both the FAQ and the paper to be misinforming, and adding a comment to your FAQ rather than placing it in the FAQ itself is inadequate. I'm not very supportive of controlling other people's agenda and telling people what to do and what to write about, but if we're going down that route, then I think you should fix your paper and FAQ and set the record straight at NYT.


    (Note that I just finished my vacation and published Roger's comment above from moderation - he had submitted it on Feb. 26, apparently.)

  3. P.S. And also, Roger, you got Hansen's sequestration proposal wrong.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.