I have been lax. You would not necessarily write a book about Nate Silver’s initial reaction to criticism about the Roger Pielke Jr thing, but you also have to admit that they guy learns fast. To the surprise of many he asked a real climate scientist to respond to Pielke’s inagural post. As one might expect from a cursory look at Roger Pielke Jr’s record he found Pielke’s own data undermines his claims. The short version is that Pielke characteristically picks convenient and inconsistent time scales for drawing trends and elides the more versus less useful ways of measuring risk.
This is pretty small ball as climate denial goes, but it fits well with the special niche that Pielke tries to fill. Other folks can entertain the trogs by hacking Michael Mann’s email or grunting at Al Gore. Pielke is more like a snooze bar on climate progress. When someone in the NPR demographic starts worrying about climate change you can point to a credible-sounding Pielke piece about how nothing is as bad is it sounds, really, just go back to sleep.
Does that mean I think Nate Silver should fire Pielke? Surprisingly, no. Five thirty eight would do the world a real service if he lets Pielke write whatever he wants. Just make sure to follow each with an independent evaluation as good as this one. I cannot think of a better way to convince a wide audience that even the best and most credible of the denial-and-delay crowd cannot make one good argument without stepping on a rake.