I’ve not been posting on climate change much here at Inkstain recently for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, I’m trying to marshal all of my spare time (and Inkstain is a spare time gig) to think about western water.
Second, the whole climate blogothing has seemed to be increasingly less than helpful, where all the people playing have already made up their minds, and spend all their time trying to win the argument they’re having with all of the other people who have also made up their minds, and it’s all a colossal waste of time.
(a bunch of climate blogo insider stuff to follow – click through if you’re one of the five readers who cares)
That’s why I can’t be bothered with Yamal. I don’t really need to know – my understanding of climate science at this point is pretty robust to either outcome, and I’m happy to wait and read it sorted out in the literature. The blogoshouting just eats time and gives me a headache.
I realize this shortchanges a lot of really helpful blog work. Michael Tobis is great, however much we may disagree about some core issues. Andy Revkin seems to have found a way around the blogoshouting problem. Roger Pielke Jr. is useful and interesting about half the time almost all the time. (The other half rest of the time he gives me painful tribal blogoheadaches. Sorry, Roger, but I don’t much care about the upsidedownness of William Connolley’s thinking on paleoclimate reconstructions. Like Yamal – or is this Yamal? I’m confused, TLDR – my understanding of climate science and scientists is at this point pretty robust to the outcome.)
(update: Roger took issue with my math here – “about half the time” – and he’s right. I went back through a bunch of his posts and virtually all were in the “interesting stuff worth thinking about category. I was overly fixated on the bits that annoyed me.)
But this core dilemma is really what the latest shouting match, between Keith Kloor and Joe Romm, is all about. I recommend not spending too much time on it, but Keith’s a member of my tribe, and I also happen to strongly agree with him, so I feel some obligation to have his back in this affair. That said, I’ll share here an elaborated version of a comment I left over at WC’s place.
I for one have appreciated Keith calling Romm out for his bad behavior. If Romm were merely one more vitriolic blog, I’d be content to see him a) cheered on by a people who already agree with him, b) made a useful stalking horse by the Moranos of the world, and c) ignored by everyone else. But the attention he’s gotten from people like Friedman makes him an Important Voice. The fact that he engages in slash-and-burn, ad hominems, guilt by association attacks (Keith Kloor as Morano’s BFF? C’mon, that’s just bullshit, and the person who says stuff like that needs to be treated appropriately in response.) therefore makes him a problematic figure.
For those who accept the science, and the need for action on greenhouse gas reductions, there are hard and open questions about what might be the best paths forward. We need to be having serious and thoughtful discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. I don’t know the answers, and I really want to think hard about the best arguments made by a bunch of different smart people about how best to approach the problems of greenhouse gas reductions, geoengineering and climate change adaptation. Joe’s decided that he knows what’s right, which is fine, but his approach of labeling and trashing those who disagree with him, of essentially trying to silence them (“unquotable and uncitable”) rather than thoughtfully discussing the differences, makes him a harmful figure at this point.
He’s a harmful figure I’d rather just ignore, but unfortunately he’s made that difficult.
Plus, 2,700 words to trash Keith? Can’t you be a little more economical there, Joe? I mean, I know bits are essentially free on the ‘Net, but your readers’ time isn’t. Have a little respect for them.