Roger Pielke Jr.

Wikileaks and Me

I haven’t had a chance to update this blog with anything related to the surprise (to me at least) at finding myself the subject of an email in the John Podesta email leaks from Wikileaks. That email revealed that an organization that was fouinded and led by Podesta, the Center for American Progress, engaged in a successful effort to have me removed as a writer at 538, the “data journalism” site created by Nate Silver.

The Boulder Daily Camera has a very good series of articles about the revelation that there was an organized political effort against me.

The multi-year campaign against me by CAP was partially funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, and involved 7 writers at CAP who collectively wrote more than 160 articles about me, trashing my work and my reputation. Over the years, several of those writers moved on to new venues, including The Guardian, Vox and ClimateTruth.org where they continued their campaign focused on creating an evil, cartoon version of me and my research.

Collectively, they were quite successful. The campaign ultimately led to me being investigated by a member of Congress and pushed out of the field.

Motivated by the leaked email, I counted the articles that CAP wrote about me over the years, shown below. To illustrate how significant a figure CAP thought I was — and how absolutely unhinged their campaign was against me — CAP wrote less than 200 articles over the same time period about George W. Bush, president of the United States. I was apparently viewed to be a pretty important guy to warrant all that negative attention!

One example of CAP’s campaign involved a series of over-the-top protestations against a paper that I wrote in 2008 with climate scientist Tom Wigley and economist Chris Green. In it, we argued that the IPCC had baked in too much assumed decarbonization in its scenarios of future emissions and policies.

CAP responded with multiple posts, such as the unhinged, “Why did Nature run Pielke’s pointless, misleading, embarrassing nonsense?” There were many more.

I am happy to report that sometimes good science wins out in the end. Our paper has now been cited almost 250 times (Google Scholar). More importantly, our analysis now shows up in the scenarios being used for the 6th assessment of the IPCC. Here is a key figure from our paper (on the left) and a virtually identical one from the recent IPCC scenario paper (on the right):

It is not important to understand the details here (but if you’d like to, our paper is here in PDF), but it is abundantly clear that our analysis was the basis for that used by those who have created the next generation of IPCC scenarios. Our paper is not cited by the IPCC authors – that apparently would be a step too far, given how deeply the campaign of destruction against me has influenced how I am perceived.

But no matter. The ideas that we first presented in 2008, trashed by those who for whatever reason were intent of a campaign of personal destruction, now show up in 2016 as being core to those of the IPCC.

That is pretty sweet.