My VWN Keynote on Science and Journalism


Just over a week ago I gave a keynote lecture to the VWN – de Vereniging voor Wetenschapsjournalistiek en -communicatie, the Dutch Association of Science Journalists.

My talk told the story of some of my experiences over about 20 years working on the subject of disasters and climate change. Over that time, in collaboration with academics around the world, I amassed a pretty swanky academic record, at least according to the sorts of metrics that universities like to tout.

But also over that time my work attracted many critics who did not like what the research showed — in particular, the challenges that peer-reviewed research and the conclusions of the IPCC posed to linking rising disaster costs to human-caused climate change. In particular, more than a few journalists/activists (in collaboration with a few scientists) took it upon themselves to delegitimize my work and work to drive me from participation in the public debate. Ultimately, with the help of politicians like John Holdren and Rep. Raul Grijalva, they succeeded.

I have moved on from research and commentary on climate issues (except for the occasional 140 character Twitter utterance). I am completely happy with the change of topic, as it is good for the scholar and the soul to take on fresh challenges. Nonetheless, the story of my experiences might be of interest to others, from aspiring public scientists to journalists looking to administer hit-jobs on those they don’t welcome in the public space.

Here is the talk in PDF. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

Screening of DOPED at CU-Boulder

Register here!

The Sports Governance Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Department of Athletics will be hosting a screening of the documentary DOPED:  The Dirty Side of Sports on Tuesday, October 13. The one-hour film will be followed by a panel discussion, which will include the film’s director, Andrew Muscato.

The film discusses the real-world challenges of addressing doping – the use of prohibited performance enhancing drugs – in college, professional and international sport. Several recent studies have indicated that among elite athletes as many as 40% may engage in doping. Yet, anti-doping agencies routinely sanction about 1% of athletes. The difference between these numbers is troubling.

Also on the panel are, Maureen Weston, professor of law at Pepperdine University; Shanon Squires, coordinator of the Human Performance Lab at CU Denver’s Health and Wellness Center; and Walter Palmer, former NBA player and advocate for athletes’ rights.

The event begins at 7pm on Tuesday, October 13 and will be held in the Champion’s Center auditorium of the new CU Athletics facilities.

The event is free and open to the public. Because seating is limited, advance registration at this link is required.

The screening is the first public event of the Department’s new Center for Sports Governance, an initiative led by CU-Boulder Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. and Athletic Director Rick George. Pielke says that the SGC “intends to create a safe space for difficult conversations, in which people do not necessarily have to agree on everything, but are willing to openly and respectfully share different points of view.”

Pielke adds, “The issue of doping in sport is not only challenging, but it is one where people have strong feelings and deep emotions. We hope to add to the conversation by engaging some of leading experts on the topic, in the open, among the Boulder community.”

The SGC will be holding more such events on a range of issues where sport and governance meet.

Op-Ed at The Denver Post on Sport Organization Accountability

I recently had an op-ed in The Denver Post on accountability of sports organizations. Here is an excerpt:

The spectacle of actual or perceived conflicts of interest cast a pall on both the USADA and the IAAF, which have public interest mandates to enforce the rules of sport. For too long, sports organizations have sat outside the public eye, letting the spectacle of the games distract us from how they do business. In case after case, we have come to learn that the way that they do business, at times, leaves a lot to be desired.

Read the whole thing here.

College Football Millionaires


Big-time college sports are at the center of numerous controversies and debates these days. In my latest column at Sporting Intelligence I take a close look at the universities that contribute the most players to the NFL (here is the link). The oft-cited statistic that very few athletes wind up going pro holds when looking at NCAA football as a whole, but when looking at the top programs, things look quite different.