Like Roberts, Pielke rebuts Revkin with legitimate points that merit deep and sustained conversation. But, leaving aside for the moment who has the better argument, the fact that Dot Earth has provided an extremely prominent medium for that conversation is interesting enough. Reacting to Pielke, Dr. Jonathan Patz of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the lead author of the study that Revkin wrote about, posted a defense of his work (in the comments section). This multiplicity of voices and perspectives is what makes blogging so appealing. And this is especially true in the climate-change arena, where even with reliable science some value judgments will ultimately have to be made.

Again, it is not that Dot Earth is so unique. There are plenty of other climate and environment-oriented Web sites out there with equally erudite readerships. To see Revkin introduce one at The New York Times is heartening, though, and hopefully, having such a blog in the mainstream press will make this discussion more accessible for readers who still have trouble seeing the roses for the thorns.

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Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.