Bob Ward, the policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, then penned a column for the Guardian, another British paper, arguing, “‘Disastergate’ is an excuse for IPCC critics to dig up old academic rows.” Ward pointed out that Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, has long criticized the panel for misrepresenting Pielke’s and others’ research on the relationship between global warming and the rising cost of natural disasters.
So, yes, an “old row” it is, but a very important one, to which the American press should pay more attention (taking a cue perhaps from the Guardian, which thought the flap between the Sunday Times, the IPCC, Ward, and Pielke was newsworthy enough). For, indeed, the row continues. Over the last week, Pielke has posted a number of entries on his blog revisiting his criticisms of the IPCC’s work on disaster losses and responding to Ward’s defense of the panel (see here, here, here, here, and here). Today, he announced that next Friday he will debate Ward at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. The event is titled, “Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?”
That’s a great question. Unfortunately, the debate is in London, which probably means we’ll be hearing crickets in the U.S. media while coverage of this momentous topic continues elsewhere.
[Update – 2/2, 11:00 a.m.: As Rich Stone of Science pointed out in the comments section, the germ of the “Glaciergate” story cropped up in an article by Pallava Bagla in Science publication in November. It focused on the Raina report, a study that challenged the IPCC’s statements about rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers. Last week’s issue of Science contained an interesting Q&A between Bagla and Rajendra Pachauri, the panel’s chairman, in which Pachauri responded to recent criticisms and discussed the outlook for an international climate accord.]