Writing in the WSJ Europe this week Anne Jolis had a piece on extreme weather events that quotes me, and unfortunately the terse quote is missing some context that is apparently leading to some confusion.
I spoke with Jolis at length and she asked very good questions and expressed a desire to get the science right. She even called me back to confirm how I was to be quoted. Unfortunately the longer quote was abbreviated, which Jolis warned was always possible. I do not view this as a particularly big deal, but since I am being asked about it via email by a few folks, here is what the quote said and how it should be:
"There's no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather," adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.Instead it would be more precise to read:
"There's no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather disasters," adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.Again, given the context of the article the implication should be abundantly clear that in the quote I am not referring to daily temperature records, Arctic ice melt or global average surface temperatures or precipitation. The quote refers directly to recent extreme events with large societal impacts around the world that are explicitly mentioned in the piece such as Cyclone Yasi, the Australian floods, Europe's cold winter and the Russian drought. Of course, in the climate debate, anything that can be misinterpreted usually will be.
If anyone wants to know my views on extreme events and climate change, there is no need to do an exegesis of a 16-words quote in the WSJ, they can just read my recent book or the dozens of peer-reviewed papers I have on the subject. Thanks to those who emailed asking for a clarification!