Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Is Now Arguing With Itself on Global Warming

Nathaniel 'Nate' Silver, editor-in-chief of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight blog, speaks during a panel discussion at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The SXSW conferences and festivals converge original music, independent films, and emerging technologies while fostering creative and professional growth. 
National Journal
March 31, 2014, 1:08 p.m.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has posted a rebuttal by MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel to Roger Pielke Jr.’s controversial March 19 story that argued climate change isn’t to blame for the rising costs of weather-related disasters.

“I don’t see how the data he cites support such a confident assertion,” Emanuel writes in the response that Silver commissioned to run on the data-journalism site. (Click here to read more about why Emanuel’s not buying Pielke’s argument.)

Emanuel’s post followed a note to readers Friday from Silver himself, who said the largely negative response to Pielke’s item prompted FiveThirtyEight to “think carefully” about the story and their editing.

“The back-and-forth is extremely detailed, citing paper upon paper, footnote upon footnote, and link upon link. The debate is hard for us to adjudicate without turning to experts for help,” Silver writes in explaining why he commissioned a story that responds to the central arguments of Pielke’s story.

Silver also said there were some “peripheral claims” allowed into Pielke’s piece and some other problems that “reflect a poor job of editing on our part.”

But the note says that broader criticisms of Pielke — namely that the political scientist isn’t qualified to write on climate and that he’s a climate “denier” — are “unfair.”

As National Journal wrote here, Pielke often enrages climate activists and has drawn criticism from several prominent scientists, although he does not dispute human-induced climate change and says it demands action.

Emanuel’s piece is just the latest chapter in the brouhaha over Pielke’s item and FiveThirtyEight‘s decision to bring him on as a contributor.

Huffington Post media writer Michael Calderone reported Friday that FiveThirtyEight apologized to scientists Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth for emails Pielke sent them in response to their criticism of his March 19 item.

HuffPo reported that Mann and Trenberth interpret Pielke’s emails as threatening possible legal action. But Pielke told Calderone that it’s “ridiculous” to characterize the emails that way.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Signs Border Deal
2 days ago

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Trump Declares National Emergency
2 days ago

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
2 days ago

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
2 days ago

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

House Passes Funding Deal
3 days ago

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.