CAP Backs Down When Challenged


Judd Legum is an editor for the Center for American Progress, where he oversees their “Climate Progress” blog.  Over the years, in his role as editor he oversaw or wrote some 160+ articles about me on their pages, misrepresenting my research and political views. After I wrote an article for Natre Silver at 538 in 2014, he called up Silver (and Silver’s lead editor) to demand I be fired. In 2016, the Wikileaks releases revealed Legum was misrepresenting my work as part of a political campaign on behalf of billionaire Tom Steyer. But that embarrassment hasn’t kept Legum away, just yesterday he again took to Twitter to misrepresent my academic work. It’s always the same playbook.

I’ve had enough of CAP and their lies, misrepresentations and character assassination. So yesterday I challenged Legum to back up his Twitter and Wikileaks bravado in a public debate with me. If my work has been “comprehensively debunked” by CAP and is the work of “deniers” then he should be able to destroy me in a public forum, giving a powerful lesson to anyone foolish enough to challenge him.

Here is how Legum responded in declining the opportunity to debate the subject of my 538 article that has had him so worked up over these past four years:

I think on the topic, the idea of what’s driving the costs of disasters is a technical topic that would not create a compelling public debate. The arguments all hinge on data analysis that would be boring and no readily comprehensible for a general debate.

Say what? A “technical topic”? And “not readily comprehensible”? So much for the Wikileaks bravado about debunking my work and all that.

More generally Legum responded:

I’m not sure you actually stake out any such positions that I disagree with.

This is a remarkable admission from the guy at the Center for American Progress who has overseen a decade-long effort to destroy my academic career through social media bullying, behind the scenes politicking and the spreading of outright lies. It also shows what happens when bullies are challenged but can’t back it up. They back down and slink away.

Public Debate Challenge to Judd Legum


People are funny. Judd Legum is a die-hard partisan who works for the Center for American Progress. For some reason, four years ago he decided to use his position to (successfully) get me removed as a writer for 538. You all know the story.

Well Judd is back to harass. Apparently more than 160 articles about me at CAP were not enough.

Well, I’ve long had enough abuse and bullying from these guys. So Judd, rather than you sniping at me on Twitter with lies and innuendo, let’s do this in person and for real. Let’s debate the issues that you profess to care so deeply about, and that I am so wrong about, in a public forum. Should be an easy win for you.

I have no doubt we can use the event to raise money for important charities. Mine will be Doctors Without Borders.

Judd, whenever convenient, I’ll come to you. You can come here. Whatever.

What do you say? You got some substance behind the Wikileaks and Twitter bravado?

It’s guaranteed he will decline the offer. And that will tell you all you need to know.

Why Look at Global Disaster Losses as a Proportion of Global GDP?

Newsletter-17_2_Pielke_graph1The graph above shows global weather disasters as a proportion of global GDP. It does not include earthquakes, tsunamis or other non-weather/climate related events. I am sometimes asked: why focus on a metric of global disaster losses as a proportion of global GDP?

The short answer is that this metric says something about the relative impacts of disasters in the broad context of the global economy. Economists and policy analysts routinely use  GDP as a denominator to understand the economy-wide significance of variables such as government spending, health care costs, R&D spending, etc.

If disaster losses are growing as a proportion of GDP it would mean that the world is losses are increasing as a proportion of global economic activity, surely a bad sign. Alternatively, if disaster losses are shrinking as a proportion of GDP, it would indicate that disaster losses are less significant in context of global economic activity, surely a positive sign.

It is this logic which underpins the inclusion of disaster losses as a proportion of GDP as an indicator of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Disasters as proportion of GDP appear under:

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

The overarching goal is to “substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters.” This is why we look at global disasters as a proportion of global GDP. It is not the only important indicator, but it is one.

Of course, if you want to understand how changes in climate may be reflected in the trends in the intensity or frequency of extreme weather, don’t look at economic data. Look at weather and climate data directly.