A University of Colorado professor who’s been criticized for his writings about climate change has been caught up in WikiLeaks’ dump of emails involving John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.
Roger Pielke Jr., who has been a faculty member on the Boulder campus since 2001, was the subject of a July 2014 email about an essay he wrote on climate change for the website FiveThirtyEight.
Pielke writes a regular column about sports governance for the Daily Camera.
The email was sent by Judd Legum, the editor of ThinkProgress, a site that’s part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which was founded by Podesta in 2003.
In his email to billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, Legum described how he believed Climate Progress, the environmental arm of ThinkProgress, got Pielke to stop writing about climate change for FiveThirtyEight.
“I think it’s fair say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538,” Legum wrote.
Legum did not respond to interview requests on Wednesday.
The email was one of tens of thousands of messages from Podesta’s hacked Gmail account released by WikiLeaks this month.
The group took issue with Pielke’s piece titled “Disasters Cost More Than Ever —- But Not Because of Climate Change,” in which he questioned the link between rising natural disaster costs and climate change.
Pielke argued that the cost of disasters is increasing because the world is getting wealthier, not because there are more — or more intense — floods, droughts, hurricanes or tornadoes.
“We’re seeing ever-larger losses simply because we had more to lose — when an earthquake or flood occurs, more stuff gets damaged,” he wrote.
Pielke, who has written extensively about climate-change economics, is a polarizing figure among climate change scientists and activists.
Pielke refutes claims that he’s a climate-change skeptic or denier, pointing to his public support for a carbon tax. He says that many of the arguments he presents are supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Nevertheless, shortly after Pielke’s FiveThirtyEight piece was published, ThinkProgress wrote a story quoting climate scientists who said Pielke’s claims were misleading. FiveThirtyEightpublished a rebuttal to Pielke’s piece.
“Silver is still backing the wrong horse, and the sooner he dumps Pielke, the better,” David Auerbach wrote for Slate.
Shortly thereafter, Pielke stopped writing for FiveThirtyEight. In the email released by WikiLeaks, Legum gave ThinkProgress credit for that.