Jordan Peterson called out over climate change claims made on Joe Rogan podcast

Dr Jordan Peterson is making headlines for comments he made in a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, including a claim that "there is no such thing as climate".

The former Fear Factor host and the clinical psychologist wax lyrical about a range of topics in the new episode which has drawn criticism for theories about skin colour and how poor people should be made rich so they are more "resource efficient".

The hours-long conversation starts with Rogan telling Dr Peterson about how he prepares for interviews, giving an example of an upcoming interview he was preparing for with an author of a book on climate change.

"The climate change one is a weird one," says Rogan.

"Well, that's because there's no such thing as climate, right? 'Climate' and 'everything' are the same word, and that's what bothers me about the climate change types," replies Dr Peterson.

"This is something that bothers me about it, technically. It's like, 'climate is about everything'. OK - but your models aren't based on everything. Your models are based on a set number of variables. So that means you've reduced the variables - which are everything - to that set.

"Well how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation, if it's about everything? That's not just a criticism, that's like, if it's about everything, your models aren't right. Because your models do not and cannot model everything."

Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington, has listened to the comments and provided context for them.

"Jordan Peterson is saying that climate models are wrong because they don't include everything in the climate system. But that's true of all models in all fields, they are always simplifications of the real world, to help us understand what is going on. There's even a Wikipedia page on this idea," Prof Renwick tells Newshub. 

"How do we decide what to include in climate models? Physics, mathematics and chemistry help us decide what's most important to include and what can be left out of a model. We have 70 years' experience of building weather and climate models and researchers understand this very well. 

"Existing models capture all of the key features of the climate system and do a great job of simulating it. Even so, models are continually being improved, with new components added, so over time they get even closer to the observed climate system."

In an opinion piece for Rolling Stone journalist Jack Crosbie is more blunt in his assessment of the podcast, describing it as being filled with "gibberish" and topics that are almost all "intensely stupid, if not incoherent".

"Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are two of the dumbest people on earth," he says.

"The wildly successful podcast host and self-help author's careers have intersected and built on one another multiple times, as their core audience of disaffected young men is largely the same."

Crosbie also takes specific aim at the climate comments.

"[Peterson's comments are] false, as the entire point of climate science is to identify which of those variables correlate to statistically significant changes in temperature or ozone levels et cetera, et cetera. And yet, Peterson talks on, saying the word 'everything' multiple times without actually saying, well, anything."

The full four hour episode of Rogan and Dr Peterson is available on Spotify. The music streaming platform is under increasing pressure to moderate The Joe Rogan Experience, which has frequently caused controversy for propagating anti-science messages about the COVID-19 pandemic that have been called dangerous.