by Judith Curry
Rick Piltz at Climate Science Watch reports that the U.S. House of Representatives votes 244-179 to kill funding for the UN IPCC.
The Republican majority, on a mostly party-line vote of 244-179, went on record as essentially saying that it no longer wishes to have the IPCC prepare its comprehensive international climate science assessments.
A statement from the Congressman who introduced the bill:
Leutkemeyer: The international panel the last year or two has been funded at the rate of about $12.5 million per year. The President has it in his 2012 budget at $13 million a year. This group has been in the headlines for their activities with regard to how they are trying to tinker with the data they put out. Why would we want to fund a group of folks who are nefarious and give us incorrect information? It’s beyond me.
Rick Piltz’s take on this is that “the know-nothings are in the saddle.” As Piltz further notes, “The Senate can put a stop to this.“
Marc Morano at Climate Depot writes a lengthy article on this issue. Apparently Rep. Leutkemeyer read aloud a report of more than 700 dissenting scientists that was prepared by Morano in 2009. An updated version of this report (which includes 1000 dissenting scientists) can be found here.
I rate a paragraph in Morano’s article and report, which he fortunately accompanied with the disclaimer “Note: Curry is not included in the count of dissenting scientists in this report.”
JC’s take: My first question is to wonder about what the $12.5M of U.S. funding actually pays for? Not the science, but presumably publication and distribution costs of the documents, staff to maintain the websites and manage the review process, etc.? What portion of the total IPCC costs does the U.S. support? I have never actually seen a budget before for the IPCC.
Of relevance to the previous thread on epistemology of disagreement, it seems that Morano et al. have taken the IPCC strategy of “consensus” and letters to Congress and turned it around on the IPCC with dissent and a large number of signatories that seem credible, at least on the surface, in terms of academic qualifications etc. Morano is a very clever politician, he is attempting to beat the IPCC at their own game.
The actual first-order science has pretty much gotten lost in this second-order posturing by both sides. This is bad for science, and bad for policy. Given that I think the IPCC on balance may not be helping climate science, greater reliance on national assessments or assessments undertaken by other international groups would be a good thing. Note: the U.S. has produced a plethora of climate change assessments in the past two years, which are probably more important for U.S. policy than the IPCC assessments.
So what does this mean for the IPCC? The IPCC derives its authority from the UN, which can certainly proceed without financial support from the U.S., should the U.S. Senate actually vote in support of the House resolution. However, this would open the door for other countries to delegitimize the IPCC by withdrawing funding or proceeding with their own assessments. The current framing of the climate change problem and its solution by the UNFCCC/IPCC as irreducibly global is arguably outdated and too narrow.
And finally, a few remarks on Morano’s report. It is blissfully free of Sky Dragon type arguments, but rather focuses on problems with the models and data, the importance of natural variability, uncertainty, behavior of scientists, bias in funding, etc. It provides a plethora of links to support its arguments, but the ones I clicked on all go to blog posts, which is not very convincing first order evidence. Detractors of the kind of activity that Morano’s effort represents commonly state that such dissenting documents reflect inferior quality science, and signatories with inferior qualifications and epistemic levels. This argument would be more credible if the IPCC and its defenders depended less on arguing from consensus.