Politics of Climate Expertise: Part IV

by Judith Curry

Donna Laframboise at NoFrakkingConsensus has a new post entitled “IPCC Nobel Laureates Lack Scientific Credibility,” with the subheading:

IPCC insiders say many of those who shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize have weak scientific credentials. They were chosen because they are of the right gender or come from the right country.

The source information for this article are comments submitted to the IAC for their review of the IPCC.  Here are several comments made by IPCC insiders:

The calibre of the participants has been declining. For the Second Assessment Report, the WG III policy chapter had a Nobel Laureate in economics (Kenneth Arrow) and a future Laureate (Joseph Stiglitz). For the Third Assessment Report, the WG III policy chapter had full professors of environmental economics and law from three prestigious universities – Peter Bohm, Stockholm; Thomas Heller, Stanford and Robert Stavins, Harvard. For the Fourth Assessment Report this had fallen to one full professor of environmental economics – Charles Kolstad, UC Santa Barbara. (p. 71)

Since I have been selected for several IPCC reports, I have no personal prejudice (or grouse) on the process. However, regarding the selection of Lead Authors, I am more worried since the distortions, opaqueness and arbitrariness that is lately creeping into the process seems alarming. It seems that knowledge and scientific contributions are increasingly at discount in selection of authors compared to the personal connections, affiliations and political accommodations. (p. 78)

The rationale for selecting IPCC authors is described in a paper by Hulme and Mahoney entitled “Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?”   A relevant excerpt:

The  second  area  where  critical  analysis  of  the  expertise  mobilised  in  the  IPCC  assessments   has  been  made  is  with  respect  to  the  participation  of  developing  country  experts.    Despite   increasing  attention  paid  by  the  IPCC  governing  bureau  to  these  concerns  since  they  were   first  expressed  in  the  early  1990s  (and  continue  to  be  expressed;  e.g.  Demeritt,  2001;  Miller,   2007;  Grundmann,  2007;  Runci,  2007),  the  proportion  of  IPCC  authors  and  reviewers  from   OECD  versus  non-­‐OECD  has  not  changed.    For  each  of  the  Second,  Third  and  Fourth   Assessments  Reports  of  the  IPCC,  the  percentage  of  both  authors  and  reviewers  from  the   OECD  nations  has  remained  remarkably  constant  at  between  80  and  82  percent  (authors’   own  assessment).    For  example,  Kandlikar  and  Sagar  (1999)  examined  the  IPCC  First  and   Second  Assessment  Reports  with  respect  to  the  participation  of  Indian  expertise  and  found   the  participation  “heavily  skewed  in  favour  of  some  industrialised  countries”  (p.134).

The  consequences  of  this  ‘geography  of  IPCC  expertise’  are  significant,  affecting  the   construction  of  IPCC  emissions  scenarios  (Parikh,  1992),  the  framing  and  shaping  of  climate   change  knowledge  (Shackley,  1997;  Lahsen,  2007;  O’Neill  et  al., 2010)  and  the  legitimacy  of   the  knowledge  assessments  themselves  (Elzinga,  1996;  Weingart,  1999;  Lahsen,  2004;   Grundmann,  2007;  Mayer  &  Arndt,  2009;  Beck,  2010).    As  Bert  Bolin,  the  then  chairmen  of   the  IPCC  remarked  back  in  1991:  “Right  now,  many  countries,  especially  developing   countries,  simply  do  not  trust  assessments  in  which  their  scientists  and  policymakers  have   not  participated.    Don’t  you  think  credibility  demands  global  representation?”  (cited  in   Schneider,  1991).    Subsequent  evidence  for  such  suspicions  has  come  from  many  quarters   (e.g.  Karlsson  et  al., 2007)  and  Kandlikar  and  Sagar  concluded  their  1999  study  of  the  North-­‐ South  knowledge  divide  by  arguing,  “…  it  must  be  recognised  that  a  fair  and  effective   climate  protection  regime  that  requires  cooperation  with  developing  countries,  will  also   require  their  participation  in  the  underlying  research,  analysis  and  assessment”  (p.137).     This  critique  is  also  voiced  more  recently  by  Myanna  Lahsen  (2004)  in  her  study  of  Brazil  and   the  climate  change  regime:  “Brazilian  climate  scientists  reflect  some  distrust  of  …  the  IPCC,   which  they  describe  as  dominated  by  Northern  framings  of  the  problems  and  therefore   biased  against  interpretations  and  interest  of  the  South”  (p.161).

JC’s comments: Back in 1979, the Charney Report on climate change was a model in the sense of providing an insightful assessment about the problem from the leading thinkers in the U.S. on this topic.   The first IPCC assessment report had a good list of lead authors and coordinators, but each IPCC assessment report seems to have had a progressively weaker collection of scientists working on it (the problem is acute for WGII and III, but also exists for I).  The emphasis of geographical diversity rather than elite scientific expertise and insight seems to have been motivated by getting “buy in” from the countries that were expected to participate in the UNFCCC treaty.  The end result is industriousness rather than insight, designed to support a treaty.  Participating individuals may not see it that way, but that seems to be the net result.

110 responses to “Politics of Climate Expertise: Part IV

  1. Not sure about trends. Human memory has a tendency to glorify the past. There certainly are a lot of IPCC authors that should not be there. That’s true for AR5, it was true for AR4, for AR3 and for AR2. Are there more now? We’d need a proper evaluation.

    • Richard,

      The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, the US National Academy of Science, the UK Royal Society, leaders of scientific community, and the editors of our leading research journals have destroyed their own credibility, . . .

      Trying to enhance the credibility of the UN’s IPCC and the world leaders and politicians pushing their agenda.

  2. Would that not be expected under “Post-Normal Science”? It sounds good, but science is not decided by consensus. I am old fashioned enough to believe that science is about seeking the truth underlying phenomena; Ravetz calls it puzzle-solving (trivially true but disparaging).

    Ravetz, Ph.D., Jerome. The post-normal science of precaution [An article from: Futures]. Elsevier, 2004. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000RR09RU

    From the abstract: “By contrast, the ‘post-normal’ approach embodies the precautionary principle. It depends on public debate, and involves an essential role for the ‘extended peer community’.”…”But there is no turning back; we can understand post-normal science as the extension of democracy appropriate to the conditions of our age.”

    Funtowicz, Silvio O., and Jerome R. Ravetz. “Science for the post-normal age.” Futures 25, no. 7 (September 1993): 739-755. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V65-45K4W0X-98/2/4f111fe604593bde5e78d1f78b25ecfc

    From the abstract: In response to the challenges of policy issues of risk and the environment, a new type of science-‘post-normal’-is emerging. This is analysed in contrast to traditional problem-solving strategies, including core science, applied science, and professional consultancy. We use the two attributes of systems uncertainties and decision stakes to distinguish among these. Postnormal science is appropriate when either attribute is high; then the traditional methodologies are ineffective. In those circumstances, the quality assurance of scientific inputs to the policy process requires an ‘extended peer community’, consisting of all those with a stake in the dialogue on the issue. Post-normal science can provide a path to the democratization of science, and also a response to the current tendencies to post-modernity.

  3. Latimer Alder

    This is done nothing to increase my already very shaky confidence that the IPCC process is pretty much a jobs for the boys boondoggle.

    The relationship between its conclusions and anything even masquerading as ‘science’ as I understand it grows weaker by the day.

    Would it not be quicker for them all just to say

    ”Frak’ it, we haven’t much reliable evidence at all for anything, but we’d like you all to believe that we;re all going to hell in a handcart three weeks come next Tuesday if you nasty little proles don’t stop doing whatever it is that we gurus disapprove of today. Sign here’.

    Surely ‘proper scientists’ would go about things in a way that reinforced the public’s trust in them…by showing integrity and rigour in all their dealings.

    Instead, nearly everywhere one looks, the alarmists seem to have a death wish. In all their actions, their behaviour seems to be calculated to do the maximum damage to their credibility and reputations. Where the choice could be for honesty and transparency, they opt for concealment and dodgy behaviour. Where they could demonstrate dignity and detachment they choose snark and ‘knife fighting’.

    I’m of the opinion that with very few exceptions (like our host here), all the really good scientists have chosen to avoid climatology like the plague, and we are left with a gnag of second-rate mediocrities suddenly catapaulted to postions of influence way behind their maturity, abilities or judgment.

    • I can understand your frustrations- but i’d stop short of tarring all climate scientists with the same brush.

      it is a wide field; scientist working exclusively on atmospheric IR detection, or cloud modelling would be classed as climate scientists just as hansen et all would.

      I think we need a way of distinguishing between the two groups. One set are working, probably very dilligently in their own field, it’s the ‘other set’ that compile and make absurd conclusions off all this disparat data that are the issue here.

      • Latimer Alder

        I don’t tar all climatologists with the same brush. And recent history has made it easy to distinguish between those who show some integrity and responsibility and those who don’t.

        The first group is composed of those who looked at the Climategate scandal and said (either privately or publicly) that they showed that all was not well in their field integrity-wise and vowed to work to improve things.

        The other group is the ‘nothing to see here and it’s all those evil Big Oil funded deniers fault anyway’ camp. And those who refused even to look at the evidence.

        IMHO the former group has a very small membership..the latter is the overwhelming majority of Climatologists.

        I’m happy to be proved wrong, but the number of working ‘climate scientists’ who have spoken out against the Climategate shenanigans is pitifully few. Maybe they have all done so in private, but I detect no behavioural shift that would lend support to that view either.

        Until they start to clean up their collective act – and reports like the one Donna cites do nothing to increase their credibility – I will assume that all their processes have become as corrupted by political issues as pal-review and the IPCC so obviously have. And the corruption was aided and abetted by the climatology establishment. Nuff said.

      • Latimer,
        IPCC and the UN had an agenda of wanting big bucks for control of the world. Many conferences tried to get the agreements into place through using the Global Warming scare.
        Even today, ads still come out from “renouned scientists” that Global Warming is still happening. The carbon market was created by this and so was the boom for infererior power generating stations.
        How many companies went “Green” because of this?

        So now the record breaking cold temperatures are in full bore planetwide and still the push is Global Warming is the cause.
        The problem now is the public is stupid up to a point. They reached that point are are starting to question the credibility of the whole affair.

      • I’m happy to be proved wrong, but the number of working ‘climate scientists’ who have spoken out against the Climategate shenanigans is pitifully few. Maybe they have all done so in private, but I detect no behavioural shift that would lend support to that view either.

        Latimer: As someone with a deep respect for science, I find this is a heartbreaker.

        When I read comments by climate change advocates, I keep hoping to find my concerns addressed resolved, but I barely find them addressed. Mainly I find the “nothing to see here” approach often followed by tu quoque counter-arguments.

        The main exception is Dr. Curry who has publicly and prominently been accused of being a “heretic,” “naive,” “abandon[ing] science,” and worse.

      • Lest there be any doubt, I too have a deep respect for science.

        I trained in science to a reasonable standard (see denizens thread) and I have continued my interest as an educated layman ever since.

        But sadly the actions of the climatologists have left me with vanishingly small respect for them and their supposed ‘scientific’
        field.

        ‘Playing fast and loose’ with the rules barely scratches the surface of their transgressions. Whatever the ‘science’ they claim to be doing, it bears very little relationship to the scientific principles that I was taught about thirty years ago.

        I too weep for what was once the most enlightening way to understand the world that humanity had ever devised. Corrupted by a toxic mixture of politics, money, wishful thinking, egomania, incompetence and downright bad behaviour.

    • Even hard science areas like nanotechnology show signs of PT Barnum at work. It’s much more common now to see a university announce some achievement with attending ridiculous claims about what it means for the future. I’ve interpreted this as being driven by a desire to gain the university and researchers public recognition and bolstering additional funding arguments. Good scientific research with unscientific claims about it’s importance / significance is all too common. Even researchers that aren’t doing nanotechnology research say they are – it’s a hot area and makes it easier to get funded. Money and ego are all that it takes to bend even hard science – add ideology into the climate science mix, and it’s ripe for science abuse.

      • Harold: Good point. I think we are seeing something similar in physics where string theory has become the predominant wisdom — close to a monopoly in physics departments — even though string theory is untestable by current means, and, some would argue, unfalsifiable given the 10 ** 500 versions of string theory available. Yet it’s a career limiting move to go up against string theory as an unestablished physicists.

        See The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trouble_with_Physics

        I’m wondering whether this winner-take-all phenomenon we see in climatology and physics is basically the same that we see in business. With large teams, huge markets and vast sums of money at stake it makes sense that one theory or one product would come to dominate but that does not mean that theory or product is the best.

        When climate change advocates point to that study showing that 97% of climatologists agree with AGW are they noting something more significant than the statistic that 95% of desktop computers use the Windows operating system?

      • >even though string theory is untestable by current means

        Others disagree:

        http://particle-theory.physics.lsa.umich.edu/kane/String%20theory%20and%20the%20real%20world.pdf

      • tmtisfree: As I read the pdf of this recent Nov. 2010 article, it seems to say that compactified string theories could be tested, and maybe they can and maybe they will be, but they haven’t been yet.

        However, my point was that a theory that has not been tested and may not be falsifiable has — somehow — become the ultra-dominant theory in current physics since the mid-eighties, even though they still have no experimental results to support string theory.

        Whatever the ultimate truth of string theory may be, this dominance happened rapidly and it wasn’t based experimental verification.

        To me string theory’s dominance looks like the market consolidations we see in the computer industry — the IBM PC, DOS, Windows OS, Postscript, the Google search engine, etc. These were all decent products but they didn’t win because they were necessarily the best. Mainly they reached tipping points in acceptance, and afterward one ignored these standards at one’s professional or consumer peril.

        My question is whether AGW theory’s success in garnering consensus isn’t largely a matter of market consolidation, rather than its merits in explaining climate.

      • In Business, if you stray too far from the pack, you may have a significant market advantage or a significant disadvantage. Particularly with something like semiconductor manufacturing, by following the crowd you may not have the best possible manufacturing process, but your cost structure isn’t likely to be much worse than others. That’s playing it safe, in a way.

        I suppose there is motivation for researchers to stay close to the pack, for the same reasons – if they stay close to others’ research, they can get published, and while it isn’t likely to be groundbreaking, it isn’t likely to be ridiculed or ignored (or blocked from publication). Whether you’re right or wrong, there’s safety in numbers.

        I read string theory papers some decades ago, and pretty much dismissed it. Not that it’s wrong, it just goes against Occam’s Razor and it doesn’t follow an inductive path that I could see.

      • BTW Lee Smolin’s book, “The Trouble with Physics” is a great read. He has a clear style and covers not just physics, but also the sociology of science and the business of science that I believe has import for climate science and AGW theory.

  4. Sorry, I’m a bit confused.

    You say

    The first IPCC assessment report had a good list of lead authors and coordinators, but each IPCC assessment report seems to have had a progressively weaker collection of scientists working on it (the problem is acute for WGII and III, but also exists for I). The emphasis of geographical diversity rather than elite scientific expertise and insight seems to have been motivated by getting “buy in” from the countries that were expected to participate in the UNFCCC treaty. The end result is industriousness rather than insight, designed to support a treaty. Participating individuals may not see it that way, but that seems to be the net result.

    Yet Hulme and Mahoney are saying that geographical diversity has not occurred and that the IPCC continues to be dominated by Western scientists. Are you saying that Hulme and Mahoney right or wrong?

    • Mahony, sorry.

    • well it depends on how you interpret the word “dominated.” in terms of number of participants, i would say it is not dominated by western scientists. In terms of actual input, it is dominated by western scientists. The issue is dilution of the pool of expertise by many who are not generally regarded as experts.

  5. Steven Mosher

    Hulme is all over the North/South divide. You’ll see that in the mails.
    WRT his motive. I dunna, seems like a valid question to ask him.
    Also, an uncharted area was Hulme’s response to the selection of “Patchy”
    The Union of converned scientists wanted to make his appointment an issue about Bushies, Hulme turned it into an issue about “indian engineers” and racial bias. Of course Hulme and Pathy has bizness together.

    Many interestings things to ask questions about. Not jumping to conclusions. However, when we wanted to get a weapon system through congress we made sure we had suppliers in every state.

  6. I don’t know whether the facts are true but one could ask – does it matter? The IPCC reports are basically a review and presentation of published research. Maybe it’s better to have your best research scientists doing the research, and people stronger in other skills compiling the reports.

    • Nick, I view assessment as a very different process from reviewing.

    • It seems to me the people compiling IPCC reports are skilled in delivering a report which is perfectly suited to the agenda of politicians & bureaucrats everywhere who want to increase government control of peoples lives through taxation & regulation. Who writes the summary for policymakers, which is the only part of the report read by those policymakers?? – its basically the bureaucrats. Sir Humphrey Appleby is alive & thriving at the IPCC.

    • steven mosher

      That’s a good point. The other thing that bothers me is why an assessment would have to be re written from scratch over every few years. I would think it would be better if it just were a state of the science that gets added to or amended as research comes in, rather than this big to do which puts an enormous amount of pressure on people. That pressure ( time pressure, page count etc) does always have the best effects on some.

      It might be a neat excercise to take a chapter and update it to see what exactly has been added/changed etc.

      • Steven,

        It is rewritten so that any foggy areas in favor of the IPCC and the UN can be better established. Pick and choose the best reports for the biggest impacts.
        Now, how many conferences have the UN had to try and get an iron agreement for funding and power?
        You just cannot do this if the science is still inconclusive.

      • Steve, having to rewrite an assessment in a fast moving field with many uncertainties isn’t uncommon. That’s because the assessments are speculative / evaluative in nature to provide direction. As more hard data comes in, the conclusions can swing pretty wildly. An actual critical assessment of the literture would follow what you’re thinking – the palace of knowledge is built a brick at a time, and bricks don’t move between snapshots unless you screw up.

        You do point out one of my criticisms of the AR series – the process is built to allow / encourage speculation.

    • Normally you would want the very best people analyzing the literature (not necessarily climate scientists)- they have to be able to spot all kinds of implicit assumptions, errors in technique, etc. It’s much more challenging than you would think. Then they need to be able to synthesize a report off of all of it – based on experience I think it’s still the climate experts, but there is probably some room for others. Interestingly enough, the format / implied content of the report influence the content of the report and exclude conclusions which could be critical. Presumably the process is set up to create the verbage to fill the chapters. Something like the AR4 invites exclusion of papers – it isn’t intended to contain a detailed critical review of the literature.

    • It’s all about emphasis though isn’t it? Which papers to get a brief mention and which to emphasise? The assessment and review process is ripe for abuse IMHO and those that do the work are in a powerful position to influence the tone of whatever is finally produced. This is why I don’t like the idea of having a single body representing the global ‘scientific view’.

  7. That’s a great source Judith.

    An earlier post from Donna talking about the “damning” IAC report links to a tabloid rag that says “A high-level inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found there was “little evidence” for its claims about global warming.”

    The report says nothing of the kind.

    Let’s just say that my confidence in Donna’s ability to objectively assess information (on least on this topic) has just taken a major hit.

    And a quick note on the kerfuffle over a small Argentinian NGO’s press release, which appears to be the hook for this drivel. What’s odd to me is that there hasn’t been great fanfare for the brilliant sceptic who debunked this alarmist rubbish, who is……

    Gavin Schmidt. Yes, Gavin of Real Climate……..OH NOES!!!!!!!

    Anyway……..

    Donna regales us with the shocking low down of the “insiders”. But being the terrible sceptic I am, I just had to have a look if Donna’s snippets were a goood reflection of the overall tone of the comments.

    So here we go. I’ll try to pull out an overall statement from each of the questionnaires that Donna has quoted, focussing on the quality of the science as both Judith and Donna are suggesting that this has been affected. Mine will correspond to Donna’s order of quotes;

    1. “I have found the range of views in my area to be handled with great respect. Any viewpoint including viewpoints that are different from the mainstream and heard and addressed (although in the end not necessarily agreed to). In may chapter, we have never had anyone complain about their views not being heard….Any report covering in depth so many different subjects put together by a large group of volunteers is bound to have errors and this should be recognized. IPCC should put out a correction after a certain period has elapsed from the issuance of the report….Do not let the criticism of IPCC lead to a more bureaucratic process. It that happens, many of the most outstanding participants will likely be discouraged from active participation as they have in the past or even being participants in the future. That would ultimately spell the end of IPCC as an outstanding contributor to and synthesizer of knowledge relevant to climate change.”

    2. [This one is so egregious that I’ve bolded the relevant part not quoted so you can see how misleading such selective quotation can be…when you want it to be]
    “With the current mechanism you need to trust govts and bureau to select authors without bias. I think they generally do…
    This was an amazing experience – one of the highlights of my career. Discussions of cutting edge big picture science with the world‘s best is hard to beat. They were a huge effort though. LA meetings are very intense but very enjoyable. I really got the impression that rigour and quality science comes to the fore. AR4 WG1 authors were amazingly supported by the TSU. It is interesting that two LAs on our chapter (one from a developing country and one European) never wrote a word or contributed much to discussions – nevertheless they remained credited. I felt this was unfair on those that actually wrote the text.”

    3. “Generally, I want to point out that much of the recent criticism is pointing to really minor flaws in the process – and the criticism has been incredibly biased towards a “climate change denialist agenda”. It is therefore to be welcomed that the current review takes place in an unbiased mode. [but just wait till Donna gets her hands on your words!!]…Due to the distortion of the process in the media, specific attention should be given, in my view, to those cases where the IPCC has been overly cautious with respect to the actually given risks (a famous example being the insufficient attention the AR4 has given to the non-negligible risk of high end sea level rise). If, as a tax payer or government representative, I ask for the assessment of POSSIBLE risks in the future, then I need to know about all risks, not only those that are corroborated by a very broad set of models….”
    [and another doozy – words immediately before the selected quote are bolded for your viewing pleasure…or dismay, as the case may be]
    “I subscribe to the concept of having broad geographic coverage among CLA’s and LA’s at every level, and I also support the right of governments to nominate their best scientists for these positions – but it is clearly noticable that the process occasionally brings authors with poor knowledge or poor motivation into LA positions…the quality of the reports (two recognised errors in 976 pages of the WG2-AR4, one of the contributed by the Dutch government) is extraordinary. Maintaining this dedication to quality will be crucial and also extremely difficult given the current level of pressure and meaningless accusations by a growing number of journalists and also government representatives.
    Generally the process towards the SYR and also the SPMs has been particularly sensitive to the risk of removing high end risk analysis components because some governments have claimed that these were not “consensus”. The result of this has been, in my observation, a certain amount of “self-censorship” by IPCC authors in order to not suggest text that might indicate high end risk scenarios.
    For policy makers, this is an extraordinarily dangerous development, since the risk analysis in the end is likely to not cover the full range of risks lying ahead of them.
    [Judith – I’d appreciate it if you could explicitly address this, as most regualr readers here would have have the distinctly opposite impression from your blog commentary]
    “It must first of all be said that the portrayal of the government role by media, and hence the public perception of it, is very very far from the reality. I meet a very wide belief in the public (shared even by non-expert policy makers and also many colleagues in the scientific community) that the IPCC might be either “fully in the hand of governments” or else a sort of “scientist’s pressure group against governments”.
    I believe that both views are spread by numerous journalists, subconsciously perhaps, with the hope of standing uncorrected by reality – and with the goal of discrediting the actual process.
    A first task must therefore be (as the Secretariate is now doing) to correct the misinformation.
    Besides that, I am deeply convinced that the role of governments could hardly be better defined than it currently is. The content of the reports is, in principle, unaffected by governments and corresponds exclusively to the scientific evidence (which is ensured by allowing governments to ask questions while ensuring that the answers are given EXCLUSIVELY by scientists).”

    I could go on and on, but I think that you get the general idea.

    Judith, when it comes to criticism of the IPCC, you seem to be more credulous than sceptical. Or am I being completely unfair?

    • There are over 600 pages in the doc of submitted comments to the IAC. Individuals can read all 600 pages and pick which statements they like. The topic raised by LaFramboise is very relevant to the the topic of the politics of expertise.

      My comment at the end of the post is my assessment, independent of anything written by others in those 600 pages or by LaFramboise. It is based on reading the lists of lead authors for each of the 4 assessment reports. My personal knowledge of the lead authors is greatest for WGI. Concerns about the authors for WGII and WGIII have been raised by many people. The selection of authors of by the IPCC is not transparent at all: each government submits a large list of people, then the IPCC adds names, and picks. The end result does not inspire my confidence, anyways, in terms of “trusting the experts.”

      • Judith,

        I deliberately didn’t randomly “pick and choose”, for the precise reason you mention, but only looked at the questionairres that Donna quoted from.

        The second quote in particular had me worried for the lack of scientific rigour it suggested, but when I read that LA’s full comments, I had a very distinct, ‘Oh no, here we go…” feeling of yet more pointless persecution and out-of-context vilification .

        The overall sense from the few dozen I read is that scientists think the IPCC product is high quality, reflecting the science very well, but they are concerned over some aspects of the process, and in particular the sustainability of extracting huge amounts of time and energy, on a voluntary basis, from otherwise already busy people. The idea of a permanent, well funded, professional body to do the IPCCs job seems to have some support.

        And, again, I think it would be very interesting to see you address the idea that has come up a few times, that the IPCC reports have downgraded or ignored high end risk as a result of government pressure.

    • Actual is was not Gavin Schmidt that found the issue , they were late to the party .reporter (Suzanne Goldenberg), contacted AAAS and then AAAS contacted Gavin.

    • Let me see if I understand your “objections”, correctly, “Michael”. Laframboise provided commentary from 30 IPCC insiders who had observed many shortcomings in the selection of Lead Authors of this Nobel award winning “gold standard” report – and each comment can be readily verified by the page number in the .pdf (which Laframboise provided).

      Yet all of this is supposedly trumped by your wall of text from [presumably] 3 (not readily identifiable) comments excerpted from the same document.

      And one is supposed to take at face value your irrelevant and immaterial ‘guilty of linking’ to a “tabloid rag” claim – when you provide no link or any other hint as to where this supposedly “offending” post might be found – simply because, well, because you said so.

      Amazing. Simply amazing.

    • Michael, would you please enunciate clearly what it is you think is wrong with Laframboises article.

      Especially your comments such as “[but just wait till Donna gets her hands on your words!!]

      thnks

    • Snippits of Donna Laframboise comments, referenced by Michael, January 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      #3 “overly cautious with respect to the actually given risks”….”I ask for the assessment of POSSIBLE risks in the future, then I need to know about all risks, not only those that are corroborated by a very broad set of models”….”particularly sensitive to the risk of removing high end risk analysis components because some governments have claimed that these were not “consensus”….(For policy makers) “an extraordinarily dangerous development, since the risk analysis in the end is likely to not cover the full range of risks lying ahead of them.”….

      I do not have time tonight to read all of Donna’s snippits (in fact, right now I am not quite clear as to who wrote what: Donna, IAC or tabloid). However, the concern about moderating or eliminating statements about high risk is disturbing. Since the EU and the UN (and subdivisions) have adopted the Precautionary Principle, a high-end risk of negligible probability and uncertain ancestry is “very likely” to receive high-end publicity. (A bit overstated, but why not, it is late.)

      Sunstein, Cass R. “Throwing precaution to the wind: Why the ‘safe’ choice can be dangerous.” Opinion. boston.com – The Boston Globe, July 13, 2008. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/07/13/throwing_precaution_to_the_wind

      Main point: “Yet the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent. It is of course true that we should take precautions against some speculative dangers. But there are always risks on both sides of a decision; inaction can bring danger, but so can action. Precautions, in other words, themselves create risks – and hence the principle bans what it simultaneously requires.”

      “In the context of climate change, precautions are certainly a good idea. But what kinds of precautions? A high tax on carbon emissions would impose real risks – including increased hardship for people who can least afford it and very possibly increases in unemployment and hence poverty. A sensible climate change policy balances the costs and benefits of emissions reductions. If the policy includes costly (and hence risk-creating) precautions, it is because those precautions are justified by their benefits.

      “The nations of the world should take precautions, certainly. But they should not adopt the precautionary principle.”

      • Pooh, Dixie: Thanks for the Cass Sunstein link.

        He’s a pretty left by my standards, (e.g. his book, “The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution”) and he works in the Obama administration so I was surprised to read this article against the precautionary principle.

      • Pooh, Dixie & huxley –
        Aaron Wildavsky’s 1995 book “But is it True?” has a section (the Conclusion) titled “Rejecting the Precautionary Principle” It makes for interesting reading when played against the last 15 years of GW/CC activity – and the last 50 years of environmental scares, from Silent Spring through Acid Rain and Global Warming. And the concluding paragraph is appropriate –

        The truth value of the environmental-cum-safety issues of our time is exceedingly low. With the exception of CFC’s thinning the ozone layer, the charges are false, mostly false, unproven or negligible. What, in my vision is left of environmentalism? There is respect for nature, for all life. There are the moral questions of human relationships to all creation. What is left out? Only the falsehoods.

        And lately, even the “CFC’s thinning the ozone layer” has come into question.

        Re: Sunstein – he’s not the only liberal/leftist/Democrat/whatever to have a reasonable attitude toward climate change and policy. I know several of them.

  8. In general, I happen to think credentials are over-blown; however, an organization that bases its existence on “expertise” ought to be able to pass the red-face-test that they’ve ephasized the “best and the brightest” over “diversity”.

    Having said all that, the bigger problem with the IPCC is having “world class experts” critiquing their own work.

    The dilemma is how to get a legitimate critical evaluation without putting everything in the hands of the very people who are entrenched (and invested) in the field.

    A good first step is to actually have a system that fosters openness rather than one that is aimed at protecting turf and “framing” a certain point of view.

    • A good first step is to actually have a system that fosters openness rather than one that is aimed at protecting turf and “framing” a certain point of view.

      I would agree. BUT —- EVERY organization, even the smallest, is to some degree aimed at protecting turf and “framing” a certain point of view. And as the organization becomes bigger (if it does), those goals become more and more prominent. It’s called “bureaucracy” and it’s part of the human condition.

      • Yes, indeed

        I’ve observed this at all scales for over 45 years in various workforces

        One of my entrepreneurial CEO’s actually had a rule of thumb on this – when any organisation (that he himself had generated) became larger in management levels than he could directly oversee on a monthly basis, he left and started again someplace else

        I didn’t necessarily like him, but on this I agreed with him … it simply becomes too difficult to instill efficient response to change

    • the bigger problem with the IPCC is having “world class experts” critiquing their own work.

      Not to mention the work of their associates – and that of those who do not concur with the validity of their own conclusions. But that aside …

      One of the “tags” we have used in AccessIPCC is SRC – a “Self Reference Concern” which means that the person is the author (or co-author) of a chapter containing containing citations of his/her own work. While our numbers are still subject to refinement, it is interesting to note that in the 44 Chapters of AR4, one finds 6,279 citations of 3,456 References with the SRC designation.

      YMMV, but to my mind this greatly diminishes the validity of the IPCC’s claim that the ARs provide an “objective” assessment.

  9. Judith:

    The authors of the Charney report were called an “ad hoc study committee.” On page viii in the Foreward, they were described as an “outstanding group of distinguished scientists.”

    That’s fine, but is the idea that these people provided “elite scientific expertise” an appropriate way to describe what they brought to the table? What is an elite scientist anyway?

    Sounds to me a bit like how many bright, capable, hard working professors employed by community colleges are looked down on by their counterparts at universities. It’s a bias that is based on very little fact.

    As for the IPCC reports, what you really need are bright, capable, hard working scientists who can understand the literature and dedicate a lot of time to compile reasonable views of ALL that is known or unknown. Additionally, they should excel in written communication skills.

    It is important to include scientists from underrepresented political divisions, in that the work products from their people may be less known to others (for instance those from the big name institutions).

  10. Michael
    There is a lot of stuff in the IAC comments which do not sit very well with the IPCC at all. I am sure you view the puffball comments about the IPCC in there very favorably. But let us remember that these do more harm to all concerned. The motto should be “sparing in praise, sparing in criticism”. Do not drown the rest of us in your literalism.

  11. The first might be called triage. The scientist at issue isolates those areas of research that are of personal importance, and, within these areas, preserves a reasonable degree of integrity. Outside this protected area, the scientist offers a measure of support to the reigning paradigm ranging from perfunctory assent to enthusiastic campaigning. Frequently, such scientists, when their protected research lends itself to alarming interpretation, allow others to cite and exaggerate such interpretations, while enjoying the rewards associated with the exaggeration, and simultaneously maintaining distance from the interpretation.

    The second might be called opportunism of the weak. Here, scientists whose work would normally be regarded as weak and unimpressive, gain note by molding their results to the needs of the alarmists in the environmental movement. This, normally, might be of little consequence to more productive scientists. However, with the support of the environmental movement, such weak opportunists can gain unwarranted authority. The examples are well known and include the infamous ‘hockey stick,’ as well as the iconic statements of the IPCC.

    The third consists essentially of free riding. Here the emphasis is on what are euphemistically called impacts. The specialties of the scientists involved lie well outside of climate physics, but they can find funding and recognition by attempting to relate their specialty to global warming. Their ‘results’ are to be found in the newspapers every day. Cockroaches and malaria spreading, sex drive of butterflies diminishing, polar bears in potential danger, etc. From the point of view of serious science, this group is mostly a nuisance, but they play a major role in the maintenance of alarm. They also artificially swell the numbers of scientists who endorse the alarmist view.

    -Richard Lindzen

  12. When we have science by United Nations methodology, we get a work product with all the same competence and integrity for which the UN is so well-known.

  13. Judith:

    I wonder if you tend to agree with the things Shub posted (I take it they were written by Dr. Lindzen?):

    “The first might be called triage. The scientist at issue isolates those areas of research that are of personal importance, and, within these areas, preserves a reasonable degree of integrity. Outside this protected area, the scientist offers a measure of support to the reigning paradigm ranging from perfunctory assent to enthusiastic campaigning.”

    And

    “The second might be called opportunism of the weak. Here, scientists whose work would normally be regarded as weak and unimpressive, gain note by molding their results to the needs of the alarmists in the environmental movement.”

    My opinion is that this is likely to be a reasonable assessment. My problem is that if true, how it illustrates that scientific objectivity has been compromised in the process. The thing is, there are soooooo many scientists on the outside (for example MDs) who have no reason to believe that this is the norm. Non scientists have even less to go on and put all their faith in the scientists whom they expect to be truthful.

    With respect to: “The third consists essentially of free riding. Here the emphasis is on what are euphemistically called impacts. The specialties of the scientists involved lie well outside of climate physics, but they can find funding and recognition by attempting to relate their specialty to global warming. …….. Cockroaches and malaria spreading, sex drive of butterflies diminishing, polar bears in potential danger, etc…….. They also artificially swell the numbers of scientists who endorse the alarmist view.”

    This reminds me (and scares me as well) of the many claims being thrown about in the field of public health. Nothing but alarm. Lots of resources wasted chasing issues that were never questioned in the first place. More expert statements of impending doom based on questionable assumptions, but nevertheless, well on their way to the status of common wisdom.

    As for me… my life would be easier if I accepted IPCC consensus. I can’t. I have this trait, (which some over the years have considered a character flaw), I QUESTION EVERYTHING. Many of my questions have not yet been (imo) sufficiently answered.

    • I think any area that is complex and running well controlled conclusive experiments (independent variables are known and controlled) is difficult, costly, or impossible lends its self to abuse and unintentionally misleading results. Health research is similar to climate research in this respect. I believe, however, that you refer to people overstating the significance of the research. I think the difference between health and climate research is most health researchers don’t seem to overstate the significance – the results are misinterpreted and overstated by others with a political interest. This happens in climate research as well, but the researchers seem to be much more active in misinterpreting / overstating the results.

      In the interest of full disclosure, by any standards I personally interpret results very strictly. That is, the base interpretation follows the ” I did these things, analysed it this way, and got this result.” model.

  14. To be clear, that was a quote from Richard Lindzen’s Global Warming – Sensibilities and Science

  15. The “little Argentinian NGO” that published the (in)famous report on 2.4° by 2020 was sponsored by one AR4 WG2 authors, Argentinian scientist Rodolfo Canziani, who was introduced as a “Nobel prize winning” IPCC scientist. Moreover, they were apparently warned about the errors before the actual publication and they insisted on going ahead.
    Argentina has already three legitimate Nobel prizes in science (plus two Peace awards) and does not need this sort of misuse of Nobel distinction.
    But here promoting the “cause” was more sacred than promoting the truth, apparently.

  16. This recession was preceded by decade and a half of good times. In those circumstances, politicians cannot promise the voter that good times will result if they vote for them so they fall back on an older strategy; they promise to save the voter from something. Anything will do really as long as it is of concern to the voter.

    Global Warming fitted the bill quite nicely. As the scary scenarios came out, the politicians took note of the Alarmists, who then obligingly produced even scarier ones. A feedback loop. The Alarmists got lots of money for research and the politicians pick up lots of votes. The amount of first rate scientists producing the IPCC reports declined but the amount of propagandists increased.

    The recession put paid to that particular strategy. The voter has real concerns now and they centre about basics; jobs and money. The politicians have adjusted their selling strategy in response. Add in the decline in the credibility of science due to Climategate et al, and you can see why the politicians have already jumped off the bandwagon. The climate power brokers were always the politicians and the scientists were always just their means to power.

    Pointman

    • Pointman,

      Who pays for the scientific research?
      Government and politicians through grants.

      • Latimer Alder

        Joe

        Spectacular fail!!!

        Taxpayers pay for the ‘research’. Governments and polticians merely direct the flow of funds. It is taxpayer’s money. Governments do not have any money.

      • Latimer,
        You are wrong!!!
        Taxpayers pay the government. Not the ‘research’.
        ;-)

  17. I think it’s an interesting point and there’s a catch 22 that’s been in-built into the IPCC process.

    There’s a group of ‘experts’ who are not only involved in the research, but then review said research and THEN give the subsequent presentation of said research to the politicians/govs.

    The term ‘Conflict of interest’ doesn’t even come close, though i’m not sure what alternatives there are (within the IPCC framework- ditch the IPCC and then we can get somewhere).

    The IPCC was clearly set out to find and define an anthropogenic signal for cAGW- not to examine it, to research it, but to find it. That it has attracted those who are invested in the field is not suprising (note- i’m not suggesting duplicity here, only stating ‘cold’ how i see things). Further, it is not suprising that the experts in this field have been called on to review this work.

    Unfortunatley the field is so ‘young’ and the ‘experts’ so rare that it is probably impossible to get an expert reviewer who has not contributed heavily to the work being submitted and this, intentional or not, is a HUGE conflict of interest. To put this in context, in industry a person who performs the work is NEVER allowed to review it (even if it requires outsourcing).

    As has been mentioned above, getting more non-OECD scientists involved will help, a little, but if the ‘experts’ are still over seeing the whole body, nothing significant will change.

    So what can we do?

    Well, if we’re interested in the science, the IPCC must go. It’s too politically contaminated to be of use. Then, we need a NEW body to be set up (assuming we’re still concerned about cAGW), but i would suggest that it be set up in the model of an industry-review board, rather than an intergovernmental panel.

    -the board would have ‘expert’ scientists, but from all fields- biologists, chemists, physicists and Statasticians. There would also be QC/QA people involved.

    -The board would then be responsible for auditing all the submitted work and then compiling a ‘study report’ on the subject at the end.

    Or we could keep the IPCC and be gauranteed that the science will just point to increasingly dire predictions.

    • Latimer Alder

      @Labmunkey

      You are assuming that we actually need some sort of body to provide an ‘IPCC-like’ function, reformed or not.

      But why? We’ve collectively invested 30 years in this endeavour…with plenty of money and resources and possibly an occasional smattering of talent and ability. And the results have been no more remarkable than Arrhenius could have done with squared paper and a ruler way back in 1906.

      It’s probably getting a bit warmer. Bears are still defecating in the woods, the Pope remains stubbornly Roman Catholic and when its not raining it’ll be dry. People whose sole purpose of employment is to find traces of Anthropogenic Warming have a consensus that it exists (hold the front page!). And PS – computer models are pretty lousy at predictions – especially about the future.

      And that is the nett addition to our knowledge about climate after all the huffing and puffing. Years back people made similar efforts to study spiritualism. Or UFOs. Or whatever the ‘scare du jour’ was. Until their years of effort proved fruitless and it all just died away to well-earned crankology.

      So before we consider reforming the IPCC, let’s first ask the question whether it’s needed at all….or indeed whether all this effort at Climatology is needed at all….especially not at public expense.

      In the times of economic austerity, do we really need all (or any) of these ‘scientists’? What would be lost if we stopped funding the whole field at noon today?

    • Hey, howabout we get people who know nothing about science to review the science – surely that’s a recipe for success!

      • You mean politicians?

      • Latimer Alder

        Sure.

        We could also let the Chief Accountant of Enron audit the Enron accounts and sign them off as true and fair records…….Or rely completely on a tax return done by Al Capone under self-assessment.

        And I just love those self-marked examinations where (as if by magic) the proportion of A grades approaches 100%.

        Pal-review has been shown to be a very weak link in the ‘science’ of climatology. What it needs to fix it is *not* more pal-review.

      • Yep, we need no-effing-idea review. Much better.

      • Latimer Alder

        Try the words ‘independent’ or ‘without a vested interest’ or ‘external’. ‘Checks and balances’ sound good to me as well.

        These ideas seem to work well enough in just about every other sphere of life. So well that the law requires them in many. Do you have any good reason why Climatology should be excluded from these tried and tested practices?

      • So all science should be reviewed by people with no expertise in that area of science?

        Brilliant.

      • The idea of independent external review works pretty well in many other fields.

        Just to name a few: justice, accountancy, safety cases, aircraft safety, pharma, legislation……….

        It is not a good idea to let practitioners review their own work. Anywhere. However ‘expert’ they are.

        Some of the difficulties that you get if they do are ‘groupthink’, confirmation bias, old boys networking, wood for trees problems, team playing and plain old fashioned dishonesty.

        If you can prove that climatology (unique among all other aspects of human endeavour) is immune from these, and you might have a case. It should be a very interesting submission.

      • The teams working on the reports are just that – teams.

        The science is not being reviewed in the IPCC process, that happens formerly in the journals andacademia in general. The IPCC is about bringing together a summary of the work to get the best approximation of our current understanding.

        Using non-experts to do that is about as good as an idea as running the titanic at full speed into an iceberg.

      • That was done by experts, wasn’t it?

      • Latimer Alder

        Do you have any actual reason to say that

        ‘Using non-experts to do that is about as good as an idea as running the titanic at full speed into an iceberg.’

        because so far all your argument has said is ‘leave it to the experts’, without any justification for doing so whatsoever.

        It is faintly possible that there are good reasons why self-certification and review is appropriate for Climatology, (but not for many many other fields). But you have not, so far, articulated any of them.

      • Latimer/michael, i think you’ve both misunderstood what i was trying to say (or it appears that way from your posts).

        I’m saying IF we feel the need to have a body to replace the IPCC (insofar as to review the body of work relating to cAGW) then we sould remove the onus of the review from those who contribute the material to said review.

        I.e. anyone who contributes to the work is automatically excluded from reviewing it- an industry standard technique.

        As for who can review the work? Practically ANY scientist with suitable experience in data handling, experimental design and project reviews will be qualified to perform the task. Saying ‘only climate scientists’ can understand their work is utter rubbish.

        To that end we’d have some:
        -Physicists (as the cAGW theory depends on physics),
        -Chemists ( as the cAGW theory depends on chemical states/interactions)
        -Biologists (to assess any data that affects flora and fauna)
        -and Stasticians (as the cAGW theory depends HEAVILY on statistics, so to not include them is idiocy).

        You would then have a chair with an overall QA/QC role.

        It’s not very difficult.

      • Latimer Alder

        I don;t disagree with any of your proposals. They seem to make great sense to me.

        But, I guess that if adopted, the reputational carnage would be extreme. Letting scientists from ‘hard sciences’ loose on Climatology would probably fall under ‘cruel and unusual’ in the US Constitution.

        My wider point was just to wonder why we need bother at all. Just stop the money and they will all just fade away ‘au naturel’. Might take a few years to wind up any pre-existing contracts, but within a decade we’d be free of it all.

        And it seems like this is an idea whose time is coming. US politicians are already on the case:

        http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2011/01/20/house-republican-group-proposes-to-kill-ipcc-funding/

      • Unfortunately it is not that easy. I am pretty certain that my qualifications would satisfy your requirements and that I know more about these areas than most scientists who pass your requirements. Still I do definitely not have enough knowledge on many essential issues to make proper judgment on most of the better papers. I might succeed in indicating real weaknesses in the worst papers, but that is not the point. The point is in being capable to make judgments about papers that are not obviously bad.

        The science is not that easy. It takes years for the best to reach high professional level that is needed to evaluate the important issues. Science is not only or mostly about following well defined rules but it is breaking new ground, which often means that the rules cannot be followed in a formally strict way. It is a complete misrepresentation of science to think that good science could be identified through some general procedures that any competent scientist could apply to fields that he does not know deeply.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “It takes years for the best to reach high professional level that is needed to evaluate the important issues. ”

        Pekka

        But that’s often not the case at the IPCC. Please see these threads (and others) from Donna regarding youthful and/or inexperienced under-qualified authors of IPCC reports.

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/the-new-graduate-who-served-as-ipcc-lead-author/

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/lead-author-lacked-a-masters-degree/

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/an-even-younger-senior-author/

    • Harold H Doiron

      Labmunkey,

      I strongly agree with your suggestion: “but i would suggest that it be set up in the model of an industry-review board, rather than an intergovernmental panel.
      -the board would have ‘expert’ scientists, but from all fields- biologists, chemists, physicists and Statasticians. There would also be QC/QA people involved.”

      I too, have been calling for an objective, independent review of the validation status of climate change models, the predictions of which are being used to make decisions with extremely costly impacts to our economy and quality of life….all the while with much uncertainty regarding whether the cost will have any significant effect at all, especially if we act unilaterally to control CO2 emissions and China and India do not participate in the same “tough medicine”. Controlling CO2 emissions unilaterally with the attendant cost to US citizens on the basis of such flimsy evidence and “scientific hunches” seems absurd to almost every engineer I speak to about this subject.

      We are not climate change experts, but we have a proven track record of analyzing and solving difficult problems and we know a thing or two about accurate computer simulations and the many pitfalls that accompany them.

      Throughout my NASA career, especially during the Apollo Program design, development, and landing site selection; and after the Shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents; review boards with independent outside members, as you suggest, were frequently convened with useful results.

      Richard Feynman was not a Shuttle or even rocket expert, but his broad scientific knowledge, superior intellect, and general scientific investigation and problem solving skills, served him well in leading the outside and independent investigation board for the Challenger accident. Sometimes, the experts get so close to the forest, they can’t see the trees. Clearly this happened to expert NASA leaders and engineers in both the Challenger and Columbia accidents.

      I think the climate change research community needs to be more accountable for accuracy in their work and to better police what others with power to act are willing to do with their work products that may not be ready for prime time. I believe this accountability can only come from an independent review like NASA regularly conducts for all of its significant space programs, as well as after major accidents and mission failures.

      Burt Rutan is not a climate change expert, but he is a brilliant and accomplished aerospace engineer who I would like to see on an independent climate change review board. I have come to observe from Dr. Curry’s Climate, Etc. forum that practicing engineers’ with “skin in the game” have thought processes and approaches to problems significantly different than climate change scientists and academics, in general. When public safety and consequences of model errors are at stake, I believe we need some accomplished engineers on the review board you recommend with broad discipline expertise.

      To see how an engineer thinks about CAGW, I recommend Burt Rutan’s briefing on the subject at:

      http://rps3.com/Files/AGW/EngrCritique.AGW-Science.v4.pdf

      He may not be perfectly correct in his assessment of CAGW, as others in this forum have suggested to me, but he has an amazing track record (including world records) of success on difficult problems and I would like to see the CAGW alarmists battle wits with him in an independent review.

      • YAY! another tipping point paper with little data to back itself up!!!

        Ahem. Sorry Louise- long week.

        I barely know where to begin with that paper. There’s a lot of correlation must mean causation going on in it and there are a number of quite large- in-built assumptions at play.

      • I also love the ‘referencing yourself’ to prove your argument in the first paragraph.

        What i’m saying is true, look i can provide the reference to prove it (puts hat on)- yes what he’s saying is true (takes hat off), see!

        Did i mention that it has been a long week? Validation takes a LOT of work lol

  18. Clearly one only has to look at the totally rejected efford by Dr Vincent Gray of New Zealand ( hardly an indusdrialize nation) as a revuewer if all 4 IPCC reports. The last report he supmitted over 18% of all the comments and has published the original dratfts and how they were word smithed by the politbureau and generally his comments waere trashed, but it ids worth a read

  19. I’d have more confidence in the IPCC if it acknowledged the skeptic views a bit more readily and was less driven by the Greenpeace/Fiends of the Earth agenda and their Spin Doctors.

    As it stands at present, if the IPCC declared that the sun was shining, I’d go outside and check!

    • You’d probably get whacked with hail stones and rendered senseless.
      Then an agreement would be stuck under your nose to sign. :-)

    • The Gray Monk: If one reads pro-climate change advocates, one finds repeated assertions that the IPCC reports lend too much credence to the skeptic point of view and consequently downplay their conclusions.

      If both sides claim that the IPCC is spinning its work — in opposite directions — it makes me question the firmness of the science on which the IPCC reports are based.

    • The IPCC process and report format isn’t designed to acknowledge skeptics. I wouldn’t expect any scientific report to acknowledge skeptics – I would expect a thorough treatment of all possible interpretations / causal structures / etc.

  20. I’ve read through a number of the comments and if I were to reach any conclusion it would be that, surprise surprise, the IPCC has both strengths and weaknesses in the way it operates (although people differ in their opinions of what those are) and there is room for improvement in some areas.

    I would also conclude that, whatever the IPCC’s faults, those questioned take its role and their part in it seriously and want to produce reports which properly represent the current state of the science of climate change, which is why they make criticisms and suggestions for improvements and don’t just say “everything is fine”.

    There is certainly nothing in there which would lead me to have any serious doubts about the integrity of the previous reports, much less to suport the view voiced by Latimer Adler above that the IPCC represents a “jobs for the boys boondoggle” (anyway, don’t you have to get paid for it to be a job?). There are odd mentions of government meddling, which is hardly surprising (and they don’t mention in which direction) but I did not see any evidence that the scientific objectives are being seriously compromised in order to further a particular political agenda.

    I don’t doubt though that this process should lead to improvements in the way the IPCC operates and in the quality of future reports. But for now we should wait until the comments have been properly reviewed and some concrete proposals have been made. To cherry-pick particular quotes to try to portray the IPCC as fundamentally flawed (or indeed without flaws) as Laframboise has done is not only premature and not particularly honest but can only damage this and future attempts to improve the IPCC.

    • Latimer Alder

      Andrew is right of course. ‘Jobs for the boys boondoggle’ is not a correct description.

      ‘Jobs for the favoured boys who know what to say politically and won’t embarrass anybody important in the field but who need a few good sounding lines on their CV/resume boondoggle’ would be much more accurate.

      An open appointment process would guarantee transparency and show the legitimacy of the process. But see https://judithcurry.com/2011/01/20/politics-of-climate-expertise-part-iv/#comment-33272
      Yet again, the climatologists choose secrecy in their dealings and damage their credibility yet further.

      And no – ‘jobs for the boys’ is a common expression and doesn’t necessarily imply a financial reward.

      • Latimer,

        There may well be case for a more transparent appointment process, I think I read some comments to that effect. That’s the whole point of this exercise – to identify and address flaws in the IPCC process, so I don’t see how it supports your statement that

        Surely ‘proper scientists’ would go about things in a way that reinforced the public’s trust in them…by showing integrity and rigour in all their dealings.
        Instead, nearly everywhere one looks, the alarmists seem to have a death wish. In all their actions, their behaviour seems to be calculated to do the maximum damage to their credibility and reputations. Where the choice could be for honesty and transparency, they opt for concealment and dodgy behaviour. Where they could demonstrate dignity and detachment they choose snark and ‘knife fighting’.

      • Latimer Alder

        The IPCC has issued four reports spread over twenty odd years. In all that time they have not yet chosen the way of transparency and honesty although it was a course perfectly open to them at any stage.

        That they may be having a late change of heart (although we have seen no concrete actions to that effect) does not change the fact that for all of their existence so far, they have chosen concealment and dodgy behaviour.

        My case is well supported.

      • So support it with some evidence – both that it is guilty of “dodgy behaviour” and that this has seriously compromised the integrity of its reports.

      • Latimer Alder

        Concealment of the process by which their ‘lead authors’ are chosen, for example. For dodgy behaviour, you need look no further than Montford’s book re submission deadlines.

    • Andrew,
      IPCC does have an agenda of wanting more power and money.
      In the last three months, the weather has drastically changed that has brought the whole credibilty of climate science into question due to the AGW propaganda machine.
      A great deal of planetary physical changes were fluffed off to AGW without a glance to see the actual cause. Now the physical changes have changed the weather patterns and has generated an incredible amount of water vapour generation and record breaking cold temperatures.

      • Joe,

        I wouldn’t dispute that we have seen some quite extreme weather in recent months – cold in the UK and Europe , warm in Greenland and Canada, floods in Australia.
        What I don’t get is how this somehow disproves AGW or climate science in general.

      • Andrew,

        Climate science is based on strictly tempertures and models which are looking for that equation to tie them together for a pattern. Then generating a prediction.
        What was missed was a great deal of physical changes not looked into as AGW was the culprit and no amount of asking or questioning would look into what was already blamed on AGW.

        I became involved 5 years ago looking at something totally different which was the density of ocean water to fresh water to hydro power.
        I came across the surface salt changes in the ocean that made absolutely no sense as being an AGW event as the oceans would have had to evaporate massively for this to occur. Also what was the changes for? This made me do a great deal of research into isotopes, Ice Ages, atmospheric pressures,density, plus I was already looking at the mechanics of planetary rotation.
        While everyone(scientists) would not listen and hunted for the missing ocean current heat.

      • andrew adams: Joe can answer on his own of course, but I would note that the onus is on AGW to be proved, not disproved.

        The weather now and for the past decade is not what AGW folks told us we would see and that, as much as economic concerns, Climategate etc., has put the kibosh on AGW’s credibility.

        If the weather goes sideways like this for another ten, twenty years, that may not technically disprove AGW either, but it will make it very hard for people outside climate science to take it seriously.

      • Huxley,

        Joe can answer on his own of course, but I would note that the onus is on AGW to be proved, not disproved.

        You and Joe made a specific claim – that recent weather events disproved AGW. It’s up to you to support that claim by showing where the contradiction is.

        The weather now and for the past decade is not what AGW folks told us we would see and that, as much as economic concerns,

        Well the floods in Pakistan and Australia and the heatwave in Russia are exactly the kind of thing the AGW folks have been saying would happen.

        If the weather goes sideways like this for another ten, twenty years, that may not technically disprove AGW either, but it will make it very hard for people outside climate science to take it seriously.

        But weather patterns are predicted to change – if they stayed broadly the same then that would cast doubt on the predictions of the AGWers.

      • Andrew,

        Climate science perception is strictly temperatures.
        Currently climatologist are alarmed and very much shocked at the current drop in global temperature and how fast they are dropping. They are seeing weather pattern never seen before.
        The ocean heat itself has shifted to the Arctic which average temperature could not possibly pick up is it’s movement.
        This changes the whole dynamics in the evaporation pattern.

    • I think the IPCC is being portrayed as fundamentally flawed because it is fundamentally flawed. The intermediate step of a critical analysis of the literature was never done, and wasn’t conceived to be part of the process. Just to be clear, doing a review by experts and forming an opinion is not a critical analysis / assessment. If I were to propose a $2.5B research project in industry with the contractual deliverables being the output of all of the climate scientists to date, I’d be skewered. Too much money for too many questionable results. Really, there are too many methodological problems even with just the IPCC report to cover it well in a few paragraphs.

  21. The IAC solicited views from experts who have participated in the IPCC process. Most experts used the opportunity to reflect on their personal recollection of the day-by-day IPCC process. This phenomenon is well understood as a source of bias in public surveys.

    Given the rationale behind the setting up of the IAC review, long range views and a critique of the IPCC’s processes, the experts’ first-hand involvement was what was sought. Many experts, instead, submitted first-hand accounts of their own experience. This is valuable, but does not answer the IAC’s questions.

    Let us say you ask a long-term traveler of his experiences. The long-term traveler is a head of state who flies first class always, who is probably using air-time to get lots of work done or catch up on naps. If he says things like: “In my experience, flying has always been pretty uneventful. The air hostesses were good and I could get lots of work done” – will that be representative of process and quality of air-travel, from a general perspective or as a critique of process? The answer would have to be no. Many of the expert comments in the IAC review comments fall in this category.

    The IAC review comments are very valuable, but you need to read carefully. A lot more will come from it in time.

  22. As one ages one generally looses confidence in politicians and public administrators, especially those at the top of the bigger totem poles. We the Old (of the Western World) have been and, to some extent, still are acting like a bunch of teeny bopper girls at a Beetles concert. Every time the IPCC or some UN agency comes out with a ‘special report’ No.10, the WH, and Tokyo, etc., are all goooo goooo and gaaaaa gaaaaa and trying to sell everyone on the genius of it, and how we must change every light bulb and not flush the toilet but once a day and need to buy worthless solar panels. As we Boomers phase into retirement and go on social security for all we can get the last few years of our life, let us occasionally pause and consider the sins we have committed, and still are committing. We have passed a real mess to our children and grandchildren. If our sainted parents were the Greatest Generation, we were the Worst Generation by far. From Woodstock to Cancun we have left our mark. I guess at this point all we should do is nothing, which would be a nice change too. But it would be nice, if on election days, we would think of the kids a little. The UN is a worthless joke, a dream whose day is far in the future! The League of Nations ended in WWII, no doubt the UN will give us and/or the kids WWIII. I guess one really has to blame the Yanks for all this crap, they were on top of the World, King of the Mountain, for most of our lives. Oh well! Life goes on, or so we can hope. People really can live their entire life and not know how stupid they were.

    • Pascvaks,
      I hear ya!!!

      Our area has so many self made restrictions and made industry run away and not look back. Then wonder why they cannot attract industry.
      Many stupid things.

  23. I’ve sampled the first 200 pages of the document and was struck by the wide variety of opinions expressed. This creates a wonderful opportunity for cherry picking. Don’t rely on someone else’s characterization of the comments shape your opinion. Nevertheless, I offer some impressions.

    WG1 seems to generally get good marks. I suspect it deserves them. The talent pool that worked on that section was less affected by gender diversity and national representation considerations.

    The major problems seem to be with WG2. The level of expertise appears to be deplorably low and the political influence of rent-seeking Third World regimes too high. The dog’s breakfast of junk science found in the WG2 report is in that regard not surprising.

    If you have an interest in the report and the time to examine it in its entirety I suggest that you read it all.

    • AKA the Law of Deminishing Returns. People are, after all, only human. The shame of it is that we “KNOW” this about ourselves, and yet we consistantly do it. Over and over and over agian, in everything (especially in the political arena). In a Three Stooges Movie it’s funny! In life, in the ‘real world’, it’s pathetic. We never learn.

  24. Thank you, Professor Curry, for the blog, Donna Laframboise, for taking the time to study and comment on the report by the IAC committee, and others (Hilary Ostrov and Shub Nigguraths) for locating the report.

    Not only did “IPCC Nobel Laureates Lack Scientific Credibility,” for several decades government bureaucrats eliminated credible scientists in favor of incredible ones who would follow the instructions that they received with the grant funds.

    Hard experimental data were ignored.

    As Harold notes (8:01 am) “even hard science areas like nanotechnology show signs of PT Barnum at work.”

    The success in steering space sciences away from an understanding of Earth’s heat source will be documented in a new paper to appear in The APEIRON Journal:

    http://db.tt/9SrfTiZ

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  25. JC:

    The short answer to your question is yes. The long answer happens to be one of the reasons why I post to blogs anonymously.

    As for the rest, I’d say you don’t necessarily have to be an outsider to be excluded from the water tight box, however, not all university types have a closed lid. Some truly do put science first and foremost. Judith might be one of them.

  26. The Nobel Peace prize is awarded for political achievement and unlike the Nobel Physics and Chemistry prizes has nothing to do with scientific advance. As such it seems a wholly appropriate recognition of the IPCC’s and Al Gore’s achievement in politicising a whole field of science. What’s the problem?

    • When so ‘recognized’ they become ‘The Blessed’. It’s like throwing gasoline on a campfire, you end up with a forest fire. It’s stupid!

  27. Thanks for the info. The data is very good. To begin a serious study.