8/05/2012

Why I Don’t Trust the IPCC for Climate Science


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission:

"to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects."

Note carefully that the mission of the IPCC clearly states "climate change caused by human activity" as a foregone conclusion - before it even begins to do any scientific research!

The chief characteristic which distinguishes a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.

Journalists are among the IPCC's most ardent admirers. They say that it’s “Climate Bible” is written by thousands of the world's top experts who all agree with its conclusions. They routinely use words such as gold standard, authoritative, and pre-eminent to describe it. Indeed, when discussing the IPCC the media sound more like cheerleaders than hard-nosed reporters:
the IPCC...has shown us the way (Time magazine)
It is chapter and verse, it is Holy Writ (Irish Independent)
most scientists have been awed by the IPCC's deliberate work (New York Times)
The greatest feat of global scientific cooperation ever seen...utterly unique and authoritative (UK Guardian)

Let us be sensible for a moment. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. During that time it has endured all sorts of perfectly natural climate transformations. As recently as 20,000 years ago 97% of Canada was covered by ice. This ice melted and the Ice Age went away by itself.

It is claimed repeatedly that the "IPCC engages thousands of the world's best experts."

But such claims are bogus. For starters, some of the world's most experienced experts have been left out in the cold. In 2005 an atmospheric science professor from Colorado State University named William Gray told a US Senate Committee:

“Despite my 50 years of meteorology experience and my many years of involvement in seasonal hurricane and climate prediction, I have never been asked for input on any of the [IPCC] reports.”

The reason he wasn't invited to the party, he says, is because he doesn't think global warming causes more (or stronger) hurricanes. "They know my views and do not wish to have to deal with them."

You can find numerous examples of this kind of "cherry picking" at the IPCC. This suggests the IPCC defines top scientists and best experts differently than do most of us.

In early 2010 the InterAcademy Council, an organization comprised of science bodies from around the world, took an historic step. It established a committee whose purpose was to investigate IPCC policies and procedures.

The collected answers to the questionnaire total 678 pages. As early as page 16, someone complains that: "some of the lead authors...are clearly not qualified to be lead authors."
Here are other direct quotes:
There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful.
This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter...we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.
(p. 138)
The whole process...[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific. (p. 554)
…half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world. (p. 296)

According to the IAC report, IPCC assessments are intended to rely mainly on peer-reviewed literature. An analysis of the 14,000 references cited in the Third Assessment Report found that peer-reviewed journal articles comprised 84 percent of references in Working Group I, but comprised only 59 percent of references in Working Group II and 36 percent of references in Working Group III.
 
The current IPCC procedure requires authors to critically assess unpub­lished or non-peer-reviewed sources, reviewing their quality and validity before incorporating them (Appendix D).Non-peer-reviewed sources are to be listed in the reference sections of IPCC reports, followed by a statement that they are not peer-reviewed.

it is clear that these procedures are not always followed. A search through the Working Group reports of the fourth assessment found few instances of information flagged as unpublished or non-peer-reviewed. Blogs, newspaper articles, press releases, advocacy group reports, and proprietary data were thought by many to be inappro­priate.

The infamously wrong IPCC Fourth Assessment prediction in 2007 that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 or sooner was based on a World Wildlife Fund report that was based on a 1999 article in New Scientist that, in turn, was based on unfounded speculation in an email from an Indian professor! This is not good climate science. It is politically motivated JUNK SCIENCE PROPAGANDA.

However, the IAC report did not pick up what, to me, is the clearest indication that IPCC is a con game:

Instead of first determining WHETHER there is genuine warming ARISING FROM causes about which man has some control, it PREDETERMINES its structures and conclusions, thus (from p.6 of IAC's report):

Working Group I assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change, including attribution of past change and projections of future change.
Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
Working Group III assesses policy and technology options for mitigating climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] through, for example, limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere.

IPCC has, in this manner, PREDETERMINED IN ADVANCE that there IS a MAN-MADE problem worth studying. Once again, this is not how real science works.

Journalists say we should trust the IPCC's conclusions because its reports have been written by the world's finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors.

The improper relationship between activists and the IPCC is illustrated by a 2007 Greenpeace publication. The foreword to that document was written by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. At the end of his remarks, beside his photograph, he is identified not as a private individual expressing private opinions but as the chairman of the IPCC. The following year Pachauri wrote another foreword for another Greenpeace publication. Think about this for a moment. The IPCC's role is similar to that of a trial judge. It examines the scientific evidence and decides whether or not human-produced carbon dioxide is guilty of triggering climate change. How much faith would you have in the impartiality of a murder trial if the judge was hearing evidence during the day and partying with the prosecution team during the evening?

Climate modelers also write other IPCC report sections – including the crucial attribution chapter. For the IPCC's 2007 report, the two most senior authors of that chapter – Gabriele Hegerl and Francis Zwiers – were both climate modelers. They based their decision on what they believe their models reveal. [footnote 7-2] But the computer models are flawed. The IPCC may claim that the world's top scientific minds and climate modelers are one and the same. But I think that's a stretch. In July 2007, five IPCC authors wrote an article for Scientific American in which they equated climate models with a fortune-teller's crystal ball. On the one hand, they declared it a certainty that people, plants, and animals would all be living with the consequences of human-induced climate change "for at least the next thousand years." On the other, they said: Unfortunately, the crystal ball provided by our climate models becomes cloudier for predictions out beyond a century or so. Each of us has to make up our own mind regarding whom to trust and what to believe. But when I became a grownup, I stopped believing in crystal balls.

If the IPCC followed proper scientific principles and wasn’t a politically motivated arm of the United Nations, I’d have a lot more faith in their reports. Unfortunately, that is not the case.