Category — IPCC errors
Conflict Resolution in Climate Science: Should the IPCC Be Disbanded? (Some thoughts from an outsider)
Editor Note: This paper was prepared for the “Reconciliation in the Climate Change Debate” workshop held by the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, European Commission in Lisbon, Portugal (January 26—28, 2011).
I am an “outsider” to the field of climatology in two respects: by professional training I am an economist, and as regards my research I am in dispute with proponents of some elements of what is commonly called the “consensus” scientific position.1
With regards to my economics background, I note that economists routinely undertake scientific research on matters of acute political controversy, yet the field remains generally congenial and productive; whereas the policy controversies connected to climate research have resulted in seriously disrupted and damaged collegiality in climatology. Why the difference between the two fields? I suggest attention be paid to two reasons: the habit on the part of climate and meteorological societies to issue “expert statements” on behalf of members, and the role of the IPCC.
The Key to Intellectual Freedom in Economics: No Society Statements
I am a member of the American Economic Association (AEA) and the Canadian Economic Association (CEA). The AEA Constitution commits it to (emphasis added):
The encouragement of perfect freedom of economic discussion. The Association as such will take no partisan attitude, nor will it commit its members to any position on practical economic questions.
Likewise the CEA constitution forbids issuing statements:
The Association has for its object the advancement of economic knowledge through the encouragement of study and research… and the furtherance of free and informed discussion of economic questions. The Association as such will not assume a partisan position upon any question of practical politics nor commit its members to any position thereupon.
Economists believe that freedom of discussion requires a prohibition on our major societies issuing position statements. There is wisdom in this! Individual experts can speak for themselves if they desire. Official “society” statements put words in peoples’ mouths, imposing groupthink and conformity and fostering bitterness on the part of those who find themselves with no voice. They silence and marginalize members who disagree with some or all of the statement, demoting them to second-class citizens in their own profession, regardless of their numbers or credibility as scientists. [Read more →]
February 23, 2011 9 Comments
In a MasterResource article a few months back, I walked everyone through a series of recent scientific findings and described how they cast new light on how the total amount of observed global warming to date could be divvied upon among various causes. I ultimately concluded that the high confidence that the IPCC (and later echoed by the EPA) placed on the statement that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” was misplaced.
This line of reasoning was recently incorporated into statements made by Dr. Patrick Michaels when testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
During the questions and answers portion of the hearing, one of the other panelists, Dr. Benjamin Santer, quickly objected and claimed that Pat was “wrong” because he didn’t take into account the cooling influence of aerosols when determining how much observed warming should be assigned to greenhouse gases.
A day or so following the testimony, Judith Curry hosted a discussion on her blog site Climate Etc. to further examine Michaels’ logic. In her remarks introducing the thread, she too suggested that Pat was “obliged” to include sulfates in the calculation. When I stepped in to offer additional explanation, RealClimate’s Gavin Schmidt commented that he hoped I was “kidding,” and John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M commented that my explanation was “nonsense.”
So with all these erudite folks claiming that Pat Michaels and I are wrong, I figured I ought to take another look into the logic behind our conclusions.
First let’s get a couple of things out of the way up front. The argument about whether or not the inclusion of sulfates is required to arrive at a logically correct conclusion has nothing whatsoever to do with the veracity and/or applicability of the scientific papers from which I’ve drawn some numbers (see my earlier post for details about these findings). I am not suggesting that there isn’t plenty of room to argue that aspect of things, just that such a discussion does not impinge on the discussion of our logic. So I’ll set aside discussion of those issues in order to focus on the topic at hand. [Read more →]
December 15, 2010 9 Comments
In May 2010, the InterAcademy Council (IAC) was selected to “conduct an independent review of the IPCC processes and the procedures by which it prepares its assessments of climate change.” In June, economist David (P. D.) Henderson shared with MasterResource his rather critical comments submitted to the IAC which centered around the IPCC’s lax adherence to their own set of governing principles. In this article, we highlight several other submissions to the IAC that Dr. Henderson thought MasterResource readers may find particularly interesting.
Additionally, we offer a compilation of all other IAC submissions that we could find scattered across the web—a service that the IAC does not itself provide.
The IAC bills itself as “a multinational organization of science academies created to produce reports on scientific, technological, and health issues related to the great global challenges of our time, providing knowledge and advice to national governments and international organizations” and as such has been asked by the United Nations to:
[E]stablish a Committee of experts from relevant fields to conduct the review and to present recommendations on possible revisions of IPCC processes and procedures. In particular the IAC Committee of experts is asked to recommend measures and actions to strengthen the IPCC’s processes and procedures so as to be better able to respond to future challenges and ensure the ongoing quality of its reports.
Such a review has been welcomed by all quarters—and is especially relevant considering the revelations of the apparent shortcomings of IPCC procedures that have been revealed both directly from the contents of the Climategate emails as well as the increased scrutiny it has received as a result of the Climategate revelations. [Read more →]
August 3, 2010 4 Comments
Reforming a Flawed Process: The IPCC and Its Clients (submission to the InterAcademy Council Review)
[Editor note: David (P. D.) Henderson, formerly head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD, is currently Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is headed by Nigel (Lord) Lawson). This is his first post at MasterResource.]
Over the past 22 years, governments everywhere and a great many outside observers have put their trust in the official expert advisory process as a whole and the IPCC process in particular.
I have come to believe that this widespread trust is unwarranted. But it is not just the IPCC process that is in question here. The basic problem of unwarranted trust goes further: it extends to the chronically biased treatment of climate change issues by responsible departments and agencies which the Panel reports to, and in nationally-based organizations which they finance.
Here is what I recently submitted to the InterAcademy Council.
I am Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. On 26 May the InterAcademy Council invited the Foundation to submit written comments to the independent Review Committee. At the suggestion of the Director of the Foundation, Dr Benny Peiser, I am submitting herewith my own comments. While this submission is personal, it has been endorsed by the GWPF.
I am an economist, not a climate scientist. I became involved with climate change issues, by accident not design, towards the end of 2002. Up to that time, I had formed no considered views on the subject, and had seen no reason to question the work and role of the IPCC. I was an uninvolved spectator.
To begin with, my main involvement was limited to some economic and statistical aspects of this huge and complex array of topics. Over time, however, my interests and concerns have broadened in ways that I had neither planned nor anticipated. Increasingly, and unexpectedly, I have become critical of the way in which issues of climate change have been viewed and treated by governments across the world. [Read more →]
June 16, 2010 6 Comments
Another error in the influential reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports has been identified. This one concerns the rate of expansion of sea ice around Antarctica.
While not an issue for estimates of future sea level rise (sea ice is floating ice which does not influence sea level), a significant expansion of Antarctic sea ice runs counter to climate model projections. As the errors in the climate change “assessment” reports from the IPCC mount, its aura of scientific authority erodes, and with it, the justification for using their findings to underpin national and international efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Some climate scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC Working Group II’s (WGII’s) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, prefering instead the stronger hard science in the Working Group I (WGI) Report—The Physical Science Basis. Some folks have even gone as far as saying that no errors have been found in the WGI Report and the process in creating it was exemplary.
Such folks are in denial.
As I document below, WGI did a poor job in regard to Antarctic sea ice trends. Somehow, the IPCC specialists assessed away a plethora of evidence showing that the sea ice around Antarctica has been significantly increasing—a behavior that runs counter to climate model projections of sea ice declines—and instead documented only a slight, statistically insignificant rise.
How did this happen? The evidence suggests that IPCC authors were either being territorial in defending and promoting their own work in lieu of other equally legitimate (and ultimately more correct) findings, were being guided by IPCC brass to produce a specific IPCC point-of-view, or both.
The handling of Antarctic sea ice is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident in the IPCC reports, but is simply one of many examples in which portions of the peer-reviewed scientific literature were cast aside, or ignored, so that a particular point of view—the preconceived IPCC point of view—could be either maintained or forwarded.
The problems with the IPCC’s handling of the trends in Antarctic sea ice was first uncovered and presented a week or two ago in an article posted over at the World Climate Report—another blog with which I have been involved with for a long time. [Read more →]
March 8, 2010 23 Comments