IPCC: Fix it or fold it, McKitrick says

Prof. Ross McKitrick has just released, under the auspices of Global Warming Policy Foundation, what I would consider an excellent “companion” report to Donna Laframboise’s exposé of the IPCC, The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert.

Entitled What Is Wrong With The IPCC? Proposals for a Radical Reform, it is very timely, particularly in light of today’s release of a further batch of the Climategate emails.

In the Foreword, former Australian PM, John Howard notes:

Professor McKitrick’s report focuses on the reporting procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The intellectual bullying, which has been a feature of the behaviour of some global warming zealots, makes this report necessary reading if there is to be an objective assessment of all of the arguments. The attempt of many to close down the debate is disgraceful, and must be resisted.

Ross McKitrick has written a well-researched and articulate critique of the IPCC’s methods. It deserves careful study, especially by those who remain in an agnostic state on this issue.

And in his Summary, McKitrick highlights the following deficiencies in the IPCC’s “gold standard” assessments:

a) An opaque process for selecting Lead Authors

b) The absence of any binding requirement for incorporating the full range of views

c) Intellectual conflicts of interest

d) Loopholes and gaps in the peer review sequence

His recommendations for reform sound just about right, to my ear. But read the whole report and judge for yourself.

McKitrick also has an Op Ed in today’s edition of the National Post, in which he notes:

Fix it or fold it

If the IPCC’s flaws can’t be corrected, we should leave

For many years, attempts to encourage debate on global warming science or policy have run into the obstacle that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued definitive statements, and therefore—the reasoning goes—the era of debate is over. The IPCC is made up of thousands of the world’s top scientists, it has one of the most rigorous and exhaustive review processes in the history of science, and the oversight by 195 member governments ensures balance, transparency and accountability. Or so we are told.

These claims about the IPCC are not true, but until relatively recently few were willing to question what they were told. Things began to change in 2009 with the leak of the Climategate emails, which prompted some observers to begin questioning their assumptions about the IPCC. Then this fall, Canadian investigative journalist Donna Laframboise released her book The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert, a superb exposé of the IPCC that shows convincingly that the IPCC has evolved into an activist organization bearing little resemblance to the picture of scientific probity painted by its promoters and activist allies.

On Monday, news emerged of another release of thousands of new Climategate emails, with early indications that some of them add to concerns about the IPCC that arose from the 2009 disclosures.

I am pleased to announce the publication of a report I have written that provides systematic detail on the procedures of the IPCC and makes the case for reforming them. My study, called What is Wrong With the IPCC? A Proposal for Radical Reform, was published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the U.K., and includes a foreword by the Hon. John Howard, former prime minister of Australia.

The first thing to note about this report is that it is not about science. It is about the policies, procedures and administrative structures in the IPCC. A third of the report consists simply of explanations of how the IPCC works. The more people learn such details, the more they will see that the IPCC does not come close to living up to the hype.[...]

And speaking of the National Post and the latest batch of Climategate emails, Terence Corcoran shares his views on this:

A new Climategate scandal, familiar cast of characters

In the wake of Climategate 2.0, action on the IPCC is more needed than ever
[...]
There are about 5,000 of these Climategate 2.0 emails on my hard drive, plus hundreds or maybe thousands of pages of related documents. Nobody has read these through yet, but the tone is familiar and the putdowns frequent. I spotted some repetition from the 2009 batch.

But there are a few obvious differences between 1.0 and 2.0. The new batch came with an introductory note, a “Read Me,” in which the person or persons posting the emails makes a kind of political/ideological statement. It concludes that spending trillions on global warming is a waste of resources at a time which billions of people are poor.

It says, at a time when “Over 2.5-billion people live on less than $2 a day” global warming policy dictates that “Nations must invest $37-trillion on energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.” “This when 16,000 children a day die from hunger and related causes.” Decisions on climate should be based on all the information the world can get, not on “hide the decline,” a reference to the conflict over an IPCC temperature graphic that appeared to misrepresent data.

Whether these concerns are genuine or merely pieces of ideological spin to hide other motives isn’t known.

Climate scientists have their theories as to who is behind the leaks.

Michael Mann, the Penn State scientist who has been the focus of conflict over the long-range temperature records, called the new flood of emails “pathetic” and claimed the “fossil fuel industry” was behind the leak.

Since the fossil fuel industry is currently in a major boom cycle and on the brink of massive expansion around the world, it would seem to have little motivation to get into a low-level program of document leaks to discredit climate theory. Big Oil is doing just great, thanks. Who cares about global warming?

Furthermore, with climate policy already on the back burner around the world, in part due to an increasing focus on economic crises, the Durban climate conference was already expected to end in paralysis.

On the other hand, the leaks once again highlight the fact that climate science is a bit of an intellectual blood sport, especially as conducted under the auspices of the IPCC. By coincidence, today the University of Guelph’s Ross McKitrick — a leading critic of the IPCC — released a report calling on major reform of the United Nations science agency.

Says Mr. McKitrick, “If the IPCC cannot be fixed quickly, governments that are serious about making good climate policy decisions should be prepared to withdraw from it and create a new assessment body, free of the serious defects of the current model.”

In the wake of Climategate 2.0, the need for action on the IPCC is as imperative as ever.

I doubt that either McKitrick or Corcoran have been following my blogposts on these matters, but I think they’ve been reading my mind ;-)

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