IPCC response to IAC on grey literature “indefensible”

This has been a very interesting week on the battlefield of the “climate wars”, resulting in considerable tarnishing of the “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – within the mainstream media (MSM) no less! Scales even appear to be falling from the eyes of ardent pro-alarmists.

About two months ago (my how time flies!), I began commenting (here and here) on the IPCC’s convenient “disappearance” of a rule they rarely observed: the flagging of grey literature in their reports. Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Donna Laframboise has also highlighted this issue, as has Shub Niggurath.

It took a while (until June 9) for someone in the MSM to realize what the IPCC had accomplished with this disappearing act. But William Pentland, who blogs at Forbes, appears to agree with my analysis [h/t Judith Curry]:

The Self Corruption of Climate Science

As one of the Forbes.com contributors who believes the science behind global warming is settled, it breaks my heart to report that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it considerably harder for me to convince my skeptical colleagues to reconsider their position.

The climate-gate controversy created by ethical improprieties of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in England has created a crisis of confidence among Republicans and other political conservatives in the United States.


Rather than instituting “shock and awe” reforms to restore its credibility, the IPCC appears to have unintentionally widened the gulf of understanding between a large portion of the American public and many of the world’s most talented climate scientists.

This is a profound mistake and one we will all pay dearly for in the long run.

If the IPCC wants to remain a relevant institution, it needs to act now and act decisively. The first step is changing the “tone at the top” about the importance of principles and procedures for evaluating the use of so-called “grey literature” – unpublished or non-peer-reviewed scientific research – in the IPCC’s assessment reports.


The IPCC Task Group (TG) responsible for responding to the [InterAcademy Council] IAC stated in a summary of its findings that enforcing the IPCC’s official policy requiring all unpublished and non-peer reviewed literature to be flagged, as recommended by the IAC, “would not be practical.”

Apparently, deleting the flagging requirement from the text of the IPCC’s official policy was practical.

The TG concluded that the IPCC should not follow (or, enforce) the procedures for evaluating grey literature that had been on the books as official IPCC policy for more than a decade. Rather than complying with procedures considered “impractical,” the TG advised the IPCC to create new procedures that would be easier to comply.

In particular, the TG advised the IPCC to “[r]eplace the current Annex 2 of the Procedures [governed use of grey literature in IPCC Assessment Reports] (‘Procedure for using non-published/non-peer-reviewed sources in IPCC reports’) by a new Annex 2.”


The IPCC has merely “gone through the motions” of implementing the IAC’s recommendations or become so grossly incompetent that it can no longer manage basic governance requirements reliably.

The IPCC is facing a major crisis of confidence and it is almost guaranteed to deepen if the IPCC does not act decisively and aggressively to restore its credibility.

This must start with establishing compelling policies on the use of grey literature and then complying with those policies consistently and convincingly.

I cannot honestly say that I share Pentland’s opinions of the climate scientists involved. But I certainly do agree with one of his responses to the comments on the above post:

I don’t know what the best standard is for grey literature and tend to err on the liberal side of what sources of information are deemed to be worthy sources of information.

The point of my original post is simply that how the IPCC responded to the IAC recommendation on grey literature is indefensible.[emphasis added -hro]

One thought on “IPCC response to IAC on grey literature “indefensible”

  1. I think you nailed it. If even a deluded mush-mind like Pentland is objecting, the IPCC’s nekkedness is finally being noticed by its devotees and the MSM-misled.

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