IPCC personnel’s laurels: Resting on slivers of unearned Nobel glory

dustbin_front500 As anyone with a passing familiarity with the activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is aware, later this month (September 23 to 26, to be precise), an unknown number of unnamed “Government Representatives” will gather – along with an unknown number of unnamed “scientists” and an unknown number of unnamed representatives of unnamed “International and other Organizations”, designated as “Observers” – in Stockholm, Sweden.

They will be participating in the behind-closed-doors 12th Session of Working Group I (WGI-12). Or, in UN-speak, as the May 22 invitations indicate:

“The main agenda items of WGI-12 will be the approval of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the WG I contribution to the AR5 and acceptance of the underlying scientific technical assessment. The session will begin at 10:00 hours on Monday, 23 September 2013. After its conclusion, IPCC-36 will meet to accept the actions taken at the Twelfth Session of Working Group I.” [emphasis added -hro]

This “WG 1 contribution” is officially known as CLIMATE CHANGE 2013 The Physical Science Basis and – according to the (presumably official) “Working Group I Fact Sheet” – the “Final Draft Summary for Policymakers”, which has been commented on by 32 governments, will be “approved line-by-line by up to 195 Governments”.

With all of the above in mind …

Donna Laframboise’s latest book Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize, is – not to put too fine a point on it – extremely timely.

Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the (albeit unfathomably ignored by far too many in the mainstream media who much prefer to trumpet Press Releases of shoddy “climate science“, as long as they promote illusionary harbingers of impending doom) 2011 acclaimed Exposé of the IPCC, The Delinquent Teenager who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert (TDT).

She is also the author of the syndicated and frequently cited blog, No Frakking Consensus and (full disclosure) since spring 2010 – when I worked on her Citizen Audit project – a good friend.

I have criticized the IPCC for the absence of the simple navigational aid of “Bookmarks” in many of their pdf documents. These can be created quite easily when a properly structured Word document is converted to pdf – and they are far more useful than the “thumbnail images” of each page! So, in fairness (and because it took me longer to write this review than it would or should have), I must comment on the very disappointing absence of this valuable navigational aid in the “Review Copy” pdf I received. My hope is that this will have been corrected in the published version :-)

Each of the 88 chapters in the 123 pages of Into the Dustbin (ITD) can also be found on Laframboise’s blog – and each chapter contains a link to the original post where, as is her rigorous practice, Laframboise provides links to her source material. But the big pictures that emerge from the pixels she has collated in ITD present a clear and compelling case for viewing with extreme skepticism this latest “product” from the IPCC.

ITD draws its title from one of the now (very) lame duck IPCC Chair, Rajendra Pachauri’s quotable quotes from November 2009, BC [Before Climategate], when he had confidently declared:

“IPCC studies only peer-review science. Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.”

As an aside, it is amusing to recall the subsequent “evolution” of this particular Pachauri pomposity, as he miraculously moved grey/gray literature from his “dustbin” (Nov. 10, 2009) to “the media and other sections of society’s […] drains” (May 14, 2010)

One of the big pictures that emerges from ITD is the repeated failure – on the part of those who participate in the production of these erstwhile “gold standard” reports – to take responsibility for the implications of their very own words. This is particularly the case when they have been clearly shown to be wrong.

In this instance, Pachauri attempted to waltz away from his “all peer reviewed” and “throw it into the dustbin” by ludicrously claiming that “the media and other sections of society” had “misunderstood”. Yeah, right! As if the media have not been dutifully parrotting this “all peer reviewed” myth for several years – as Pachauri, himself, had indirectly acknowledged when he was articulating his vision for this Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in July 2009.

And, in an almost stop-the-presses addition to Chapter 63 – The IPCC Chairman’s Fake Second PhD, following a summary of Australian journalist Tony Thomas’ attempts (dating back to March 2012) to get the IPCC to correct its misleading and inaccurate claim regarding Pachauri’s purported academic credentials, it seems that in August of this year (following a second enquiry from Thomas in July 2013) Pachauri was motivated to finally spring into action. And, miracle of miracles, the “error” turned out to have been not Pachauri’s fault, of course, but that of his alma mater, North Carolina State University (NCSU).

As Laframboise wryly noted:

[…] Pachauri has spent the past four decades confused as to whether, during the years 1972-1974, he’d completed the mountain of work necessary to earn two doctorates instead of one. The basis of his now-retracted dual doctorate claim turns out to have been a clerical error.

Pachauri (and/or his PR handlers) appears to have used a similar “shift the blame” tactic more recently when he was back-pedalling (or more to the point, perhaps, getting someone else to back-pedal?!) away from his false “Nobel Laureate” image. Speaking of which …

In Chapter 1 of ITD [The IPCC and the Peace Prize] Laframboise writes:

In late 2007, following news that this UN body had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Al Gore, the IPCC’s chairman profoundly over-stepped his authority. Writing to IPCC-affiliated academics en masse, Rajendra Pachauri proclaimed: “This makes each of you Nobel Laureates.” Everyone should have understood that this was mere rhetorical flourish. When an individual wins a Nobel Prize, they are contacted directly by Nobel officials. As Australian researcher John McLean would later tell meteorologist Kevin Trenberth, “Pachauri can’t hand-out laureates like cups of coffee, and you, Kevin, surprise me by seeming to believe that he can.”

Interestingly, it seems that in 2009 NCSU (who had “mistakenly” issued two PhD diplomas to the evidently confused Pachauri) had equally “mistakenly”:

issued a press release titled Nobel Laureate to Deliver Fall Commencement Address at NC State

Three guesses as to who this “Nobel Laureate” might have been. Yes, of course it was Pachauri! The big mystery, though, is whether Pachauri has apologized to NCSU – or whether NCSU will be obliged to find in their files that this misleading, inappropriate billing was a “clerical error” on their part, too!

It is somewhat ironic that it was the foolhardy defamation claim of Michael Mann, the “creator” of the iconic “hockey-stick” image (just in time for the IPCC’s 2001 Third Assessment Report), that seems to have resulted in a (long overdue, IMHO) posting on the IPCC website of an undated Statement [pdf which, according to the document properties, bears the title “121029 Nobel statement final”, a date which coincides with the Created and Modified dates of “10/29/2012”].

As Laframboise reminds us, this October 2012 IPCC “Statement about the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize” contains the following:

The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner.

Isn’t it amazing that none of these so-called “experts” were bright enough to figure this out for themselves?! It is no less amazing that not one of the “journalists” who have dutifully repeated this false claim (and more egregious variants thereof) for so many years has bothered to do a simple three-second (well, five at most!) fact-check on this.

Laframboise provides a damning list of publications and organizations which have been glaringly remiss in their duty to provide factual information to their readers, viewers and listeners. One is left with the impression that from these writers’ perspective, whatever a “climate scientist” says must be true because, well, simply because a “climate scientist” said so!

Readers of this blog will know that one of the prime culprits in this regard has been the CBC, Canada’s “national broadcaster”. Their coverage of IPCC-nik, Andrew Weaver’s election campaign and “historic” victory as the first Green Party Member of the British Columbia Legislature in May of this year is rife with references to his “Nobel” status.

As Laframboise notes in ITD, Weaver is not the only faux “Nobel Laureate” who resides in British Columbia. Attention-seeking activist and Simon Fraser University professor, Mark Jaccard is another:

The role [Jaccard] played was so minor that, when he co-authored a 2007 book on climate change with a prominent Canadian journalist, his IPCC involvement wasn’t even mentioned. Shortly afterward, however, he suddenly became a nobelist.

Chapters 70 through 88 of ITD constitute an Appendix in which Laframboise has gathered all her posts over two and a half years pertaining to these faux nobelists. In Chapter 72 – All For a Nobel Cause, we learn just how pervasive this myth has become. She writes:

Back in 2001, when the United Nations as a whole received this honour, it seems unlikely that everyone employed by the UN began describing themselves as a Nobel laureate. Likewise, when the UN Peacekeeping Forces won it in 1988, it’s difficult to imagine that all those who’d served as peacekeepers were automatically considered Nobel laureates.

But since 2007, people who helped write an IPCC report have been encouraged to describe themselves as nobelists. This is a problem because it muddies the water. Media reports frequently don’t make it clear that the individual in question did not, in fact, win one of those rare science Nobels.

I recently observed that some of the individuals who are now being called Nobel laureates possess decidedly weak scientific credentials. Subsequent research reveals that media reports routinely imply that IPCC-connected personnel are scientific Nobel laureates.

This is distressing to those of us think a bona fide Nobel in physics actually means something – and that anyone who earns one of those illustrious awards should never be confused with an individual who contributed a few pages of text to an IPCC report.

Yet, as she notes in Chapters 75 and 76 The Activist Economist & the IPCC [Parts 1 and 2] Jaccard plays fast and loose both with disclosure of his IPCC involvement (he didn’t disclose when he should have!) and with the history of his “share” of this 2007 Nobel Peace Prize:

When Jaccard issued his pre-arrest statement, he made a point of amplifying his infinitesimal sliver of Nobel glory. And the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation fell for it, presenting him as a full-fledged “Nobel Peace Prize winner” in its news story.
[…]
What it boils down to is that Jaccard seems to believe that:

  • a 1/23rd contribution to one IPCC chapter (1993-1996)
  • a 1/24th contribution to a second IPCC chapter (1993-1996)
  • and a 1/57th contribution to a third IPCC chapter (2008-2011)

is somehow equivalent to having won a Nobel Peace Prize as a result of his own brilliance, courage, and tenacity.

This suggests a propensity to exaggerate. But the public deserves painstaking accuracy whenever a matter as serious as climate change is being discussed.

Neither the IPCC nor Jaccard looks good here

Jaccard’s chutzpah is further documented in Chapters 78, 81, 82 and 83. In keeping with Pachauri’s practice of not accepting responsibility for his own words (or those he permits others to use in describing him), Jaccard follows the leader.

After playing some silly posting games, as Laframboise notes in the last of these chapters [Mark Jaccard Re-Writes History], Jaccard made “extensive revisions” to a blog post “yet provides no indication … that this has occurred”. Then he engages in some semantic gymnastics while pretending that “someone is attempting to discredit him”.

Then there’s the case of “Nobel Laureate” Steven Running. [Chapter 79 – A Few Crumbs of Pastry: More Nobel Nonsense]:

If you look for Running’s name over at the IPCC’s website, only one result is returned. He was one of 22 people who worked on a single chapter in a report issued back in 2007.

[…]

[Laframboise estimates that:]

9,000 individuals have helped write an IPCC chapter over the years. Steven Running was one of those 9,000 individuals. What happens when you slice half a pie into 9,000 pieces? You get a very small slice. No more than a few crumbs of pastry and a fragment of fruit. The portion is so tiny it might – just might – feed a bird.

This, my friends, is the basis on which the media has bestowed the title of “Nobel laureate” on Steven Running.

Other chapters in this book will be familiar to those who have read TDT. In light of recent discussions in the blogosphere – and even (surprise!) in the mainstream media – that speculate on how (or if!) the IPCC will deal with “the pause” in “global warming”, Chapter 8 – The Stern Review Scandal – IPCC Breaks 3 of Its Own Rules is a timely refresher:

The conclusion here isn’t pretty: by citing the Stern Review, the IPPC broke not one, not two, but three of its own rules. First, it had to deliberately overlook the fact that this document is not peer-reviewed. Second, it had to violate the completed-before-January-2006 rule about which Pachauri recently reminded us. Third, it had to subvert its own requirement that text in the IPCC report be subject to two rounds of expert review.

Are we impressed yet?

Notwithstanding all the media hype to the contrary, the IPCC’s past performances have been considerably less than impressive. After you’ve read the essays in this book, you may well conclude that its reports belong, well, in the dustbin! But speaking of the media hype …

There have been numerous reports of “leaks” of the purported content of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) which will be “approved” during the behind-closed-doors session in Stockholm. However, the content of the “leaked” material seems to vary depending on which news source you happen to have read. For example, in a September 6 Op Ed in The Hindu, Nitin Sethi writes:

Earth is warming up but not as rapidly as predicted

New IPCC report raises questions over urgency or seriousness of climate change

The climate has not been warming over the past 15 years at rates predicted earlier, the latest report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be released September end, is going to say.

The report is also going to accept that carbon dioxide gas concentration in atmosphere may not be as potent in causing global temperature increases as was believed earlier.

While in the August 20 National Geographic Daily News, Brian Clark Howard reports:

Leaked Report Spotlights Big Climate Change Assessment

Why the UN’s coming fifth report on global warming is already making waves.

A leaked early version of a major forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations-affiliated panel of scientists that is often cited as the world’s top authority on global warming, is grabbing headlines this week.

The New York Times reported on what it called the report’s “near certainty” that humans are responsible for the rising temperatures of recent decades and its warning that sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of the century.

The draft IPCC report also dismisses a recent slowdown in global warming, attributing it to short-term factors.

But with Thomas Stocker at the helm of WG1 and former United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) head honcho, Yvo de Boer’s “prediction” of last December, the view from here is that Sethi’s leak may be somewhat optimistic.

Maybe one day we’ll find out who leaked which leak to whom and when!

But in the meantime, while we wait for the white smoke to rise from Stockholm, treat yourself to a report about which there can be no doubt – and buy yourself a copy!

Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize by Donna Laframboise

Published September 9, 2013: Kindle Paperback or PDF

2 thoughts on “IPCC personnel’s laurels: Resting on slivers of unearned Nobel glory

  1. Thank you Donna and Hilary. This is important work.

    The paradigm is shifting in favour of the skeptics. The funniest part is that it had little to do with anything skeptics have said or done. Nature herself laid the smack down on the alarmists.
    It will be a white flag in Stockholm as long as they see which way the wind is blowing.

  2. Thank you, David; but the work was Donna’s, not mine :-)

    However, I think they already know which way the wind is blowing; but as we have seen from the IPCC’s responses to the lifeline handed to it by the review of the InterAcademy Council in 2010, adaptability is not the IPCC’s forté!

    My guess is this wind of change is causing the IPCC (and the UNFCCC) more than a little concern! (Pls. see my next post)

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