IPCC and peer review

We all recall Phil Jones saying

Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !

It seems he wasn’t the only one playing hard and fast with peer-review. Following hot on the heels of GlacierGate, we have another IPCC scandal on our hands. GlacierGate revealed that the IPCC would copy anything off the internet and pass it off as peer-reviewed research. Well they have been caught out doing it again.

While fact-checking an Oxfam publication the UK group Climate Resistance have turned up another anomaly in the 2007 IPCC Report. In a guest post at Roger Pielke Jr’s blog Ben Pile tells the story.

What attracted our attention most, however, was this claim

According to the IPCC, climate change could halve yields from rain-fed crops in parts of Africa as early as 2020, and put 50 million more people worldwide at risk of hunger. [Pg. 2]

We looked to see if it was true. All we could find in the IPCC report was this.

In other [African] countries, additional risks that could be exacerbated by climate change include greater erosion, deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture of up to 50% during the 2000-2020 period, and reductions in crop growth period (Agoumi, 2003). [IPCC WGII, Page 448. 9.4.4]

Oxfam cite the IPCC, but the citation belongs to Agoumi. The IPCC reference his study properly:

Agoumi, A., 2003: Vulnerability of North African countries to climatic changes: adaptation and implementation strategies for climatic change. Developing Perspectives on Climate Change: Issues and Analysis from Developing Countries and Countries with Economies in Transition. IISD/Climate Change Knowledge Network, 14 pp. (PDF).

There is only limited discussion of “deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture” in that paper, and its focus is not ‘some’ African countries, but just three: Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. It is not climate research. It is a discussion about the possible effects of climate change. All that the report actually says in relation to the IPCC quote, is that,

Studies on the future of vital agriculture in the region have shown the following risks, which are linked to climate change:
• greater erosion, leading to widespread soil degradation;
• deficient yields from rain-based agriculture of up to 50 per cent during the 2000–2020 period;
• reduced crop growth period;

Most interestingly, the study was not simply produced by some academic working in some academic department, for publication in some peer-reviewed journal. Instead, it was published by The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

This is the fundamental problem

That the IPCC is citing non-peer-reviewed, non-scientific research from quasi governmental semi-independent sustainability advocacy organisations must say something about the dearth of scientific or empirical research. The paper in question barely provides any references for its own claims, yet by virtue of merely appearing in the IPCC’s 2007 AR4 report, a single study, put together by a single researcher, becomes “consensus science”.

This is not about Oxfam and this is not about the IISD – they are lobby groups who undertake research and advocacy work and so on. The IPCC have again been caught quoting second hand unrefereed sources to make their case. Generally there is nothing wrong with that, but the IPCC have set higher standards for themselves and we can plainly see that they are failing to maintain those standards.

In the comments at Pielke’s blog we see this gem by Richard Tol

This story must be wrong. The IPCC has just told us that there was only one error in the whole the Fourth Assessment Report.

Indeed. How much longer before people start referring to the ‘now discredited’ 2007 IPCC report.
(HT: Dover_Beach)

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39 Responses to IPCC and peer review

  1. C.L. says:

    Raingate demonstrates again that the IPCC process was designed to manufacture “evidence” for “global warming” at all costs.


    Reason reports that the Copenhagen Accord is now collapsing.

  2. JC says:

    It would be interesting to see if Doc. Pach had a hand in the cookie jar with this peer un-reviewed factoid.

  3. rog says:

    So what exactly is the problem – transparency? accountability? fallibility?

    Those that seek perfection should move to a perfect world

  4. Sinclair Davidson says:

    We want them to conform the standards they set for hemselves. Afterall if a corporation were to behave like this they’d be hit with false advertising, if not fraud.

  5. Rog – Transparency and accountability are not predicated by infallibility or perfection.

  6. JC says:

    Rog is obviously doing the right thing here and measuring the IPCC on the low standards he sets for himself as we often see from the Google scholar.

    I wouldn’t be critical of Rog’s opinion because at least this time around he isn’t being hypocritical.

  7. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    This is a laugh Sinkers talking about accuracy given his appalling record.
    Forrest have you read the Switowksi report yet?

  8. rog says:

    The IPCC panel has to meet the IPCC standards. It appears that those standards were not applied properly by the panel.

    If they were a company you would not have access to their data

  9. rog says:

    Wot, JC reading a report?

    JC’s own standards dont require him to verify anything

  10. JC says:


    But I’m agreeing with you. I think you’re saying the right thing here, which is that you never apply high standards for yourself, so how on earth can you expect that of others.

    Stop being an idiot, as I’m supporting you. Don’t you see?

  11. JC says:


    What has that report have to do directly with this thread?

    Have you read the 1957 treasury report seeing it’s as relevant to your silly question.

  12. rog says:

    You dope JC, the report into Nuclear for Australia that came out years ago.

  13. JC says:

    Yes, Rog, I know about the Ziggy report, as I’m sure a google scholar like you would too.

    However what does that have to do with the thread?

    Unless I’m mistake the thread is about another fuck up found in the IPCC report.

    Are you suggesting the thread is about the nuclear power industry?

    (Amusing how you and Homes are on the same side these days)

  14. rog says:

    The thread is about peer review and QA

  15. rog says:

    “I know about the Ziggy report” is not the same as reading it….just like the IPCC error

  16. Sinclair Davidson says:


  17. JC says:

    Oh yea, that’s right. Thanks Rog..

    I want to bring up a recent peer-review medical paper discussing new therapies in the treatment of a nasty cancer.

    It’s was peer-reviewed, rog, so it’s also pertinent to the thread, right?

    ( who is playing “Dumb” and “Dumber” out of you and Homes? Personally I like to see you with your tongue glued to the frozen pole)

  18. Sinclair Davidson says:


  19. Rococo Liberal says:

    Ziggy player guitar …

  20. Rococo Liberal says:

    Ziggy played guitar

  21. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    sorry Forrest what did Switowski say about Nuclear power

  22. JC says:

    He said lots and lots of things Homes, but what does that have to do with the thread? Anything

    I’m frightened Homes…. You’re behaving like you know somehting I don’t and you’re going to catch me out here on something really, really big.

    I hate it when you get like this… 🙂

    What are you and Rog conspiring about here…. I’m dying to know. LOL.

  23. Something else which is irrelevant:

    Butters, how does the fact that the Korean War required higher tax rates in the US to fund it refute the idea that the multiplier is effectively zero?

  24. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    HE did say something about when nuclear power becomes competitive and I do believe it has something to do with the price of carbon.

    wow not ANOTHER blunder by Forrest

  25. Pity it is not what investment banks or the nuclear industry themselves say.

    Oh dear. Butters butting in to another topic he completely clueless about.

  26. LOL, I even wrote that sentence like Butters…

  27. JC says:


    Where did I mention anything about nuclear power in this thread before you brought it up and only then to ask why you were raising this irrelevant issue.

    Help us out here as I’m not sure what it is you’re getting at? Is it some nasty plan you’ve hatched to catch me out on something?

    Speak to me Homes. Let it all hang out here.

  28. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    You do not have to Forrest given your ‘expertise’ on nuclear power I was wondering whether you had read it since John Howard commissioned the review.
    Mark after the pummelling you have taken on Barro I would have thought you would at least walk silently to the door but then you never do on most subjects you are found to be wrong on

  29. JC says:

    I read the intro and the conclusion, homer. IF you wish to continue having a discussion on nuclear power I would suggest you can commence discussions on the open thread.

  30. rog says:

    Take it easy JC, you are a “libertarian” right?

  31. rog says:

    When you get your own blog (snigger) you can then play the Big Man

  32. dover_beach says:

    More IPCC tendentiousness:

    So to summarize: Contrary to its procedures the IPCC chose to emphasize a paper that was not peer reviewed to support claims that were contrary to all of the peer reviewed literature on this topic. The IPCC created (or had others create) a graph that appeared nowhere in the literature and was highly misleading. When the paper was eventually published several years later as a book chapter, it was revised in such a substantial fashion so as to eliminate unambiguously any basis for the claims that had been made by the IPCC justified by the earlier version of the paper.

    The claims made by the IPCC about the relationship of disasters and climate change, expressed most clearly in the figure above, were not simply made in violation of IPCC procedures. The claims were not just wrong. The claims were based on knowledge that just doesn’t exist. Again, not good.


    The chairman should resign and the IPCC disbanded.

  33. rog says:

    The 2007 IPCC report claims that there are 54 ‘key uncertainties’ that complicate climate science.

    This is hardly evidence of a cover up.

  34. “after the pummelling you have taken on Barro”


    You couldn’t even come up with the correct budget figures for the US in the 1950s. How exactly does the need to raise taxes for a war disprove criticism of Keynes again?

  35. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    no Mark I gave you the figures as a % of GDP old son.

    I assumed you understood the topic. Unfortunately you didn’t.

    Barro didn’t attempt to disprove Keynes he attempted to show the multiplier from Government Spending was zero.

    Good to see you understand this are also

  36. “Barro didn’t attempt to disprove Keynes he attempted to show the multiplier from Government Spending was zero.”

    You cannot type this with any expectation that this has credibility. This shows there is no utility of such a policy. How does this not refute Keynes or Keynesian policy? You’ve already said that extra taxes were required to fund the war – how does this refute criticism of Keynesian policy?

    As soon as you remove the assumption that G has 0% external marginal capital costs, the IS LM curves are not well behaved and the liquidity trap is not what it is made out to be. Sticky wages just add more weight against such a policy in the light of adaptive or rational expectations.

    “no Mark I gave you the figures as a % of GDP old son.

    I assumed you understood the topic. Unfortunately you didn’t.”

    Strange how the figures everyone else looked at were different. We assumed you could use a computer!

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