Laframboise on the IPCC No. 6

Just about time to wrap this up, put it all on a web page and move on. For people who are new on the site, the precedents for this publication procedure were created with Terrence Kealey’s book on the economics of scientific research, the policies of the Greens and Garth Paltridge’s book The Climate Caper.

Chapter 1 of Donna Laframboise’s book The Delinquent Teenager: Who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert is “A closer look at the world’s leading climate body”.  It is essential to realise that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political body, created by that most political organization, the United Nations to do the work of two of their subsidiary bodies, one concerned with weather and the other with the environment.

Every country in the world sends delegates to its occasional meetings: these are political representatives, not scientists. It is a little over 20 years old, strictly speaking not a teenager any more, but you could say it suffers from arrested development because it is driven by a particular political agenda, which has nothing to do with science and it is not restrained by democratic accountability. 

Chapter 2 “Showered with Praise” runs through some of the glowing accolades that the IPCC has received from its political boosters and the mainstream media.

Chapter 3 “The Top Scientists & Best Experts?” takes up the claim by the longserving Chairman Rajendra Pachauri that the authors of the IPCC “Climate Bible” are “people who have been chosen on the basis of their track record, on their record of publications, on the research that they have done…They are people who are at the top of their profession”. This chapter and the next “Twenty-something Graduate Students”, and chapter 6 “Activists” describes the number of senior authors who are not at the top of  their professions, are young, and experienced mostly in political roles as environmental activists. Later chapters detail many cases of genuine “top of the tree professionals” who have been snubbed and marginalized by the IPCC. Chapter 19 takes  up the theme of the IPCC as an actor on the international political stage.

Climate modelers are under the microscope in chapter 7. All of the scary scenarios come from models and so the modelers represent a very specialised, very influential and very closed shop. For some balance on models check out Garth Paltridge, especially the  story about the “worst case” selection of the model for the Garnaut report. Of course the details of the Australian modeling are yet to be revealed.

Chapters 8 to 13 are covered in previous posts. Four chapters – 14 “The Stern Review Scandal”, 15 “Cutoff Dates, What Cutoff Dates?”, 16 “This is Called Cheating” and 17 “Cross-examination” report on some of the ways the rules on deadlines, peer review and the like are bent to suit the agenda.

The tone is set from the top and chapter 25 is “Pachauri’s Cause”, specifically “rapid transformation of the economic system” redefining cultural patterns and major lifestyle changes everywhere.

We have  been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more…we are on an environmentally unsustainable course..I am not going to rest until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That is the real issue, climate change is just a part of it.

Chapter 26 “Follow the Leader” describes the way that the cause of climate change and “extreme weather” meant that the leading hurricane expert Chris Landsea had to be sidelined by Kevin Trenbath who was in charge of the relevant chapter in the Climate Bible. The following chapter takes that case further to describe the role of Susan Solomon, the co-chair of that working group, who was named in another chapter for threatening to dismiss Steve McIntyre when he tried to do a proper job as an expert reviewer. Chapter 28 follows the story about pseudo-scientific data on hurricanes that became part of the Climate Bible.

So a dubious finding that originated in a paper written by an insurance company was included in the Climate Bible in 2001. It then made its way into the peer-reviewed scientific literature in 2005. By 2009 it was being regarded as gospel by the US Government.

One of the expert reviewers asked an appropriate question about some papers that were accepted which contradicted the views of a leading expert in the field. What did the expert think about these papers? He was not asked. One of the graphs in a key paper was criticized by an expert reviewer, a different graph appeared in the final report, making the same (alarming) point.

Finally, in Febuary 2010, a contributing author of the chapter admitted he had drawn up the new graph “informally”. [run that past me again]. In the words of the (excluded) expert “The IPCC created a graph that did not exist in the peer reviewed literature or in the grey literature to suggest a relationship between increasing temperatures and rising disaster costs”.

Nice work if you  have enough control over the production to get that kind of result.

Chapters 29 and 30 run through one of the most scandalous beatups on the IPCC record, the malaria scare, as though warming will massively increase the prevalence of malaria. Among other things malaria is not especially a warm climate illness. On top of that we find the domination of  non-experts in the field, abuse of  non-peer reviewed literature and uncritical channeling of the beat-ups by the obliging press.

Chapter 31 “Extinction Fiction” charts the abuse of pseudo-scientific findings to predict alarming species losses. One of the two key papers was written by Chris Thomas and 14 co-authors. Enter  Daniel Botkin, one of the leading figures in the field. He described the Thomas paper as “the worst paper I have ever read in a major scientific  journal”.

Is there any way you can cite the findings of the Thomas paper but not tell your readers about the controversy it generated? Is it honest to neglect to mention that the same journal that published the paper followed up six months later with not one, not two but three critiques? Is it scientific to fail to discuss the fact that another harsh appraisal of some 6000 words in length was authored by a scholar at Oxford [an Oxford scholar!] Yet that is precisely what happened.

 Previous posts on this topic

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Laframboise on the IPCC No. 6

  1. Blogstrop

    Thanks Rafe. Going by the lack of comments you’re preaching to the converted here, or else more than a newspaper column is beyond the attention span of most of the normally voluble.
    The demolition job done by Donna Laframboise is way too inconvenient for the popular press to give it anything beyond the usual “she’s not a climate scientist” all-purpose brush-off.

  2. Rafe

    Yes I often wonder about how much time to spend preaching to the converted, of course the point is to give the converted more ammunition, especially when the series of blog posts ends up as a single link on Battleship Rathouse.

    This is an account of my own conversion, demonstrating the danger of travel, especially by plane.

    And the danger of reading in general.

Comments are closed.