Laframboise on the IPCC revisited

The scathing and evidence-based critique of the governance of the IPCC remains topical as long as the IPCC produces rubbish in the name of science. The good news is that almost 800 people checked out this link after it appeared on the Cat last week and a day or so later in a post on Tim Blair’s blog.

The overwhelming majority of the visitors came from The Daily Telegraph. When I post links from my website on the Cat I usually get 40 to 80 visits and once when Andrew Bold ran a link it raised 800. For the benefit of Cats who were too lazy to follow the link (admittedly I have posted it at least once a year since it first went up) I will run some of the worst examples of fraud here.

The Steve McIntyre case

McIntyre has a track record of his own, with his demolition of the “hockey stick” claim about global warming. So it is surprising that he was selected to be an expert reviewer for the documents feeding into the 2007 reports. Laframboise reports that McIntyre noticed that the arguments in one of the major reports were based on two papers which had not yet been published. He was suspicious of the results so he asked to see the raw data. According to the IPCC rules the support units are supposed to provide expert reviewers with material that is not readily available. They have fulltime staff and the reviewers mostly do the work pro bono. The head of the unit was Martin Manning, now head of a research institute in a NZ university. Twice he refused to help McIntyre. His second email read:

“Let me repeat – If you wish to obtain data used in a paper you should make a direct request to the original authors yourself. It would be inappropriate for the IPCC to become involved in that communication and I have no intention of allowing the IPCC support unit to provide you with what would in effect be a secretarial service. There are over 1200 other scientists on our list of reviewers and we simply cannot get involved in providing special services for each…I will not be responding to further correspondence on this matter.”

He probably could have emailed the two scientists in the time he took to reply to McIntyre and the request for the raw data would have had an official imprint, demonstrating a commitment to quality review in the organization. In the event, the two authors refused to provide the data to McIntyre when he contacted them.

He reported this to Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist who had a senior role in assembling the 2007 report. In 2008 Time magazine named her as one of the world’s most influential people due to her work on the 2007 Climate Bible.

Solomon’s own response could hardly have been less helpful. IPCC rules, she said, “only oblige the technical support units to provide copies of unpublished papers. The IPCC does not, said Solomon, concern itself with the raw data on which papers – published or otherwise – are based.”

In case that is not strange enough, Solomon then accused McIntyre of behaving improperly. In her view by contacting the journal, as he’d been told to do by the author, McIntyre was interfering with that journal’s internal decisions. She stated that McIntyre had been granted access to the unpublished papers for one purpose only: to read them. She suggested that in seeking more information, he was violating IPCC confidentiality provisions. For this reason he could be struck from the official list of IPCC reviewers. She wrote to McIntyre:

“We must insist that from now on you honor all conditions of access to unpublished, and therefore confidential, material…The IPCC rules…have served the scientific and political communities well for numerous past international assessment rounds. If there is further evidence that you cannot accept them, or if your intent is to challenge them…then we will not be able to continue to treat you as an expert reviewer for the IPCC.”

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Laframboise on the IPCC revisited

  1. jupes

    The good news is that almost 800 people checked out this link after it appeared on the Cat last week and a day or so later in a post on Tim Blair’s blog.

    That’s the good news?

    When you get 800,000 people checking out the link then we may be witnessing the end of this madness.

  2. Leo G

    We must insist that from now on you honor all conditions of access to unpublished, and therefore confidential, material…

    even if, as in this case, the relevant conditions are only revealed after the conditions have been infracted.

  3. MikeS

    It was discovering this a decade ago which turned my then neutral agnosticism to disgusted sceptic. Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit website will be like a holocaust museum when the sun sets on this ridiculous chapter. I defy anyone to read the account there of the paper by Karoly, Neukom and Gergis and not barf.

  4. Aynsley Kellow

    I was also an Expert Reviewer for AR4 (Working Group II). I was impolite enough to point out that, while the report told us that a warmer world would be a wetter world (indeed, the key positive feedback mechanism requires that there be higher concentrations of water vapour), so there would be increased rainfall – but it seemed to me that none of the increase would fall in a way that would be any way beneficial. It was either floods or drought.
    The defence was that the chapter was dealing with ‘key vulnerabilities’ and therefore did not focus on benefits. My response was that, if this were the case, it should not be referred to as a risk assessment, because an RA must include an assessment of pros and cons.
    I was not invited back.

  5. Rafe Champion

    Not invited back, fancy that, see my comment above under Alan’s post on costs.

    Well done Cats, since this was posted you have outscored The Daily Tele by 58 visits to 7 on the link.

  6. Fat Tony

    It’s never been about the science……

  7. Ian of Brisbane

    So an “independent reviewers” function is limited to a spellcheck?

  8. Leo G

    So an “independent reviewers” function is limited to a spellcheck?

    Except that reference to a dictionary would be seeking more information, and thereby violating IPCC confidentiality provisions.

  9. RobK

    The described behaviour is abominable. It does not deserve any respect. It should carry no weight in any policy. Despicable.

  10. J.H.

    It’s all so…. Soviet, isn’t it?

  11. Herodotus

    The gulags await anyone bold enough to be sceptical about the great moral challenge of our time.

Comments are closed.