Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change Broken, Says Matt Ridley

Writing in the Times (London), rational optimist Matt Ridley forcefully argues that the bums who currently run the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be thrown out for the sake of honest science. Keying off the new InterAcademy Council report issued yesterday arguing for numerous reforms to the organization and processes of the IPCC, Ridley recites the many scientific sins of the IPCC:

IPCC reports are supposed to be the gold standard account of what is — and is not — known about global warming. The panel boasts that it uses only peer-reviewed scientific literature. But its claims about mountain ice turned out to be anecdotes from a climbing magazine, its claims on the Amazon’s vulnerability to drought from a Brazilian pressure group’s website and 42 per cent of the references in one chapter proved to be to reports by Greenpeace, WWF and other “grey” literature. Yesterday’s review finds that guidelines on the use of this grey literature “are vague and have not always been followed”.

For instance, the notorious claim that glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035 seems to have been based on a misprint (for 2350) in a document issued by a pressure group. When several reviewers challenged the assertion in draft, they were ignored. When Indian scientists challenged it after publication, they were not just dismissed but vilified and accused of “voodoo science” by the IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri.

By contrast, when two academics, Ross McKitrick and Pat Michaels, found a strong link between temperature rise and local economic development — implying that recent warming is partly down to local, not global factors — their paper was ignored for two drafts, despite many review comments drawing attention to the omission. It was finally given a grudging reference, with a false assertion that the data were rebutted by other data that turned out to be non-existent.

We now know the back story of this episode: the e-mails leaked from the University of East Anglia include this from Professor Phil Jones, referring to exactly this paper: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” ...

All the errors and biases that have come to light in recent months swerve in the direction of exaggerating the likely impact of climate change. According to the economist Richard Tol, one part of the 2007 report (produced by Working Group 2) systematically overstated the negative impacts of climate change, while another section (written by Working Group 3) systematically understated the costs of emissions reduction.

Indur Goklany, an independent science scholar, likewise noticed that the report had quoted a study that estimated the number of people at increased risk of reduced water shortage in the future as a result of climate change, but omitted to mention the same source’s estimate of the number of people at decreased risk. The latter number was larger in all cases, so that “by the 2080s the net global population at risk declines by up to 2.1 billion people”. ...

Frankly, the whole process, not just the discredited Dr Pachauri (in shut-eyed denial at a press conference yesterday), needs purging or it will drag down the reputation of science with it. One of the most shocking things for those who champion science, as I do, has been the sight of the science Establishment reacting to each scandal in climate science with indifference or contempt.

The whole article is well worth reading at Ridley's The Rational Optimist blog.

See also my Reason TV interview with Ridley about his great new book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, here. And why not hear Ridley's insights directly while joining us for Reason's Caribbean cruise this coming February?

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  • MNG||

    There are some obvious issues with the IPCC report, but there are literally hundreds of other peer reviewed papers that support the position that AGW is a real, imminent problem that needs to be dealt with.

  • kinnath||

    So what. The process was corrupt. It is unknowable how many times contradictory reports were "biased" out of the final report or how may supporting reports were "pumped" beyond their true signficance.

    The only legitimate action at this point is to start over.

    If you are a proponent of taking action to stop AGW, you should be livid at the people that fucked this process up, because they have truly destroyed the value of prior IPCC reports.

  • Tony||

    Start over? At which point exactly? Climate science is a hundred years old at least.

  • Josh||

    The logical conclusion is that kinnath means to have the IPCC start over and do it honestly. Why was that hard to figure out? Are you an idiot?

  • Joe M||

    That has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    The IPCC has no credibility, and it's damaging the credibility of science in general through its dishonest practices.

  • Tony||

    No, you have no credibility. You have the agenda. You are opining on a subject of which you have very little understanding. You don't know what you're talking about. If you knew what was good for you and your political beliefs you'd drop the anti-science bullshit immediately and apologize to the world for being an evil, ignorant asshole.

  • kinnath||

    Who is driving the Tonybot today?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    This appears to be version 2.03b. Not my favorite release.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    He's mouthing all the right catchphrases... might be the real thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    In the 1930s there were literally hundreds of peer reviewed papers that supported the position that our gene pool was contaminated and government action was necessary to clean it up.

    Look up Margaret Sanger and positive eugenics.

    It was scientific consensus at the time, so it must have been true, right?

    As a consequence the Supreme Court allowed tens of thousands forced sterilizations of American citizens, and we all know what happened on the other side of the Atlantic.

    All based upon peer reviewed papers that supported government action to fix a problem.

    Ain't scientific consensus grand?

  • Spencer Smith||

    But... isn't it still all the Jews' fault? I mean, with their horns and tails, how can we not blame them?!

  • ||

    It is funny to hear people spout on about "scientific consensus" and this or that being true because this many scientists signed some petition. To pull a Godwin that is what the Nazis did. There was a whole field of Nazi science. And they put out peer reviewed journals showing the scientific proof of the genetic superiority of the Aryan race and other such claptrap. And they loved to sign petitions. A large group of them signed a petition once denouncing relativity as "flawed Jewish science". Einstein responded by saying "if it were true only one of them would need to sign it".

  • Michael Ejercito||

    A large group of them signed a petition once denouncing relativity as "flawed Jewish science".


    Too bad the Nazis never got a chance to taste Jewish science.

  • Tony||

    Lists are only pulled out in response to lists deniers draw up, usually consisting of a couple hundred engineers and veterinarians.

    It's just fun to make a list in rebuttal of actual climate scientists that's longer and consists only of those with the name Steve.

  • Tony||

    We're dooooomed! And it's all the fault of mankind!

  • Chad||

    Don't forget the externalities!!!

  • The Full Moon||

    Keep howling at me bitch! I love it!

  • ||

    Yeah, the IPCC just didn't use all of the work that allegedly exists and lied instead because they wanted to give their opponents ammunition.

    If it is so self evident, why are they lying about it?

  • ||

    If AGW is the slam dunk that it's purported to be, then starting over with a clean slate and a better process shouldn't worry anyone who believes that it's the gospel.

  • ||

    LOL, I think the entire US system is broken!

    online-privacy.it.tc

  • classwarrior||

    Meanwhile, in related news:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi.....nge-u-turn

  • Attorney||

  • ||

    Yeah, the leftist retards are having trouble realizing that things have already been linked. Too much of a hard-on for the "Gotcha."

  • Attorney||

    One of the most shocking things for those who champion science, as I do, has been the sight of the science Establishment reacting to each scandal in climate science with indifference or contempt.

    "Those who champion science" sounds funny. Like "those who champion breathing" or "those who champion the planet Jupiter."

  • sarcasmic||

    That's right!
    And if you question the need for carbon taxes, green subsidies, smart grid, chips in your air conditioner that allow a government bureaucrat in an air conditioned office to turn your machine off, and any other government intervention in the name of science, then you're against science.

    Science hater!

    I bet you hate the children too, because this is also for the children.

    Children hater!

  • ||

    Attorney: Well, there are some people who do not "champion science." Not that I'm implying that the IPCC reviewers are flat-earthers or anything. ;-)

  • ||

    Ron you go way to easy on the IPCC. If corrupting an entire field of science doesn't qualify as "not championing science", what does? No one listens to the creationists. They are not damaging science. IPCC on the other hand is damaging science. If the scientific community is not willing to do something about this, why should people listen to it about anything? And how can you or I tell kooks who claim childhood vaccination causes Autism that the science says otherwise when this shit is going on? The IPCC is a lot more important than a bunch of kooks out goring your sacred cows Ron.

  • ||

    John: My reply to Attorney was just a lame joke.

    I agree that the IPCC is in desperate need of house-cleaning. That being said, my own reading of climate science research and my talks with various climate scientists persuades me that man-made global warming is real and is a problem. What to do about it is a different issue.

  • ||

    If that is true Ron, why did the IPCC lie about it? You and MNG keep expecting us to ignore the obvious corruption of the world's preeminent organization on this and trust you that there really is good work out there to back up your claims.

    I am sorry I am not buying. I don't think Mann and company lied and risked their careers and scientific reputations because the proof was such a slam dunk. To think otherwise is to think they are irrational.

    Why are so unwilling to be skeptical about this? Is the social pressure to believe really that great?

  • Bill||

    The planet is warming. How much of that is due to humans is the question.

    The IPCC and many in the field(s) believe their models and what gets reported in the press is always the most extreme, alarmist version. So I know (and we can see this from the Climate-gate and IPCC scandals/mistakes) that the bad effects are being exaggerated and predicted to happen sooner rather than later.

    The last item which is where Lumborg comes in is what to do about it.

  • Leroy||

    "Bill|8.31.10 @ 4:54PM|#
    The planet is warming. How much of that is due to humans is the question."

    I was under the impression there has been no statistical warming in a decade. Am I wrong?

  • cynical||

    Maybe they lie because some of them truly believe everyone will die unless they convince people to believe them? Saving humanity is a pretty big "good" so it balances out a lot of evil in some people's moral calculation (sort of like the "would you torture a terrorist facts to stop an imminent nuclear bombing ecological catastrophe?" question)

    It also helps if you can convince yourself that the opposition is deliberately lying, and therefore you are justified in resorting to underhanded tactics to thwart them.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I champion Delirium Nocturnum.

  • Id||

    Dude! Have you seen Jupiter? It is pretty freakin' rad after all....

  • Jupiter's Champion||

    I have a problem with Uranus.

  • Spencer Smith||

    no homo.

  • Engineer||

    Sorry, but I don't trust someone that studied law to know a single, god-damn, fucking thing about science.

  • ||

    Like engineering is science. As someone who before he went to college worked to actually build the shit engineers designed, I don't know why I would trust an engineer to know a God damned fucking thing about anything.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just because you can't put stuff together doesn't mean the blueprint is bad.

  • ||

    IF it were only me, you might have a point. But talk anyone in the welding or metal work field and ask them what they think of engineers. You won't get happy answers.

  • sarcasmic||

    In my work I hear a lot of grumbling about engineers, but it's mostly because they're assholes, not because of the quality of their work.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    It takes us a lot of schooling to get the asshole thing down pat.

  • Pip||

    My father was a technical writer and he said a good portion of his work involved correcting the errors of engineers.

  • Bill||

    They usually write for shit, at least my Dad does.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just because you can't put stuff together doesn't mean the blueprint is bad.

  • sarcasmic||

    sorry for the doubleclick

  • Engineer||

    Hi John.

    Of course the ugliest thing on earth is the patent application -- the bastard child of an engineer crossed with a laywer.

  • ||

    God that is ugly.

  • Engineer||

    So what do you get when you cross a lying laywer with a crooked politician . . . . .

  • ||

    I thought all crooked politicians were also lying lawyers.

  • Engineer||

    Well the joke is well past it expiration date, but since she was just in the news a little while ago she's fair game again.

    . . . . a daugther named Chelsea.

  • ||

    I like that one.

  • ||

    I have a good friend who is a patent examiner. He has a PHD in some kind of genetic science and a law degree. From what he tells me, the patent office is the most miserable place on earth to work.

  • Engineer||

    It would have to be. Had a couple of telecons with a patent examiner. Like talking to a dead fish.

  • ||

    I'm pro-Jupiter.

  • Solanum||

    I'm pro-Europa.

    Lucifer > Jupiter

  • ||

    Swan-raper.

  • ||

    Well, more accurately: Rape Swan.

  • classwarrior||

    Sorry about that inconvenient truth folks, here are some more regarding Mr. Ridley:

    http://www.monbiot.com/archive.....parasites/

    http://www.monbiot.com/archive.....he-planet/

    I could go on, but space doesn't allow. Enjoy, rational worshippers of the free market!

  • sarcasmic||

    Monbiot is a moonbat.

  • ||

    All: In my opinion Monbiot is an unhinged loon. But that's just my opinion.

    For some balance, perhaps classwarrior and others might like to read Ridley's response to Monbiot.

  • ||

    George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books Heat: how to stop the planet burning; The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain

    The very epitome of an unbiased viewpoint.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    The Land is Ours, SugarFree, the Land is Ours!!!

  • ||

    The Earth is burning. Burning! The sky is on fire!

  • T||

    A rush and a push and...?

  • ||

    Monbiot? It sounds like something that you become famous for carrying around inside you.

    "Today, doctors removed a 44 lb. monbiot from a women in Madagascar. It had been growing for years, siphoning off her blood and nutrients, all the while it was criticizing her purchasing decisions as a consumer, claiming she was killing the Earth."

  • Spencer Smith||

    Did you SEE what paper that guy wrote those for?

    These are the definition of ad hominem attacks.

  • oncogenesis||

    I could go on, but space doesn't allow.

    Is the Internet finally running out of bits?! Oh, noes! It anthropogenic global bandwidth depletion!!!

  • Max||

    Reasonoid just love coming across marginal science wackos. Rational optimist! What a fuckwad.

  • Max's Cock||

    I am so tiny and blue.

  • ||

    Is that you, Monbiot?

  • Spencer Smith||

    Did you really just call Matt Ridley a marginal science wacko? Really?

  • barfman||

    *barf*

  • Abdul||

    Anonobot is getting more relevant than Max.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    getting?

  • Max||

    I would SO suck Chad's cock... *sigh* but Mom won't let me.

  • Tony||

    I suck Chad's cock on my private beach. It's always a good time, until we start getting depressed about how fucked up the world is...

  • Max||

    Can I come to visit you at your home in Florida? I'll just tell Mom I'm headed out for some free-range tofu... she'll fall asleep and forget I was ever gone.

  • Tman||

    One of the foremost principles of scientific inquiry is the idea of exposing your work so that others may test your theories and help to falsify your information one way or the other.

    The sheer lack of exposure of the methods and data used by the IPCC and even worse the manipulation and distortion of the data that was made available shows that they are not serious scientific inquiries, and their motives should be questioned.

    MNG/Chony etc. like to say that "well maybe this was bunk, but there are tons of others studies that blahblahblah." The problem is that if this were so, why wouldn't the IPCC use them? Why have they ignored other studies that are supposedly peer-reviewed and accepted scientific theories?

  • ||

    Exactly. If the proof is so self evident why did the IPCC feel the need to lie?

  • sarcasmic||

    Follow the money.
    Who funds these studies and what do they have to gain?

  • ||

    Exactly. And how many academic careers have been made off of global warming? If the whole thing went away tomorrow, a lot of people would be hunting for jobs. No one in the field has any motivation to skeptical.

  • sarcasmic||

    The scientists and academics are guilty only of self preservation by providing what the source of their funding is asking of them.

    Who is backing the research grants and what do they have to gain?

  • Al Gore||

    Ixnay! Ixnay!

  • ||

    I'm reluctant to assume pecuniary motives on either side of this debate, but I think there are philosophical/psychological/religious biases involved. The concept of Original Sin, of humans being Fallen, of our ancestors being more virtuous than we are, aren't just Christian concepts. It's a small step from "We are sinners going to Hell unless we become righteous" to "We are destroying the planet unless we become carbon-neutral."

    This is not to say that humans haven't, and still might be, changing the environment in negative ways. But clearly there's often a religious fervor on the doomsayers' side, as "rational" and "scientific" as they claim to be.

  • Fire Tiger||

    In a number of instances, authors mainly quote their own work. This is unworthy. In a number of instances, authors mainly quote other IPCC material. This is incestuous. The quoting of IPCC material is most pronounced in the scenario discussion, which can be summarised as "We, the IPCC, declare that all previous IPCC work is great." This is silly.

    Another part of the literature review is severely biased; the authors quote their own work, and that of their friends, but systematically ignore the work of many authors.

    The above is from Economist Richard Tol, an IPCC expert reviewer, comments on the IPCC report.

    The simple answer is because it is easier to quote work you are already familiar with than to educate yourself on all work on a subject.

  • ||

    How sweet is it that the Gaurdian has to resort to touting Lomborg's new book as proof that AGW is real?

  • ||

    I will support spending $100B on spurious solutions to so-called climate change if--for 3 years afterward--I can kick a hippie (just one hippie, mind you) in the taint any given day between Oct. 1st and March 31st that the local temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit below the average for the last 40 years.

  • ||

    Does your offer apply to everyone? Do you have a newsletter?

  • ||

    Everyone that chips in is eligible. I'm not sure how to designate the target hippies. I mean, I'm on a college campus... it's a movable feast of heavy-lidded, slow-witted, granolatards.

  • ||

    Anyone who

    Drives a hybrid
    Prides themselves on their recycling
    Owns a home compost pile
    Talks about green energy and "living off the grid"
    Makes sure they shop "local and organic" as much as possible

    That should be a start.

  • ||

    I think Earth in the Balance being prominently displayed in the bookcase should also be a qualifier.

  • T||

    Hey! I have Earth In The Balance on the bookshelf!

    I've read my Sun Tzu. Know your enemy.

  • ||

    Nice.

  • ||

    John--Don't forget the conspicuous consumption that goes on all the while they claim their green cred.

    That recovered lumber isn't going to cover your new addition on the bungalow, you know.

  • ||

    Don't forget the Carbon Pigsonic 65" plasma in the living room with An Inconvenient Truth looping on Blu-Ray.

  • Marvin the Martian||

    Oh, boy! The Plutonium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator! Now I can blow up the Earth!

  • ||

    There are can show at least ten houses within a mile of me that are McMansions built on lots after tearing down perfectly good homes that have Priuses parked in the driveway. The cognitive dissonance is just astounding.

  • Conrad Hilton||

    Apparently, in John's world I'm about 40% hippie. Please don't kick me, SF.

  • Conrad Hilton||

    Why is Conrad Hilton about 40% hippie? Don't ask. Fuckin' joke handles.

  • ||

    I compost and go to the farmer's market. So I'm at least 30%.

  • Bronwyn||

    Actually, most of those things aren't necessarily hippie characteristics.

    Shopping local and organic (ooh! Unpasteurized, even!), living off the grid, home composting... I see those things as more libertarian, at least insofar as the desire to get out from under regulated industry.

    I'd much rather eat what I want direct from vendors/farmers of my choosing and power my home with wind, propane and solar, and keep my garbage pickup fees.

    And that has nothing to do with hippie-dippy tree-hugging idealism.

  • Bronwyn||

    Ok, maybe not *all* of the garbage pickup.

    I'm all for kicking Prius and SmartCar owners, though.

    Ooh! And don't forget the vegetarians in leather shoes!

  • ||

    I guess the distinction would be if you look at those things as a personal luxury that you can afford and not something that should be enforced on the world for their own good, you are not a hippie.

    The only reason those things are remotely attractive is because our idiotic laws are slowly destroying civilization. Why live off the grid except for the fact that the grid is getting increasingly unreliable thanks to the efforts of dirty Luddite hippies.

  • cynical||

    Being able to avoid doing business with a monopolistic corporatist private-public enterprise (e.g. utility)?

  • Ice Nine||

    Anyone who doesn't tamper the RIFD spy chips on their recycling cans.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    None of those things are indicative of being a greentard.

    For me it is, No, Yes, Yes, No, Yes.

    Greentards are those who advocate government intervention in order to force others to do those things.

    Don't mix those who might be environmentally responsible in their own way with those who want to tax others so they can feel good about their energy choices.

  • ||

    I was a hippie 40 years ago. Long hair, dope smoking, acid dropping, jobless. Skipped classes to attend riots...er I mean anti war/fuck the draft demonstrations (bring the boys home-hell no we won't go). Nixon and his cronies ("When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow." John Erlichman et. al.) didn't get me.
    Closed down a midwestern university after two weeks of dancing with the State police and national guard. Oh yeah. I didn't wear any underwear.
    Today I still smoke dope while I work for the phone company.
    I refuse to be spiritual and I refuse to be green. Drive a Ford F 150 and shop at Walmart.
    I laugh at the local farmers market schism. Something about not being organic enough.
    The only demonstrations I attend are the pro life events.
    I bring a coat hanger and try to get the adults to tell their daughters what they are good for. I am not welcomed.
    I was a hippie. I can't be one today. The 60's are gone. I loved every minute but I sure wouldn't go back.
    Bernieyeball
    Sees All,
    Knows All,
    Doesn't Think Much of Any of It.
    (Except maybe the gumbo at Show Me's.)

  • ||

    I would like to see someone become proactive about the actual scientific questions at work here. Even if AGW is correct, the powers-that-be that ostensibly study this for a living run one of the most mis-managed and suspect digital infrastructures and data-collection points (weather stations) I've ever studied in detail. That is a fact.

    I would really like to see someone with big pockets (Koch brothers?) start a study of macroclimate trends from scratch, with a clean slate. The poor practices in data collection, aggregation, and statistical techniques used in normalizing that data, could be avoided in the implementation of this new effort. A standardized instrument unit could be designed and fabricated (the prototype could even be a X-Prize-type contest). It would be on the 'net and each unit would be calibrated to a standard, minimizing the creeping differences that happen even with different examples of identical instruments, and store its own parameters with an .xml file on each instrument package.

    Then, distribute these instruments (number of instruments would depend on budget, desired resolution, geographic accessibility, etc.) all over the world . From the start, employ a process methodology for instrument placement with some parameters that one could say are true for all deployed instruments, such as each is at least x number of miles from an artificial heat source etc. (pictures of Warmer weather stations set up by the HVAC vents on their university buildings are hilarious...avoid that shit with this effort).

    It would take years to build up a useful data aggregate for study...but it would be a clean, standardized, precision measurement where one could have confidence in the values. I would love to compare such a system's output to the current Warmer hodgepodgalooza of uncalibrated instruments in uncontrolled placements cobbled together with some paramaterized "trick" to make all those square pegs fit in the simulator's round hole.

    Fuck yeah!

  • ||

    But if we did that, the results might not fit the narrative.

  • ||

    It would be alright, because the Narrators wouldn't own, or even be allowed to touch, such an effort. Indeed, the results didn't fit the Politically Correct narrative you could - in the spirit of scientific collaboration - offer to compare notes with the Narrators on how we got such widely divergent data, and watch the hilarity ensue as they dig around for some thumb drive that Chen said the data was on...that's what the warmers call their "Backup Storage Solution" judging from their IT competencies I see elsewhere.

    But of course, the clean data set could very well support the darkest AGW predictions and current observations. If that's the case, well, like Kepler you gotta eat it because its true. Personally, I am just quite curious in the subject at this point. I would love to actually see a well-constructed and credible digital setup on macroclimate.

  • ||

    Some wonderfully understated sarcasm in the linked article:

    Thermometers produce some of the basic input data, but the models take over from
    there. Maybe the models are just right, applying perfect adjustments and not a titch more. Maybe they
    really do filter out all the inhomogeneities, yielding an output series so precise that we can talk
    meaningfully of changes on the order of a few hundredths of a degree per decade, confident that it’s a
    pure climate signal.

  • ||

    I don't think that anyone in power actually believes in the catastrophic claims of AGW, because nobody is doing nearly enough to try and stop it. Seriously, if the claims are true we are all fucked.
    But maybe deep down they realize that the sky has always been falling, asymptotically towards our imminent destruction at least for the past 2000 years. Yet we're still here.

  • Jay B.||

    The warmer period is already in the past. We are facing the sudden weather changes like consequences of the warm period. It is possible that cooling down the temperature is just a transitional period of time. I doubt that any scientists can predict the future development but they have to learn it fast… Well, the question should be now: Can the scientist collaborate on worldwide platform to find out what is going on?

  • Ol||

    The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event - a big snowfall or drought breaking rain. Global warming is entirely compatible with these events; after all they are just weather. For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming...

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