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« Vexatious behaviour | Main | Michael Meacher on the Hockey Stick »

Ian Katz in the Graun

There's an interesting piece by Ian Katz in the Guardian today. His approach to the current state of global warming is to declare that every rock has to be lifted before any progress can be made. This doesn't seem unreasonable.

He has also started to think about where we go from here, and wonders about the possibility of removing the IPCC from the control of governments and having it run by national academies.

Next, the credibility of the IPCC – or some form of scientific high court – must be restored. In the short term that means appointing independent experts to review any alleged errors in the panel's reports. At the same time the IPCC should renounce, or at least severely restrict the use of, grey ­literature. "If that means you can't be comprehensive then don't be," says a senior scientist advocating this course. There is a strong case for more radical reforms: the panel should arguably be replaced by a body controlled by national scientific academies rather than governments.

The problem with this is that the national academies are wholly (or nearly wholly) owned subsidiaries of governments, even the nominally independent ones like the Royal Society. Those of us who are suspicious of the IPCC are hardly going to be convinced by a body run by the likes of the Royal Society's climate head honcho, ex-IPCC man Sir John Houghton, or the NAS's Ralph Ciccerone, he of the Hockey Stick panel shenanigans.


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Reader Comments (16)

They should just scrap the IPCC? The need for it is not scientific but wholly political.

Feb 9, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterTristan

This Katz guy is a moron.

He thinks (or hopes) that some better scientists with more integrity will use improved and novel techniques to come up with the same answer as the fraudsters. The answer that he already "knows" is correct.

Maybe he should ponder why thousands of "climatologists" have spent years looking for compelling evidence to back their theories. They never found it so they had to start faking and lying. Maybe this is because the evidence just does not exist and there is not a problem.

Time for these one-worlders to start over with a different threat like asteroids or aliens.

Intergovernmental Panel on Alien Threats.

Feb 9, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I agree national academies, specially as they stand now, are not the answer. But what is? What do you suggest?

Feb 9, 2010 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard


Follow Ronald Reagan's advice:

"Don't just do something - stand there"

Feb 9, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Science is about establishing truth. Most legal systems that we are familiar also seek to establish truth, which is done by an adversarial system. (Even legislature creates laws under an adversarial system, unbalanced as it is). Peer review was supposed to be like that, but has become corrupted. Not enough checks and balances. We need something like the Internet RFC model to choose equal numbers of sceptical and non-sceptical scientists to debate the science, and the equivalent of a jury to vote on the most scientifically compelling arguments, based on the evidence. The jury should most definitely not be picked by governments.

Feb 9, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Williams

I'd forget about the National Academies as being in any way relevant.

What counts is funding to individual researchers. This applies to all science fields. The funding process is almost totally Government provided, is competitive, and increasingly results driven. If you don't publish enough in the right journals and get cited enough you won't get a new grant.

And very much these days, if you don't toe the party line you won't get into journals and you definitely won't get cited.

A worrying trend is that to be sexy in science you need to include some reference to climate change *somehow* in your papers and grant applications. I know from my colleagues from a whole host of Biological sciences that it is almost mandatory to include a headline section showing their work will be critical in avoiding the worst excesses of climate change [insert favourite fluffy animal, reptile, plant, region, species as appropriate]

Forget IPCC, forget National Academies, find some way to get an independent science community who are not funding driven. Oh - and at the same time find out some way to stop politicisation of the whole scientific process. I am distinctly uncomfortable with the cynical use of the climate science debate to further the agendas of "really big money" political parties - i.e. those on the right wing and those on the very right wing presently slanging it out on certain continents.

Feb 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTilde Guillemet

There is no need for any UN governed body because there is no warming problem.
There may be a cooling prblem although the sun is now showing signs of life - we may miss a serious minimum.
There is an arguement for taking steps to combat food and energy shortage even if thecurrent cycle falls within a thirty year cycle.

Feb 9, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAileni Noyle

It's sad, the state that the Royal Society has been reduced to by the present generation of Fellows. Shame on them.

Feb 9, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Last time I looked the Royal Society were uncritically parroting the IPCC.

Feb 9, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Well said Jack Hughes, you have it exactly right. The dead giveaway is when he says

"They need to go back to first principles and explain how we know that CO2 causes warming, how we know CO2 levels are rising, how we know it's our fault, and how we can predict what is likely to happen if we don't act"

He wants to go back to EXACTLY the same rubbish, but"If we just frame it right and repeat it often enough, we'll be home and dry" .

@dearime, presumably "For they are NOT jolly good Fellows?"

@Tilde, I'd say the market is as always the best mechanism. Prizes for achievements, tax cuts for funding research? I don't know, but it needs to get right away from politicians and governments.

Feb 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Royal Society as a fakecharity:

"Government funding comes in the form of Parliamentary Grants-in-aid which, over the last four years (most recent accounts 31st March 2008), has amounted to: £31.7m, £32.9m, £36.6m and £44.9m respectively. So from 2005 to 2008 the government's contributions have increased by about 42%."

This was previously on Wikipedia but the article has been revised. See

Feb 9, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

I have now finished reading your book. This provides an opportunity to both thank and congratulate you on making this topic so accessible to the layman.

When reading it I was reminded of the words of the arch propagandist, Dr Goebbels, who said:
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

We are close to, if not at, the point where some advocates of the hockey stick recognise that they have been rumbled. To borrow an expression of the (UK) political journalists, it is time for them to establish a new narrative. The Guardian articles, the Meacher article and others now appearing in the media are, it seems to me, part of that process of establishing a new narrative. It recognises deficiencies in the hockey stick team (who could well be left hanging in the wind) but asserts other evidence of AGW and the need to continue to invoke the precautionary principle.

If this reasoning is correct, then you and your colleagues in the science community will have won a battle but not the war.

Feb 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

oldtimer - you are spot on.

Lets not forget who fund Gavin Schmidt's blog, nor which organisation stands behind that ... all the way up the food chain.
I'm not naming names because I don't want to get the good Bishop Hill into trouble, I value his blog and work too much for that.

But it should have become obvious by now that this is not about the science alone.
The things Richard North and Christopher Booker have been describing about the money trail in regard to the novelist and railway engineer who chairs the IPCC are just one part of this whole mess.

Feb 9, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans


[BH: My apologies - it's slang for the Guardian - it's supposed to be a joke about their copyediting. They allegedly once printed their own name as "The Grauniad".]

Feb 9, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebaneau

"In the short term that means appointing independent experts to review any alleged errors in the panel's reports."

Yes, very funny, more appointments: and a never ending trail of vested interests and suspicions of Hadley'esq "grant cottaging".

Just release the code and data, then sit back and let the internet do its stuff, like it's already been doing.

It should be no surprise at all that this kind of approach is almost never mooted by the Grauniad/statist/eco-loon/grand-narrative sect.

Feb 9, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

The Dutch Academy of Science is not eligible either, since its head Prof. Robbert Dijkgraaf is an AGW believer too.

Feb 11, 2010 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterC.W. Schoneveld

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