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Informed reaction

Climate bloggers seem much more impressed by the IAC report than I was. Pielke Jnr describes it as "hard hitting with constructive and far-reaching consequences" while Snr says it is "insightful and valuable". I remain unconvinced as to whether the IAC's findings will really make any difference to future IPCC reports. Roy Spencer seems to agree:

I say the process cannot be fixed. DUMP the IPCC process.

The reason why is because the IPCC process was never created to achieve what the U.N. claims, and what most people believe it exists for.

The IPCC was created to use the scientific community to build a case for regulating CO2 emissions. Period.

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Reader Comments (32)

The Guardian has decided on a more important issue as their main headline.


Aug 31, 2010 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

"After watching the ecologically and economically destructive policies enacted in its name (biofuels, wind power), I think we run the risk of putting a tourniquet round our collective necks to stop a nosebleed."

Nice one from Matt Ridley.

Aug 31, 2010 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Firstly, I agree with Matt Ridley, the intention if the IPCC was always political, using the authority of science (or rather the trappings of science) to justify a political end.

Secondly, it's my observation that it's very difficult to reform a corrupt organisation, and it is a UN body to boot. Better to scrap it, but I don't see that happening, because that would be a critical admission that the AGW scam and all the scams attendant (Carbon Trading, Windmills etc) were over.

Aug 31, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Roy Spencer and Matt Ridley are right. Institutions don't do reform, they do survival. The only way to deal with a rogue institution like the IPCC is to close it down.

Aug 31, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTufty

The scandals and the gates will continue. The 'experts' will be revealed to have feet of clay. The agendas of 'advocates' will be continue to be exposed. The 'zealots' will be confined to the margins.

The blogosphere will make sure of that.

Aug 31, 2010 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

This bit is damaging - ie the journalists will eventually move 'in herd'.

I wonder how many other journo's, scientists (ie Judith Curry) thought this and are re-thinking their positions?

Times - Opinion Piece
"Three years ago, not having paid much attention, I thought that IPCC reports were reliable, fair and transparent. No longer. Despite coming from a long line of coal-mining entrepreneurs,

I’m not a “denier”: I think carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. I’m not even a sceptic (yet): I think the climate has warmed and will warm further. But I am now a “lukewarmer” who has yet to see any evidence saying that the current warming is, or is likely to be, unprecedented, fast or tending to accelerate."

followed by this....

"So I have concluded that global warming will most probably be a fairly minor problem — at least compared with others such as poverty and habitat loss — for nature as well as people."

Aug 31, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

And of course the general public will also see this:

Daily Mail - pg 4

UN climate experts 'overstated dangers':
Keep your noses out of politics, scientists told

"UN climate change experts have been accused of making 'imprecise and vague' statements and over-egging the evidence.
A scathing report into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for it to avoid politics and stick instead to predictions based on solid science."

Read more:

One more cold winter, and the media and the public, may move on mass to scepticism.Especially, if the CAGW alarmists, get even more shrill, demanding actions, damming deniars, spinning, etc..

The public will pick up on the behaviour of the advocates. Who do not seem to realise that the old tactics, of 'deniar' - 'sceptics', will not work any more to shut out difficult questions..

They may also be increasingly surprised, that some of the media no longer thei their press releases as 'gospel' and start asking questions..

Evertime I have seen a CAGW advocate pushed on a questiuon, they have performed very badly.

Aug 31, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I have to say Matt Ridley is spot on. If only the politicians will listen, or at least take note of his devastating statements about the state of "climate change".

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

By the way, an interesting side issue. In his press conference yesterday, which I watched on line thanks to the Bishop's link info, Pachauri kept saying that six other reports and now this seventh, had confirmed that the basic science is correct. Yet in his press conference, Shapiro of the IAC said ``we did not review the science''. Oxburgh and Russell and Willis all said the same thing: they did not claim to check the science. That leaves the Dutch and Penn State -- not sure who the sixth would be?

Will somebody check the science then?

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

JohnH, yes, ask any magician, it's called misdirection. It's an invaluable tool in entertainment, despicable in a newspaper which used to have a reputation for relative honesty, even from those who disagreed with its political inclination.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

"...Pachauri kept saying that six other reports and now this seventh, had confirmed that the basic science is correct."

It may be irrelevant, but does any of you think Pachauri actually believes this? If not, it doesn't speak well of him.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

It's good to welcome Matt Ridley to the lukewarmers' club. As far as I can tell almost every scientifically educated person (outside the "consensus") who takes a serious look at AGW ends up as some sort of lukewarmer, which I shall define (very roughly!) as believing in a climate sensitivity in the range 0 to 2C per doubling.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I see the Independent are in FSM (full-scaremongering-mode) today with this headline, "Why failure of climate summit would herald global catastrophe: 3.5°"

What did the IAC have to say of the science as espoused by the IPCC?

Ah, yes!

".... assigned high confidence to statements for which there is very little evidence....."

It would appear that the Independent's Environment Editor, Michael McCarthy, is addicted to this bull$hit.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

That quote from Roy Spencer really says it all.

It was only ever created to 'inappropriately torque' data, ultimately to screaming point, while claiming impartiality and unchallengeable academic authority. A global PR job to prise control of energy taxation income out of the hands of individual nations and into the UN, to permanently fund an ambitious vision of irreversible post-democratic imperial power and policy.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

The report is quite devastating, at least in contrast to the low-powered efforts of Russell and others who followed up in such a feeble way on climategate. But in my reading of it so far, it misses two key points.

One is that the IPCC was set up to make a political case for reducing CO2 emissions, and that the dramatic success it had in doing that reveals a huge vulnerability in our political systems, including the UN itself. Such one-sided, selective, PR-driven special pleading should not really have had such a easy ride of it.

The second is that almost the entire edifice is based on giving computer models of climate far more weight than they deserve, given their severe and widely acknowledged limitations. The Club of Rome also enjoyed a disproportionate impact thanks to their promotion of woefully inadequate computer models in the 1970s.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

But, Jonathan and Mac, see the disussion on the Bishop's earlier post (here). The Independent article refers to the need "to limit the warming to C above the pre-industrial level ... considered the most that human society can stand without serious consequences". That mysterious "C" seems to mean the 2 deg C "target" we hear so much about from politicians - something, they assert, is of overriding importance. Yet it seems it may have no scientific basis at all.

On topic: the Bish, Matt Ridley and Roy Spencer are probably right. But this episode must have done the IPCC great harm and added to the clear momentum towards a major reappraisal (if only by the hitherto supine MSM) of the entire AGW scare.

Aug 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Matt, as you say, in almost every case, I think, we've heard statements to the effect that checking the science was outside the reviewers' remit.

We also hear curious statements like this one from Bob Watson (BBC Newsnight, 7th July):

"The first thing, which is very important is not only this report but Lord Oxburgh's report, the House of Commons report - all stated there is no reason to question the science [my emphasis]. Not only is the integrity of these scientists completely honest, but also their data is honest and they did not in any way adversely influence IPCC..."

Aug 31, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Thinking about the question of the IPCC being corrupt, it really isn't, it's an organisation going about pursuing corrupt objectives, so it is what it was designed to be. Reform would amount to changing its fundamental purpose.

Going on to what follows from the IPCC, at least in the UK we have a whole lot of government machinery predicated on it which will take some dismantling, such as a road tax regime based on CO2 emissions. All three main political parties have climbed aboard the bandwagon and we have interesting organisations such as the Met Office and the Carbon Trust which would have to find other reasons for their existence or face abolition or downsizing. The legacy of this foolishness is going to be with us for many years to come.

Aug 31, 2010 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Robin, the 2C target is largely meaningless, not just for the reasons you describe but also because its significance depends critically on the figure you assume for the climate sensitivity. If you assume 1C per doubling then we can go over 1000ppm without reaching the 2C target, even supposing that that matters. AGW only becomes a serious concern if you believe BOTH that the 2C target should be taken seriously AND that the sensitivity 2C per doubling or higher.

Aug 31, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

The IPCC is the child of the "no growth" crowd, ironically called Progressives. They are to tweak Hadley's neat phrase, "Irrational Pessimists" - and what could you expect but that they would use "a tourniquet round our collective necks to stop a nosebleed."

I just went through a discussion with Gary Haq from SEI at the University of York at WUWT - These folks are incredibly self-righteous and condescending. The IPCC is but one manifestation of these folks. We allow them influence at our peril.

Aug 31, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

The Chairman of the IPCC said at the 11:00AM press conference in New York yesterday that it is up to the 194 or so member governments of the IPCC to decide which of the IAC recommendations to implement and then decide when to implement them.

But why should these 194 or so governments even bother to look at the IAC report?

The UK has already got in place the Climate Change Bill (justified by IPCC assessments), so the objective, as nailed by Roy Spenser above, has been achieved in the UK.

Even if the IPCC was closed down tomorrow, it would not make a blind bit of difference in the UK or any of the other countries which have used the IPCC to justify new taxes, levies and regulations.

Mission accomplished.

Aug 31, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

"Keep your noses out of politics, scientists told."

Perhaps that should be "Politicians -- keep your noses out of science." As stated above, the purpose of creating the IPCC was not to assess objectively the costs and benefits of political action (or inaction), but to provide scientific cover for political action. Well, possibly its goal was the former originally, but at this point it's only performing the latter function.

The majority of those involved at the moment are advocates. Lead editors of AR4 focused on avoiding dilution of message, despite directions concerning inclusion of significant dissent, at least in an appendix. About 1/3 of references were to "grey literature", again contrary to the stated rules. I see little reason to believe that the IAC's request to follow the process will have a strong effect. The only way to make a programmatic change involves a clean sweep of the leadership, especially lead editors, but the IPCC made sure to get their chosen slate of AR4 veterans on board AR5 before the IAC report was issued.

AR5 = AR4. Probably with fewer of the overt errors and inappropriate citations, but the same exaggeration of (negative) climatic effects, diminution of contributors other than CO2, and overstatement of certainty in 100-year predictions. Sigh.

Aug 31, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

My view of the IAC report is that it indicates the direction of travel among the 'powers-that-be'. It went much further in its criticism than any other review and I can't help thinking that it would not have done so without a nod of approval from those fat-rats trying to find a comfortable route off what is now seen to be a sinking ship.

I expect a blood-bath for many of the 'scientists' involved in the AGW scam with the 'innocent-but-misled-and-poorly-advised' politicians leading the attacks. Our tax hikes will however somehow turn out to be essential for other purposes, so, much as the politicians would of course 'love' to do so, it will prove impossible to avoid them.

Aug 31, 2010 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E


Re your "Irrational Pessimists" and discussion with Gary Haq, you might be amused to look at this exchange on the Make Wealth History (get the message?) blog. Perhaps you'd even like to reply to the recent comment by the admirable Alex Cull of this parish (or rather bishopric).

Aug 31, 2010 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

You are quite right as usual. Although the IAC report makes some criticisms, its recommendations are feeble and woolly.
Just look at the main recommendations:
* Establish an Executive Committee (great, more meetings and admin)
* Elect an Executive Director to lead the Secretariat (ditto)
* Encourage Review Editors to fully exercise their authority (they'll say they do this already)
* Adopt a more targeted and effective process for responding to reviewer comments (how are they going to do this with 90,000 comments?)
etc etc
- In other words, slight slap on wrist, but carry on more or less as you were. As Harold says, AR5 will turn out much the same as AR4.

Spencer is right, the IPCC should be dumped entirely. But I don't think this can be done overnight. There has to be a gradual face-saving climb-down. Perhaps this report is a first step in this direction. When it transpires that the IPCC failed to act on these recommendations, there will be even more criticism next time.

Aug 31, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM


You're right of course about the 1 deg C per doubling. The trouble is, raise that with your average warmist and you get dragged into an endless debate about feedbacks etc. The beauty of the 2 deg C "target" is that even the scientists who invented it agree the claims politicians are making are nonsense. Here's an extract from the Spiegel article:

Rarely has a scientific idea had such a strong impact on world politics. Most countries have now recognized the two-degree target. If the two-degree limit were exceeded, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen announced ahead of the failed Copenhagen summit, "life on our planet, as we know it today, would no longer be possible."

But this is scientific nonsense. "Two degrees is not a magical limit - it's clearly a political goal," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). ... The reality, of course, is much more complicated."

Schellnhuber ought to know. He is the father of the two-degree target. "Yes, I plead guilty," he says, smiling.

Aug 31, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Thank you for the link. I checked it out and added my two cents. Your comments and Alex's are excellent and at least Jeremy responded in a civil manner.

Aug 31, 2010 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Matt, why check the science? The science is

By the way The Rational Optimist is a great read - I throughly recommend it.

Aug 31, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

or even 'thoroughly'...


Aug 31, 2010 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh


I do so hope that Gary Haq still has the inclination to monitor that post. Just back off hols and it provided a little pressure release!

Aug 31, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

"Pach"Man has been kaputskied by his own hand - he's dead in the water at the UN and will only end up a scapegoat (and historical footnote) and taudry novelist. The Elite of Mann-made Climate Change (formerly Mann-made Global Warming) have suffered a mortal wound. It will no doubt take a while, some have tenure, some will hold out until their last will and testament is read; but the deed is done. That does not mean the End of the Green Earth Mob - they are very much alive and well; and the group I tend to refer to as The Anarchists (those who'll grab anything to incite chaos) they too are going full speed. It is quite over for "Mann-kind", however, and that -when you stop to think about the matter- bodes well for the rest of the planet. Tempest Fugit, as they say --Life's a beach! Always changing! Always the same!

Aug 31, 2010 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPascvaks

The FT is calling for Pachauri to go, as flagged at GWPF

Aug 31, 2010 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

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