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« More bend it by Bayes | Main | IPCC Science: Fit for purpose - Josh 111 »

A correspondence of warmists

The Economist's letters page features missives from Bob Ward and Ottmar Edenhofer.

Ward rather remarkably takes up a criticism that has been made by sceptics for many years, calling for the IPCC to issue its reports at the same time as the Summary for Policymakers.

Edenhofer, meanwhile, is in misdirection mode, noting that the IPCC has got itself a shiny new policy on conflicts of interest but forgetting to mention that it doesn't apply to the Fifth Assessment Report.

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Reader Comments (17)

..."Our new special report on renewables continues the tradition of balanced, thorough assessments at the IPCC."...

Too true.

Jul 7, 2011 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I like the rather limp wind turbines next to Bob Ward's missive.

Jul 7, 2011 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

If only the UN would look to the owners of the News of the World for inspiration, on what to do wth an outfit that makes up stories, distorts evidence, will not reveal the truth and constantly attacks its detractors

Jul 7, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

The Economist is generally an intelligently-written and genuinely sceptical newspaper. Except when it comes to climate change where the warmist journalists concerned appear to have left their critical thinking at the door.

This is exactly why I haven't subscribed for years.

Jul 7, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

hope this doesn't make u feel poorly again, bish:

6 July: Guardian: Fiona Harvey: Climate change will increase threat of war, Chris Huhne to warnUK climate secretary to tell defence experts that conflict caused by climate change risks reversing the progress of civilisation
Climate change will lead to an increased threat of wars, violence and military action against the UK, and risks reversing the progress of civilisation, the energy and climate secretary Chris Huhne will say on Thursday, in his strongest warning yet that the lack of progress on greenhouse gas emission cuts would damage the UK’s national interests.
“Climate change is a threat multiplier. It will make unstable states more unstable, poor nations poorer, inequality more pronounced, and conflict more likely,” Huhne is expected to say in a speech to defence experts. “And the areas of most geopolitical risk are also most at risk of climate change.”
He will warn that climate change risks reversing the progress made in prosperity and democracy since the industrial revolution, arguing that the results of global warming could lead to a return to a “Hobbesian” world in which life is “nasty, brutish and short”.
Huhne believes the UK and other countries must act urgently to prepare for the threat. “We cannot be 100% sure that our enemies will attack our country, but we do not hesitate to prepare for the eventuality,” he plans to say. “The same principle applies to climate change, which a report published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified as one of the four critical issues that will affect everyone on the planet over the next 30 years.”.
His comparison of climate change and terrorism echoes Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the government who warned in 2004 that global warning posed “a bigger threat than terrorism”…
Huhne will quote military experts, including the MoD and the US Pentagon, who have warned that climate change will increase the risk of conflict and potentially terrorism…

Jul 7, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Bob Ward's reasonableness - as you rightly say an unexpected theme. But there's no doubting it's been in evidence once or twice in recent days. Not that what he writes on the 'Greenpeace Karaoke' is anywhere near adequate. But I sense there is much to look forward to. People can feel the intellectual and social currents changing and are changing tack accordingly.

Jul 8, 2011 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

What's the plural for warmist?

A correspondence.

Jul 8, 2011 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

golf charley - sorry, but the UN is the problem.

The IPCC is run exactly like so many other of that organization's unaccountable little fiefdoms. Indeed, the scary thought is that the IPCC is probably better-run and more honest than most of the UN's operations.

There are bits and pieces of the UN here and there that do some good, but on the whole it's pretty toxic.

Jul 8, 2011 at 6:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Greg Cavanagh - I thought the plural of 'warmist' was 'consensus'.

Jul 8, 2011 at 6:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

Bishop, glad you are back and hope you are on the way to full recovery if not already there.

And Oh! my – what a return! Mr Edenhofer’s letter:.

To date, the actually achieved minimization of influence that Mr E extolls has been unacceptably low, certainly in the view of the skeptical community, and maybe also in the view of some warmists and agnostics. So (a) when were the ‘many layers of procedures at the IPCC’ promulgated and (b) how have they been enforced?

If promulgated procedures have not changed, then it is enforcement that has not worked because, as in the far more prominent case of FIFA, it is difficult for any person or body to police itself. Hence the police for the public.

But there is no police force for the IPCC, and never can be.

Governments will not do the job because they have no (i) motivation, (They set up the IPCC to clothe green policies with science and, because the science has failed, have had to be content with the IPCC's fabricated reports. But they have been good enough.) (ii) means of enforcement. (What is a government to do? Cut off the funds? Change the people who give them the reports they want to others who might not?)

International bodies, like the IAC, can only advise. Who? The IPCC? Governments? Who is going to listen and take action that actually addresses a problem?

The strongest influence on the IPCC will never be coercion, it will be the need to serve the governments that pay it, in exactly the way that the working population serves its employers. And governments come and go and, of course, change policies.

To date, governments have espoused green policies. We have all been witness to the results at the IPCC.

Instead, they might decide to support pure research into climate science as an end in itself. However, it seems improbable that they will ever do so with the currently provided level of funding. Also, what would they then need the IPCC for?

Or governments might decide that green policies had lost their attraction, and that the IPCC had a role in advancing that policy. They might ask the IPCC to show that global warming was not a danger. The IPCC would then behave in exactly the way we know, but in the new cause.

Layering of procedures within the IPCC is not going to be allowed to interfere with getting the job done.

Government policies are the root cause of the difficulties. The horse is in front of the cart.

Next, the Conflict of Interest Policy. Totally worthless, I think, in the above context.

When I first read it, I thought it extraordinarily weak. To check, I have just printed it out and have it in front of me. My opinion is not changed.

Just suppose that a Briffa or a Mann had been required to work within the document’s constraints. Would it have altered the contents of the reports? No!

Maybe this situation will become superceded by publication of the Implementation page, which is currently blank. Leaving it so sends the clear message that everybody should ignore the policy for now, and that suits the IPCC, at least for the time being. I expect there are unholy rows going on about it.

Then on to the text we have, which says

(1) conflicts of interest are ‘subject to disclosure’. Big deal! So I am lead author and chairman of a windmill company. So this is publicly disclosed. So governments take no notice. So what?

(2) those who select authors will need to strive for an author team composition that reflects a balance of expertise and perspectives…’. (A) Well, I did strive! (B) Well, I did not think that those who said that tree ring proxies were unreliable had worthwhile expertise so I disregarded them! (C) will need? When’s that then?

It is clear that the policy is not designed to get in the way of those who work to advance the IPCC’s actual purpose of serving the governments that pay.

It is an odd feeling not having an objection to a Bob Ward pronouncement!

Jul 8, 2011 at 6:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

I had to read Bob Ward's letter to The Economist very carefully to reassure myself that the very reasonable tone and content actually came from Bob Ward. I suspect that a sea-change is gathering force and momentum in the corridors of the Westminster Village, brought about by the certainty that slight Global Cooling is making itself known, if not yet felt. Herr Edenhoffer is still locked into the IPCC's Alice-like world view.
As for the Huhnatic and his trumpeting of coming wars due to climate change; this is yet another proof that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. That he should produce this just as Bob Ward embraces reason shows just how far out of touch Huhne and his clique are with anything in and of the actual physical world most of us inhabit.

Jul 8, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I would simply ignore that it does not apply to the 5th report and

* Write about the 5th report as if it is a change for the better
* accuse them of not following their own policy when they don't follow it for the 5th


Jul 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterjim karlock


"conflict caused by climate change" (Huhne)

What about climate change caused by conflict? Missiles must generate an awful lot of CO2, both in flight and when they arrive...

Jul 8, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Are we sure that Bob Ward doesn't have a reasonable twin..?

Jul 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


The Economist is not the paper you may have remembered. They are committed to a number of positions which colour their coverage:

Pro-deficit spending
Pro-government intervention

Climate change is certainly not their only weak point.

Jul 8, 2011 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

James P. When missiles arrive, assuming they've been well targeted and deliver a suitable payload, can substantially reduce human emissions (i.e breathing).

Jul 9, 2011 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Bromige

A policy on conflicts of interest may not be sufficient. It may not be comprehensive to eliminate the conflicts, (or prevent conflicts being disguised) nor might it be fully adhered to.
Within a business, the best way to test is to have external auditors test the policy, and periodically test for compliance.

Jul 9, 2011 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

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