IPCC- the dangers of asking the wrong question

JR Max Wheel

30th September 2013

Anyone wishing to comment on the matter of climate changes runs into a wall of noise and vituperation. This has degenerated into a quasi-religious debate, accompanied by strong overtones of original sin- it is our fault and we must adjust according to the IPCC’s highly prescriptive views, which means a massive shift to decarbonise economies in a time scale that is both increasingly unaffordable and too rapid to be achievable.

The mandate of the IPCC was not however to ask what causes climate change and what, if anything can be done about it, it was an entirely different question. It was “for the purpose of assessing “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. It does not carry out new research nor does it monitor climate-related data. It bases its assessment mainly on published and peer reviewed scientific technical literature”. In other words it assumes that climate change is a human induced matter from the outset, so asking and funding climate scientists ( and many who are not) produces an unequivocal answer that 95% of expert opinion understands that humans are indeed responsible for it.

In a devastating critique of IPCC’s methodology and practice, Professor McKitrick, a member of the IPCC demonstrates that there is an opaque method of lead author selection, an absence, even a suppression of of giving space to dissenting reviews, conflicts of interest, deliberate rewriting by lead authors, and manipulation of data. If this were not bad enough, the appointees from the 195 countries contain many who lack specific expertise on climate science. Stunningly a journalist, Donna Laframboise, unearthed that the World Wildlife Fund had appointed 130 scientists in a targeted campaign, who were responsible for penning 28 out of 44 articles and were coordinating lead authors in 15 of the 44 chapters of the last report AR4. This does not even address the now infamous Climategate scandal.  McKitrick recommendations are for improvement in the whole methodology and management of the IPCC system. Link here: http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/mckitrick-ipcc_reforms.pdf

This matters deeply because it is a UN body and should have an unimpeachable standing. It does not and is leading to ever growing public dissatisfaction with IPCC alarmism and myth creation (melting glaciers and declining polar bear populations). The green lobby has already landed the public with inefficient wind and solar technologies supported by large subsidies and expensive back-up for intermittent and hence non-dispatchable power supply.

Instead of asking what is causing climate change, the IPCC have sought to focus on scientific papers which answer the question that they have asked themselves, the evidence that it is caused solely or mostly by human behaviour:  this is the antithesis of scientific methodology and at worst and exercise in pure propaganda. As it happens there are a number of competing views about causes of climate change from cosmic radiation and cloud formation, sun cycles, variable earth orbits, volcanic activity, ocean current circulations, these may or may not be exaggerated or diminished by human activity. The truth is we do not know and in such circumstances, scientists should follow the scientific method and establish testable hypotheses.

This is, however, a political battle as much as a scientific one and as such it is open to a mix of dogma and self-interest (attractive funding streams for academics). Climate change is certainly no new phenomenon or life on earth would simply not have evolved. In such long time scales and such complex interactions, we do not know. Why then should Lord Stern assert that “Business will be watching world leaders and their ministers to check they understand the findings of the IPCC”. Perhaps the question should be that the public ( and its leaders) should examine the workings of the IPCC and its supporters and ensure that they deliver properly structured, transparent and sensible science and policies and not assume that the rot set in 1750 with Western industrialization