17 June 2010

IPCC Disinformation

The slide above comes from the presentation of Hans von Storch to the InterAcademy Review of the IPCC, presented earlier this week in Montreal. The slide references the misrepresentation of the issue of disasters and climate change by the IPCC. von Storch is very clear in his views:
IPCC authors have decided to violate the mission of the IPCC, by presenting disinformation.
Not only did the IPCC misrepresent the science of disasters and climate change, but went so far as to issue a highly misleading press release to try to spin the issue and put an unprepared IPCC WG2 chair on the BBC to try to defend the undefensible. I was promised a response from the IPCC to my concerns, a response that has never been provided.

A former head of the IPCC, Robert Watson, says the following in the context of the 2035 glacier issue, but could be equally applied to the disaster issue:
To me the fundamental problem was that when the error was found it was handled in a totally and utterly atrocious manner.
The IAC Review of the IPCC is fully aware of this issue, and it will be interesting to see what their report says on the topic. Meantime, the IPCC is continuing its preparations for its next assessment in business-as-usual fashion.


  1. Very timely post given how the Obama administration has misrepresented the "science" of its engineering panel on the Gulf spill.

    So long as science is leashed, fed, and caged by political bodies to serve political purposes we shouldn't expect any different results on a world scale or for any particular country.

  2. Both comments are pertinent.

    Hans von Storch is right: authors and review editors knowingly and willingly distorted the literature -- in not one but a number of cases, in multiple chapters.

    Robert Watson is right too: the IPCC Bureau messed up, big time, when confronted with these "errors".

  3. For some reason I can hear the echo of the fraud vs. fudged debate that occurred here not too long ago.

  4. When ginning up taxpayer funding for high cost "green" energy apparently a few eggs had to be broken. Unfortunately it is the creditability of the IPCC that is in shards.

  5. Maybe Jack Nicholson can play the role of the IPCC.

    "You can't handle the truth!"

  6. France is going to need the IPCC to explain their 2-0 loss to Mexico. Congrats MEX!!!

  7. The IPCC is a made up of people who choose to be involved. This means that a significant majority will be "true believers" - i.e. people who see AGW as a quasi religious crusade rather than a dispassionate investigation of facts and evidence. This self-selection bias will make reform of the IPCC impossible because the "true believers" have no interest in following rules if the rules undermine their cause.

    True reform of the IPCC must start with the acknowledgement that many participants are advocates that wish to supress information that does not conform to their world view and that will taint the output of the IPCC.

  8. Still not clear why we still need an IPCC. Most folks get it, are developing climate change strategies for feds, states, communities, businesses, etc. The science we need we can round up ourselves.

    Why are we talking reform rather than simply deciding they have played their role and it is over? Other than bureaucratic inertia.

  9. Sharon F. said... 8

    "Still not clear why we still need an IPCC."

    The illusion that a Global Treaty will solve something.

  10. A few noteworthy points from von Storch's presentation and an extended commentary on the third:

    1) "No known errors in WG1"

    2) "The IPCC is an indispensible effort"

    3) Heavy use of the "linear model": "Discrimination between scientifically legitimate knowledge and culturally constructed (value-based) knowledge claims" assumes that pure science and normative issues can be cleanly separated with respect to climate change.

    Since climate change research closely fits Sheila Jasanoff's definition of "regulatory science" (as opposed to "research science"; see The Fifth Branch), such distinctions are likely impossible to draw in practice.

    Since von Storch's criticisms of IPCC focus on problems with WG2, I would be very curious how he would propose to measure human impacts without using "culturally constructed" knowledge. Aren't human impacts culturally constructed by their very definition? And can't culturally constructed knowledge, such as economics, be scientifically legitimate?

    In any event, separating "legitimate scientific knowledge" from "culturally constructed knowledge" would not help with the slide Roger highlights: disasters are inherently culturally constructed (e.g., there is no value of property outside a culture whose legal and political system defines a concept of property and whose economy assigns it a value).

    Roger: given your distaste for the linear model in the context of climate change, I'm quite surprised at your apparent endorsement of this stuff from HvS.

  11. -10-Jonathan Gilligan

    I suggest becoming a bit more familiar with HvS' views, as you haven't represented them very well. I suggest starting here:


  12. Yes, Hans von Storch, but I suspect that there are many UNKNOWN errors in WGI which would be translated into known errors if that report were to be subjected to (say) the intensity of scrutiny that was applied some years ago to Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist.

    A post of 18 May 2007 on the website of Roger Pielke Sr discussed two examples of allegedly “scientifically erroneous statements” in Chapter 1 of WGI. Perhaps it has now been shown that the statements in question were not erroneous, or perhaps this remains a matter of dispute (I don’t know).

    Other examples of alleged errors in the WGI report were listed by “John M” in a posting to “The rot spreads to WG3” thread on Bishop Hill’s blog (28 February 2010).

    I pointed out on the same thread that it was stated in the text of Chapter 11 of WGI (p. 900) that “The percentage JJA change in [projected precipitation by] 2100 under the A1B scenario for southern Australia has an interquartile range of –26% to –7%.” But the text was wrong. The “correct” interquartile range in question (as estimated from the multi-model simulations and published in Table 11.1, p. 856) was –20% to –4%. The mistake was made as a result of the authors picking up the relevant interquartile range from Supplementary Table S.1.1, which gives the range of BIAS in the simulated precipitation between the various models, not the range of change in projected precipitation in the 21st century.

    In 2001 the Royal Society and 16 other national science academies published a statement in Science recognising the IPCC as “the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes” and endorsing its “method of achieving this consensus". It is to be hoped that these Academies, many of which are members of the InterAcademy Council to which the IAC report is to be submitted, will have brought to their attention the fact that there were errors in the contributions to AR4 of all of the Working Groups.

  13. There are plenty of errors in WG1, which I am trying to collate. Quite a few of these come from Roger sr.
    Exactly which are errors, and which are misleading distortions and exaggerations, is debatable, but these are clear errors:
    - wrong average of cloud albedo, fig SPM2
    - false claim of decreasing snow cover (SPM)
    - false claim that troposphere is warming faster than surface (ch 3)
    - false claim of warming since the TAR (ch 3)
    - false statements about increased hurricanes (leading to Landsea resignation)

    Thanks to Ian for the other examples, which I will add to the list.

  14. Ian Castles @12:

    "In 2001 the Royal Society and 16 other national science academies published a statement in Science recognising the IPCC as “the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes” and endorsing its “method of achieving this consensus".

    Speaking of this highly over-rated "consensus", it is interesting to note that no less a luminary than Mike "the idea of climate change is so plastic" Hulme has acknowledged - albeit somewhat belatedly - that what is often called the "overwhelming scientific consensus" is, in fact, little more than multiple "consensus judgments" [whatever that term is supposed to mean], each of which has been made by a mere "few dozen" experts.


  15. Interesting to read on your (Roger) bio; member of liberal think tank, yet he has demonstrated some objectivity that one does not commonly see in liberals. Me thinks you are a few more scandals away from turning into a liberal skeptic and then poor guy, watch how the disdain from the "elect" falls upon you. You appeat too honest to stay in the liberal camp too long as liberals are typically kept on the plantation by ignorance or pay off.