23 January 2010

IPCC Probability Estimates

Following the admission of the glacier errors in the IPCC report, I sure hope that the IPCC's calibration of climate change probabilities is better than this:

Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on Friday said the chances of the U.N. panel having made more errors in its benchmark 2007 report were “minimal if not non-existent”, while again admitting the “regrettable error” that has raised questions about its credibility. . .

The IPCC chief asserted that the possibility of there being more errors in its 2007 report “is minimal if not non-existent.” The IPCC has laid out well documented procedures on the use of literature both peer-reviewed and grey by way of which the scientists develop the reports, he said.

“The responsibility of assessing the quality of this literature and ensuring its availability for future use lies with the authors within the larger process. After the finalisation of the chapters by authors, there is a well-defined review process that is undertaken,” he said.


  1. This brings the "infinite monkey theorem" to mind.

  2. Can someone tell what RP's responsibility is if not the quality of the finished report?

  3. Another quote from the Chairman of the IPCC:

    “In any case, this issue of the error in the IPCC report cannot be used to authenticate the findings of the ministry report.”

    So in other words, the person who did the proper science is still being marginalized. Thus is the apology a non-apology. So where are all the good climate scientists now? If there was an ounce on integrity in the entire field, wouldn't you expect someone somewhere to speak up?

  4. I assume that you have seen the various other reports that detail other errors right in that same section on Himalayan Glaciers ---

    reference to 500,000sq km as present area of Himalayan glaciers when that is the total area of all extrapolar glaciers, with Himalayan glaciers being about 33,000 sq km.

    The table just below the "2035 statement" has a table entry where they divided the 2840 meters of retreat of the Pindari glacier by 21 instead of the 121 years between the observation years of 1845 and 1966.

    See the AP article by Seth Borenstein.

    I am still waiting for any acknowledgement from the IPCC Secretary's office of the e-mail I sent regarding the Pindari glacer last Thursday. I used the contact e-mail given in the IPCC statement about the 2035 error.

  5. Roger your hopes are dashed. It seems the Telegraph is reporting four more errors in the same report dealing with Glaciers including not eing able to understand map scales and how to perfom basic math.

    Scientists are reported today as identifying four further blunders in the same part of the report as the now notorious claim that the glaciers will disappear by 2035, for which Dr Pachauri apologised this week. Prof Graham Cogley of Ontario’s Trent University, who revealed the original howler, points out for example that the same paragraph indicates that the total area of the Himalayan glaciers is 500,000 square kilometres, whereas it is in fact 33,000. And he says the whole paragraph has been attributed to a WWF report, whereas only one sentence came from it.

    Cogley and Dr Michael Zemp of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, moreover, point out that Himalayan glaciers are not “receding faster than in any other part of the world”, as the passage states, but at about the same rate as their counterparts elsewhere. And a table exhibits a mathematical blooper, saying that one glacier, which retreated by 2,840 metres between 1845 and 1966, had therefore been shrinking by 135.2 metres a year, when the true figure should be just 23.5 metres (the overall figure was clearly divided by 21, rather than 121!)

  6. #3 Mark

    "If there was an ounce on integrity in the entire field, wouldn't you expect someone somewhere to speak up?"

    They've been always speaking up....the problem was that without a smoking gun they found themselves quickly discredited as 'deniers' or 'in the pocket of oil companies'.

    Now that there is a 'smoking gun'...it is easier for others to make additional cases about additional 'crimes' committed. It's also easier to get the 'media' to listen.

  7. Harrywr2,

    No smoking gun?! Mann's original screwups, adopted and defended without audit or replication, amounted to a smoking gun. The consistent refusal to release data was a huge red flag. The incompetence of the thermometer siting was a smoking gun. The acceptance of Jones' laughable UHI study in the face of massive evidence to the contrary was a smoking gun. What about the incompetence demonstrated by the discredited studies of Rahmstorf, Steig, Briffa, et al?

    And of course, the numerous other instances of scientists pointing out how badly slanted various assessments have been. When climate scientists contend that all the science has been included and Pielke lists all the studies that have been ignored, how much easier could it be to show that the game is rigged?

    We had a smoking machine gun long before Climategate, the GISS FOIA, the glacier goofs, or the IPCC conflicts of interest.

  8. BTW -- did anyone really ever take the probability numbers seriously? Anyone with a working BS meter (even if barely operational) has to look at them and laugh. There is simply no scientific way to derive them. And anyone who ever sat through a history class or personally knows a scientist (and is thus familiar with the very human falibilities of those with a PhD) could possibly put any credence in them.

  9. It is a wonderful thing that the internet allows assertions to be challenged in real time. Previously, media would report (well actually still does) assertions, or counterassertions and that would be "the story." The framing and assertions could only be challenged in a (brief) letter to the editor. This change to a deeper dialogue is good for science and good for democracy.
    PS I am not blaming journalists.. they just don't have the time to investigate complex issues, particularly not in this day and age.

  10. Oops, I forgot the point of my previous comment. Which was that I believe in the pre-internet environment, where information was controlled by the media and scientific journals, people could get extremely sloppy or casual about their assertions (or, less charitably, untruthful). I think we are seeing the results of this in the various climate debates.. people feel that if they keep asserting that nothing is wrong, that that will be the end of the story. They haven't caught on that this is a new day vis a vis information.