14 February 2010

RMS Confirms Effort to Skirt IPCC Publication Deadlines

[UPDATE: Real Climate discusses the Muir-Wood paper, and refuses to correct obvious factual errors in their account even after having them pointed out. Their post is appropriately titled facts and spin.]

In my efforts to unravel the issues associated with the IPCC's mistreatment of the subject of disasters and climate change I discovered that the IPCC intentionally mis-cited a paper to get around its own deadline for the inclusion of publications in its report. This fact has now been independently confirmed by RMS, a company that develops catastrophe models for re/insurance (PDF).
The research was conducted during the first half of 2006 and the full paper summarizing the results was peer reviewed and accepted for publication in November 2006. This was a few weeks outside of the cut-off date for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report in October, which is why an earlier summary version of the paper—written for a scientific workshop held in May 2006 and published in the conference proceedings in October 2006—was referenced (the IPCC can only cite published material). Despite not being able to reference it, the IPCC was aware of the full report and that it had been accepted for publication before the 4th Assessment Report was finalized.
The problem was that the "earlier summary version of the paper" did not contain any of the information for which the citation was provided in the IPCC, specifically a discussion of rising temperatures and the increasing costs of disasters. In academia, the intentional mis-citing of a paper in support of a claim for which the paper offers absolutely no support would be a highly questionable ethical practice.

RMS is completely silent on the intentional misdirection and also on the so-called "mystery graph." I understand why. However, Rober Muir-Woods of RMS has already explained in public that the "mystery graph" should not have been included in the report. Given this fact, the omission of this detail from the new RMS FAQ is unfortunate. It is however nice to see my accounting of events surrounding the mistreatment of disaster losses by the IPCC receive some independent confirmation from RMS.


  1. Real Climate has a misleading post up about this.

    I have just submitted the following as a comment on their site:

    A few comments on the discussion of the disasters issue:

    This statement in your post is in error:

    "It cited a paper by Muir-Wood as its source although that paper doesn’t include the graph, only the analysis that it is based on."

    The cited paper does not include the analysis that the graph is based on. In fact, it includes no discussion of temperature trends and disasters. You can confirm this for yourself:

    You should correct the error in this post.

    Also, you say that Muir-Wood says "it was appropriate to include [his research] them in the report"

    This is only partially true. Muir-Wood was referring to the summary of the mis-cited paper, which he says was summarized fairly. You should also note that the summary that Muir-Wood thinks is fair, he wrote as a contributing author of that chapter.

    With respect to the dubious graph Muir-Wood says that he created it informally and that it should not have been included.

    You ignore IPCC issues in the review process on this issue, notably making stuff up about my views:

    So questions for you:

    1. Was the intentional misciting of Muir-Wood's work to avoid the publication deadline appropriate?

    2. Was the inclusion of the dubious graph appropriate, given that it appears in no literature before or since, peer-reviewed or gray, and was called by more than one reviewer "misleading" and recommended to be removed? Muir Wood now agrees that it should not have been included. Do you disagree?

    3. Was it appropriate for the IPCC to make stuff up about my views?

  2. Dr Pielke:

    Went to site and left a comment.

    Noted that you have gotten their attention big time!

  3. Unsurprisingly, gavin didn't respond. You're probably persona non grata at this point.

  4. Puts the cat amongst the pigeons.

  5. Was this paragraph added to the RMS file after the original publication? I note that the .pdf metadata indicates that the file was produced last evening at 10:38 long after you posted your link.

    "A graph showing averaged global temperature and averaged catastrophe loss since 1970 was included in supplementary
    material rather than the IPCC report itself and was not itself published. RMS believes that the graph could be misinterpreted
    and should not have been included in these materials."

  6. Using Google's Quick Read feature I confirmed that the RMS statement was modified to address the mystery graph and now supports the Muir-Wood's quote you previously posted.

    I see no other modifications in their statement.

  7. The research was conducted during the first half of 2006 and the full paper summarizing the results was peer reviewed and accepted for publication in November 2006.