24 February 2010

Trenberth, Christy and Pielke on IPCC Reform

The Council on Foreign Relations asked Kevin Trenberth, John Christy and me for capsule summaries of our views on reform of the IPCC. Here are snippets from the responses:
Trenberth: The IPCC review and oversight process is very rigorous. Clearly there can be and have been some lapses, but they appear to be fairly few. I do not think the system is broken and needs further change; it simply needs more attention to adhering to the process already in place.
Christy: [IPCC] lead authors are given powerful control by being vested with final review authority and thus are able to fashion a report that supports their own opinions while marginalizing countervailing views. This is not how the real uncertainties and difficulties of climate science may be established and communicated to policymakers.
Pielke: Unless the IPCC brings its institutional policies and procedures into the twenty-first century through a wholesale institutional reform, it will continue to come out on the losing end of challenges to its legitimacy and credibility.

18 comments:

jae said...

I vote for the third view!

Fred said...

Trenberth . . . self deluded

Christy . . . 100% accurate

Pielke . . . 100% accurate but too "polite"

David said...

I agree with Fred, although I suspect Roger's seems polite because he speaks generally, whereas Christy hits the nail on the head.

Anthony Watts has another phrase that reflects Christy's sentiment: "sins of omission"; that is one of their biggest problems. Policy makers should be informed of both sides of the story; the IPCC is interested only in preaching disaster.

For an organisation who are supposed to be playing advocate for the future of our planet, their apparent lack of quality control is what is scaring (or going to scare) the wits out of the public.

Malcolm said...

My view is that anything with an IPCC tag will now simply won't believed a skeptical populace who believe that they have been lied to by the UN. The scientists may not know this but the politicians certianly do. As a result the IPCC cannot be reformed it can only be disbanded.

bernie said...

John Christy seems to have nailed the defect but it is unclear as to the possible solution.

Andrew said...

They are off to a bad start already with that picture.

"We're The Climate Scientists and we are trekking through the desert. Aren't we sympathetic figures. We are the victims of the horrible drying of discourse and climate and we are just plugging along."

Also the whole world is become a desert. BS. All evidence points to shrinking deserts.

Mike said...

I agree with Trenberth. Don't change a thing. Let them come out with AR5 with all their inbuilt agendas, bias and advocacies. Then we will start dismantling them all once again.

Although, I would expect that AR5 will have much more emphasis on probability (albeit heavily biased in favor of AGW) rather than bald statements like glaciers will melt by 2035. It is much harder to debate levels of probability rather that the essential facts, so I image this will be their emphasis. Maybe the mantra will change: "The science is 95% settled!"

Dean said...

The rate of errors in the IPCC reports is probably less than Encyclopedia Britannica. But even if they improved and had just one error in 3000 pages, you folks would jump on it and push the delegitimization game along.

Climate science is being held to a standard and magnifying glass that no comparable project is held to. And if you can't find anything, you break into private emails a decade old to look further.

I acknowledge that your delegitimization project is making headway. But it's a fundamentally asymmetric challenge to defend against it as it is always easier to attack and destroy an institution than it is to build one.

It's just a kill-the-messenger project.

Andrew said...

"The rate of errors in the IPCC reports is probably less than Encyclopedia Britannica."

Wow. That's pretty darn funny!

...Wait, you actually believe that? Ouch...

Raven said...

Dean,

There are trillions of dollars in policy decisions riding on climate science. Billions of people will have misery imposed on them as a result of policies based on this "science".

Climate science should be held to a standard that no other projects has been held to because there is no comparible project.

I find it very tiresome to listen to the complaints of prima donna scientists that think they are entitled trust simply because the are "scientists".

Trust is earned - not demanded. It is time scientists stopped complaining and started proving that they are worthy of the trust they demand.

Mike said...

8-Dean: In order to support your statement about the Encyclopedia Britannica, I suggest you show us at least one such an error in it.

As for standards of accuracy, I have some familiarity with the quality standards for nuclear power plants and nuclear waste disposal. The requirements for supportability, documentation, and transparency are way, way beyond anything that has been applied to climate science, and the stakes here are actually higher since we are talking about decisions that can affect trillions of dollars throughout the world.

Mike said...

Dean -

Firstly, if the one error was one upon which the other 2999 pages were based, it is an error worth finding.

Secondly, the standard to which climate science is being held is a scientific standard. The IPPC has been shown to only collate and summarise those studies (and WWF brochures) which fit their predetermined findings. Findings which must favour catastrophic AGW - otherwise the IPCC ceases to exist. Pachauri himself said so.

Thirdly, it has been very difficult to "attack and destroy" the ivory tower, bunker mentality, complete with circling wagons. The release of the emails to the general public showed the lies within those hallowed halls, and they crumbled all by themselves.

As for killing the messenger, if said messenger is an extremely one-eyed, arrogant, alarmist whose mantra is "The science is settled", then yes, somebody give me a gun!

Mike Smith said...

Dean,
Given that the pro-GW advocates want nothing less than a complete remaking of the world economy, shouldn't it be held to an exacting standard?!
Mike

heyworth said...

Re Comment 8 (Dean)

What you seem to be missing is that climate science should be held to a higher standard than other areas. The IPCC report should be impeachable. That doesn't just mean not having errors. It also means avoiding the many sins of lack of balance that the IPCC has been guilty of in the past (particularly in AR4).

Why should the IPCC be beyond reproach? Because it is on the basis of what it says that governments are being pressured to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars. Remember what Margaret Thatcher said: there is no such thing as government money, only taxpayers money. The taxpayers need to be convinced that their money will not be wasted.

Matt said...

Dean (#8), what a ridiculous statement. The error rate of EB is a real straw man.

Please list some "comparable projects." I suspect that if climate science wasn't being used as an excuse to remake societies and economies by fiat, that no one would care very much.

One problem is that a lot of the review that should have happened before never happened due to hidden data and code. Though I don't think it would have mattered, had the errors been discovered during the process and corrected then, it's possible that the same conclusions would have been drawn.

Nevertheless, with the state of the science right now, there's no reason to have confidence in its conclusions. And the people being shot at aren't just the messengers, but the creators and ardent defenders of the message.

eric144 said...

"The rate of errors in the IPCC reports is probably less than Encyclopedia Britannica"

Yes, but the brazen lie rate is 12,000 times higher.

jae said...

Mike says:

"Although, I would expect that AR5 will have much more emphasis on probability (albeit heavily biased in favor of AGW) rather than bald statements like glaciers will melt by 2035. It is much harder to debate levels of probability rather that the essential facts, so I image this will be their emphasis. Maybe the mantra will change: "The science is 95% settled!"

IMHO, one of the most ludicrous aspects of AR4 is the use of probability statements in "conclusions," when there is no basis for them. Probabilities have to do with NUMBERS and STATISTICS, not the strength of ones beliefs. When AR4 says there is a 90% probability that my SUV is contributing to calamity, does that mean 9 out of 10 "scientists" and NGO representatives think that? If not, just what does it mean? I'm 99% certain that there is a God. Does that make my belief any more scientific? I think IPCC is just trying to seem more "scientific" by using such statements, and it is disgusting. That problem, alone, should make folks mistrust IPCC.

Harrywr2 said...

Dean #8

"Climate science is being held to a standard and magnifying glass that no comparable project is held to. And if you can't find anything, you break into private emails a decade old to look further."

We have in the USA some 800 gigawatts of fossil fuel fired electricity plants. We are being asked to throw them away.

Clean replacements for those fossil fuel fired plants will cost $5 billion a gigawatt.

Never before has 'science' demanded such a huge expenditure.

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