The IPCC: Scientific consensus, or advocacy group?

IPCC

There’s been a lively debate on Twitter recently about climate change, and the IPCC.  Believe it or not, there are people out there who think the IPCC is a panel of 2,500 scientists who all support Al Gore’s orthodoxy.  Michael Mole tells me that “The work of the IPCC is contributed to by thousands of scientists from all over the world”.  They say it’s a “scientific consensus”, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Not all scientists:  First of all, a fair number of the panel members are actually not scientists at all.  They are environmental activists.  That’s why many of the claims in the IPCC’s TAR4 (described as peer-reviewed science) turned out to be little more than quotes from NGO propaganda.  There are also a lot of bureaucrats and civil servants involved in the project.

Not all relevant:  Not all of the IPCC’s “scientists” are involved in relevant disciplines.  Some are involved in related disciplines – for example economists (Is an economist a scientist – discuss!), epidemiologists and so on.  I think particularly of IPCC reviewer Hans Labohm, a distinguished economist with whom I have worked. He is one of the IPCC’s 2,500 panellists, but he is a passionate campaigner against the Al Gore Theory. These disciplines have something to contribute after we’ve agreed about AGW, but not necessarily specific expertise in the subject itself.  I think we should perhaps hear more from statisticians and astronomers, who have much to contribute, but don’t seem to figure largely in the IPCC’s conclusions.  (It was a mathematician, Steve McIntyre, who with Ross McKitrick debunked Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick – Mann may or may not know about climate, but his statistics were way off beam).  Some are from totally unrelated disciplines. IPCC Chairman Ravendra Pachauri, for example, is a railway engineer.

Not all agree:  Paul Reiter, an epidemiologist and expert in tropical diseases from the French Pasteur Institute, actually had to threaten legal action to get his name removed from an IPCC report.  He had repeatedly advised them that malaria was not a disease of hot climates (the worst recorded outbreak having been in Siberia) but they refused to correct the text, and initially refused to withdraw his name.  He told me this story as we shared a cab a few years ago to Chicago’s O’Hare airport – we’d been attending a Heartland climate conference.  My good friend Fred Singer, one of the USA’s most distinguished climatologists, was an IPCC panellist and has the Nobel lapel pin to prove it.  His best line: “The IPCC accepts my corrections to its punctuation.  But not to its science”.

The IPCC has in fact been hi-jacked by a small group of a couple of dozen scientists, known as “The Hockey Team”, after the infamous graph (now dropped even by the IPCC).  These guys were exposed by the ClimateGate e-mails.  They work together.  They peer-review each other’s papers from a common perspective.  They know that the predictions of their climate theory are failing, and they cooperate to “hide the decline” (in their famous phrase).

My Twitter interlocutors have a touching faith in the peer-review process (although as we’ve seen, it can be subverted by a determined group working together).  And they have a weird view that all the peer-reviewed science supports the IPCC.  Someone called Jonathan Waxman asks “Is there ANY peer-reviewed literature that challenges the IPCC’s position?”.  Answer: A great deal.  Read any decent climate realist book – Fritz Vahrenholt’s “The Neglected Sun” is a recent and fine example – and you will find literally hundreds of references to peer-reviewed science.  Equally, read Fred Singer’s alternative take on the subject, his NIPCC Report, and you will find that he actually relies on much of the IPCC material. But he interprets it differently.

Someone Tweeted that the IPCC was “a meta-study of thousands of scientific papers”.  It is no such thing.  A meta-analysis takes hard data from a range of smaller-scale studies and aggregates them into a much larger sample.  The IPCC quotes many peer-reviewed papers, but it then makes assumptions and guesses and estimates to process the science into climate models (which don’t seem able to predict either forwards or backwards).  Absolutely notable is first of all their assessment that the Sun can largely be ignored, because solar irradiance is fairly constant.  They ignore wide variations in segments of the spectrum, especially UV.  And they ignore large and cyclical variations in the solar magnetic field.  Svensmark came up with a mechanism to explain this effect: a strong solar magnetic field protects the earth, partially, from cosmic rays.  This reduces cloud formation in the atmosphere, reduces albedo, and results in warming, and vice-versa.  Originally proposed as a theory, Svensmark now has convincing experimental evidence from CERN and elsewhere that cosmic rays do indeed engender cloud formation.

If Svensmark is right, it follows that the Sun is primarily responsible for climate change, and the rôle of CO2 is marginal at best.  And indeed over the longer term, earth’s climate correlates rather well with solar cycles, and rather poorly with CO2 levels.  Indeed the whole climate scare is really based on the period 1975/1998, when a longer term (1000 year) and a shorter term (c 60 year) solar cycle coincided and reinforced each other.  Atmospheric CO2 also rose between 1945 and 1970, but global temperatures dropped slightly.

The other prominent area of doubt and debate is the climate sensitivity of CO2.  Most climatologists agree that other things being equal, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would cause about 1oC of warming.  Note that I say “doubling”.  This is a geometric (actually negative logarithmic) relationship, not an arithmetic one.  So the higher the current level of CO2, the more extra CO2 you need for a given increase.  It’s a law of diminishing returns – another reason not to panic.  The IPCC however works on an alarming figure of 3oC per doubling.  They seek to justify that by appealing to “positive feedbacks” — primarily but not solely water vapour.  Water vapour, of course, increases the greenhouse effect.  But it also increases cloud formation, so it may have a cooling effect. The IPCC has not demonstrated its mechanism.  Meantime studies by Richard Lindzen of MIT suggest that the net feed-back effect may be negative, with a CO2 doubling leading to a fraction of a degree temperature increase.

The IPCC shows graphs representing the tropical hot-spot in the troposphere predicted by all the climate models, but fails to explain why observation shows that no such hot spot exists in reality. 

So the IPCC may quote peer-reviewed science, but it is highly selective, taking only those papers that support its position, and it builds assumptions on the back of them which are not always justified by the research itself – to the extent that Fred Singer can make the sceptic case using much of the same research.

Finally, an observation about the philosophy of science.  Nicholas Petrie asks “Is David Attenborough misled when he warns of climate change?”.  One thing we avoid in science, Nicholas, is the “argument from authority”.  In 1600 the Church burned Giordano Bruno  at the stake, because they accepted the argument from authority that the world was flat, and rejected Bruno’s observational evidence that it was round.  Forgive me for repeating an old story, but I love the one about Einstein, asked if he knew that a thousand physicists rejected his General Theory of Relativity.  He replied: “If I were wrong, one would be enough”.  Science is driven by evidence, not authority, nor majorities, nor consensus.  Science deals in falsifiable hypotheses.  The hypothesis of man-made climate change has been tested by observation over time, and is demonstrably false.

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35 Responses to The IPCC: Scientific consensus, or advocacy group?

  1. catalanbrian says:

    I am surprised that an MEP, who is paid a generous salary (not forgetting the expenses) to represent the UK in the European Parliament, finds time to write this sort of claptrap that is his own personal hobbyhorse and not relevant to the job that he is paid to do. It is little wonder that UKIP, amongst others considers the European Parliament to be a waste of time, if all the members spend their time in a similar wasteful fashion.

    • Hugh Davis says:

      If I am not mistaken, Roger is the UKIP spokesman on Industry and Energy. How then is the above “not relevant to the job he is paid to do”?

      Here is a statement about catalanbrian. “Everything he writes on this blog is claptrap”.
      Do you find that statement convincing? If not, why not because it is just as valid as any of your tedious ad hominem attacks.

      • Brin Jenkins says:

        Forgive him Hugh, lefties just cant help themselves(or anyone else). Care and love are always lacking.

        Brin

      • catalanbrian says:

        “UKIP spokesman”, not EU or European Parliamentary spokesman. He is paid by the EU, out of my taxes and not by UKIP. I am quite happy for you to criticise any comment that I may make. I would suggest, however that I make my statements with open eyes and in accord with the science. I am not so sure that this is the case in your case, or that of a number of others who have this obsessive belief in any number of conspiracy theories.

    • Chris says:

      Roger is the energy and industry spokesperson for UKIP. Since the fairy tale of AGW affects UK industry and energy policies, he’s more than justified in discussing the topic.

      A lot of people agree with Roger, and since he has a mathematics degree from Cambridge, is more than capable of analysing data and coming to his own conclusions.

      I’ve read a number of your comments on this website catalanbrian, and have come to my own conclusion that they are claptrap.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      Brian, I sit on the European parliament’s Industry & Energy committee (ITRE), and as Hugh Davis observes, I am the UKIP spokesman on Industry & Energy. The climate issue is absolutely fundamental to the energy debate. The vast misallocation of resources, based on the failing theory of man-made climate change, is doing huge economic damage. It is mortgaging our children, and will bankrupt our grandchildren. I can think of absolutely nothing with more direct relevance to the job I’m paid to do.

    • DougS says:

      ‘brian, Perhaps you’d care point to the items in Roger’s piece that are ‘claptrap’ and explain why?

      While you’re at it, please quote your favourite piece of evidence that supports CAGW – but do keep off the logical fallacies.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      You need to remember that a lot of legislation designed to “fight climate change” by limiting CO2 emissions come from the EU. If the CO2 theory is false, then a lot of taxpayers money is being wasted. It is therefore very right and proper that the issue should be scrutinised by our representatives in the European Parliament. They have a duty to do so. Whether or not the Parliament has enough clout to influence that policy is another issue.

  2. Brin Jenkins says:

    Wasteful?

    Folks living on the flooded and neglected areas will disagree with you.

    Some social/marxist supporters seem to not give a brass farthing for our own troubled people, but praise the Lord there are others who do.

    Lies and deception should curdle your blood, as they do mine. Right will out and deceivers will pay the price.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      Wasteful because it doesn’t work even in its own terms. And anyway, there’s no link between floods and warming — especially as there hasn’t been any warming since 1998.

  3. Francis says:

    A very well written piece from the Industry and Energy spokesman. Who is more appropriate to comment? What is clear is that there are as many views on this subject as there are stars in the sky. It is important not to accept the line given out by those that make the most noise. We have to have the alternative views too. Without that we can never make informed decisions. So thank you Roger.

  4. silverminer says:

    Keep at ’em, Roger, the lying, globalist scum (Gore et al) need to be exposed. Given another 10 years of falling global temperatures and we’ll have them in court for high crimes. It’s one thing making a mistake, it’s another perpetuating a massive cover up of their error which is costing people their livelihoods, and even their lives, when they know damn well they’re wrong (which they do).

  5. omanuel says:

    Regretfully the UN’s IPCC, the UK’s RS and the US NAS seem to have been cut “cut from the same cloth.”

    We in Missouri continue to suffer ice storms, bitter cold, and loss of faith in our government’s AGW fable.

    Yet not a single member of the UN’s, UK’s or US consensus science community has challenged the data in Figures 1-3 (pages 17-29 of Chapter 2 of my autobiography) or the conclusion that the Sun’s core is a pulsar remnant from the birth of the solar system.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Chapter_2.pdf

    With deep regrets,
    – Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    PS: My journey to the core of the Sun began in 1960 –

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/Chapter_1.pdf

    • omanuel says:

      Roger,

      I appreciate your efforts to restore integrity to science and government and do not want to embarrass you by posting politically incorrect, but scientifically correct, information.

      I simply want you to have that information and will be happy to answer any questions.

  6. Mike Spilligan says:

    I understand, though I’m prepared to be corrected, that the crucial Synopsis for Decision Makers of the IPCC reports are intended to be a summary of the scientists’ input. The IPCC is essentially a political body with the proclivities usually associated with most UN projects and its mandate is (in brief) “…. understanding the scientific effects of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts…. ” etc. That climate change is human-induced is the premise for the IPCC’s existence and it, presumably, is not required to have other possibilities within scores of scenarios researched.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      It is well-documented that the IPCC’s summaries (the only things most politicos & journos read) are much more alarmist than the full text, and usually omit any doubts or caveats.

  7. cosmic says:

    I really don’t understand how peer-review has been elevated to the status of God’s stamp of truth.

    All it ever was was a screening process to make sure that journals published work which was new, interesting, potentially advancing the state of knowledge in the field, and had been looked over critically by experts in the field and was not obviously rubbish.

    There are plenty of examples of peer-reviewed work which was shown not to be reproducible or flawed.

    What we see with peer-review in climate science is more like something from the arts than the sciences, and of course, when it turns into pal’s review, it’s completely worthless.

  8. Richard111 says:

    Gosh, catalanbrian makes ‘statements in accord with the science’. Glad to hear that. Maybe you can explain to me how a TRANSPARENT gas is able to cool after being warmed by any process?
    I look forward to learning more about LWIR and thermal conductivity of gases in an open gravity field.

  9. catalanbrian says:

    I give up. Trying to convince you people who are more prepared to believe rumour and the misinformation put out by maverick “scientists” is not possible Those of you who are in denial of climate change are the same as those who believe in quack diets where by eating a portion of whatever is the fashion this week and carrying on as normal they will lose pound after pound to achieve that svelte figure they dream of. Madness!

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      Try reversing the outlook Brian, I also feel frustrated that you believe you have the truth! Outright lies were told by the university of East Anglia. I have seen all the leaked emails, and find it hard to understand learned people being so devious.

      All our energy comes from the Sun, nowhere else. That is a truth.

      Energy can never be destroyed, or created. All that happens is its converted from one sort of energy into another form. This is the fundamental Law of Thermodynamics, another truth.

      Heat causes CO2 to be released from water, how can this process be reversed? Not by reversing a cause with its effect, ever! Extra energy must be input, where is it coming from?

      Nothing personal involved, just understanding or misunderstandings. A theory is nothing more than a possible explanation of how a mechanism might work. Even flawed theories can have their use, like the flow of electrons in the thermionic valve and the transistor. The flow is actually reversed.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Brin…I didn’t have a problem with thermionics, nor semiconductor theory. As long as I could make that theory do something useful then the science was settled (oh dear!). We control that stuff without a doubt. Where the dynamics of this planet and its wider environment is concerned we don’t/won’t…ever. Rain dances come to mind for some reason, perhaps not a good time to do it.

        So instead of getting into tis, tain’ts we might try to spend our resources on protecting folk/assets from the battering this dynamic place might like to serve up…as if we didn’t know. Don’t seem to go that way though does it? A whole mass of bodies seem to gather data on a bunch of planetary variables, mix in some very short history about weather and boom – we’re heading for catastrophic disaster invoked by a couple of deg C one way or the other. Oh, its additive because the coded junk says so, +/- tweak. Our environment swings naturally between about -50 and +50 deg C I believe. Some say…such disasters are happening now. Cockermouth/Somerset Levels/Dawlish. Those are places just waiting for a hit!

        If somebody like the IPCC (and others) believe that we alone are biasing temperature up from some calculated mean, I’d say BS. They won’t talk about the Sun though…hitting us with the fullest range (spread/strength) of the EM spectrum.

        There are some dangerous activities certainly, hacking forests out, failing to keep waterways flowing, building on very obvious low levels that always carried water. Wasting good money in UK on anything to due with dumb renewable energy generation. Solar Panels are interesting..pity about those spendy inverters.

    • John Hancon says:

      Roger,
      Thank you for another clear well argued piece. May I just amplify what has already been said for the benefit of Catalan Brian.

      Carbon Dioxide is a green house gas. The argument is whether the increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause runaway increases in temperature, positive feedback, or have little or no effect on temperature, negative feedback. The Global Warming hypothesis (positive feedback) has been tested by observation and failed. All the predictions made since 1988 have not happened.

      There is no scientific theory of Climate Change, as a theory must be falsifiable. It has come to mean any bad weather and is a political slogan.

      The models used by Climate scientists looked for positive feedback mechanisms, but positive feedback makes the models unstable so that any input makes the output increase dramatically. They appear to give very low weight or ignore completely the main climate drivers i.e. the major ocean oscillations (PDO, AMO, ENSO), the effects of extreme UV light from the Sun on the Jet streams, the level of magnetic particles from the Sun hitting the earth affecting the number of cosmic particles incoming from space. These cosmic particles seem to seed cloud formation on earth. It is difficult to check most climate models as their code is secret, not very scientific.

      The temperature rise over the years is very small and well within the error bars of measurement. The worldwide measurement of temperature by surface instruments is a shambles, with the closing of many stations, the misplacing of many others and the application of just one station to huge areas. There have been unexplained adjustment of historical data, downwards during the 1920′s 30′s and 40′s and upwards in the recent past. In fact this whole episode smacks of fraud. See the obnoxious practices revealed by the climate gate emails and the crude political whitewash undertaken to exonerate the culprits.

      Repetition is a powerful teaching aid, but leads to frustration when no one takes any notice.

    • omanuel says:

      I understand your frustration, catalanbrian.

      If you accept the B2FH concept of element synthesis in stars, data on neutron-capture cross sections from that classical astrophysics paper of 1957 in fact confirm that the interior of the Sun is mostly iron (Fe).

      See paper presented at the 2005 Lunar Science Conference:

      http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2005/pdf/1033.pdf

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      No one denies that the climate changes, Brian. But it’s clearer than ever that natural (solar/astronomic) cycles are the main factor. Any signal from the CO2 effect is lost in the noise.

    • cosmic says:

      A scientific theory stands or falls on whether it’s in line with the evidence and whether its predictions of how the world works hold good. A good example is relativity which explained things unaccounted for in Newtonian mechanics and made predictions which were shown to be true.

      This fails the test. It would have been thrown out in any other branch of science long before now. Computer models would never have been accepted as evidence.

      Science is not done by voting and arguments from authority have no place.

      Talking about ‘denial of climate change’ is playing with words. No one denies that the climate changes.

      Insufficient as CAGW is on a scientific basis, as a phenomenon in itself it’s interesting and it makes sense when you see it as a political agenda. The question which is ducked is whether we wish to follow this agenda.

    • Chris Browne says:

      What do you mean “I give up” you haven’t said anything of any use that would convince us that you are right.

  10. Richard111 says:

    Well said Brin. The many holes in the AGW hypothesis is the reason why I argue against it. I am being directly fleeced by inappropriate government imposed taxes such that I must fight back if I am to survive. I have been retired 15 years now and my cost of living has more than doubled over that time. My pension has increased by about £4.00. Gee, thanks HMG.
    I’ve spent a lot of time reading various university lectures on the basic science and have a very good understanding of the physics involved. I have looked into the carbon dioxide molecule and many, many other molecules at the quantum level and find ‘back radiation’ is not an effect in the real world.
    It has certainly livened up my retirement!🙂

  11. OK so all very clever! Now for the bill:

    In Somerset the people have been told by people who do not live there that dredging and river maintenance are a complete waste of time because Global Warming will soon swamp them anyway. Get used to it!
    The production of windmills, which do not provide electricity when the wind is not blowing is to be massively subsidised by taxation so that AGW can be halted.
    European energy prices, thanks to carbon thinggy are so high that industry is already being transferred out. Meanwhile Germany is building coal fired power stations and we are putting in secret generators.
    Fracking is dangerous and produces carbons which affect the atmosphere. So that is being banned.
    Sun traps are appearing on fertile fields for when (and if) the sun shines in these northern lands.
    Scientists are being forced to defend positions that they know are not true and that is one of the very worst things. Otherwise, no grant. (Maldives? Ice Caps? Polar Bears?)
    Thought is prevented by changing the jargon: AGW is not “climate change” but it is used as a synonym. The BBC exaggerates the weather to come to terms with “global weirding”.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is a very very expensive error. But we still have to pay for it and will have to into the far future.

    Meanwhile a lot of people are making a lot of money out of the naivety of the politicians. According to Christopher Booker in the Telegraph, Mr Pachaury is one of them.

  12. omanuel says:

    Compare, Mike, the clever engineering of the windmill with that discovered by Albert Einstein (1) and Max Planck (2):

    1. “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable (limitless) superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.” – Albert Einstein’s obituary in the New York Times (19 April 1955)

    http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0314.html

    2. “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” – Max Planck [Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)

    http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/107032.Max_Planck

    CO2 – a combustion product and fuel for photosynthesis in the production of vegetation, petroleum, natural gas & coal – is one of many undeniable indications of “a superior reasoning power !”

    With kind regards,
    – Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  13. DICK R says:

    The BBC reporting from the Somerset Levels is becoming more triumphant by the hour as ‘climate change’ Lunatics are wheeled out one after another to give us the benefit of their wisdom.

  14. Thomas Fox says:

    It is good to know that best possible science is followed the floods in Somerset have been made much worse by poor maintenance or lack of it.
    Dredging of rivers / watercourses/ replacement of pumping stations are all important for protecting our diminishing productive agricultural land.
    Same applies in Dawlish the small area washed out rail line built on back filled sand protected by a 150yr badly maintained cobbled sea wall is one example.
    So simply persistent rain has proved HMG ,s quangos to be ineffective and a total waste of our tax payers money

  15. omanuel says:

    Roger,

    Although Climategate emails revealed manipulation of data to fit a political agenda in November 2009, . . .

    . . . most critics could not then, and will not now, believe that NASA and other federal research agencies were manipulating observations and data to fit the UN’s agenda when President Eisenhower warned of this possible threat to our form of government in January 1961:

    With deep regrets,
    – Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    Sent from my iPhone

  16. Anne Palmer says:

    The United Kingdom Takes A Battering. 13.2.2014.

    Our belovéd Country is now taking a battering,
    Violent wind, the like ne’er seen before,
    Every-where in the UK takes a pounding,
    Mid England as well as our seaside shores.
    It is an un-natural combination,
    Unusual in every way, shape or form
    Has HAARP been set into motion?
    Are we supposed to accept it as the ‘norm’?’

    High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program
    Known as HAARP now, quite frequently,
    Although Governments never mention
    What may well be known to you and me.
    Torrential rain and winds hit the United Kingdom,
    Our Country lashed by that wind and rain,
    All taking a battering when all is said a done.
    Is our Kingdom under fire once again?

    These most unusual weather patterns
    No wonder ordinary folks must question,
    What is the point of HAARP in Alaska
    If it is not used every now and then?
    Why indeed is the UK in the line of fire
    And Ireland too must surely question
    As they too, pick up the pieces
    And start all over and over again.

    What is the point of H.A.A.R.P
    If it not tried and tested at all?
    The manipulation of the earths Ionosphere,
    Is it really a weapon of war?
    It was developed by the US Military,
    As told to the Parliament of the EU.
    Should radiation be projected into the Ionosphere,
    Would it be a warning to me and you?

    So many wonders in the world
    Yet mankind looks for power to command
    To Govern all Countries forever
    Even our own once free land.
    Yet are there powers far greater,
    The ones we cannot see?
    Or will mankind destroy forever,
    And “what is to be”, will be?

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