Dump the IPCC Process, It Cannot Be Fixed

August 30th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

In a recent opinion piece, Ross McKitrick has argued that the IPCC process needs to be fixed. He correctly points out that, “There is too much conflict of interest built into the report-writing process”.

But I say the process cannot be fixed. DUMP the IPCC process.


The reason why is because the IPCC process was never created to achieve what the U.N. claims, and what most people believe it exists for.

The IPCC was created to use the scientific community to build a case for regulating CO2 emissions. Period.

While you might believe otherwise, climate scientists back in the 1980s did not get together and decide “let’s create the IPCC and investigate the evidence for and against manmade climate change”. Instead, politicians and politically savvy opportunists saw global warming as the perfect excuse for instituting policies that would never have been achieved on their own merits.

Maybe some scientists thought they helped dream up the IPCC to help save humanity from itself. But the process was instigated by politicians and U.N. bureaucrats who misrepresented what they were trying to accomplish. Some people are gifted in their ability to get others to think that they came up with an idea, when in fact they were artfully guided into it.

As someone who watched from the sidelines as a U.S. government employee, I witnessed the mindset, and a few of the central players in action. These are people who think it is their gift to humanity to decide how others should live.

I’m NOT saying that most of the scientists involved in the IPCC effort are of this mindset…although I do find government employees and government-funded researchers (of which I am one) to be rather clueless about what helps, versus what hurts, the human condition.

Darn those pesky unintended consequences!

I am claiming this is the mindset of that handful of politically powerful people who saw a way to accomplish personal goals, and maybe even save humanity in the process. These people never expect that they will ever be required to live under the restrictions placed upon the rest of humanity. They are too important to the process. Sound familiar?

To believe otherwise is to have one’s proverbial head in the sand.

I hate to sound so cynical, but this is how I saw the IPCC process play out. I would personally dread having to be part of that process, because it is only using science and scientists to achieve policy and political goals. I don’t like to be asked to contribute my time when I know I am being used.

In stark contrast to me, John Christy (my boss) has valiantly attempted to change the process from within the IPCC. I think this is a valuable effort, and am glad someone is willing to try.

But I do not see the ultimate goal of the IPCC ever being changed as long as the United Nations and politicians who look favorably upon the UN’s long-term goals are in control of the process and the purse strings. It is as simple as that.

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53 Responses to “Dump the IPCC Process, It Cannot Be Fixed”

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  1. Jacob C says:

    Interesting post. I agree that the IPCC is biased for political goals, but could it not also be said that they (in general, not one or another specifically) who work in the IPCC are also biased since, as you say, they are trying to find the evidence FOR anthropogenic influence on climate, rather than assessing the changes in our modern climate system from the standpoint of all forcings, including internally driven cloud changes? It seems to me that from their current standpoint it makes it easier to downplay or ignore other manmade and especially natural climate change factors, since it is one specific set they aim to understand. in short, it seems that assessments should be made of modern climate changes in general, rather than just of anthropogenically induced ones. :-)
    Cheers

    • yes, you are correct Jacob.

      • Anonymous says:

        Having an engineering and environmental risk experience for Insurers for 22 years as a background to intelligent reports based upon the facts it is a common comment among risk thinkers that if the theory has to fit the facts ,if not then get a new theory.

        With sincere regard,
        Robert Stewart (Ret’d)

  2. Joletaxi says:

    ça c’est envoyé….
    Au moins ils sont habillés pour l’hiver….

  3. Sean2829 says:

    I think your position does not go far enough. When you look at the draft documents for the Copenhagen conference last year, you realize that climate change was going to be the rationalization for a global government under the auspices of the UN. The IPCC as you said was tasked with finding the evidence to condemn CO2 to justify a world wide governing body. This to me is frightening. Has the possibility of having the UN ursurping power that its members had never intended to give it make the benefits of a world body like this less than risk of eliminating it?

  4. Fred from Canuckistan says:

    I an with you . . when an organization reaches the depths the IPCC has it is impossible to reform. The entrenched deals, reputations and entitlements will make any reformation an impossibility.

    Kill it off, bury the rotten corpse and start afresh.

    The UN won’t do it – their credibility is on the line as well as the IPCC.

    Just means they keep holding the shovels and plan to dig, dig, dig when the furor calms down.

  5. vivendi says:

    A very good analysis of what’s behind the IPCC process in terms of political and personal objectives.

  6. Bill Marsh says:

    Doesn’t the IPCC assume the existence of AGW and simply attempt to determine how bad it is?

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Thank you Sir because you have hit the nail on the head.

    If we simply would take all the extremes from the past 2000 years, cold as well as warm and call it “Climate Variation”, we could dump not only the IPCC but also Climate Change in the dumpster together with all the other propaganda based schemes and doctrines from the past century and save a heck of a lot of money in the process.

  8. waterboss says:

    Indeed, In this case it would be wise to dump the baby out with the bathwater

  9. leftymartin says:

    Completely agreed – the patient should be euthanized forthwith. Half-hearted reforms are inadequate. I find some interesting parallels between the dump-the-IPCC imperative and the stirring words that follow:

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

  10. Billk says:

    Roy, I agree with you but I am surprised that you have become a political activist of late. In the past I felt that you kept to pure science. Dumping IPCC will never happen so I can see John Christy’s hope of changing the prossess so that true sience might return to the IPCC.

  11. Noblesse Oblige says:

    I agree with you but let me put it on somewhat more theoretical organizational dynamics terms. The IPCC is a centralized political-scientific bureaucracy of global extent. Let’s parse these words:
    1. “Centralized:” There is no competition. There is no incentive to perform its mission in a manner that will give us the best answers we can get. There is no oversight, nothing to ensure that the rules it sets for itself are consistent with the mission, or even that the rules are obeyed.
    2. “Political-Scientific:” The mix of politics and science ensures that the science will be politicized, creating a dynamic that leads to the distortions we have witnessed. It is the worst possible configuration we can have. There needs to be a “wall of separation” between the science and the politics.
    3. “Bureaucracy:” As a bureaucracy it exhibits all the symptoms we know to expect: resistance to change, a strong leaning to actions and results that support its continued existence, inability to deal with new information at odds with its mainstream thrust.

    I could go on, but the fact is that as long as we have an IPCC configured in this fashion, we will continue to get what we’ve got. The above three items give a hint of what really needs to be done. The IPCC needs to be disbanded and the job of evaluating and assessing the science dispersed to small regional and national entities that can compete to get the best answers. Along with this there needs to be a “B-team” approach implemented widely. This means independent “cold eyes” reviewers, without a stake in the outcome, looking at the same scientific information and coming to their own assessments.

  12. Guido Botteri says:

    I agree with you.
    This is what I think, as well.
    I want to reply to Noblesse Oblige, too.
    He says:
    [ There needs to be a “wall of separation” between the science and the politics. ]
    He’s quite right, I believe, but IPCC was just made to break that wall !
    That’s the problem…
    In my opinion

  13. Brian H says:

    Jerry Pournelle, whose background in science and politics is hardly to be matched, posits the Iron Law of organizations: after a (variable) period of time, the originators and founders and their goals are taken over by the routinizers and rule-writers and clerks. The resultant bureaucracy has two goals: expansion and permanence. The IPCC/Copenhagen cabal intended to write that into the deal: universal governance and complete absence of accountability.

    Nice work if you can get it.

  14. Kevin says:

    Dr. Spencer, I fully agree.

    The IPCC was designed from the beginning to determine how bad the effects from the emissions of CO2 were going to be.

    Here’s a novel idea, in my industry (aerospace) when a controversy arises about the best way to proceed two teams are setup, an “A” and a “B” team. For some unfathomable reason that is probably lost to history these are often assigned colors, i.e. a “blue” team and a “green” team. Each team is tasked with building the strongest possible case why a theory is or is not a concern. Keep in mind that these are often theories that are equally as complex as the climate of the Earth. After much vociferous internal debate each team presents their case. Then the strength of the scientific cases are laid bare. Funny thing is that after an intense debate in most cases everybody realizes what the correct answer really is. After that most folks involved get behind the new path forward.

    Note that the scientific consensus before December 17, 1903 was that powered flight in a manmade machine was impossible; the empirical evidence from Wilbur and Orville Wright shattered that consensus pretty quickly. Funny thing is even to this day people are disputing the actual effect that makes a plane fly, either the lift from the wing pushes the plane up, or the vacuum above the wing sucks the plane up. As an engineer this seems a bit silly, the dang plane flys doesn’t it ?

    I suggest that we establish a “B” team that has access to 10% of the funding of GISS/CRU/IPCC to create a scientific case that AGW/CAGW/ACC is not something that has been clearly established as a concern, or further that we can do anything about it short of returning to our historic roots before the caveman (cavewoman?) discovered fire?

    Cheers, Kevin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ross McKitrick did this several years ago, assembling a team of experts to assess the accuracy of the IPCC reports. You can find the results on his website.

    • Kevin, twice in congressional testimony I have advocated a Red Team approach, exactly what you are talking about. Sounds like we think alike.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dr. Spencer, yes I know, and I know others have attempted this task. But it needs to be done early, before the cart starts rolling down the hill and picks up speed. Once the cart is rolling it’s awfully hard to stop it short of throwing a stick in the spokes or a bolder in front of it. Very Messy, but at least it seems the cart is slowing down a little bit.

        Thanks in part to your efforts, Thank You.

        Cheers, Kevin.

  15. keith says:

    I agree, any organization which is set up with the sole intention to ‘prove’ a given outcome will fail totally in considering anything that goes against proving that outcome. To those who run it it would be an act of bureaucratic suicide.

    “The facts don’t matter – it only matters that we are true to the process and the mandate”

    Deleting the IPCC is likely the only way to effect change.

  16. jeff id says:

    Doc,

    A bit of weak kneed advice, Free speech does not mean free thought.

    My pay and recognition is based on the sales of my green company’s profits. Yours is based on something else.

    Despite the fact that you are 100 percent correct, common sense has been relegated to extremism in America.

    As president of a real company, I imagine the angst you experienced before hitting the post button. Yet you did.

    Big points sir and big Knuts. I honestly wish you were wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I honestly wish you were wrong.”

      Sorry, can’t escape it. But good luck with your company. I hope your product or service can compete without government subsidy/mandate.

  17. jeff id says:

    Oh yeah, if people were wondering just who was involved in the report:

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/meeting-of-the-minds-2/

  18. Ross says:

    That photo at the top has a strong stench to it. ;-)

  19. Sam says:

    The UN is simply a mouthpiece for the left, it aids and abets global anti Israel PR and its subsidiary, the IPCC, is a front for the advancement of statism and economic control. Couple that with virtually all philanthropic/environmental organizations and you have a tour de force of socialist agenda.

    They’re all rotten to the core. Any organization whose aims are to restrict the free market and stifle competition via centralized power, are bad for society; bad for personal freedom. So far they’ve managed to achieve this through various reforms such as political correctness and cultural relativity, they wish to bestow fringe groups with more powers and now they tighten the noose with eco-fear.

    This is the product of nanny state politics. Bureaucracy is already too big and now it’s about to get bigger. It’s also the fault of conservative politics and for being completely divorced from reality and ignoring the warning signs…..we’re screwed either way.

  20. Gordon Walker says:

    I agree with Dr Spencer. The IPCC is a propaganda arm of climate alarmism. As such it cannot be be corrected and must be abolished. Most of the scientists associated with this body have been corrupted by hubris. I mean by that that their field of study has been basking in a public renown that it in no way is merited.
    The remedy for hubris is nemesis, which implies humiliation.
    Close down the IPCC! Sack anyone who has been associated with it!

  21. Philip says:

    Thanks for expressing what so many people must be feeling. I can only hope your view will win out in the end.

  22. Kirk Myers says:

    The global warming scare always has been driven by the quest for money and power. Its primary architects — big bankers, energy conglomerates and governments — stood to make hundreds of billions of dollars from cap-and-trade brokerage, the development of alternative “renewable” energy, and massive energy taxes that would have crippled western economies and impoverished consumers.

  23. Andrew says:

    I’m willing to go off the proverbial deep end and say that we should nix the UN entirely. It’s not just the IPCC, the entire body is a sick joke. For the Deity’s sake, they have known human rights abusers standing in judgment of the state of Arizona at the Human Rights Commission. Whatever you may think of the law there, the idea of Lybia and Cuba judging us as human rights abusers would be enough to make George Orwell choke on his breakfast in shock. Half the Korean peninsula is free today, but only because the USSR stayed home the day that the Security Council decided to take action. The UN provides a bully pulpit for monstrous dictators to spread anti-American vitriol with impunity, all while perpetrating atrocities against the liberty and lives of their own people. Don’t get me started on corruption, but let’s not forget Oil-for-Food. I’ve been told that the UN exists to prevent the next World War, but they are completely unwilling to do anything about the bloody-thirsty nut-job running Iran as he pushes to gain nuclear weapons to erase the Jews from the Earth like he has erased the gays from his country, denying the first Holocaust while planning the second. The UN is a sick joke, and it’s a joke at Humanity’s expense.

    As someone who considers himself sane, I stand in flustered disbelief that rational people haven’t insisted on eliminating the UN sooner. At least, you’d think at some point they’d realize it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Andrew, I was going to post something very similar to you so now I don’t have to. Thanks! Like almost all “movements” the UN was created with noble intentions but, again like almost all movements, the original intent and spirit of the UN has been entirely corrupted by those that recognized it could be used to generate power and wealth. Unions, equal rights, environmentalism – all started for noble reasons, all have become corrupt. It is well past time for the civilized nations to pull out of the UN. Let the remaining despots denounce the US on their own dime.

  24. sod says:

    While you might believe otherwise, climate scientists back in the 1980s did not get together and decide “let’s create the IPCC and investigate the evidence for and against manmade climate change”. Instead, politicians and politically savvy opportunists saw global warming as the perfect excuse for instituting policies that would never have been achieved on their own merits.

    this is a false claim.

    if you have any evidence to support it, bring it on!

  25. harrywr2 says:

    sod says:
    August 31, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    “this is a false claim.

    if you have any evidence to support it, bring it on!”

    How about carbon credits for coal fired electricity plants in the ‘developing world’?
    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFSGE67O04X20100825

  26. Sunny says:

    Good on ya Roy.
    I can’t wait for Rush to get back!!!!!
    Cheers

  27. I agree Dr Spencer. If there are to be so many checks and balances in the publication of the IPCC report, it can only be a mirror of the quality peer-reviewed literature anyway. Therefore why look at the mirror, why not look at the real thing?

  28. Josh says:

    Roy, thanks for a great article.

    A cartoon for you http://www.cartoonsbyjosh.com/IPCC_RIPscr.jpg

  29. Toby says:

    If we did not have the IPCC, we would have to invent something like it.

    The IPCC is intergovernmental … it holds representative of the major oil-producing countries (Saudi Arabia, Iraq), the major developing countries (China, India) and the poorer countries (African), all of whom are deeply suspicious of western obsessions with climate change.

    It is a miracle that the IPCC has been able to produce a consensus up until now. But it has worked well for the benefit of the world community.

    For those who think the IPCC is a research body, remember it gathers results from the published literature all over the world and encapsulates it in conclusions and recommendations. It is a mammoth task, but the IPCC has produced 4 report up until now. Its most recent report was supported by further reports from the American National Academy of Science and the Dutch Academy this year. The main criticism of the IPCC reports has to be that they are conservative or middle of the road. Remember, the fact that the reports are produced by consensus makes sure of that.

    It is a pity for all those who see the IPCC in the context of American ideological divisions, but the jury has come in, and it has said “Reform, not Dissolution”.

    Get over it.

    • Toby, you are to be commended for obediently drinking the Kool-Aid and trying to convince others to as well.

      Whether we reform the IPCC, or dissolve it and create a replacement, its original purpose is becoming revealed to all, and that is what will result in its death.

      Get over it.

  30. Piers Corbyn says:

    Roy,
    I agree. Dump IPCC! Do have a look at my post re the IAC report via twitter:-

    Piers_Corbyn New (IAC) ClimateGate probe “Dereliction of duty”. IPCC failed science presents fiction as fact & must be closed http://bit.ly/9UKlBD

    All best Piers

  31. TomFP says:

    To put an even finer point on it – the creation of the IPCC was a silent signal to “climate science” to discard the null hypothesis. It has assiduously done so ever since.

    As to the IPCC’s future, I can’t see anyone actually axing it – who would do the deed? The best we can hope for is that it just gets increasingly disregarded, like some ancient city guild, or a shipping Conference dealing with charter rates for sailing clippers.

    That said, between it and the wretched Kyoto agreement, it has already spawned a host of futile and wasteful legislation that will blight the world’s prosperity for years to come, simply because the people who ought to repeal it are to embarrassed to admit they ever bought the AGW scam.

  32. Thank you, Dr. Spencer, for speaking candidly about the IPCC and politics.

    The faulty IAC probe of the Climategate scandal is but a symptom of a bigger and more widespread problem than the manipulation of climate data:

    Our best research journals, governmental and international research organizations have become tools of propaganda that routinely violate the most basic principals of science and promote absolute rubbish as scientific facts.

    Unless I receive a response from Nature tonight, which is most unlikely since the NPG Executive Board has ignored several earlier messages, I will post here tomorrow an open request for the resignation of the Nature editor, Dr. Philip Campbell with documentation.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    PhD Nuclear Chemistry
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    PS – By separate e-mail I will notify the NPG Executive Committee that this message has been posted here.

  33. gallopingcamel says:

    A bold and insightful analysis. As Jeff Id hints, this could cost you given that you work for the US government.

    You have the courage to tell the truth. Just remember that no good deed goes unpunished. John Cristy comes across as someone who won’t let politics trump scientific measurements but can he protect you from the “Lisa Jacksons” who hold the top positions? I truly hope so.

  34. Marco33 says:

    Well done !!
    From france, we support you!
    Sckepticism is winning more and more people, despite their lies.
    Bonne chance!
    Marco33

  35. GlynnMhor says:

    I wonder if you, Roy, have heard of any preliminary results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN.

    If the “increased cosmic rays == cooling” hypothesis pans out it should prove to be a difficult challenge for the warming alarmists to ignore.

    • I’m only vaguely aware that thier experiments support Svensmark’s theory. I still think it is quite speculative, though, partly because there are always waaay more cloud condensation nuclei in the atmosphere than are needed to form clouds.

  36. Frank says:

    The IPCC might be successfully reformed if they had an accurate way to distinguish between legislative advocacy and science. Interestingly, Dr. Schneider did an wonderful job of distinguishing between these two activities with his infamous remarks to Discover Magazine: He described science as telling the truth, the whole truth … with all of the caveats. He then explained that, in order to make the world a better place, scientists should tell scary stories, make over-simplified statements, make little mention of doubts, and get lots of publicity. Sound familiar? If the IPCC really is a scientific organization and if it is really the job of governments to make the world a better place using the scientific information provided by the IPCC, the IPCC could use Dr. Schneider’s words to exemplify the difference between science and legislative advocacy. The current problem is that too many authors and politicians act as if it is acceptable to advocate for legislation while claiming to produce purely scientific documents.

    WIth large author teams, no one is responsible for mistakes. The second step that might reform the IPCC is investigating past and future mistakes: Who was responsible for the original mistake, who approved the use of gray literature, which authors were responsible for doubling-checking the work of the original author (at least one should be), were reviewer comments ignored, who allowed reviewer comments to be ignored?

  37. Nobody has mentioned the gentleman standing with Al Gore in the photo above, but his name is Maurice Strong (pronounced Morris)Canadian businessman, UN factotum, very good friend of the important and influential.

    He was Secretary General of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (The Earth Summit). Godfather of the UN’s 1997 Kyoto treaty. Promoter of a collectivist global government,advocate of public ownership of land,advocate of cap-and-trade, and according to himself — a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology. He said “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

    He was on the board of the Chicago Climate Exchange. Also, he was involved in Saddam Hussein/UN/s Oil-for-Food program, but when the investigation into that became more intense, went to live in China. An interesting character!

  38. Maurice Strong is, without question, one of the most vile inflictions upon the human enterprise in recorded history; and you can tell him I said so.

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2009/Sun_Climate_sp09.pdf