May 24, 2010

We Trusted Too Completely

Eight days ago, as a climate skeptics' conference involving 700 attendees got underway in Chicago, I snapped the above photo of a streetside newspaper box. (Click the image for a larger view.)

The news story is a tragic one. It involves an executive with a Chicago-area commuter rail service who, a week earlier, apparently committed suicide following the discovery of financial irregularities at his workplace.

The headline caught my eye for other reasons. It seemed to apply to the climate debate - and to conclusions I've now begun formulating following a year of intensive research.

Close examination of the climate bible produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has left me dumbfounded. (See my related blog posts in the right-hand column here.) A report that is relied on by governments around the world, that those governments point to when citizens object to new climate policies, increasingly appears to be a house of cards.

Almost nothing we've been told about the climate bible now seems remotely true. Almost nothing the IPCC's own chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, has said - or continues to say - about it seems connected to reality. (See Hilary Ostrov's analysis of Pachauri's inaccurate and contradictory remarks here.)

Is it based 100 percent on peer-reviewed literature? Try two-thirds. How could a fact as elementary as this have been overlooked from the time the report appeared in early 2007 until two months ago, when a group of ordinary citizens decided to examine this question for themselves?

Does the report restrict itself to research completed by late 2005? Think again. The Stern Review is cited 26 times across 12 chapters even though that document wasn't released until late October 2006. A particular issue of an academic journal is cited 39 times even though that issue wasn't published until May 2007. A research paper is cited by three IPCC chapters across two working groups even though it wasn't accepted for publication until May 2008 and didn't appear in print until November of that year.

If this weren't such an important matter these irregularities would surely be raw material for a comedic farce. The 2007 IPCC report - which was awarded a Nobel prize, no less - increasingly appears to be a sick joke. The fact that not one government - and not one science body - on this planet has conducted an independent audit of even a small portion of this report is breathtaking.

Elements of the above newspaper article surely apply here. The world does, indeed, appear to have "trusted too completely, too deeply" in the IPCC process. The IPCC milieu, like the situation at the commuter train organization, now appears to be rife with "blatant disregard for [the] rules" and to be characterized by "a climate of limited checks and balances."

How long will it take the wider world to acknowledge these facts?


UPDATE (June 13): An earlier version of this post said 800 people attended the skeptics' conference. That number has been superseded by a final, official tally of 705.


>> The Stern Review scandal: IPCC breaks 3 of its own rules
>> More IPCC mischief
>> Cutoff dates, what cutoff dates?
>> The great peer-review fairy tale