May 30, 2010

James the Irreverent

"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense." - Mark Twain

James Delingpole and I approach the climate change debate differently. In some ways I'm a stereotypical Canadian. I'm moderate and respectful. I try not to dismiss views with which I disagree, but to understand them. I prefer to think in terms of an evolving conversation - not a war.

James, a Brit, has a style unlike mine. After meeting him in Chicago at's recent climate skeptics' conference, I think of him as a prize-fighter in the ring - alert, energetic, eager for the match to resume. He doesn't hesitate to give the nastiest of global warming activists a taste of their own derisive, ad hominem medicine.

I took a series of photographs of James in Chicago. Some of them appear here. Two have been turned into iPhone/iPod Touch backgrounds.

In a world in which so many green campaigners scowl and scold, Delingpole insists on being joyous.

I think happiness & liberty are things that are really worth fighting for sound bite

May 27, 2010

Forget Genocide & Malnutrition - Sudan Fights Climate Change for the IPCC

(click image for a larger view)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) currently has three vice-chairs. One is from Belgium, one is from South Korea, and the third is from Sudan.

Yes, Sudan. You know the country whose president (after seizing power via a military coup) has been indicted for alleged Darfur war crimes. The country whose government is accused of tampering with the election held just last month.

Here's what the
April 27, 2010 issue of The Economist had to say:

[President] Bashir’s henchmen rigged the election to favour their man long in advance of the polls themselves. Both of the main Western election-observer missions...have said that the elections did not meet “international standards”, citing widespread irregularities on top of the usual logistical problems in a country as poor as Sudan.

As well as the rigging itself, several opposition parties pulled out of the election just days before the polls opened in protest against the unfairness of the contest...Just to make sure of their win, party thugs indulged in a spot of intimidation at some of the polling centres.

Last November the United Nations issued a report accusing Sudan of violating an agreement on the deployment of peacekeepers in that country. According to a news account, after "the International Criminal Court indicted Bashir, Khartoum expelled 13 foreign aid organizations, which has made it extremely difficult for the United Nations and other agencies to provide humanitarian aid in Darfur." Millions of people in the region are thought to be dependent on foreign aid for survival.

Perhaps it's fitting that such a nation is now associated with the IPCC at its highest levels. It lends just the right aura of respectability, don't you think? And just so there's no confusion,
Ismail A.R. El Gizouli isn't acting as a private citizen. As a letter sent this week to prospective IPPC authors makes clear, only governments can belong to the IPCC.

(click image for a larger view)

Let us understand a few facts. Sudan's per capita GDP is $2,300. That's compared to $7,100 in El Salvador, $13,100 in Botswana, and $46,500 in the US. Life expectancy is 53 years.

This is a desperately poor country cursed with abominable leadership. This is a government accused of practicing genocide and crimes against humanity. In the words of
Amnesty International, Sudan's president "allegedly ordered attacks on villages and camps, targeting groups on account of their ethnicity, while using rape, hunger and fear to create conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction."

Sudan is a nation, therefore, with more than its share of problems. Is it not bizarre that a country this poor and this troubled can nevertheless spare educated men such as El Gizouli to play key leadership roles in the IPCC? As the IPCC likes to remind us, those involved in its work receive no pay for their efforts. It's a voluntary gig.

Is it not also curious that a country in which children routinely die of infectious diseases associated with contaminated drinking water nonetheless has time and attention enough to become a signatory to
international environmental agreements involving biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, the ozone layer, and the protection of wetlands?

In September 2008, when the United Nations Human Rights Council sponsored a
three-day conference, other speakers addressed immediate concerns such as extreme poverty, the importance of good governance, the problem of corruption, and the need for health care.

Sudan's Ismail Elgizouli (different spelling, but same man) talked instead about climate change. His PowerPoint
presentation included a graph projecting agricultural yields 50 years hence (worrying about problems that might occur in half a century sounds like a priority to me), claimed malaria would increase due to climate change (this is vigorously disputed by malaria experts), and spent several slides attempting to link the conflict in Darfur to climate change.

Am I the only one who thinks it's twisted that a country in which half of females aged 15 and older can't read or write is devoting scarce resources to producing an 111-page report (
PDF here) titled "Sudan's First National Communications under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change"?

Every nation has limited money and attention. Government bureaucrats can only accomplish so many tasks in a given time frame. Does it make sense, in a country as afflicted as Sudan, that the minister of the environment provides "unceasing interest," that the minister of roads and bridges offers "valuable assistance" over an 18-month period, and that numerous other government ministries and bodies contribute personnel and assistance (p. 3) so that a lengthy report about climate change can get written?

El Gizouli was the project coordinator for that report. So this gentleman knows full well (because it says so on p. 25 of the PDF) that 71 percent of Sudan's population lives rurally and that only 10 percent of those people currently has access to safe drinking water.

He knows (because it says so on p. 26), that malnutrition is a serious problem in his country and that many of his fellow citizens are dying right now from preventable diseases. He also knows perfectly well that in order for this report - which discusses fanciful IPCC computer model projections for the year 2060 (p. 52 onward) - to get written, dozens of Sudan's best educated individuals had their attention distracted from real problems. The report's list of direct contributors is, after all, two full pages in length (p. 6-8).

It is often said that foreign aid frequently doesn't end up helping the most needy. It's said that corrupt elites within Third World countries find ways to divert those funds, that such money gets frittered away on pointless projects that make certain people feel important - while human misery remains unabated.

Does the global IPCC infrastructure encourage self-absorbed behaviour among these same elites?

Here's another thought. In early 2008 filmmaker Steven Spielberg resigned his post as an artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics because activists felt China wasn't protesting the behaviour of the Sudan government in Darfur loudly enough.

Two years later, where are those activists? Are they OK with the fight against climate change being spearheaded by the violent and unsavoury?


>> We trusted too completely
>> Shielding climate orthodoxy from free speech
>> IPCC cites an unpublished journal 39 times
>> Independent bloggers vs corporate environmentalists

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

May 21, 2010

More IPCC Mischief

Report cites research accepted for publication 29 months after deadline

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sensibly bases its report on research published prior to a deadline. This may seem like a trivial matter, but it is not. If IPCC authors are to accurately describe the scientific literature, an agreed-upon cutoff date is required. If expert reviewers are to comment on the IPCC's use of that literature, they must be afforded adequate opportunity to examine it.

Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC's embattled chairman, insists his organization scrupulously followed the rules when it produced the 2007 report on which governments now rely to make multi-billion-dollar decisions. A month ago, he assured us that this document:
...was based on scientific studies completed before January 2006, and did not include later studies...
If this is true how could a paper that wasn't accepted for publication until 29 months later be cited multiple times?

The paper in question is titled "West Antarctic ice sheet collapse - the fall and rise of a paradigm." It was authored by David G. Vaughan, a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey. As the abstract makes clear the study was submitted to the journal Climatic Change in November 2005.

The date on a PDF found here tells us a revised version was prepared in January 2006. Although it's unclear what occurred during the next 29 months, the abstract says this paper wasn't accepted for publication until May 2008. (The Working Group 1 installment of the IPCC report was itself finalized in February 2007, leaving a 15-month gap between the IPCC report's published summary and the Vaughan paper's acceptance. There is a 20-month gap between the apparent full publication of the Working Group 1 report in March 2007 and the paper's appearance in print in November 2008.)

The paper is listed in the references for Chapter 10 of the IPCC's Working Group 1 report here where it looks like this:

Vaughan, D.G., 2007: West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse – the fall and rise of a paradigm. Clim. Change, in press.
It is cited (incorrectly, given its eventual 2008 publication date) as Vaughan, 2007 on this page to support a statement whose plausibility it actually rejects. The IPCC declares:

If the Amundsen Sea sector were eventually deglaciated, it would add about 1.5 m to sea level, while the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) would account for about 5 m (Vaughan, 2007). [bold added]

But concluding remarks on page 13 of the January 2006 version of Vaughan's paper leave a different impession:
Since most of WAIS is not showing change, it now seems unlikely that complete collapse of WAIS, with the threat of a 5-m rise in sea level, is imminent in the coming few centuries. [bold added]
If the sole research paper the IPCC cites to establish the notion of a 5-meter sea level rise says such an event is "unlikely" shouldn't the IPCC mention this fact? Yet when the Vaughan paper gets cited on this page, the IPCC once again fails to tell the whole story. Instead, alarming statements go unqualified:
A collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) has been discussed as a potential response to global warming for many years (Bindschadler, 1998; Oppenheimer, 1998; Vaughan, 2007). A complete collapse would cause a global sea level rise of about 5 m. [bold added]
But wait, there's more. The Vaughan study is also cited on this page - bringing to three the number of times the IPCC's Working Group 1 report relies on a paper whose publication status has yet to be determined. The IPCC's Working Group 2 also gets in on the act. It cites the Vaughan paper once on this page of Chapter 15 and three times on this page of Chapter 19.

So why was this paper even under consideration by the IPCC? What does this paper say that's so important, so unique, so dramatic or authoritative that the IPCC felt it couldn't rely on already-published research to make the same case? Beats me.

It would be immensely helpful if Pachauri could enlighten us. At the same time perhaps he could assure us that the following facts have nothing at all to do with this matter. We wouldn't want anyone to erroneously conclude that there are two citation standards: one for IPCC insiders and another for everyone else:

  • Working Group 1, Chapter 4 lists a D. Vaughan (UK) as a contributing author
  • WG1, Chapter 10 lists a D. Vaughan (UK) as a contributing author
  • WG2, Chapter 15 lists a David G. Vaughan (UK) as one of two coordinating lead authors
  • WG2's Summary for Policymakers lists a David Vaughan as a drafting author
  • WG2's Technical Summary lists a David Vaughan (UK) as a lead author


This post was reworded slightly within the first few hours and several numbers were corrected. My apologies to anyone who cited an earlier version.


>> IPCC cites an unpublished journal 39 times
>> Cutoff dates, what cutoff dates?
>> The Stern Review scandal - IPCC breaks 3 of its own rules
>> What the IPCC learned from press releases

May 20, 2010

Intellectual Freedom

I've just returned from the 700-participant-strong climate skeptics' conference in Chicago. The schedule was a grueling one, with proceedings commencing at seven in the morning. I met some truly fabulous human beings, listened to dozens of presentations, and took thousands of photographs. Many of the conversations I had there have blurred into one another. I know someone discussed this or that brilliant idea, but I'm having difficulty remembering just who.

Did some of the opinions expressed over the three-day conference make me personally uncomfortable? Of course. On any team there are people who play different roles, who have different skill sets and temperaments. What's important is that, despite our various philosophies, we share common concerns.

I'm aware that a certain contingent of the green movement thinks that anyone who attended the conference is beyond redemption; that merely keeping an open mind to alternative points of view makes one a bad person.

My response is to direct these narrow-minded thinkers to the following definition posted on the website of the American Library Association:

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.
I've assigned this particular library association webpage an easy-to-remember short address:

May iFreedom live long and prosper.


UPDATE (June 11): An earlier version of this post indicated 800 participants at the skeptic conference. This has been superseded by a final tally of 705.


>> If we don't agree, you're crazy
>> Climate skepticism is free speech
>> Bullies need not apply
>> Why the Munk Debate proves the debate isn't over

May 16, 2010

Skeptics' Conference - First Photos

(click images for a larger view)

The 4th International Conference on Climate Change opens in Chicago today. Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, there's a reception at 5 pm and, during dinner (which begins at six), Steve McIntyre from will be a keynote speaker - along with former NASA astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt.

An introductory press event, held at noon on this gloriously sunny Sunday, was well attended - compared to the sparse media showing at the 3rd conference held last June (see photo #14 here). Roger Harrabin from the BBC is among the media contingent covering this 3-day conference, and one of the speakers at the press event was James Delingpole, whose Telegraph blog in the UK helped break the Climategate story.

Professor emeritus Don Easterbrook, who has studied and taught geology for the past 48 years (authoring three textbooks and 150 papers in the process), provided a sneak peek of research findings he'll be discussing tomorrow. These findings suggest a relationship between cyclical ocean events and temperature that appears far more compelling than the alleged relationship between atmospheric C02 content and temperature.

Here are a few quick pix from the media event:

James Delingpole

James Delingpole

Don Easterbrook

Don Easterbrook

One of the most distressing aspects of the climate change debate is the insistence on the part of folks such as Al Gore that all scientists of any standing agree that climate change is a crisis and that the only scientists who dissent are marginal and unpublished.

This is absolutely not the case. One may disagree with Schmitt or Easterbrook, but no honest person can dismiss these men's very real and impressive credentials.


>> photos from the June 2009 skeptics' conference

>> If we don't agree you're crazy
>> Bullies need not apply

>> Climate skepticism is free speech
>> Al Gore blows tobacco smoke in our face - again

May 13, 2010

IPCC Cites an Unpublished Journal 39 Times

We read a lot of magazines in our house. Occasionally, an issue arrives in which nearly every article is engaging and (in the case of cooking magazines) every recipe sounds amazing. In short, the issue is a keeper.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had an experience like that. It was so impressed by one edition of the academic journal Climatic Change that it cited 16 of the 21 papers published that month. The journal editors should take a bow. When three-quarters of a single issue of your publication is relied on by a Nobel-winning report, you're doing something right.

Except for one small problem. The issue in question - May 2007 - didn't exist yet when the IPCC wrote its report. Moreover, none of the research papers eventually published in that issue had been finalized prior to the IPCC's cutoff date.

As the IPCC chairman recently reminded us, that organization's 2007 report:
...was based on scientific studies completed before January 2006, and did not include later studies...
That's what the rules say. And that's what was supposed to have happened. But according to the online abstracts for each of the 16 papers cited by the IPCC and published in the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change (see my working notes here):
  • 15 of them weren't accepted by the journal until Oct. 17, 2006
  • the other wasn't accepted until May 18, 2006
The first date is highly significant. As the second box on this page makes clear, the IPCC expert review period ended on June 2, 2006 for Working Group 1 and on July 21, 2006 for Working Group 2. This means the expert reviewers had offered their comments on the second draft and had already exited the stage. It means the IPCC had reached the utmost end of a process that represented years of collective labour.

So how could 16 papers, accounting for 39 new citations across fours chapters and two working groups, have made it into this twice vetted, next-to-finalized IPCC report? Those citations don't reference research papers the wider scientific community had already digested. They don't even reference papers that were hot off the press. Instead, in 15 of 16 cases, no expert reviewer could possibly have evaluated these papers since they hadn't yet been accepted for publication by the journal itself.

Where do these 39 citations of the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change turn up in the IPCC report? [working notes here]
  • Chapt. 11 by Working Group 1 references ten papers (20 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 12 by Working Group 2 references nine papers (15 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 2 by Working Group 2 references two papers (2 citations in total)
  • Chapt. 3 by Working Group 2 references two papers (2 citations in total)
Among the 10 papers cited in Chapter 11 three were co-authored by Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen. I'm sure it's sheer coincidence that this gentleman served as one of two coordinating lead authors for that chapter.
  • see the first abstract here (cited twice as Jacob et al. 2007 on this page of the IPCC report)
  • second abstract is here (cited as Déqué et al. 2007 on this page)
  • third abstract is here (cited as Christensen et al. 2007 on this page)
I'm equally certain there's no connection whatsoever between the fact that Jørgen E. Olesen was a lead author for the IPCC's Chapter 12 and that a paper he co-authored in the May 2007 issue of Climatic Change got cited four times in that chapter. (That abstract is here. Cited as Olesen et al., 2007 four times on this page.)

Welcome to the strange world of the IPCC. Whenever one turns over a new rock there's something shady beneath.


Coming soon: the research paper that wasn't accepted for publication until May 2008, yet got cited seven times in the IPCC's 2007 report


>> Cutoff dates, what cutoff dates?
>> What the IPCC learned from press releases
>> The Stern Review scandal - IPCC breaks 3 of its own rules
>> Climate bible gets 21 'F's on report card

May 10, 2010

Cutoff Dates, What Cutoff Dates?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may be a science body. But it is also an organization. Organizations have rules. When they refuse to abide by their own rules we learn they cannot be trusted. When they flout their rules outrageously - yet insist they've followed them religiously - their chances of regaining our confidence are minuscule.

A few weeks ago, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri declared in an essay that one of the reasons the 2007 IPCC report (also called AR4 - which stands for Fourth Assessment Report) is perceived as being too conservative in some respects is because it:

...was based on scientific studies completed before January 2006, and did not include later studies...[this] other published material will be assessed in the AR5, which is scheduled to be completed in 2014. [bold added]

As I observed shortly afterward, the above statement is false. The Stern Review, a UK government document, was first released on October 30, 2006. It was by no stretch of the imagination completed prior to January of that year. Yet the AR4 cites it 26 times in 12 different chapters.

Pachauri attempts to impress us in the same essay by reminding us that 2,500 expert reviewers provided feedback on two different drafts of the AR4. But the startling reality is that after all the reviewers had made their contributions, after the deadlines to submit their review comments had passed, certain other people continued to mess with the report in extravagant fashion.

By adding in material the reviewers had been given no opportunity to assess these people undermined the integrity of the entire review process. There's little point asking thousands of souls to share their thoughts with you (which they did, in good faith) if afterward you're going to sit around in a back room and insert all sorts of brand new content.

Indeed, to do so would seem - and I use this word with great care and for the first time ever in my writings on this topic - fraudulent. If you claim your report should be trusted because you involved thousands of people and because you followed a particular process you cannot substantially subvert that process and yet still boast about the reputable nature of your report.

Yet that is what appears to have happened. It's not just the Stern Review that got added in, but responses to the Stern Review are also cited. A conversation occurs in the pages of AR4 about documents that weren't published until nearly a year after the December 2005 cutoff date Pachauri insists was honoured. The following reference is cited in Chapter 1 of the Working Group 3 report:

Dasgupta, P., 2006: Comments on the Stern Review’s Economics of Climate Change. <> accessed 15. December 2006. [see it in the list here]
If one follows the link provided in the above reference one arrives at a 9-page PDF dated November 2006. That same AR4 chapter cites another document which challenges parts of the Stern Review:
Nordhaus, W.D., 2006: The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 12741. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. [see it in the list here]
An abstract of the above paper reveals that it wasn't released until December 2006. (And please note that not one of these documents was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal - despite the IPCC chairman's repeated claims that the AR4 is based solely on peer-reviewed literature.)

But this is only the beginning. In Chapter 2 of Working Group 1's report, six papers are cited that weren't published prior to January 2006 - despite Pachauri's assurances to the contrary. Nor were they published prior to January 2007. Rather, they all appeared sometime during the 2007 calendar year (see them in the list here):
  1. Betts, R.A., P.D. Falloon, K.K. Goldewijk, and N. Ramankutty, 2007: Biogeophysical effects of land use on climate: model simulations of radiative forcing and large-scale temperature change. Agric. For. Meteorol., 142, 216-233.

  2. Feng, Y., and J. Penner. 2007: Global modeling of nitrate and ammonium: Interaction of aerosols and tropospheric chemistry. J. Geophys. Res., 112(D01304), doi:10.1029/2005JD006404.

  3. Menon, S., and A. Del Genio, 2007: Evaluating the impacts of carbonaceous aerosols on clouds and climate. In: Human-Induced Climate Change: An Interdisciplinary Assessment [Schlesinger, M., et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, in press.

  4. Ming, Y., et al., 2007: Modelling the interactions between aerosols and liquid water clouds with a self-consistent cloud scheme in a general circulation model. J. Atmos. Sci., 64(4), 1189–1209.

  5. Muscheler, R., et al., 2007: Solar activity during the last 1000 yr inferred from radionuclide records. Quat. Sci. Rev., 26, 82-97, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2006.07.012.

  6. Penner, J.E., et al., 2007: Effect of black carbon on mid-troposphere and surface temperature trends. In: Human-Induced Climate Change: An Interdisciplinary Assessment [Schlesinger, M., et al., (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, in press.
If you think that's bad, Chapter 11 of Working Group 1's report cites 17 papers with a 2007 publication date (see them in the list here):
  1. Angeles, M.E., J.E. Gonzalez, D.J. Erickson, and J.L. Hernández, 2007: Predictions of future climate change in the Caribbean region using global general circulation models. Int. J. Climatol., 27, 555-569, doi:10.1002/joc.1416.

  2. Beniston, M., et al., 2007: Future extreme events in European climate: An exploration of regional climate model projections. Clim. Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9226-z.

  3. Chapman, W.L., and J.E. Walsh, 2007: Simulations of Arctic temperature and pressure by global coupled models. J. Clim., 20, 609-632, doi: 10.1175/JCLI4026.1.

  4. Chou, C., J.D. Neelin, J.-Y. Tu, and C.-T. Chen, 2007: Regional tropical precipitation change mechanisms in ECHAM4/OPYC3 under global warming. J. Clim. 19, 4207-4223.

  5. Christensen, J.H., T.R. Carter, M. Rummukainen, and G. Amanatidis, 2007: Evaluating the performance and utility of regional climate models: the PRUDENCE project. Clim. Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9211-6.

  6. Déqué, M., et al., 2007: An intercomparison of regional climate simulations for Europe: assessing uncertainties in model projections. Clim. Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9228-x.

  7. Furrer, R., S.R. Sain, D.W. Nychka, and G.A. Meehl, 2007: Multivariate Bayesian analysis of atmosphere-ocean general circulation models. Environ. Ecol. Stat., in press.

  8. Graham, L.P., S. Hagemann, S. Jaun, and M. Beniston, 2007: On interpreting hydrological change from regional climate models. Clim. Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9217-0.

  9. Jacob, D., et al., 2007: An intercomparison of regional climate models for Europe: design of the experiments and model performance. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9213-4.

  10. Kattsov, V.M., et al., 2007: Simulation and projection of Arctic freshwater budget components by the IPCC AR4 global climate models. J. Hydrometeorol., 8, in press.

  11. Kjellström, E., et al., 2007: Variability in daily maximum and minimum temperatures: recent and future changes over Europe. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9220-5.

  12. Leckebusch, G.C., et al., 2007: Analysis of frequency and intensity of winter storm events in Europe on synoptic and regional scales from a multi-model perspective. Clim. Res. 31, 59–74.

  13. Lenderink, G., A. van Ulden, B. van den Hurk, and E. van Meijgaard, 2007: Summertime inter-annual temperature variability in an ensemble of regional model simulations: analysis of the surface energy budget. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9229-9.

  14. Rockel, B., and K. Woth, 2007: Future changes in near surface wind speed extremes over Europe from an ensemble of RCM simulations. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9227-y.

  15. Ruosteenoja, K., H. Tuomenvirta, and K. Jylhä, 2007: GCM-based regional temperature and precipitation change estimates for Europe under four SRES scenarios applying a super-ensemble pattern-scaling method. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9222-3.

  16. van Ulden, A., G. Lenderink, B. van den Hurk, and E. van Meijgaard, 2007: Circulation statistics and climate change in Central Europe: Prudence simulations and observations. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9212-5.

  17. Vidale, P.L., D. Lüthi, R. Wegmann, and C. Schär, 2007: European climate variability in a heterogeneous multi-model ensemble. Clim. Change, doi: 10.1007/s10584-006-9218-z.
Given that numerous sources cited by the AR4 were published well after the IPCC's expert reviewers were out of the picture, how much of the final report could actually have been evaluated by them?

Is there any rule the IPCC's inner circle did follow? And has chairman Pachauri ever read this report?


>> The Stern Review scandal - IPCC breaks 3 of its own rules
>> What the IPCC learned from press releases
>> IPCC reliance on grey literature 30 times UK threshold
>> What's left if we disregard non-peer-reviewed claims?

May 9, 2010

Citizen Audit Report is Now a PDF

A printer-friendly PDF version of the Citizen Audit report I released last month is now available. It's 30 pages in total, includes clickable links to supplemental online material, and at 500 kb isn't too huge a file.

There's also an easy-to-remember short URL for the online report:
(not case sensitive)

The public has been systematically misled about the nature of the climate bible produced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This Citizen Audit, conducted by 40 people in 12 countries in five weeks, has exposed one of the biggest myths of all.

The climate bible is unambiguously not based solely on research previously published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Nearly 5,600 of the sources upon which this document relies (30 percent) were found to be "grey literature." Among these sources are press releases, news clippings, student theses, working papers, discussion papers, and advocacy literature produced by green groups.

Speaking personally, I think a compelling argument can be made for the inclusion of certain kinds of grey literature. But we must have truth in advertising.

It is not acceptable for the chairman of the IPCC to repeatedly claim that this report is based solely on peer-reviewed research when that is not the case. If a roofer tells you several times that he has installed 30-year shingles but you climb up, inspect them yourself, and discover they're 25-year shingles will you hire him again?

The crucial question is: If the IPCC can't be trusted to describe its own report accurately, why should we believe anything else it says?

Until someone addresses this issue we'd be foolish to jettison our carbon-based global economy. This is too important a decision to entrust to a body whose integrity and competence is in doubt.


>> Climate bible gets 21 'F's on report card

>> The great peer-review fairy tale
>> What's left if we disregard non-peer-reviewed claims?
>> The Stern Review scandal - IPCC breaks 3 of its own rules

May 5, 2010

Shielding Climate Orthodoxy from Free Speech

Does media reporting of climate skepticism undermine the public good?

We all have our hot buttons, our sacred territory we defend tenaciously. Freedom of expression is one of mine. I served on the board of directors of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from 1993 to 1998, and was then a Vice President of that organization until 2001. Moreover, I spent 10 years as a print journalist (prior to 2002). During that time I considered it my job to expose government claptrap and to give voice to unpopular opinions.

So when I see educated people on university campuses arguing against free and open debate - arguing that the media should conceal rather than inform - I clench my teeth and take a deep breath. Then I remind myself that the struggle to safeguard liberty from agendas of all stripes is never ending.

The American Library Association's "Freedom to Read Statement" dates back to 1953. Its second paragraph begins:

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions... [bold added]

Imagine that. Democracy is about individuals entertaining a variety of viewpoints and then making up their own minds. Here are a few more gems from that statement:

It is in the public interest for make available the widest diversity of views and expressions...To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process...We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

...The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper. group has the right to...impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. [italics in original, bold added]
Which brings me to this talk, scheduled for yesterday at the University of Arizona and co-hosted by that institution's School of Journalism. Max Boykoff, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado who holds a PhD in environmental studies, was invited to deliver a guest lecture. If that lecture was part of a series in which various speakers expressed a diversity of opinions about how the media should report on environmental issues, that would be one thing. But there's no indication, in the press release announcing the event, that this is the case.

Instead, it appears that a professor from another institution was funded to come tell journalism students that their duty is not to inform the public but to pick and choose which ideas the public should be permitted to hear about. To quote the press release:
Boykoff also will speak to UA students the next day during a class on climate misunderstandings and communication, which is taught by [Prof. Jonathan] Overpeck and geosciences professor Julia Cole.

His public talk aims to promote understanding and discussion of how and why disproportionate media visibility has been provided for outlier viewsparticularly views often dubbed climate “contrarians,” “skeptics” and “denialists" – on various issues in climate science and governance.

...Boykoff suggests that when the media misrepresent or amplify these outlier views, they contribute to ongoing illusory, misleading and counterproductive debates within the public and policy communities and poorly serve the collective public. [bold added]
Isn't that clever? We'll just declare that some debates are "illusory, misleading and counterproductive." Then we'll say that when the media lets people know about those debates the media is undermining the public good.

I'm taking another deep breath, now. According to this worldview lowly journalists are transformed into supreme arbiters. They're supposed to spend their days passing judgment on which ideas the general public is entitled to read about.

Do they take special courses on how to perform this task? No. Did anyone elect them for this purpose? No. Is this what most people expect from journalists? That they'll decide - according to their whim, peer pressure and personal opinion - which side of the story exists and which side must disappear?

Narrow-minded, anti-democratic behaviour such as this does not serve the public good. Whatever this is, it is not journalism. Journalists worthy of the name treat their readers with respect. They trust in their readers' ability to sort wheat from chaff.

Do the Max Boykoffs of the world really mean to argue that while ordinary voters can be entrusted to elect - and dismiss - their own governments, they can't be exposed to alternative climate change perspectives because, well, the poor dears might become confused?

Using this reasoning any point-of-view can, of course, be stifled. Women's reproductive choices, the right of religious minorities to equal protection, anti-nuclear-power activism. Providing media coverage to any of these perspectives no doubt seems "misleading and counterproductive" to someone out there.

In 1953, in the midst of the Cold War, the American Library Association took a stand. It said it trusted ordinary citizens "to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions."

In 2010 American professors are assailing your right to know. They are encouraging journalists to suppress certain kinds of news. Why? Because, according to the headline on the University of Arizona's press release, "Media Coverage of Climate Change Skeptics Can Mislead [the] Public."


Some sections of the above post have been re-worked/edited since it first appeared.

UPDATE (June 13): According to the last paragraph of Prof. Overpeck's bio here, he "lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Julia Cole who is also a University of Arizona Professor and climate scientist." So a husband and wife team teach a class on "climate misunderstandings and communication." That's what I call keeping it in the family.

Overpeck was an IPCC coordinating lead author for chapter 6 of the 2007 Working Group 1 report. Could someone please tell me that the J. Cole (USA) listed as a contributing author for that same chapter is not his wife.


>> Climate skepticism is free speech
>> Bullies need not apply
>> If we don't agree, you're crazy
>> Is this politics or science?

May 3, 2010

IPCC Snowed by Snowmobile Lobby

Thank goodness the climate bible can make us laugh as well as cry. We've been told the organization that produces it - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - has the highest standards. Its chairman has said that for information to even be considered for inclusion in the climate bible, it must first have undergone the rigours of a peer-review process and have been published in a scientific journal (see the last lines of this article).

I guess that's why, when the section dealing with how global warming could affect North American tourism got written, the IPCC chose to quote a dollar amount plucked from…drumroll please…a press release issued by an industry lobby group - in this case the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

I'm certain the snowmobile folks are decent, hardworking people. They're just trying to make a living. But when one starts speaking of sums that begin with the letter "B" - in this case, $27 billion – it's a bit of a joke to accept at face value figures supplied by such an interested party. Nevertheless, peering into its crystal ball, the oh-so-scholarly climate bible reports:

The North American snowmobiling industry (valued at US$27 billion) (ISMA, 2006) is more vulnerable to climate change because it relies on natural snowfall. By the 2050s, a reliable snowmobile season disappears from most regions of eastern North America that currently have developed trail networks… [bold added]
This is what the full reference looks like:

ISMA, 2006: Facts and Figures about Snowmobiling. International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association. [Accessed 12.02.07: contente.htm] [see it in the list here]
The link the IPCC cites above in the first set of square brackets is dead. If you instead go to that website's home page you discover it belongs to the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. From there you can click over to a page titled "Facts and Statistics about Snowmobiling" (rather than the IPCC's slightly different wording: "facts and figures"). The page is dated June 2006.

Statement #6 declares that the "economic impact of snowmobiling" is worth $21 billion annually in the US and $6 billion annually in Canada. Who says so, and how they arrived at these numbers is not supplied. But this webpage does, indeed, appear to be the IPCC's sole source for that statistic.

In small print at the bottom we learn the webpage has been "Reproduced from ISMA's web site." After we click over to the International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Association – the industry's lobby arm - we find amongst its list of press releases, a "Facts and Statistics about Snowmobiling" entry. Click again and we get taken to a page with the filename: pr_snowfacts.asp.

PR – as in press release. As in public relations. The one PR to which there is no connection is that mysterious beast known as peer-review.

The page has been updated since the 2007 climate bible was published. But there, in statement #5, is a similar claim regarding the economic impact of snowmobiling. It now says the US economic impact is $22 billion (up from 21), while the Canadian economic impact remains at $6 billion. It's worth noticing that statements one to four list the number of snowmobile manufacturers, the number of units sold in 2009, the suggested retail price of those units, and how many snowmobiles are currently registered with the authorities in the US and Canada.

In other words, this listing of "facts" is a marketing exercise. We aren't told the first thing about how the $28 billion number was determined - or by whom. Instead we're advised, according to the statements numbered as follows, that:

#10: The average snowmobiler spends $4,000 each year on snowmobile-related recreation.

#15: Snowmobilers are caring neighbors, they raised over $3 million for charity during the 2008-2009 season.

#20: Snowmobiling is great exercise that brings people outdoors to interact with nature and each other. It is an invigorating sport that is great for stress release and good mental health.

#21: Snowmobiling is a great family lifestyle. It is an activity that keeps parents and kids together. Historically individuals who snowmobile at a young age continue to snowmobile with their parents throughout their lives, sharing great experiences as a family…

What's missing from this list, of course, is a tally of how many gallons of fossil fuel are burned each year by recreational users. It seems to me, if I were the IPCC, that number would be important. Perhaps an overall decline in snowmobiling might be a good thing from a carbon footprint perspective.

Indeed, this green oriented website claims that snowmobiles emit up to 100 times more CO2 than automobiles. (At this junction I should reveal that I grew up in a part of Canada where snowmobiles are common. That I personally find them noisy and smelly doesn't make me popular with certain relatives - who may now like me even less.)

But wait. If we click on yet another press release posted on the lobby group's website – the one titled "Snowmobiling is a $27 Billion Business" - in the second paragraph we read:

Recent Economic Impact studies performed by Iowa State University, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and the University of Minnesota all show dramatic increases in snowmobile activity and the economic importance of snowmobile tourism.
No further information is provided. We don't know who the researchers are, what the papers are titled, or when they were published. Is it possible these studies appeared in peer-reviewed journals and would, on examination, turn out to be based on solid analysis? Sure. But without considerably more digging we have no idea if this is the case. And what really matters is that the IPCC doesn't, either.

Here, again, we find the IPCC relying on a questionable information source that turns out to be a press release in drag. But hey, when one considers the snowmobile-carbon-footprint issue, at least this instance offers some entertainment value.


UPDATE: An hour after I posted the above, reader Neal Bridges tipped me off to the fact that if one types the dead link included in the IPCC reference above into the WayBack Machine at, (removing the space) one can see what that web page looked like in early 2007 - which is when the IPCC claims it last accessed it.

Curiously, at that point in time the page appears not to have discussed economic impacts at all. Instead, it
begins with the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations' mission statement. Even more curious, at the very top of the page is a link to a brief the organization submitted to a parliamentary committee in 2001. The brief includes a section on the economic impacts of snowmobiling.

According to the first paragraph of that section, snowmobiling has a "positive impact on the [Canadian] economy - $3.1 billion in fact!" This is, of course, rather distant from the IPCC's $6 billion figure. Could the economic impact have doubled between 2001 and 2007? Strange.

It would seem that the most logical explanation is that the IPCC cited the wrong web address in the reference (a version of the page making the $21 and $6 billion claims did exist back in 2007).


>> What the IPCC learned from press releases
>> IPCC falls for press release masquerade
>> Press release masquerade - Part 2
>> Climate bible gets 21 'F's on report card