Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Here on WUWT, Ron Cram has provided an interesting overview of a number of people’s ideas about desirable changes to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC). He proposes that the IPCC provide us with a majority and a minority view of climate science, rather than just a single Assessment Report.
I’m here to propose something very different. Some people think the IPCC should be disbanded. I’m not one of them.
Figure 1. The old time methods are still the best.
I think disbanding the IPCC is a bad idea. Instead, I think that we should take the IPCC to the crossroads at midnight and pound an aspen stake through its heart, stuff its head with garlic, and scatter the remains to be disinfected by sunlight so it can never, ever rise again.
Let me give you a list of my reasons why this is the preferable outcome, in no particular order:
• The IPCC has provided very little of value in the way of deliverables. The reports have been clearly political, heavily slanted, and shot through with third-rate science and worse, NGO puff pieces disguised as science.
• No other branch of science wants, needs, or has anything like the IPCC … which argues against it being a useful construct. Nor would most branches of science tolerate that kind of nonsense, a bunch of government bureaucrats summarizing the science.
• Instead of providing us with any kind of certainty or agreement, the IPCC has been the source of endless disagreements, arguments, and food fights. It is a force for dissension and division, not for scientific advancement and harmony. It has made the split worse, not better.
• Dr. Pachauri has shown repeatedly that he views his tenure as an Imperial Presidency, immune to comment or dissent. Indeed, his view permeates the entire organization.
• The “Summary for Policymakers” is done with lots of input from politicians. Letting politicians assist in the writing of the scientific summary for themselves and other politicians … bad idea.
• A number of underhanded, unethical, and generally dirty things have been done under the IPCC umbrella. As a result, there is a huge segment of the population who will automatically adopt the opposite position to any IPCC recommendations … and often with good reason.
• People don’t trust the IPCC. We have little confidence in the players, the science, the system, or the so-called safeguards. We’ve been lied to, systematically lied to, by the IPCC. How anyone can think the IPCC is still relevant to public policy after that is beyond me. Abraham Lincoln knew better. In a speech in 1854, he said:
If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.
And regarding the confidence of the public, nothing has changed in the last century and a half since Lincoln spoke … which is another reason why it is useless to try to keep the IPCC alive. Confidence in the IPCC is dead and it will not come back, it’s not pining for the fjords, it’s terminal, put it out of its misery.
• Previous dirty fighting has soured a number of excellent scientists on participating in the IPCC process.
• The participants are chosen by politicians of the various countries … hardly a scientific method for doing anything.
• The great Ravetzian experiment has been a failure. Jerome Ravetz is one of the founders of and hucksters for “Post-Normal Science”. He recommends including all stakeholders like politicians and planners and social scientists into the scientific process, just like the IPCC did. And he thinks that in times like the present, we need “Post-Normal Science”. (In the best Orwellian doublespeak fashion, this is not a science at all, despite the name.) Post-Normal Science holds that we need to substitute “quality” for truth. The IPCC fits right into Ravetz’s vision of “quality” and participation, and this is exactly what the IPCC claims to do — assess the quality, from the viewpoint of all the stakeholders, of the various parts of climate science.
I’m not saying Jerome Ravetz planned this in any way, he didn’t as far as I can tell. But quite unintentionally, for whatever reasons and circumstances, the IPCC has been a grand experiment in Post-Normal Science.
That experiment has failed. And not just failed, it has crashed and burned with spectacular pyrotechnics and outrageous sound effects. In addition to unending disputes, it has brought us the amusingly meretricious self-aggrandizement of third-rate scientists like Michael Mann.
The attempt to introduce some kind of “quality” assessment into climate science has not led to a greater agreement on where we stand and what to do. Instead, the IPCC and its post-normal science process has led to infighting, and to chapter authors promoting and hyping the “quality” and the “robustness” of their own work, and to questions and protests from reviewers being routinely ignored or run over, and to people gaming the system, and to everything but what the IPCC was supposed to lead to – some kind of agreement on the main points.
And that is why we need to drive a stake through its heart. It was based on false premises. One was the premise that we need something like the IPCC at all. No other arena of scientific endeavor has such a thing … oh, except for the UN bureaucrats latest power grab, a new “IPCC for the biosphere”. (OK, for those who don’t know how that will turn out, spoiler alert! The outcome will be another train wreck … I can see that many of you are surprised.)
Another very important false premise was the charmingly naive idea that Lead Authors would treat their own work the same as they treated the work of other scientists … BWAHAHAHA. Only a lapsed Marxist like Ravetz or one of his kin would be foolish enough to think that would end well. I strongly suspect that Ravetz must actually believe in the goodness of man.
Look, folks, the US Constitution works because none of the founding fathers trusted each other one inch. They didn’t believe in the goodness of man, they’d seen too many kings and tyrants for that nonsense to fly. That’s why the US has three equal branches of Government, so no one branch and no one man would get too powerful. They didn’t trust people a bit.
Why didn’t they trust anyone? Because they were realists who knew that given a chance, someone would grab the power and use it for their own interests and against the interests of the people.
Like, for example, what Michael Mann did when he was appointed Lead Author for an IPCC Chapter. Because the people who set up the IPCC believed in things like fairies, AGW, unicorns, and the basic goodness of humanity, Mann had no constraints on his scientific malfeasance. He was free to promote his Hockeystick garbage as though it were real science.
So that’s why I say kill the IPCC, deader than dead, and scatter the remains. It is built from the bottom up on false ideas, fantasies of human goodness and of the benefits of political involvement that will ensure failure even if the motives are good.
But if for our sins we have to have something like the IPCC, it needs to be set up so that no one faction can take control of the outcome. We need an IPCC Charter that is specifically designed, like the US Constitution, to prevent people from doing those things that we know they will otherwise gladly do. So if we have to have an IPCC, we need a new Charter for a new organization, a charter that starts from the premise that humans will definitely lie, cheat, and corrupt the science if given the slightest chance.
As a result, if we don’t kill the IPCC, the Fifth Assessment Report will be guaranteed to bring us at least three things among its cornucopian lack of benefits:
Liars, cheats, and corrupters of science.
My conclusion? Considering the widespread damage done by the first four attacks, I’m not sure that climate science is strong enough to endure the impending attack from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Kill the unclean beast now, while we still have a chance of saving the science.