How the IPCC handles ignores factual author corrections in AR4

Since the errors in IPCC AR3 were outed, there’s been this general view from the skeptical climate community at large and here on WUWT that the IPCC is collectively an elitist, pigheaded, organization, resistant to change.  Recall ‘Voodoo Science’, as IPCC chair Rajenda Pauchauri once said in response to the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 fiasco. I think I’ll let Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s example of this stand on its own without further comment:

Alleged errors in the treatment of disaster trends in Chapter 1, WGII, AR4
CLA response from Cynthia Rosenzweig and Gino Casassa
August 23, 2012

Alleged Error #1

Text from Roger Pielke, Jr.

Error #1: IPCC p. 110: “These previous national U.S. assessments, as well as those for normalised Cuban hurricane losses (Pielke et al., 2003), did not show any significant upward trend in losses over time, but this was before the remarkable hurricane losses of 2004 and 2005.”

FACTUALLY INCORRECT: Figure 5 in the following paper, in press prior to the IPCC AR4 WGII publication deadline, clearly shows that the addition of 2004 and 2005 losses do not alter the long-term trend in hurricane losses:

Pielke, Jr., R. A. (2006), Disasters, Death, and Destruction: Making Sense of Recent
Calamities. Oceanography 19 138-147.

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-2449-2006.02.pdf

This same information was also in the report of the 2006 Hohenkammer Workshop on Climate Change and Disaster Losses, which was cited by the AR4 WGII: http://cstpr.colorado.edu/sparc/research/projects/extreme_events/munich_workshop/pielke.pdf

RECOMMENDED CORRECTION: ““These previous national U.S. assessments, as well as those for normalised Cuban hurricane losses (Pielke et al., 2003), did not show any significant upward trend in losses over time, and this remains the case following the remarkable hurricane losses of 2004 and 2005.”

CLA Finding

There is no error in the statement. No correction is needed and the text can stand as is.

Rationale

The clause about the published analyses being before the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons is a statement of fact about the time line, and it is not a statement that the results were different after including 2004 and 2005. The statement does not infer that the overall pattern of losses would be different; instead it suggests that 2004 and 2005 were remarkable years in terms of hurricane losses, which they were.

PIELKE RESPONSE SEPTEMBER 13:  This boggles the mind. The time line was such that published analyses (I provided 2!) that were available to the IPCC when drafting the AR4 included 2004 and 2005. The IPCC is say that up is down, and with a straight face. Did they not even read what I wrote?

More here, bring an air sickness bag.

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36 Responses to How the IPCC handles ignores factual author corrections in AR4

  1. Hugh says:

    They also don’t get the difference between “infer” and “imply”. Picky, I know, but not a good look.

  2. MarkP says:

    Well, also they don’t know between ‘infer’ and ‘imply’ — which is simply inexcusable.

  3. Mark and two Cats says:

    “The statement does not infer that the overall pattern of losses would be different…”
    ——————————————-
    infer?
    heh

  4. richardscourtney says:

    Anthony:

    Dr Pielke’s experience is not unique.

    As I said in the thread reporting the call for AR5 Expert Reviewers, I am not bothering to be a reviewer this time because they ignored all my review comments – including corrections to factual errors – in my review comments to AR4.

    Richard

  5. Lew Skannen says:

    The first thing that struck me was also the ‘infer’/’imply’ thing. It really just shows how sloppy they have become. I put this down to the arrogance of being untouchable.

  6. berniel says:

    It looks to me that they did read what he wrote but the response demonstrates a clear agenda of wanting to misslead the reader without actually lying. The confidence with which this is expressed is to me more interesting than the fact that they were wrong about the unambigous implication delivered by the ‘but.’

  7. Slabadang says:

    Well ?
    IPCC dont need sceptics to look bad. Field just gave proof that IPCC itself provide the best arguments why it has ni credability at all. Its a pure disgrace to science and the UN, Its just so corrupted that the cosa nostra looks straight and Mr Bean intelligent..

  8. Goldie says:

    It seems that the test of a “reasonable man” is being ignored. Simply put, i agree with Pielkes reading of these clauses and suggest that the “ordinairy man” will understand these clauses in a way that the IPCc nows says is unintended. I think they are being obtuse to say the least and in the interests of clarity it would be better to amend the clauses.

  9. Graeme W says:

    Much as I hate to admit it, the IPCC is technically correct with all of their responses, because the statements are not factually incorrect. They are morally incorrect because they’re worded to mislead, but the statements themselves are actual factual.

    I agree with Dr. Pielke Jr in that all of them should be corrected, and that the refusals are morally indefensible, but it is unfortunately true that a misleading statement can still be factually true….

  10. Joe says:

    They’re right that there’s no factual error in their text, as it doesn’t specifically say that things changed after the exceptional years.

    They’re also factually correct in their rationale because the statement DOESN’T infer anything about after those years. It strongly implies something, but doesn’t infer anything. If they’d replied that it “doesn’t imply anything” they could have been called out for the blatant lie; as it is they’re (technically) right on both counts so can’t be argued with.

  11. RockyRoad says:

    This just adds to the reasons I stated in Fran’s recent thread wherein it was shown that regardless of their emphasis on “communication”, when they obfuscate it destroys what little credability they have left.

    Fran, are you there? Are you listening?

  12. wayne says:

    This is why nothing will ever change in the UN I.P.C.C. (® now a wholly controlled subsidiary of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and it’s affiliates):

  13. banjo says:

    Off topic but funny. Apparently british mp Barry Gardiner, the MP for Brent North doesn`t understand the difference between a subsidy and goverment giving everyone a tax break.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/9/13/ben-biffs-barry.html

  14. jorgekafkazar says:

    Weasely. Equivocating. And, yes, lying. The statement was incorrect and deliberately so. Despicable. Evil.

  15. Katherine says:

    “These previous national U.S. assessments, as well as those for normalised Cuban hurricane losses (Pielke et al., 2003), did not show any significant upward trend in losses over time, but this was before the remarkable hurricane losses of 2004 and 2005.”

    The statement does not infer that the overall pattern of losses would be different;

    They can’t even parse English? The use of “but” obviously introduces information to the contrary! And why cite an older paper when there’s a more recent, updated paper on the topic? This is just so willfully wrong-headed. It’s not just incompetence but outright malice! And the other examples in Dr. Pielke’s post just drive home the point. The rot is institutional.

  16. Theo Goodwin says:

    Hugh says:
    September 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm
    “They also don’t get the difference between “infer” and “imply”. Picky, I know, but not a good look.”

    Not picky. The fact that one does not know the meaning of “infers” demonstrates either that one is an idiot when it comes to logic or, worse, that one took a course in logic and just could not bring themselves to sit down and go through the mental exercises necessary to actually understand and internalize the concepts. Disgraceful.

  17. davidmhoffer says:

    infer/imply
    predict/project

    some sort of pattern here….

  18. pat says:

    University of Melbourne readying for another talkfest. states he takes on deniers and confusionists(?) in this interview. i have no plans to listen:

    13 Beyond Zero Emissions: Professor David Karoly is keynote speaker at the Climate Change Science Symposium
    He was heavily involved in preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2007, in several different roles.
    Prof Karoly joins Beyond Zero’s Anthony Daniele to talk about the latest climate science, taking on the climate deniers and confusionists; and communicating the urgency of the issues. Prof Karoly is keynote speaker at the Climate Change Science Symposium taking place at the University of Melbourne between Thursday 20 and Saturday 22 September.
    Prof Karoly is a member of the new Climate Change Authority in Australia. He is also a member of the Science Advisory Panel to the Australian Climate Commission, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and the Joint Scientific Committee, which provides oversight of the World Climate Research Programme.
    (AUDIO: Prof David Karoly Interviewed on 3CR Community Radio)
    http://beyondzeroemissions.org/media/radio/professor-david-karoly-keynote-speaker-climate-change-science-symposium-120913

    3CR Community Radio: Trivia and Auction at the Fitzroy Town Hall
    Prominent climate scientist David Karoly will host a trivia night at the Fitzroy Town Hall on the 3rd of August.
    Proceeds raised from the evening of entertainment will go towards Yarra Climate Action Now’s community solar project.
    A drink and nibbles will be provided on arrival, with organic beer and wine also available for purchase…
    http://www.3cr.org.au/events/trivia-and-auction-fitzroy-town-hall

  19. DaveA says:

    The “but” is significant, that most certainly does imply that the subsequent remarkable hurricanes were likely to have sent the trend up.

  20. DaveA says:

    Hehe, this one comes from Error #3,

    …he intentionally miscited the analysis and there is no scientific basis for plotting damages against temperature.

    Reckon treemometers were bad, now we’ve got the upturned-barn-ometer!

  21. M. Nichopolis says:

    Dave A. is right. The word “but” changes it from a factual statement to an implication. There’s a huge difference between what they called a “factual statement” in the reply, and an “implication” caused by the clause started with the word “but”.

    It’s easy to do, just try: “The IPCC produces only the most stringently peer reviewed reports, but they are all peer reviewed by an exclusive, good old boy network.”

    See? Now if they want me to change that, all’s I have to say is it is factual!!

  22. Gunga Din says:

    CLA Finding

    There is no error in the statement. No correction is needed and the text can stand as is.

    Rationale….

    We said it. Therefore it is set in stone. So there!!!

  23. Andrew Chapman says:

    That’s the most remarkable response I’ve ever read. Truly astonishing, and definitive proof that nothing written in any IPCC report can be trusted. If they don’t strive for honesty in both statement and implication, you may as well read tea leaves to find out about the climate.

    Any lingering doubt about whether the skeptics are right about the IPCC is gone. Forever.

  24. Dominic Allkins says:

    @Andrew Chapman (et al) re: honesty.

    I know we all know this, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that it never was (or is) about honesty.

    “…‘self-evidently’ dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth-seeking…scientists – and politicians – must trade truth for influence.”

    Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia (UEA)

  25. David, UK says:

    What really boggles the mind is how easily human beings are taken in and zombified by large and powerful organisations, even when there is so much evidence, like that in this post, that the organisation is rotten to the core. People are strange.

  26. Pointman says:

    When it comes to the IPCC, the old saying applies. There are none so blind, who will not see.

    Pointman

  27. Hot under the collar says:

    Thought I would test the significance of the “but” as per DaveA. Here goes;
    IPCC AR5 is a crock of shite, but don’t let facts get in the way of our alarmist grants.
    Please imply or infer whatever you like of that.

  28. Hot under the collar says:

    Ok, AR4 I’m thinking ahead!

  29. kcrucible says:

    The IPCC is literally correct. The statement can be read in two ways. The fact that they’ve chosen to make the statement ambiguous rather than clear, points to the fact that they wish to mislead the reader.

  30. Richdo says:

    I take issue with those who suggest the IPCC statement is “factually correct”. I get what you’re saying but it is irrelevant to the obvious point of the criticism and implies that because the statement is “factually correct” it is sufficient to the purpose of clearly communicating fact. A statement is more than the sum of its parts and no matter how clever the semantic gymnastics if it leads a reader to a factually incorrect interpretation then the statement IS incorrect.

  31. kcrucible says:

    Richdo: “A statement is more than the sum of its parts and no matter how clever the semantic gymnastics if it leads a reader to a factually incorrect interpretation then the statement IS incorrect.”

    No, the statement is ambiguous, and in this case deliberately misleading. That doesn’t make it “incorrect” it makes it a near-lie and bad writing if your intent is to communicate effectively. In this case they want to NOT communicate effectively, because to do so would undermine their point. Case in point… people can give testimony in court that obscures the truth but won’t land them in jail for perjury. Of course, in court, the opposing side can cross-examine to uncover your half-truth or seek clarification on your statement. The IPCC reports have no cross-examination going on and are apparently responsible to no one.

    I’m not saying that they’re correct in doing this since the supposed purpose of the IPCC is to clearly communicate the science to the world. They’ve failed in their charter mission.

  32. Ben of Houston says:

    I’ll agree with the others in saying that the “infer” isn’t an error. The statement is objectively true. If it was done before the insurance data was available for 2004 and 2005, this would be proper to state “there is no long-term trend, but this does not include exceptional losses in 2004 and 2005 due to lack of data”. However, the implied meaning is “there was no long-term trend until we added the 2004 and 2005 data”. There are two problems, not including the additional data and then keeping the deceptive wording without the explanatory text.

    In short, they can only be held accountable for their words, not for any inferences that you might draw from intricacies of wording. This is a deliberate and carefully chosen Jedi Truth. It may be factually true (from a certain point of view), but it is intened to deceive.

  33. The other Phil says:

    The sequence 2,2,2,2,2 is remarkably flat, but that’s before the addition of two more remarkable data points, 2 and 2.

    OK, technically correct, but who on earth does not think that the second clause is intended to suggest something changed?

    Their rationale is essentially that they were making two, unconnected points. However, it is poor form to make two unconnected points in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence.

  34. Curiuos George says:

    We have assumed that Cynthia Rosenzweig and Gino Casassa were not corrupt, but this was before the publication of their remarkable CLA finding.

  35. John Campbell says:

    >> Did they not even read what I wrote?
    Silly boy, of course they didn’t.

  36. Craigicus says:

    The minimal violation that occurred with the IPCC response was that they did not strive for an unambiguous document. This is a horrible fault in an international organization that must bridge more than a mere few language barriers.

    Those real-time U.N. interpreters who tell the world leaders and diplomats what the other guy is saying had better not be this ambiguous — or the entire organization would create wars. Because disambiguation is one of the most important things the U.N. can do, this is both a moral fault and a fault in performance of ones primary duties. Because we know the U.N. can do disambiguation well in many other venues, we must know that it is intentional here.

    Why go to such great effort to leave a statement that would mislead so many? It is because they have hope that a great global effort is still possible.

    Why are these folks so devoted to something (AGW) that isn’t 100% proven? I think I know why.

    We all know why entrenched positions will encourage people to maintain their own self interest — I’m not so focused on these types.

    Where it is not in one’s self-interest it is because so many people fear that humans are about to mess their nest. They fear this intuitively and they never question the real details because they see the trajectory of more humans each creating more pollutants and they intuitively know what will happen when the box fills up with the pollutants. So, they don’t know when but they feel as if they know it will happen at some point. If they have these fears, why not just stretch the truth and lie a bit for a good cause — after all it will save even the skeptics? :)

    The only problem is these folks have wrecked the credibility that science will need to address the true and real problems coming our way.

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