Academics fight back on climate issues

Readers may recall this story last week: Ad hoc group wants to run attack ads

Here’s their formal response. I’m providing this from: http://www.openletterfromscientists.com for all to see here and to discuss. – Anthony

An Open Letter from Scientists in the United States on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Errors Contained in the Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007

[Note:  More than 250 scientists have already signed this open letter and signatures are still being collected. On Friday, March 12, 2010, when the letter has been delivered to federal agencies, a list of signers will be posted. The vast majority of the signers are climate change scientists who work at leading U.S. universities and institutions. They include both IPCC and non-IPCC authors. Additional signers include professionals from related disciplines, including physical, biological and social scientists.  If you are a scientist wishing to sign the letter, please see the note below. If you have any questions, please contact the letter’s authors, contact information is below.]

Dear Colleagues:

We have written an open letter about the IPCC process, media attention, errors, and suggestions for improvement, which we are circulating to both IPCC authors and other scientists in the US. We plan to send the letter to the US Congress, State Department, EPA, NOAA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental Quality, and other relevant US agencies and organizations.

If you would like to be a co-signer of the letter, please send your name and institutional affiliation to Gary Yohe at gyohe@wesleyan.edu by close of business on Friday, March 12. A note on the letter will say: ‘Signatories’ affiliations are listed for identification only and should not be interpreted as representing official institutional positions.’

Because it won’t be possible to coordinate multiple versions, we do not plan to edit this letter further at this juncture. However, if you do have comments, please feel free to include them in your email response.

Please circulate the open letter to your colleagues if you would like. We apologize for any cross-listings in advance.

Best,

Gary Yohe

Steve Schneider

Cynthia Rosenzweig

Bill Easterling

***********************************************

Many in the popular press and other media, as well as some in the halls of Congress, are seizing on a few errors that have been found in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in an attempt to discredit the entire report.  None of the handful of mis-statements (out of hundreds and hundreds of unchallenged statements) remotely undermines the conclusion that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Despite its excellent performance for accurately reporting the state-of-the-science, we certainly acknowledge that the IPCC should become more forthcoming in openly acknowledging errors in a timely fashion, and continuing to improve its assessment procedures to further lower the already very low rate of error.

It is our intention in offering this open letter to bring the focus back to credible science, rather than invented hyperbole, so that it can bear on the policy debate in the United States and throughout the world.  We first discuss some of the key messages from climate science and then elaborate on IPCC procedures, with particular attention to the quality-control mechanisms of the IPCC.  Finally we offer some suggestions about what might be done next to improve IPCC practices and restore full trust in climate science.

The Climate Challenge

Our understanding of human contributions to climate change and the associated urgency for humans to respond has improved dramatically over the past two decades.  Many of the major components of the climate system are now well understood, though there are still sources of significant uncertainty (like the processes that produce the observed rapid ice-sheet melting and/or collapse in the polar regions).  It is now well established, for example, that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from human sources have increased rapidly since the Industrial Revolution.  Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce the heat going out of the climate system, i.e., the radiation balance of the Earth – and so first principles of physics tell us to expect, with a very high likelihood, that higher temperatures should have been observed.

Indeed, measurements of global average temperatures show an increase of about 0.6 degrees C over the twentieth century and about 0.8 degrees C warming since mid-19th century.  The pattern of increase has not been smooth or monotonic.  There have been several 10- to 15-year periods of stable or declining temperatures over the past 150 years, but 14 of the warmest 15 years on record have been experienced between 1995 and 2009.  Since 1970, observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are already being affected by these temperature increases.

Because the long-term warming trends are highly significant relative to our estimates of the magnitude of natural variability, the current decadal period of stable global mean temperature does nothing to alter a fundamental conclusion from the AR4: warming has unequivocally been observed and documented.  Moreover, well-understood lags in the responsiveness of the climate system to disturbances like greenhouse gas increases mean that the current temperature plateau will very likely not persist much longer. Global climate model projections show that present-day greenhouse gas concentrations have already committed the planet to about 0.5 degree C in warming over this century.

Increasing emissions of carbon dioxide from the consumption of coal, oil and natural gas as well as deforestation have been the major drivers of this observed warming.  While we cannot predict the details of our climate future with a high degree of certainty, the majority of studies from a large number of research groups in the US and elsewhere project that unabated emissions could produce between 1 and 6 degrees C more warming through the year 2100.

Other research has identified multiple reasons to be concerned about climate change; these apply to the United States as well as globally.  They include (1) risks to unique and threatened systems (including human communities), (2) risks from extreme events (like coastal storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires), (3) economic damages (driven by, for example, pest infestations or inequities in the capacity to adapt), (4) risks from large-scale abrupt climate change (e.g., ice-sheet collapse, ocean circulation slowing, sharply increased methane emissions from permafrost) or abrupt impacts of more predictable climate change (generated by thresholds in the coping capacities of natural and human systems to climate variability), and (5) risks to national security (driven largely by extreme events across the world interacting with already-stressed situations).

These sources of risk and the potential for triggering temperature-driven impacts at lower thresholds, as well as the explicit recognition in the AR4 that risk is the product of likelihood and consequence, led the nations of the world to take note of the Copenhagen Accord last December.  The Accord highlights 2 degrees C in warming as a target that might reduce the chance of “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” to more manageable levels.  Research has shown that increasing the likelihood of achieving this goal over the next century is economically and technically feasible with emission reduction measures and changes in consumption patterns; but it will not be easy without major national and international actions to deviate substantially from the status quo.

The IPCC and the Fourth Assessment Report

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the IPCC in 1988 to provide policy makers regularly with balanced assessments of the state of knowledge on climate change.  In so doing, they created an open intergovernmental organization in which scientists, policy analysts, engineers, and resource managers from all over the world were asked to collaborate.  At present, more than 150 countries including the United States participate in the IPCC.  IPCC publishes an assessment report approximately every six years.  The most recent Fourth Assessment, approved by member countries and released in 2007, contained three volumes: The Physical Science Basis (Working Group I); Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Working Group II) and Mitigation of Climate Change (Working Group III) and a Synthesis Report.  More than 44 writing teams and 450 lead authors contributed to the Fourth Assessment – authors who have been selected on the basis of their expertise in consultation with all member countries and who were assisted by another 800 scientists and analysts who served as contributing authors on specific topics.  Authors donated their time gratis, and the entire process was supported by four Technical Support Units (TSUs) that employ 5 to 10 people each.

Errors in the Fourth Assessment Report

It was hard not to notice the extraordinary commotion that erupted around errors that were eventually found in the AR4.  The wrong year for the projected disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers and the wrong percentage of ‘land below sea level’ in the Netherlands are examples of errors that need to be acknowledged frankly and rectified promptly.  In a few other cases, like the discussion of the correlations between crop yields, climate change, and climate variability in North Africa, caveats that were carefully crafted within the chapters were not included when language was shortened for the Synthesis Report. While striving to simplify technical details and summarize major points, some important qualifications were left behind. These errors of omission in the summary process should also be recognized and corrected. Other claims, like the one reported at the end of February suggesting that the AR4 did not mention the millions of more people who will see increases in water availability that were reported in the cited literature along with the millions of more people who will be at risk of water shortage, are simply not true.  In any case, it is essential to emphasize that none of these interventions alter the key finding from the AR4 that human beings are very likely changing the climate, with far-reaching impacts in the long run.

The heated debates that have emerged around these instances have even led some to question the quality and integrity of the IPCC.  Recent events have made it clear that the quality control procedures of the IPCC are not watertight, but claims of widespread and deliberate manipulation of scientific data and fundamental conclusions in the AR4 are not supported by the facts.  We also strongly contest the impression that the main conclusions of the report are based on dubious sources. The reference list of the AR4 contains about 18,000 citations, the vast majority of which were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The IPCC also has transparent procedures for using published but not peer-reviewed sources in their reports.  These procedures were not properly followed in the isolated Himalaya case, but that statement was never elevated into the Summary for Policymakers of either Working Group II or the Synthesis Report – documents that were approved unanimously and word for word by all member nations.

Nonetheless, failsafe compliance with these procedures requires extra attention in the writing of the next round of assessments.  We propose implementing a topic-based cross-chapter review process by which experts in an impact area of climate change, such as changes in water resources, scrutinize the assessment of related vulnerability, risk analyses, and adaptation strategies that work downstream from such changes.  Here we mean, to continue the example, assessments of possible increases in flooding damage in river basins and the potential for wetlands to provide buffers in the sectoral and regional chapters. This would be most productively implemented just before the first-order draft, so that chapter authors can be alerted to potential problems before the major review step.

Quality Control within the IPCC and US Review

The impression that the IPCC does not have a proper quality-control procedure is deeply mistaken. The procedure for compiling reports and assuring its quality control is governed by well-documented principles that are reviewed regularly and amended as appropriate.  Even now, every step in the preparation of every chapter can be traced on a website: First Order Drafts (with comments by many scientists as well as author responses to those comments), Second Order Drafts in which those comments are incorporated (and comments by experts and country representatives on revised versions as well as another round of author responses), and so on, up through the final, plenary-approved versions.

To be clear, 2,500 reviewers together provided about 90,000 comments on the 44 chapters for the AR4.  Each comment is documented on a website that also describes how and why the comment was or was not incorporated in the next revision.  Review editors for each chapter worked with the authors to guarantee that each comment was treated properly and honestly in the revision; in fact, no chapter can ever move forward for publication without the approval of its set of two or three review editors.

The US Government opened its reviews of the draft IPCC report to any US expert who wanted to review it. In order to protect against having this preliminary pre-reviewed draft leaked before its ultimate approval by the IPCC Plenary, the US Government asked all potential reviewers to agree not to disclose the contents of the draft.  For each report, the US Government assembled its own independent panel of government experts to vet the comments before submission to the IPCC. Anything with scientific merit was forwarded.  There were multiple rounds for each of the Working Group reports and the Synthesis Report, and opportunities for US experts to review the drafts were posted as Federal Register notices.

IPCC principles also govern how authors treat published but non-peer reviewed sources. These procedures acknowledge that peer-reviewed scientific journals contain little information about on-the-ground implementation of adaptation or mitigation – matters such as the emission reduction potential in a given industrial sector or country, for example, or catalogues of the specific vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies of sectors and regions with regard to climate change.  This information is frequently only available in reports from research institutes, reports of workshops and conferences, or in publications from industries or other non-governmental organizations.  This is the so-called gray literature. The IPCC procedure prescribes that authors are obliged to assess critically any gray source that they wish to include. The quality and validity of a finding from a non-peer reviewed source needs to be verified before its finding may be included in a chapter text.  Each source needs to be completely traceable; and in cases where gray sources are used, a copy must be deposited at the IPCC Secretariat to guarantee that it is available upon request for third parties.

We conclude that the IPCC procedures are transparent and thorough, even though they are not infallible.  Nonetheless, we are confident that no single scholar or small group of scholars can manipulate the process to include or to exclude a specific line of research; authors of that research can (and are fully encouraged to) participate in the review process.  Moreover, the work of every scientist, regardless of whether it supports or rejects the premise of human-induced climate change, is subject to inclusion in the reports.  The work is included or rejected for consideration based on its scientific merit.

It is important to note that we are not addressing here the criteria and procedures by which the IPCC selects chairs and authors. These are handled exclusively by the IPCC and its members according to terms of reference that were initially defined in the authorizing language of 1988.  That is to say, governments or their appointees frame and implement these policies; and they create, approve and staff Technical Support Units for each working group. We do not make suggestions on these topics since they lie beyond our purview.

What comes next?

We expect that the robust findings of the AR4 will be continue to be supported by new information gleaned from literature published since 2006 — i.e., that the climate change issue is serious and real.  Given these findings, we believe that the climate change issue deserves the urgent and non-partisan consideration of the country’s legislative and administrative leaders.  We feel strongly that exaggerated focus on a few errors from 2007 cannot be allowed to detract from open and honest deliberations about how to respond to climate risk by reducing emissions and promoting adaptation at home and abroad.

As the process of producing the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) begins, the IPCC should become more responsive in acknowledging errors rapidly and openly as they become known. To this end, we urge the IPCC to put an erratum on its website that rectifies all errors that have been discovered in the text after publication.  In doing so, a clear distinction needs to be made between errors and progressing knowledge.  IPCC assessments are detailed snapshots of the state of scientific knowledge at a given time, while knowledge evolves continuously through ongoing research and experience; it is the errors in the assessments that need immediate attention.  In contrast, progressing knowledge is published in new scientific journal articles and reports; this information should be used as a basis for the AR5, but it cannot be listed as errata for the AR4 because it was not available when that assessment was conducted.  The website should, as well, respond rapidly and openly when reports of errors in past assessments are themselves in error.  We cannot let misperceptions fester anymore than errors go uncorrected.

Climate research and the IPCC reports on the state of knowledge provide a scientific foundation for climate policy making, whose agenda is defined by the governments of the IPCC and not the lead authors per se.  The quality of and the balance in the knowledge delivered by any assessment is certainly essential, as is clear and explicit communication of associated uncertainties.  Given the recent political and media commotion surrounding a few clear errors, it is now equally essential that we find ways to restore full trust in the integrity of the overwhelming majority of the climate change research and policy communities.  To that end, we are pleased that an independent critical evaluation of IPCC procedures will be conducted; we hope that the process will solicit participation by the National Academies of the member nations.

The significance of IPCC errors has been greatly exaggerated by many sensationalist accounts, but that is no reason to avoid implementing procedures to make the assessment process even better. The public has a right to know the risks of climate change as scientists currently understand them. We are dedicated to working with our colleagues and government in furthering that task.

March 10, 2010

Signed:

Gary W. Yohe                          Wesleyan University and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

gyohe@wesleyan.edu

Stephen H. Schneider               Stanford University

shs@stanford.edu

Cynthia Rosenzweig                 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University

crosenzweig@giss.nasa.gov

William E. Easterling               Pennsylvania State University

billeasterling@psu.edu

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Freddie

Is it possible to identify all the people who have signed that list, which would be without a job if AGW turned out to be no big deal??

HotRod

I can feel Pielke Jr “warming” up already: ‘2) risks from extreme events (like coastal storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires)’.

H.R.

[…] “The public has a right to know the risks of climate change as scientists currently understand them.” […]
Which is to say… not much, but give it a few decades and we should make some headway.

Sorry, I couldn’t find it in me to finish reading their bull.

..few errors that have been found in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)
Artificially created hockey stick, falsely suppressed existence of UHI, manipulated instrumental temperature record, falsely altered SST record, unfounded catastrophic claims, ignoring past climate variations and not acknowledging oceanic cycles – what remains? Oh yes, those models. Snip.

tl;dr

Sydney Sceptic

“To be clear, 2,500 reviewers together provided about 90,000 comments on the 44 chapters for the AR4. Each comment is documented on a website that also describes how and why the comment was or was not incorporated in the next revision. Review editors for each chapter worked with the authors to guarantee that each comment was treated properly and honestly in the revision; in fact, no chapter can ever move forward for publication without the approval of its set of two or three review editors.”
So, you’re saying that you employed 2500 screw-ups and not 1 or 2? Well done! All I can say is thank you for taking them off the job market, so that there is less chance that I would make the mistake of employing them.
Seriously though, short of inside the long arm of a government department, you couldn’t find that many screw-ups in one team. Oh, wait.. IPCC is what again..? Ho hum.. move along, nothing to see here.

Iren

The IPCC operates, and has done from the very beginning, on the assumption that global warming (what there is of it) is anthropogenic. What else do we need to know?

Mark Wagner

that’s a heck of a “letter.” reads more like a book. long, boring one.

mobihci

when the cat is already out of the bag, you do not hold its tail. only YOU will get hurt.

Carbon Dioxide

“Additional signers include professionals from related disciplines, including physical, biological and……. *social scientists*”
Since when was sociology a science related to climate research….unless you want to use climate change to support whatever your current half-baked social engineering project?

JimB

Wow. Now I’m a “sensationalist”!
Awesome.
So this amounts to “We were wrong, but only a little bit!”
JimB

John R. Walker

Which part of GIGO don’t they understand?

A C Osborn

Note that they are still quoting sections of the IPCC AR4 that have been discredited or brought in to serious doubt by later studies.
They just do not appear to be living in the same world as the rest of us.

Philhippos

If there was a Nobel prize for pompous turgid waffle with added prolixity these guys would win hands down.

Nick Yates

Many of the major components of the climate system are now well understood
I guess we can look forward to their highly accurate predictions of what the climate and regional weather will do over the next few years. I can’t wait.

All we really want , as a society , is the honest to goodness truth. No one really has a political agenda in the skeptic area, we just want to have the science back up the theory, and it must be unrefuted by anyone. There should be no skeptics in this science.
Remember , it was Einstein who said that even if 1000 other scientists agree with my theory, it only takes ONE , to prove him wrong.
The stakes are too big for political mischief/interference to interfere with the earth, whether it be supposedly be by climate control (lol) or global re-distribution of wealth.
Two things I will remember from Copenhagan…the huge standing ovasion given to Hugo Chavez , after his rants against capitalism…and then the dictator who demanded that we shouldn’t address climate change until we address global poverty..humm…now what has one have to do with the other..
Anyway, good luck scientists..
Ian

That’s a very LONG letter. Short and snappy would likely get more of an unequivocal assent. The devil is in the detail, as always. The more detail included the more the scrupulous scientist will quibble. Good!

JB

“Additional signers include professionals from related disciplines, including physical, biological and social scientists.”
Biological and social scientists ?????
And where are the engineers? The people who will design and build the alternative energy sources required to mitigate the non-existant man-made problem?

juandos

Hmmm, as often as Ehrlich has embarrassed himself publically you’d think he’d finally give it a rest…

Cassandra King

Oooh dear me!
Nothing like a large helping of self justification with a hearty mix of self delusion and topped off with transference and blame shifting.
The second paragraph alone was a perfect picture of just why people have lost faith in the narrative “many of the major components of the climate system are well understood” but then admit that much remains uncertain ie “rapid melting of the ice-sheets melting and/or collapse in the polar regions”. Now forgive me but when biologists with no expertise in the physical processes of the earth start talking about “collapse” and “rapid melting” when in fact the poles are more or less stable within our understanding of natural variability it rings alarm bells.
If the authors cannot be certain of why ice melts in the summer and freezes in the winter and the simple mechanics of ice shelf calving and the tidal/ocean current action on sea ice, seemingly unable to look at sattelite images that show beyond question the natural and wholly normal polar regions then I for one can only shake my head in wonder at how such learned people could be so amazingly ill informed.
Straight from the school of ‘its worse than we thought’ and onto the university of blinkered self delusion and into the actual real world where their utterences are treated with the contempt they deserve, the question I have to ask is who are they trying to kid, us or them? I have seldom read such a narrow, badly researched, one sided, ill mannered and childish letter. The political classes will just lap it up.

Phillip Bratby

No mention of Climategate, the CRU or investigation of Mann.

“To be clear, 2,500 reviewers together provided about 90,000 comments on the 44 chapters for the AR4. Each comment is documented on a website that also describes how and why the comment was or was not incorporated in the next revision. Review editors for each chapter worked with the authors to guarantee that each comment was treated properly and honestly in the revision; in fact, no chapter can ever move forward for publication without the approval of its set of two or three review editors.”
I remember that in the first version, you had to go to a library to physically xerox the comments with a maximum of 1000 pages.
Most rejected comments simply say “rejected” without being able to tell who wrote that verdict.

geronimo

Well they aren’t gifted with brevity are they? Yet the’ve managed to miss out the fact that they were told of the Himalayan Glacier error before it went into publication by Georg Kaser and that they included information from an upublished report that was subsequently 180 degrees out of phase with conclusions of the report.
They also haven’t mentioned that 38% of the references were from non-peer reviewed articles and books, nor that Greenpeace and WWF seem to have made major contributions to the report.
Apart from that a pretty honest summing up, although embarassingly they don’t seem to have any scientific evidence as to why the increased temperature at the end of the 20th century is “very likely” because of anthropogenic GHGs.

Joe

The sensationalism of the scientists own words of what they think may happen with no significant data to back this up has put their own research at risk of being investigated by others.
I, myself, wish to appologize for studying in an area no doubt not many know about. At times without realizing, putting comments in that you would have no clue as to it being correct or not as this area is totally unpublished and will not be found on the net. ROTATION
What you don’t know is densities of materials can change with speed. Car accident is simple example: More destructive force with more speed.
On a circular plane, density compresses energy with the more speed to the outside of a circle. Planets are slowly releasing this energy stored.

Well, ummm…
I wish they’d mentioned the MWP, the LIA, the UHI effect and the great dying of thermometers. Still, how can one disagree with a sterling character such as Paul Ehrlich?
But, if they say so, I guess it’s really hotter than ever, and we really need to shut down our economies and start handing money over to the third world.
Ok, Stephen and Paul, I’ll do it, but just the once, you hear?

I might have guessed Schneider would have a hand in this.
Note that it is admitted that “there are still sources of significant uncertainty” in understanding of the climate system and natural effects and variations.
“Because the long-term warming trends are highly significant relative to our estimates of the magnitude of natural variability, the current decadal period of stable global mean temperature does nothing to alter a fundamental conclusion from the AR4”
Warming is measurable; “estimates of the magnitude of natural variability” are what they say they are: estimates. And they have attached to them “significant uncertainty”. The difference between the actual and the estimate is the supposed anthropogenic residual; which of course can be insignificant if the estimate is just ever so slightly wrong, or has “significant uncertainty”.
Historical evidence indicates that the “estimates of the magnitude of natural variability” have been understated in AR4, leading to an excessive estimate for the magnitude of the anthropogenic effect.
The whole statement is based on a house of cards.
Let’s remember this ‘very likely’ probability when we revisit this in a few years:
“…the current temperature plateau will very likely not persist much longer.”

John Whitman

IOW, those who sign the Open Letter are saying:
“The climate science status quo we hope (desperately) is still in effect, regardless of all evidence to the contrary not withstanding, can be sustained by just counting the numbers of those who do not question it.”
Ahhh, it is bad news for them, science is not like simple democracy.
John

Todd Tilton

“It is now well established, for example, that atmospheric concentrations of “Greenhouse gases from human sources have increased rapidly since the Industrial Revolution. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce the heat going out of the climate system, i.e., the radiation balance of the Earth – and so first principles of physics tell us to expect, with a very high likelihood, that higher temperatures should have been observed.”
In the 1990s I found this convincing, and I expected that unequivocal proof would soon follow. If it has I am unaware of it. You might even say I am skeptical.
Real scientists would develop an hypothesis, and then find convincing proof. A warmist is convinced by the hypothesis and assumes proof will follow. eventually.

igloowhite

Hugo Chavez and John F. Kerry’s support.
Wow, how great is that.
Must be heart warming too.

Pat Moffitt

Perhaps next to each name we can have two columns one marked Money received from Exxon and in the other column money received from the government and NGOs.
“Our understanding of human contributions to climate change and the associated urgency for humans to respond has improved dramatically over the past two decades.” How did understanding increase when the debate was over some 15 years ago?

wayne

[…] Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reduce the heat going out of the climate system, i.e., the radiation balance of the Earth – and so first principles of physics tell us to expect, with a very high likelihood, that higher temperatures should have been observed. […]
Well, is it just me or does not that statement itself break a primary thermodynamics principle? Even IPCC’s published energy balance diagram shows input = output. Maybe that’s why higher temperatures have not been observed, you cannot reduce the heat going out.

David Holliday

Isn’t it pretty much a given that if Paul R. Erhlich’s name is associated with this, it has to be false? I mean, has he ever been right about one of his “end of the world” predictions?

Bill in Vigo

The final paragraph of the open letter as written to me seems to be a very good reason to delay implementation of the procedures recommended by the 4th assessment and it’s adherents.
“The significance of IPCC errors has been greatly exaggerated by many sensationalist accounts, but that is no reason to avoid implementing procedures to make the assessment process even better. The public has a right to know the risks of climate change as scientists currently understand them. We are dedicated to working with our colleagues and government in furthering that task.”
The thousands of unchallenged statements mentioned may need to be challenged. The errors that have thus far been found and studied have been of significant value and in my humble opinion have not been exaggerated. Perhaps when we take the behind the scenes (hidden) statements of the scientists involved in the report in to account it is time for a slate cleaning to restore the trust in the climate science community. I notice that all the named authors of the letter are listing themselves as climate scientists but their degrees and specialties are listed in other named disciplines. One of the major problems I have is that the letter is an apologist/defense of ad hoc science and the premise that it is founded on solid rock. This is not true as the science is very young and not enough time has passed to have true observance of the factors involved. At best the proxy studies can only be an approximation of the events that have occurred in the past.
It is time to return to empirical observations and evidence to reduce the use of modeling to “project” possibilities about processes we do not understand and to attempt to again begin the use of all the science available including all disciplines including accepted statistical mathematics for our studies. The ad hoc writing of models by those that aren’t extremely well versed and up to date in the statistical and computer processes of today is deplorably obvious in some of the projections being put forth today. If the apology/defense above also included an admission of ignorance rather than the arrogance of determination of correctness it would perhaps be better accepted by the public. This is no more than a demand that these same people be made the benefactors of determining the correctness of their own incorrect actions and studies. If I had made such demands to grade and correct my own papers and known mistakes is such an arrogant way in high school I might possibly have found myself expelled from the school. Apparently there is no longer any such thing in academia today to be responsible for ones own actions.
Just my 2 cents after reading the letter.
Your most humble servant, (read that to be very angry taxpayer)
Bill Derryberry

George L

It would be rather nice if someone in the sceptic group could produce a similar type letter to challenge so much of what the letter says, drawing attention to all the false data that has been produced by these people. Maybe also invite qualified ‘sceptic’ scientists to sign the letter and for the letter to be sent to all the addressees they mention. I think it is importnat that the letter is matched with one that challenges much of what they have said.
Who’s the best person to take their letter apart line by line?

DennisA

Isn’t it called “trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube”?

It will be interesting to analyze the list of signers to find out why they are doing agenda driven subjective research.

RoHa

As you were. We are still doomed. The BOM and the CSIRO say so.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/15/2846524.htm

George Grisancich

What’s particularly interesting is the list of signatories. No Erhlick, no Hansen, no Mann, no Jones. I wonder why they haven’t signed it?
Might be worthwhile compiling a list of known alarmists that haven’t signed.

OT but important
“PETA, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals, has started a petition drive to let Al Gore know they are not happy with the fact that he eats meat. “

The spoiled, self-serving, pampered rent-seeking babies who signed the long and irrelevant polemic in the article are worried only about their grant money, their tenure, and how to keep the their taxpayer funded gravy train on track.
Here is a much better example of a clear, concise, accurate, and to the point statement by tens of thousands in the hard sciences, many of them academics such as Prof Freeman Dyson:

The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

The truth doesn’t require reams of verbiage. In this example, the essential truth is that there is no real evidence that CO2 is harmful, while there is plenty of substantial evidence of its benefits.
When these folks need pages of excuses to justify their repeatedly falsified belief system, all they’re doing is re-scheduling the arrival of the flying saucers that didn’t appear on the appointed date.

One
McIntyre’s peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that the hockey stick, the foundation of the contention that current warming is unprecedented, is an illusion created by selection of proxies. The hockey-stick graph came into existence only after 2001 – prior to that, the IPCC’s own graphs showed a very warm MWP. McIntyre’s findings were dismissed without due process.
Two
The “very few” errors to which the authors of the open letter refer are not a “handful of mis-statements”. They were used to frighten world leaders into supporting the IPCC and bolster its funding opportunities. Virtiually all of the alarmist projections, that appear to be standard ouput from any climate-related study funded by the IPCC and its affiliates, are exaggerated. Even Judith Curry ackowledges the problem of advocacy compromising scientific objectivity.
Three
They say “research groups … project that unabated emissions could produce between 1 and 6 degrees C more warming through the year 2100.” No independent peer review is being undertaken on the work of Lindzen et al that points to the very low end of that range. Yet they state bluntly: “the climate change issue is serious and real. Given these findings, we believe that (it) deserves the urgent and non-partisan consideration of the country’s legislative and administrative leaders.” Clearly they favour the high end of the projections, but don’t say why.
Four
Skeptics were skeptical long before the errors were publicly disclosed, and long before Climategate. This open letter is in a similar vein to the SFgate blog posting by Dr Peter Gleick. And it merits a similar response:
http://www.herkinderkin.com/2010/03/skeptics-are-not-arguing-against-global-warming/

oliver

“It is our intention in offering this open letter to bring the focus back to credible science, rather than invented hyperbole”
Good to hear – that should significantly shorten the next IPCC report!

brc

“My apologies for the length, I didn’t have time to write a short letter”
It’s a while since I have read any of the official IPCC view of climate change. It really is a story of woe and disaster, isn’t it? Droughts, floods, storms, pestilence and disease. There’s literally nothing left out of there in terms of apocalypse, except maybe boils and death of first-borns.
It’s a real leap of faith to say, 0.6 degrees in the last century, 10 times that in the next century. That’s a massive rise, and 10% of the century is already gone and no warming. But it might also be 1 degree. That’s a 600% margin of error. In other words, we are right unless the world gets colder. Like a psychic confidently predicting you will feel like eating between one and 6 hamburgers at dinner time.

William Welch

Has Paul Erlich ever backed a scientific theory that came true? You would think with all his past failure at predicting things he’s learn to hedge his bets.

ClimateQuoter

“The reference list of the AR4 contains about 18,000 citations, the vast majority of which were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.”
Oh yeah? I beg to differ. We’ll find out the real percentage soon enough:
http://nofrakkingconsensus.blogspot.com/2010/03/help-audit-un-climate-report.html
Help audit the AR4 and let’s see what percentage really are peer-reviewed.

Robert of Ottawa

It’s all true, honest. Keep sending the money.

A simple question, will the letter signers just point out which text lines of the AR4 report are accurate? Save everyone a lot of time, we could just focus on what they say is true, and let the rest go.
Giving government grant money to people to prove that government should tax the people more, seems a little like circular reasoning to me. As Reagan once said, ‘the problem is the government’.

stephen richards

So they managed to find just 250 ‘scientists’ to sign their monologue. I worked at a large research organisation, just the 1, where there were 3000 physical scientists. 1200 with first degrees 600 with 2nd and PhDs. It would be relatively easy to get 1200 signatures of sceptics among that lot but for what purpose. You can get as many as like and it won’t change a thing about the science. I was one of the 600 and am still in touch with some of my colleagues none of whom are convinced by the current scientific evidence of AGW. We are all convinced that the planet has warmed and are almost all convinced that it will cool again. All I can say to Schnieder et al is grow up and do some real science. Stop the bull and prove it…. like a real scientist!!!

Sou

I agree with Oliver that shorter, more frequent reports would be good from now on in. After all, anyone who lives in this world and has eyes and ears knows that the climate has changed and will continue to change and that we’re causing it. Now what we need is regular reports more often on the impacts around the world so we can better prepare.
Today we got some strong statements about the changing climate here in Australia:
“Two of the nation’s top research bodies – the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO – have come out strongly in defence of the science behind global warming.
The leading research bodies say the evidence is irrefutable: climate change is real and the link with human activity is beyond doubt.
Universities have also joined the fray, saying it is time to stand up for Australian science and research. “We’ve had some serious tabloid junking of … science and research in our community,” Professor Peter Coaldrake, the chairman of Universities Australia, said. “If the two bodies together come out and make a statement of this sort, then we in the community have to acknowledge that.”

“The head of the organisation, Dr Megan Clark, says the evidence is clear. “Hotter days, more extreme heat and less rainfall are the snapshot of Australia’s climate now, not the forecast,” she said. “In Australia, we’re seeing that all of Australia is warming, in every state, over every season.”
Dr Clark says it is clear the climate is being affected by the carbon emissions caused by human activity.”
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/15/2846524.htm
From the comments so far, I suspect that some of the people here still aren’t quite ready to hear this.