'The IPCC does not make recommendations' (©IPCC)

Guest essay by Drieu Godefridi

In a message to “Friends of Science” (October-28-15 5:50 am, quoted here. Jonathan Lynn, “Head, Communications and Media Relations” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) writes:

“I’d like to point out that the IPCC does not make recommendations on any topic and you will not find any recommendations in any of our reports.”

This brings us to the centre of the question: is the IPCC a scientific body, as it pretends to be (ipcc.ch)? The formulation of a norm, even in a propositional manner — which is the definition of a recommendation —, presupposes value judgments, which are the province of politics, not science.

To assert that the IPCC does not make recommendations is not disputable, or even somewhat ambiguous, but quite simply devoid of any possible meaning.

In the Oxford dictionary, a recommendation is defined as “a suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action, especially one put forward by an authoritative body.”

The IPCC general reports are composed of three parts: climate science (part I), negative impacts (part II), measures to be employed to curb said impacts (part III).

One can read in part III of the preface of the latest IPCC report, “AR5”: “The report assesses mitigation options at different levels of governance and in different economic sectors. It evaluates the societal implications of different mitigation policies, but does not recommend any particular option for mitigation.” (page vi, then page 4).

The fact that the IPCC does not recommend any option in particular is not in any way in accordance with Mr. Lynn’s assertion that “the IPCC does not make recommendations”. If you specify three potential courses of action among a theoretically infinite set of options, either you are recommending the use of one of these options (not any specific one in particular but, nonetheless, the use of one of the three), or you are saying absolutely nothing at all.

What would be the point of part III, if not to suggest, i.e. “recommend”, certain courses of action?

Besides, the text of part III makes ample use of the term ‘recommendation’. Page 126, you can read that national/regional allocations were recommended by the 1996 IPCC guidelines (IPCC, 1996), page 162 mentions the “recommended options”, “recommending options that maximize expected utility”, says page 169, “these recommendations yield a perfectly time-consistent valuation strategy” (page 231), “Audits are reinforced by incentives or regulations that require the implementation of the cost-effective recommended measures” (page 716), “Given the exposure of many livelihoods and communities to multiple stressors, recommendations from case studies suggest that climate risk-management strategies need to appreciate the full hazard risk envelope, as well as the compounding socio-economic stressors” (845-846), “climate action plans are only one framework under which cities plan for mitigation policies, and similar recommendations may also occur as part of a municipal sustainability, land-use, or transport plan” (971), etc.

Part III of the IPCC reports are soaked with recommendations, thus value judgments. Quod erat demonstrandum.


Drieu Godefridi  obtained a  PhD (Sorbonne), and is author of “The IPCC: a scientific body?”, Texquis.

Note: about 5 minutes after publication, the essay was updated with some improvemennts to text formatting in the first three paragraphs to improve the way the article was presented to web browsers.

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72 thoughts on “'The IPCC does not make recommendations' (©IPCC)

  1. This is ridiculous.
    Assuming (and this would be a pretty far fetched assumption) CAGW is real, whatever Alberta, or Canada for that matter, do would have negligible impact anyway.
    Isn’t it time to start showcasing Canada’s environmental stewardship, regulatory compliance and strides we have done for the environment?
    Canada has one of the most developed environmental protection plans in the world. Following the CAGW logic, shouldn’t we be lobbying for other countries, like the US, to first come to Canadian standards before any other policies are implemented?
    Even if the CAGW policies go forward and this were to be a legitimate issue, without bringing the basics of environmental protection regulation and enforcement up to Canadian or other similar standards, it will be all for naught.

      • Oh, shoot!! Thanks!
        That document contains, pretty much, every argument I have against the CAGW policy financial suicide… but in polite words.
        Have you considered you might have used too many words for warmongers to actually read it through?
        Have you received a reply that would show the document was actually read and studied?

    • Let us not forget the National Energy Program of Canada, created by another Trudeau. The program ran from 1980 to 1985. Oil production all but ceased in Alberta with hundreds of oil rigs leaving for greener pastures in the US.
      The value of the Canadian dollar crashed and Interest rates in Canada jumped past 20% to protect the currency. The Bank of Canada paid 18% on Canada Savings Bonds to try and raise funds. Small businesses saw the Banks cut off credit and thousands upon thousands of businesses folded across the country as they could no longer afford to buy inventory.
      Housing prices crashed with the high interest rates, as people could no longer afford to make mortgage payments. Along with the business failures, tens of thousands of people lost their homes and it took the Banks many years before they were finally able to sell the houses they foreclosed on.
      In many way the situation was very similar to the financial meltdown in the US in 2007-2008. While there were a whole bunch of excuses, the cause was clear. The National Energy Program of 1980-85 set Canada back a whole generation.

    • Well, too late now. The Trudeau boy will go around the world, a la Obomber, apologizing for Canada’s evil ways and showing how it will reform itself by destroying its economy and looting the people to feed the bank accounts of third world dictators (also, BTW, their own).

  2. The IPCC doesn’t make recommendations and the models don’t make predictions. So what’s the point?
    I guess to try to scare money out of tax and rate payers.

    • The point is social control akin to the Medieval “know they place” paradigm that permits a failed EU system to reassert its ‘colonial’ practices on the rest of the world and destroy democratic institutions, the free enterprise system, and your future.
      Please recall, the EU constitution has NO bill of rights and neither does the UN.

    • But GloMax, you and Drieu Godefridi have it wrong in that you both are using the Oxford dictionary, a recommendation is defined as “a suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action, especially one put forward by an authoritative body.”
      You must understand that the IPCC have the unwritten rule allowing them to make up new words that may sound like the words in the Oxford and other dictionaries, but mean something completely different.
      “Just because the d-word people do not know our language or the meaning of our words, the IPCC stands completely behind what was written.” an unnamed, non-affiliated NGO member not authorized to speech to the press has stated.
      (just a little baby sarc in there)

  3. The warmunists purport that made-made global warming exists when there is no evidence of it, so they might as well say that they don’t make recommendations when it is blatantly obvious that they do.
    Way too many people will believe them on both counts 🙁

  4. IPCC to tax payer ;”Who are you going to believe.Our committee or your lying eyes?”.
    Given that the UN is the head of this snake, they seem to have that progressive disease running through our statist politicians.
    Lying is not an option, it is the default.
    The “science of climatology”.
    When this scheme finally blows up, can we track down these collaborators and treat them as the fools and bandits they really are?
    CAGW is an intelligence test, those who fall for it are unfit to administer any aspect of government, even letting them vote might be a mistake.
    I’m leaning toward banishment.To an arctic paradise of our choosing, where they may live the “carbon/fossil fuel free” lifestyles they seek to impose on humanity.
    This has to be one of the most expensive and expansive mass hysteria events in human history.
    Perhaps due to the wilful blindness of recent history, by the proponents(Our governments).
    The IPCC is the poster child for “Post Normal Science”.
    Otherwise known as Policy based Evidence Manufacturing.
    Now that they are being exposed, as emotional fools, they are making statements such as the above,
    “We made no.. a) Predictions. b) Recommendations. c) No claims of doom.
    And even if we did, look the planet has not warmed as much as our models predicted, we have succeeded.”
    Damn these imaginary calamities are easy to prevent.

  5. Of course they make recommendations. Why do they lie about it?
    They say that if such and such policy is followed then the world will burn up (hence the implied recommendation not to follow that policy), but since the models they depend on have no predictive power they don’t really know whether or not the world will burn. They pick and choose among detailed policy options, and their choices are based on predictions that are no better than what you’d get with tea leaves.
    I can truthfully say that I agree with all the science presented in the IPCC reports. I just don’t think it adds up to catastrophic global warming. Even government climate scientists agree that lower climate sensitivity is more likely. Even they agree that there is more uncertainty.

  6. …The IPCC general reports are composed of three parts: climate science (part I), negative impacts (part II), measures to be employed to curb said impacts (part III)….
    If it did NOT make recommendations, the only output it could produce would be:
    Climate science (part I)
    Impacts (part II)
    It must be a political decision to determine if, and for who, and how much, an impact is ‘negative’…

  7. If you work the numbers on IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1 you will discover that anthro C is partitioned 57/43 between natural sequestration and atmospheric retention. (555 – 240 = 315 PgC & 240/555) IMO this arbitrary partition was “assumed” in order to “prove” (i.e. make the numbers work) that anthro C was solely/90% responsible for the 112 ppmv atmos CO2 increase between 1750 – 2011. C is not CO2.
    PgC * 3.67 = PgCO2 * 0.1291 = ppmv atmospheric CO2
    IPCC AR5 Figure 6.1
    ……………………………….PgC/y……ppmv/y
    FF & Land Use Source…….8.9……….4.22
    Ocean & Land Sink…………4.9……… 2.32
    Net Source.…………………..4.0……….1.90
    If the anthro 8.9 Pg C/y (4.2 ppmv CO2/y) suddenly vanishes the natural cycle that remains would be a constant sink of 2.3 ppmv CO2/y. Reverse extrapolation (GCMs & RCPs apply forward extrapolation) calculates that 121 years in the past (278 ppmv CO2/2.3 ppmv CO2) or the year 1629 (1750-121) atmos CO2 would have been 0, zero, nadda, zip, nowhere to be found.
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave!
    The 8.9 Pg of anthro C simply vanishes in earth’s 45,000 plus Pg C cauldron of stores and fluxes. Mankind’s egoistic, egocentric, conceit means less than nothing to the earth, the solar system and the universe.

    • In other words without anthropogenic contributions CO2 would be declining and the planet would be dead once CO2 dropped below 160ppmv.

    • Nicholas,
      You need to take into account the fact that temperature pre-industrial was the main driver for CO2 levels in the atmosphere. That is a matter of dynamic equilibrium (“steady state”) between ocean degassing/uptake and atmospheric pressure. For the current weighted average ocean surface temperature, that dynamic equilibrium would be at ~290 ppmv in the atmosphere.
      The current net sink rate is average 2.15 ppmv/year caused by 110 ppmv extra CO2 in the atmosphere. For a linear process, the sink rate is in ratio with the extra pressure above steady state, that gives an e-fold decay rate of:
      110 ppmv / 2.15 ppmv/year = ~51 years.
      Or a half-life time of ~40 years.
      That it is a linear process can be deduced from the same exercise near 20 years ago:
      http://www.john-daly.com/carbon.htm
      That means that without any human emissions, after ~40 years the extra 110 ppmv is halved to 55 ppmv extra, after 80 years to 27.5 ppmv extra,…
      After a few hundred years, the 290 ppmv is about reached and no further sink occurs, except if the temperature changes. Or a huge series of volcanoes all start together erupting at once, or…
      Ultimately the ~9 GtC human emissions will be distributed in vegetation and oceans, but that is not instantly, it takes time and currently human emissions are twice the amount of what the oceans and vegetation can absorb at the current extra CO2 pressure in the atmosphere…

      • Hi Ferdinand’
        I knew this would get your attention. Always glad to see your posts. I will learn something new or at least be reminded of something I forgot.
        I question the assumption of a “steady state”. Proxies other than ice cores show much more variability and generally the geological record is anything but steady.

      • GTL,
        One can’t compare geological periods of the past with the current few million years, as the continents were at different places, ocean flows quite different, temperatures mostly (much) higher and CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but also (bi)carbonate levels in the oceans were many times higher than today. Most of that CO2 is now buried in thick layers of carbonate rock from under the sea bottom to high in the mountains, which were once sea bottom…
        Ice cores are quite reliable, but their main drawback is that their resolution gets worse, the farther you go back in time. Thus they can’t show fast variability that is both relative small and fast changing. Anyway they can show the current 110 ppmv increase over 165 years, be it with a smaller amplitude over the past 800,000 years, if that ever happened before, but it didn’t.
        Ice core measurements are averaged direct measurements of CO2 in the ancient atmosphere, other measurements are from proxies, where some have a better resolution (like stomata index data), but these have other, worse to solve problems, like a local bias which may have changed over the centuries…
        Over the past 150 years, we have ice cores with a resolution of about a decade. These should detect any one-year peak of 20 ppmv, or a sustained in/decrease of 2 ppmv over a ten years period. None such variability is seen, only a monotonic increase with even a 20 year overlap (1960-1980) between ice cores and atmosphere at the South Pole.
        The past 57 years only show a variability of +/- 1.5 ppmv around the trend lasting not more than 1-3 years. The past 800,000 years show a rather fixed CO2/T ratio of ~16 ppmv/°C over 8 glacial/interglacial cycles and for the MWP-LIA cooling. Henry’s law gives 4-17 ppmv/°C for the equilibrium between ocean waters and the atmosphere…

      • Ferdinand,
        Don’t your sink rate-source rate numbers depend on the assumption of stationary global mean SST? The global mean SST has not been stationary and likely will not be.

      • Joel,
        If you look at the variability in SST, that is about +/- 0.2°C with a trend of 0.6°C over the past 57 years of accurate CO2 measurements. With a response of ~16 ppmv/°C that means a variability of +/- 4 ppmv and a trend of 10 ppmv for changes in dynamic equilibrium with the atmosphere. In the same period the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increased with 70 ppmv. The 40 ppmv difference (1958) up to the 110 ppmv (2015) difference between atmospheric pressure and ocean pCO2 is what drives the sink rate. That is hardly influenced by the temperature variability and trend.

      • Ferdinand:
        You say

        If you look at the variability in SST, that is about +/- 0.2°C with a trend of 0.6°C over the past 57 years of accurate CO2 measurements. With a response of ~16 ppmv/°C that means a variability of +/- 4 ppmv and a trend of 10 ppmv for changes in dynamic equilibrium with the atmosphere. In the same period the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increased with 70 ppmv. The 40 ppmv difference (1958) up to the 110 ppmv (2015) difference between atmospheric pressure and ocean pCO2 is what drives the sink rate. That is hardly influenced by the temperature variability and trend.

        The rise of 70 ppmv over 57 years equates to less than 1.3 ppmv/year.
        You say the rise (which you wrongly call the “trend”) in sea surface temperature (SST) over that period was 0.6°C and this indicates a rise (which you also wrongly call a “trend”) of 10 ppmv in atmospheric CO2 concentration because you assert with no stated evidence that the response is ~16 ppmv/°C.
        But the source of your assertion of ~16 ppmv/°C is derived from ice core data that you admit are “averaged” (i.e. smoothed). This averaging provides a misleading and low indication. In other words, your ~16 ppmv/°C is a lower limit to the temperature effect: i.e, we know it is wrong and low but we do not know how wrong and how low.
        Anyway, this subject is off-topic here. I commend people interested in it to peruse the debate between you and me now being conducted on Jo Nova’s site and I have linked to the start of it.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        Indeed off-topic, but the 16 ppmv/°C is not only from ice cores (where some have a resolution of less than a decade), it is also what Henry’s law says for the solubility of CO2 in seawater (4-17 ppmv/°C), confirmed by over 3 million measurements of ocean-atmosphere equilibrium…

      • GTL,
        The key point is in he abstract:
        A statistically significant correlation between annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the annual rate of accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere over a 53-year sample period from 1959-2011 is likely to be spurious because it vanishes when the two series are detrended.
        Of course it vanishes as all the variability is entirely natural and (near) all the trend is from human emissions. If you detrend the result, you simply remove the influence of human emissions…
        If temperature was the main driver of the current increase, that would mean a response of over 100 ppmv/°C, which violates Henry’s law for the solubility of CO2 in seawater…

  8. “The IPCC general reports are composed of three parts: climate science (part I), negative impacts (part II), measures to be employed to curb said impacts (part III).”
    By there own definition of their role thay are prejudiced because they don’t have a “Positive Impacts” section.

  9. You only have had to listen to the many pronouncements from Pachauri to understand that “IPCC does not make recommendations” is complete and utter nonsense. He and everyone involved with the IPCC regularly advocate the recommendation of elimination of fossil fuels. If that isn’t ‘recommendation’, what is? The fact that the UNFCCC set up the IPCC as a political body to only consider ‘anthropogenic causes of climate change’ demonstrates that there was/is clear political intent ‘to make recommendations’. The IPCC was needed to manufacture the (pseudo-)scientific evidence to provide legitimacy for that exact purpose.

  10. With crumbs on their face and clothes, mouths full, they expect us to believe they did not steal from the cookie jar? Of course they make recommendations.
    With all the PREE (peer reviewed by each other) reviewed rubbish out before COP21 it reminds of a three year old’s temper tantrum. Unwilling to accept reality.

  11. Unadulterated BS. They try to make it appear they are something they are not. Take Agenda21 as an example. It writes profusely about how it’s up to the individual countries to take their “advice” then it goes on to discuss how to deal with the countries that do not take their advice. Their documents blather on and on about equality but say nothing about how they are going to achieve it….or anything for that matter. The UN is an exercise in how to gain control with nothing but words. They try to hide behind anonymity while exacting pressure in the form of shaming the non believers and political control.

  12. “Measures to be employed to curb said impacts (part III).” Certainly not a recommendation; a recommendation is something I am free to refuse. These measures are not up for discussion.

  13. So when the whole AGW agenda led by the IPCC bankrupts us all, it won’t be the IPCC’s fault because they didn’t make any recommendations? Got it!

  14. Classic double-speak!!!
    Jonathan Lynn, “Head, Communications and Media Relations” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a LIAR!!!

  15. Drieu Godefridi, PhD reports:

    “Audits are reinforced by incentives or regulations that require the implementation of the cost-effective recommended measures” (page 716)

    If they were to make recommendations under the recommendations section of the report, they would recommend regulations that require the implementations of the recommendations.
    (But you did not hear it from them.)

    • So who is writing the draft that recommended a Climate Court Tribunal as one of the options for an agreement under COP21 if not a UN group? – from Friends of Science ( http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/10/prweb13044767.htm ) :
      “The draft agreement of the COP-21 event now includes a clause creating an International Tribunal of Climate Justice, binding on developed nations, as Article 11, Option 2, in the Oct. 20, 13:30 hr. version of the draft agreement from Bonn. [LINK: cfact.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/UNFCCC-Draft-agreement-10-20-15.pdf] .”

  16. This is in keeping with the glaring misdirection they provide when they speak of model outputs as if they were the equivalent of data. There is the literal message and the unhidden implied message in everything they say. They know perfectly well it is the implied message that is heard. It is the only way you can guide an agenda when the observed data don’t support you. Their audience is fully willing to suspend belief in reality for the good of the agenda.
    It is also why threats of a RICO investigation of their detractors is so very necessary. That their willing audience also controls RICO application the entire enterprise becomes very scary. I get the feeling climate debate is headed toward a Reichskristallnacht event.

    • That was last week.
      This week bacon will be discovered to be a miracle cure for diabetes.
      Next week it will be shown to cause premature wrinkles…

  17. “I’d like to point out that the IPCC does not make recommendations on any topic and you will not find any recommendations in any of our reports.”
    This is a statement made by a guy who realizes that he is at the top of the blame tree.

  18. I wish that somebody would make some intelligent recommendations at some point.
    Instead all we have is a scary picture of future catastrophe (the summary for idiots) that is used to justify the spending of vast sums of money on whatever happens to be the most expensive item on the menu at the time.
    When Solar PV was hyper-expensive, cash flowed into Solar PV subsidies.
    Now that Solar PV has fallen in price the subsidies are pouring into hyper-expensive offshore wind.
    And, as if offshore is not expensive enough – the EU has already plough public money into “deep water” wind turbines.
    Yes, deep water wind exploration!!! The mere name should cause some amount of facepalming.
    I guess that they thought, “well, big oil do deep water oil exploration – so why shouldn’t we build massive platforms to extract the wind resources that lie out in the deep ocean. The we can be just like Big Oil, but completely retarded”.
    I don’t really know how they convinced themselves that this was ever going to be a good idea.
    Hopefully, nobody will ever be stupid enough to roll it out on a large scale.
    Even if we had formed a specific body of our best scientists and engineers and asked them how we could spend as MUCH money as possible on the very SMALLEST reduction in fossil fuel consumption – then it is hard to imagine how they could have assisted us in doing a better job than we have done.
    Of course, fossil fuel consumption has risen unabated. Knocked only by the global recession and economic slowdown in countries that have adopted industry destroying and self defeating energy policies.
    I swear that politicians must have at some point performed a cost/benefit analysis.
    Because, if they did not, then it is a remarkable coincidence that with regard to every economically advantageous course of action, they seem to have done the precise opposite.
    Maybe – they had the cost/benefit analysis plotted as a graph of technologies versus their “cost per tonne CO2” avoided.
    And then at some point the graph got accidentally turned upside down.
    Yep – that’s the only reasonable explanation that I can come up with.

  19. WHEN do you say: “the IPCC does not make recommendations on any topic and you will not find any recommendations in any of our reports.” ?
    I think, when you don’t want to have any formal responsibility for measures which are (probably) based on your reports.
    Of course the IPCC has seen that their models are not in line with actual (satellite) temperature developments.
    Also in the same document:
    “We often express this (as we do for instance in our communications strategy) by saying that the IPCC’s work is policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive.”
    https://friendsofsciencecalgary.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/a-matter-of-public-interest-on-the-ipcc-does-it-recommend-or-not-recommend-that-is-the-question/
    Again the formal “not policy-prescriptive”. No responsability for the IPCC. But you can wonder when consecutive reports indicate a strong temperature rise and that temperature rise isn’t gonna happen, that a clear sign in the direction of politics has to be given. Like the management of a firm HAS to warn the shareholders that “expectations not seem to be fullfilled”. In time.
    For that warning – or for not giving that warning – the management is fully responsible.

  20. Wow. Must be a slow news day at Wht’s Up. A whole article about “whether the IPCC makes recommendations or not. They say they don’t. Others say they don’t. But maybe they do, they just don’t know it. Neither do we.”
    Is there anything I missed?

    • Isn’t it important for policy making?
      If the IPCC make no predictions (as they say) and the IPCC represents mainstream science…
      Well, the science is settled as unpredictable. We officially know nothing.
      You can’t make a policy on the opinion of people who know nothing about the time when the policy will be implemented.
      Can you?

    • Yeah, but they don’t know WHAT they don’t know.
      And maybe they don’t know that they don’t know what they don’t know.

  21. HA! The IPCC is not in the business of making recommendations!? Wow. Really. SO what exactly do they do? As far as I can tell they are attempting to create the foundation for legal framing of uber resource control, technology use and population reduction all to save the environment from the terrible humans. UN power grab to save humanity from itself is the game here. Manage war zones, manage weather related disasters, manage everything everyone does. That there is not recommendations now is it. It is totalitarian one world government power grab is what it is. Invent a problem (CAGW aka Climate Change) promote reaction (social political upheaval) provide solution (Do as we say , we know what’s good for you). That there is the IPCC program…

  22. Let me fix the description for you. IPCC Reports: climate science (negative impacts part I), negative impacts (negative impacts part II), measures to be employed to curb said impacts (negative impacts part III).

  23. i think what the ipcc outlines is choices and consequences in layman terms. pretty simple stuff.
    not “recommendations”.

  24. Well, it’s quite clear that Jonathan Lynn, “Head, Communications and Media Relations” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), isn’t required to read the IPCC documents. That would cause him to knowingly mislead and falsify official propaganda.

  25. IPCC does say something similar to “in this scenario we are doomed, in this other we are not”.
    Let’s go extreme. I may say to someone: “If you don’t do this, I will kill you”. And by IPCC standards, I am not recommending him to take any action, right? I am only informing about the consequences of doing one thing or another.
    Bulsh*t is not a strong enough word to describe this “we don’t recommend” stupidity.

  26. We’re going to need an international truth and reconciliation court to sort out all of the fraud and abuse by advocacy groups and their paid leaders when the long cycle AMO downshift becomes more obvious and global warming becomes global cooling. Re-education camps for how to read long cycles in models, stats, and charts may also be needed. Humanity forgot how to do this during the AGW Dark Ages.

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