Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
In a thought-provoking and reasoned commentary that asks the question, “Is climate change controversy good for science? Craig Idso examines a comparison between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Non-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) Reports. (Disclosure: I contributed material to the NIPCC Report). Idso’s article is a review and analysis of an article with the same title in Scientometrics, Jankó et al. (2017). Idso wrote,
Another interesting finding is seen in their examination of who each organization was citing. In-text analysis of the IPCC’s AR5 report revealed that 19 out of the 20 most frequently cited authors in that report were directly involved in the compilation of it. And though the remaining person, J. Hansen, was not officially involved in producing AR5, he participated in the production of at least one prior IPCC report (Third Assessment) as a Contributing Author. Similar analysis of the AR4 report revealed that 14 out of the 16 most frequently cited IPCC authors were involved with the writing of that report. Yet, here again, the remaining two individuals were directly involved in the production of the IPCC’s preceding Third Assessment Report. Such findings indicate the IPCC report authors are most intent on citing their own work, thereby promoting their own interests and findings above the work of others.
Just as Idso did with revealing Janko et al’s conclusion, I am going to save the denouement to the end.
This type of incest is no surprise to many involved in academia. One of the few intelligent things Prince Philip is reported to have said is that universities are the only truly incestuous organizations in our society. Almost everybody teaching in a university is a product of one. For the most part, they run the university by controlling the Senates, so you have the prisoners effectively running the prisons. Most university Presidents and Deans are promoted prisoners. There are many examples of non-academic presidents and department chairs who were pushed out by the academics in a pattern reminiscent of the politicians of the swamp rejecting the non-politician Trump. It is almost inevitable that any group will reject any person they consider not qualified to do the job. The qualifications used for this decision are the ones they created and protect. If you hire somebody who is ‘unqualified’ and it turns out they can do as good or even a better job, then your qualifications and control are undermined. You can add the IPCC to the list.
Everybody on the IPCC Report production, that is the actual research and written documents is selected and appointed by their home nations weather offices. This was the procedure set up by Maurice Strong through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) using the UN agency the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is comprised of the bureaucrats and scientists at every national weather office. As Richard Lindzen, atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said,
IPCC’s emphasis, however, isn’t on getting qualified scientists, but on getting representatives from over 100 countries, said Lindzen. The truth is only a handful of countries do quality climate research. Most of the so-called experts served merely to pad the numbers.
It is no small matter that routine weather service functionaries from New Zealand to Tanzania are referred to as ‘the world’s leading climate scientists.’ It should come as no surprise that they will be determinedly supportive of the process.
Another problem with politically driven research and the incestuous nature of academia and the IPCC is that they ignore any rules or information, especially criticism that doesn’t fit the agenda. Again, Lindzen identified the problem,
The IPCC claims its report is peer-reviewed, which simply isn’t true, Lindzen said. Under true peer-review, he explained, a panel of reviewers must accept a study before it can be published in a scientific journal. If the reviewers have objections, the author must answer them or change the article to take reviewers’ objections into account.
Under the IPCC review process, by contrast, the authors are at liberty to ignore criticisms. After having his review comments ignored by the IPCC in 1990 and 1995, Lindzen asked to have his name removed from the list of reviewers. The group refused.
Some argue that after early criticisms by Lindzen, Vincent Gray and others, the IPCC instituted a system of review by outsiders. The Janko et al study illustrates that it is a farce introduced purely to claim they are responding. It is the nature of incestuous groups that resolutions of problems are internal and rarely effectively implemented.
Idso’s analysis provides a perfect example of Lindzen’s critique. In the conflict between Michael Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ research and the analysis of its inadequacies by McIntyre and McKitrick, two congressional committees combined to investigate. This became known as the Barton Committee and was a joint effort between the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Letters were sent to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement, Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. It directed the three scientists to provide data and methods and computer codes used to achieve their results.
The politicians knew they would be flummoxed by the science and statistics, so they empaneled an independent group of specialists to investigate and provide a report to assist their conclusions. This group became identified as the Wegman Report after its chairperson Edward Wegman of George Mason University.
In its Recommendations to the Barton Committee and thereby presumably to any future IPCC Report Wegman wrote,
Recommendation 1. Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.
The IPCC paid no attention as Janko et al., identified, and Idso underlined. They are another incestuous group following the academic tradition.