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Thursday, November 03, 2011

IPCC links to Green Lobby, Reports Written by Grad Students

Timothy Birdnow

Here are a couple of stories that destroy the IPCC's credibility. Thanks to CCNET:

FoxNews, 2 November 2011

Perry Chiaramonte

A scathing new expose on the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- which sets the world's agenda when it comes to the current state of the climate -- claims that its reports have often been written by graduate students with little or no experience in their field of study and whose efforts normally might be barely enough to satisfy grad school requirements.

Grad students often co-author scientific papers to help with the laborious task of writing. Such papers are rarely the cornerstone for trillions of dollars worth of government climate funding, however -- nor do they win Nobel Peace prizes.

“We’ve been told for the past two decades that 'the Climate Bible' was written by the world’s foremost experts,” Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise told “But the fact is, you are just not qualified without a doctorate. In academia you aren't even on the radar at that point.”

The IPCC insists that the lead authors of individual sections of its climate report are indeed the pre-eminent experts in their field.

"These authors are nominated by governments and selected based on expertise,” a spokesman told “Author teams on IPCC chapters are a mix of individuals who have excelled in their fields of specialism."

Released this month, Laframboise's book “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert” calls that into question. The book names nearly half a dozen lead authors involved in the IPCC’s reports over the years who were barely out of college when tapped to author the final word on the effects of climate change:

* One lead author of the 2001 edition was a trainee at the Munich Reinsurance Company in 2000 and lacked a master's degree while on the panel. He did not earn a Ph.D. until ten years later.

* Another lead author in 1994 earned his master's only two years earlier and had his first academic paper published in 1995.

* An Australian academic was an assistant author in 2001 and a lead author in 2007 -- despite not earning her Ph.D. until 2009.

* Dutch geography professor Richard Klein has been a lead author for six IPCC reports and in 1997 became a coordinating lead author. He was promoted to the panel’s most senior role while he was 28 years old -- six years prior to completing his PhD.

Laframboise claims in the book that “neither [Klein's] youth nor his thin academic credentials prevented the IPCC from regarding him as one of the world’s top experts.”

Klein confirmed in an email to that he had not yet turned 25 when he was selected to author a portion of the report that would shape the world's climate policy.

“I am happy to leave it to others to reflect on the fact that I was 24 when I was lead author of an IPCC chapter for the first time, and that it was two years after I did a three-month work placement at Greenpeace,” Dr. Klein wrote.

Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told that age is irrelevant and shouldn't impact the conclusions of the major scientific work.

"Attacking scientists based on their age instead of their work is misleading and more than a little offensive to younger researchers," Huertas said. "The IPCC’s materials are thoroughly vetted by many scientists and are open to public comment, too."

At a top-level university, grad students are often employed to help with research guided by a lead researcher with a doctorate degree, Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and notable climate blogger, told

“But when research is done in a college situation, the scientists work closely with the grad students and then the findings are sent to a peer review where it is checked for accuracy and revised. In the IPCC, that whole process is skipped, leading to possible flaws," he said.

Regardless, scientists agree about climate change, Huertas argued.

"What we can’t do is bury our heads in the sand or be distracted by attacks on scientists," he said.

Laframboise uncovered this information thanks to a team of citizen auditors her climate-blog recruited last year to assess the U.N.’s most recent climate-change report, following revelations of sloppy syntax and factual errors, such as claims that Himalayan glaciers were on the verge of vanishing or the rain forest was endangered by global warming.

She hopes her book will bring about change in public attitudes.

“We’ve been told that [the IPCC] is a responsible business man in a three-piece suit, but it turns out it’s a sloppily dressed teenager -- a spoiled brat that can’t be trusted,” she said.


Matt Ridley: IPCC Embraces Green Activists

The Australian, 31 October 2011

A LITTLE-KNOWN Canadian freelancer who writes a short book dense with data and argument, and self-publishes a kindle version on Amazon, can hardly expect fame and fortune. Yet this seems to be what is happening to Donna Laframboise, the author of The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World's Top Climate Expert.

Her book has garnered nearly 90 reviews on in just two weeks, about four-fifths of them giving it five stars.

The web is alive with discussion of this remarkable little book. The World Wildlife Fund has put out a press release denouncing it.

What is all the fuss about? Like many people, me included, Laframboise used to take climate science at face value. She thought the case had been made by a committee of many neutral scientists working for the UN that global warming was a serious threat.

After all, as Mark Twain once said, "people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing".

In 2009, two years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received a Nobel Peace Prize, Laframboise, growing irritated with the shallow analysis of the issue in the news sources she trusted most, began reading and digging into the issue herself to get the first-hand version.

"After all," she writes, "journalists are supposed to be sceptical. They aren't supposed to take anyone's word for anything. They're supposed to dig, and question, and challenge."

She was not the first Canadian outsider to do this. About seven years before, an expert mathematician named Stephen McIntyre, also a resident of Toronto, had begun to request the data and analysis behind the famous "hockey stick graph" that appeared six times in the 2001 report of the IPCC.

He eventually found that it was a house of cards, based on faulty data filtered through a distorting statistical lens. McIntyre's careful "audit" is now legendary, as is the resistance and calumny he encountered. The hockey stick graph was dropped by the IPCC.

(Incidentally, both McIntyre and Laframboise were influenced by encountering stubborn injustice earlier in their careers: McIntyre experienced police corruption at first-hand; Laframboise investigated a miscarriage of justice in a murder case.)

Laframboise focused on the IPCC reports themselves. How were they actually written and who by? The impression the UN gave was that they were composed by thousands of senior scientists.

In the words of Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC: "These are people who have been chosen on the basis of their track record, on their record of publications, on the research that they have done . . . They are people who are at the top of their profession."

In fact, as Laframboise meticulously documents, world experts on malaria, hurricanes and other topics are excluded because of their sceptical views; while a relatively small clique does the actual writing, many of whom are young and have such a short "track record" that they barely have higher degrees.

Moreover, many of the authors are up to their necks in activism.

For example, two of the four lead authors of the Asia chapter of the 2007 IPCC report were affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund.

That chapter was where the report claimed that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, based on a non-peer-reviewed publication from, you guessed it, WWF.

Likewise, nine chapters of the 2007 report were based partly on the work of the Australian marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg who was also a contributing author, and has been promoted to a co-ordinating lead author for the next report.

As Laframboise discovered: "Hoegh-Guldberg has had close ties to activist organisations for the past 17 years. Between 1994 and 2000 he wrote four reports about coral reefs and climate change that were funded, vetted and published by Greenpeace. Since then he has written two more for the World Wildlife Fund."

Is this organisation supposed to the judge or the prosecution?

Laframboise goes on to document the ways in which "reviewers" of the report, who are supposed to cast a critical eye over the first draft, have been blocked, ignored, even threatened if they ask for the data to back up a claim.

In one case, McIntyre asked for help in getting access to unpublished data that had been cited in evidence by the draft. He was told "if your intent is to . . . challenge (the rules), then we will not be able to continue to treat you as an expert reviewer for the IPCC."

Which brings me to Laframboise's most startling achievement. Noting that this incident and the WWF glacier claim revealed non-peer-reviewed sources being used by the IPCC, Laframboise set out to test Pachauri's claim that "we carry out an assessment of climate change based on peer-reviewed literature, so everything that we look at and take into account in our assessments has to carry (the) credibility of peer-reviewed publications -- we don't settle for anything less than that."

In March last year, Laframboise recruited 43 private citizens in 12 countries online to audit the entire IPCC 2007 report and count the number of non-peer-reviewed references. Each section was audited by three people and the lowest (most conservative) estimate used.

Even so, the audit showed that 5587 of 18,531 -- fully one-third -- were non-peer-reviewed sources: including newspaper articles, activist reports, even press releases. The IPCC had a rule that such sources must be flagged as such. It had been ignored. When criticised for this last year by a panel of the world science academies, it simply changed the rule.

To those who are being asked to make significant economic and environmental sacrifices to prevent global warming, and are relying on second-hand accounts of this threat from the press: you have been let down. The press, derelict in its duty, has passed on opinions that in many cases are not worth Twain's "brass farthing".

Matt Ridley is the author of The Rational Optimist (Harper Collins) and writes on evolution, economics and the environment. He is a member of the GWPF's Academic Advisory Council.

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