Friday, June 22, 2007

Manufacturing Concensus

Roger Pielke Sr. has a few complaints about the comprehensiveness of the research papers used to prepare various IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports have the following stated goals:
“A comprehensive and rigourous picture of the global present state of knowledge of climate change”
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”
However, the IPCC WG 1 Chapter 3 report failed in this goal.

This weblog illustrates this defect using the example of their assessment of the multi-decadal land near-surface temperature trend data, where peer reviewed papers that conflicted with the robustness of the surface air temperature trends are ignored. Later Climate Science weblogs will document this issue with other climate issues.
Bias? The IPCC? Why the IPCC is totally fair minded and comprehensive. If you don't believe that just ask them.
To evaluate the IPCC’s claim to be comprehensive, we cross-compared IPCC WG1 references on near-surface air temperature trends with the peer-reviewed citations that have been given in Climate Science. We selected only papers that appeared before about May 2006 so they were readily available to the IPCC Lead authors.
He then goes on to list a whole raft of papers, both included and missed by the IPCC. There seem to be more misses than hits.
If the papers were neglected because they were redundant, this would be no problem. However, they are ignored specifically because they conflict with the assessment that is presented in the IPCC WG1 Report, and the Lead Authors do not agree with that perspective!
Quite a charge to make. Mr. P then goes on to note some criticisms made by others.
“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends. The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends”.

“Future assessment Committees need to appoint members with a diversity of views and who do not have a significant conflict of interest with respect to their own work. Such Committees should be chaired by individuals committed to the presentation of a diversity of perspectives and unwilling to engage in strong-arm tactics to enforce a narrow perspective. Any such committee should be charged with summarizing all relevant literature, even if inconvenient, or which presents a view not held by certain members of the Committee.”
It seems like we have way too many inconvenient truths out there.

How might we narrow them down? Well Roger thinks he knows how the IPCC arrived at its concensus.
The IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report process made the same mistakes and failed to provide an objective assessment. Indeed the selection of papers to present in the IPCC (as well as how the work of others that was cited was dismissed) had a clear conflict of interest as the following individuals cited their research prominently yet were also a Review Editor (Tom Karl), works for the Review Editor (Tom Peterson, Russ Vose, David Easterling), were Coordinating Lead Authors (Kevin Trenberth and Phil Jones), were Lead Authors (Dave Easterling and David Parker), or a Contributing Author (Russ Vose).

In fact, as stated above, the CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“, with its documented bias, was chaired by the same person as the Review Editor of the IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report (Tom Karl)! Regardless of his professional expertise, he is still overseeing an assessment which is evaluating his own research. There cannot be a clearer conflict of interest.

The IPCC WG1 Chapter 3 Report clearly cherrypicked information on the robustness of the land near-surface air temperature to bolster their advocacy of a particular perspective on the role of humans within the climate system. As a result, policymakers and the public have been given a false (or at best an incomplete) assessment of the multi-decadal global average near-surface air temperature trends.
That is right. You get a lot more truth and a lot less inconvenience if you can have people review their own work and exclude contrary ideas.

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