For several years as the manmade global warming myth has taken center stage, the media have led people to believe that reports published by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were written by thousands of scientists around the world all sharing a consensus view regarding this controversial issue.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
On Thursday, climate data analyst John McLean wrote a fabulous analysis of the most recent IPCC Assessment Report released in April, and in so doing, obliterated many of the press assertions that have become prominent fixtures in climate change lore.
Published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, this paper should be must reading for all media members and global warming alarmists. It began with a rather harsh review of the important Summary for Policy Makers (emphasis added throughout):
The IPCC would have us believe that its reports are diligently reviewed by many hundreds of scientists and that these reviewers endorse the contents of the report. An analysis of the reviewers' comments for the scientific assessment report by Working Group I show a very different and very worrying story.
A total of 308 reviewers commented on the Second Revision, which was the penultimate draft, but only 32 reviewers commented on more than three chapters and just five reviewers commented on all 11 chapters.
At the other end of the scale, 143 reviewers (46%) commented on just one chapter and a further 71 (23%) on two. This would be acceptable if they had provided numerous detailed comments, but 53 of these 214 reviewers made fewer then five comments and 28 reviewers made fewer than three comments.
The number of reviewers who made just one comment on a chapter varied between 12.6% and 32% (i.e. almost one-third) of the reviewers commenting on that chapter. For four chapters, fewer than six comments were made by more than 50% of the reviewers who commented. For another four chapters, the figure was between 40% and 50%.
Many reviewer comments appear to be rejected with little or no justification for doing so. In particular there appears a disturbing pattern of rejecting reviewers' citations of references by claiming that a greater number of papers say otherwise but then referring to just one paper to dispute the comments of other reviewers. Rejecting references to papers that challenge or weaken claims of serious man-made interference with climate serve to create from whole cloth a contrived, false "consensus."
It is polestar clear that the IPCC-appointed chapter editors believed that their say was final in regard to the certainty of statements and that theirs was the only correct interpretation of the cited material. For many reviewers who could provide logical refutations, either with or without specifying references, the entire process was an exercise in frustration.
Adding it all up, and according to McLean, very few scientists were actually directly involved in the creation and review of any given chapter of this critical Summary, and dissenting opinions were not only not included, but seemingly ignored.
Makes it easy to arrive at a consensus that way, doesn't? Yet, as many have pointed out, this is hardly how science works.
Sadly, as media representatives aren't interested in science, the truth about how the IPCC functions will certainly not get reported.
Moving forward, another myth surrounding these reports is that they are internationally created. In reality, this isn't close to being the case:
[T]he USA and Australia, both non-signatories to the Kyoto Agreement, made the second-highest and third-highest numbers of comments respectively, eclipsed only by an individual reviewer. Both countries commented on all 11 chapters and show a degree of interest not reflected in the submissions of any other government.
Large regions of the globe made few, if any, comments under government auspices - Eastern Europe, Russia, the South American continent, the Middle-east and a large part of south-east Asia. Not a single comment came from any African country. Likewise, countries which have been vocal in their claims that they will suffer most from sea-level rises, namely the Maldives, Tuvalu and Bangladesh, failed to comment on any chapters of the report.
Denmark administers Greenland, which is supposedly suffering from the widespread recession of glaciers, but no comments were made on behalf of the Danish government.
Switzerland is seeing the recession of glaciers to their mediaeval extents and a receding snow-line, and incidentally is the home of the IPCC, but likewise had no comments.
8 - Significant regions of the Earth had no or very few reviewers who were designated as government reviewers. These figures apply to the Second Revision of chapters 1 to 11:
- Eastern Europe - Czech Republic and Hungary only
- Russia and former Russian states - None
- Middle-east - None
- African continent - None
- South American continent - Brazil and Chile only
- Asia - China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand only
Doesn't seem like a very international "consensus," does it?
Also undermining the consensus absurdity was the number of and process by which comments were rejected:
The IPCC's editors could - and often did - reject the peer-reviewers' comments, a reversal of the normal practice in scientific peer-review. Analysis of the extent of the editors' refusal to accept criticism is difficult because the expressions of rejection come in many forms, some were partial and others were rendered otiose by the rewriting, restructuring or deletion of sections of text.
A simple analysis based on the occurrence of three key words - "rejected", "reject" and "disagree" - underestimates the total number of rejections. Even so, this analysis reveals that the number of peer-reviewers' comments that were rejected by the IPCC climate-templars averaged 25% (min. 9.5%, max 58.1%) of all comments on the Second Revision.
The striking feature of most rejections is their dubious nature. Some were banal. Others showed inconsistencies with other comments. Peer-reviewers had to justify the textual amendments which they were putting forward, but the responding editors were under no corresponding obligation to justify their rejections of the reviewers' proposals.
Extraordinary, wouldn't you agree? 25 percent of peer-reviewers' comments were just summarily rejected. But it gets worse:
Reviewers would cite references in the learned journals challenging the IPCC's conclusions, but in almost every instance they were told that a greater number of references supported an alternative argument. The correct approach, at the very least, would have been to insert in the assessment report a mention of the references that challenged the IPCC's conclusion.
Reviewers who made brief proposed amendments would often be brushed off by being told of just one paper that contradicted the suggested amendment. In at least one response the IPCC's editors made reference to a document that had not been subjected to peer-review at all.
While the editors sometimes accepted simple corrections and tolerated requests for improved clarity, they routinely resisted any serious challenge to the report's assertions, interpretations and conclusions. This effects peer-review through a looking glass.
Yet, conceivably the most important aspect of the IPCC that media have totally ignored surrounds the pivotal Chapter 9:
In Chapter 9, the key science chapter, the IPCC concludes that "it is very highly likely that greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the last 50 years". The IPCC leads us to believe that this statement is very much supported by the majority of reviewers. However, only 62 of the IPCC's 308 reviewers commented on this chapter at all.
Nineteen reviewers made just one comment and 18 made between two and five comments. Just 10 reviewers made more than 20 comments on this, the most important chapter of the entire report.
A total of 1158 comments were made. One reviewer made almost half of these, but almost all his suggested amendments were curtly rejected. The government of the USA made 113 comments; almost 10% of the total, but 32 of its comments duplicate those made by an individual reviewer.
In particular, comments which draw attention to natural climate forces (e.g. El Nino influences, or the natural "blocking high" that triggered the 2003 European heat wave) are abruptly rejected. The pretext for some of the rejections was the citation of previous IPCC reports which themselves were inadequately reviewed, and were not subjected to the rigorous peer-review that is customary before a scientific paper can be published in the learned journals. Keep in mind, previous reports were (a) not reviewed in the same manner as scientific papers and (b) were the result of similar dubious processes as in the current report.
And, here was McLean's most damning finding:
It is difficult to quantify the extent of the reviewers' support for the IPCC's conclusions in the chapter on attribution of climate change. Given the number of reviewers who made very few comments, the duplication of comments and the number of minor corrections, it appears likely that less than 40 of the IPCC's 308 reviewers were generally supportive of the hypothesis. It is not true, therefore, that hundreds of scientists endorsed the IPCC's findings, still less that thousands did so.
Obviously, these are not comments a global warming obsessed media are willing to share with the citizenry, and very much bring into question whether the IPCC has any value whatsoever. In fact, McLean's analysis suggested quite strongly that the IPCC reports aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Regardless, McLean's piece continued with an analysis of the entire Fourth Assessment Report. As it is much more comprehensive, with many charts and graphs, the reader is highly recommended to spend the time reviewing the entire document.
However, here were some of McLean's most startling revelations:
- Forget any illusion of hundreds of experts diligently poring over all chapters of the report and providing extensive feedback to the editing teams. The true picture is closer to 64 reviewers for any one chapter, with about half of those not commenting on any other chapter and one quarter commenting on just one other. On top of that, about half of those reviewing any one chapter made very few comments.
- The IPCC implies that the majority of hundreds of reviewers endorsed the claim that humans had very likely been responsible for the majority of the warming in the last 50 years. This analysis of chapter 9, the key chapter to the WG I report and indeed to the entire Fourth Assessment Report, reveals that implication to be entirely false.
- The critical chapter, that which attributed recent warming to human activity, was reviewed by 54 individual and 8 government representatives but almost 1/3rd of reviewers made just one comment.
- 31 of the 54 had a vested interest in the report, as editors or having papers cited
- 26 authored or co-authored papers cited in the final draft
- 10 reviewers explicitly mentioned their own papers in their review
- Among the 23 independent reviewers just 4 explicitly endorsed the chapter with its hypothesis of a significant human influence on climate, and one other endorsed only a specific section.
- The reviewers' comments show that is actually little support for the IPPC's [sic] contention that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have caused warming.
- The IPCC reports appear to be largely based on a consensus of scientific papers, but those papers are the product of research for which the funding is strongly influenced by previous IPCC reports. This makes the claim of a human influence self-perpetuating and a corruption of the normal scientific process.
That about says it all, doesn't it?