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Fred on the IAC

Fred Pearce has an article on the IAC report in New Scientist.

The IPCC has tried hard to preserve the normal rules of scientific discourse and to explain continuing uncertainty, but it has been pushed towards simple sound-bite conclusions. Some of this pressure has come from the desire of many scientists to underline their concerns about the dangers the world faces. Sometimes, in the process, "could happen" has become "will happen", and analysis has veered close to advocacy. Journalists have been willing colluders.



Qui Tam

Readers who are interested in Virginia A-G Cuccinelli's ongoing battle with Michael Mann and the University of Virginia will want to take a look at the Virginia Qui Tam Law blog, which is posting regularly on the legal ins and outs of the case. I found the following quote instructive.

...most lawyers representing targets of a [civil investigative demand (CID)] take advantage of the opportunity to try to convince the government that there has been no wrongdoing, and that the client has nothing to hide.  

There are very good reasons for this, because this epic battle over this CID is much ado about nothing.  Even if a target "wins" and the CID gets set aside, they haven't really won anything at all, because a CID is just a preliminary investigative tool...

...even if a party fighting a CID wins and successfully quashes the CID, guess what?  They may not have to respond to the CID, but they have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, and the winning prize is normally a freshly-filed lawsuit by the OAG.  And then, as soon as discovery begins in the case, the OAG will ask for exactly the same materials they requested in the CID.  At that point, the defendant will have no choice but to produce the material.


Josh 35

More cartoons by Josh here.


Informed reaction

Climate bloggers seem much more impressed by the IAC report than I was. Pielke Jnr describes it as "hard hitting with constructive and far-reaching consequences" while Snr says it is "insightful and valuable". I remain unconvinced as to whether the IAC's findings will really make any difference to future IPCC reports. Roy Spencer seems to agree:

I say the process cannot be fixed. DUMP the IPCC process.

The reason why is because the IPCC process was never created to achieve what the U.N. claims, and what most people believe it exists for.

The IPCC was created to use the scientific community to build a case for regulating CO2 emissions. Period.


Judge blocks Cuccinelli

A judge has blocked Virginia attorney-general Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to subpoena Michael Mann's emails. Cuccinelli is probing Mann's grant applications on the grounds that they may have been fraudulent. However, Judge Paul M. Peatross has now ruled that Cuccinelli has not made the case for his investigation - in other words that there appears to have been insufficient evidence to justify the investigation.

Cuccinelli, however, seems to think that the judge has given him enough to launch a new application.

Cuccinelli said in a statement Monday that the glass is half full, noting the judge found that the university could be subjected to civil investigative demands. The ruling “has given us a framework for issuing a new civil investigative demand to get the information necessary to continue our investigation into whether or not fraud has been committed against the commonwealth,” the AG said.

Source: The Hill.


IAC report reactions

I'll update this post as I see things.

Climate change predictions must be based on evidence, report on IPCC says.


(Chance would be a fine thing)

GWPF Calls On IPCC To Implement Fundamental Reforms Without Delay


Independent Audit Panel Slams U.N.'s Climate Group

Fox News

U.N. climate panel urged to reform and stick to science


Rajendra Pachauri, head of UN climate change body, under pressure to resign




Thoughts on the IAC report

I haven't got time to go through this in detail, but I'll jot down a few thoughts.

The overall impression is that they are recommending a lot of steps that will make little difference. They don't seem to have 'fessed up to what went wrong.

  • The idea of having executive committee members from outside the climate science community is in principle sound, but only if they get people who are fundamentally critical of the AGW hypothesis. A sceptic-free IPCC is a credibility-free IPCC.
  • The sections on the review process do not acknowledge the gatekeeping that has gone on. THis is "shut-eyed denial".
  • Concentration on key issues is probably sensible, but you can't help but feel that this will be used as a route to sideline sceptic comments.
  • The comments on uncertainty look completely damning to me:
  • [A]uthors reported high confidence in some statements for which there is little evidence. Furthermore, by making vague statements that were difficult to refute, authors were able to attach “high confidence” to the statements. The Working Group II Summary for Policy Makers contains many such statements that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or not expressed clearly.

  • In any credible organisation, heads would be rolling.
  • The comments on communication are quite funny. The answer (as ever) appears to be better PR.
  • The transparency bit is limp. This particular bird has flown the coop. There is no point in asking for transparency over the appointments process when the authors for AR5 have already been appointed. No credible assessment report possible until AR6.
  • This also applies to the section on dissenting views. Asking for author teams with diverse viewpoints is a bit late, isn't it? There is also no point saying that review editors should ensure dissenting views are reported. They are already supposed to do that, but choose not to do so. 

IAC report news conference imminent. 3pm UK time as far as I can see.

See it here.


Josh 34

Inspired by today's Booker column.

More cartoons by Josh here.



Josh 33

Click for full size


Revkin on the HSI (or not)

In the comments to one of the DotEarth threads Andy Revkin pointed out yesterday, the great man has this to say when asked whether he had read the Hockey Stick Illusion.

Others have far more capacity/time to dissect climate books than I do (given that this is not a climate blog, but tracking issues ranging from wildlife trafficking to population growth). I recommend folks go to Realclimate for some informed critiques of that book.

I wonder if he missed my response and Steve M's evisceration of the Stahle thing, which left Tamino looking, ahem, less than straightforward.


Nature notices Bolivia

Nature magazine has finally noticed the ecological disaster in Bolivia - the deaths of millions of fish caused by biting cold weather in tropical areas of the country. The ecological disaster that readers of this humble blog read about on August 7.

According to Nature, the problem has been brought on by "climate change".

I kid you not.


Revkin on retractions and apologies

Andy Revkin at the New York Times has picked up on the Guardian's apology to yours truly and also on the non-apology that the Telegraph made to Rajendra Pachauri.


Donna's back

Donna Laframboise has moved to a shiny new Wordpress blog, and is straight back into the groove with a rather damning look at Alistair Woodward, the man who is in charge of the health chapter of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report. Some of his publications look, ahem, interesting.

Doctors are told they must “mobilise society” and that they “cannot be inactive observers” because they have a “responsibility to lead.” Inaction, they are advised, would amount to “negligence and malpractice on a global scale.” This is followed by a list of 13 things they should do – sorted into three categories.

The majority of these suggestions (seven) fall into the political category, two more are in the personal category, while another four are categorized as professional. The evidence could not be clearer. This is not a paper about medicine. By the authors’ own admission, nine of their 13 suggested measures are unrelated to doctors’ professional lives.

Business as usual by the looks of it. Read the whole thing.


More from the Guardian

The Guardian has made further changes to Bob Ward's article. The title previously referred to sceptics having misled the public over the Climategate inquiries. This was unfortunate since the article below was about my book, which predates the Climategate inquiries by some weeks.  The revision now speaks about the "hacked emails". They've also made it into a question.

More to come.