Doomed Planet

The IPCC’s Legion of Hacks and Dunces

paris submergedThe basis for the Paris climate talks in December is “the science” produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The science must be good because it’s coming from the world’s top climate-type scientists,[1]  or so the story goes.

Well, the story is guff.

The IPCC scientists aren’t the best available, far from it. They’re a motley crew assembled via a typical United Nations boondoggle that stacks the scientific ranks with heavy quotas for Third Worlders, along with special consideration for females. The IPCC rules explain that the IPCC hierarchy “shall reflect balanced geographical representation with due consideration for scientific and technical requirements.” (My emphasis).

The senior scientists draft the all-important Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs), as distinct from their thousands of back-up pages of science studies. Then politicians and bureaucrats, not the scientists, sculpt the wording on the final drafts, including the Synthesis Report.

In IPCC-Orwell speak: “The endorsement process is based on a dialogue between those who will use the report – the governments — and those who write it – the scientists.” The stenographers of the mainstream media ignore this, receiving the summary kits and chorusing, “The Science has spoken.”[2] The best example of  Summaries’ propaganda   is that, while their 2013 forecasting of CO2 doom is climate-model based, no Summary includes the all-important admission from Working Group 1’s body text: that 111 of 114 model runs had over-forecasted actual temperature rises from 1998-2012.

It’s a good time for some forensic work on the  IPCC processes. This very week (Oct 5-8) in Dubrovnik, IPCC members from 195 countries will vote for a new leadership cadre. The top man right now is Ismail El Gizouli, who has been serving in an acting capacity since the chair, Rajendra Pachauri, quit abruptly last February after police laid a fistful of sex-harassment charges against him. Gizouli hails from benighted Sudan, no exemplar of scientific advances but a classic outcome of the above-mentioned UN boondoggle intended to give Third Worlders a share of the climate spoils.

The five contenders[4] for Pachauri’s job have now been joined by a sixth, Ogunlade Davidson, from that citadel of climate-science expertise, Sierra Leone.[5]

My interest particularly is in the elections for the vice-chairs of Working Group 11 (WG2) — Impacts, Adaptation & Vulnerability. There’s now a retiring Australian vice-chair, Dr Neville Smith, and a  new Australian candidate, Dr Mark Howden.[6]

WG2, sadly,  does not have a good pedigree. The InterAcademy Council’s audit of the IPCC in 2010 singled out the WG2’s 2007  Summary  as containing

many vague statements of ‘high confidence’ that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or are difficult to refute. The Committee believes that it is not appropriate to assign probabilities to such statements .

It also said many of 71 WG2 conclusions about “Future Impacts” of climate change were imprecise and unworthy of WG2’s purported “high confidence”.[7]

Looking closely at this WG2 election brings the guff elements of the IPCC into clearer focus.

Dr Smith is Deputy Director (Research and Systems) at the audit-free Bureau of Meteorology. Like all the other IPCC bigwigs, he is yet to get his head around the 18 years and 8 months halt to global warming measured by the satellites. He  also has   illusions about   the primacy of scientists within the IPCC, relative to politicians and apparatchiks. He told a warm-up meeting about the 5th report in 2012:

In the IPCC  it is the science and the scientists that rule. I knew that before I got into it but it is certainly evident now, having been inside the bureau for four years.

The sheltered Dr Smith apparently has never heard of the protracted cleansing process that sees government delegates of the UN member states, in secret sessions,[8] go over the scientists’ draft Summaries for Policymakers line by line and word by word. A reasonable analogy would be a cloud of seagulls descending on the scientists’ packet of chips.   The cleansing, massaging and deleting continues   until every bureaucrat, diplomat  and politician is in agreement about things like the required apocalyptic tone.

Pachauri, IPCC chair for the 4th and 5th reports, even admitted that “we necessarily have to ensure that the underlying report conforms to the refinements.” In other words, they make the “science” fit the political summary, not the other way around.

Who better than Harvard’s Professor Robert Stavins, a coordinating lead author in Working Group 111’s 2013 Report, and by no stretch a sceptic, to debate Dr Smith’s claim is about “the rule of science” in the IPCC?

Stavins wrote that several coordinating lead authors told him the 33-page summary approved line by line by governments should be called “the Summary BY Policymakers” not “FOR Policymakers”. He complained formally to WG 111 co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer[9] (and he copied-in chair Pachauri), that governments had “fundamentally revised or rejected” parts of the Summary over a grueling five-day-and-night session.

As the week progressed, I was surprised by the degree to which governments felt free to recommend and sometimes insist on detailed changes to the   [Summary]  text on purely political, as opposed to scientific bases…(G)overnment representatives worked to suppress text that might jeopardize their negotiating stances in international negotiations… 

I fully understand that the government representatives were seeking to meet their own responsibilities toward their respective governments by upholding their countries’ interests, but in some cases this turned out to be problematic for the scientific integrity of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers. …  

To ask these experienced UNFCCC negotiators to approve text that critically assessed the scholarly literature on which they themselves are the interested parties, created an irreconcilable conflict of interest…  

Over the course of the two hours of the contact group deliberations, it became clear that the only way the assembled government representatives would approve text for SPM.5.2 was essentially to remove all ‘controversial’ text (that is, text that was uncomfortable for any one individual government), which meant deleting almost 75% of the text.

In more than one instance, specific examples or sentences were removed at the will of only one or two countries, because under IPCC rules, the dissent of one country is sufficient to grind the entire approval process to a halt unless and until that country can be appeased…

 The process the IPCC followed resulted in a process that built political credibility by sacrificing scientific integrity.

The IPCC fourth report (2007) was no different.   As one participant described it[10],

This [approval process of the Summary] was an agonizing, frustrating process, as every sentence had to be wordsmithed on a screen in front of representatives of more than 100 governments, falling farther and farther beyond a realistic schedule by the hour.

Thus Dr Smith’s dictum about the “rule of science” at the IPCC is on a par with Pachauri’s past claims  that all IPCC material was peer-reviewed (In the 4th Report, DONNA Laframboise found 5,587  citations were to non-peer-reviewed items, ranging from government reports to Greenpeace tracts and even press releases). Dr Smith’s would-be replacement on WG11 is Dr Mark Howden, sponsored a month ago by Greg Hunt’s Ministry for the Environment. Howden’s day job is Interim Director at the ANU  Climate Change Institute, run by climate hard man Will Steffen.

This sponsoring letter was signed by Environment assistant secretary Rob Sturgiss, who’s on the IPCC “inventories” task force and is himself standing for re-election. Sturgiss tells the 195-country voting community that he’s “passionate about promoting the role of the IPCC in the development of national greenhouse gas emissions inventory reporting frameworks.” This passion-creating   counting exercise   is a bit tricky – only last month,   a Yale study discovered there are 3 trillion CO2-sucking trees on the planet, eight times more than previously estimated. That’s some margin of error!

Getting back to Dr Howden, what are his chances in the election? As it happens, he’s designated as part of the SW Pacific region, comprising 22 countries (half of them hopelessly aid-dependent island states). Six of the eight vice-chairs[11] have to be from a different region — Africa, South America, Europe etc. The SW Pacific slot (including Australia) is being contested by only one other candidate, Professor Joy Jacqueline Pereira from Malaysia. The loser would struggle against global  competition to get one of the spare two slots.

Howden’s CV is stronger by a mile (about 400 publications vs Pereira’s 120), and he’s been milling around the IPCC circuit since 1992 (Pereira contributed only to 2014’s 5th report).  But Pereira is female and the IPCC likes a bit of affirmative action: “Consideration should also be given to promoting gender balance.”

In voting for the Bureau candidates, each of the UN members has a single, equal  vote (Kiribati’s vote equals that of the United States or Germany).[12]  Of course the Third World bloc dominates the voting – Africa alone has 54 votes.  Some Third Worlders may get a buzz from elevating Malaysia’s Pereira above an Australian toff.

Howden’s statement to his voters runs to  a daunting 41 pages.      Much of his vast output concerns ill-effects of global climate change on agriculture.[13] However,  there hasn’t been any global climate change for nearly 19 years, and before that there was a century of only a modest and beneficial warming.  So I emailed Howden about his hiatus-denial:

I assume you’re aware that the RSS satellite temperature record now shows no global temperature rise for 18 years and 8 months. To what extent does this invalidate the IPCC’s global warming narrative and your own work?

He replied:

In relation to the temperature  record, many different analyses from different groups show the long term trend is clear and the statements from NOAA and other key institutions about recent surface and ocean temperatures indicate highest on record temperatures for this calendar year. I would refer you to the IPCC reports for a robust synthesis.

Enjoying the opportunity, I emailed back:

The 5th IPCC report acknowledges a 15 year ‘hiatus’ (since further prolonged) in the face of steeply rising CO2 emissions. The IPCC also seems at a loss to explain it. What is the ‘long term trend’ you refer to? The only long term trend evident from the temperature data seems to be a historic rate of sub-1degC per century.

You may be aware that NOAA and NASA last year claimed 2014 was the hottest year on record, but in the fine print had to acknowledge that this was only 48% probable (NOAA) and 38% probable (NASA).

The margins of error in the data are considerable and very small differences between years fall within the error bars, as is likely/possible in 2015 once final figures are in.

The response from Howden was silence, notwithstanding his CV claims:

I am an excellent communicator, able to build awareness and influence with a broad range of audiences… I estimate that over the past six years I have engaged with some 10,000 people directly. [Make that 10,001, Mark]. I actively seek opportunities to interact with broader audiences as I consider highly interactive delivery of science information as a critical first step in addressing complex issues such as climate change…

Dr Howden’s rare silence was doubly hurtful because I had alerted him to  an IPCC code-violation in his job application,  namely:

Selected Awards:
Distinguished Adaptation Scholar, University of Arizona (2014)…
Nobel Peace Prize 2007 (shared as part of the IPCC and with Al Gore)

This seems to be the same Laureate status that his employer CSIRO awarded him in 2007, relying on then-IPCC chair Pachauri’s say-so but failing to check with Oslo. “Climate scientists share in Nobel Peace Prize” said the CSIRO press release.  It continued that Pachauri had gonged all the 4th IPCC report’s lead authors. “This makes each of you Nobel Laureates and it is my privilege to acknowledge this honour on your behalf,” Pachauri purred.

The leader of CSIRO’s Climate Change Impact and Risks group, Dr Penny Whetton, said, “Recognition at this level is important …” and the press release went on to name   lead author-Nobelists, including “CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystem scientist Mark Howden.”

So far, so Nobel. This Nobel-inflation led to the  author of the IPCC 2001 report’s “Hockey Stick”, Michael Mann,[14] accusing critic Mark Steyn of a new felony: “defamation of a Nobel Prize recipient“. The IPCC ruled soon after that its authors should stop calling themselves Nobel winners, shared or otherwise.[15] [16] 

Returning to the IPCC election boondoggles, for the total 34 Bureau positions, 89 hopefuls are contesting, amid all manners of quotas favoring third-world countries. Two candidates are from Comoros. As you’re certainly aware, Comoros is an island group (pop 700,000) near Mozambique, with  “reports of corruption at all levels, including in the judiciary, civil service, and security forces”.

If Dr Howden gets up as an WG2 vice-chair, he may get mentoring from Ismaël Bachirou of Comoros in the next-door office. Mr Bachirou’s CV is in French but I gather he has an Egyptian diploma and is working hard for his PhD about les changements climatiques.

This Third World stacking of IPCC science extends all the way down to the grass-roots workers on the reports. A top-tier scientist is often afflicted with under-qualified Third Worlders with English not-so-good-speaking, as the 2010 InterAcademy Council report attested. The Council reviewed the many flaws of the IPCC after the 2007 Himalayan glaciers howlers (nine erratas for just one page, including simple arithmetic miscalculations). The Council put out a questionnaire to IPCC insiders, and here’s some of the 678 pages of  feedback:[17]

  • There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful. This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter…we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.
  • The whole process…[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific.
  • Half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world.
  • The team members from the developing countries (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process.
  • Some of the lead authors (generally although not always from developing countries) are clearly not qualified to be lead authors and are unable to contribute .
  • The infamous Himalaya mistake as well as the other writings raising debate were all in regional chapters, and the most questionable ones in chapters with responsible authors from developing countries. IMHO [in my humble opinion] no coincidence.
  • “I have experienced the addition of lead authors or contribution authors during the process who often seem to come with a political mandate… –  they can be very disruptive – let alone the dubious nature of the science they contribute!”

So as the IPCC elections in Dubrovnik get under way, let’s wish our Dr Howden luck with the voting system, and may our friendly debates continue. And at the Paris talks in December, let’s allocate a few trillion on the IPCC science’s say-so.

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)

[1] “People at the top of their profession’; ‘the best talent available across the world’, according to ex-chair Rajendra Pachauri

[2] Donna Laframboise (“Delinquent Teenager”) has spotted a perfectly upside-down headline from the SMH:   “Science has spoken on climate change, it’s now up to politicians.”

[3] The prosecution has since languished in convenient labyrinths of the Indian judicial system

[4] The others are Jan van Ypersele (Belgium), Tom Stocker (Switzerland), Chris Field (USA), Hoesung Lee (Korea) and Neboisa Nakicenovic (Austria-Montenegro).

[5] Freedom House 2015 report on Sierra Leone:

“ Corruption remained rampant. The Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been repeatedly criticized for its poor prosecutorial record, especially in trials involving the president’s friends, family, and political allies.”


The other current WG11 vice-chairs are from Madagascar, Maldives (pop 340,000), Peru, Spain, and Russia.


[7] The IAC instanced a WG2 claim about climate-change harms in Central and Eastern Europe as having only an 80% chance of being true and even then, only under some set of circumstances (IAC’s emphasis, p36).

[8] Climate activist reps can attend as observors; journalists are barred. So much for the IPCC’s vaunted ‘transparency’.

[9] Edenhofer is famous for his quote: “First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy… One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore,”

[10] InterAcademy Council report on IPCC, Questionnaire, p 334

[11] For some reason two WG2 vice-chair slots are currently unfilled.

[12] This is a boon to tiny states in   soliciting aid and soft graft in exchange for their vote

[13] e.g. “Resilience for disaster risk management in a changing climate”


[14] The “Hockey Stick” was supposed to demonstrate that 20th century warming was at a level unprecedented in the past millennium, and that the Medieval warming and the 18thC “Little Ice Age” never happened. Mark Steyn has published an entire book of refutations of the Hockey Stick from the orthodox (not skeptic) climate science community.



[15] “The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner. It would be correct to describe a scientist who was involved with AR4 or earlier IPCC reports in this way: ‘X contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.’”


[16] As at October 2, Howden had not corrected his CV.

[17] Hat tip to Donna Laframboise’s Delinquent Teenager book for some of these examples.

5 thoughts on “The IPCC’s Legion of Hacks and Dunces

  • wstarck says:

    Many thanks to Tony and Quadrant for this unequivocal exposure of the science fiction farce that is relied upon by governments and true believers as the ultimate authority on climate change.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    I said the InterAcademy Council questionnaire was to IPCC insiders. Canadian blogger Hilary Ostrov has alerted me that non-IPCC people could and did also respond. These non-IPCC people are identifiable as such in the published compendium of responses. My examples are from insiders. Hilary deserves huge credit for her successful one-woman crusade to persuade the IAC to publish the responses. However, an unsolved mystery is that the IAC received “more than 400 responses” but its published version involves only 232 responses. The IAC has never responded to Hilary’s repeated requests to explain the disparity.
    I have also come across the following experience cited by an acquaintance:
    “A couple of years ago, for a lark, I applied to become an expert reviewer for the IPCC. On the application form I stated I had a B.E. in mining, that I had not published any papers, that I was not involved in or had ever been involved in any research and was not an expert in any field of climate science. Lo and behold I was accepted and I received a series of emails for a time trying to get me to agree to what IPCC section I was assigned. I replied to none of these so the emails eventually stopped. How is that for quality control?”

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Meanwhile, a senior person at the IPCC’s parent body UNFCCC, gets some publicity this week:
    “A former president of the United Nations General Assembly was arrested Tuesday and charged with accepting over $1 million in bribes and a trip to New Orleans for his family from a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul and other business people to pave the way for lucrative investments.”

    John Ashe, the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who served in the largely ceremonial post from September 2013 to September 2014, faces conspiracy- and bribery-related charges along with five others, including Francis Lorenzo, a deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic.”

    “The Secretary General’s Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said after the arrest: “Of course, the Secretary General was shocked and deeply troubled to learn this morning of the allegations against John Ashe, the former President of the General Assembly, which go to the heart of the integrity of the United Nations.”

    According to court papers, Ashe used his U.N. positions to introduce a document supporting a multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center that Ng hoped to build as his legacy in Macau, where he lived. Prosecutors said the conference center would function as a sort of satellite operation for the world body.”

    John Ashe (centre) at the Cancun UNFCCC conference 29 November to 10 December 2010, as chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). Christiana Figueres is on his left. The AWG-KP was established to discuss future commitments for industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    From a reader: A small correction needed above:

    ” no Summary includes the all-important admission from Working Group 1’s body text: that 111 of 114 model runs had over-forecasted actual temperature rises from 1998-2012.”

    The often neglected Technical Summary did in fact include that text in Box TS.3, closely following Box 9.2 in the full report. Thematic Focus Elements TFE.3 also included the comparison Figure 1.4 from the full report.

    And Hoesung Lee of Korea has now been elected IPCC chair to succeed the disgraced Pachauri. Further to a theme of my article, Lee now says:
    “I believe it’s very important that for the next round of assessment, we should be able to increase the intellectual contributions from developing countries,” he said. “And also improving gender balance in our author teams is very, very important.”

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Dr Howden has emailed October 9:

    Apologies for the delay in responding – it has been a very demanding period for me.

    Thankyou for your observation and suggestion. My view is what I had was consistent with the citation on the actual award but I made a minor change to hopefully improve clarity and resubmitted my CV to the IPCC.

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