Tuesday, 13 November 2007

"Thousands of scientists" supporting warmist mantra?

Two of the primary points that apparently persuade non-scientific warmists that the apocalyptic science of warming science is "settled" is both the increasingly shrill insistence that "the science is settled" (ignoring that if it was settled there wouldn't be so many of those pesky skeptics to whom it needs to be so shrillu insisted), and the related claim that in the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Cimate Change (IPCC) we have an organisation with "thousands" of scientists of impeccable credibility who independently review the science and by some sort of consensus agree on the best evidence and the best science.

The IPCC’s website makes the point with this ad (using a fantastic Santiago Calatrava design to attract attention):

As Tony Gillard at Sp!ked Online says, "Who could possibly argue with such an array of international expertise all in agreement with one another?" Who indeed?

Even skeptics like Bjorn Lomborg have accepted the line. Writing in the Boston Globe in praise of the IPCC's Nobel Prize he said that the Nobel Peace Prize
‘justly rewards the thousands of scientists of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ who are ‘engaged in excellent, painstaking work that establishes exactly what the world should expect from climate change.
So the claim is "thousands" of scientists? Is that really true?
Answer: No.

According to a study done by Melbourne scientist John McLean from NZ's Climate Science Coalition, there are not thousands of scientists, or even hundreds of scientists endorsing the warmist mantra. After
an extensive analysis of the recent report of Working Group 1 of the Fourth Assessment Report by the IPCC, he found in the critical Chapter 9 there were only five reviewers who explicitly endorsed the claim that humans have a significant influence on climate, none of whom had impeccable credibility.
Not thousands. Not hundreds. Just five. Says McLean in his full report [27-page pdf]
The review of the Working Group 1 report was far less intense than the IPCC has implied.
  • - 308 reviewers examined the chapters of the Second Order Revision (i.e. penultimate draft) of the Working Group 1 report, with the average number of reviewers per chapter being 67 (minimum 34, maximum 100).
  • - 214 reviewers (69%) commented on two chapters or less and 60 reviewers averaged fewer than 3 comments for all chapters they examined
  • - Only 5 reviewers, specifically 3 individual reviewers and 2 government reviewers, commented on all chapters and just 49 reviewers (16%) made more than 50 comments in total...
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
  • - 37 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
Just 7 reviewers of that chapter appear to be independent and impartial but 5 of those made just
one comment for the entire chapter.
Just 5 reviewers explicitly endorsed the chapter in which it was claimed that humans have a
significant influence on climate but not one of those 5 has impeccable credibility.
There is scant evidence of any support for the IPCC's contention that anthropogenic emissions of
carbon dioxide have caused warming...
As Tony Gillard at Sp!ked comments,
Such a tally does not itself demonstrate a faulty peer review process. However, McLean certainly seems to have a point when he draws attention to the gap between the perception the IPCC wishes to create of thousands of scientists in unity in one report, and the reality of a report comprised of many distinct parts, each contributed to and commented on by a far smaller number of scientists with knowledge of a specific field...

McLean argues that ‘simple corrections, requests for clarifications or refinements to the text which did not challenge the IPCC’s conclusions are generally treated favourably, but comments which dispute the IPCC’s claims or their certainty are treated with far less indulgence’. He concludes that ‘the notion of hundreds of experts diligently poring over all chapters of the report and providing extensive feedback by way of peer review to the editing teams is here demonstrated to be an illusion’.
UPDATE: Here's an opportunity that doesn't arise every day. If you're in Christchurch today you get to enjoy New Zealand Cup Day (and for the first time in forty-odd years there's going to be some rain -- due no doubt to global warming), but if you're in Wellington later this evening you can go to Te Papa and make fun of Al Bore's slide show, being presented by Australian "social researcher" Randall Pearce. Report here.

Pearce, who was hand-picked by the Bore to be a "messenger" of the warmist message, promises "a strong focus on New Zealand" in this version, which apparently includes a retraction of The Goracle's fatuous assertion that "climate refugees" are flooding into New Zealand.

If you're going along to heckle, then you've got the nine "errors" found by the British court to look for, the "thirty-five" inconvenient truths found by Christopher Monckton, or the 120 one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or wrong assertions that Marlo Lewis points out in his 'Skeptics Guide to An Inconvenient Truth.'

Should be a good night. Who needs fireworks.


  1. Paul Callaghan MacDiarmid Professor at Vic University was discussing the issue of peer review on Kim Hill over the weekend.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/sat/science_with_paul_callaghan (just before an interview with John Cale you would probably be interested in).

    He said it does have a “blandising” effect. He was talking about Freeman Dyson and gave some interesting examples of people who went against consensus and turned it around.

    They got onto climate change, and, while he thought there was AGW, he was very firm that the science was not settled, as science is never settled – we have to look at the new data coming in and recognise there are always questions to be asked. And that you need a balance between scepticism and openness for science to progress.


  2. DenMT

    Are you reading this?


  3. Eddie

    This is an important article. It relates to our previous discussions.