Friday, 7 December 2007

IPCC in Bali: Garbage Out, Garbage In

Fifteen thousand or so people have flown to Bali to talk up global warming, blowing out about 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to fly to the talk-fest and be air-conditioned for two weeks. This gives delegates a combined carbon footprint equivalent to a wet October in Pittsburg. (And as the chap who did that carbon calculation says, "One wonders how many people would have gone if the conference had been held in a wet October in Pittsburgh.”)

That's a carbon footprint of 110,000 tonnes for a conference seeking to impose greater restrictions on the carbon footprints of everyone else -- the credo seems to be 'virtue for thee, but not for me' -- and all while conference-goers seek to maintain their cushy sinecures courtesy of the taxpayer by scaring the bejeesus out of those who make up their pay packets.

On this basis alone it's hard to take anything emerging from Bali with any degree of seriousness. Too much hypocrisy and self-contradiction to even begin to take seriously the garbage that will come out of it.

Going into Bali, the reading de rigeur for every delegate is the UN/IPCC's "Synthesis Report," (you might call this document the 'Garbage In' part of the whole equation) which was released in November to "synthesise" the four "Working Group" reports produced over the course of the year -- or at least the summary thereof was released, because once again the politicised summary is released before the science that is supposedly summarised therein. Go figure.

Joel Schwartz, who's helped produce a preliminary analysis of the IPCC Synthesis Report[pdf], says the whole sorry schmeer "should be taken with several chunks of salt."

The summary itself is a political document that downplays assessments of uncertainty from the scientific reports written by the main body of the IPCC, which themselves are far more subjective than the IPCC would have one believe.

Equally important, both the IPCC's summaries and main reports omit much contrary evidence. In several cases, the Synthesis Report disagrees with the reports on which it is based, and it fails to take account of cautionary publications in the scientific literature that were available early enough to have been incorporated into the Synthesis Report.

Climate change and climate policy are key issues for future human welfare, but that concern should translate into sober analysis and actions that are likely to do more good than harm. The people of the world should not let themselves be steamrolled by a report that reflects the IPCC's interest in promoting climate change fears, rather than in conveying the weight of the scientific evidence.

Read the whole 7-page analysis here: 'Politics Posing as Science: A Preliminary Assessment of the IPCC’s Latest Climate Change Report,' [7-page PDF] and begin to understand why many people like myself view this whole process with overwhelming scepticism.

** On a related note, and as an example of runaway scaremongering of the sort to expect over the next week or so as a result of the Garbage Out part of the Bali equation, you might also be interested in Schwartz's analysis of a climate change editorial in yesterday's Sacramento Bee. According to the Bee's editorial writers, the IPCC's reports suggest rising seas are likely to submerge California's cities. Unfortunately, the Bee left out a few pesky details--including contrary evidence within the IPCC reports themselves...


  1. The thing that gets me about all this, is not a single delegate has called for an end to government subsidies for pollution.

    i.e. French and American agricultural subsidies ...

    I wonder why?

  2. it truly is tragic though that the use of the words hypocrite and hypocrisy are forbidden in the House of Parliament. Maybe because they could be used too often?

  3. A shame that the Bali bombers din't blow up this mob instead of the innocent holiday makers they actually targetted.


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