Wednesday, 30 April 2014

This is What Political Science Looks Like

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Students of Political Science might care to look at how science is done in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose recently released “scientific report” is filled with predictions of gloom and doom put there by … whom? Read on to see how, and by whom, those all important “summaries of the scientific consensus” are written. It might surprise you:

Understanding The 97% Consensus
It turns out that 97% of IPCC scientists are actually government officials.

        Prof Stavins, Harvard’s Professor of Business and Government, was one of two ‘coordinating lead authors’ of a key report published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this month.
    Prof Stavins told
The Mail on Sunday yesterday that he had been especially concerned by what happened at a special ‘contact group’. He was one of only two scientists present, surrounded by ‘45 or 50’ government officials.
    Three quarters of the original version of the document ended up being deleted.

This certainly gives the term “PolSci” a new meaning. Because that Summary document is important:

Very few media figures or politicians are going to read the full report - they generally make do with the summary.  In this case, the summary wasn't merely "sexed up" to fool gullible reporters and politicians; it actually direct contradicts the full U.N report in places.  For example, media reports of the summary yelled that global warming was going to cause more wars; the actual report summary says global warming might increase the chances of violent conflict; the report itself says there's no reason to believe climate change has much to do with violent conflict.  It's more likely that sustained conflict leads to poor environmental stewardship than the reverse.
    These hijinks already led one of the report's contributors, Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University, to refuse to sign the final product, because he was uncomfortable with the tone of hysteria in the report summary.

And now the co-lead author reveals the process by which the hysteria got there. And it wasn’t a long-term scientific one: it was entirely short-range and political.

Prof Stavins claimed the intervention amounted to a serious ‘conflict of interest’ between scientists and governments. His revelation is significant because it is rare for climate change experts to publicly question the process behind the compilation of reports on the subject.
    [...] Prof Stavins said the government officials in Berlin fought to make big changes to the full report’s ‘summary for policymakers’. This is the condensed version usually cited by the world’s media and politicians. He said their goal was to protect their ‘negotiating stances’ at forthcoming talks over a new greenhouse gas reduction treaty. …
    He said almost all of them made clear that ‘any text that was considered inconsistent with their interests and positions in multilateral negotiations was treated as unacceptable.’
    Many of the officials were themselves climate negotiators, facing the task of devising a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in negotiations set to conclude next year.
    Prof Stavins said: ‘This created an irreconcilable conflict of interest. It has got to the point where it would be reasonable to call the document a summary by policymakers, not a summary for them, and it certainly affects the credibility of the IPCC. The process ought to be reformed.

Marc Morano’s conclusion, posted at Climate Depot:

You have to pity the UN. The climate events of 2013 has been one of the most devastating to the UN's political  narrative on global warming. Both poles have expanding ice, with the Antarctic breaking all time records, global temperatures have failed to rise for 15-plus years, global cooling has occurred since 2002, polar bear numbers are increasing, wildfires are well below normal, sea level rise is failing to accelerate, tornadoes are at record low numbers, hurricanes are at record low activity,  Gore's organization is flailing and losing donors amid layoffs, former climate believers like Judith Curry are growing more skeptical by the day. I doubt many will be frightened by the UN IPCC, simply a political body masquerading as a scientific group.
    The thrill is gone.

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