Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Worst Scandal in Science's History (3)

Continuing EoR's look at Dr John Happs' expose of the terrible abuse that is 'climate science'.

Dr Happs having demolished the consensus on climate change proceeds to show that the IPCC cannot be trusted.

In fact the IPCC is a single-interest organisation that was established twenty years ago. Right from the start it assumed a widespread human influence on climate. Its charter was To assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. Such a charter makes it unlikely that the other factors influencing climate change would be taken seriously. In short, the IPCC's agenda appears to be political rather than scientific.

Being a 'single-interest organisation' is irrelevant.

Since the charter Dr Happs quotes is to "assess" the evidence, as opposed to "claim" or "state", it seems that the charter hardly supports his contention that it automatically assumed a human cause. This is an extremely weak premise with no evidence provided to support it. Even if it were true, all scientist make some assumption about what they are testing before experimenting or examining the evidence. Dr Happs seems to think this is nefarious and proof of some ulterior motive.

Claiming the IPCC has a political rather than a scientific agenda is a false dichotomy. EoR would have expected Dr Happs to know what that is.

Dr Happs continues:

Dr John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama, says "It is well known that many, if not most, of [the IPCC's] members are not scientists at all. Its president, for example, is an economist". (...) Interestingly, politicians and the media have never noticed that the IPCC's president Rajendra Pachauri has no qualifications in the geosciences, yet is able to speak with "certainty" about climate science.

That would be the same way that EoR can speak with certainty about a subject such as evolution. EoR is not an evolutionary scientist, but relies on the work of trusted experts who are.

Dr Happs appears to be a geoscientist. It seems he is not qualified to talk on matters of politics, atmospherics, oceanography, economics, satellite observations and so on. Yet he has chosen to do so.

This, of course, is a familiar tactic of deniers of all colours. The tactics of climate change deniers mirror so closely those of evolution deniers it is uncanny (and, incidentally, there seems to be a clear overlap between the two groups). Accuse the stronger (scientific) side of all sorts of foul play and poor behaviour, while engaging in those same tactics yourself.

The IPCC is not a research organisation. It assesses and relies on the peer-reviewed work of legitimate scientists.

The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. Differing viewpoints existing within the scientific community are reflected in the IPCC reports.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body, and it is open to all member countries of UN and WMO. Governments are involved in the IPCC work as they can participate in the review process and in the IPCC plenary sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC workprogramme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau and Chairperson are also elected in the plenary sessions.

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.

It has clear guidelines on producing its reports.

Dr Happs also quotes Professor Paul Reiter in relation to the IPCC Second Assessment Report: "The amateurish text of the chapter reflected the limited knowledge of the 22 authors". Professor Reiter did indeed make this statement, and is critical of the report, but Dr Happs fails to put it in its full context to show that Professor Reiter was criticising the predictions of how climate change might affect malaria. He is not critical of climate change per se. It should also be noted that Dr Happs is quoting a 2005 statement.

The Australian Skeptics' position on climate change is perhaps more pertinent:

Australian Skeptics is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of science and reason. We are not associated with the climate change scepticism movement, and especially not with political groups that use that term to indicate their position.

It has always been the Australian Skeptics’ position that people should make up their minds based on the evidence. This position becomes even more important when what should be a completely scientific issue is used by politically-motivated groups to further their causes, often in the face of contradictory evidence.

People who are not experts in fields related to climate science should seek the best available evidence, as judged by those who are experts in relevant fields. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, not everyone is entitled to be taken seriously. On the very important and very complex questions of climate change and its causes, only the carefully formed opinions of relevantly qualified experts should be taken seriously.

As in all fields of science, expertise emerges out of experience and through the peer-review process, not through media appearances or political connections.

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