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Sunday, 17 January 2010

What Consensus Part5 to IPCC past Chairman

5. Open Letter to former IPCC Chairman Bert Bolin on abuse of science and IPCC process

Letter to IPCC Chairman Bert BolinAugust 20, 1996 To Prof. Bert Bolin, IPCC ChairmanSir John Houghton, IPCC WGI Co-ChairmanDr. L. G. Meira Filho, IPCC WGI Co-Chairmanc/o IPCC Secretariat, WMO41, Av. Giuseppe-Motta1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland


We are enclosing a copy of our letter to Under Secretary Timothy Wirth and draw your attention to three specific items:

A November 15, 1995 letter to the IPCC WGI co-chairmen from the U.S. State Department complains about discrepancies between the Policymakers Summary (SPM) and the Scientific Assessment Report (SAR); and in the same paragraph it instructs them to "prevail upon" authors to make changes in the SAR chapters after the Madrid meeting. This letter seems to provide a plausible explanation for the alterations to Ch. 8 by lead authors Benjamin Santer and Tom Wigley. A report in Nature (June 20) confirms the existence of the letter, and a leading article in the June 13 issue assigns responsibility for the changes to IPCC officials and states that the changes were made to "conform" the chapter to the SPM. We have also learned from a direct quote in Nature (July 25) that "the [US] administration has been working on the policy [of quantified, legally-binding targets] for more than a year." It appears to us, therefore, that the IPCC conformed the SAR to the political agenda of ideologues who wish to set up international controls on energy use.

A separate question is whether IPCC procedures on matters such as peer-review are in accord with accepted scientific standards. For example, a conscientious journal editor would not normally choose an author's colleague as a referee. The Nature article points out that "the integrity of the reviewing and approval process is ... an essential element in assuring the credibility of the resulting conclusions." The IPCC had assigned the role of convening lead author to Ben Santer, who then based much of the conclusion of Chapter 8 on two of his own papers that had not yet appeared in peer-reviewed journals. [The comment deadline on Chapter 8 was July 1995; one paper appeared in Climate Dynamics in December 1995, his other paper in Nature in July 1996; Ch. 8 lists 19 references to either the (Dec 1995) Climate Dynamics paper (1995a), or the (July 1996) Nature paper (1995b) (sic).] Eight of Santer's co-authors are also listed as Chapter 8 contributors. We don't think that one can fairly expect authors to be critical of their own work. And indeed, we have now seen several scientific notes being submitted for publication, critiquing the two articles by Santer et al. and challenging their conclusions. Unfortunately, as a result of the procedure adopted, this scientific balance is missing from the IPCC report.

We note that a major conclusion in the SPM is the ambiguous phrase, taken from Ch. 8: "the balance of evidence suggest a discernible human influence on global climate." The existence of such presumed human influences does not by itself validate the climate models. In particular, it cannot be used to claim a substantial temperature rise in the next century--nor does the IPCC Summary make such a claim. The likely reason: IPCC scientists would never agree to this. What the Summary does is to report the outcome of climate model calculations (that have never been validated). It then implies--by juxtaposition--that the "human influences" somehow validate these models.

Thus while the IPCC phrase does not in any way confirm a future warming, it does convey such an impression to policymakers; and indeed, since we do not find any specific disclaimer in the Summary, this may have been the purpose. Judging from statements in Geneva by government officials, this purpose has been accomplished. The Ministerial Declaration of 18 July 1996, under paragraph 2, specifically--and improperly--links the IPCC phrase about "human influence" to a temperature increase of 2 C by 2100.

Our question is: Is the IPCC going to do something about this "misunderstanding?" Does not scientific integrity demand that you complain about the misuse of the IPCC report for political purposes and draw attention to the explicit sentence in the S.A.R. section (p. 434): "To date, pattern-based studies have not been able to quantify the magnitude of a greenhouse gas or aerosol effect on climate."

We detect here a serious misuse of science and of scientists for political purposes. We earnestly request that you respond to these concerns in order to protect the scientific integrity of the IPCC process.

Henry R. Linden, Ph.D. (Max McGraw Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology; founding president and now exec. advisor, Gas Research Institute)

William A. Nierenberg, Ph.D. (director emeritus, Scripps Institute of Oceanography; member, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering)

Frederick Seitz, Ph.D. (president emeritus, Rockefeller University; former president: U.S. National Academy of Sciences; holder of the National Medal of Science)

S. Fred Singer, Ph.D. (professor emeritus of environmental sciences, University of Virginia; first director, US weather satellite service; former chief scientist, DOT)

Chauncey Starr, Ph.D. (founding president, Electrical Power Research Institute;National Medal of Technology; member, National Academy of Engineering)

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