IPCC Gives Up On Science, Makes Grey Literature Official
    By Hank Campbell | June 20th 2012 04:30 AM | 88 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    'Grey' literature, which led to the "Glaciergate" scandal of 2010 when it was revealed that the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are losing ice (gone by 2035!) was stated as fact even though it was not based on evidence, will no longer be a problem for  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    Because they have declared that grey literature will no longer be grey - any information they choose to use will be considered peer reviewed just by being posted on the Internet by the IPCC.  

    Most rational people would simply not use grey literature after the errors of the 2007 report, to avoid controversy and therefore keep climate studies as politically agnostic as possible. It isn't like global warming deniers are ever getting through peer review, so grey literature would seem to be unnecessary, unless you feel like the ridiculous claim that African farmers are going to suffer 50% yield drops by 2020 absolutely must be included in a science report (that one was also shown to have been made up).

    Instead, they have embraced grey literature.. Makes no sense, right?  Maybe it does.  If I want to have fewer people living in poverty, for example, I simply redefine poverty and - presto - people are no longer poor. I could have a terrific career in politics if I simply got people to believe I cured poverty by redefining it.  Redefining grey literature takes poor science and attempts to call it rich.

    It gets worse, if you care about science or the environment and would like to have constructive dialogues based on data.  The IPCC have also decided to impose gender and geographical quotas on IPCC membership. So they no longer care about having the best scientists, they care about social engineering the representation of the committee. If you, like me, have a triangle in mind when thinking about culture and politics, they have shifted the IPCC away from the Excellence node and toward Fairness. Fairness is necessary, we wouldn't want people blocked out unfairly, but dictating gender and geographical representation means IPCC science is no longer a meritocracy, it is a good works program. And therefore inherently unfair to the best scientists, who can't be on the IPCC if they have the wrong genitals.
    The new rules also mean it will be required that Africa will have five members on the IPCC and North America will have only four. I don't want to come off as elitist because I was lucky enough to have been born in North America but does anyone really think Africa has 25% more top-flight climate scientists than the USA and Canada...combined? The USA alone produces 32% of the world's science.

    But that's not really what matters, say the IPCC.  They believe America seems to have an advantage small countries do not; evil science media corporations, though they are overwhelmingly liberal, are still unfairly blocking out developing nation scientists from getting published, activists at the IPCC contend. With 25,000 open access journals and thousands of print ones, these researchers apparently cannot get printed and cited.  

    In further revising history and casting doubt on IPCC credibility, Richard Klein from the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden told New Scientist journalist Fred Pearce this gender and geographical quota was always the case, and they simply formalized it. "Membership has always been based on expertise, geographical balance and gender."


    Basically, if the IPCC wanted to provide ammunition for climate change skeptics, they just handed over an entire arsenal.  They are now saying the IPCC never had the best scientists in the field, they picked them based on how diverse it made the IPCC look.  Why didn't the  InterAcademy Council (IAC) mention that in their analysis of all the things the IPCC was doing wrong?

    Obviously this could have advantages for people other than obscure female scientists in Brazil.  I can write a blog post saying something important and it could be included in an IPCC report in 2013.  Unfortunately, since 2001 the prestige of being cited by the IPCC has dropped a lot.

    Front page image credit and link: Christian Science Monitor/Newscom


    There is much to criticize about the IPCC, but here we should thank them. The corruption of the scientific peer review system is the main problem, and it is nice they admit that non-Western scientists are disfavored and that a lot of grey literature is just as good and often better than the garbage that passes peer review.
    Dear Maoist comrade, give me a break. The peer-reviewed literature may be corrupt, especially in the climate science, but the unofficial NGO-booklet-style literature is much more corrupt still! It is almost purely about the egotist interests of particular groups of people, often unhinged people.
    The third-world scientists are disfavored by one universal thing only: in average, they're just much weaker scientists than their Western counterparts. The low degree of development is correlated with the low quality - and quantity - of science in the poor countries. No one who has any idea about the real world has doubts about this basic fact. The amount of science such as high-energy physics coming from all of Africa is 100-1,000 times smaller than that coming from the U.S. - and most of African science is done in South Africa, too. In the IPCC bureau, Africa will have more representatives than the whole North America, both U.S. and Canada. This is a totally insane disproportion.

    Science depends on quality filters and verification which is always imperfect in the real world but it must be at least superficially meritocratic, otherwise it just doesn't work. Helping researhers from poor countries by lowering the standards required from their paper is a road to hell. It's just another method to deliberately lower the quality and reliability of the outcomes of the process.

    My readers typically celebrate this decision by the IPCC because it is effectively a decision of self-destruction. It reduces the IPCC to just another activist NGO, albeit an officially sanctioned one. In the eyes of rational people, the IPCC's credibility is going to fall to the level of people like you whose credibility is low, namely zero.

    Lub - your reading comprehension is decreasing, perhaps not surprisingly, as you stopped doing any sort of science research. I am not sure why you feel the urge to give me this completely off-topic rant, tossing in words that you have no idea about what they refer to. I am talking about the crisis that peer-review is in, which emerged through the publish-or-perish environment, and which is worsening. If such a topic is already beyond your mental horizon, you need to stop writing and use the time for reading/thinking etc.

    I told you many times and can only repeat it, the same I tell other people like you, say Joy and so on: There is help out there also for you; it is never too late. Some SSRI with therapy - try it - it won't hurt.
    I am afraid that the peer review system for time to time is biased, Hank.
    I agree it would be nice to have top notch everything - and knowing it was high quality. But unfortunately, important knowledge is overlooked and ignored by not overruling the peer review system we have today.

    Those who claim that gender and geographics doesn't play a role in selection are deliberatly ignorant of what happens in the real world.

    In both cases there is a bias in choosing men and North-Americans (or Norwegians for that matter) to key posisitions, already. It shows in the composition of groups etc.

    Double standards seems to be a problem here....
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I wonder about that also, in a 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?' way.  It requires a belief that, at least in America where scientists are overwhelmingly liberal but not overwhelmingly white men, the best people are not chosen, but rather that scientists are self-selecting people who look like them.

    Then it requires a belief that the IPCC, which is not liberal but rather kooky progressive, is also self-selecting white men - despite the fact that a key voice behind this effort is already a senior person at the IPCC and is a South American woman who has written one paper.  So we have to have a whole chain of conspiracy theories culminating in the idea that women are so oppressed in climate science that even a senior person at the IPCC can only get one paper published.

    I'm not buying it.  :)

    The IPCC cannot claim the data and the science are most important and then intentionally penalize the countries producing the most science with the claim their data is tainted because it was done by the wrong gender.  It basically tells deniers the IPCC has been using inferior science all along.

    "It basically tells deniers the IPCC has been using inferior science all along."

    Any literate person has known this for years already. IPCC is going from bad to worse, but at least it is a bit more honest - though I doubt that was their intention.

    In both cases there is a bias in choosing men and North-Americans (or Norwegians for that matter) to key posisitions, already. It shows in the composition of groups etc.

    I'm not in any position to judge the relative merits of one scientist vs. another. I can certainly believe that the peer review process has faults - as far as I can tell, it's always been hostile to viewpoints that don't agree with the current consensus, and I'd be surprised if some scientists are scrutinized less thoroughly than others simply because of their reputations.

    However, concluding that the composition of groups (I assume you mean university faculties, journal review boards, editors, etc) is evidence of a particular bias is really unsupported. Isn't it even possible that there really are more men, Europeans, North Americans, or whatever doing the best science in some area?

    Sure, just like there is a real chance the best hockey players come from Canada.  But if the UN were in charge of hockey, they would have a quota for South Americans and Africans and whatever, regardless of whether the best hockey player in those regions may not be the 50th best on any professional team.

    It's great for faux diversity but bad for meritocracies, like sports.  Or science.

    I think it is very naive to think that the best will always win. Life is not fair, that is fact.

    As for compositions. You need only to look at statistics to see the bias.

    For decades it has been argued that the male dominance in top academic positions is because women are not educated. So less recruitment material. Sadly, more than 50% women graduate at the highest level and have done so for decades - yet they are not to be seen in top academic posisitons. (Well, very few of them. For those who really care, check out the numbers yourselves)

    Tell me it is because women are less intelligent than men. Please, do! ;-)

    As for Africans or other Non-first world nationalities, it is clear that cultural differences and prejudges influence our view of their competencies. In fact, they represent competencies we do not have and as such do not fit 'our' system.

    If you look at evaluation of multidisciplinary research for instance, you see the same phenomena. Those who belong to one field does not appreciate (or at best doesn't 'speak the language' of) the other field and often these projects fail to score high. We are aware of this challenge, yet we find few good solutions to overcome it.

    We are all biased. It is naive to think that we are not.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I accept the human condition that we have bias, I do not accept it is our primary driver.  Just like I do not accept the contention by evolutionary psychologists that sex drives all of mankind in the past and today. There's no evidence for it.

    In the past, there were more men than women in the higher levels of academia - we are 30 years into more women getting degrees.  Today, more women than men get faculty and staff jobs in academia and women get more PhDs.  So the imbalance is being corrected but it did not correct immediately because men were not lined up and fired to make room for women, but it is still being corrected.

    Does the gender and geographical composition mean the science was flawed?  That would mean every science field has flawed results and yet plenty of great science has been done - I do not think we should throw our 3 decades of climate science because the field had fewer women.

    Now, let us update to a more modern problem of composition; in the past, there was a gender imbalance but today there is a cultural one.  When academia was mostly men it was also 50% left and right people.  Now there are 10% Republicans in science.  Is that composition not a concern?  It should be, if gender and geography are important factors in making sure data is unbiased.  The IPCC has what percentage of people who are not left wing?  No one knows because they do not think it is important and it would be bad for them to disclose it because it would probably be 30-0.

    Do I?  No, but you see my point.  Anyone can pick one cultural agenda and map some data to that topology and declare it vital.  The IPCC can say flawed science is there unless the geographical representation is normalized, someone else can say the science is flawed unless the political beliefs are normalized.  It comes down to what people want to believe - but that is not science.
    I accept that anyone has biases, and that these biases affect their judgments on nearly everything. However, this is very far from demonstrating (or even coherently arguing) that biases account for "disparate impacts" - for any situations where observed results don't correlate precisely with demographic statistics.

    To cite a few examples: there is no reason to expect that there would be significant difference in ability to play the game Scrabble between men and women. In fact, most of the best Scrabble players I know are women, which would fit nicely with the widely shared belief that women have better verbal skills than men. However, all of the very best Scrabble players are men. There is no reason to think that this result is driven in any way by bias, since the rules and judging of games is pretty objective. I have read one account that suggests that only a few men (and no women) are willing to spend hours and hours memorizing the various combinations of letters that will allow players to play 7-letter words to score maximum points on the first word. On average, women are at least as good as men, but no women are among the best.

    Likewise, the card game Bridge is commonly thought of as a game for older women. I expect that most players are women. Among the people I have played with, the women are as good as the men. However, all of the best players in the world are men; there are even separate competitions at the top levels reserved for women, because women rarely qualify for the top levels in the world. I can't conceive of an argument that would support the idea that this result is driven by bias. Apparently, only a few men (and no women) have the extraordinary talent and single-minded concentration to consistently play at the very best level.

    Now, science isn't nearly as objective as scoring in Bridge or Scrabble. It is certainly possible that women or third-world natives are excluded from the top levels by bias. It is also possible that climate change skeptics, religious people, and fiscal conservatives are excluded by bias. It is also possible that such people really aren't producing the best science. I don't claim to be able to judge the merits of one scientist vs. another. But the mere fact of these demographic differences does not argue that the differences are caused by bias, let alone conclusively demonstrate that they are.

    Just think if this played out with science it 1907 Einstein would not to get sit on the science board board because we would have already had Lord Kelvin and Ernest Rutherford and instead we could have Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (Zulu chief in 1907) on the science board.

    There may well be climate scientsists in Africa who deserve a position on the board but it is also possible there is not as in science in 1907. The quota makes about as much sense then as the IPCC regulation does now.

    I happen to believe in the science of global warming but unfortunately climate science and climate scientists gets stupidier by the year. When are they going to realise they are taking the science down the toilet and they are fast losing the believers like me.


    I believe the evidence is solid that mankind's emission of greenhouse gases is warming the planet.

    Continuous displays of idiocy by the global climate bureaucracy will not change my mind.

    Sure. People need to keep in mind that ridiculing the IPCC is not saying there is no legitimate climate science; we don't think the only biologists are at the UN, or the only political scientists either, the UN just gets a lot of attention in climate science because the media give it to them - media people seem to like large organizations, it is legitimacy to them the bigger the government body behind it.  The rationale is they couldn't be on the IPCC unless they are the best, just like government people think only the best people get hired  by government.  The new developments show that the IPCC does not care about the best scientists at all - they instead want to use their position to make mediocre people look like world-class ones.
    "Continuous displays of idiocy by the global climate bureaucracy will not change my mind."

    That's a shame. Sorry to hear it.

    Thor Russell
    So if a fool says the world is spherical, you then start believing its flat? The appropriate response to the opinion of an idiot is obviously to ignore it, not to believe the opposite!
    Thor Russell
    Thor Russell
    "Basically, if the IPCC wanted to provide ammunition for climate change skeptics, they just handed over an entire arsenal." - Pretty much. 
    Do they even have procedures to make sure that claims similar to the glacier ones don't get through again?

    Thor Russell
    Fred Phillips
    I've relied heavily on grey literature to gauge industry trends and get hints of where and how fast new technologies will develop. It definitely has its uses. I would never use it, however, as evidence for or against a scientific proposition.
    That's the core issue.  They want to legitimize it by putting the IPCC brand on it rather than using it in IPCC reports because it is good. I certainly agree it has its uses, just not as many as the IPCC insists it has.

    Any quick glance at most research that never makes it through peer review shows there is a reason.  But people in science, like in society, love the myth of the Oppressed Underdog and Big Science blocking them out.
    Agreed, as I have done so too. But Climate studies are unusual in the poor product they produce. They really are an embarrassment to science. The bulk of climate science is statistics an modelling, but any statistician or professional modeler would be embarrassed to be counted among them. Any I know would be considered 'deniers' by most here.

    The problem for me, is not that the IPCC uses gray literature. Some gray literature could be useful. A ski or snowmobile magazine would have useful information on snow pack levels, for instance.

    The problem arises when the IAC recommends that the IPCC follow its own rules, and flag gray literature. The IPCC instead changes the rules, so it doesn't have to mark non-peer reviewed as such, claiming that it would be too much work to flag the gray stuff.

    This ranks along with the IPCC claiming that it has a Conflict of Interest Policy now, as recommended by the IAC, but that it won't implement it this time around, as its unfair to existing members.

    Pure hypocrisy.

    Hi Hank, what influence will Greenpeace, WWF and other international special interest NGOs be able to attain in the crafting of IPCC AR5? Science "activism" has been a battle cry of "kooky progressives" so is this wish fulfillment? I would be interested in your opinion as to how you think this will impact the future direction of the IPCC.

    I've been critical of the IPCC personnel decisions since 2001; by then they had basically thrown out anyone who was not a CO2-only-the-science-is-settled believer and I think tossing out people who contend other drivers are important is not the way to achieve consensus in science.  Physics does not write reports by throwing out scientists who are not convinced in advance what the conclusions should be. And I was really critical in 2006 when the media printed pre-report "media talking points" and claimed those were data before the 2007 report even came out.  Science media were basically in the tank by then and I (and others) have pointed to that as a watershed in the death of science journalism.

    The real problem is the IPCC has unnatural weight among the media.  Who pays any attention to any UN body in any other area?  No one, the UN is irrelevant and the IPCC's latest changes show why.  Lots and lots - as in tens of thousands - of climate researchers have done solid work which affirms we have a problem moving toward us.  In 2006, Al Gore claimed we had 10 years before doom. At the time I was cynical because that happened to be 2 years before the next election and 8 years of his presidency if he won. Does anyone realistically think we only have 4 years before a climate cataclysm is occurring? Not at all.

    What we do have is an economic catastrophe right now.  The evidence shows that the climate problem is real but we have time to make an elegant migration away from fossil fuels, it does not have to be the goofy subsidies and hostility to businesses that generate actual jobs we have today.
    Gerhard Adam
    I've been critical of the IPCC personnel decisions since 2001; by then they had basically thrown out anyone who was not a CO2-only-the-science-is-settled believer and I think tossing out people who contend other drivers are important is not the way to achieve consensus in science.
    I agree, so that raises the question on a completely different topic .... why don't we see that degree of openness regarding GMO foods?  It would be different if there were a solid consensus regarding all the various concerns, but it seems that there is a marked lack of effort in bringing forth the scientific papers that address the fear-mongering.

    Mundus vult decipi
    The UN doesn't have a bureaucratic group that has caught the attention of the mainstream media.  The anti-GMO efforts are based on the Oppressed Underdog versus Big Science mythology.  It's the same numbers of people as tried to shut down the LHC because the precautionary principle said it might create a black hole.  In physics there was no controversy and in biology, this is one of few areas where corporate and academic scientists agree.  It is a true consensus, there is no hand-picked group of 30 people declaring the science is settled.
    Thanks Hank and I'm borrowing/stealing the phrase "elegant migration away from fossil fuel". I know folks working on clean power technology and sooner rather than later the cost curves will dictate the "elegant migration away from fossil fuel" and fossil fuel will go the way of whale oil.

    I am interested in hearing your opinion on one more aspect of your article. Do you think there is now a career risk for a scientist to be associated with a report/organization that is no longer concerned with the best scientific practices? Do you think that from a personal perspective that any scientist will still want to be involved in a project that is not committed to the highest aspirations of science?

    No, they won't be tainted by past association, in the same way a science program can be on TV right after one of those ghost hunting shows without harming the scientist.  It isn't about individuals, it is about issues. People want to hammer on science (and scientists) because it displays its flaws, inconsistencies and insecurities to the world but that is its great strength so scientists aren't going to feel bad if they end up being wrong.   I mean, string theory is wrong - it had its day.  No one is penalized for trying to explain a key mystery of the universe that way just because they were wrong.

    Polls show the public overwhelmingly trusts scientists - yet the public does not trust climate scientists and that is because a few declared the issue 'settled' and decided that anyone who was not convinced was the same as a Holocaust denier.  Other young, loud science bloggers who basically hate Republicans jumped on that bandwagon and made it into an "anti-science" issue but it never was. 

    More recently, the politically agnostic climate scientists have had to undo things that were called certain by more aggressive, loud researchers who made their way into the media in the past - and skeptics derided climate scientists for that too.  They can't win. Most climate scientists do not want the drama, they want to do good work and make a difference - so they are not interested in the IPCC and its grandstanding.  But just like you wouldn't criticize all people who drive a pick-up truck just because one guy in a truck cut you off on the freeway, we shouldn't assume all climate scientists are in the bag for a pet position.

    It is hard to find objective analysis, worth spending time on, in the politically and emotionally charged area of climate science issues. You navigate well through the BS and I find you to be objective in your analyses. I learned that you have a new book due out soon and a taste of your blog writing has convinced me to buy it. I anticipate that I will enjoy reading what you and your co-author have written.

    There's nothing objective in the book, I set out to ridicule the anti-science positions of the kooky left. There is a lot to ridicule.  Virtually all of science media thinks anti-science controversies consist of right wing positions on evolution, stem cells and global warming and the weird social authoritarianism and fallacious nonsense of the left simply doesn't exist.  

    So I wanted to slay a sacred cow but it won't be a popular position among science writers; the New York Times is not going to be jumping up and down to compliment anything treating the left like science media treats the right. But, with you and my mother, I know two people will have bought it - so you have my thanks!  :)
    I'll read your book, Hank! :-)

    Maybe I will not agree with all your analysis, but I am sure I will find it interesting.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    HC: I set out to ridicule the anti-science positions of the kooky left.
    BLB: _I'll read your book, Hank! :-)

    In that case, Bente, don't forget to take your tank to your next meeting with Italian Marxists.
    I know plenty of Italians. You are better informed than me concerning their political views - I have not noticed any particular marxistic feature in any one them...:-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Maybe they want to impress you, so they hide their Marxism under a one-foot-thick layer of makeup. ;-)
    Lub - if there is one almost 100% sure sign that tells us a person to be no more than an idiotic know-nothing who has no business in any scientific discussion, it is using words like "Marxism" the way you do. You have no idea whatsoever about the role Marx plays in all (read: every color of) modern sociology. You are no more than a right wing idiot, so idiotic, you do not even understand that especially right wing sociologists are basically Marxists nowadays! Marx is like the start of science in the social sciences, the physics of the social, it is the core much like Darwinism is in evolution theory, no matter group selection or gene centrism or whatever. Go read Luhmann for example, and then come back and apologize for spewing complete crap over the internet you childish little loudmouth! (On the other hand, forget it - Luhmann is way above your reading comprehension.)

    No scientist worth much spews nonsense about another scientific field like you do. You are no more but the equivalent of a failed sociology prof ranting about Einstein relativity being Jewish antiscience. If you ever wonder about why you got kicked out: Because you are an idiot-savant that made the idiot-part of it more important than the savant side of the deal. What a waste of potential!
    Dear Vongehr, indeed, the fact that you believe that right-wing people have no room in a scientific discussion - you would eliminate them - is that you are a Maoist, in your case. You're the same kind of totalitarian, ideologically obsessed tyrant as Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and others.
    Another fact is that if you will keep on oxidizing in the West, instead of moving to North Korea which is run according to your values, you will have to live with the fact that the right-wing people not only have room in scientific discussions but they're the more important ones. Unlike the left-wing people, the right-wing people use the rational reasoning and the scientific method for societal questions as well.

    Feel free to believe that the world is upside down and Marxism makes any rational sense. But until you will be able to conquer North America and Europe as colonies for North Korea, you won't be able to stop rational people from pointing out that ultracommunist jerks like you are just power-thirsty pseudointellectual piles of feces.
    Even if one achieves a "consensus" of scientists' opinion regarding a given topic, in no way does this prove that the consensus on the scientific question is correct. There are entirely too many counter examples. What, in one epoch, represented "scientific consensus" is now quaint and all but totally outmoded. There are times when a given approach cannot be further extended and it becomes necessary to backtrack to a point of previous "consensus" and admit that the consented conclusion led to impasse. Thus the previous "consensus" was, demonstrably and in fact, incorrect in the sense that it led to contradiction and thus must be abandoned.

    Well, this is true but using 'science is not perfect' hesitancy means quite literally no advances in science, technology or medicine would ever have been achieved. I am hopeful climate change skeptics don't want to become right wing versions of the anti-vaccine/anti-GMO/anti-medicine 'precautionary principle' cranks on the left. It becomes simple obstructionism.

    Science works precisely because the consensus does change - but the tipping point is evidence.  If we look at biology in 1975, a number of proposed ideas/mechanisms were quite reasonable but they have not stood the test of time. It does not mean biologists can't and don't solve real issues every year. In physics, almost nothing that made Stephen Hawking famous is consensus today.  There is no dogma in science, scientists really, truly love to debunk each other - and that goes for climate science too.

    There is a consensus on CO2 but not on feedbacks, for example.  That does not mean climate science is invalid, it means science works.  Certainly, while I have complete confidence in 99% of climate scientists, I never bought into the idea that we should grind our economy to a halt when activists had already blocked the alternative energy (nuclear) that Europeans were going to use to meet a CO2 target. The danger is real but the timetable was a projection based on numerical models - and since most of my career was in numerical modeling and I know that no one in the IPCC was going to not pay their mortgage if their numerical models were wrong (whereas my mortgage would absolutely not have been paid if my models were wrong) I didn't have confidence that their models were worth risking a global economy on.   But their modeling has quietly gotten much, much better.
    The possibility that 99% of the climate scientists deserve "complete confidence" is 100% incorrect. Same goes for every other group: physicists, neurologists, mathematicians, CEOs, CFOs, bureaucrats, unionists, politicians, and... most of all... UN flunkies.

    A good old-fashioned skeptic accepts a theory only after it has been proven and proven, then proven again.

    Unfortunately most of what passes for "science" in the climate realm does not rise to this level; therefore, it is better housed with softer "sciences", like psychiatry, or... better yet... precognition.

    My comments were not directed towards a "science is not perfect" mode as that goes without saying. Rather, I am skeptical of the value of a so-called "scientific consensus" precisely because of the need for consensus to find as Lincoln put it "a middle ground between right and wrong." I have served on several standards setting committees and recall one in which a question of mathematics that could be determined by calculation (albeit laborious) was put to a vote of the committee to "avoid wasting time." Since the vote opted for an incorrect mathematical statement, a demonstrably incorrect mathematical proposition is part of an ANSI standard. I resigned from the committe as I think that a vote of participants is not the way to settle a matter that is capable of independent calculation or experimental determination. I most certainly disagree with your notion that not accepting current consensus "means quite literally no advances in science, technology or medicine would ever have been achieved." On the contrary most of the recent advancements have come as a result of finding flaws (sometimes glaring ones) that underly the consensus and following a model that may confound the consentees but is none-and-never-the-less a better model than the consensus. Sometimes it results in refinement of a consensus statement and sometimes it results in overturning the consensus statement. My observation is that in the climate matter, the pundit created consensus is used by politicians and other axe-grinders as a close-out argument in statements that refer to "settled science" and other such finalizations that do not admit of the always present possibility that the consensus may be on an unproductive branch (for accuracy, even though still resulting in grants and citations.)

    BINGO! Branding those who disagree as "skeptics", then... when it turns out that, as scientists, many proudly agree that they ARE indeed skeptics... falling back to "anti-science" and "deniers" is a cowardly defense of a rickety premise.

    Sadly, this technique has crept across many intersections where science, politics and grants converge.

    A shame that someone who says "I've been critical of the IPCC personnel decisions since 2001; by then they had basically thrown out anyone who was not a CO2-only-the-science-is-settled believer and I think tossing out people who contend other drivers are important is not the way to achieve consensus in science " also has to use the word "denier".

    As in: "It basically tells deniers the IPCC has been using inferior science all along." Why can't this say "sceptics"?

    People who use that offensive, holocaust-inspired word for genuine sceptics are usually the people guilty of throwing "out anyone who was not a CO2-only-the-science-is-settled believer".

    What gives? If you accept the case for genuine scientific scepticism in the AGW theory, why bother to discriminate between scientific scepticism and a gut-feeling disbelief by a non-scientist as a "denier"? It is just needlessly offensive, and is actually a symptomatic tool of cultural marxism - using key trigger phrases to smear and close down debate which would otherwise be uncomfortable for them.

    Please avoid using this horrible word in future.

    They use the term 'deniers' and in order to show the ridiculousness of unquestioned support for irrational decisions, like declaring non-peer-reviewed studies legitimate and choosing scientist based on country and gender, the term has to be used so people can see how wrong gerrymandering cultural issues into science is.

    Some people are deniers, nothing will ever convince them that pollution is bad.  'Skeptics' do not disavow the actual deniers so they are as complicit as anti-science kooks who believe anything if it implicates oil companies. Trying to label deniers as skeptics would be dishonest.
    That is either missing the point or deliberately ignoring the very pertinent fact that there are sections of the "warmist", "alarmist" crowd (see how unpleasant labels are?) who label genuine sceptics as "deniers" i.e. anyone who disagrees with the theory for any reason, however valid. Would you call Judith Curry a denier? I've seen this accusation many times... try googling "Judith Curry denier".

    Your reply makes it sound like you are legitimising the use of a term which deliberately sounds like "holocaust denial" , and as I said (and you did not address) this is a smear technique beloved of cultural marxism.

    This is very sad as it kind of labels you as a "warmist", and gives me the impression that you really would prefer that sceptics don't read your page, because of such labelling.

    As for "Trying to label deniers as skeptics would be dishonest." , well you are just playing to the warmist crowd.
    What would you call a non-scientist who has seen the controversy in the news and reputable blogs and says "I'm not going to believe it until the evidence is clear". Not a scientist. Does not believe the AGW theory. Is he a denier, because there is a supposed "consensus" on AGW which is allegedly more numerous than all other scentific sceptics?

    Please consider using the phrase "irrational disbeliever". For the sake of 16 characters (5 if you shorten it to "disbeliever") you are dissociating yourself with the "warmists" who use that label indiscriminately, or as I should call them, "irrational believers". (What do you call an "irrational believer", Hank?)

    The theory of luminiferous aether was supported by many important scientists until Einstein came along and a better theory disproved it. I find it hard to credit that disbelievers in the Aether theory in the early 1900's would have been given such a repulsive label as "denier".

    It is not where the "scientists" come from that is important. This issue is too important to allow only one side to control the IPCC.

    There should be a great ongoing debate with the best arguments and best debaters from BOTH sides.

    But the IPCC sees its role primarily as as the anti-CO2 preachers. So scientifically its conclusions are pure, self-serving, grant trawling drivel.

    The only side is science.  There are not really two sides.  There are a few skeptics and an overwhelming number of people who accept the science.  Everyone else are just political talking heads copying and pasting bullet points they read on the Internet.
    Tell me Hank, where in AR4 does the IPCC discuss changes in bright sunshine (the prime input into the climate system).

    Martin Wild has written a lot of papers about global brightening and dimming. Some place like the UK Met show bright sunshine up about 8% since 1980.

    If you control what goes into a report, you can con a lot of people.

    "Because they have declared that grey literature will no longer be grey - any information they choose to use will be considered peer reviewed just by being posted on the Internet by the IPCC."

    To be thorough, this claim of yours should have been documented. I'm sure it's true, but was there some announcement, or are you just basing this on past history?

    It's based on their meeting in Geneva earlier this month, not past history.  I often try to use outside sources so why would you think New Scientist and the journalist who was there don't count unless the IPCC issues a press release saying they no longer want the best scientists, just the ones who match their social agenda? They aren't going to do that.
    The article speaks for itself. I am conservative but concerned about climate change. More African scientists than Americans???? "Grey" literature? I never learned that term in my Bio 101 class in college. When I played sports, I did not want an unfair advantage to taint my victory. Sadly, the entire climate change science community is tainted - with global leftist politics.

    this is so effing repulsive. now they are dumbing down science? dumbed down science is not science. WAKE UP AMERICA.

    So, the IPCC has dropped the pretense of scientific inquiry and gone to all-politics-all-the-time. At least the honesty is refreshing.


    The guy at the soup place on Third Avenue was looking glum. What's the matter, I asked. No cute girls today, he says. Easy to fix, I recommended. Simply lower your standards and suddenly you'll be awash in them.

    Same idea here. When you are free to provide your own definitions, like the Democrats do with "activist" judges, everything starts to look better. At Hertz, everyone is Number One! No Little League team loses, we all get "participation" ribbons.

    When the climate stops cooperating, it has to be anthropomorphic, because, duh, we're the only force on Earth, in the solar system, in the galaxy, in the Universe, that acts unnaturally. That's the ticket. Now, where are my NGO-funded tickets to Fiji?. I need to check the beach erosion.

    I've always maintained that climate "science" isn't really science; glad to see the IPCC has finally confirmed my opinion as fact.


    I see a lot of false flags flying around here so I'll be brief. Does this really surprise either side? Really? This stopped being about the environment, at least at the U.N., a long time ago. It's time to chose a side folks. Green=Red

    Mr. Campbell needs to take or retake a course in logic.
    Sad what passes for science dialogue by some!

    I'd rather you light a candle than curse my darkness so please tell me what logical error I made.  Do you contend the IPCC should wash away its mistakes by redefining mistakes as good science, or do you contend better policy decisions will result when science results are determined by the geography and gender of a committee rather than the merit of the scientists?

    I fancy myself a reasonable participant in logical discourse so please point out the fallacy I committed.
    Here's one: "I have complete confidence in 99% of climate scientists."

    Your contention that there's only one side to science is also subject to question.

    From Galileo to Lovelock, there have always been at least two sides in contention.

    Until recently, it has always been the task of the guy with the BIG IDEA to prove that he's correct.

    Correction: Until recently, it has USUALLY been the task of the guy with the BIG IDEA to prove that he's correct.


    Fortunately, aside from continuing to waste gobs of UN money that could be diverted to better uses, the IPCC is now a non-factor. Enough people have finally figured that an infinitessimally small increase in the amount of a trace gas in the atmosphere cannot, in and of itself, cause the Earth to warm. The bald facts are that CO2 currently represents about 4/100ths of 1 percent of the Earth;s atmosphere and the amount of increase in CO2 over the past 150 years represents about 8/1000ths of 1 percent. Only in the alternative universe which is "progressive la-la land" could this cause the ice caps to melt and the seas to rise. Here in the real world, it's a total non-factor.

    Is our planet warming up? Quite possibly. It has warmed and cooled uncounted thousands of times in its history and will continue to do so. But is mankind's buring of fossil fuels the cause of it? No.

    ^This is the one of several *big* dirty secrets of Global Climate change hogwash

    1. There are documented records of geologically recent warm (Midevil Warm) and cool periods (little ice age & just after Krakatoa), and it is manifestly obvious the warm periods were better for life in general and more specifically us humans.

    2. These morons *assume* a *global* positive feedback mechanism to the process of climate change, based on terrarium size models! (and oddly, in glaciation periods this may well be true. as these have occured many times, and lovely plant did indeed subsequently warm again, it apopears history demonstrates the limitation of this theory . . . )
    > will go to the trouble of expressly saying that a world a couple degrees warmer might actually be better for people.

    3. My apologies, this one makes me angy, but . . . the twits generally assume the incident radion of the Sun is constant, when any Astro or Geo Physicist can tell you that is patently false.

    4. Warmers fail to adequately account for effects of other potential atmospheric contributors to the greenhouse effect, particularly methane and water vapor. Mankind has negligible effect on either, and I've never seen variable sensity analysis to offer any reason CO2 should be assumed to be the primary variable, other than it is politically convenient to the narrative.

    5. We're probably still in an interglaciation period of the Quarternary Ice Age, so my guess is that even if everything the warmers say is both true *and* valid, that the best mankind could possible do would be to delay the next glaciation cycle a little while . . .

    I apologize for the length of this reply; always feel the need to unload at least once on a site new to me when I see the warmist political crap presented as science, and I obviously share your views on this)

    Best Regards,

    Both Hank and Capt Mike make excellent points - overall a very well thought out discussion.

    Two additional points:

    * So-called "climate science" is really not science at all since it is based on observation rather than experiment so it hypotheses fail the most fundamental test: they are not in any formal sense falsifiable, that is, their only proof depends on post-hoc correlation - as a result, unlike the "law of gravity," which provides 100% predictability for Newtonian scale events involving objects with mass, climate science provides almost no predicability at any scale, from local and present to global and long-time period. Thus the supposedly correlation (extremely weak at best) between temperature and CO2 can just as easily be interpreted two ways: either can be the cause or result.
    * "Consensus" and "Science" should not be used in the same sentence: Science is only "settled" when no working scientist finds it useful to try to falsify an established law, such as that of gravitation.
    * Third of 3: the warming debate and more particularly ideas of how to alter, prevent, etc. are symptoms of Scientism: the heresy that all is understandable by the minds of men and women: Hubris easily reined in by re-reading the Book of Job: No matter what its authorship may be, the question asked of Job: "Were you here when I laid down the foundations of the mountains?" should be asked repeatedly of any person foolish enough to serve on the IPCC!

    At last, the real games begin.

    "but does anyone really think Africa has 25% more top-flight climate scientists than the USA and Canada...combined?"

    After what our illustrious climate scientists have done, by allowing this issue to become political, the Africans certainly can't do any worse. The irony of all of this is, can we really be sure we know the truth about the climate now? I doubt it. I doubt we'll know the truth for years because the politicization has become so ingrained it will take a decade to remove it from the science. People like Michael Mann should be ostracized from the scientific community.

    Wow. Interesting that this little tidbit isn't getting wider notice.

    Guess the Climate Change Doom Mongers have simply given up on any true application of the modern scientific method; i.e. public release of raw data, experimental methodology, why sampling techniques are used instead of direct measurements, testing methodology, either algorithms or entire compiled computer programs . . .
    > in modern science you either observe or propose a theory or conclusion,
    . . . conduct experiments or direct observations to conclusively prove your contention (or if direct measurement is not possbile, propose a sampling methodology and then use stats to infer actual situation)
    . . . publicly present data, results and conclusions
    . . . allow subsequent investigation, or ctitique, by others to confirm, disprove, partially challenge or demonstrate a need for further work to prove the original contention.

    These guys are literally assuming they can establish scientific 'proof' of a stated theory, and the consequences of that theory, and the policy prescription for those consequences by:
    > have open room 'votes' taken by (s)electors who themselves were sorted by politically correct demographics.

    Astonishing foolishness. Breathtaking hubris.
    If I tried this to get through (Chemistry) Quantitative Analysis Lab I would not only have been scolded by the prof, I 'woulda' been mocked by fellow students, made an ongoing laughingstock and laughed out of the program . . .

    Very Best Regards,

    Wow. Interesting that this little tidbit isn't getting wider notice.
    We are, quite literally, the only science site of any size not owned by a multi-billion dollar company with a marketing budget.  If we had their money, we'd be bigger than Scientific American and all the rest combined. 
    "they have declared that grey literature will no longer be grey".

    What did they say, in their words? I don't see a link.

    I notice this post has received a lot of responses. I am curious whether you have actually read the Wikipedia article about the IPCC or not, Hank. It makes quite clear that the IPCC is a scientific body, whether or not it actually publishes peer-reviewed scientific papers or does controlled experiments. (there used to be a rference at Wikipedia saying it doesn't, but I am not sure if that reference has been deleted or not. In any case, you cannot edit that article to say that the IPCC has a political role. That proves it must be real science.

    I read the entry on Science 2.0 one time and it does not even mention Science 2.0 so the credibility of Wikipedia is not high, at least in science, but 
    you cannot edit that article to say that the IPCC has a political role
    is pretty funny.
    I think you are missing the point. The IPCC is only for gender and geographical diversity because it provides a figleaf
    to mask an anti-competence regime. Lack of competence (or the elevation of incompetence) is not a flaw - it's the point! Most of these people would never survive in a world where competence is the ruling criteria. It's not a flaw - It's a feature. You have to stop giving the benefit of the doubt because they rely and play on your reasonableness and lead you to think that all of you are on the same playing field. .

    Isn't this really an issue of racism? And if not, shouldn't it be?

    I made this point in a comment above.  If you take a cultural agenda and map some data to it, you can make it about anything.  You can correlate the problems at the IPCC to the price of steel. All you have to do is show the curve of the IPCC problems and a curve of the price of steel and put them on a chart together and claim they are related because the curves both go up.

    It's not racism if Canadians play hockey and South Americans play soccer - but you can make it about racism, just by showing the percentage of different races in each sport and declaring that racism. That doesn't make it a legitimate claim.  The IPCC avoids a racial agenda by making their metric geographical, though race may be their hidden intent.  We can't be surprised by anything from a group that has declared that gender and geography are equal factors with competence in picking who is on a science board.
    Nice post Hank. As you say at the end, it almost seems like the IPCC is deliberately trying to destroy its own credibility.

    Hank, in your article you say:
    "Because they have declared that grey literature will no longer be grey - any information they choose to use will be considered peer reviewed just by being posted on the Internet by the IPCC.  "

    I'm sorry but I find that statement to be incorrect if you compare it to what IPCC says themselves:

    "...The procedures to validate sources of information from non-peer reviewed literature, and to ensure its quality, were reaffirmed. The procedures specify that the use of non-peer reviewed literature brings with it an extra responsibility for the author teams. IPCC writing teams were explicitly required to critically access and to review the quality and validity of all cited literature. As in the past, copies of cited information that is not publicly or commercially available must be held, preferably electronically, in order to be made available to reviewers upon request during the review of IPCC draft reports...." (my boldification)

    It implies that IPCC writing teams consisting of competent experts are performing an additional peer-review.

    The so-called grey literature can be very different kind of grey  literature. WIth experience from a national authority (that in spite of not being counted as a research organization do perform a lot of research) I know that not all the scientific sound results  go to peer-review, simply because the authors do not need the merits or whatever. This grey literature, for instance from a mapping authority, can be crucial for understanding climate change and some of which holds the same scientific quality as peer-reviewed.

    In my opinion the discussion here is not fine grained enough and way too black and white.

    I also find it quite arrogant that some big countries think they know better what goes on in other big/small countries... We need the (scientific) expertise from all continents to understand global climate change. It is also a question of ownership of the problem.

    The 'either you are with me or you are against me' approach is not working on a global scale. (Either you listen to my kind of scientist or you are incompetent.) Maybe it works in certain countries, but as one with extensive international experience I can tell you it doesn't work when addressing cross-cultural global challenges like climate change.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I agree with most of what you seek - certainly I agree grey literature can mean different things - but unfortunately they have lost a lot of credibility in their use of it.  Using a magazine interview and then conjecture for some results, letting activists write reports rather than scientists, etc. means they need outside management and instead of the UN providing that (basically, the IPCC needs an external review board, since they don't do it themselves) they now want to be the ultimate peer review:
    It implies that IPCC writing teams consisting of competent experts are performing an additional peer-review.
    means exactly what I said it means.  When something is not peer-reviewed, the IPCC peer reviews it itself (and we have already seen that the best scientists are not going to be on the IPCC any more) and then declares it peer reviewed.  That may be fine in some obscure philosophy journal but we are talking about a UN group that considers itself the world voice for climate science.  That is not a transparent, legitimate approach for a group that wants to impact policy decisions worldwide.
    IPCC is created to represent the world and not any particular group or country. This is seeked through a membership with expert scientists from member countries. Thus as such is just like any other peer-review group. It is not like other intergovernmental bodies where the government chose whomever they find suited, representing sometimes the expertise, sometimes political or administrative competencies. UN appoint scientific experts to IPCC (through a formal process where the countries present a selection of experts they can choose from).

    I have been working on the selection of such expert groups and I know that even good willed people sometimes need 'help' to remember experts from 'unusual suspects' representing other demographics, be it women or people from developing countries. It is human to do so and it is more common than you seem to think. :-)

    I agree that it is the best for us all to have good people on IPCC boards, but I think we disagree on how to reach this goal. You seem to conclude that if one have to look at different demographics for selection of experts you automatically reduce the quality of a group.

    I know you Americans see socialism such as seen in Scandinavia, as really, really bad. But I shall be disgustingly arrogant and just point to the fact that Norway, one of the richest countries in the world, is considered rich not because of its oil, but because of the large participation of women in the workforce. Be informed that this participation did not come by itself, it was 'forced' upon us by politicians through laws and regulations. In fact, we now see that those companies who have obeyed the law and selected Boards with 40% women members are doing better economically than those without it. Nobody volunteered to include women on their Boards because it was not considered the 'best' as you (and I) are seeking. It turns out they were wrong, doesn't it?

    I'd thus argue that in fact we might end up with a better IPCC if we take into account demographics.

    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Hank, regarding your last paragraph, your blog post (regrettably) cannot be cited in the next IPCC report.
    If you search through the IPCC procedures you eventually can find this:

    "In general, newspapers and magazines are not valid sources of scientific information. Blogs, social networking sites, and broadcast media are not acceptable sources of information for IPCC Reports. Personal communications of scientific results are also not acceptable sources."

    So I guess they did follow some IAC recommendations then.  Both the 'melting Himalayas' and the '50% crop decline in Africa by 2020' were in the categories they now no longer say they use.  I don't see what the difference is; if the data is correct, it is correct.
    “Fairness is necessary, we wouldn't want people blocked out unfairly, but dictating gender and geographical representation means IPCC science is no longer a meritocracy, it is a good works program. And therefore inherently unfair to the best scientists, who can't be on the IPCC if they have the wrong genitals.”
    LoL! Science based on genitalia instead of brains! That sounds like the UN alright!

    To claim the "Glaciergate" error undermines the basic conclusions of climate change is absurd. The error is part of Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, not Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis. Anthropogenic climate change is still supported by multiple lines of independent empirical evidence, and nearly every major national and international scientific body. Here's the key: The Himalayas ARE losing ice. And this dispute over the Himalayas in no way changes the reality of what’s happening on a global scale. Glaciers all over the world are losing about 150 billion tons of ice a year, providing a natural indicator that the world is warming.

    To claim the "Glaciergate" error undermines the basic conclusions of climate change is absurd. 
    No one said that was the primary driver.  Claiming one super driver in a complex system would be silly.  The IAC disagreed with your implied assertion that IPCC methods are just awesome even though various IPCC groups cite comments from a magazine as fact, use made-up effects as fact, or let climate activists write reports.

    The Himalayas are not losing ice, it is shifting.  You ignore the places it is increasing.  I'm not contending climate change is not real, I am contending the IPCC and people who quote confirmation bias hysteria do more harm than good for getting policies in place that would fix it.
    Here you say something I can agree on Hank, just to have said that :-)

    " I'm not contending climate change is not real, I am contending the IPCC and people who quote confirmation bias hysteria do more harm than good for getting policies in place that would fix it.

    I read today in some Norwegian publications that in the next IPCC report the climate skeptics are listened to. Actually, I think that is a biased presentation. You can be concerned about our climate and climate change AND still not trust or just question the science other refer to as proof WITHOUT being a climate skeptic. Just being a scientist trying your best to follow the scientific methods has been very difficult if you do not belong to the alarmist group.

    For instance, it is generally accepted that CO2 lead to greenhouse effects (warming). It is still legitimate to ask whether this effect will be smaller or larger than natural variations in the Earth system. From a scientific point of view.

    The polarization of scientists or some scientist and activists has been very damaging and hindered a more fruitful approach to a global challenge.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Absolutely!  Very well said, Bente!
    Bente, averages extracted from actual weather station measured temperatures show a very large variation, much, much larger than claimed warming trends.

    The difference between the Northern Hemisphere average daily raising temps minus the average daily falling temps multiplied by 100, 1950 to 2010
    Never is a long time.
    Interesting blog. Definitely! very well said Hank Campbell.

    This post is very informative.... This article is about grey literature which leads to the "glacier gate.." this also says the lose rate of ices from glaciers in Himalayas and this is no longer be a problem for the IPCC. This is for the first time Im hearing about the IPCC. Well the information is informative.. Thanks for the good stuff!!