04 February 2010

Mike Hulme on IPCC

Mike Hulme of UEA has a thoughtful piece in SciDev.net on the state of climate science. Here is how he starts off:

The incorrect statement in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the Himalayan glaciers could completely disappear by 2035 is remarkable in many ways.

First, how could such a physically implausible claim have entered an early draft of an assessment undertaken by 'the world's leading experts', as IPCC authors are frequently described? Second, how did the claim survive several rounds of peer review from other IPCC authors and outside experts? Third, how did the claim, published in April 2007, remain unchallenged for more than two years before hitting the news headlines?

But perhaps most remarkable of all was the reaction of the IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, when the results of a specially commissioned Indian study of the glaciers challenged the IPCC's claim. He dismissed the new study as "voodoo science".

Pachauri's haughty attitude helps explain why the controversy surrounding the mistaken claim — which, after all, is a rather minor piece of the picture of climate change impacts — is now filling newspapers, blogs and broadcast media.

But to fully understand the timing of this affair we must reflect on the unexpected turn of events in the politics of climate change science over the past three months.

In other news, Rajendra Pachauri says that he hopes that climate skeptics rub asbestos on their faces.


  1. I like Mike Hulme and his book "Why we disagree about Climate Change" is very good, whether youi are a skeptic or not.

    He must be amazed at the current antics, the IPCC quite obviously did not read his book.

  2. For those people who don't understand the mysterious asbestos reference, it's an attack by Pachauri on Christopher Booker and Richard North.

  3. I think Mike Hulme is actually guilty himself of understating the seriousness of the matter. There is more than one dodgy citation in IPCC reports.



  4. Alas when Mike asserts:
    "Well, it doesn't mean that the well-authenticated, headline conclusions about human impacts on the climate system are undermined. Nor does it mean that concerns about the risks of future climate change are misplaced."

    He couldn't be more wrong. The compilers of the report were plainly dishonest and even now they find it impossible to be honest. Why then would we believe they got anything right? These weren't mistakes after all - it was deliberately done to influence policy. The review procedure is a clear sham. But we knew already that the reports were altered after the reviewers went home, thanks to Lindzen, Reiter, Pielke Snr and Landsea, long before the CRU emails, yet it was totally ignored because the IPCC lead authors have zero accountability. Hulme errs in aiming to sweep it all under the carpet a second time.

    At this point no emissions reduction targets, taxes or trade policies are likely regardless, so climate policy isn't in the least affected by making sure the rest is investigated and corrected. In engineering parlance it should be considered in abeyance until it passes quality control.

    I'd wager if you take out all the guesswork and arm-waving you could reduce it from 3000 pages to just a mere handful.

  5. Hardly a minor claim. The claim was that the people of the Asian subcontinent - over a billion - were at risk of a catastrophe within our lifetimes. This is not a 5% increase in hurricane strength - this is the apocalypse for a major proportion of humanity.

  6. It would appear that India is preparing to pull out of the IPCC.


    If it does will China follow suit?

  7. "Well, it doesn't mean that the well-authenticated, headline conclusions about human impacts on the climate system are undermined. Nor does it mean that concerns about the risks of future climate change are misplaced."

    The scientists don't seem to be aware what the headline grabbing conclusions were.

    1) We are all going to drown from sea levels rising
    2) Hurricanes would wipe out anything within 100 miles of the ocean
    3) The glaciers would all melt and a billion people would die of thirst
    4) The polar bears would be sad

    If 1-3 aren't going to happen and the polar bears are up for a couple degrees warmer...then I'm all for Global Warming...Permanent summer sounds good to me. :)

  8. Like all good liberals, I took global warming as fact until I was startled into consciousness when Joe Romm called Freeman Dyson, that nice old man, a denier. This was pre-climategate by a few months, so I've gone from outrage to slack-jawed astonishment, mixed with a little schadenfreude, right up to today. I've been trying to catch up with things, and have many questions still, including how the IPCC was ever taken seriously in the first place. Up until their report was issued, the UN crossed my path only on Halloween when some kids collected coins for UNICEF, and again at Christmas when we libs were asked by the same UNICEF to buy their attractive greeting cards. Oh, and the president would go to the UN every once in a while just to stoke the sputtering embers of importance there, while not even bothering to pay the country's dues.

    I don't expect an answer here, but do expect a blockbuster book in a few years that will fill us in on how it all happened. I do want to say here too that I appreciate that lay people have been able to post here and elsewhere, contributing our perspective on the science (I use that term loosely, sorry to say) of climate change. Scientists used to be my heroes, but they, along with rock stars, people with long hair, and almost all politicians, have revealed themselves to be entirely capable, proportionally to the population in general, of terrible behavior. We're lucky to have relentless watchdogs like Pilke out there, and need more of them.

  9. Casey there is someone that already has done basically a frame work that goes all the way back to the late 70's. It is a huge timeline that you can down load in different sizes in PDF format. Here is the link:


    It takes the climategate emails and puts then into the bigger picture of the IPCC and Climate Change

  10. I get the sense that Hulme wants to believe that the problem was restricted to the IPCC. But I think that he really suspects that the whole AGW enterprise has taken a massive torpedo below the water line.

    The IPCC is simply a symptom of a corrupt enterprise. There is a wealth of evidence to that effect that has been available before the latest IPCC scandals and before Climategate/CRUtape letters.

    Hulme is correct that the way the IPCC assessments were embraced by the AGW alarmists and used as a weapon in an effort to beat senseless anyone with the temerity to express a doubt has surely made the IPCC issues more damaging. But it was that mentality among alamists that led to the IPCC problems in the first place.

    If Hulme is truly curious about how we got here, he should ask a lot more questions. How was the network of monitoring stations allowed to get so bad without anyone expressing an interest in quality? The absence of any quality control is at the heart of the entire AGW debacle. Why has no one ever demanded to see the ingredients in the database stews? Why has no one ever demanded transparency? How did Briffa get away with stonewalling for 10 years? How did Mann's hockey stick become so prominent without anyone bothering to check his work? Why doesn't anyone bother to check anything?

    The questions abound.