Re: [asa] IPCC

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Sun Feb 11 2007 - 16:01:10 EST

At 03:48 PM 2/11/2007, wrote:
>Randy wrote:
>>At the end, Rohrabacher was given the final statement. He had been
>>given the opportunity to bring in witnesses in opposition to the
>>IPCC authors but he hadn't been able to get anyone. He did submit
>>for the record, though he didn't read it and it's not on the web, a
>>list of names of scientists who do not agree with the IPCC report.
>>But he didn't bring up any substantive comments.
>I know the issue has been discussed quite enough as far as I can
>tell and I see no reason to question the main findings of the
>report. Still, for the sake of leaving no stone unturned, is there
>any way to get this "statement"? ... just so we know.

@ I don't know about that "statement", but for the sake of leaving
no stone unturned, I'll offer this below. :) ~ Janice

"Independent summary shows new UN climate change report refutes
alarmism and reveals major uncertainties in the science. "The Fraser
Institute's Independent Summary for
carefully connects summary paragraphs to the chapters and sections of
the IPCC report from which they are drawn, allowing readers to refer
directly to what is in the IPCC Report."
[Access the hot link to the full PDf publication from the above link]


The data's limits
Appeared in the National Post

Dr. Ross McKitrick, Senior Fellow, The Fraser Institute

Release Date : February 6, 2007

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
released last week is the latest assessment of climate science. A lot
of conscientious effort goes into these reports. As someone who has
published research critical of past IPCC reports, and as an expert
reviewer of the present one, I disagreed with some sections. But I
also find that in many places the report is informative and balanced.

Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to past IPCC reports.

Most readers instead focus on the short Summary for Policymakers,
which starts from a draft prepared by scientists, but then is heavily
rewritten by government appointees in a multilateral negotiating
process. Past summaries have been criticized for not reflecting the
complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty in the underlying reports. They
may also distort the underlying report by placing major emphasis on
topics that are relatively minor, or by highlighting new and untested

This has led to concerns that, whatever the merits of the IPCC
report, its summary is not an accurate representation of its
contents, and that it reflects a bias towards alarmism and
understatement of uncertainty.

For this reason, in 2006 I agreed to coordinate a project on behalf
of the Fraser Institute, to produce an Independent Summary for
Policymakers (ISPM), which was released yesterday. (And no, despite
rumours on the Internet, it was not funded by Exxon.)

The ISPM has been written by qualified scientists, not bureaucrats.
Our writing team included a member of the American Meteorological
Society governing council, the leader of a climate modelling
laboratory, a world-renowned expert on extreme weather and storms, as
well as experts in statistics, arctic climatology, atmospheric
physics and meteorology.

At no point did the sponsors (the Fraser Institute) exert any
editorial control of any kind. Even the question of whether
"policymakers" is one word or two was left up to us.

By contrast, the IPCC's sponsors -- namely governments -- exert full
editorial control, and have in the past forced revisions on text
supplied by the scientific team.

While many IPCC contributors and reviewers are listed, no indication
is given as to whether they disagreed with the resulting report; nor
does the IPCC point out that the scientific community does not review
the summary after government negotiators have rewritten it.

The ISPM, by contrast, was reviewed by more than 50 scientists around
the world, and their review responses are tabulated so that readers
can see the extent to which it received their support.

The IPCC summary downplays uncertainty in subtle ways.

For instance, the full IPCC report discusses at length the
limitations of climate modelling prior to presenting tentative
projections, and the IPCC discusses the uncertainty of many key
climate data sets as part of its discussion of trends and changes.

But the IPCC summary highlights the model projections and data trends
as if those underlying uncertainties did not exist.

The ISPM, by contrast, provides a full treatment of the
uncertainties, along with a discussion of model forecasts and data
trends. Consequently it is much longer than the IPCC summary. The
extra detail is essential for accuracy.

Every point in the ISPM text is cross-referenced to the exact section
of the underlying IPCC report, and wherever possible we have used our
best estimate of the IPCC's own wording. For this purpose we worked
from the revised draft as released to the expert community in summer
2006, at the close of scientific review.

We will check the ISPM against the final text once it is released
(possibly in May), and we will issue an appendix to note any changes
as needed.

What, then, is the bottom line?

Quite simply, it is a mistake to look to the IPCC for a simplistic
conclusion, as if one little phrase could sum up a mountain of
complex research and ambiguous data.

Different readers are interested in different issues, including
Arctic sea-ice coverage, the Kilimanjaro glacier, global
precipitation trends, tropical tropospheric temperatures, sea levels,
Atlantic hurricanes, climate-model accuracy, atmospheric-methane
levels, paleoclimatic reconstructions, and dozens more.

The ISPM provides a summary of what the IPCC says about these and
other issues. People who are used to simplistic AlGore-style rhetoric
will probably find it surprising that the IPCC admits to so much uncertainty.

Still, brief conclusions can be helpful. The writing team agreed on a
one-page statement of conclusions that is not in the IPCC text, but
which reflects their views.

These conclusions were also strongly endorsed by most reviewers. They
state, in part:

The available data over the past century can be interpreted within
the framework of a variety of hypotheses as to cause and mechanisms
for the measured changes. The hypothesis that greenhouse- gas
emissions have produced or are capable of producing a significant
warming of the Earth's climate since the start of the industrial era
is credible, and merits continued attention. However, the hypothesis
cannot be proven by formal theoretical arguments, and the available
data allow the hypothesis to be credibly disputed.

There is no evidence provided by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment
Report that the uncertainty can be formally resolved from first
principles, statistical hypothesis testing or modelling exercises.

Consequently, there will remain an unavoidable element of uncertainty
as to the extent that humans are contributing to future climate
change, and indeed whether or not such change is a good or bad thing.

For those facing the task of decision-making, an understanding of the
real limits of current scientific knowledge is a necessary starting
point. The Independent Summary for Policymakers helps to clarify those limits.

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Received on Sun Feb 11 16:03:45 2007

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