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The Global Warming Establishment Needs More than Cosmetic Fixes
United States
Friday, September 10, 2010

Shikha Dalmia
The Inter Academy Council's recommendations are considered fundamental change by the detractors and supporters of IPCC alike. BUt, the IPCC is not likely to implement it, because nothing in the recommendations create incentives for IPCC to question its own conclusions. The fundamental problem with IPCC is that it has every incentive not to do so. There should be constant attempts at falsification, writes Shikha Dalmia in Forbes.
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Both the detractors and supporters of the IPCC – the U.N. body that serves as the Vatican of climate change – are billing the
Inter Academy Council’s recommendations as “fundamental” change. And some of its recommendations might indeed make a difference if the IPCC ever implements them — a big “if.” But fundamental change would require creating incentives for the IPCC to question its own conclusions – do constant soul searching, as it were — something that other scientific disciplines do as a matter of course. Nothing in the review’s recommendations does that.

The global warming establishment found itself in hot water last year when leaked e-mails suggested that leading climatologists had massaged data, interfered with the peer review process and engaged in other shenanigans to exaggerate the observed warming. A subsequent whitewash exonerated the scientists involved but further scrutiny debunked other alarmist claims in the IPCC’s last assessment report.


Even before GlacierGate, many external reviewers had bitterly complained that lead authors of the report’s various chapters solicit their opinion only to ignore it in the final summary if it contradicts their conclusions – creating an impression of a faux scientific consensus. Ross McKitrick, the University of Guelph-Ontario economist who debunked Penn State climatologist Michael Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” graph, has copiously documented this behavior.


To its credit, the IAC review, headed by former Princeton University president Harold Shapiro, takes a serious stab at addressing these problems. It acknowledges that giving lead authors the final say in accepting critiques of their work is like having Enron certify its own books. (O.K. It didn’t quite put it that way, but the point is that there is a fundamental conflict of interest here).


But then the academy’s review takes a leap into Banal Land. It recommends that IPCC chairs serve no more than one six-year term, a thinly veiled dig at the current chair, Rajendra Pachauri, now on his second term. Pachauri is a pompous, arrogant man (with an awful haircut) who brooks no disagreement with the global warming orthodoxy and deserves to go. He dismissed concerns that the IPCC’s Himalayan glacier claim might be in error as “school boy science.” However, there is no reason why a one-term chair would inherently be any better than a multiple-term chair.


But none of the academy’s suggestions – good or bad – address the IPCC’s fundamental problem: It has every incentive – financial and otherwise — to buttress the global warming orthodoxy and none to challenge it. In every other discipline, scientists earn fame and fortune if they successfully debunk its reigning theories. They are feted at conferences, cited more often, offered more jobs. In climate science, by contrast, debunkers invite an onslaught by the entire global warming juggernaut that can leave their academic reputation in ruins. Debunkers get branded as deniers. And as this Australian blogger points out, they get investigated by Desmog, Exxon Secrets, or Sourcewatch, websites dedicated to exposing any connection the researcher might have with the fossil fuel industry – no matter how old or tenuous.


The case for anthropogenic warming might indeed become airtight one day. But in order to get there, it has to withstand constant attempts at falsification.  That’s what fundamental change would require. Anything less is purely cosmetic.

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This article was published in the Forbes
on Friday, September 10, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Ms Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, a think tank in USA.
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