First of all, it should be noted that scientific truth is determined by a rational relationship to physical reality, not by the number of people believing an idea is true. The ideas of Copernicus, Issac Newton and Einstein were true even when no one else thought so. That is the way science has always been, always will be. “Consensus,” which we hear so much about, has nothing to do with it.
Scientific support for human-caused global warming has always been unconvincing. It has varied from weak and inconclusive to nonexistent and even downright fraudulent (see my 3-part series “Global Warming, Global Myth” Parts 1 and 2, and Part 3. ) In the absence of convincing scientific evidence, proponents of global warming argue that the assertions of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) are supported by a scientific consensus, as though that were validation.
Initially, the IPCC claimed a consensus of 2,500 scientists. Now one often hears that the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report has been supported by 4,000 scientists. John McLean, an Australian climate analyst, says, “Perhaps the claim of 4,000 scientific experts supporting the IPCC is a popular but false interpretation of the IPCC's statements, but if that is the case then the IPCC's failure to correct that error only serves to tarnish its reputation even further.” He presents a scathing indictment in “The IPCC Can't Count its 'expert scientists': —author and reviewer numbers are wrong.”
For its latest report, the IPCC claims 2,500+ Scientific Expert Reviewers, 800+ Contributing Editors, and 450+ Lead authors. Those total 3,750. The IPCC report is a compilation of three Working Groups. An author who contributed to a chapter of one working group is counted again if he contributed to a chapter of another working group. And an author can also be a reviewer. That's another way the same person can be counted more than once. There were 383 individuals who acted as both authors and reviewers. After deducting the duplicate names, the total number of individuals involved drops to 2,890. McLean asks: “But did the 2890 individuals all support the IPCC's principal findings? There's really no proof that any more than about 2% explicitly did so.”
The IPCC sent a draft of its report for "formal review” to 2,400 individual experts as well as to the 193 member governments of the IPCC. Yet it received comments from only 243 reviewers. How can those who didn't respond be counted as supporting the report? McLean notes: “The lists of reviewers contain the names of many people who are known to be skeptical of the claim of a significant human influence on temperature, so any implication that they supported the IPCC's findings is totally without merit.”
Chapter 9, which attributed human significance to climate change, is the key chapter in the IPCC report. It had 53 authors but more than 40 were from a network of people who previously worked together. McLean writes: “In direct contradiction to the IPCC's statements that the team of authors should have a wide range of views and experiences...in many cases multiple authors were affiliated with the same establishment. In the latter case it was not uncommon for a contributing author to be a subordinate (academic or work) to an author higher in the authoring hierarchy.” (Could any subordinate be expected to disagree with his superior? And if he was likely to hold differing views, would he have been put on the team in the first place?) The second draft of chapter 9, the last opportunity for individuals to respond, resulted in comments from just 55 people and 7 governments. Of these 62, only 5 reviewers explicitly endorsed the overall chapter.
Many of the reviewers and authors also had a vested interest in the IPCC report. Many were from universities who might receive funding for global warming research, and government officials were obviously not going to go against their governments' policies. Many reviewers and authors were from commercial organizations that could benefit from the IPCC report, such as renewable energy companies, or those dealing with the sequestration of carbon dioxide. Seven organizations had links to the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Eco-political extremist groups also stand to benefit from financial grants by governments and foundations. The IPCC apparently thought it unnecessary to mention the conflict of interest by authors and reviewers who could benefit from its report. By including these self-interested or biased individuals, “the IPCC may have boosted the number of probably favorable reviewers but it seriously undermined the credibility of the review process and of all of the 'expert scientific reviewers,'" says McLean.
He concludes: “The evidence shows that the claim of '4000 scientific experts supported the IPCC's claims' is dishonest in almost every word. There were not 4000 people, but just under 2900; they were not all scientists; and it seems that they were not all experts [italics McLean]. There is only evidence that about 60 people explicitly supported the claim, although that might not mean much given the vested interests and lack of impartiality of many authors and reviewers.”
For the complete 3,000-word report by McLean, go to http://mclean.ch/climate/docs/IPCC_numbers.pdf
In previous posts we have mentioned the Petition Project against global warming, led by Dr. Arthur Robinson, President of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, and Dr. Frederick Seitz, past president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society. Their petition was necessary not to prove the scientific validity of their position, which of course it does not do, but to debunk the claim of the global warming advocates on their own terms. The anti-global warming petition was signed by over 31,000 scientists, over 9,000 of whom have Ph.D.s.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
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