End ‘Authority’ on Climate Change
Prof Bruce Hewitson (Uninformed vitriol, November 19) pontificates on Andrew Kenny’s assessment (Ideology and money drive global-warming religion, November 16). Unfortunately for him, there has been a reformation. The time for pontification is over. The critics must be answered. Instead Prof Hewitson stood in his pulpit and preached the gospel according to St IPCC.
He says he was a lead a uthor for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). That is not material — I was a c o-ordinating l ead a uthor, but it gives me no mantle of infallibility. Instead, it gave me insight into the flaws behind the whole process.
The IPCC claims that it has thousands of scientists and almost as many reviewers of the scientists' work to produce their reports. There are two problems, however. In the scientific world I move in, “review” means that your work is scrutinised by several independent, anonymous reviewers chosen by the editor.
However, when I entered the IPCC world, the reviewers were there at the worktable, criticising our drafts, and finally meeting with all us co-ordinators and many of the IPCC functionaries in a draftfest.
The product was not reviewed in the accepted sense of the word — there was no independence of review, and the reviewers were anything but anonymous. The result is not scientific.
The second problem is that the technical publication is not completed by the time the IPCC reports. Instead, it produces a Summary for Policy Makers. Writing the s ummary involves the co-ordinators, the reviewers and the IPCC functionaries as before, and also various chairmen.
The s ummary goes out in a blaze of publicity, but there is no means of checking whether it represents what the scientists actually said, because the scientific report isn’t published for another four months or more.
In the Fourth Assessment, the summary was quietly replaced several months after it was first published because some scientists who were involved complained of misrepresentation.
In the early years of the IPCC, there was a slightly different process. The Summary for Policy Makers and the scientific reports were issued at the same time. In those years, however, the Summary for Policy Makers bore a warning that it was the last current word on the subject, whereas the scientific reports were correctly identified as being subject to continuing development.
Someone smelled a rat about the “last word” story, so the process was changed, and now the s ummary is issued with no means of checking.
It isn’t necessary to list all the changes I have identified between what the scientists actually said and what the policy makers who wrote the Summary for Policy Makers said they said. The process is so flawed that the result is tantamount to fraud. As an authority, the IPCC should be consigned to the scrapheap without delay.
Dr Philip Lloyd Pr Eng
MD: Industrial and Petrochemical Consultants