Trust in the IPCCRichard Treadgold | October 31, 2011
Many people trust the IPCC, that it tells governments around the world the truth about global warming. But their trust is being seriously challenged by accumulating lines of evidence that this is not a good characterisation of the IPCC’s process.
The IPCC is coming under ferocious attack by climate sceptics using documentary evidence of astonishing, widespread disregard of fidelity.
Never mind the incompetent science (which alone is enough for a catastrophic failure of the IPCC’s mission to prove mankind is wrecking the climate) – the deficiencies in procedure and breaches of minimum standards would make the most informal non-profit organisation blush. They are not a professional organisation.
Here’s one reason why the IPCC reports should not be automatically venerated, but instead subject to cool-headed independent scrutiny before publication — they are terribly written, the antithesis of plain speaking, such difficult writing that the frequent result is to obscure the truth.
Andy Scrase alerts us to this piece of impenetrable prose from Working Group 3 of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, 2007. He especially appreciates the thrilling expression “quasi-certain irreversibility”, as I do — it’s so excruciating that it’s delicious. I spent several minutes deciding on its meaning, holding my breath.
Supporters of the IPCC: please give your interpretation of this example of their breathtakingly disconnected ineptitude. Give us the scientific meaning of this scientific nonsense:
Human impacts on the climate system through greenhouse gas emissions may change the climate so much that it is impossible (or extremely difficult and costly) to return it to its original state – in this sense the changes are irreversible (Scheffer et al., 2001; Schneider, 2004). Some irreversibility will almost certainly occur. For example, there is a quasi-certain irreversibility of a millennia time scale in the presence, in the atmosphere, of 22% of the emitted CO2 (Solomon et al., 2007). However, the speed and nature of these changes, the tipping point at which change may accelerate and when environmentally, socially and economically significant effects become irreversible, and the cost and effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation responses are all uncertain, to a greater or lesser extent.