Sunday, April 22, 2007


Sceptics of the seriousness of global warming complained on Wednesday of not being heard by the public or policy makers while warning governments to take a second look at the scientific consensus on climate change. Scientists who doubt the scope and cause of climate change have trouble getting funding and academic posts unless they conform to an "alarmist scenario", said Roger Helmer, a British member of the European Parliament, at a panel discussion on appropriate responses to rising global temperatures. "If global warming is happening, we can then ask: is it accelerating and is it likely to be catastrophic?" he said. "Many people think not."

European Union leaders agreed in March to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least a fifth compared with 1990 levels by 2020 and as much as 30 percent if other industrialised and emerging countries joined in. The EU pledge came shortly before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which groups 2,500 scientists and is considered the world authority on the issue, said all regions of the planet would suffer from a sharp warming.

David Henderson, an economist at the Westminster Business School in London and former head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, said governments had given the IPCC a monopoly on climate advice. "The very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself dubious," he said, urging countries to seek a more balanced approach than the IPCC and to stop pursuing programmes to urgently reduce carbon emissions. "In this area of policy it's high time for governments to think again," he said.

Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at environmental group Greenpeace, rejected criticism of the IPCC. "Saying that the IPCC is not balanced is probably the most ridiculous claim that anybody can make," she said, stressing the group's reports were based on scientific consensus. The IPCC findings are approved unanimously by more than 100 governments and will guide policy on issues such as extending the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions, beyond 2012.

Benny Peiser, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University, questioned the methods used by climate scientists. He said many were recognising that using computer modelling to predict an "inherently unpredictable future" was illogical. "Today's scientific consensus very often turns out to be tomorrow's redundant theory," he said. He said that scientific journals refused to take papers from scientists who doubted climate change.

Most scientists say climate change will cause seas to rise, glaciers to melt and storms to intensify, potentially leading to more natural disasters around the world.



The paper below was presented at the conference "Climate Change: Evaluating Appropriate Responses". Brussels, European Parliament, 18 April 2007 by Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Science, Liverpool L2 3ET, UK --

Two weeks ago, climate experts and government officials from 130 countries released the latest IPCC Summary for Policy Makers on the 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability of Climate Change'. The IPCC's predictions of the future were carefully scrutinised by governments and generally accepted. Despite attempts to tone down some of the more alarming language, the latest IPCC report predicts that unrestrained warming will cause mass extinctions, devastating floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts that may trigger economic disaster and social upheaval.

There can be little doubt that scientists, science organisations and the dominant science media have been instrumental in turning doom-laden computer models into an apocalyptic consensus. For the last 10 years or so, there has been a relentless outpouring of disaster predictions that have been published with little hesitation and rising alarm by the world's leading science journals. Any lingering reservation about looming catastrophe has been silenced by science editors and environmental journalists. Uncertainties have been conveniently disregarded and highly unlikely worst case scenarios exaggerated. Not since the apocalyptic consensus of the Middle Ages has the prognostication of impending doom and global catastrophe on the basis of mathematical modelling been as widely accepted as today. No question about it: The IPCC's disaster predictions have been converted into a general consensus among the world's political and academic elites.

Ironically, these apocalyptic predictions of the future are politically sanctioned at the same time as a growing number of scientists are recognising that environmental and economic computer modelling of an inherently unpredictable future is illogical and futile (see, O.H. Pilkey and L Pilkey-Jarvis: "Useless Arithmetic: Why environmental scientists can't predict the future", Columbia University Press, 2007). As the eminent mathematician David Orrell has pointed out persuasively: "The track record of any kind of long-distance prediction is really bad, but everyone's still really interested in it. It's sort of a way of picturing the future. But we can't make long-term predictions of the economy, and we can't make long-term predictions of the climate. Models will cheerfully boil away all the water in the oceans or cover the world in ice, even with pre-industrial levels of CO2 When models about the future climate are in agreement, it says more about the self-regulating group psychology of the modelling community than it does about global warming and the economy." (David Orrell, "Apollo's Arrow. The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything", 2007)

Be that as it may, the reality of the IPCC consensus should not be underestimated. Its political weight and growing demands for drastic economic intervention is posing a serious political predicament for many governments, most of which find themselves unable to control let alone reduce CO2 emissions that are rising almost everywhere.

Paradigms, Consensus and Falsification

Science based on "consensus" is a tricky business. I am agnostic about it because the history of science tells us that today's consensus can, and quite frequently is, tomorrow's redundant theory. There are certain types of general agreements in science that are more compelling and more durable than others. In some areas of empirical science, like solar system astronomy, there is more agreement because the data is more robust and the methods less complex. The more complex the science and the less reliable the data, the more scientific controversy you should expect to find.

On the other hand we also know that science tends to produce - and in fact needs - scientific paradigms -- which is perhaps a better word than consensus. So I have really no problem with the fact of a majority consensus on climate change. But science would quickly come to a dead end without the constant and necessary attempts to falsify the leading paradigm of the day, particularly those that are weak and based on contentious data, dodgy methodologies and flawed computer models.

Indeed, some critics argue that climate science has almost reached such a cul-de-sac. The scientific endeavour involves both the protectors and challengers of each and every paradigm. Both are essential to the health and dynamic of a highly competitive enterprise that is science. No consensus is sacrosanct. And it is in the very nature of science and science communication that all reasonable positions and counter-arguments should be heard. The ongoing controversy about hurricanes and global warming is a perfect example of the predicaments of consensus science. It also demonstrates that advocates who exploit the consensus argument against climate sceptics are more than happy to oppose the consensus - if it helps to further an alarmist agenda.

For a long time, and until fairly recently, natural variability was the lead paradigm underlying the dynamic changes in hurricane frequency and intensity. In the last two years or so, a small number of papers published in the world's leading academic journals Science and Nature have cast doubt over this long-established paradigm. Climate campaigners and science journalists jumped to conclusions and claimed: "The old paradigm is dead - long live the new paradigm!" It is noteworthy, however, that both the recent consensus statements by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as well as the latest IPCC statements on hurricanes and global warming maintain rather than overturn the old paradigm. At the same time, they caution us about the weight of the new papers.

I believe this is an encouraging development because it would appear to raise the requirements for overthrowing old paradigms. Let me also remind you about the dodgy process that removed from the old IPCC consensus the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age and replaced it with the notorious Hockey Stick consensus. A few enthusiastically received papers were able to overturn the old consensus - mainly because they undermined the important argument by climate sceptics about the degree of Holocene climate variability. Science journalists bought into the new Hockey Stick "consensus" sink line, and hooker [Good one!]. However, their prejudice was evidently laid bare by the extraordinary reluctance to report or report impartially about its flaws and the controversy it generated.

Similar problems can be observed regarding the thorny issue of sea level rise: is it more or less steady (as the IPCC claims) or is it accelerating, as climate alarmists claim? The mainstream science media have no qualms in hyping up new papers that go against the IPCC consensus. At the same time, the same outlets ignore other studies that confirm an inconvenient consensus that climate alarmist regard as too conservative and thus pose an impediment for political action.

I could go on and on: while alarmist claims and predictions are routinely puffed up by the science media and environmental journalists, studies that come to more moderate and less alarmist conclusions are habitually ignored or discredited for being too cautious.

From editorial bias to confirmation bias

Over the last 10 years or so, the editors of the world's leading science journals such as Science and Nature as well as popular science magazines such as Scientific American and New Scientist have publicly advocated drastic policies to curb CO2 emissions. At the same time, they have publicly attacked scientists sceptical of the climate consensus. The key message science editors have thus been sending out is brazen and simple: "The science of climate change is settled. The scientific debate is over. It's time to take political action."

Instead of serving as an honest and open-minded broker of scientific controversy, science editors have opted to take a rigid stance on the science and politics of climate change. In so doing, they have in effect sealed the doors for any critical assessment of the prevailing consensus which their journals officially sponsor. Consequently, their public endorsement undoubtedly deters critics from submitting falsification attempts for publication. Such critiques, not surprisingly, are simply non-existing in the mainstream science media.

But there is more to the problem than just editorial promoting of the scientific consensus. After all, such behaviour is not restricted to the issue of climate change. Editorial bias is often found among other science journals on many other controversies. Much more problematic is the reality of a strong confirmation bias among science editors. While the phenomenon of confirmation bias is an intensely researched and well established form of selective thinking among medical and economic researchers, this methodological impediment is completely ignored in climate science.

Any careful examination of the publishing record of leading science journals will show that science editors too tend to favour the publication of papers that confirm their publicly stated beliefs rather than question them. That is why science editors habitually ignore or treat with contempt any evidence that contradicts their core beliefs. Many critical scientists can confirm that prominent science editors have turned down their papers and have become reluctant to the point of refusal to publish any evidence that attempts to refute their favoured theory.

Of course, climate scientist themselves are routinely accused of confirmation bias for running statistical models and framing their data in such a way that it predictably confirms their hypothesis. After all, research into confirmation and other biases has shown that the scientific method incorporates an inherent tension between hard data and their interpretation by scientists with deeply held convictions. Good science journals critically evaluated and peer review the quality of data and the likelihood of error.

This deceptively reliable process of scrutiny and quality control, however, is itself prone to confirmation bias: peer reviewers selected by biased editors are more likely to accept evidence that supports their own prior belief while rejecting arguments and data that may challenge these convictions (Kaptchuk, 2003). Any science medium that ignores or fail to appreciate these inherent pitfalls of climate science can no longer be regarded as trustworthy.

The end of fair and objective science journalism

For the last few years, a number of influential climate scientists and science writers have conducted a campaign against the principles of fair and balanced journalism that epitomize open and pluralistic societies. The main accusation against impartial reporting on climate change is quite simple: An article in the Boston Globe on climate change journalism sums up the key argument: "More and more environmentalists and climate scientists have been making the point that ''objective" journalists are doing as much as anyone (except maybe Hummer enthusiasts) to forestall action on global warming." (Christopher Shea, Boston Globe, 9 April 2006) Or, in the words of media analysts Boykoff and Boykoff: "A more subtle factor that helps explain US inaction (sic) also exists: journalists' faithful adherence to their professional norms (like objectivity, fairness, accuracy, balance)... (Boykoff and Boykoff, Geoforum 2007, in press)

In short, climate campaigners and science activists are concerned that any doubts or uncertainties expressed in the media may hinder the political objective for drastic action. No wonder then that science editors and campaigners have employed strategies to discourage or intimidate reporters from even asking climate sceptics about their assessment. Michael Mann (Penn State University), for instance, has warned science writers that even to quote a climate sceptic would be regarded as if they had granted ''the Flat Earth Society an equal say with NASA in the design of a new space satellite." (Boston Globe, 9 April 2006). The editor of Scientific American, John Rennie, publicly refers to dissenters as ''denialists" and said that "to give them even one paragraph in a 10-paragraph article would be to exaggerate their importance." (Boston Globe, 9 April 2006)

Occasionally, a probing science reporter dares to challenge these forms of coercion despite the threats of mockery and intimidation. In such cases, a whole army of climate campaigners and bloggers will rush to assail the insubordinate journalist, as science writers such as Bill Broad and John Tierney of the New York Times can attest.

In Britain, it has become routine for leading science organisations such as the Royal Society to press-gang the media against publishing critical reporting on climate change. Lord May, the former, president of the Royal Society publicly censured newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail for publishing sceptical articles and comments. May also tried to silence respected writers such as David Bellamy, Melanie Phillips and Michael Hanlon by intimidating them personally. In 2005, the then vice-president of the Royal Society, Sir David Wallace, warned the British media not to publish anything that distorted the official view of climate science: "We are appealing to all parts of the UK media to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence about climate change and its potential effects on people and their environments around the world. I hope that we can count on your support." (The Daily Telegraph, 16 May 2005)

The attacks by science editors and campaigners on critical scientists are not only fuelled by political considerations. Sometimes they are due to blind faith in an apocalyptic future, as a recent editorial in New Scientist reveals: "One of the most corrosive contributions of climate sceptics has been to promote any uncertainty as an excuse for inaction. In truth, the remaining uncertainties should be making us redouble our efforts to mitigate climate change. It's a fair bet that much of what we do not yet know for sure will turn out to be scarier than most of us like to imagine." In other words, the editors of New Scientist are certain that what we do not know today will, upon knowing it in the future, prove to be even worse than they fear. Evidently, such hyperbole has nothing to do with science but belongs to the realm of superstitious divination.

While climate campaigners are trying to frame even the political and economic debate in the traditional fashion of a conflict between consensus and dissent, the political debate is no longer about action versus inaction. The real issue today is about the most cost-effective ways of dealing with climate change: revolutionary transformation of the global economy, as advocated by climate alarmists, or gradual adaptation and adjustment as proposed by climate moderates.

The role of the science media as the maid of government policy

Climate campaigners and environmental media analysts have become convinced that their crusade against impartial science reporting has been won comprehensively. According to this view, the neo-catastrophist framing of climate change has been generally accepted by most science journalists and is now consistently communicated by most news media outlets.

Yet campaigners worry that the political battle is far from won. Thus, in a recent article published by the British Journalism Review, media researchers Eleni Andreadis and Joe Smith warn that the next contest poses an ever greater challenge to science journalism: "We are entering a period when careful interpretation and communication of the economic, political and social dimensions of climate change will be vital. Failure to tell these aspects of the story could be of even greater significance than the painfully slow arrival at the basics of the science. The media will offer the context within which we decide the If, How and When of transforming energy-hungry lifestyles and economies... The open terrain of these questions presents media decision-makers with a new set of challenges, and the way they handle scepticism will again be central to their performance." (British Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, February 2007).

Andreadis and Smith underscore the role of journalists in framing the climate change debates and assisting governments to enforce drastic policies: "Their principal question should be: Will this help to reduce emissions dramatically, or is it a way of only denting the status quo?". Andreadis and Smith have delineated the science media's political role in no uncertain terms. In a illuminating paragraph, they outline new programme of salvationist campaign journalism: "In dealing with these [climate change] stories the media will also need to marry their critical faculties to a commitment to enable debate about action and change. You can barely fill a taxi with senior mainstream politicians from Western Europe who do not believe action to mitigate and adapt to climate change is necessary. But most are frightened of sticking their necks out. They need to be given the space to think and experiment and lead public debate on action." (British Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2007).

In other words, the role of science and environmental journalists is to provide governments with media support that will enable reluctant decision makers to enforce unpopular policies.

The crisis of science communication

Despite the majority consensus among climate scientists, science organisations and governments, there is a sizeable minority of researchers, economists and political observers who are concerned about the apocalyptic nature of climate hype and the potential risk it poses for political and economic stability. Sceptical researchers have and will continue to publish critical papers that question important parts of even some fundaments of the current climate consensus. Will the science media provide a platform for these critiques? Will they discuss the weight of their evidence and the validity of their arguments? Or will the science media continue to ignore challenges to the status quo?

The absurdity of the science media's handling of climate science is well illuminated in this week's issue of New Scientist. In an editorial, the editors try to square the principle of falsification (which they claim is vital for science to progress) with their belief that any such attempt would undermine political attempts to mitigate climate disaster: "Some scientists are challenging our ideas on climate change, which is vital if we are to progress. But to overturn present thinking will need very strong evidence because, as the IPCC states, confidence in the idea that anthropogenic warming is changing our world has never been higher." (New Scientist, 14 April 2007).

Yet, at the same time, the editor's zealous defence of the apocalyptic climate consensus and their fierce resistance to provide critical researchers a forum for rebuttals or falsification attempts undermines their own integrity.

Let me conclude: The integrity of the science media will depend on whether it will encourage critique and fault-finding analysis by consensus sceptics - or whether they will continue its course towards unbalanced campaign journalism. Given the well-documented reluctance of mainstream science media to accept submissions by critical scientists and the aversion to report on critical papers published elsewhere, I remain unconvinced that science journalism will moderate its blinkered attitudes in the near future.

The diverse groups of critical analysts and researchers will need to develop alternative infrastructures and media outlets if they wish to provide open-minded science writers with judicious evaluations of disaster predictions and a genuinely impartial assessment of evidence. Given the evident biases mainstream science media and environmental journalism has chosen to adopt, there is a growing demand for more balanced and even-handed coverage of climate change science and debates. Scientists and science writers who are concerned about the integrity and openness of the scientific process should turn the current crisis of science communication into an opportunity by setting up more critical, even-handed and reliable science media.


By David Henderson of the Westminster Business School. The text that follows formed the basis for a presentation to a meeting in Brussels on 18 April 2007, organised by Roger Helmer MEP, on the subject of 'Climate Change: Evaluating Appropriate Responses'


I am not a climate scientist. I am an economist, and I became involved with climate change issues, more by accident than design, some four and a half years ago. To start with, I was chiefly involved with some economic and statistical aspects. Over time my interests and concerns have broadened, though I do not at all claim to have become an all-round expert on this vast array of topics.

Increasingly, I have become critical of the way in which issues relating to climate change are viewed and treated by governments across the world. This is my theme today. I believe that governments, and with them the European Commission, need to think again. My concerns are of two kinds. They relate, first, to the basis for official thinking and policies in this area, and second, to the actual content of policies in many countries, including my own, and in the European Union. In my talk today I will focus almost entirely on the first concern, with only a few concluding words about the second. Under both headings, there is much more that could be said.

A tale of three documents

Climate change issues are especially topical right now, because of the publication of two weighty, officially-commissioned and potentially very influential reports. The larger of these two official publications, scheduled to appear in full in the course of this year, is the IPCC's AR4 - in other words, the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. All told, the whole set of documents making up AR4 may well run to 3,000 pages of text, and some 2,500 experts from around the world have been involved in its preparation.

The second report is already in the public domain. It is the Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change. The Review was set in motion by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2005. A text was posted at the end of October last year, and this has now been published in book form, with some extra material added.

The Stern Review is not on the titanic scale of AR4. All the same, it is a weighty document. The main text comprises some 550 pages, and covers a very wide range of issues including both ethical and scientific aspects. Besides these two major officially-sponsored reports, a third contribution should also be noted. In July 2005, the month in which the Stern Review was commissioned, the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs issued a report on precisely the same subject as that of the Review: it too is entitled 'The Economics of Climate Change'. The Select Committee was a notably high-powered body, and its Special Adviser was the leading British environmental economist. Its report was unanimous.

The rest of my remarks fall under three headings:

* First, I comment on the Stern Review and the debate that it has given rise to.

* Second, I place these comments in the wider context of the IPCC's AR4. In doing so, I will raise questions about the role of the Panel and the professional credibility of the IPCC process.

* Third, I offer some brief conclusions and recommendations.

The Stern Review: debate has been joined

The Stern Review paints a dark and dramatic picture of the risks and threats that could arise, over the next two centuries and after, if anthropogenic emissions of (so-called) 'greenhouse gases' are not brought under control in the near future and then progressively and substantially reduced. The Executive Summary begins with the statement that 'The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks and it demands an urgent global response'.

The Review has been widely hailed, across the world, as an authoritative guide to thinking and policy. At its launch in October, our Prime Minister asserted that:: '... what is not in doubt is that the scientific evidence of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is now overwhelming... [and] ... that if the science is right, the consequences for our planet are literally disastrous... what the Stern Review shows is how the economic benefits of strong early action easily outweigh any costs.' Her Majesty's Opposition have reacted in precisely the same way, while the only comments on the Review from the British business world that I have seen have likewise been uncritically favourable.

A widely accepted view in Britain is that 'the science' was settled already, well before the appearance of the Stern Review, and that now, thanks to Stern, 'the economics' is also settled: the basis for immediate and far-reaching action has thus been firmly established. To quote the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a recent speech, 'The Stern report [sic] has given us the economic evidence on which to act'

Unusually for a document prepared under official auspices, the Review incorporates in the text a number of high level outside endorsements. Among these, four come from Nobel prizewinners in economics, one from the Head of the International Energy Agency, and another from the President of the World Bank.

However, there are dissenting voices. I am one of an international group of dissenters, and we are by no means alone. Well before the Review saw the light of day, it seemed to a number of us, including both scientists and economists, that we would find much to query in its arguments and conclusions; and when the text appeared, our expectation was fully borne out.

I conceived the idea of a dual critique: we would combine to prepare twin review articles, one authored by a group of scientists (actually, in the event, two of them are engineers), and the other by a team of economists, each covering its own set of issues but linked together. I managed to sell this project to a journal editor, and the result was published in January. Volume 7 Number 4 of World Economics carries both of our texts.

Our main verdict on the Review, in a word, is that it is a biased, a heavily biased, exercise in speculative alarmism. Other commentators, including some leading environmental economists, have also voiced criticisms of the Review; and in the forthcoming issue of World Economics Sir Nicholas and others associated with the Review will be replying at length to us and other critics. Debate has been well and truly joined.

The shadow of AR4

A surprising feature of the Stern Review is that it seems to pay little attention to the argument and evidence presented in AR4 - even though successive complete draft texts of AR4 were made available to member governments and participants in the IPCC process from about the time that the Review was commissioned. Sharp-eyed journalists in Britain have noted that in some respects the Report is less tilted towards alarming possibilities than the Review. In the light of these apparent differences, an obvious question arises. How far does this latest IPCC report lend support to the Stern Review case for 'an urgent global response'?

Clear answers to that question have recently been given, in the context of the first volume of AR4, the report of the Panel's Working Group I, by high level official persons closely involved in, or connected with, the IPCC process.

* Dr Pachauri, the Chairman of the IPCC: 'I hope this report will shock people [and] governments into taking more serious action'.

* Achim Steiner, the Director-General of the UNEP: 'in the light of the report's findings, it would be "irresponsible" to resist or seek to delay actions on mandatory emissions cuts'.[1].

* Yvo de Boer, Secretary-General of the UNFCCC: 'the findings ... leave no doubt as to the dangers that mankind is facing and must be acted on without delay'.

* Stavros Dimas, the EU's Commissioner for the environment: 'a grim report'.

In interpreting such statements, it is worth bearing in mind that in none of them is the wording directly drawn from the Report. These eminent persons were not actually quoting AR4 text: they were putting their own personal gloss on it, and giving their own views as to its implications for policy, as they were fully entitled to do.

Even aside from such high-level pronouncements, however, it could be argued - I might have made the argument myself, had I not been drawn into these issues - that just how much weight should be placed on the Stern Review is a minor matter. It could be said that even if the Review represents an extreme position - which is of course debatable - and even if economists continue to wage their own inconclusive private wars, the case for immediate and far-reaching global action to contain emissions has been made, independently and authoritatively, in the past and current work of the IPCC. Let me tell you why I am personally not convinced by this very reasonable-sounding argument, because of the doubts that I have come to hold in relation to the IPCC process.

The wider context: the IPCC and the problem of unwarranted trust

Since its creation in 1988, the IPCC has come a long way, and has achieved a great deal. As a result, it has established itself, in the eyes of most if not all its member governments, as their sole authoritative and continuing source of information, evidence, analysis, interpretation and advice on the whole range of issues relating to climate change, including economic issues. It has acquired what is effectively a monopoly position.

While recognising its achievements, I believe that there are good reasons to query the claims to authority and representative status that are made by and on behalf of the Panel, and hence to question the effective monopoly that it now holds. To begin with, the very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself open to doubt. Even if the IPCC process were indisputably and consistently rigorous, objective and professionally watertight, it is imprudent for governments to place virtually exclusive reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties prevail, on a single source of analysis and advice and a single process of inquiry. Viewed in this light, the very notion of setting consensus as an aim appears as questionable if not ill-judged.

In any case, the ideal conditions have not been realised. In my opinion, the IPCC process is far from being a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality. In this connection, there are several related aspects that I would emphasise.

* Its treatment of economic issues has been flawed. Writings that feature in the Third Assessment Report contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources; and the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the UNEP. In this area, the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor adequately representative.[2]

* The Panel's emphasis on peer-reviewed published work, though understandable, takes too much for granted. Standard peer-reviewing processes do not necessarily serve as a guarantee of quality, reliability and objectivity.

* In peer-reviewed work that the IPCC has drawn on, the authors concerned have failed to make due disclosure of data, sources and procedures, and the IPCC has not required them to do so.

* The response of the IPCC milieu to informed criticism has typically been inadequate or dismissive. A conspicuous example was the British government's official response to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee.[3]

* Both the Panel's directing circle and the IPCC milieu more generally have an endemic bias towards alarmist assessments and conclusions. Note that, in speaking of the Panel's 'directing circle' I refer, not to the 2,500 or so experts who have contributed to the preparation of AR4, but to a more restricted, higher-level and more influential set of participants. These are the people who run the show.

Let me bring in here the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs. That report deals with many subjects, but for me its most striking feature, and a welcome one, was the concerns that it expressed about the IPCC. Given the credibility which the IPCC has acquired, it is truly remarkable that a group of eminent, experienced and responsible persons, drawn from a national legislative body and spanning the political spectrum, with the help of an internationally recognised expert adviser, and after taking and weighing evidence, should have published a considered and unanimous report in which the work and role of the Panel are put in question.

How (you may ask) has the Stern Review treated the questions raised about the IPCC process by various writers and by the Select Committee in particular? The answer is surprising. Although the Review is long and wide-ranging, the text makes no mention of any of the criticisms that have been directed towards the IPCC process. Moreover, although the lists of references in the Review extend to around 1,100 papers and studies, that inventory of 1,100 does not include the report from the Select Committee. There are other significant omissions, but this one is the most striking and the least excusable.

To sum up under this heading, I believe that there is a problem of unwarranted trust in the IPCC process and in the role of the Panel itself, a problem which the Stern Review shows no awareness of.

Policy aspects

Finally, a word on policy aspects. Here I offer two conclusions relating to the basis of policy, followed by a brief post-script on the content of policies to limit CO2 emissions. The first of my conclusions is simple. Policymakers, officials and commentators should not join our Prime Minister, Her Majesty's Opposition and leading British business firms and organisations, by endorsing, uncritically and without qualification, the arguments, findings and recommendations of the Stern Review. Contrary to what these and other eminent persons have presumed, the Review does not 'show' what is the case, and the debate on the economics of climate change remains open and unsettled.

My second conclusion, which is more fundamental, is this. In relation to climate change, a clear present need is to build up a sounder basis than now exists for reviewing and assessing the issues. Governments should think again. Rather than pursuing as a matter of urgency ambitious and costly targets for curbing CO2 emissions, they should take prompt steps to ensure that they and their citizens are more fully and more objectively informed and advised. A process of review and inquiry needs to be established, which is more impartial, more representative and more balanced than that which the IPCC and its controlling departments and agencies have built up and shown themselves unwilling to change. I have made specific proposals, so far to no effect, as to the kinds of action that might be taken to secure this result.

Last of all, a word on the choice of policies designed to limit and reduce emissions. Here the main point was well made last month by Martin Wolf in his Financial Times column, where he wrote that: '...any workable policy system must be global; it must create stable incentives; it must be administratively simple; it must include investment in creation and dissemination of new technologies; and, not least, it must allow people to get on with their lives with as much freedom as possible. Uniform prices on emissions - ideally, through taxation - will do most of this job. Almost everything else is unnecessary or counterproductive.'[4]

Current official policies, actual and prospective, have many features that come under the heading of 'unnecessary or counterproductive': Wolf's article refers, appropriately to 'a host of interventionist gimmickry' Not only is there good reason to query the officially approved basis for climate change policies, but many of the specific policy initiatives that have been taken are open to serious question. This is my second reason for believing that governments should think again.

[1] This and the following quotation are than from a report (3 February) in the Financial Times.

[2] Ian Castles and I have jointly put forward a critique of some leading aspects of the IPCC's economic work, while authors involved in that work have contested our criticisms. The debate was reviewed and carried further in a recent article of mine entitled 'SRES, IPCC, and the Treatment of Economic Issues: What Has Emerged?' (Energy and Environment, Volume 16 No. 3 & 4, 2005). It is too early to rate the treatment of economic issues in AR4, but we were critical of the decision to use the SRES - i.e., the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, published in 2000 - as the point of departure for it.

[3] I commented on this document in an article entitled 'Report, Response and Review', published in Energy and Environment, Vol 17, No 1, 2006.

[4] Martin Wolf, 'Why emissions curbs must be simple', Financial Times, 16 March 2007.

Conservative climate skepticism in South Australia

A SOUTH Australian Liberal senator has signalled a hardline policy on tackling climate change by dismissing man-made pollution as a cause of global warming. In an essay urging scepticism on global warming published on the AdelaideNow website, Senator Cory Bernardi argues science is being distorted and manipulated to present a one-sided view to the public. Senator Bernardi is a confidant of Finance Minister Nick Minchin and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and his views are likely to have considerable support at senior levels of the Federal Government. It is understood his essay is intended to signal future government policy aimed at prudent measures on climate change, rather than drastic action.

"I have come to believe we're seeing a distortion of a whole area of science that is being manipulated to present a certain point of view to the global public, that is that the actions of man are the cause of climate change," he writes. ". . . I have examined both sides of this debate and, when the alarmist statements are discounted, the scientific evidence that remains does not support the scenario that is being presented to us. The facts do not fit the theory."

His views are a direct contradiction of a wide body of scientific research, most notably the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's "very high confidence" that human activities have contributed to global warming. Australia Institute executive director Clive Hamilton, writing in The Advertiser Review liftout, argues the Government's greenhouse policy has been determined for a decade by "a cabal of powerful fossil-fuel lobbyists" whose commercial interests would be harmed by cuts in carbon emissions. But Senator Bernardi says the existence of climate change itself is not contested - arguing Earth's climate "has continually evolved and changed". He says it is the extent of man's contribution that is in doubt.

"The more you read into this situation, the more the claims that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for our warming climate do not add up," he says. "However, to deny man's contribution is to risk the wrath of those looking for a set of circumstances to suit their own agendas. "This is of great significance, since governments of the world are facing intense political pressure to act immediately to reduce human carbon emissions."

Prime Minister John Howard has declared himself a "climate change realist" and is expected to introduce a national emissions trading scheme after receiving a report on the issue by the end of next month.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd in Washington yesterday urged the U.S. to ratify the Kyoto protocol, saying climate change was the great moral, environmental and economic challenge facing the world. "On this question, our respective national positions are compromised by our refusal so far to ratify the Kyoto protocol," Mr Rudd said.

Senator Bernardi challenges scientific consensus on man-made carbon emissions causing global warming, saying "there is equally enough evidence to the contrary" and even "scientists on the IPCC concede there is room for doubt". He argues that "populist sentiment" is being exploited politically, particularly "by those that have strong anti-Western and anti-industrialisation agendas". "This populist pressure to immediately reduce carbon emissions, based on increasingly disputed extreme scenarios and without consideration of the true cost to our prosperity should really make us question the wisdom of changes such as those proposed by federal and state Labor," Senator Bernardi says. Labor proposes cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050 and introducing a national emissions trading scheme by the end of 2010. "As of yet, Labor has neglected to provide any details as to how they will achieve this emissions cut . . . although one thing we know for sure is that nuclear energy is ruled out," Senator Bernardi says.

The Federal Government is urging consideration of nuclear energy as a low-emission alternative for electricity generation. Dr Hamilton argues "there is compelling evidence" that the Government has both quarantined Australia from global efforts to tackle climate change and "actively set out to sabotage the Kyoto protocol".



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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