I have asked my friend Dr. Vincent Gray from New Zealand, who has served as an expert reviewer for all five of the reports issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to comment on the latest Summary for Policymakers (AR5) report. Dr. Gray holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge University and is the author of a book The Greenhouse Delusion. [Note: Dr. Gray is also a member of the CFACT Board of Academic and Scientific Advisors.]
Vincent, as a climate scientist and long-standing IPCC expert reviewer, what is your opinion regarding the science offered behind the “greenhouse delusion” in this latest report?
Larry, they have found that the public will believe almost anything that is represented as being agreed by “scientists,” provided that you have enough of them and they are backed up by the requisite number of celebrities and public figures.
Unfortunately for their message, there is no evidence that human-emitted greenhouse gases have a harmful influence on the climate. So it becomes necessary to use spin, distortion, deception, and even fabrication to cover up this absence of evidence with a collective assertion of belief in their cause to an increased level of certainty. In the end they must rely merely upon collective opinions within their selected ranks, of which they once again claim high levels of certainty. However, they run into the problem of imposing such severe discipline on so many people, most whom have been trained to think independently.
So how do they attempt to impose discipline like this?
All the reports have to have a “Summary for Policymakers,” which is really a Summary BY Policymakers because it is agreed to line-by-line by the anonymous international government representatives who control the IPCC. The results are then dictated to politically selected “Drafting Authors.” In the end, they can only hope that their Summary will agree with the main body of the report.
Have they succeeded in accomplishing such agreements in previous reports?
Not always. It changes from report to report.
In their first report, in 1990, they admitted that the “warming” that they thought they had identified could just as easily be explained by “natural variability.” Then in their second 1995 report, similar opinions were expressed several times, so they got one of their reliable scientists to change the final draft in order to eliminate such lack of preordained messaging discipline.
Despite this, the same persistent opinion that climate changes can be explained by natural variability appeared again in the first chapter of the third report. That time all they could manage to do was to replace the whole chapter in the next report with a plug for the IPCC.
But they didn’t quit! In the fourth report they imposed severe discipline on the writers, and it really paid off. They concluded that human carbon dioxide emissions were the cause of a global warming threat, and were rewarded, along with Al Gore, with a Nobel Prize for their pains.
And what about the last AR5 report? Is their tactic still successful?
Well Larry, it seems they have run into some Big Trouble.
They have been going on long enough for it to become obvious that their models do not work. For example, their doctored “global temperature record” has shown no increase for 17 years in spite of the usual increase in carbon dioxide. They have tried to find desperate measures to cover this up by claims that it did not happen.
Presently, for the second time, they have failed to endorse the final report which is merely “accepted.” They have, however, approved the Summary for Policymakers, and now they have a similar unhappy task they had with the second report. They must somehow adjust their final draft to agree with what they have imposed on their Drafting Authors.
But this is much more than just a matter of altering a few opinions they disagree with. The pause in their temperature record cannot be changed easily.
So they’re trying to get around this by issuing 134 “corrections” to the final report which are intended to play down the embarrassment of the fact that their models do not work.
How did a “skeptic” like you ever manage to become an expert reviewer for all, or even any, of the IPCC reports? After all, this is hardly an organization that welcomes viewpoints that challenge the global warming doom and gloom orthodoxy.
Larry, I got involved with making comments on the supplement to the first report when I was in China in 1990, and I stuck it out ever since because it is an invaluable insight into the nature of the claims for national and international control of “greenhouse gases” which I have slowly come to realize are completely spurious.
It is true that from the time of the first report, IPCC has made it plain that constructive critics are unwelcome, and as a result, few have participated. I believe I am the only one who has commented on every report. Believe me, it has taken a lot of persistence on my part to be allowed to participate.
It required persistence and very hard, unpaid work. Despite the fact that they didn’t answer my comments, I felt, and still feel, that it was very important to persist. I have regarded it to be my professional and ethical responsibility to attempt to provide constructive inputs in hopes of positively influencing the scientific integrity of the process and conclusions.
What is it about the processes and products that you observe to be most disturbing from a scientific perspective?
The most disturbing aspect of the IPCC process is that it really has little to do with objective science at all. It is much more about political spin aimed at highlighting preconceived attention-grabbing hyperbole for release to the media in Summary for Policymakers reports. Non-scientific government appointees actually control the entire report to make sure it says exactly with the politically controlled message they can all agree with.
It appears that we may again witness the repeat of a scandal that erupted with the IPCC’s second report, where a discrepancy between what the Summary for Policymakers concluded and what the main reports the reviewing scientists had actually approved concluded. The latter had to be “corrected” after the fact to fit the political narrative. Here they are doing the same thing again, but this time it appears that they are doing it officially.
Vincent, as you mentioned earlier, your inputs addressing many of these issues as an expert reviewer have usually been ignored. Will you please comment more about this?
Yes, I submitted 1,898 comments to the fourth report because I thought the chairman might be sympathetic. I found out later that he had been replaced. I have also submitted numerous comments on the first two drafts of this report; 119 comments on the second draft alone. Beginning with the Summary for Policymakers report, I have pointed out many very large problems.
One broad category has to do with an elaborate system they have established to compensate for real evidence that human greenhouse emissions have a predominate influence on climate. This sham is based upon claiming totally arbitrary and subjective “levels of confidence.” In other words, by quantifying a high level of confidence that a particular proposition is true, this is to replace an absence of real supporting evidence.
Then, even when real observed climate developments contradict their previous predictions making it obvious that their simulation models don’t work, they still find it necessary to raise their confidence levels with each subsequent report. It’s really crazy, but they seem to get away with it in the mainstream media.
IPCC expresses its levels of confidence using five qualifiers: very low, low, medium, high, and very high. Then for a given evidence and agreement statement, increasing levels of evidence and degrees of agreement are correlated with increasing confidence.
This latest report is infested with claims that almost everything that serves their alarmist messaging is “very likely,” a term which indicates 95% certainty. I guess they feel a need to leave that last 5% of uncertainty, just in case one day they will have to swallow their words.
So in this case, my comment to IPCC was, “These are merely the opinions of biased ‘experts’. They are not based upon scientific studies”.
However, the IPCC spins the fact that Mother Nature has settled the debate on their failed “expert” predictions, with temperatures flat for at least the past 16 years, the Arctic and Antarctic gaining ice mass, and all the hyperventilating about extreme weather coming to naught, the media continues to swallow their Kool-Aid. Even the Wall Street Journal, which should certainly know better, ran a big headline article titled, “U.N. Affirms Human Role in Global Warming: Major Report Reasserts Link Between Rising Temperatures; Warns of a Tipping Point With Severe Effects.”
How can they claim any credible evidence to support such alarmism?
All of that “evidence” is dependent upon “simulations,” and “projections” from untested models. Neither those simulations or projections, constitute “evidence,” since as demonstrated, they are incapable of successful future prediction.
As I pointed out to the IPCC in my comments:
* “Observations” are not the same as actual scientific measurements. They do make measurements, but they conceal them and package them up into multi-averaged “data” which are slanted to claim support for the cause.
* “Simulations” are mere correlations; they do not prove causation.
The IPCC climate models provide only “projections” and not “predictions”. (The media have failed to notice this distinction.)
The IPCC has also claimed that “many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”. My comment regarding this was, “The periods you quote are ridiculously short, and many of the observations are dubious.”
In addition, the IPCC grossly exploits general public confusion over the whole issue of “global temperatures.” As I commented to them, their claim to have measured “globally averaged” temperatures near the surface is untrue. In order to do so, it would be necessary to distribute thermometers randomly over the entire surface of the earth, including oceans deserts and forests.
And the “global surface temperature anomaly” which they quote is very far from such a scientifically based system, as it consists of multiple averages based on unrepresentative samples taken from non-standardized conditions which have very large uncertainties and biases which greatly exceed the supposed warming, and are never estimated.
Vincent, finally, how do they expect to get around the big elephant in the room…the so-called global temperature “pause”?
Larry, a deceptive feature of the IPCC’s entire report is an attempt to cover it up using a botched- up time series which no longer indicates an upwards temperature trend. They have changed the measurement starting date used in earlier reports, and replaced the “error bands” with much larger ones for their models, based the “projections” of their previous reports. They tend to end several of their plots in the year 2000 when it did not seem so bad, and they like using “decadal” temperatures to cover up their obvious failure to “project” temperatures for the past 17 years.
All of this demonstrates that their models, and the estimates of “uncertainty” that are based upon them, are virtually useless.
Finally, it doesn’t even seem to be worth arguing about different values of “climate sensitivity” to greenhouse gases they project, CO2 in particular, as they are all much less than the uncertainties. And although the models do not estimate “natural variability,” this is invariably invoked only when it is obvious that their models have failed.
Thanks Vincent. As for climate sensitivity, I believe that IPCC can expect to witness increasing natural variability from the public as more and more realists cool to their transparently alarmist political agenda.
A version of this interview was posted in Forbes online on October 14, 2013.