Monday, August 30, 2010

Hans von Storch on IAC's report on IPCC

The Interacademy Council has published its Review of the processes and procedures of  the IPCC (press release)

My first impression is rather positive; while recognizing the quality of the reports, significant improvements in procedure, management and communication are suggested. Issues, I value in particular are the transparency in choosing lead authors, the recognition of deviating views (not crack views), rules in assessing grey material, limited terms for the chairs; the suggestion to have a time lag between the physics and the impacts reports makes very much sense. Also the obligation of IPCC to respond constructively and openly to inquiries from the public, including those concerning possible conflicts of interest, is very welcome.

A remarkable quote is: „IPCC’s mandate is to be policy relevant, not policy prescriptive. However IPCC spokespersons have not always adhered to this mandate. Straying into advocacy can only hurt IPCC’s credibility. Likewise, while IPCC leaders are expected to speak publicly about the assessment reports, they should be careful in this context to avoid personal opinions.”

For a more detailed account, refer to the executive summary in the full report; also Roger Pielke jr.'s overview on his weblog is instructive.

48 comments:

Marcel Severijnen said...

I share positive feelings about the IAC assessment, but to my opinion there is till something missing.

The IAC assessment is a significant step forward in guaranteeing the quality of IPCC processes and products.
Recommendations for improving existing procedures and for new procedures are clear evidence
for failing or missing procedures and failure of obediance to existing procedures.

The assessment however does not make the final step towards closing the quality circle.
The report is filled with remarks about quality, and even the term quality control pops up somewhere.
A lot of remarks call for better management, but I miss the ultimate call for building a real quality management system. The mentioned procedures are part of such a system, and better management should take responsibility for control of these procedures, whether they are related to the scientific process of gathering data, to communication protocols and ways to handle critics and complaints.

Very important part of the system is the creation of an independent quality control mechanism, that checks procedures and behaviour during the process on a continuous scheme. This department should be part of but highly independent of the standing organisation and report to the highest level of the organisation.

Besides this internal quality team, there is need of an external audit team, fully independent of the IPCC. I like to see the IAC assessment as an example of an external audit team checking the IPCC's own procedures and related behaviour of management and cooperators.

There is nothing new about such quality management systems. It is all within normal operation
of many industries, business and institutions. The ISO 9000 series on quality management systems are less known in academics. Perhaps IPCC can learn fom the ISO certified window cleaning business around the corner.

P Gosselin said...

There's the admission the well is poisoned, yet there's also the insistaence that the water is still clean.

Belette said...

> the recognition of deviating views (not crack views)

I think you mean "not crank views", unless you really are referring to people so far out that they might as well be on crack (cocaine).

Meanwhile, I'm curious about the status and reputation of IAC. I've never heard of them before this, nor have I ever heard of any of their other reports.

ingno said...

Marcel #1,

I agree with you. There is a need for a an independent quality control. Such a body would not focus on climate change (no need to have a parallell system doing the same thing) but on IPCC: How open and impartial are they in choosing lead- and co-authors? How is conflicts of interest handled? How is IPCC handling the selection of litterature (white and grey)? Wow do they handle conflicting views? Have they been open with data? And so forth.

Reiner Grundmann said...

The IAC commends the IPCC in the preface to its report as follows:

"In many ways IPCC, with its massive, far-flung, and decentralized network of scientists along with the governments represented on the Panel, represents a significant social innovation."

Subsequently the issue of governmental involvement is not addressed in the report. It is not seen as something worth addressing in the context of credibility and trust. I believe this is a serious shortcoming.

How can one demand "quality control" and the like (Marcel, Ingno) if it is not clear what kind of quality we want to assess? Is it scientific quality? Is it the quality of policy advice?

In the past, scholars (such as Peter M Haas*) have claimed that the IPCC was founded as intergovernmental body because governments wanted to get control over a potentially explosive process. They did not want to be put under pressure from activist scientists and NGOs (as they experienced before, esp. in the mid 1980s).

I think there is much evidence for such a reading and it would have been a good opportunity to affirm a position which reclaims the role of science and scientific institutions. This opportunity was missed.

__________
*Haas, Peter M. 2004. “When Does Power Listen to Truth? A Constructivist Approach to the Policy Process.” Journal of European Public Policy 11(4): 569-92.

Marcel Severijnen said...

Reiner #5,

In quality management systems quality is not about the quality of content – to put it bluntly- but relates to procedures and ways to handle. It’s a management system.
An organisation has to establish its procedures, in which your questions about quality should be answered. The organisation is responsible to define the quality of its services or products in direct contact with its clients. The way to deliver (high quality) products or services is written down in procedures.

For instance, your remark on how to regulate governmental involvement is relevant and should be subject to development of an appropriate procedure, even if that might be difficult to assess. IAC’s recommendations related to how IPCC should operate can be translated into procedures, being the heart of a quality management system. These procedures are not meant to survive for many years, but are subject to regular changes and improvements, according to changes in the outer world. That keeps a quality management system dynamical.

Quality audits are focused on how the organisation meets is own procedures, content is not the auditor’s business. As I said, the assessment of the IAC might be looked at as an external quality audit.

ghost said...

I do not think there is a need for an independent quality control. Who should do it? The "Great Auditor"? I think the most important point is: the IPCC has to follow correctly its own procedures. Most past problems occurred because the rules were not followed completely and correctly. Furthermore, I agree with the IAC report and their recommendation.

I also think a report as huge as the IPCC report will always have errors and mistakes. An organized errata process after publication must be put into place with a special team which reviews error claims. That would also be something like an independent quality control.

I also do not think there were a lot of conflicts of interests among the IPCC personnel. For example, the smear against Pachauri was just disgusting and pretty untrue. Boah...

The connection between governments and scientists is really interesting. Reiner says exact the opposite to the claims of so-called skeptics.

itisi69 said...

"How can one demand "quality control" and the like (Marcel, Ingno) if it is not clear what kind of quality we want to assess? Is it scientific quality? Is it the quality of policy advice?
I believe Richard Tol did an excellent job showing the lack of quality in WG3 on this very blog(!): http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/02/richard-tol-on-wg3-of-ipcc.html
IPCC was founded as, still is and under the same principals will always be a political body to serve the policy makers with scientists prostituting their knowledge in order to give the politicians the authorisation they need for their actions.
IAC is founded in order to restore the public trust, no more no less. The main principles remain the same, politics need scientific authorisation to sell AGW and the common enemy: CO2.

Unfortunately for (climate) scientists and politics, Trust comes on foot and leaves by horse. It will take much more than a committee to regain trust from the public. And at the end politicians will think about their next election as you can see already now.

"In the past, scholars (such as Peter M Haas*) have claimed that the IPCC was founded as intergovernmental body because governments wanted to get control over a potentially explosive process. They did not want to be put under pressure from activist scientists and NGOs (as they experienced before, esp. in the mid 1980s)."
Looking at the input of these kind of organisations, this is exactly what happened in AR4.

"For example, the smear against Pachauri was just disgusting and pretty untrue. Boah..."
Looking at the recommandations from IAC Pachy doesn't exactly get a vote of confidence. In fact, he's a sitting duck already.

sil_beck said...

First of all, these are very constructive recommendations with far-reaching consequences if taken seriously and implemented consequently.
At the same time, the recommendations look like least common denominator solutions between the parties involved into the IAC review process. The search for options that are seen as political feasible, acceptable … enforceable … may explain why even the IAC report is reluctant to really address and think through contested issues.
One excellent example provides the governments’ line-by-line approval of the Summary for Policy Makers. The latter “drew more concerns and suggestions for improvement by respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire than any other part of the IPCC assessment process” (IAC 2010: 25).
The IAC Recommendation is:
“The IPCC should revise its process for the approval of the Summary for Policy Makers so that governments provide written comments prior to the Plenary” (ibid.)
Will the IAC recommendations really contribute to solve the problem and reach the intended goals? The process is intended to result in “language that is understood by policy makers and to increase the chance that governments will “buy-in” to the key conclusions of the assessment” (25).
Does the proposed solution (“speed the approval process and lessen the opportunity for political interference”) try to cure the symptoms or causes? Why remains the approval mechanism opaque? Why are deeper questions such as the paradoxical politicization of assessments not taken into account? Is this really the only available solution and the silver bullet shot? What about a transparent discussion about the well-known trade offs between governmental salience and buy in and the scientific credibility and consistency, discussed for such a long time (see Agrawala 1998)?

Marcel Severijnen said...

Reiner #5 and others,

Quality in quality management systems does not refer to content, but – to put it bluntly – to procedures. Quality management systems are management tools.
I know that it’s confusing to use the same term “quality”. Quality of products or services within the context of quality management systems is defined as the result of an arrangement between client and supplier and does not necessarily include a “high quality”, it’s just the status of the product or service.

The way an organisation reaches the agreed quality of products or services can be written down in procedures. These procedures are at the heart of a quality management system.
Reiner’s remark about how to involve governments in the IPCC processes is relevant and should be developed into an appropriate procedure. Likewise all the recommendations of the IAC should be translated into written procedures, to which every cooperator and the management of IPCC should work. Procedures are subject to continuous improvement, according to changes in the outer world, according to wishes of the clients. The continuous improvement is typical for a quality management system and keeps it dynamical.

Auditing is the ultimate instrument to check whether management and cooperators meet their own procedures. Internal and external audits must be build into the quality management system.
As I said before, to me the IAC assessment might be seen as perfect example of an external quality audit. And again, I can not imagine why such an organisation like IPCC is able to work out procedures and leave it by that, hoping that everybody follows the own rules. They should know better by now.

ghost said...

@Marcel

ah, okay, your last post clarified a lot to me. I misunderstood before. Thank you very much. I agree now that could be a real improvement.

Why did they believe that? Because scientists are good! ;) And it was not that bad as some people say, but there is lot room for improvement.

I read some articles which even praised the connection between politics and science in the IPCC process. For me personally: the contribution and control by governments like the Bush administration made the report even more credible. Who would think the Bush Jr administration would make an alarmist report. Not pure science, but it is in some way a good cooperation.

Georg Hoffmann said...

Hans I agree, the citation is remarkable
"Likewise, while IPCC leaders are expected to speak publicly about the assessment reports, they should be careful in this context to avoid personal opinions."

"To be careful" is allways a good thing. However if this recommandation means that people involved in the IPCC report should refrain from expressing their political opinions I think that would be clearly a violation of their constitutional rights.

You might compare this case (expressing your opinion on the importance/unimportance of cutting CO2 emissions and stuff) with the case of Thilo Sarrazin.
Even him cannt be stopped from expressing his very disputed views while beeing on the board of management of the Bundesbank (which is in fact an institution a little more important than the IPCC).

See here for english speakers
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,714643,00.html
and here on the legal aspects
http://www.lto.de/de/html/nachrichten/1332/Der-Fall-Sarrazin-im-Arbeitsrecht-Entlassung-als-Bundesbank-Vorstand/

I am pretty sure if a phrase like "You should refrain from expressing your political views on climate change" would be part of an agreement any IPCC contributor or employee has to sign it were simply illegal.

And finally why has everyone the right to express his/her views on climate change (which is a very good thing and everone's right) but not the people working for the IPCC. I am optimistiic that this doesnt hamper the democratic process (however doesnt improve it neither).

ghost said...

@Georg

I think one can express your personal views, but only with disclaimer: that are your personal views, it has nothing to do with the IPCC, and you will not speak as IPCC member. For example, Sarrazin misused the term "SPD". He is introduced as Sarrazin, SPD, not as Thilo. I interpreted the IAC in this way.
So never mix personal opinions with IPCC results. But, critics must accept this, too.

Anonymous said...

Just one link: ;-)

http://www.zeozwei.de/allgemein/von-storch-hebt-ab_05-07-2010_390

"Skeptischer Klimaforscher wird Autor des Weltklimarates

Von Storch hebt ab"

and this one:

http://www.wissenslogs.de/wblogs/blog/klimalounge/klimadaten/2010-09-01/das-jahrzehnt-der-wetterextreme

"Dieser Beitrag erscheint in gedruckter Form in der Zeitschrift zeo2, dem Magazin für Umwelt, Politik und Neue Wirtschaft. Ab 26. September am Bahnhofskiosk!"

Also bitte nicht "abheben". ;-)

Yeph

Anonymous said...

@ghost #6

You wrote:

"For example, the smear against Pachauri was just disgusting and pretty untrue. Boah..."

If this is true
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/79444/lomborg-hitler/jonathan-h-adler

"If you were to accept Lomborg’s way of thinking, then maybe what Hitler did was the right thing."

or this

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health/pachauri-calls-indian-govt-report-on-melting-himalayan-glaciers-as-voodoo-science_100301232.html

"Pachauri calls Indian govt. report on melting Himalayan glaciers as “voodoo science”"

what should he do now?

Yeph

Anonymous said...

This should be the reaction of the leading climate scientists to this kind of report:

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,714825,00.html

"Inzwischen steht alles, was Hauser und die Forscher aus seinem Labor publiziert haben, unter Generalverdacht. "Für die Fachgemeinde ist das fürchterlich", sagt Primatologin Fischer und fragt sich: "Wie soll ich meinen Studenten jetzt erklären, dass sie rechtschaffen bleiben sollen?""

**How shall I tell my students, that they should stay righteous?**

This is obviously not the question that most climate scientists ask. "The truth" generally means the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Do climate scientits teach their students this:


"... this recommandation means that people involved in the IPCC report should refrain from expressing their political opinions I think that would be clearly a violation of their constitutional rights." (G. Hoffmann
#11)

Imho everybody should be able to understand the difference between a science intitute and a non-governmental environmental organization, between science and politics.

Yeph

Richard Tol said...

@Georg, Ghost
This is pretty standard fare for anyone in a any sort of responsible position. Ministers, civil servants, CEOs, bishops, general, directors of NGOs when speaking in public in their official capacity give their organisation's perspective, rather than their personal view. Methinks the same can be expected from the chairperson of an UN body.

Note that this does not curtail their rights in any way. It's voluntary restraint -- it is what grown-ups do all the time.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Richard
Of course grown-ups such as UN Oficials who are paid for what they are doing ..... perhaps.

Me (just in case I would be asked to participate in the process as an author) definitely not. And as I explained I am pretty sure it would be illegal to enforce it.

And I also think this is what grown-ups actually di: express their opinion whenever they want to since (as an author) one would be in no way representative of an organisation abnd be obliged to follow whatever rules besides of the rules of the IPCC review process.

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
I am an convening lead author of IPCC AR5. When a journalist approaches me with questions about that chapter, I will answer those questions to the best of my ability. As I represent a group of authors, I will answer those questions from the group perspective. If the majority of the group has a different perspective than I do, I will present the majority view, because anything else would be abuse of power. I will refrain from commenting on other chapters, because that is not my job. I will refrain from giving policy advice, because the IPCC cannot do that.

I voluntarily accepted those constraints on my behaviour.

I am also a research professor at the ESRI. When a journalist approaches me with questions about our research, I will answer those to the best of my ability. I will freely give policy advice, because that is what we are paid to do. I will base that advice on our research, being careful to leave my personal preferences out of it.

I voluntarily accepted those constraints.

No journalist has ever called me as a private person. If they would, I would tell that this and that minister is a f***ing idiot.

I would not use such language when my daughter is present. Again, that constraint is voluntary.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Richard
However (as it is) the journalist will ask you 3 questions about the respective chapter (if you are very lucky) and 20 about the rest of the world, the CO2 and the faith of people dying in Pakistan. Of course it is perfectly allowed not to answer all these questions, but probably you will. Whatever you answer these are your own political opinions on subjects that have little or nothing to do with your chapter. This is true independent if you say "There is no problem with sea level. Rahmstorf is an idiot"(actually you said that already, so better you say something new) or "sea level will erase London in a couple of decades and that is the end of the world as we know it. We must change our economy".
I am against any IPCC rule that stops you saying this in whatever way and I think (from what I understand of the legal discussion that concerns Sarrazin, see link above) that it is probably illegal to enforce you to express your opinion on whatever you want.

sil_beck said...

Richard,
I personally support your position. But, what are you standing for and how representative is your position?
Your position is obviously not shared by all IPCC participants. The Cassandras and “alarmists”, however, will tell their kids that it is their “ethical” or “civic” “duty" to warn about the risks of climate change and to call for immediate action.
It seems to me that inside the IPCC, there is not the one and only, universal shared model but there is a “clash of cultures” between disciplines, working groups, personal and cultural styles and generations when it is comes to the self-understanding and the political role of the panel. As Reiner wrote, the opportunity to redefine/ to readapt the role of science advice may be missed. Even if this question would come up at the next IPCC plenary session at Busan and it would be negotiated, what would be the outcome?

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
No IPCC author should ever say "We must change our economy" because the IPCC is explicitly forbidden from drawing such a conclusion.

IPCC authors are of course free to express that sentiment in any other context, but they should make it clear to their audience that this is no conclusion of the IPCC.

In my experience, journalists are well capable of distinguishing between the various roles played by the same person.

Richard Tol said...

@sil_beck
Actually, my position is the official position of the IPCC. A great number of people in the IPCC subscribe to this. Unfortunately, current and past IPCC leaders have a different opinion.

Stan said...

Richard,

Your comment (18) was fantastic. Someone previous in the thread described the use of restraint as "grown up" behavior. You nailed it.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Richard
This is an even for the internet rather pointless discussion

"No IPCC author should ever say "We must change our economy" because the IPCC is explicitly forbidden from drawing such a conclusion."

Of course he/she can. It's his/her opinion. And if for example you say: "we shouldnt change the economy" than it's your opinion and perfectly fine.
The only thing you cannt do is claiming that this is the conclusion of the IPCC. That's it.

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
Please consider agency and forum.

In my capacity as an IPCC author, I cannot say "we must change our economy". In my capacity as an ESRI researcher, I should say "we must change our economy".

To a forum of adults, I can say "he is an a****le". To a forum of children, I can say "he is a boldy".

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Richard
In your capacity as an IPCC author you CAN say "We have to change the economy" but you have to clarify that this is not the conclusion of the IPCC.
The differences you were mentioning are just differences of style.
Sarazin has not spoken AS a representant of the Bundesbank but he IS all the time. Even in this case his right to express his opinion obviously has a priority (check the constitution).
When you tell the medias that your personal conclusion is "We have to change the economy" (or the contrary) then your personal opinion will gain imprortance since you are part of the IPCC process. The media and finally everyone understands that within the spectrum of opinions of IPCC authors there is at least one who like to change the economy even if this is not the mayority.
The post-modern split of personality you are suggesting is a bit artificial and nobody will understand this.

Hans von Storch said...

Georg, I certainly respect your opinion, but why not being a bit modest? The statement "nobody will understand this" is flatly wrong - I understand it, I endorse it. So maybe "hardy anybody" may be right, but my perception is that "most understand it", and even: "expect it".
Hans

Werner Krauss said...

@Richard, Georg, Hans et al.

I think, 'grown-up' nails it indeed. Grown-up is a nice place-holder for 'I have no idea where to draw the line, but I am grown-up and you are not'. Some people get away with incredible transgressions, others don't and get kicked off. Instead of 'grown-up' you could say 'authenticity' or 'authority'.
I guess that those who truly identify with their position / institution and take responsibility (another one of those terms...) just KNOW what they are allowed to say. Mostly they identify with their position and act as 'grown-ups' - they protect their 'family', that is, institution. But to do so, paradoxically, maybe you sometimes have to transgress the golden Richard rules.
In the case of Pachauri, there are so many cultural elements involved - of course, the gaze of orientalism easily shapes the Western perception, and for sure to be grown up might be defined differently in India - (just to bring in some cultural relativism. The same is true for race, gender or class differences). There is no way out - fuzziness is the very nature of the line between what you are allowed to do and not. This makes politics interesting and unpredictable.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Hans
Ok, let's rephrase it.

1) One cannot stop people expressing their opinion, at least in our political system. Whatever rules a future IPCC wants to implement one shouldnt forget this simple constitutional law. (wasnt there something about "undemocratic activities" of eco-warriors?)

2) One and the same person can much more logically say: I am working for the IPCC and these are the conclusions of the IPCC. My opinion is the following.
Instead of "as an IPCC author I think this, as a researcher I think this, as a tax payer I think this and so on". Better to keep the postmodern personalities a bit together and frankly I think this is more understandable for everyone.

eduardo said...

@29 Georg,

I see a strong parallelism to the following hypothetical situation.
Let us imagine that Bern Bernanke or Claude Trichet would say in public: 'I am not talking now like the head of the central bank, I am now just a private person, but I think that bank A is implementing a very bad investment policy and will have problems in the next months; by contrasts company B has a very good business model and I have just bought 1 mil $ in shares of this company.'

No one could refrain them from expressing their personal opinions (?), but this will clearly not be an acceptable behavior.

In some sense IPCC authors are like the central bankers of climate. They asses as arbiters the available research. They dont take decision, but their work is used by decision makers.

There is a very old, much quoted, sentence from Roman times (sorry I dont know exactly by whom) that asserts that Caesar's wife not only has to be honest, she also has to be above suspicion. In this case ' above suspicion of being biased'

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Edu

The wife of Caesar? Kleopatra? But she did these nasty things with snakes and stuff.

On an even more serious level. Trichet (which is by the way a very unfortunate name for a banker: http://dict.leo.org/frde?lp=frde&lang=de&searchLoc=0&cmpType=relaxed&sectHdr=on&spellToler=&search=tricher ) is paid to be the honorable person he is and not to express his opinion in banking things (obviously there will be a discussion shortly if a banker has a right to express his "thoughts" about races and intelligence).

Now, until now the IPCC consists of some secretaries, one spokesman and a president (I am even not sure if Pachauri was actually paid? http://solveclimate.com/blog/20100826/ipcc-head-pachauris-financial-dealings-spotless-review-concludes). The rest are voluntary scientist. It is at least for me completely out of question that I stop expressing my personal views on climate change politics just because I contributed to some review lines on paleo climate. So if you seriously think that such absolute "federal-bank-style" silence and style has to be imposed on everyone contributing to the IPCC process one has to re-organize fundamentally the IPCC and give everyone a Trichet-like salary paying him or her to shut up for X-years on anything climate policy related. And this finally makes the discussion more rational and unbiased? I have my doubts.

eduardo said...

@31
I think some of the problems that we have seen in the past months - for instance, crisis management by Pachauri do indicate this job cannot be done 'during the weekends'. The UN runs many other agencies on many areas: agriculture, refugees, peace keeping, nuclear safety, even Meteorology (the WMO). I dont see why all those agencies are run professionally by paid staff, but climate should be run by volunteers in their free time. Is climate less important ?

For instance, there are rumors that the Spanish government will not pay for the travel of their IPCC lead authors, and so these authors, if they want to attend the IPCC meetings, would have to use project money. Some will simply not go.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Edu
Completely agree.

But we are living in an open society: Even professionals have a right of an opinion and the society has a right to listen to these opinions. But whatever these professionals will say: these are just opinions and grown-ups know that.

"For instance, there are rumors that the Spanish government will not pay for the travel of their IPCC lead authors, and so these authors, if they want to attend the IPCC meetings, would have to use project money. "

Yep. It seems that even the same persons that suggested the lead authors refuse to pay.

ghost said...

@Yeph

thou shalt not compare (to Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lysenko,..)... mostly the death of all (internet) discussions. Pachauri violated the rule. Not good. He also did not handle the Himalaya issue very well, to be nice. That is a valid and an important critic. I think it was really bad.

However, what I meant are stories like that: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/aug/26/rajendra-pachauri-financial-relationships

Not only the IPCC made errors, but also many journalists made serious mistakes (or "mistakes"). I hope (science) journalists will do a similar investigation like the IAC among themselves.

Anyway, back to IPCC.

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
There is nothing "post-normal" about "split personality". Primates do agency. Methinks IPCC authors and journalists are well able to handle this.

@Werner
See above. Small children cannot do agency, but I guess Homo Sapiens above age 4-5 have no problem with it.

Georg Hoffmann said...

I dont know what post-normal in this context is. I read the word first time here. I said post-modern split of personality and can give you references for that if needed.

"Methinks IPCC authors and journalists are well able to handle this."

Surprisingly. But scientists openly expressing just their opinions cannt be handled by the public for some unknown reasons. It's a kind of institutionalized hypocrisy that should save the world.

Anonymous said...

Imho many different things and points of view are discussed here:

1) Must a scientist tell the truth or is he allowed to exaggerate for a good cause?

2) Must a scientist always be a scientist an can he never be a simple citizen who is allowed to express his political opinion?

3) Is the president of the IPCC allowed to use his high position to suppress other peoples opinions and to influence an open discussion?

4) Is any scientist allowed to missuse his position as an expert to influence the public opinion by the means of exaggerations, insults and defamations?

5) Is a scientist who is convinced that our planet is in danger required to do anything to prevent things to happen?

To point 1) I think that science is about truth and that any exaggeration or hiding of facts is a ("scientific") delict.

To point 2) I think it is clear that a scientist can express his free opinions and thoughts in his private life. This is not the crucial point in the climate and IPCC debate.

Imho points 3) and 4) are the crucial points and imho Pachaury as well as many climate scientists have missused their position and have also violated point 1).

To point 5) I don't really know what to think about, but I am convinced that some climate scientists think that they are exactly in this situation (point 5) and that true, unbiased science is not that important.

Reiner Grundmann said...

The above discussion highlights one aspect from the IAC review, namely to recommend an executive committee:

"Many organizations in the public and private sector have addressed the need for ongoing
decision making by establishing an Executive Committee to act on their behalf. Similarly, the
IPCC should establish an Executive Committee elected by and reporting to the Panel. An IPCC
Executive Committee would act on issues—such as approving minor corrections to published
reports, approving modest alterations in the scope of an ongoing assessment, ensuring effective
communication—and any other task specifically delegated by the Panel. To respond quickly, the
Executive Committee should be relatively small with ideally no more than 12 members. Its
membership would include selected IPCC leaders as well as individuals from academia,
nongovernmental organizations, and/or the private sector who have relevant experience and who
are not connected with the IPCC or even climate science. Their participation would improve the
credibility and independence of the Executive Committee."

This would go some way to avoid dilemmas of individual IPCC scientists as regards their desire for advocacy.

It would provide the IPCC with an official voice between the publication of reports. Until now, we have seen individuals speaking out (benefitting from their enhanced status as IPCC members) and the media jumping at this 'new research'.

I think 12 people still is a large committee. If we take central banks as example, it is clear that ultimately it will be a much smaller committee plus one figurehead for the public. This person should be like Caesar's wife, 'above suspicion'.

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
I meant post-modern.

Experts are asked for their expertise, not for their opinion.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Richard
"Experts are asked for their expertise, not for their opinion."

Obviously not. Otherwise why discussing here?

Richard Tol said...

@Georg
Experts are asked for their expertise, but some offer their opinion. They should not.

isaacschumann said...

eduardo #32

second

IMO at least the lead authors should be a full time paid position. I agree with Pachauri that volunteers are great for the ipcc and should remain the backbone, but more full time people are needed, especially his position.

ingno said...

The problem with Pachauri as spokesman for the IPCC, (and for the 2500 scientists involved, and indeed for ALL climate scientists of the world) is similar to the problem of having chairmen and central commities of academic societies speaking out about political matters on behalf all their members.

The member that does not agree with the chairman has to make a choice: Either he/she must decide to leave the organisation, or stay and take a fight for a change; publicly proclaim his/her dissent and lobby for a change of policy and lobby for a change of leadership. Otherwise, if there is no public protests, the chairman is right: he speaks for everybody involved.

Ingemar Nordin

Richard Tol said...

@Ingemar
and therefore a wise chair does not say anything controversial -- and particularly not on subjects that are outside the scope of the organisation

Günter Heß said...

@ingno
you describe poor behaviour
and provide lame excuses for people who claim to save the planet

Hans von Storch said...

Today there was a program by Michael Wiedemann about the IAC report on ZDF - with interviews with Ottmar Edenhofer and myself, see - zdf Mediathek.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Hans-
Werner just opened a new thread about this very interesting programme. I suggest comments should be under the new thread