The invisible battle

For a subject which is supposedly critical to the future of not only humanity, but the Earth itself, the media silence on the latest IPCC blunder is, to say the least, surprising.

Not that misinformation based upon hype rather than science is anything new from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but one might think that with enough black eyes from basing its scientific credibility on non-scientific, non-reviewed papers written by non-scientists for “green” pressure groups in the past, and being censured for the practice in the past, that they would have learned their lesson.

Sadly, it appears not. Of course, all the hype they based upon this non-science was immediately picked up by the media and blasted out of every media outlet as the top story, for days on end.

The latest news is that about a month ago, the IPCC released a press statement claiming that it had been shown that 80% of the world’s energy could be obtained from renewable sources. The report on which this press release was based was not available at the time. A month later, with no fanfare at all, the report appeared.

Steve McIntyre
Steve McIntyre

Various people had been intrigued, and a little skeptical about how such a high proportion of energy could be derived from renewable resources, including Steve McIntyre of destroying the hockey-stick fame.

After digging through the report, Steve discovered that the 80% number quoted actually wasn’t 80% at all, but 77%. A small thing in itself, but exaggerated claims have no place in science.

But that wasn’t the worst part. A bit more digging, and it appears that … well, I will quote Steve’s own words:

Here’s what happened. The 80% by 2050 figure was based on a scenario, so Chapter 10 of the full report reveals, called ER-2010, which does indeed project renewables supplying 77% of the globe’s primary energy by 2050. The lead author of the ER-2010 scenario, however, is a Sven Teske, who should have been identified (but is not) as a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace International. Even worse, Teske is a lead author of the IPCC report also – in effect meaning that this campaigner for Greenpeace was not only embedded in the IPCC itself, but was in effect allowed to review and promote his own campaigning work under the cover of the authoritative and trustworthy IPCC. A more scandalous conflict of interest can scarcely be imagined.

The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work. There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder.

So, we have, yet again, Greenpeace writing a report based upon little more than speculation, having the author of the document set up as lead author for the IPCC report, review his own work, and include it as scientific fact in the report.

Given the past problems for the IPCC where, based upon similar pieces of imaginative literature, they claimed that 50% of Holland would flood, 50% of the crops in Africa would fail, 40% of the Amazon rain forest would die because of drought, and, of course, the famous claim that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2030, it would be reasonable to assume that they would be incredibly careful to avoid such stupid issues again.

Apparently not.

So what happens when the claim is questioned, and the IPCC asked to explain how and why this happened? The usual. The AGW crowd come out in force and attack the people asking the questions. They have done this before when one of their own, Professor Judith Curry asked some awkward questions about some of the “science” behind AGW. The non-answers accompanied by personal attacks has turned her from an AGW proponent to someone who is willing to believe, but needs convincing evidence, and hasn’t seen any yet.

Mark Lynas
Mark Lynas

The same is happening this time, with Mark Lynas, who was a strong advocate of AGW and author of a book on the subject, beginning to question some of the foundation of his beliefs:

Well. You can imagine the furore this would cause at Greenpeace. The IPCC would be discredited forever as an independent voice. There would be pious banner-drops by Greenpeace activists abseiling down Exxon HQ and harshly criticising the terrible stranglehold that fossil fuel interests had achieved over supposedly independent science. Campaigners everywhere would be up in arms. Greenpeace would feel doubly justified in taking direct action against new oil wells being opened up in the Arctic, and its activists could demonstrate new feats of gallantry and bravery as they took on the might of the world’s oil industry with some ropes and a rubber dinghy somewhere near Greenland.

How is the Exxon scenario different from what has just happened with the IPCC’s renewables report? And why – when confronted with this egregious conflict of interest and abuse of scientific independence – has the response of the world’s green campaigners been to circle the wagons and cry foul against the whistle-blowers themselves? That this was spotted at all is a tribute to the eagle eyes of Steve McIntyre. Yet I am told that he is a ‘denier’, that all his deeds are evil, and that I have been naively led astray by him. Well, if the ‘deniers’ are the only ones standing up for the integrity of the scientific process, and the independence of the IPCC, then I too am a ‘denier’. Indeed, McIntyre and I have formed an unlikely double-act, posing a series of questions – together with the New York Times’s Andy Revkin – to the IPCC report’s lead author Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, to which he has yet to respond.

If there is any justice in the world (which may be a vain hope), the IPCC may have just put the final nail in its own coffin, and governments can turn from spending vast sums on “alternative energy”, which just doesn’t work, and plans to levy crippling “carbon taxes” to facing the prospect of cold and starvation as the sun begins one of its periodic quiet periods.