The IPCC AR5 Leak: why do the IPCC object?

There has been considerable excitement over the AR5 leak (for those not so involved in the climate change debate, this the latest major report from the IPCC). The leak was made by Alex Rawls, an expert reviewer on the IPCC, and he says:

I believe that the leaking of this draft is entirely legal, that the taxpayer funded report report is properly in the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and that making it available to the public is in any case protected by established legal and ethical standards […]

With regards to whether the leaking is a good or bad thing, in an ethical sense, Donna Laframboise covers the question extremely well, by quoting Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, on his views and statements about transparency. This is just one of several quotes provided by Donna:

“So you can’t think of a more transparent process…than what we have in the IPCC. I would only put that forward as valid reasons to accept the science and the scientific assessments that are carried out.” – newspaper interview, June 2007

In light of the many quotes that emphasise transparency, the publication of an interim draft should not raise any problems, as it shows an element of the process in developing the final report. This seems to be the meaning of transparency; showing the stages and processes for how conclusions were developed in the IPCC reports. However, the IPCC is unhappy about the leak, and the Guardian reports:

The IPCC, which confirmed the draft is genuine, said in a statement: “The IPCC regrets this unauthorized posting which interferes with the process of assessment and review. We will continue not to comment on the contents of draft reports, as they are works in progress.”

As such, it seems that the idea of transparency is more rhetoric than reality. Indeed, one would have thought that, if the IPCC really did value transparency, they would be celebrating the interest that the leak has generated; there is considerable interest in their process. Furthermore, it is not entirely clear how leaking the report might interfere in the review process. Is it that the leaked report will make reviewers alter the nature of their reviews? Surely a review should be an objective assessment of the nature of the science being presented, and should therefore be ‘immune’ from any commentary that might be made on the basis of the leak.

There are some concerns regarding the leak. The first is that Alex Rawls also discussed that the leaked report includes admission of enhanced solar forcing. This part of the story has been taken up by several people, such as James Delingpole in the Telegraph. I will leave the analysis of the science to others, but the gist of the story is that sections of the report admit that solar forcing has a greater impact on the climate than previously accepted. However, there are indications that the conclusions being drawn do not reflect the actual substance of the report overall. For example, at the Reference Frame blog, the conclusion is that the only real change is that there are now references to the work of Svensmark et al., which offers a consideration of mechanisms for solar forcing. The post concludes:

The situation, as I see it, is that the IPCC writing process is still controlled purely by the staunch, stubborn alarmists. They may have just split into several camps that differ in the opinion whether it should be legal to pronounce the name of Henrik Svensmark, albeit with a negative sentence required immediately afterwords, or whether his name should remain a blasphemy.

The question of what the report really proposes will no doubt be clarified over time as the science focused blogs start to digest the detail of the report. In the meantime, I would urge caution, and not jumping to hasty pronouncements over the content of the report. Indeed, Anthony Watts is pointing at a ‘bombshell’ to be found in the following Figure 1.4 from the AR5 draft, and will follow up with an essay in the near future:


For the moment, I will leave the figure undiscussed, but it will be interesting to see Anthony’s essay, once he has had the time to examine the details and context surrounding the figure. The reason why I give this example is that, if it is indeed a ‘bombshell’, it may indicate why the IPCC would not seek the transparency that it claims; the early drafts of the reports may include material that can serve to raise doubts about the science that is finally used in the final report.  In the end, the final report is selective in the material that is presented, and how the material is presented. This means that some material will be excluded, and also that the emphasis in the final report will also be determined by the review process.

Real transparency would see this process of selection, rejection, and choice of emphasis take place in the public domain. For example, the ‘bombshell’ figure above might have finally been excluded from the report (we have no way of knowing what would have happened without the leak, of course), and transparency would demand that there is an explanation for its exclusion, if it is indeed a bombshell (which I suspect it is). After all, this would be part of the overall science, and any treatment of the science is a matter of the public interest.

In particular, as Alec Rawls points out, the IPCC reports are used as a basis for policy decisions, and those policy decisions can have far reaching impacts. The real question surrounding the leak, therefore, is why the IPCC might object, and why it does not conduct the entire report drafting process in the clear light of day? There should, in other words, be no need for leaks, as a genuinely transparent process would make leaks irrelevant.

Update: I see that the Climate Conversation Group has picked up on the leak, but nothing so far in the New Zealand press (for the media I checked).

Update 2: The full IPCC statement on the leak can be found here. I think it simply reinforces the points I am making here.

35 responses to “The IPCC AR5 Leak: why do the IPCC object?

  1. The figure speaks for itself really.

    it will be interesting to see whether this makes it into the final cut.

    • I agree Andy, but I would like to know what the context is, and that is the job of the bloggers focused on the science i.e how it was being used in the overall picture. I am a bit concerned that there was some ‘gun jumping’ on the solar forcing question, as you may have gathered. If this was the case, it will serve as a distraction from other substantive issues.

      • I agree on the solar forcing issue. Svensmarks’ theories are interesting but I wouldn’t like to jump to any conclusions

        My key issues with the graph are:
        (1) How can scientists claim that the IPCC projections are “about right”?
        (2) How can some scientists claim that we are in for 4-6 degrees of warming by the end of the century?

        • Yes, and people are now jumping on the solar forcing story, and using it to discredit the skeptic point of view. This from New Scientist:

          Climate scientists are lining up to debunk this claim, and to explain that the bloggers have simply got it wrong. “They’re misunderstanding, either deliberately or otherwise, what that sentence is meant to say,” says solar expert Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London.

          Haigh says that if Rawls had read a bit further, he would have realised that the report goes on to largely dismiss the evidence that cosmic rays have a significant effect. “They conclude there’s very little evidence that it has any effect,” she says.

          In fact, the report summary reaffirms that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are the main reason for rising temperatures. It goes on to detail the many harmful effects, from more frequent heatwaves to rising sea levels.

          • My understanding is that Svensmark’s claims are that cosmic rays affect cloud formation. Clouds affect surface warming.

            In fact, the report summary reaffirms that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are the main reason for rising temperatures

            Which as you can see from the graph, has been negligible from around the turn of the century. Hence we should focus on the graph of models vs actuals, and what the scientists have said about these.

          • Agreed again, and it is a good characterisation fo Svensmark’s work as I understand it.

            I have posted a comment on WUWT, suggesting the whole issue of the leaked report consideration of solar forcing is reviewed urgently. If there has been misinterpretation of the content of the leaked report, better that the misinterpretation is acknowledged.

  2. Laframboise, Watts, Delingpole… The deniers are dragging out the same old liars as always.

    Global warming is not due to the sun, confirms leaked IPCC report:

  3. Also, where is the denialist outrage over this guy breaching his agreement and publishing something he was not allowed to publish? I mean, you got all butthurt when some guy tricked the Failland Institute into sending him internal documents, but now all of a sudden such behavior is just fine (since it’s a denier doing it)?


    • You still have not answered my question about whether you will retract your label of deniers from your previous posts, as they are clearly not deniers by your own definition. Yet you still post on here with new people labelled ‘deniers’. When are you going to answer my question?

      • Deniers are those who deny the science, so no, I will not retract anything.

        • Snerksnerk:

          You have changed your definition. This is what you have said before:

          “Monckton is a denier. He is not a skeptic. A skeptic is someone who actually looks at the evidence with honesty. A skeptic will come to accept AGW.”

          On this basis, none of those you call deniers, are deniers under your own definition. However, you now resort to your new vague definition.

          So, what science (exactly!) are the people you call ‘deniers’ denying?

          • I have not, in fact, changed any definitions. A denier denies the science. It’s that simple. And that is as opposed to a skeptic, who will look at the actual scientific evidence.

            Climate deniers, like your crowd, are looking at the scientific evidence and denying it. You are cherry-picking and using all sorts of other tricks to get away from the fact that the science is clear.

            Climate deniers are denying the facts that are presented by climate science. Climate deniers are the creationists of climate science. They insist that just about all scientists are wrong, and refer to fake “authorities” (Monckton, etc.) that are claimed to know better than those who actually do the science, and that are victims of a massive conspiracy among scientists to keep the “truth” hidden.

          • Snerksner: Oh, dear, oh dear! Firstly, you have changed your definition. Secondly, you are waving your hands around in the air saying that climate changers deny scientific evidence.You then prattle on about creationists and simply name call. It really does just show that you have absolutely nothing to say. You do not offer even one example of the science that those you call ‘deniers’ have denied. Let’s start with Judith Currie; what exactly has she ‘denied’?

            In your earlier comment, you even call on the ‘consensus’ (what consensus?) and this is why you absolutely need to read some philosophy of science as I suggested to you a while ago. It seems you do not understand what science actually is, so it seems rather problematic that you then continue to discuss that people are ‘deniers’ of science.

            Incidentally I do ‘not have a crowd’, but I am an individual who happens to be skeptical about catastrophic AGW.

    • Ignoring your ignorant usage of ‘denier’ (which indicates that you have still not read my suggested reading on the philosophy of science), you have not actually addressed one single point made in the post. Here is a simple question; why would the deliberations over what science is included and not included not be published, if the aim of the IPCC wishes to be transparent?

      I also note that you resort to more name calling, which seems to be your reflex response to everything. Do you realise how you appear to people with your comments? You have now been commenting on this blog for a while, and I genuinely wonder at what kind of a person you actually are. I am not sure I have ever encountered anyone like you in the ‘real world’, a person who thinks that name calling is acceptable, useful or something they would seem to proudly engage in. Most puzzling.

      On the bright side, for those who are unsure of their position on climate change, you do the skeptical side a favour. Your approach of name-calling will help them see that there really is very little that supports the thesis of catastrophic AGW except labelling anyone who disagrees with you as a ‘denier’. I will be interested to see what your answer is to the question of what is being denied.

      • What does my use of “denier” indicate about philosophy of science? Remember, a denier is not a skeptic. A denier is someone who insists that the science is wrong. Such as yourself.

        You don’t think name calling is acceptable? Then why do you endorse attacks on climate scientists who represent the facts and consensus?

        The skeptical side is the side of science. Science is skeptical by nature. Deniers are not skeptics. They are the exact opposite.

  4. In response to the question about release of the information, Alex Rawls broke the confidentiality rules.

    We are apparently supposed to be “outraged” at this release of taxpayer funded information into the public domain. It *may* be unethical within the terms of his contractual engagement, but is it illegal?

    However, the release of information from Heartland was done by a scientist – Peter Gleick, stealing the identity of a Heartland member and using that
    identity to obtain information from a private organization. Furthermore, there is some evidence that one of the documents may actually be forged

    So the latter case may contain several criminal aspects – identity and wire fraud for starters. The former is unlikely otherwise the IPCC would probably press charges

    • So unethical behavior is OK if it’s a denier doing it?

      You see, this blog has cheered both Monckton’s fraudulent attempt at falsely presenting himself as the representative of a country in the UN and now this breach of contract.

      As for a forged document, there is no evidence for that, but that’s a separate discussion.

  5. In response to Snerkers continued argument about ethics, I would remind him or her that Peter Gleick obtained private material that is not intended for the public domain by using the identity of a Heartland member, likely Harrison Schmidt, a US senator and former astronaut.
    Conversely, Alex Rawls released a document that was intended eventually for the public domain, a document that was already in his possession via e expert review process, which anyone can sign up for.

    There appears in my mind anyway to be a clear distinction here.

    • Rawls published a draft that was not intended for the public either.

      And remember, Monckton pretended to represent an entire nation when he fraudulently stole time in the UN to spew his propaganda.

      Apparently, unethical behavior is OK as long as it’s a denier doing it. The clear distinction is that you endorse fraudulent behavior from those with the same opinions as yourself while going all crazy over people who disagree with you.

      • Again, as ever, you do not deal with the substantive material in my post. For example, why is it that the deliberations on the science are not, in any case, published?

        • It is you who are not addressing the issue. I was specifically referring to your (and other deniers’) hypocrisy (and in case you didn’t notice, Andy tried to come up with excuses for this blatant hypocrisy, and I responded). Apparently fraud is fine if it’s done by a denier.

  6. It looks like the expert reviewers are just window dressing anyway, as they are allowing papers after the reviewers have finished.

    • The term “expert reviewer” is completely misleading. A complete nobody without a clue like Monckton can sign up as one. That makes the term meaningless. It should be called “curious non-scientists” or something.

      • You describe Christopher Monckton as a ‘complete nobody’ but curiously seem to obsess about him in many of your comments. Please make up your mind; is he a somebody or a nobody?

        I note that you still have not answered what science Judith Currie is denying, and still have not answered the question about transparency. Instead, you take another opportunity to call people names (see point above).

        Really, have you thought about the impression you will make on an undecided reader of these comments?

        • I’m not the one who brought up Monckton. I am simply mentioning him because THIS blog seems to be obsessing over him and using him as an authority, and even praising his fraudulent attempt at pretending to be the representative of a specific country in the U.N.

          Why are you obsessing over Monckton and pretending that this ignorant, incompetent nobody is relevant?

  7. The interesting thing about “snerker” is that it appears to be incapable of any rational thought. “We” (however that is) are being labelled “deniers”, yet the post contains a graph from the IPCC, and we have been discussing this as a problem, because it shows a divergence of real world temperatures against the models.

    I would have though that a scientist, or anyone else for that matter, might find this at least of some concern, or perhaps at least of some curiosity.

    The fact is, that the likes of “snerker” are not actually interested in science at all. It has shown no interest whatsoever. Snerker is typical of the bullies that hang around blogs like this. They infest blogs with their intolerant, bigoted views, and I personally have had a gutsful.

    • However, Andy, at least any readers who come to the blog and do not have a firm view on the climate change debate will see the level of debate being offered by those who take an alarmist position. I think I know which way they will be swayed. Name calling and dealing with nothing substantive is generally not a method that wins people over.

    • I am not a scientist and neither is anyone else here (that much is blatantly obvious). Actual scientists will deal with the science. I merely pointed out the amazing hypocrisy of deniers.

      • Okay, so let me summarise your position. You do not know anything of the philosophy of science, and will not read about it to become informed. Furthermore you are not a scientist. However, you still seem to believe that you are qualified to talk about ‘deniers’ of science? This seems most odd. Can you not see the oddity of your position – it simply name calling without any foundation whatsoever. You simply assert that people are ‘creationists’, ‘flat-earthers’ ‘deniers’ of science with absolutely no knowledge about what science is actually about.

        I am guessing this will be difficult for you, but try thinking about this before you next pour forth with further name calling.

        Incidentally, you still do not answer any of my questions, but given the above, this is unsurprising.

        • Look, Denier, you need to stop lying about what I said. I said no one here is a scientist. I said nothing about the philosophy of science.

          I am not a scientist, and neither are you. The difference between us is that I accept the scientific consensus and the research done by the actual scientists, while you claim that thousands of climate scientists around the world are wrong.

          You are evidently the one who are ignorant about the philosophy of science, because you seem to think that science equals “what I feel should be right.”

          When I talk about science deniers, it’s people like you who, you know, deny the science. And yet, strangely, when those scientists you claim are guilty of fraud present something that seems to support your position (see the IPCC leak), you immediately embrace it as being The Truth(TM).

          • Oh dear, as I commented earlier, I was rather pleased to see that you had stopped name calling and tried to discuss a substantive point of science, and then you go and call me a ‘denier’ and that I am a liar. I thought that perhaps, just perhaps, you had moved on from simply name calling in place of reasoned argument. I am now disappointed. Perhaps if you take a few minutes to reflect before posting, we might see the ‘better you’ return to commenting? Or perhaps that is wishful thinking…..

            For example, you might explain which science Judith Currie denies. I still do not have an answer to this question, and you seem to have had time to do some new name calling. After all, it is you that called her a ‘denier’, so I think it reasonable to ask the question of you. It is not a pleasant expression, and you really need to justify it. Incidentally, I also think that you should be careful about saying that someone is ignorant when you are posting the kind of comments you are making. It does not look very good for you.

  8. I would actually like to have a conversation with a climate scientist about that graph.

    Dave Frame of Victoria Un, NZ has claimed in a paper that the models are “about right”
    I was hoping to discuss this on Hot Topic but my link to the graph got snipped, and DF got scared off by the uber-alarmists.

    So, I am interested in the science; I look at the data, ask questions, and am prepared to talk to those in the IPCC insider group if possible. I don’t see how this is “denial”

  9. I am not a scientist and neither is anyone else here (that much is blatantly obvious).

    Why? What is your definition of a scientist?

    Here is a clue. Look at the graph presented in the post above
    Then look at this one minute video of the late Richard Feynman

    • A scientist is someone who does actual scientific research.
      It is obvious that no one here is a scientist, and especially not you deniers since you automatically reject science when you feel that it threatens your ideology.

      A clue? You don’t have one. How is “the graph” or the video you posted relevant to the fact that you are not a scientist? Your claims are bogus, wrong, false, lies. You keep claiming that the actual scientists are wrong (even while using their own research which you rejected just moments ago as being lies as part of a conspiracy).

      • You are a little wrong snerkersnerk: scientists do not automatically accept theories from their peers when data & models are thrown in peer reviewed journals (to have 6 peer reviewed articles in high impact factors journals, I have found who reviewed my articles and found they had the same bias as we did in our studies and did not challenge us when they had the opportunity to, I have also witnessed the circular peer referencing in other scientific groups). They are entitled to their opinion and no-one I know in the science groups I have worked with (biology, analytical sciences, chemistry) used foul language on any another who do not accept a theory. If I use the parallel with chemistry with the molecular modeling where all the interactions are relatively well documented: I rarely saw good results unless models were heavily tweaked to support the initial theory. With molecular modeling there is not an infinity, but a wide range of tools and models which are struggling on “simple” calculations where the number of variables are limited, known and described. In the climate science, the number of variables is not yet limited, not all variables are known or understood and the models even struggle to render past to present results. Based on that, I cannot understand how it is acceptable that a handful of models should be force-fed to us, based on bizarrely tweaked raw data, and we should accept it blindfolded. If this is the new way science is done and found acceptable, I would gladly burns my PhD.

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