Below is my response to a set of questions from the InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC – An evaluation of the procedures and processes of the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see)
What role(s), if any, have you played in any of the IPCC assessment processes?
I have had a long experience with the IPCC assessment process starting in about 1992.
As I have written on in papers and on weblog posts, which I will list some of below, the IPCC involves a top down management of the chapters. The 2007 Statement for Policymakers is a narrowly focused summary which was used to promote the perspective of climate variability and change of the organizers and leadership of the IPCC assessments.
Below I have listed some of my experiences and documentation of the IPCC process.
For the 1992 Supplement to the 1990 IPCC Report,
Climate Change 1992 – The Supplementary Report to The IPCC Scientific Assessment JT Houghton, BA Callander and SK Varney (Eds)
Cambridge University Press, UK. pp 205,
I was asked to review several Chapters of the draft. I made a number of suggestions, including the need to introduce the role of land use/land cover change as an important regional and global climate forcing. My input was totally ignored without any response.
In the 1995 IPCC Report; see
IPCC 1995 Climate Change. WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Second Assessment Report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
I was invited to be a contributing coauthor on the chapter on regional climate. Again, I prepared detailed input for the Report, and again all of my comments were ignored without even a rebuttal. At that point, I concluded that the IPCC Reports were actually intended to be advocacy documents designed to produce particular policy actions, but not as a true and honest assessment of the understanding of the climate system.
As a result of this second refusal to include peer reviewed scientific information, I called the IPCC and resigned from any further involvement in this clearly biased assessment process.
I was not invited to contribute to the more recent IPCC reports.
Shortly thereafter (in ~1995), I was asked to serve on an International- Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Committee (BAHC). I told them that my views were being ignored by the IPCC, however, I was informed that this was the reason that I was invited.
The subsequent process and the ultimate completion of a book entitled
“Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Editors, 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change – The IGBP Series, 566 pp. http://www.springer.com/cda/content/document/cda_downloaddocument/9783540424000-t1.pdf?SGWID=0-0-45-111848-p7108531
demonstrated that balanced climate assessments can be developed.
This “new perspective” was not properly presented in the 2007 IPCC report.
I was subsequently invited to write an article for the IGBP Newletter in 2004 which summarized this broader view;
Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2004: Discussion Forum: A broader perspective on climate change is needed. IGBP Newsletter, 59, 16-19. https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/nr-139.pdf
The recognition of the need for a more inclusive, comprehensive assessment of climate continued with a 2005 National Research Council report
National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp. http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309095069/html/,
which I participated on.
We concluded that
“Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing. A new metric to account for the vertical structure of radiative forcing is recommended below. Understanding of regional and nonradiative forcings is too premature to recommend specific metrics at this time. Instead, the committee identifies specific research needs to improve quantification and understanding of these forcings.”
Despite the wide diversity of views on the Committee which wrote this report, all viewpoints were accommodated and the findings and recommendations from the Report represent what can be accomplished when reports are prepared as inclusive assessment documents rather than advocacy statements.
The 2005 NRC report conclusions were essentially ignored in the 2007 IPCC assessment.
I also wrote several articles on the limitations of the IPCC assessment process; i.e.
Pielke Sr., R.A., 2002: Overlooked issues in the U.S. National Climate and IPCC assessments. Climatic Change, 52, 1-11. https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-225.pdf
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union. https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-354.pdf
In this later multi-authored paper in which each author is an AGU Fellow we wrote with respect to the 2007 IPCC assessment that
“The evidence predominantly suggests that humans are significantly altering the global environment, and thus climate, in a variety of diverse ways beyond the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Unfortunately, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale. It also placed too much emphasis on average global forcing from a limited set of human climate forcings. Further, it devised a mitigation strategy based on global model predictions. although aerosols were considered as a global average forcing, their local effects were neglected (e.g., biomass burning, dust from land use/land cover management and change, soot from inefficient combustion).”
The summary of my experience with the IPCC is that it is managed with particular outputs in place before the assessments are even started. The Lead Authors have almost complete control with respect to what is accepted in their Chapter, and what is ignored.
The IPCC is actually a relatively small group of individuals who are using the IPCC process to control what policymakers and the public learn about climate on multi-decadal time scales.
2. What are your views on the strengths and weaknesses of the following steps in the IPCC assessment process? Do you have any recommendations for improvement?
- Scoping and identification of policy questions
- Election of bureau including working group chairs
- Selection of lead authors
- Writing of working group reports
- Review processes
- Preparation of the Synthesis report, including the Summary for Policy Makers
- Adoption of report by the IPCC plenary
- Preparation of any special reports
Without new scientists leading the IPCC process as LAs and CLAs who are not assessing their own research work, the next IPCC report is doomed to continue to be completed by an oligarchy that is using its privileged position to advocate for a particular perspective on the role of humans within the climate system which conforms with their published research.
The next IPCC report will not be a balanced assessment, but continue to be real conflict of interest with policy advocacy in the guise of a scientific framework.
3. What is your opinion on the way in which the full range of scientific views is handled?
The 2007 IPCC report failed to be inclusive in its assessement.
I documented biases in the WG1 2007 IPCC report in testimony to a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives;
Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp. https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/testimony-written.pdf
In the testimony I included an appendix which shows the cherrypicking in the chapters in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report by documenting what peer reviewed papers were ignored.
For example, in order to evaluate the IPCC’s claim to be comprehensive, we cross-compared IPCC WG1 references on near-surface air temperature trends with peer-reviewed citations. We selected only papers that appeared before about May 2006 so they were readily available to the IPCC Lead authors.
What we found were that peer reviewed papers that conflicted with the robustness of the surface air temperature trends were ignored in the 2007 IPCC WG1 assessment.
The IPCC WG1 Report clearly cherrypicked information on the robustness of the land near-surface air temperature to bolster their advocacy of a particular perspective on the role of humans within the climate system. As a result, policymakers and the public have been given a false (or at best an incomplete) assessment of the multi-decadal global average near-surface air temperature trends.
I have an example of an even more egregious exclusion of scientific viewpoints [with respect to the CCSP 1.1 report which was used in the 2007 IPCC assessment] which I docummented in detail in .
Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. 88 pp including appendices.https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/nr-143.pdf
E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Surface Temperature Trends.[https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/e-mail-documentation-of-the-successful-attempt-by-thomas-karl-director-of-the-u-s-national-climate-data-center-to-suppress-biases-and-uncertainties-in-the-assessment-surface-temperature-trends/]
As I report in my Public Comment
“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends. The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends.”
“The process that produced the report was highly political, with the Editor taking the lead in suppressing my perspectives, most egregiously demonstrated by the last-minute substitution of a new Chapter 6 for the one I had carefully led preparation of and on which I was close to reaching a final consensus. Anyone interested in the production of comprehensive assessments of climate science should be troubled by the process which I document below in great detail that led to the replacement of the Chapter that I was serving as Convening Lead Author.”
The 2007 IPCC WG1 assessment failed to include the full range of peer reviewed papers on climate science.
4. Given the intergovernmental nature of IPCC, what are your views on the role of governments in the entire process?
Governments are necessarily political which is one of the reasons the climate issue has become so polarized and assessment committees have been chosen to perpetuate a particular perspective.
5. Given that IPCC assessments consider a vast amount of literature, what are your views and suggestions for improvement on the sources of data and the comprehensiveness of the literature used, including non-peer-reviewed literature?
See #3 and #9
6. What are your views and suggestions regarding the characterization and handling of uncertainty in each of the working group reports and the synthesis report?
See #3 and #9
7. What is your view of how IPCC handles data quality assurance and quality control and identification and rectification of errors, including those discovered after publication?
See #3 and #9
8. What is your view of how IPCC communicates with the media and general public, and suggestions for improving it?
See #3 and #9
9. Comment on the sustainability of the IPCC assessment model. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative process?
Future assessment Committees need to appoint members with a diversity of views and who do not have a significant conflict of interest with respect to their own work. Such Committees should be chaired by individuals committed to the presentation of a diversity of perspectives and unwilling to engage in tactics to enforce a narrow perspective. Any such committee should be charged with summarizing all relevant literature, even if inconvenient, or which presents a view not held by certain members of the Committee.
10. Do you have any suggestions for improvements in the IPCC management, secretariat, and/or funding structure to support an assessment of this scale?
See #3 and #9
Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I launched my weblog https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/
in July 2005 in response to the serious limitations in the climate science community as a result of the IPCC and CCSP assessments.