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IPCC report cites peer-reviewed sources less than 60% of the time

April 14, 2010

Donna Laframboise, at has mobilised some of the more knowledgeable sceptics to do a detailed reference by reference check of the IPCC AR4 report – not an insignificant piece of work, and all of it unpaid.

Donna says:

Contrary to statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the celebrated 2007 report does not rely solely on research published in reputable scientific journals. It also cites press releases, newspaper and magazine clippings, student theses, newsletters, discussion papers, and literature published by green advocacy groups. Such material is often called “grey literature.”

Something we need to remember, and emphasise, is that the IPCC is actually a three-tier organisation (or four-tier, depending on how you count).

At the lowest level are the “humble” scientists who are the foot-soldiers and cannon-fodder for the AGW campaign. They consist of the lead authors and chapter authors, and also the technical editors (the extra level, if you are counting).

The next highest level is the bureaucracy that direct operations to achieve a set of unstated (and perhaps secret) objectives. This group lives and dies by the rules. If you question any of them on the quality of the material in the reports they will point to the peer review process (as Pachauri has done, on numerous occasions). But peer review is not, and never has been, a measure or assessment of quality.[1] But who cares, quality does not really matter to them anyway. They are measured by achieving their objectives.

At the highest level are the politicians (some of whom are indistinguishable from, or interchangeable with, the senior bureaucrats). These are the folks who are setting the agenda. They are not advised by the bureaucrats. They set the parameters that the bureaucrats need to work within. It is a symbiotic relationship. This is why none of the revelations that have flowed from ClimateGate, and none of the excellent work done by Donna and her team (who I have tremendous respect for) will make a jot of difference to the political or bureaucratic mind. Quality (and truth) are meaningless abstract concepts at this level of society.
The best we can hope for is to see the deck-chairs shuffled yet again, perhaps with a few being thrown over the side if better replacements are available.

If this gets into the MSM I will be a lot more optimistic, but on previous records ….. ?

[1] Measuring or assessing quality requires an established and agreed measure of what “quality” means – I don’t recall seeing one.

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