By MATT PATTERSON
Last Updated: 4:46 AM, September 2, 2010
Posted: 11:57 PM, September 1, 2010
If this keeps up, no one's going to trust any scientists.
The global-warming establishment took a body blow this week, as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received a stunning rebuke from a top-notch independent investigation.
For two decades, the IPCC has spearheaded efforts to convince the world's governments that man-made carbon emissions pose a threat to the global temperature equilibrium -- and to civilization itself. IPCC reports, collated from the work of hundreds of climate scientists and bureaucrats, are widely cited as evidence for the urgent need for drastic action to "save the planet."
But the prestigious InterAcademy Council, an independent association of "the best scientists and engineers worldwide" (as the group's own Web site puts it) formed in 2000 to give "high-quality advice to international bodies," has finished a thorough review of IPCC practices -- and found them badly wanting.
For example, the IPCC's much-vaunted Fourth Assessment Report claimed in 2007 that Himalayan glaciers were rapidly melting, and would possibly be gone by the year 2035. The claim was actually false -- yet the IPCC cited it as proof of man-made global warming.
Then there's the IPCC's earlier prediction in 2007 -- which it claimed to have "high confidence" in -- that global warming could lead to a 50 percent reduction in the rain-fed agricultural capacity of Africa.
Such a dramatic decrease in food production in an already poor continent would be a terrifying prospect, and undoubtedly lead to the starvation of millions. But the InterAcademy Council investigation found that this IPCC claim was also based on weak evidence.
Overall, the IAC slammed the IPCC for reporting "high confidence in some statements for which there is little evidence. Furthermore, by making vague statements that were difficult to refute, authors were able to attach 'high confidence' to the statements." The critics note "many such statements that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective or not expressed clearly.
Some IPCC practices can only be called shoddy. As The Wall Street Journal reported, "Some scientists invited by the IPCC to review the 2007 report before it was published questioned the Himalayan claim. But those challenges 'were not adequately considered,' the InterAcademy Council's investigation said, and the projection was included in the final report."
Yet the Himalayan claim wasn't based on peer-reviewed scientific data, or on any data -- but on spec ulation in a phone interview by a single scientist.
Was science even a real concern for the IPCC? In January, the Sunday Times of London reported that, based in large part on the fraudulent glacier story, "[IPCC Chairman] Rajendra Pachauri's Energy and Resources Institute, based in New Delhi, was awarded up to 310,000 pounds by the Carnegie Corp. . . . and the lion's share of a 2.5 million pound EU grant funded by European taxpayers."
Thus, the Times concluded, "EU taxpayers are funding research into a scientific claim about glaciers that any ice researcher should immediately recognize as bogus."
All this comes on top of last year's revelation of the "Climategate" e-mails, which revealed equally shoddy practices (and efforts to suppress criticism) by scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia -- perhaps the single most important source of data that supposedly proved the most alarming claims of global warming.
Al Gore and many other warming alarmists have insisted that "the debate is over" -- that the science was "settled." That claim is now in shreds -- though the grants are still flowing, and advocates still hope Congress will pass some version of the economically ruinous "cap and trade" anti-warming bill.
What does the best evidence now tell us? That man-made global warming is a mere hypothesis that has been inflated by both exaggeration and downright malfeasance, fueled by the awarding of fat grants and salaries to any scientist who'll produce the "right" results.
The warming "scientific" community, the Climategate emails reveal, is a tight clique of like-minded scientists and bureaucrats who give each other jobs, publish each other's papers -- and conspire to shut out any point of view that threatens to derail their gravy train.
Such behavior is perhaps to be expected from politicians and government functionaries. From scientists, it's a travesty.
In the end, grievous harm will have been done not just to individual scientists' reputations, but to the once-sterling reputation of science itself. For that, we will all suffer.
Matt Patterson is editor of Green Watch, a publication of the Capital Research Center.