Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Awkward Truth

Researcher Publicly Leaves IPCC Due to Tainted Science

This is an open letter to the community from Chris Landsea.

Dear colleagues,

After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns.

With this open letter to the community, I wish to explain the basis for my decision and bring awareness to what I view as a problem in the IPCC process. The IPCC is a group of climate researchers from around the world that every few years summarize how climate is changing and how it may be altered in the future due to manmade global warming.
As I had in the past, I agreed to assist the IPCC in what I thought was to be an important, and politically-neutral determination of what is happening with our climate.

Shortly after Dr. Trenberth requested that I draft the Atlantic hurricane section for the AR4's Observations chapter, Dr. Trenberth participated in a press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic "Experts to warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense hurricane activity" along with other media interviews on the topic. The result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and reading transcripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media. These media sessions have potential to result in a widespread perception that global warming has made recent hurricane activity much more severe.

I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable, long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, either in the Atlantic or any other basin. The IPCC assessments in 1995 and 2001 also concluded that there was no global warming signal found in the hurricane record.
It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming. Given Dr. Trenberth’s role as the IPCC’s Lead Author responsible for preparing the text on hurricanes, his public statements so far outside of current scientific understanding led me to concern that it would be very difficult for the IPCC process to proceed objectively with regards to the assessment on hurricane activity. My view is that when people identify themselves as being associated with the IPCC and then make pronouncements far outside current scientific understandings that this will harm the credibility of climate change science and will in the longer term diminish our role in public policy.

My concerns go beyond the actions of Dr. Trenberth and his colleagues to how he and other IPCC officials responded to my concerns.
I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound. As the IPCC leadership has seen no wrong in Dr. Trenberth's actions and have retained him as a Lead Author for the AR4, I have decided to no longer participate in the IPCC AR4.

Sincerely, Chris Landsea
Ooo, that's going to leave a mark.

And on a related note,
In a remarkable contribution to Nature magazine's Climate Feedback blog, Trenberth concedes GCMs cannot predict future climate and claims the IPCC is not in the business of climate prediction. This might be news to some people.

Among other things, Trenberth asserts ". . . there are no (climate) predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been". Instead, there are only "what if" projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios.

You do remember that the IPCC has been leading the charge with Al Gore on the whole "scientific consensus" on man-made global warming.

Carter also relates that in a paper to be presented at the 27th International Symposium on Forecasting in New York this week, Scott Armstrong and Kesten Green find other discrepancies within the relevant chapter in the IPCC's latest report. They conclude:

"because the forecasting processes . . . overlook scientific evidence on forecasting, the IPCC forecasts of climate change are not scientific."


Blogger dbennett455 said...

How many successive '500 year floods' and drought induced forest fires must we endure before the partisan position on global warming is abandoned and we begin to work together to solve our environmental problems? When will American conservatives decide to stop being manipulated by the AAPG and join the world's struggle to reduce our petroleum usage? It is in everyone's best interest! Our petroleum dependence continues to fuel our enemies' economies while the GOP seems oblivious to scientific consensus regarding the causes of our environment problems. Please, Please stop making this a partisan issue! Conservative naysayers seem to being ignoring the cognitive dissonance of the GOP energy policy which is anti-petroleum and the AAPG's pro-petroleum stance on global climate change.

3:53 PM, July 03, 2007  

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