Did IPCC Review Editor Mitchell Do His Job?

David Holland’s FOI request for the Review Comments on IPCC AR4 Chapter 6 (Paleoclimate) has been successful, leading to David obtaining the comments, such as they are, which have now been placed online at CA here (though not yet at IPCC.)

David Holland’s request was noted up here; last year, we noted the appalling response by IPCC lead authors to, among other things, the deletion of post-1960 Briffa reconstruction results – see for example here here here, where the lead author (Briffa) justified the deletion of adverse post-1960 results from his reconstruction merely by saying that it would be “inappropriate” to show it.

As a reviewer, I had strongly objected to the mischaracterization of the results of McIntyre and McKitrick [2003,2005a,2005b, 2005c, 2005d], as did Ross McKitrick and the Review Comments, in my opinion, dealt with our objections inadequately. In my comments as a reviewer, I distinguished between whether they correctly characterized what we said (which is a minimum expectation) and whether they endorsed our criticisms. I took particular exception to mischaracterization.

IPCC Procedures state categorically that “different (possibly controversial)” views should be described:

It is important that Reports describe different (possibly controversial) scientific, technical, and socio-economic views on a subject, particularly if they are relevant to the policy debate.

Where controversies such as this exist, Review Editors have an important role set out in IPCC Procedures as follows:

Function: Review Editors will assist the Working Group/Task Force Bureaux in identifying reviewers for the expert review process, ensure that all substantive expert and government review comments are afforded appropriate consideration, advise lead authors on how to handle contentious/controversial issues and ensure genuine controversies are reflected adequately in the text of the Report.

Comment: There will be one or two Review Editors per chapter (including their executive summaries) and per technical summary. In order to carry out these tasks, Review Editors will need to have a broad understanding of the wider scientific and technical issues being addressed. The workload will be particularly heavy during the final stages of the Report preparation. This includes attending those meetings where writing teams are considering the results of the two review rounds. Review Editors are not actively engaged in drafting Reports and cannot serve as reviewers of those chapters of which they are Authors. Review Editors can be members of a Working Group/Task Force Bureau or outside experts agreed by the Working Group/Task Force Bureau.

Although responsibility for the final text remains with the Lead Authors, Review Editors will need to ensure that where significant differences of opinion on scientific issues remain, such differences are described in an annex to the Report. Review Editors must submit a written report to the Working Group Sessions or the Panel and where appropriate, will be requested to attend Sessions of the Working Group and of the IPCC to communicate their findings from the review process and to assist in finalising the Summary for Policymakers, Overview Chapters of Methodology Reports and Synthesis Reports. The names of all Review Editors will be acknowledged in the Reports.

John Mitchell, Chief Scientist, UK Met Office is an experienced administrator. The entire text of his Review Editor Comments (as disclosed by FOI) are as follows:

As Review Editor of Chapter 6, …I can confirm that the authors have in my view dealt with reviewers’ comments to the extent that can reasonably be expected. There will inevitably remain some disagreement on how they have dealt with reconstructions of the last 1000 years and there is further work to be done here in the future, but in my judgment, the authors have made a reasonable assessment of the evidence they have to hand. The other possible area of contention(within the author team) is on some aspects of sea-level rise. This has gone some way towards reconciliation but I sense not everyone is entirely happy.

With these caveats I am happy to sign off the chapter …

Mitchell’s sign-off letter explicitly recognized that there was “some disagreement on how they have dealt with reconstructions of the last 1000 years”. In such circumstances, is it enough for him to simply arrive at a personal judgment that
“in his judgment, the authors have made a reasonable assessment of the evidence they have to hand”. I don’t think so. One assumes that IPCC authors will make a “reasonable” assessment; that’s not the issue for Mitchell in his capacity as a Review Editor. His obligation was to ensure that the Report described “different (possibly controversial) scientific views” on the 1000-year reconstructions and to ensure “where significant differences of opinion on scientific issues remain, such differences are described in an annex to the Report”. Did Mitchell do this? Sure doesn’t look like it to me.

In addition, I must say that I’m surprised at how perfunctory Mitchell’s letter was. This must have taken him all of 30 seconds to write.

The covering letter from the IPCC WG1 TSU to David Holland stated:

Dear Dr Holland,

Thank you for your interest in the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

Please find attached a copy of the Review Editor Report from Dr John Mitchell on Chapter 6 Paleoclimate of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”.

Best regards,
Melinda Tignor
WGI TSU

Perhaps Mitchell made other comments and IPCC and the UK FOI have failed to provide these other comments. It would probably be worthwhile renewing the request under the UK FOI legislation to ensure that there really is nothing else. It’s not like IPCC to be fulsome in their responses. On the basis of the correspondence provided by IPCC, Mitchell’s contribution as Chapter 6 Review Editor are so minimal that he’s rendered the office of Chapter 6 Review Editor pretty much useless. One surely would expect more from a senior U.K. scientist and experienced scientific administrator.

If this is all that Mitchell contributed, the quality of the comments by the Chapter 6 Review Editor hardly support claims that the IPCC review process is some sort of model review process. In saying this, I’m not saying that the fact that Mitchell made perfunctory comments as Review Editor proves that anything in the report is wrong; the report is written by experienced and knowledgeable scientists and, as such, warrants careful consideration. However, in the corner of the IPCC report with which I’m most familiar – the 1000 year reconstructions – Review Editor Mitchell did not discharge all his IPCC responsibilities and acquiesced in a section that contained a rather one-sided exposition of a relevant controversy and the lamentable quality of his Comments show his acquiescence in this particular section of the IPCC Report failing to meet IPCC standards.

Update:
David Holland reports that “WGI TSU have just sent me Dr Jouzel’s report”. Here is his transcription:

As Review Editor of Chapter 6 Paleoclimate of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, I can confirm that all substantive expert and government review comments have been afforded appropriate consideration by the writing team in accordance with IPCC procedures.


41 Comments

  1. Bob Koss
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 9:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    The letter link doesn’t work.

    You have a plus sign in the url instead of an under-score.

  2. Tom Gray
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I find it odd that the review approval letter is not printed on letter head paper

  3. Tom Gray
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What I meant to ask in comment 2 was whether this was a copy of the actual letter or a freshly printed version drawn from a word processing file

  4. Bernie
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mitchell Letter

  5. conard
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    When you write posts like these what outcome do you have in mind?

  6. Bernie
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve:
    Is Mitchell’s letter the sum total of the comments? If not, the link does lead to them. If so, then I would be more explicit about it.

  7. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I was more surprised by the tortured signature and indecision on the dating than the letter contents — business as usual for the IPCC.

  8. Paul29
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It looks like the letter was initially dated 2007 and then “corrected” to 2006.

  9. Greg F
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The letter was dated 8/12/06 but was not faxed until 3 days later (11/12/06). I find that a bit odd.

  10. Alastair
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    8th December 2006 was a Friday, so maybe he worked late and his secretary had gone home already, and he/she didn’t fax it till the Monday (the 11th).

  11. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 1:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: http://data.climateaudit.org/pdf/others/Ch06_Statement_Mitchell.pdf
    (corrected link)

    All that’s here is Mitchell’s sign-off letter. No comments.

    Cheers — Pete Tillman

  12. rafa
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe I misunderstood something, are all comments from Mr.Mitchell just this letter and nothing else?

    best

  13. Barclay E. MacDonald
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 1:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This blog makes an important contribution when it scrutinizes specifically the reliability of the IPCC process. Is the IPCC process adequate to justify,in and of itself, recommendations for large allocations of resources?

  14. GTTofAK
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 1:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #12

    I beleive the point is that it is all that has been released under the FOIA request. So we have a catch 22 either he isn’t complying with the FOIA request or he didn’t do his job.

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 2:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve added the covering letter from Melinda Tignor to David Holland stating that the Report attached to this post is the chapter 6 Review Editor Report

    Dear Dr Holland,

    Thank you for your interest in the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

    Please find attached a copy of the Review Editor Report from Dr John Mitchell on Chapter 6 Paleoclimate of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”.

    Best regards,
    Melinda Tignor
    WGI TSU

    I’ve edited the post slightly to clarify that the covering letter was from IPCC rather than from the UK FOI office. It scarcely seems imaginable that Mitchell’s contributions as Review Editor were this slight and it would probably make sense for David to obtain an explicit statement from Mitchell that there is no other Review Editor comments, re-iterating the FOI request if necessary. Previous efforts with Phil Jones have required multiple requests and perhaps there’s more from Mitchell and IPCC WG1 has not provided everything.

  16. David Holland
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 2:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: Dr Mitchell’s report. AFAIK what you see is what there is.

    In Sir Humphrey’s world, words are important. In the internationally agreed function of Review Editors, which Steve quotes the word “ensure” changes Dr Mitchell’s expenses paid junkets into “official” business as the umpire or referee of the process. So far as I can see, there is no other referee or audit of process mentioned in the Principles. WGII have sent me the consolidated reports of their Review Editors (I think I sent Steve a copy) and some go into considerable detail of the issues in debate. I have asked WGI for the rest of their reports and I do expect that there will be more complete reports.

    There are a number of questions that the active citizen facing draconian climate change restrictions like bans on patio heaters and 4 x 4s, not to mention a windmills at the bottom of the garden and incredible energy prices, might ask their government ministers as well as whether Dr Mitchell’s report is worth the taxpayers’ expense.

    1. Other than the over rated peer review process, what guarantee do we have that the science that the IPCC reviews is correct?
    2. Would the Prime Minister prefer to fly home from China in a 777 that had been a) peer reviewed, b) IPCC approved in a plenary session or c) independently audited, tested, verified and certified?
    3. Has the Minister actually read any of the critical expert reviewers’ comments such as those on Wahl and Ammann?
    4. Does Dr Mitchell do justice to the “hockey stick” dispute?
    5. Does the Minister harbour the forlorn hope or belief that the Wahl and Ammann paper that the IPCC cited to avoid accepting the M&M/NRC/Wegman view of the “hockey stick” was actually accepted by its peer reviewers in the form reviewed by the IPCC?
    6. (For those in the UK) How many comments on the second order WGI draft did the Reviewer for the Govt of the UK make? Clue: it’s small.
    7. How well does the Minister think the AR4 launch would have gone if the drafts, reviewers’ comments and Review Editors’ reports had been published in real time?

    Last year Greenpeace went to court in th UK for judicial review of the government’s consultation process on nuclear power and won. I don’t disguise my support for nuclear power and will happily rent out my front lawn for a deep repository or a small Westinghouse package but I fully support Greenpeace’s right to have all the facts disclosed. I just wish we could get a judicial review of the IPCC process.

  17. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 2:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    When you write posts like these what outcome do you have in mind?

    I don’t really have any “outcome in mind”. In part, I’m reporting and, in part, I’m editorializing. This seems like a very slight degree of Review Editor oversight for what is supposedly the most carefully reviewed document in scientific history.

  18. David Holland
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 3:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #15,
    I just noticed. I’m flattered but it’s Mr.

  19. bmcburney
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I know its early days yet but I am starting to wonder whether
    the IPPC can afford to have a Fifth AR. Don’t they need to
    close the process down before the results get even more
    embarassing? I predict that we soon hear that the science
    is so settled that a Fifth report is unnecessary.

  20. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 4:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE 8.

    I wonder if the letter was written in 2007 to comply with the FOI.

    Seems like another FOI is in order

  21. steven mosher
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 4:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 18. NOPE… you get an honorary CA doctorate. Dr. Dave.

  22. David Holland
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 4:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #2, No letterhead. Yes that is odd. This is the only WGI report I’ve seen so far but very strangely, Dr Mitchell’s Met Office ran WGII TSU and the Review Editors reports for WGII are all on letter head and – at a quick glance they all include a statement “My reading of the Final Government Draft of the Chapter confirms that it properly reflects scientific controversies.” And a yes/no tick box. All yes of course. Some include considerable detail but I have not studied WGII in enough detail to know if they fairly reflect the facts. If Steve M gets the chance to put up the WGII reports you will see how they did it.

    #20, The fax is dated 11th December 2006 and says Met Office – but hey, they could …
    No. I’m in the cock up camp. On the other hand that tick box might have been a bit of a problem.

    #21, Thanks, Steve

  23. Reid
    Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 5:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I was under the impression that when the IPCC belatedly released WG1 material last summer it included all comments. So here we are 1 year after AR4 release and the details are still classified. Something is not robust here.

  24. Posted Jan 30, 2008 at 11:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A small comment to David Holland :) regarding perr review…
    http://iagblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/chinese-aircraft-maintenance.html

  25. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 31, 2008 at 2:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re # 17 Steve

    The point is important in many ways. For example, Australia is having an Inquiry, the Garnaut inquiry into climate change, with submissions due in the next few months. We would not like to see that Inquiry lack the diligence that (if complete) is apparent in the letter you cite from Mitchell to IPCC. We do not want lax IPCC standards as an excuse for a lax Australian Inquiry.

    Also, in the current times, people have to be educated that the mere granting of a title or function that carries benefits (even if only kudos) had to be balanced by responsible discharge of assigned functions. The example you gave (if complete) is mere freeloading, which the world can do without.

  26. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Jan 31, 2008 at 5:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A small comment to David Holland :) regarding perr review…
    http://iagblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/chinese-aircraft-maintenance.html

    This message is a hoax.

    The engine’s on a transit stand, thus it is no surprise that the fan is tied-down for shipping, now way this engine has been on the wing of a flying aircraft in this state.

  27. Posted Jan 31, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 24 & 26: OK, Good to hear!

  28. David Holland
    Posted Feb 1, 2008 at 7:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    WGI TSU have just sent me Dr Jousel’s report and have kindly indicated that the rest will follow. Dr Jouzel is even more brief. To save bandwidth – as its in image form as before, I have again transcribed it.

    As Review Editor of Chapter 6 Paleoclimate of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, I can confirm that all substantive expert and government review comments have been afforded appropriate consideration by the writing team in accordance with IPCC procedures.

  29. Bill Derryberry
    Posted Feb 1, 2008 at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That’s it?

  30. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 1, 2008 at 11:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #28. Please note that the final statement of auditors on financial statements don’t necessarily look a lot different than this. However, financial auditors will have working papers and will have actually checked things. Did Jouzel (or Mitchell) do any due diligence? If so, what did they do? Did they send the lead authors any questions about areas of dispute? E.g. Mitchell mentioned the 1000 year reconstructions as an area of controversy. Did Mitchell ask any questions of Briffa? Did they require anything of the lead authors? At present, we have no evidence that they did anything. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t do anything; only that no evidence that they did anything has been presented in response to inquiries.

  31. D. Patterson
    Posted Feb 2, 2008 at 12:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    28 David Holland says:

    February 1st, 2008 at 7:16 am
    WGI TSU have just sent me Dr Jousel’s report and have kindly indicated that the rest will follow. Dr Jouzel is even more brief. To save bandwidth – as its in image form as before, I have again transcribed it.

    It should be noted that it was formerly regarded in some corners of business and government as inconceivable for one of the major corporate accounting and auditing firms to risk their reputation and business by making false and unsupported findings in regard to the compliance or non-compliance of a client corporation’s financial statements with the requirements of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and governmental laws and regulations. We now have experience demonstrating that Arthur Anderson is no longer with us because it violated Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) and governmental laws and regulations in ways previously believed to be inconceivable by many people. Arthur Anderson’s principal managers responsible for the firm’s scandal and downfall were on full notice of the potentail consequences which could befall the firm, if and when any financial statements were affirmed to be in compliance using unfounded and/or false auditing practices. Despite these mammoth risks, Arthur Anderson’s management engaged in misconduct and incurred penalties it could not survive. By contrast, Dr. Jouzel risks what by non-compliance with IPCC statements, a strong lecture? By contrast, what does the world risk by a reliance upon Dr. Jouzel’s actions and inactions?

  32. Ron Cram
    Posted Feb 3, 2008 at 8:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve,

    I think your comment in #30 is exactly right. I wonder if David Holland would be willing to file another FOI request to see the working papers of Drs. Mitchell and Jouzel?

  33. David Holland
    Posted Feb 3, 2008 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ron,

    Dr Jouzel is a French Nominee and I would not know where to start. Do we have a reader or two in France.
    I have asked Dr Mitchell if there is any more and will wait a while. No point in barging the door if its open.

  34. Ian Castles
    Posted Feb 3, 2008 at 4:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, I also think your comment in #30 is exactly right.

    It’s relevant to note that several of the lead authors’ responses to reviewer comments are critical of Professor Kurt Lambeck of the Australian National University. The response to comment 6-590 says that “If Professor Lambeck would provide access to his preferred model of the Earth plus the time dependent ice load that he believes it was subjected to … then it would be possible to test its reasonableness. What we must assume in the absence of such openness is that his model continues to incorporate the very high value of the lower mantle viscosity he has advocated in the past …” The response to 6-596 says that “The problem in the literature is that the details of the preferred model of Lambeck et al have not been made available to the community … Where would Professor Lambeck like to store the “3 Greenlands” worth of additional ice? We are never informed.” And the response to 6-598 says “As stated previously the problem is that the model of the GIA process employed has never been demonstrated to fit the observations … The problem with the Lambeck et al model is most strikingly manifest …”

    All of these responses are to comments made by a French researcher, Dr. Claire Waelbroeck, who in another comment (6-582) says that “Overall, the work of Peltier [of the University of Toronto] is overcited in these three lines. Results from other earth models should also be cited as this is an assessment report of the current state of research and not someone’s personal list of publications…”

    I’m not able to evaluate the arguments, but Kurt Lambeck is a scholar of the highest distinction. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1984 (he’s currently the Academy’s President) and to the Royal Society (UK) in 1994. It is unconscionable that we cannot know whether Dr. Mitchell or Dr. Jouzel, who is a Vice Chair of the IPCC, required ANYTHING of the lead authors who have made such strong claims about the work of others.

    Professor John Chappell, the co-author with Lambeck of a 2001 paper in “Science” (“Sea Level Changes Through the Last Glacial Cycle”. vol. 292: 679-686) which the ISI Web of Science reports as having been cited 245 times, is also a Fellow of the AAS. The IPCC Report says that the sea level curve in this paper “suggests [a] history that conflicts with that based upon the extended Barbados record.” Drs. Mitchell and Jouzel should at least have sought the views of Professors Lambeck and Chappell on this matter, and if these were at odds with the findings of Chapter 6, these should have been reported in an Annex to the Chapter as required by the IPCC Principles quoted above.

  35. Ian Castles
    Posted Feb 3, 2008 at 7:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve now read more closely the reviewers’ comments and the lead authors’ responses on the treatment of sea level change during the last glacial cycle in Chapter 6 of the WGI Report. These are sufficient in themselves to show that the review editors failed to do their job as set out in the IPCC Principles and, more generally, that there was in this instance (as in many others) a critical failure in the Panel’s processes.

    Thus, in response to Claire Waelbroeck’s comment #6-582 that I’ve already cited, the lead authors said “A reference to the work of Siddal (sic) et. al. will be added”. However, Mark Siddall’s surname is misspelled both in the authors’ response and in the final IPCC report (p. 457, fifth last line) – an indication, at the least, that the lead authors and review editors paid little attention to his many pertinent comments (e.g., 6-506, 6-511, 6-584, 6-594, 6-595 and 6-600). Moreover, the general thrust of these comments suggests, at least to this layman, that Siddall was broadly supporting the position of Lambeck and Chappell – yet the IPCC report’s reference to him (I think it’s the only one) says that “The analysis … by Siddal (sic) et al further supports the validity of the interpretation of the extended Barbados record by Peltier and Fairbanks (2006)”. If the analysis by Siddall and colleagues in 2003 supported the validity of Peltier and Fairbanks (2006), which was still “In press” at the time of the Second Order Draft, I’m surprised at the comments made by Siddall on that draft. And, without drawing conclusions in relation to any individual, it also seems surprising to me that none of the seven authors of the Siddall et al paper (Nature, vol. 423, 19 June 2003), who were affiliated with four different institutions in UK. Israel and Germany, were members of the lead author team for Chapter 6. Nor, of course, were Kurt Lambeck, John Chappell, Claire Waelbroeck or Yusuke Yokoyama (first-named author of another paper that is criticised in the IPCC report, who also made an extended comment – 6-588 – which appears to me to be supportive of Lambeck and colleagues).

    The matter in dispute may be of more relevance to pre-history than to climate change science as such. In 1996 the late Professor Rhys Jones, an eminent Australian pre-historian, used a 1993 paper by John Chappell in support of the position that, during the last glacial maximum, “the sea for a brief period fell to some 150 m below its present level, which exposed an area of about a million square kms on the Arafura Shelf off the present north and northwest coasts of the continent and joined Australia to New Guinea (Rhys Jones, “The Skeptical Archaeologist” in National Academies Forum, “Australians and Our Changing Climate”, 25 November 1996, Summary of Proceedings, p. 29). If the best estimate of the last glacial maximum now puts sea level at around 120 m below present levels, rather than the 140 m level derived by Lambeck and Chappell (see IPCC Figure 6.8 on p. 458), conclusions such as those by Rhys Jones would presumably need to be reconsidered. That is the way that science advances, but it is somewhat disconcerting to find that the IPCC view (which is therefore now supported by all governments) came from a team in which there was no Australian among the 2 Coordinating Lead Authors, 14 lead authors, 32 contributing authors and 2 review editors.

  36. David Holland
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 5:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    An update.

    John Mitchell has replied to my letter and I am very grateful for that. He says “I have not kept any working papers. There is no requirement to do so, given the extensive documentation already available from IPCC.” He say he had “also consulted the IPCC” before replying. He has not answered, in a way I can understand, the specific question I asked concerning Steve’s comments 6-1198 and 6-1208 requesting data disclosure. He made no comment on the more general question of how given that Otto Bliesner sat on the NRC panel, the report of which was in the public domain before they started the final draft of Chapter 6, they make no mention of its critical findings on the “hockey stick” even though they cite the NRC report twice.

    WGI TSU have now sent me all the WGI Review Editors’ reports. Ian Castles’ sharp eye noticed that Sir Brian Hoskins’ report was dated a year later than the rest. As you might recall from my thoughts on John Mitchell’s indecision over dating I was quite willing to put it down to carelessness as I make mistakes like that. Ian persuaded me (fortunately) to press the matter and I wrote what I thought was a polite note to Sir Brian to ask if it was a mistake. I also asked to whom his report was sent, if he had sent any supplemental report anywhere and if he had any working papers that would give further information. I also mentioned that, on the face of it, the TSU did not have all the reports. This turned out not to be the case, but an innocent misunderstanding.

    Sir Brian did not reply, but a rather miffed TSU did with the rest of the reports, the text of which were all identical to Jouzel’s. I quite properly apologised for having caused an obviously irate Knight of the Realm to send some stiff missive to the overworked lady at TSU, but explained what I was trying to find out, namely who had seen the reports – if any one. The reply came back the reports were “hand carried” to the February 2007 WGI meeting in Paris where in her words they were “available upon request at the approval panel session”. So I asked if anyone did request to see them or if they were copied for anyone. There has not been a reply.

    My working hypotheses is that no one has read the reports or some one would have spotted the that two, besides Mitchell’s, were misdated and they would have been corrected. The same applies to the WGII reports where 3 are misdated and the create date on the consolidated pdf file I received was the same date as I received it. All but 3 of the WGI reports were held only in hard copy form. I have now written to the UK Minister, Hilary Benn, to ask who if any one in our government or acting from them had looked at them and the working papers of the IPCC assessment. I await his reply.

    As a taxpayer I feel entitled to ask what oversight there is of the considerable sums spent on the IPCC jamborees. The Met Office for instance were awarded a contract (google GA01087) worth £1,436,000 to run WGII and Martin Parry Associates (google GA01056) worth £280,906 to be Co-Chair of it. I hope a reader can find the contract details for WGI and Susan Solomon. If there was some evidence of great personal sacrifice involved in bringing us their alarming conclusions and that they were scrupulous in following the Principles Governing IPCC Work I might be more disposed to believe climate scientists.
    I will also mention that I have put in a submission to the Garnaut Review which some call the “Australian Stern Review” which they have just posted. Also worth noting is Nicholas Stern’s Submission.

  37. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 1:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #34-35

    I have been reading the reviewers comments on chapter 7, after having myself reviewed much of the literature on ocean-atmosphere interactions w/r to the carbon cycle. I was surprised that many of the leading researchers in the field were not amongst the contributors, let alone the coordinating authors. Furthermore, the contributors in that specific areas had all published together, so they obviously shared a particular point of view. One could say they were all part of a “Wegmanian” network. Nevertheless, they themselves made negative review comments on how their field had been poorly treated in the chapter! Actually, most of the review comments were from those contributing authors. So, even though they were “contributors”, they did not seem to have had any say on the writing itself. Looking at the list of reviewers from IPCC, I could not find anyone else involved in the field. I’m not sure if that list is exhaustive, however. Does anyone here know?

    In the end, even though the IPCC boasts itself as having been written and reviewed by thousands of scientists, one finds that only a handful actually wrote the report, and they seem to represent a single point of view. Someone may be an active researcher in a field, but if she is not amongst the lead or contributing authors, her work may not be reported or cited, and not being a reviewer, she won’t even be in a position to complain about it.

  38. Ian Castles
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 7:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    David Holland’s update (#36) raises new questions. Now that Review Editor Mitchell has advised that he did not keep any working papers it appears that, if there ever was any more than a ‘very slight degree of Review Editor oversight for what is supposedly the most carefully reviewed document in scientific history’ (Steve McI’s words: #17), no documentary evidence of the process survives (at least as far as Mitchell’s role as RE of Chapter 6 is concerned).

    To give John Mitchell his due, he has been more forthcoming than any other WGI RE. But what exactly does he mean when he says that he ‘consulted the IPCC’ before replying? It’s certainly not self-evident that the Principles cited above impose no requirement on an RE to keep a record. If the intergovernmental panel has now authorised an RE to make such a declaration, when, how and by whom was that decision made?

  39. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 7:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #38

    Actually, it is quite customary for a reviewer to be requested to destroy all his documents once the review is over. The IPCC should keep the records.

  40. Bernie
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 7:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hey, this is climate science. What did you expect an audit trail? SNE, HNE, SNE! As the tag line went to an old British sitcom – Never mind the quality, feel the width!!

  41. Ian Castles
    Posted Mar 31, 2008 at 7:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Francois, I agree that the IPCC should keep the records. I’d also say that a Review Editors’ task was not over until the requirement ‘that where significant differences of opinion on scientific issues remain, such differences are described in an annex to the Report’ has been fulfilled.

4 Trackbacks

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