Global Administrative Law Blog on the IPCC

I would like to draw readers’ attention to an extremely interesting discussion of the Wegman Report and the IPCC at the Global Administrative Law Blog on Apr 29, 2008, considering some of the issues from the perspective of administrative law. The author is Euan Macdonald of the Institute for International Law and Justice of New York University.

Macdonald first characterizes the IPCC in administrative law terms, with a comment on the Wegman report (the “independent analysis”) as follows:

It is thus a public body, whose output is intended, indeed expected, to have a significant impact on legislative and policy choices taken at the national, regional and global levels. It is not, therefore, much of a stretch to characterise its activity as fundamentally public/administrative in character. The independent analysis, which focuses largely on the standards that should apply when a public body relies on academic scientific research, makes a number of interesting administrative law-type recommendations:

Transparency
Macdonald then comments on several findings of the Wegman Report first commenting on transparency, noting with surprise that an author upon whose work the IPCC had relied on heavily had viewed “the code that he developed as his own intellectual property that he was no under obligation to disclose to peers”:

The independent analysis found that in many cases in which scientific papers are used as a basis for highly controversial policy documents, “the supplementary material [such as code and data] for academic work is often poorly documented and archived and is not sufficiently robust to withstand intense public debate”; and, moreover, that “[s]haring of research materials, data, and results is haphazard and often grudgingly done”, noting in particular that one of the leading academics in the field, upon whose work the IPCC relied heavily, viewed the code that he developed as his own intellectual property, that he was under no obligation to disclose to peers.

The independent analysis recommended that, where academic work is to be used for controversial policy papers, it must be subjected to a much more intense level of scrutiny, involving, inter alia, more disclosure of codes, data, and funding sources.

The author in question is, of course, Michael Mann. (In passing, Macdonald did not contest the issue of whether Mann was entitled to assert ownership of source code that he developed while in the employ of the Universities of Massachusetts (and perhaps Virginia) under federal funding. I’ve observed elsewhere that, legally, unless Mann had some peculiar term in his contracts, the code would be the property of the University of Massachusetts and that Mann’s assertion of title to the code inconsistent with the title of the true owner would therefore be an act of conversion. I do not have information on Mann’s employment terms and therefore express this only as a hypothetical.)

A point on transparency that Macdonald didn’t mention, but perhaps relevant, is that Procedures governing IPCC adopted by its constituent governments in the relevant assembly require it to be “open and transparent” and impose explicit archiving requirements, which IPCC and IPCC authors have not complied with. (Hence the FOI attempts.)

Statistical Participation
Macdonald noted the strong criticism in the Wegman report of the lack of statistical professionalism in studies relied upon by IPCC.

One of the central criticisms of the independent analysis is that the academic work upon which the conclusions of the IPCC were based, although relying heavily upon statistical analyses, did not interact with the mainstream statistical community in order to test and validate those analyses. It recommends that, where bodies such as the IPCC are reveiwing academic work with a view to basing their conclusions thereupon, they should ensure the participations of specialist, expert statisticians in that process. Clearly, this kind of participatory requirement is intended to increase the “output legitimacy” (i.e. the quality of the results) of the administrative process in question (in this case, the production of the IPCC’s report and findings).

The usual reaction of climate scientists to this particular criticism was to sneer – without fully understanding that people in administrative law using scientific reports are used to the idea that there is a difference between someone who is statistically qualified and someone who isn’t. And that this has implications in administrative law that may well differ from the implications for publishing an article in an academic journal.

Due Diligence
Under the heading “review” (what I usually call “due diligence”), Macdonald construes Wegman as advocating that IPCC itself carry out some form of due diligence, the absence of which is something that surprised me:

Lastly, and perhaps most tenuously, the independent analysis raised issues that can perhaps be read as a form of accountability: recommendations for strengthening the ex post review process. In this case, however, it is not the review of the administrative activity of global body (the IPCC) itself that is in question, but rather a requirement that it act as a reviewer of the academic work upon which it will base its findings. In this regard, the analysis notes simply that “[e]specially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake”, standard peer review mechanisms are likely to be inadequate; therefore, where it is to be used in service of a political goal, “academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review”. Indeed, the previous two issues, relating to transparency and participation, are in many ways simply complementary to this basic strengthening of ex post review. The report suggests, at least implicitly, that where the global body in question fails to discharge this more intensive review function, its own administrative output (the publication of findings and recommendations intended to influence legislative and policy programmes on climate change) should itself be regarded as lacking legitimacy.

There are many large questions here, most of which have been touched on here from time to time. And I do not know of exact solutions though I have some suggestions.

What intrigued me about the post was the concept of “global administrative law” itself, something that I’d not thought about as such with a proximate interest arising out of the varied and interesting responses of different organizations to our FOI requests.

In legal terms, the IPCC itself, in international law terms, would clearly appear to be an “international organization” under the U.S. International Organizations Immunities Act and similar legislation in other countries with the same immunities as a foreign sovereign nation. So when we face IPCC non-compliance with their explicit obligation to archive all written expert comments, an obligation that is part of a more general requirement that they be “open and transparent”, there is no obvious avenue for redress against IPCC itself other than public criticism, which inevitably escalates when they stonewall. An FOI action against the IPCC itself under U.S. or U.K. law would fail immediately.

However relatively little of IPCC’s work is done by its employees; most is done by cadres of scientists working in institutions that are not exempt from national FOI legislation. This raises interesting questions about exactly what hat an IPCC cadre is wearing when he is working on IPCC business while employed by a national institution. We’ve received varied answers from different national institutions in respect to FOI requests. There is a consensus on only one thing – that no information be disclosed. But each institution so far has had a different reason – each refusal based on a different theory of how one of their employees spends part of his work day doing work on behalf of an international organization not subject to national law. An interesting puzzle that I’ll discuss in another post.


58 Comments

  1. Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    That’s my criticism of the IPCC and its reports: unjustified legitimacy for its statements and no legal responsibility for the veracity and integrity of those statements.

    It is a legal quagmire that some authors are exploiting to avoid or defer the proper audit and replication of key studies. And somewhere, sometime, its going to have to stop.

    Steve: John A, as usual, your opinions on these matters are far more strident than mine.

  2. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    A question I have put to some audiences, to sharpen their appreciation of the problem here, is: Suppose we uncovered proof that a company had falsified information, or omitted material facts, in its financial reports. We can easily find out the phone number of the agency that we should contact to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute. Now suppose we find clear proof that the IPCC falsified information or omitted material facts in its report to governments. What is the phone number of the agency we can contact to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute?

    If anyone knows it, let me know because I want to tell them some things.

  3. Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    I think John A has described the situation accurately.

    Every activity, and I do mean there is not a single exception, that has the potential to affect the health and safety of the public must answer to an independent regulatory agency. And those agencies are legal entities that have the force of laws behind them. It cannot be any other way, of course.

    If anyone knows an exception, list it here and let’s discuss it.

    Here is something I ran across last week. Maybe it has already been mentioned on CA:

    Report on Statistics and Physical Oceanography
    Panel on Statistics and Oceanography
    Statistical Science, Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1994), pp. 167-201 (article consists of 35 pages)
    Published by: Institute of Mathematical Statistics

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2246320

  4. STAFFAN LINDSTROEM
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    #2 Ross, I hope WMO in Geneva can help you:
    +41 22730 8314 that’s for media contacts so
    please be seated in your journalist armchair…
    This time of the year I suspect VIPs are on
    holiday… I also saw that the May La Niña “forecast”
    was embargoed until June 24… And not a word about
    negative PDO, and “the current la Niña is just stalling
    AGW a little” free quote…so seems to
    be the right place…Good luck!

  5. Jaye Bass
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    each refusal based on a different theory of how one of their employees spends part of his work day doing work on behalf of an international organization not subject to national law. An interesting puzzle that I’ll discuss in another post.

    Sounds like a large defense contractor that spends say 10 million up front in IRAD, to win a 200 hundred million dollar contract, then call the whole thing proprietary because a small percentage of the work was done under IRAD. Sorta like an open source “virus” but backwards. Plenty of precedent for that sort of thing. The best we can hope for is that the IPCC can’t “infect” all the work that they use.

  6. Mucko
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    The refusal to make publicly available any and all data relevant to the papers used in the IPCC reports would indicate to any logical thinker that there are some very large and well known flaws in the processing of that data. The type of flaws indicated by this blank refusal usually only come about when the results are determined well in advance of the actual research.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

    Fo;lks and I know that this is sometimes hard – no complaining please, I’m going to delete complaints. IPCC is what it is – it’s an international organization. Nothing wrong with that. IPCC can’t help being an international organization ; it was structured that way. Talk matter of factly about international law.

  8. jeez
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    Little laws have big laws
    Some applied internationally
    And these big laws soon show flaws
    But seemingly not the IPPC

  9. jae
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Once again, WOW. Maybe some folks are taking notice and waking up!

  10. Harry Eagar
    Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    Why not ask Al Gore if he’s copacetic with non-disclosure?

    Seriously. International bureaucrats are expected to hunker down. IPCC is in no way unusual.

    Politicians, on the other hand, are sometimes susceptible to embarrassment and criticism.

  11. Posted Jul 19, 2008 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

    3 (Dan):

    Every activity, and I do mean there is not a single exception, that has the potential to affect the health and safety of the public must answer to an independent regulatory agency.

    The problem is that when the activity is performed it is not clear that it has the potential to affect the health etc. So it is, in general, impossible to answer to any agency at the point of performance. What agency should the author of E=mc^2 have answered to?

  12. henry
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    “IPCC is what it is – it’s an international organization. Nothing wrong with that. IPCC can’t help being an international organization; it was structured that way. Talk matter of factly about international law.”

    I thought there was a “world court” to deal with matters that concerned areas of law when more than one counrty is involved.

    Also, does this idea of “international law” trump the individual country laws? I believe the IPCC may RECOMMEND changes to local laws, but can’t force individual countries to MAKE changes to their local laws.

  13. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    Steve

    The reason that this is big and going to get bigger is that companies have an obligation (Duty of Care) under the law to mitigate risks to the business and the customer. With some stockholders clamoring for this or that global warming based initiative in stock holder meetings then there has to be a review to establish the level of risk and what the company can do to cover their risk.

    This almost inevitably is going to require a throrough and detailed review of both sides of the AGW issue to establish exactly what the risk exposure of the company is.

    Interesting.

  14. D. Patterson
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

    henry says:

    July 20th, 2008 at 12:48 am
    “IPCC is what it is – it’s an international organization. Nothing wrong with that. IPCC can’t help being an international organization; it was structured that way. Talk matter of factly about international law.”

    I thought there was a “world court” to deal with matters that concerned areas of law when more than one counrty is involved.

    Also, does this idea of “international law” trump the individual country laws? I believe the IPCC may RECOMMEND changes to local laws, but can’t force individual countries to MAKE changes to their local laws.

    The members of the IPCC are the sovereign nations and select international organizations. It is the duty and responsibility of the member nations to discipline its own citizen participants in the IPCC. Some participants amy have and enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaging in their IPCC activities. The World Court is principally devoted to the ajudication of disputes between sovereigns. Each member nation of the IPCC is responsible for the acts and contributions of its own participants by the authority of its Government Focal Point, Task Force membrs, and IPCC Secretariat liaisons. The Government Focal Point for Canada I suspect is:

    Director General – Climate Change International
    Atmospheric Science Assessment and Integration Division
    Gillin Building
    141 Laurier Avenue West
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3
    Canada
    Telephone:(819) 953-2668

    See also:

    Minister – The Honourable John Baird
    Environment Canada
    Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3
    Telephone or Fax
    Tel: (819) 997-1441
    Fax: (819) 953-3457
    Web Page and Email
    Minister Baird’s Home page
    Email: John.Baird@ec.gc.ca

  15. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 2:47 AM | Permalink

    Could be lots of hockey sticks here.

    This sesssion is being planned for the EGU 2009 Assembly in Vienna in April next year. Maybe you should present a paper or two, Steve, and colleagues too:

    http://www.cosis.net/members/meetings/skeleton/view.php?p_id=356

    Climate of the last millennium: reconstructions, analyses and explanation of regional and seasonal changes
    Convener: Mann, M.
    Co-Convener: Jones, P.; Jouzel, J.
    Public Links: Information, Organizer

    Suggest a new title/organizer for this session

    Suggest a new session/event below this one

  16. David Holland
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 2:49 AM | Permalink

    It might be appropriate here to give a brief update on my efforts to get disclosure. On 27th May I wrote to Dr Renate Christ, secretary to the IPCC, asking for the release of the information that the UK’s IPCC participants are refusing give me. Despite reminders she has not even acknowledged my request.

    I have previously mentioned that the Aarhus Convention (on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) seemed to have real teeth, which had for instance obliged the UK Government to redo its consultation on Nuclear Energy. The Convention is incorporated into European law and is implemented in the UK under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). Accordingly, I asked the Aarhus Convention secretary if the IPCC which is located in a signatory country is subject to provisions. I feel sure that he will happy for me to post his response:

    Thank you very much for your enquiry.

    To answer your question, UN bodies and intergovernmental bodies in general do not have any obligations under the Aarhus Convention. Rather, the obligations under the Convention are on the States and regional integration organizations which are Parties to it. These obligations include article 3, paragraph 7, of the Convention, which requires Parties to promote the application of the principles of the Convention in international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters relating to the environment.

    This means that while the IPCC has no obligations under the Aarhus Convention, those governments participating in it that are also Parties to the Convention are legally required to promote the application of the Convention’s principles within its framework. This could be relevant in case the IPCC member governments are taking or having input to a decision relating to the transparency of IPCC processes or availability of certain IPCC documentation.

    In case the information concerning the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and the changes in the assessment process that you refer to is held by any public authority of a State or regional integration organization* which is a Party to the Convention, then there may be a more direct route for obtaining the information. In such a case, you may invoke article 4 of the Aarhus Convention in requesting the information from any such public authority (irrespective of your own nationality, citizenship, domicile etc). The information does not need to have been generated by the public authority from which it is requested, it simply has to be held by it – though you should pay careful attention to the Convention’s definitions of ‘environmental information’ and ‘public authority’ as well as the possibilities for public authorities to withhold information under paragraphs 3 and 4 of article 4.

    I hope this is of some assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have further queries.

    Best regards,

    Jeremy Wates

    * In this context, this means the EU.

    In each of my requests to UK public authorities I have specifically asked for information under the EIR and with the exception of CRU each of the recipients has totally ignored the EIR in their responses. CRU said initially the request was EIR but then decided it was not. They have now completed an internal review, upheld Palmer’s refusal to disclose without any reference to EIR, and invited me to join the queue, of up to three years, for a ruling from the Information Commissioner.

    I can not see how the IPCC assessment and information that might indicate flaws in it could possibly be other than Environmental Information. However when three universities, the Met Office and DEFRA all studiously ignore The EIR in their responses I do wonder if I have missed something or is it, as it looks, an agreed team strategy to kick criticism into the long grass while they get on with AR5.

    If Steve will permit, I would like to ask if we have any UK legal lurkers that understand FOI/EIR and that might, ‘pro bono’, either on line or off line make suggestions as to how we might most effectively sink the teeth of the EIR into the (self snip) of the ‘hockey team’ UK branch.

  17. D. Patterson
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:00 AM | Permalink

    The IPCC is operated under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme. Environment Canada is the governemental organization in Canada responsible for participation in the IPCC. It makes you wonder how it is in any whatsoever possible for UK authorities to deny the obvious environmental activity connection?

  18. e.o
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:51 AM | Permalink

    The opportunity to raise questions for improper behavior against inernational organizations is during the budget hearing in various countries. As in the case of UNESCO under MBow, the US, UK and some countries witheld their contributions and went to a point of filing for withdrawal of their membership unless some changes are made. International organizations are well known for opaque and secretive decision making process and transparency is one of the key issues that non-governmental organizations are pushing and lobbying during budget hearing. However, almost all those NGOs pushing for transparency are on the the side of climate change and this is one issue that the public will not expect much for the NGOs struggle for transparency in international organizations. Nothing unusual, it is similar to the case of the IPCCC chair’s position to support his country’s climate change position (national interest) which has been described to contradict some of the IPCC scientific findings.

  19. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

    11 (Leif)

    All implementations of that equation that have potential health and safety consequences are regulated. From the most benign applications in medicine, to electricity production, to weapons. The latter applications receive attention on a global scale. Others at international and national scales.

  20. Michael Smith
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:10 AM | Permalink

    Steve requested in #7:

    Talk matter of factly about international law.

    It seems to me that “international law” is a fiction. Any “law” for which there is no enforcement agency or mechanism is not a “law” at all — such a “law” has no more power than a recommendation or a request.

    That’s why, as Ross points out in comment 2, there is no one to call to investigate suspected violations of these “laws”.

    That’s why IPCC participants are free to ignore its transparency “requirements” and “policy” with impunity.

    snip -venting

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    #20. Folks, I realize that this is a precarious request, but please don’t simply vent or give unfounded opinions.

    In some cases, international law does exist and does have effective resolution mechanisms, For example, the Law of the Sea Treaty is an excellent example of nations working together to establish a decision-making mechanism that works. It is a credit to the people that established it and implemented it. It yields decisions and actually resolves disputes.

    The point of conceptualizing the matter under “global administrative law” is to suggest practical ways of thinking of the matter rather than people whining – which I get tired of.

    Would some sort of FOI process governing the IPCC help? If so, how could such a thing be structured? It’s not the sort of thing that one would expect them to do voluntarily, but, as others have observed, the IPCC is governed by its national government members and maybe the governments would perceive such a pricess as enhancing the “open and transparent” process that they have mandated for IPCC. It’s not a law of nature that the IPCC not be subject to some sort of FOI. It’s just that right now there is no administrative mechanism governing them. Maybe there should be.

  22. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

    Michael Smith: now that is an “inconvenient” truth…

  23. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    If one can find people in the news media who will ask questions, they should be urged to ask people like Susan Solomon under what rules they operate, then follow up with more specific questions on their activities – information release, archiving, etc., especially with some important sessions coming up this year and next.

  24. stan
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    The term “international law” is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, there are international arrangements that have dispute resolution procedures. But these cannot be “enforced” in the way that a judgment in state or federal court can be enforced. The only way that a sovereign nation can be forced to do something against its will is through force i.e. war.

    Ultimately, resolution of the issues raised here will come from the governments of individual nations. Politicians in the US, UK or elsewhere will have to be roused to take an interest in the matter as the US govt did in the case of Mann.

    Politicians are actually very responsive to public pressure. Getting the IPCC to come clean would most likely happen when a US senator decided to make a stink about it. Somebody call Sen. Cornyn. He’s honest and he understands enough science to be a medical doctor.

    Steve: I referred to Law of the Sea where I have personal knowledge and can vouch that the process worked and the decisions have been binding. Please don’t over-generalize.

  25. George Tobin
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    The missing structure in the ‘IPCC as admin agency’ concept is the equivalent of an independent judicial review. FOI is not a substitute for that.

    Under the Administrative Procedures Act in the U.S., an agency must (a)reveal the identity anybody and anything they talked to or relied upon to devise their proposed action (b) open a docket for public comment and (most important) (c) make an open public substantive responses to every issue raised by public commenters. If they fail to do any of that or try to BS their way out when confronted by substantive concerns, then any citizen with even a tangentiallt affected interest interest can ask a federal judge to toss out the regulatory action at issue. This, for example, is how environmentalists largely shut down the US nuclear energy industry’s attempts to add reactors–by putting ‘what-if’ objections on the administrative record and then convincing a judge that the response was always inadequate.

    So the problem here is this: if the IPCC fails some APA-like standard of accountability, who you gonna call? There really is no UN third branch. There is only a larger bureaucratic context that will tend to act to protect its constituent parts from accountability.

    snip – please don’t vent.

  26. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    I sent the following email to Renate Christ of IPCC:

    Dear Dr Christ,

    I am writing to draw your attention to apparent non-compliance with IPCC archiving policies by certain IPCC authors and to request that you take appropriate action.

    The document entitled “Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports” states that:

    “The review process should be objective, open and transparent.”

    and in particular requires “all written expert and government review comments” to be retained in an open archive.

    “All written expert, and government review comments will be made available to reviewers on request during the review process and will be retained in an open archive in a location determined by the IPCC Secretariat on completion of the Report for a period of at least five years.”

    I am familiar with the Review Comments formerly located at http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/ and presently at http://hcl.harvard.edu/collections/ipcc/ , which states:

    “This collection contains the drafts, expert and government review comments, and author responses used to prepare Climate Change 2007 – The Physical Science Basis, the contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

    However, it has come to my attention that the collection does not include all written expert comments as required by the IPCC policy, as some participants in the IPCC process, either intentionally or unintentionally, circumvented the IPCC archive by submitting their written comments directly to chapter authors, rather than through the process established by IPCC, which was the basis for archiving control. In particular, IPCC author Caspar Ammann submitted written comments on AR4 chapter 6 directly to Keith Briffa. These written comments are not included in the open archive as required by IPCC policy. Chapter 6 Review Editor John Mitchell, another expert, has also stated that he made written comments directly to authors and these likewise do not appear in the archive.

    I request that you comply with your obligation to include “all written” expert comments in the open archive by asking Briffa to turn over to IPCC all written expert comments that he made or received that are not presently in the IPCC open archivem including all written comments received from Ammann or made to Ammann. I also request that you ask John Mitchell to likewise turn over all written expert comments that he made or received that are not currently incorporated in the open archive.

    Thank you for your attention,

    Stephen McIntyre

    I copied the parties involved together with the heads of their institutions.

  27. Bob B
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    Just some questions. If one were inclined to sue the IPCC ,who would have standing? Where would the suit need to be filed?

    Steve:
    Read the immunity legislation that I linked in my post. International organizations have sovereign immunity so any suit would be thrown out for lack of jurisdiction.

  28. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    Steve,
    It appears that the IPCC considers itself to be above the laws and regulations under which some other internatoinal orgnizations operate. As you stated your the final paragraph, the work is done by people employed by governmental (or quasi governmental) organizations in individual countries. These people can claim that the work is not done for their employers , but rather as private citizens so as to avoid FOI requests. This is in spite of the fact that most governmet agencies do not allow their employees to do “private” work using government resources.

    The individuals behavoir may or may not be breaking specific laws by which they could be penalized. Their managers, however, by allowing their subordinates to waste government resources would certainly be liable for disciplinary actions at the minimum. These managers are either allowing their subordinates to use government resources for privates use, or they are allowing their subordinates to falsely claim that they are doing private work while government employees to enable them to ignore FOI requests. In either case, the managers allowing improper behavoir by their subordinates and should be held accountable.

    Steve:
    I’m going to discuss the obligations of IPCC cadres under national law in a separate post.

  29. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    Brooks Hurd #28: …. The individuals behavoir may or may not be breaking specific laws by which they could be penalized. Their managers, however, by allowing their subordinates to waste government resources would certainly be liable for disciplinary actions at the minimum…..

    On the American side, Congress should assign the GAO to perform a comprehensive audit of all related issues, not only the intellectual property issues but also the climate data management issues and their potential impacts on policy decision-making processes and outcomes.

    If such a GAO audit were to be requested, we can predict that howls of protest would be forthcoming from the climate scientists themselves and from their supporters in Congress.

    So be it. Let’s see who supports the cause of honesty, integrity, and transparency in the pursuit of government-funded science, and who doesn’t.

  30. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    A precedent for the futility of suing international organisations is Butch Reynold’s lawsuit against the IAAF (based in Monaco). Butch won a decision against IAAF in a US court (~$27million) upon appeal it was overturned on the basis of the lack of jurisdiction. A few years later Mary Slaney attempted to sue the IAAF which the court declined again on the basis of lack of jurisdiction. I and several other athletes were briefly threatened by the IAAF with banning from international competition if we ran against Reynolds!

    Steve: Pretty impressive to have considered for the same track as Reynolds!! I’m impressed. Lawsuits in general tend to be unappetizing. But aside from that, lack of jurisdiction over IPCC is very clear, as I noted in my post (not that you disagreed). I once spent most of a day with the famous marathon runner, Bill Rodgers. We were both in Caracas during the Chavez revolt around 1994; the hotel was attacked and we ended up on the floor under the same table in the underground evacuation area where we chatted under unusual circumstances to say the least.

  31. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    I continue to follow these pursuits of data and methodologies with interest and intentions to learn how (im)penetrable these processes and organizations are when pushed to finally taking the issue seriously.
    In the meantime, however, knowing the mean time for stalling and/or reaction to public opinion can be lengthy, what are we to think?

    I take the following excerpts from Steve M’s excerpts in the introduction to this thread to summarize what I judge to be the intermediate course of action, at least for me:

    Be very suspicious of the quality of scientific papers that withhold data and methodologies – for any reason.

    Have no compunctions to label as lacking legitimacy the outputs of any organization that does not go to reasonable lengths to make their reviews transparent.

    The independent analysis found that in many cases in which scientific papers are used as a basis for highly controversial policy documents, “the supplementary material [such as code and data] for academic work is often poorly documented and archived and is not sufficiently robust to withstand intense public debate”; and, moreover, that “[s]haring of research materials, data, and results is haphazard and often grudgingly done”, noting in particular that one of the leading academics in the field, upon whose work the IPCC relied heavily, viewed the code that he developed as his own intellectual property, that he was under no obligation to disclose to peers…

    ..The report suggests, at least implicitly, that where the global body in question fails to discharge this more intensive review function, its own administrative output (the publication of findings and recommendations intended to influence legislative and policy programmes on climate change) should itself be regarded as lacking legitimacy.

  32. D. Patterson
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    Michael Smith says:

    July 20th, 2008 at 6:10 am
    Steve requested in #7:

    Talk matter of factly about international law.

    It seems to me that “international law” is a fiction. Any “law” for which there is no enforcement agency or mechanism is not a “law” at all — such a “law” has no more power than a recommendation or a request.

    That’s why, as Ross points out in comment 2, there is no one to call to investigate suspected violations of these “laws”.

    That’s why IPCC participants are free to ignore its transparency “requirements” and “policy” with impunity.

    snip -venting

    It ‘s not that “there is no one to call to investigate suspected violations,” because there is always someone to call for each member nation/state. The IPCC relies upon the Government Focal Point for each nation to govern the activities of that nation’s participants in the IPCC affairs. If and when a particular Government Focal Point is non-responsive to requests for compliance to any IPCC agreements or related international law, a plaintiff may pursue whatever processes of law, political review and influence, and public relations which the plaintiff may find effective in gaining the desired compliance. There is always someone to call in the first instance. It is the Governement Focal Point. Unfortunately, it is typically the leadership and members of the Government Focal Point who are all too often the same people who the plaintiff believes are not in compliance with the IPCC agreements. So, appealing to the Government Focal Point is too often the same as appealing to the same people you are complaining are not in compliance in the first place. Consequently, it is necessary under such circumstances to take the complaint to whatever executive, legislative, and judicial bodies which may exercise the authority and/or influence necessary to compel the Government Focal Point and its members to comply with the required agreements.

    “IPCC participants are free to ignore its transparency ‘requirements’ and ‘policy’ with impunity” only so long as good people aquiesce to the conduct and fail to effectively negotiate and encourage compliance when possible or compel compliance when necessary. While IPCC participants may at first glance appear to be at greater liberty to disregard some obligations than another governement employee, they are in reality just as highly vulnerable to political disapproval as they may presently be highly invulnerable to political disapproval. As they say, it is a two-way street or a double edged sword. A change in political will can be just as unfavorable as it can be favorable in a given activity. The IPCC is a political organization, and it is by its nature subject to political will. To gain compliance, gain the political will and authority to compel the Governement Focal Point to comply with the IPCC requirements.

    If the IPCC and/or UNEP prove to be too uncooperative replace their leadership with others who are cooperative, or scrap the IPCC and/or UNEP and replace them with organizations who satisfy your requirements and objectives. Build a new consensus which honors science and serves mankind well, and not well done or well fleeced.

  33. Pete
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    If resolution of the disclosure issue ultimately must end up somewhere in the political spectrum, there would possibly be a huge amount of political capital to put on the line for those who are on the fence.

    In making a decision, I imagine those politicians would want to surmise about the likelihood of an outcome leading to anything of “substance”. If all that arises from their action is release of an e-mail that included, for example, an embarrassing review comment that had no impact on IPCC conclusions or haphazard research materials, data, or results that were “nothing more” than haphazard, that politician may have “wasted” a huge amount of capital.

    But, going down the path of surmising too much in advance on the content of e-mail or haphazard research materials, data, or results is not in the interest of the broader importance of openness, so the case must be made only on this basis. (I surmise)

    #18 (e.o): I agree with the budget process as a potential avenue to pursue disclosure improvements as this is where technical, managerial and political activities can interface. It actually could be a better place to pursue disclosure because politicians on the fence may not need to expend the same capital as if disclosure was pursued as a stand alone political action.

  34. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    #33 and others. Again I urge readers to view this more as a question of administative law than something to get excited about. The reason for the lack of forthcoming-ness is most likely due to embarrassment over the shoddiness of the contribution (John Mitchell for example seems to have done nothing to warrant being Review EDitor and is reluctant to have this in black and white.)

    This is not an issue that I would single out as a priority out of all the issues in the field nor one where I would expend political capital. However, I see no reason not to seek answers from IPCC and see if they will voluntarily comply with their policies when the non-compliance is brought to their attention.

  35. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    David Holland #16

    You could try Heather Brooke, the UK freedom of information campaigner.

  36. Mark Wells
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    There is a lot of unjustified speculation going on in this thread attributing malicious motives to scientists, universities, and the IPCC for the refusal to disclose information about studies.

    It is, of course, entirely possible that a professor would not like to disclose the full history and record of his research for fear of someone finding an error, or witnessing some kind of sloppiness. But is it not also possible that the majority of FOI requests will be made by those with an agenda to discredit that professors work? Is it not also fair that scientists do not feel obliged to disclose the full record of their work for review by non-experts? Is it not also possible that this push for openness as a condition of public funding could stifle legitimate avenues of research if said research became a political liability for the governing body that funded it?

    The due diligence proposed in the post would also have a stifling effect on research. In essence such a standard would require all research to adhere to the higher standard of archiving, transparency, and peer review “just in case” such research revealed a trend or phenomenon that would be in the public’s interest to have addressed by policy.

    Finally regarding the complaint about the lack of avenues for redress in international law: well, welcome to international law.
    snip -politices


    Steve:
    Did you even read the post? The information in question here has nothing to do with research in general. It is a highly specific discussion of whether IPCC has disclosed all written expert comments as it is required to do under the procedures established for it by its constituent governments. If they haven’t, we are entitled to observe that they haven’t and criticize them for not complying with their resolutions, just as people are entitled to criticize non-compliance by other organizations. Whether anyone can do anything about it is a different matter, but you never know unless you try. We’ve had some luck with them in the past. As a result of a previous initiative at CA, IPCC reluctantly put a version of Review Comments online, which, even though somewhat incomplete, has been very interesting. As I noted above, I’ve written to the IPCC drawing the matter to their attention and perhaps they will address the matter of their own will.

  37. don
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    snip – Ive asked people to resist the temptation to moralize or vent.

  38. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Mark Wells says: “The due diligence proposed in the post would also have a stifling effect on research. In essence such a standard would require all research to adhere to the higher standard of archiving, transparency, and peer review “just in case” such research revealed a trend or phenomenon that would be in the public’s interest to have addressed by policy.”

    In most cases, what is being asked for on this site is at least the level of documentation that is required in other fields and a level that is not onerous. For example, international archives exist for tree ring and other paleo data and these data are usually simple text files of columns of numbers. Not a big deal. Since the field has already become “hot” politically it is curious that people object to the standards that already apply for medical research or toxicology or nuclear safety. NIH grants I believe require that a statistician be on the proposal (someone correct me here if I’m wrong). There are protein structure and genome databases to which one must submit data upon publication. Taxonomists are supposed to (and usually do) submit voucher specimens to museums for the new species they report. Archaelogists have procedures for carefully logging in their finds and depositing them in museums. There is a physical archive for ice cores and one (or more?) for ocean drilling cores. In some cases we are talking about big organizations like NASA who have known for decades that the data are important but can’t seem to archive data and keep overwriting it as they change it.

  39. Michael Smith
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    D. Patterson, regarding your comment 32:

    Sure, there is always the possibility of persuading a sufficient percentage of mankind to change the IPCC. But I don’t see that the mere existence of that possibility rebuts my contention that “international law” is a fiction. There is, after all, a distinction between the *existence* of an agency that functions as an enforcement mechanism — versus the mere *possibility* that one may succeed in building sufficient support for the creation of such an agency to make it a reality.

    Nor do I think that Steve’s citing of treaties rebuts my contention, either. I’m not saying all treaties are useless or ineffective — they are not — but the fact remains that if and when governments decide to *ignore* treaties, there is no third party with the power to enforce compliance. There is, at that point, only the option of one or more governments deciding to use force to compel compliance.

    I readily concede that there is a body of rules that is generally referred to as “international law” and that many nations pledge to be bound by them. But if they were real laws, such pledges would not be necessary.

  40. Mark Wells
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Furthermore, on the topic of disclosure, why does a reader of your blog have to search elsewhere to learn that the highest academic qualification you hold is a Bachelor of Science, that you have worked as an advisor to an oil and gas exploration company?


    Steve:
    In the FAQ , I state:

    Do you have any competing financial interests that, through their potential influence on behavior or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of a publication (including postings at this blog)?

    The above statement is taken from Nature here, which states:

    Competing financial interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behavior or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of a publication. They may include any of the following:
    Funding: Support for a research program (including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through publication of this paper.
    Employment: Recent (i.e. while engaged in this research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through publication of this paper.
    Personal financial interests: stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication.

    The answer is that I do not.

    I’ve observed previously at the blog that I don’t get paid to do climate work and I can’t do this on the level that I’m doing it, while also doing business, so my business interests have lapsed. A number of years ago, a gold exploration company that I was involved underwent a reverse takeover by a small oil and gas exploration company, which has no production and no interest one way or another in Kyoto. I did a limited amount of business consulting for them and virtually none over the last couple of years. I don’t do this for financial reasons, I do it because I enjoy it.

    I’ve provided a CV listing academic qualifications when requested, most recently to the House Energy and Commerce Committee a couple of years ago. The issue hasn’t come up too often as most people are satisfied that my writings speak for themselves as to whether I’m competent on the topics that I address.

  41. Joel Black
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    #37, Mr. Wells,
    Your comments reveal an interesting point of view. Your statement that there is “unjustified speculation” on this thread remains to be seen. I do not doubt that the vast majority of all FOI requests anywhere in the world origninate from individuals who seek to discredit the points of view of the various authors. That is the whole point of FOI. Those who already agree with an author would not likely be as interested in their methods as those who disagree. Whether scientists feel “obliged” to provide information for review by non-experts is not germaine. Why would anyone feel that any legitimate threat could arise from non-expert opinion? Your comments regarding the stifling of research through transparency and peer review would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous. That the truth as revealed by any research should be subject to political concerns shows extactly the point of requiring all public expenditures of research funds come with complete transparency. What is politics without truth? Finally, international standards of scientific conduct and ethics should be adhered to whether or not the person or organization is subject to any court.

  42. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Mark Wells, if you are ligit, I want to thank you for putting the weakest possible agruments against transparency and availability of research data and methods all in one place for us to view. Do you actually know any scientists who adhere to any of your reasons for witholding data and other information?

  43. Dan White
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

    ,,,

    Steve – I would send an email concerning this, but there isn’t a way to do so. I have no opportunity to respond to this as you don’t want politics discussed here. I would ask that you consider snipping this text from the post of 7/20 at 2:40 pm.

    Thanks.

    Steve – will do. Thank you for reqesting this rather than engaging in a food fight. I will delete this reference as well.

  44. Mark Wells
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    To #41
    re: unjustified speculation

    See #33″

    The reason for the lack of forthcoming-ness is most likely due to embarrassment over the shoddiness of the contribution

    That is clearly imputing a motive to a wide swath of researchers and research institutions.

    Steve:
    You seem to have a lot of trouble reading what I wrote. If I want to impute a motive to a “Wide swath” of people, I’ll do so in plain language. I didn’t do so here. At issue here are not the Review Comments which were submitted properly through the IPCC process but the comments which were not included in the archive, citing Mitchell as an example. In this case, my point was to discourage readrs form speculating that there was some sort of smoking gun in the withheld comments. In my opinion, Mitchell is simply embarrassed at how feeble his written contributions as Review Editor were and is embarrassed at that. OTherwise, I’m sure that he’d willingly turn over his review comments. As to why Ammann and Briffa are withholding those comments, I suspect that the reluctance relates more to pettiness and spitefulness.

  45. John F. Pittman
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    #41 Joel Black
    I think

    the vast majority of all FOI requests anywhere in the world origninate from individuals who seek to discredit the points of view of the various authors. That is the whole point of FOI.

    is probably incorrect. This is what gets in the news. Persons such as I and the consultants I have hired pursue FOI just as many have done…for information. One may assume that information will discredit an organization. I, however, have used FOI for information that was useful such as data, engineering criteria, and even the record in order to have a complete file on an issue. Generally I have found FOI officers more than willing to help someone pursue this information. I am a bit at loss considering the problems some have had, myself included, in getting information from certain parties. In my professional career I have not had these problems, as documented by CA, or that I have had, trying to get certain climate science data.

  46. jmmllr
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 5:21 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    In reference to comment #1. It seems like you always jump on John A.’s comments to indicate that whatever he writes is his opinion and may not match your viewpoint. It is getting to be very disconcerting. His comments were not really that harsh in this case and in several other cases.
    Perhaps you can just put up an automatic comment that indicates John A. viewpoints are his own and may not reflect your viewpoint instead of verbally slapping him on the nose all the time.

    Steve: Point taken. But John A and I have been through some wars together; we’re used to each other. JOhn A, no slight intended. But I try to discourage people from being angry.

  47. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    http://www.utexas.edu/research/tipi/reports2/foia_doty.pdf

    According to an earlier snapshot, about 60% of Federal FOIA requests came from private businesses trying to gather competitive information about other businesses, 25% from the public, and 5-8% from the press (Relyea, 1987). Currently, those proportions may still be roughly accurate, although fewer newspaper stories and editorials refer to their reliance on FOIA requests than in the past (Harold Relyea, 2000, personal communication). While the press appears not to be a major FOIA requester, the press often does not need a formal request to get access to information. Instead, it is common in the U.S., as elsewhere, for members of the news media to rely on personal/professional relationships with policymakers and their staffs to get access to information that is, ostensibly, public. That sort of access has many benefits for the public, but it also hints at possible compromise of the press’ independence from government.

    Among the most important elements of FOIA are its nine specific exemptions,instituted to help keep this balance. These exemptions are (5 USC 552(b)):

    1. Information protected by Executive Order by the President or by security classification
    2. Information related to agencies’ internal personnel rules and practices
    3. Information protected by other statutes
    4. Trade secrets and privileged financial information
    5. Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters if they would not usually be available except in litigation
    6. Personnel, medical, and other files the “disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”
    7. Law enforcement information if disclosure would interfere with law enforcement, right to a fair trial, privacy, and other goals
    8. Information related to the supervision of financial institutions
    9. Geological and geophysical information concerning wells.

    These exemptions and the way that they are sometimes arbitrarily enforced are among the most controversial characteristics of FOIA in the United States.

    My emphasis in bold added.

  48. WALTER CAMACK
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

    YOU POSTED AN EARLIER COMMENT OF MINE ,INCLUDING MY E-MAIL ADDRESS, WHICH YOU SAY WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. THE COMMENT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN, BUT MY ADDRESS IS STILL GIVEN.PLEASE REMOVE IT.

  49. Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

    Re: #48

    Nothing from you in this thread except this one.

  50. Mark Wells
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    You seem to have a lot of trouble reading what I wrote. If I want to impute a motive to a “Wide swath” of people, I’ll do so in plain language. I didn’t do so here.

    Okey dokey. Not a wide swath.

    In my opinion, Mitchell is simply embarrassed at how feeble his written contributions as Review Editor were and is embarrassed at that. OTherwise, I’m sure that he’d willingly turn over his review comments. As to why Ammann and Briffa are withholding those comments, I suspect that the reluctance relates more to pettiness and spitefulness.

    Just a few.

    Steve:
    You got a better explanation? I’d be happy to provide a more generous interpretation if you have one.

  51. Mark Wells
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    Mark Wells, if you are ligit, I want to thank you for putting the weakest possible agruments against transparency and availability of research data and methods all in one place for us to view. Do you actually know any scientists who adhere to any of your reasons for witholding data and other information?

    Nope, I’m just speculating, proposing arguments that could be made for withholding data.

    And P.S. to Steve: thanks for pointing out your FAQ page.

    Steve:
    IT’s not an up-to-date FAQ page and was really dealing with issues from a couple of years ago. But I did want to say somewhere that I’m not, in Michael Tobis’ phrase, “in it for the gold”. Having said that, I have no objection to making money.

  52. D. Patterson
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    39 Michael Smith says:

    July 20th, 2008 at 3:03 pm
    D. Patterson, regarding your comment 32:

    Sure, there is always the possibility of persuading a sufficient percentage of mankind to change the IPCC. But I don’t see that the mere existence of that possibility rebuts my contention that “international law” is a fiction. There is, after all, a distinction between the *existence* of an agency that functions as an enforcement mechanism — versus the mere *possibility* that one may succeed in building sufficient support for the creation of such an agency to make it a reality.

    I understand the point of view you are expressing, and I am familiar with the reasoning behind it. However, I must must point to some reasons why describing the international law as merely “fiction” is unsustainable, unless you also regard all law as fiction. For example with respect to the apparent non-compliance with certain IPCC agreements, seeking a remedy requires either an administrative relief from the IPCC itself, the Government Focal Points, or the government/s authorized to govern the Government Focal Points. This is due to the fact that sovereign right to resolve disputes is reserved to sovereigns and extended to affairs between sovereign governments. International government is literally defined as government inter or between governments. Laws which are superior to and limit the rights of sovereigns is properly termed as supranational government. Are these legal concepts a polite or impolite fiction? Perhaps, if you subscribe to a subjective point of view. It must be noted that international law and supranational law are in fact real and often devastatingly so whenever they are executed. Does a failure to apply and execute an international law or supranational law in some or most cases necessarily mean or imply such law is a fiction? If so, then national laws must also be no less fictional, because they too are sometimes or perhaps most times not executed or enforced either.

    For example, how often are drivers who exceed the speed limits and incur the risk of killing and maiming other people actually arrested and prosecuted to enforce laws prohibiting speeding and reckless driving? Ask yourself how often the laws prohibiting murder are not enforced? How often are laws regarding falsification of tax returns not enforced? How often do you suppose there is a failure to enforce the obligations of the IPCC under international law versus these other national and sub-national laws?

    It is not necessary to create “such an agency to make it a reality.” The agency exists under national laws. For Canada the agency is Environment Canada. For the United States the agency is NOAA. When acceptable remedies are not available from those agencies, there are regulations and legal statutes which provide other avenues to secure a remedy. They do have the authority to enforce the agreements with respect to their own participation. If and when these organizations fail to do so, it is a failure of national law, because all international law or public law between sovereign nationals is a failure of the respective national laws.

    Nor do I think that Steve’s citing of treaties rebuts my contention, either. I’m not saying all treaties are useless or ineffective — they are not — but the fact remains that if and when governments decide to *ignore* treaties, there is no third party with the power to enforce compliance. There is, at that point, only the option of one or more governments deciding to use force to compel compliance.

    The same is true of intra-national disputes involving insurrection and more. President Andrew Jackson once said of the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court: “Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it….” President Jackson gave substance to the constitutional law regarding the principle of separation of powers by asserting and exercising it, rather than making it a fiction with inaction.

    I readily concede that there is a body of rules that is generally referred to as “international law” and that many nations pledge to be bound by them. But if they were real laws, such pledges would not be necessary.

    Again, the IPCC agreements are an extension of the national laws into the relations between sovereign governments, so they are just as real or not as the national laws from which they originate. Making any law amount to more than a fiction requires responsible leadership which is accountable for the application of the law. When you and other members of your respective communities work together to re-change and restore non-biased leadership of the WMO to reflect your concerns for enforcement of the relevant agreements, you’ll quickly see IPCC come into compliance with those agreements. It has taken more than 35 years for the present leadership of the WMO, UNEP, and their member nations and organizations to mutually appoint people sharing the same beliefs and goals. Changing the leadership in only a few dozen critical positions in these organizations is sufficient to very rapidly restore an effective semblance of unbiased participation by opposition parties in the scientific and political deliberations of the IPCC. Without responsible leadership, accountability is lost. Without accountability, enforcement of regulations, laws, and agreements can be disregarded with impunity. Once any embargo on divergent scientific research has been terminated, the public can and most likely will reflect the merits of this diversity in scientific research. If you really and truly want divergent scientific research to be accorded a fair and proper hearing and consideration by the IPCC and the public, it is up to each and everyone to insist upon it and not take no for an answer. Otherwise, inaction results in a legal fiction, because ultimately and in concert with others, YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT responsible for the leadership representing you.

  53. Jeff Norman
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 7:28 PM | Permalink

    I wonder if Steve’s e-mail to Dr. Renate Christ of the IPCC is just part of the background noise or something truly anomalous.

    Are there other people peppering them with these kinds of requests?

  54. Jim Edwards
    Posted Jul 20, 2008 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    The Alarmists may someday regret the lack of transparency at IPCC.

    It is probable that future Int’l Treaties that purport to bind gross polluters like China will include executory clauses that will only spring into effect upon some triggering event, reported by a “neutral” party like IPCC. Failure to properly document the basis of IPCC’s claims could allow a nation to refuse to follow through with their treaty obligations – where the nation disputes the “neutral” party’s good faith and duty of care. A gross polluter could rightfully claim to be a signatory in good standing but refuse to modify their behavior until IPCC goes back and brings all of the relevant documentation into compliance with Wegman’s proposed standards.

    Of course, this difficulty only exists when we ask countries to have faith in the output of imperfect men and women and not under a more objective scheme such as that called for by Ross McKitrick’s T3 tax.

    Michael Smith [#20, 39] and Stan [#24], above are basically right that countries exist in a state of nature with each other so no entity can force another country to follow an international law without some threat or application of economic, diplomatic, or military force. International law is, in many ways, like contract law, and countries obey it b/c it’s in their interest to follow through with their agreements.

    They’re only looking at one-half of the nature of law, however. Law can create POWER in a sovereignty to force a person, corporation, or gov’t to comply with desired behavior. Where int’l law creates POWER, an affected country can choose to comply with an adverse ruling or reneg on it’s agreements.
    Law can also create a DEFENSE to legal obligations. Where int’l law creates a DEFENSE, an affected country can refuse to comply with adverse policies while remaining in good standing in it’s agreements.

    Most countries want free access to the oceans, and want to know where national boundaries are, so Steve M.’s [#21] example of the Law of the Sea is a great example of international law that will be respected by sovereign countries. Climate treaties are different. Many countries might find it in their interest to sign on to climate treaties to get along with Western democracies. Western countries will very likely offer some incentive for developing countries like China and India to sign on. The developing countries may later find it in their interest to look for loopholes once the mandated policies that will retard economic growth kick in.

    Who knows ? An IPCC that doesn’t comply with its own policies may end up forming a big loophole.

  55. Dodgy Geezer
    Posted Jul 21, 2008 at 5:06 AM | Permalink

    Of interest may be this item which is now being covered by the well-known political UK blogger Guido Fawkes (Order-Order.com)

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/online_petitions_documents_from_#incoming-104

    Apparently all data passed from the UK Parliament under the Freedom of Information Act has Parliamentary Copyright. So you can ask a question and get a (possibly embarrassing) answer, but you’re not allowed to tell anyone about it! FOI is strictly single-person!

    So, Steve, perhaps you may get data from the Hadley centre, but you then mustn’t use it on your web site….

  56. trevor
    Posted Jul 21, 2008 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    From a post at RC:

    http://www.tech-know.eu/uploads/Letter_UN_Sec_Gen_Ban_Ki-moon.pdf

  57. Joe Solters
    Posted Jul 21, 2008 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    Re: 46 et al. The application of administrative law activities related to discovery of data supporting UN technical products, IPCC in particular, is not out of reach entirely. The US Congress can require by law, all US agencies and companies to agree to provide relevant data, and workpapers and supporting back-up to the general public, if that data or studies are provided to IPCC in any format whatsoever. Congress can condition the UN budget or require the data production through any of the US agencies with climate change US budgets, such as NASA which interact in any way with IPCC. The President could direct all agencies to responde accordingly with an appropriate dirertive as well. EPA for example is covered by the Administrative Procedures Act(APA) and could be designated as lead agency for data source issues pertaining to all US companies or agencies submitting any information to the UN regarding climate change. (Obviously, data supplied by other sources is another problem.) Additionally, the congress could require all Federal agencies that use, in any way, data or publications of any IPCC products, to be subject to full APA discovery scrutiny. This would fix problems with EPA or NASA from using IPCC output for any purpose, political or honest, without disclosing supporting data; oe else recognize expressly that the data is untested for authenticity.

  58. John David Galt
    Posted Jul 26, 2008 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    IPCC may well enjoy legal protection against having to disclose details of its methods — but the scientific community should be all over them if they don’t. If a report doesn’t disclose enough details that other scientists can reproduce it and/or evaluate its findings, then it isn’t science.

    For that matter, Sweden’s Nobel Prize committee should have asked these questions itself, and demanded sound answers — and by not doing so, its members have discredited themselves as judges of science. I call on them to resign so that the committee can regain its own credibility.

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