Pielke Jr is off the mark quickly with a demonstration of an important Muir Russell misunderstanding of IPCC responsibilities, that invalidates much of their work on IPCC. (BTW it seems clear to me that Muir Russell contains many gaffes and errors, which are going to get placed into the sunshine over the next few days, as critics get a chance to work through the report. It’s too bad that Muir Russell decided that it was a good idea not to interview critics during the preparation of the report.
Roger highlights the following Muir Russellism:
Its purpose is to produce a “best estimate” of what is currently understood, through the work of a group of scientists chosen for their expertise and experience to make reasoned assessments on the balance of evidence. It is not to produce a review of the scientific literature.
Roger strongly contests this assertion. Roger cites actual IPCC procedures as opposed to apparent Muir Russell reliance on what Jones and Briffa told them.
The Muir Russell mischaracterization of the IPCC becomes relevant in the report when it uses the characterization as a criterion for evaluating the efforts revealed in the emails to minimize or exclude certain perspectives. For instance, the Muir Russell report explains with respect to one alleged instance of exclusion of peer reviewed literature from IPCC drafts that (p. 76):
Those within the [IPCC] writing team took one view, and a group outside it took another. It is not in our remit to comment on the rights and wrongs of this debate, but those within the team had been entrusted with the responsibility of forming a view, and that is what they did.
This speaks directly to problems of the IPCC, revealed to some degree by the emails, but of much broader concern. The IPCC is supposed to “identify disparate views” not hide them from view or take the side held by the author team. Had the Muir Russell review actually taken an accurate view of the IPCC, it is likely that its judgment about the appropriateness of the behaviors revealed by the emails would be considerably different.
It is not the job of the IPCC authors to serve as selective arbiters of the peer reviewed literature and judge which peer reviewed science they agree with and disagree with. This only invites extra-scientific considerations into the assessment process and a cherrypicking of the literature, rather than a considered assessment. The job of the IPCC should be exactly as it says it is — to produce a comprehensive, balanced and complete review of the relevant literature. If the IPCC finds itself in a situation where its author team reflects a perspective represented by only a subset of the literature, then the IPCC has a problem.
The released East Anglia emails — for better or worse — revealed some problems associated with in-group control of parts of the IPCC. Muir Russell’s sanctioning of in group behavior in the preparation of IPCC reports is a notable shortfall in what otherwise appears to be a nuanced and comprehensive assessment of the implications of the East Anglia emails.