Stocker’s Earmark: An Update

Interesting news at Bishop Hill. A UK minister informed David Holland’s MP that the extra secrecy measures at IPCC, arising from the instigation of Phil Jones and persistence of Thomas Stocker, arose unintentionally and as a “drafting error”.

The Inter Academy Council had strongly endorsed transparency at IPCC:

it is essential that the processes and procedures used to produce assessment reports be as transparent as possible.

Transparency is an important principle for promoting trust by the public, the scientific community, and governments. Interviews and responses to the Committee’s questionnaire revealed a lack of transparency in several stages of the IPCC assessment process, including scoping and the selection of authors and reviewers, as well as in the selection of scientific and technical information considered in the chapters.

This had been strongly opposed by Phil Jones, (see CA post here which reviews Jones’ correspondence with Stocker.) Stocker led a bureaucratic counter-offensive urging more confidentiality:

Confidentiality is part of the basic way in which IPCC goes about its work..

Stocker’s bureaucratic intrigues (see CA post here and David Holland here) led to the adoption of language at the May 2011 IPCC meeting that increased confidentiality (see contemporary Bishop Hill post here).

As a result of David Holland’s further initiatives, the UK Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change wrote to his MP as follows:

We are aware that this new text would mean that reviewers would not have the opportunity to see how their comments had been addressed by IPCC authors before acceptance of the final report. It was not the IPCC’s intention to change the procedures in this way and it is likely a drafting error. Indeed, the intention of the update in the procedures was to increase openness in the way that IPCC reports are prepared. We understand that the IPCC is aware of this issue and intends to address it at the next appropriate opportunity.

The IPCC meets in early June.

I’m betting on Sir Humphrey.


16 Comments

  1. Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Jones and Stocker, too clever by half did
    Lots of work in how changes were crafted
    But one error we see
    Fairly transparently
    Is in who was permitted to draft it

    There is so much “transparent” retracted
    They won’t give up and show what the facts did!
    How they reach their results
    (As with L-ronner cults)
    Is a process quite fiercely redacted

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  2. Adam Gallon
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “We understand that the IPCC is aware of this issue and intends to address it at the next appropriate opportunity”

    Any bets on the timescale?
    I’m looking at a decadel scale.

    • observa
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes Minister, we are aware of the problem but with such limited resources we will clearly need more funding to set up a proper Committee to deal with the issue more appropriately.

  3. Paul Matthews
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    According to this document

    https://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session35/doc11_correctionApendixA.pdf

    the wording

    “All written expert, and government review comments will be made available to reviewers on request during the review process”

    had been incorrectly deleted from the procedures and is to be reinstated.

    • Jeff Alberts
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Maybe they deleted it due to that erroneous comma after “expert”.

  4. David Holland
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The documents for the June IPCC meeting are here. The proposal in Doc11 merely puts back the Stocker-Jones deletion:

    All written expert, and government review comments will be made available to reviewers on request during the review process.

    This does not implement what the UK government’s stated view is:

    We are aware that this new text would mean that reviewers would not have the opportunity to see how their comments had been addressed by IPCC authors before acceptance of the final report. It was not the IPCC’s intention to change the procedures in this way and it is likely a drafting error.

    Lets see if the Minister sticks to his statement and insists on a proper review process.

  5. Rod Montgomery
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Am I the only one who sees the Minister’s response as dancing carefully and quietly around the difference between reducing access for IPCC authors and reducing access for the public?

    Has the Minister tried to answer an expression of concern about access for the public with a statement of enthusiasm for access for IPCC authors only?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Restoring the former status quo does not sufficiently empower reviewers. Reviewers should be entitled to see the file of Review COmments and Responses from the point at which they become available. The IPCC TSU interprets “review period” very narrowly to only be the period when drafts are out for comment. In practice, this means that interested reviewers can see the First Draft review comments (without responses) during the 6 weeks of the Second Draft review. And never see Second Draft review comments (or responses) until public availability.

  6. theduke
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It was not the IPCC’s intention to change the procedures in this way and it is likely a drafting error.

    No, Minister.

    A drafting error is when someone transcribes a document and, for example, inadvertently leaves the word “not” out a sentence such as this: “The IPCC will not tolerate compromises in its policy of openness and transparency.”

    • matthu
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Or:

      A drafting error is when someone transcribes a document and, for example, inadvertently INSERTS the word “not” into a sentence such as this: “The IPCC will not tolerate compromises in its policy of openness and transparency.”

  7. Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm … well, according to http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session35/doc11_correctionApendixA.pdf there is the following proposed amendment to Appendix A on the table:

    “All written expert, and government review comments will be made available to reviewers on request during the review process.”

    The rest of us peons will, of course, not be privy to this material until after publication. What is not indicated is:

    a) Whether or not the material to be made available includes the “chapter team’s” responses

    b) Whether or not such disclosure will require that the requestor agree not to quote, cite, distribute, etc before receiving such material.

    Perhaps between now and June 6, Stocker the stick-handler will succeed in engineering a further delaying tactic in order to advance the need for “confidentiality” about which he and Jones were so concerned [she says somewhat skeptically].

    Not to mention that the IPCC does not have a particularly good record when it comes to following its own procedures.

  8. Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Has someone kept a chronicle of the attempts to subvert transparency in IPCC while proclaiming adherence to same? IIRC, first there was Santer’s last-minute tinkering with the Summary for Policymakers. Then Caspar and the Jesus Paper. Then the exclusion of Steve and Ross’s report on UHI. Now Stocker (see CG2 emails quoted by Steve in last Stocker post, between him and Jones) tries to formally (or otherwise) amend the IPCC rules to keep out transparency again, in ways strongly reminiscent of the familiar “hide the decline”.

    From Simon Anthony at Bishop Hill

    [Prof Stocker is] an intelligent, well-mannered and rational man, in a position of great influence…

    It was striking that not once did he suggest that the models’ uncertainties (or “errors” in Oldspeak) should be established by comparing their “predictions” against measured data. The only sources of uncertainty with which Prof Stocker seemed concerned were between and within models. It seemed comparison with what was supposedly modelled was not relevant.

    There was another troubling note in that Prof Stocker referred several times to “deniers”…

    This feels like an iron fist in a velvet glove.

  9. Manfred
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Stocker already teamed up in 2003 with Rahmstorf in a bizarre “critique” of the cosmic ray/climate link.

    http://www.sciencebits.com/ClimateDebate/
    “The assault by Rahmstorf et al. (in EOS Forum)”.

    The political motivation of this group is revealed in the climategate emails:
    http://di2.nu/foia/foia2011/mail/1981.txt

    • Punksta
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

      What is amazing in that Rahmstorf email, is this notion that what scientists paid by government do is “science”, whereas those paid by anyone else is “lobbying”.

  10. Punksta
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think it is a big mistake to go along with ‘secrecy’ being spun into ‘confidentialty’.

  11. Alexej Buergin
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If ever “nomen est omen” was valid, this is it. If my name were Sticker, I would be an alarmist, too.
    But let us remember the guy from the same University of Bern who resigned after the CERN-neutrino fiasco. A real scientist.
    And the actual hockey-stickers of Bern, who placed a very good second in the Swiss championship (this is a bit of a joke on the good people of Bern who are probably still crying about that last second decider).

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