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Is the IPCC Biased?

Is the IPCC Biased?17-03-2017 06:57
This post has been updated from a response originally made to a separate comment made elsewhere on this forum.

For those new to this blog the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change is the world's leader in promoting the theory that mankind is dangerously warming the globe aka AGW - Anthropogenic Global Warming. It wouldn't be too much to say it even has a monopoly on it.

It is ultimately from them that international governments are being badgered to adopt emission control targets via means of the UNFCCC - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty.

But the accusation of bias by the IPCC regarding AGW has been raised many times by climate sceptics. This example provides more insight into how the IPCC is operating.

It's hard to say the IPCC is not biased. There is a suite of prima facie evidence that it is, and I will cover this point in some future post for readers to judge for themselves. However I am sure there must be people with good moral ethics in there. But I also think it's highly likely there are people that should perhaps be scrutinized a bit more closely. I'll just leave it at that for now.

The IPCC Mandate

Aside from the people who actually work inside the IPCC, I do believe that as an organisation it has no other choice than to be biased on the issue of AGW because of the mandate that was given to them at the time of their inception and that is:

to focus only on man-made contributions to dangerous global warming - AGW.

This quote comes from the IPCC's own website here:
quote: assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

and again:
...The WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the IPCC in 1988 with the assigned role of assessing the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for understanding the risk of human-induced climate change.

IPCC Approach to Climate Change

This is where the whole approach of the IPCC has been flawed:
1.They focused only on mankind contributions instead of "in the round", and also only since the beginnings of the industrial age - an insignificant amount of climate time. It seems illogical that any kind of solution to a problem can be solved by looking at just a part of it.

2.They were entirely wrong in accepting an unproven theory in the first place and then set about validating it to the world, instead of the other way around.
This back-to-front approach came about because a group of scientists agreed beforehand that AGW was the problem. It's understood this took place at a UN sponsored conference in Austria in 1985. They believed that even a small change such as additional CO2 being added to the natural greenhouse gas processes could trigger runaway greenhouse global warming.

Consensus or Arrogance?

It's a valid theory and certainly worthy of further investigation, but unfortunately they didn't set about to prove it in a proper accepted scientific method, which includes getting their theory validated by their world peers. If they had, it would never have got off the ground because it still hasn't been proved almost 30 years later.

They believed the evidence was so convincing even though not proven, that it could be accepted by consensus as an established fact. That was the single biggest mistake in this whole saga of climate change debates in assuming that consensus and science can co-exist. It was to send the world into an expensive and fruitless tail-spin for decades and which still continues.

In any event, in the eyes of those original scientists their own research was sufficient to accept the premise of AGW. It was decided right there to set up an organisation (now the IPCC) to validate and promote the theory to the world. They wanted to get everyone on board to rein in mankind's greenhouse gas emissions and in particular CO2 as being the major one. And they did an exceedingly good job of it so that today the IPCC has the first and final say to all things related to climate science - as opposed to an opinion as seen by many other non-IPCC aligned scientific peers.

How AGW Was Sold

The marketing effort by the IPCC was exemplary. Their big ticket items in selling the idea of AGW to the masses were "scientific consensus" and versions of the infamous "hockey stick". Both of these have since been proven wrong.

To get the idea to governments and other scientists, the IPCC releases progressive Assessment Reports (ARs), that progressively labelled mankind more and more as being responsible. They didn't appear to make any real attempt at consideration of any other cause. Usually any counter-argument in the ARs if any, apparently gets drowned out in the Summaries of their reports. And some believe there is an over-emphasis on the negative items.

The heart of the real problem with the IPCC is that they are political by nature – not scientific. It was deliberately formed as such. Among other duties they were tasked to take submissions from scientists across their various fields, then rewrite them so that they could be more easily read by the masses. This is where other less-noble aspects of human behaviour can potentially come into play and because of that, should be studied carefully. It doesn't appear that's what has been happening.

For example the text of the 2nd AR was allegedly altered to give more support to AGW, the perpetrators probably being motivated by "noble cause". Questions began to be raised about the effectiveness of the "peer review" processes used by the IPCC.
With all this in mind one wonders why so many international governments and scientific organizations have also come on board in the AGW blame game?

It's probably not so hard to understand why Governments have come on board. There continues to be considerable interest in the well being of the planet since about the 1960s. The outpourings of the IPCC received tremendous publicity as would be expected from a headline hungry media.

And it doesn't appear to be particularly hard to sway a politicians viewpoint if there is sufficient noise coming from their electorates in support of an issue. It's disgusting when the strength of politicians is measured by how much he/she sways in the breeze. Yes ... it is a cynical view but I've watched successive governments at least in Australia, change their approach to the issue depending on whether they're either in power or in opposition.

As regarding actual scientific organisations that have come on board with the IPCC, if I were the head of a scientific organisation of a country that becomes a member of a certain institution, I would be thinking deeply about the ramifications of bucking my own government with counter or controversial viewpoints. This would be especially so if the available science coming out from that institution seemed logical and conclusive enough. It's just human psychology at work.

Source: Climate: The Counter Consensus, 2010 Professor Robert M. Carter

Another version of this post with images is available here:

By Russ Swan
Issues on Climate Change
[url] [/url]
Edited on 17-03-2017 06:59
17-03-2017 08:04
Hey, if you want to un-skeptically swallow the unsubstantiated so-called "skeptic" opinions of one man who was paid by fossil fuel funded political think tanks, and ignore all the overwhelming evidence that contradict his claims, go right ahead.

Bob Carter hasn't published anything in science Journals that support his opinions on climate change other than one flawed paper in which he was a co-author where they claimed that global warming could be accounted for by ENSO.

McLean, J. D., De Freitas, C. R., & Carter, R. M. (2009). Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 114(D14).

The flaws and pseudoscience claims in the paper were soundly rebutted by scientists:

Foster, G., Annan, J. D., Jones, P. D., Mann, M. E., Mullan, B., Renwick, J., ... & Trenberth, K. E. (2010). Comment on "Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature" by JD McLean, CR de Freitas, and RM Carter. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 115(D9).

I also suggest you actually READ the five IPCC reports since 1990 instead of just repeating what someone else like Bob Carter says about them.

One might almost think that you have a bias against science and facts and are only looking selectively for anything you can find to confirm your bias.

Not sure who you are trying to convince by just repeating Carter's tired old crank claims. Yourself?
Edited on 17-03-2017 08:58
17-03-2017 09:20
New paper just published by scientists from Stanford University on expert judgement in the IPCC AR5 report:

Katharine J. Mach, Michael D. Mastrandrea, Patrick T. Freeman, Christopher B. Field, Unleashing expert judgment in assessment, Global Environmental Change, Volume 44, Mar 2017, Pages 1-14, ISSN 0959-3780,

Full copy here:


"Assessment evaluates accumulated knowledge and its limits. It informs and ideally empowers decisions and actions on complex, contested issues with persistent uncertainties. Applying rigorous expert judgment is an important dimension of assessment. Here we evaluate advances and challenges in approaches to expert judgment in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5).

We find that revised guidance for author teams improved the development of balanced judgments on scientific evidence across disciplines. In particular, expert judgments underpinning conclusions are more extensively, transparently, and consistently communicated: degree-of-certainty terms are more abundant in AR5 policymaker summaries; wider ranges of possible outcomes are presented with greater inclusion of lower-certainty, decision-relevant findings; and expert judgments supporting conclusions are more comparable across working groups.

But challenges in developing and communicating assessment conclusions persist, especially for findings with substantial uncertainties and for subjective aspects of judgments. Based on our evaluations and AR5 lessons learned, we propose a simpler, more rigorous framework for developing and communicating expert judgments in environmental assessment. We also describe practices for reducing expert-judgment biases, for advancing integration of evidence and expert judgment, and for addressing subjective dimensions of expert opinion directly and proactively."
Edited on 17-03-2017 09:23
20-03-2017 03:51
Hey, if you want to un-skeptically swallow the unsubstantiated so-called "skeptic" opinions of one man who was paid by fossil fuel funded political think tanks, and ignore all the overwhelming evidence that contradict his claims, go right ahead.

Why is it that pro-AGW advocates seem to prefer trying to tear down credibility of source material then addressing the issue presented to them?

Let's not go into who's being paid or not because it's rife on both sides of the debate. And just so you know I don't make it a habit of just checking one source before I post although in this case I only used Prof. Carter. Perhaps just doing that has given readers the wrong impression that I swallow everything he says.

Not so. I do not necessarily and unreservedly accept everything he says for just the reason that you offer i.e. that there may be a potential of bias. But he does make a lot of reasonable and logical points, at least to me as a lay person, to the extent that I consider it worthwhile to start checking further on a given subject.

And I also don't necessarily always accept material published on some of the sceptic websites either.

The point of my post was to question an apparent (to me) organisational bias of the IPCC. I believe it IS biased simply because of its mandate that was given to it right at the beginning. And let's face it - it is via the IPCC that your so-called "overwhelming proof" is presented to the world.

I ask you, if you consider that someone has a biased opinion on something, would YOU accept that opinion as "overwhelming proof"?

What I find contentious is that a group of scientists in 1985 decided beforehand that AGW was real. They could only base the theory of AGW on "best probable" scientific results - not actual proof. But they still went ahead and accepted AGW as real without it being accepted internationally and scientifically - and which today still hasn't been proven 3 decades later.

Having decided that it was close enough to be a proven fact, to my mind, was sheer arrogance and a complete departure from the usual and proper scientific principles. Then to act on it to get the world to accept the theory as real, was to my mind reprehensible.

But then they compounded this error in judgement by using shonky hockey stick science and promoted the complete nonsense that there was a scientific consensus. If there are two words that simply don't belong together they're "science" and "consensus".
Hockey Stick:
Scientific Consensus:

How else should the actions of those initial scientists and the organisation they subsequently caused to be created, be treated?

To my mind until proven otherwise the IPCC is institutionally, and probably systematically biased because:

1. The IPCC was mandated from the start to only look at global warming from an AGW point of view only and not "in the round" i.e. they do not seriously consider ALL of the possible elements that might contribute to the trend of increased warming in the late 20th century. And when they do they emphasise the negatives.

2. The IPCC and aligned scientists only focus on the late 20th century warming. This is a total waste of time if one is to consider the changes on a historical concept and creates alarm. For example, if it could be scientifically accepted across the board that that the late 20th century warming is more likely to be a natural occurrence, or even slightly warmer because of mankind activities, then money currently being wasted trying to prove AGW could be better spent in improving national and international responses to actual climate disasters - couldn't it?

3. There is some fairly unambiguous evidence to suspect there is likely to be endemic systematic bias within that organisation.

For my own part, I cannot believe that ANY problem can be logically assessed if one only looks at it from a certain viewpoint and that if one only looks at one part of the problem.

What I am looking for is someone to unequivocally prove to me that this isn't the case - without apparent bias, name calling or juvenile emotion. Let's have a mature discussion. Show me something that doesn't appear from the IPCC as a source to substantiate your belief in your cause because I right now as it is, I simply cannot accept their version.

If you can do that, then I'd seriously consider changing my whole point of view which is, for your information:

One might almost think that you have a bias against science and facts and are only looking selectively for anything you can find to confirm your bias.

I do believe:
1. That mankind is contributing to global warming in the late 20th century - just not to the limits that the IPCC and pro-AGW advocates say it is.
2. Mankind's contributions to the total carbon content in the atmosphere may very well have been the "tipping point" that IPCC (scientists) say it was - or not. The jury is still out on this.
3. That the late 20th century warming is most likely nothing new and certainly not as bad as some pro-AGW try to make it seem e.g. Al Gore and others.
4. That the current global temperatures may indeed keep rising - or fall over the next decade according to natural cycles.
5. That it WOULD be nice not to have so much pollution over our cities anyway
6. That some of the huge amounts of money being spent trying to prove an as yet unproven theory over the last 3 decades, could be better spent instituting betting systems of preparedness for inevitable natural disasters.
Edited on 20-03-2017 04:12
20-03-2017 04:02
New paper just published by scientists from Stanford University on expert judgement in the IPCC AR5 report:

Katharine J. Mach, Michael D. Mastrandrea, Patrick T. Freeman, Christopher B. Field, Unleashing expert judgment in assessment, Global Environmental Change, Volume 44, Mar 2017, Pages 1-14, ISSN 0959-3780,

Full copy here:

I will read this with interest.

Russ Swan
Issues on Climate Change

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