IPCC Reliance on Grey Literature 30 Times Greater than UK Threshold

April 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

For years we’ve been told the UN’s climate bible bases its conclusions solely on peer-reviewed scientific literature. A few months ago, the wider world began to wake up to the fact that this is not the case.

One of the most dramatic claims in the climate bible – that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 – turned out to have been based on a non-peer-reviewed World Wildlife Fund document which in turn was based on a magazine article which itself was based on an interview with a single scientist. [see background info, in navy text here]

With no peer-reviewed literature in sight – and a growing number of glacier experts saying the 2035 date was absurd – the organization that produces the climate bible (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – or IPCC) admitted the glacier claim was mistaken. This occurred on January 20th.

On February 1st, a British newspaper reported that the UK government had declined to express confidence in the IPCC’s embattled chairman, Rajendra Pachauri. This is one of those news clippings about which we should be abundantly cautious. It quotes an anonymous “senior government official” rather than an identifiable individual. And because it appears in The Guardian, a paper aggressively sympathetic to the green movement, the motives of everyone involved are murky.

Nevertheless, this article is illuminating because of one paragraph in particular:

The government has told the IPCC through official channels that it must ensure review standards are robust and its communication effective. “They need to communicate that 99% of the science on which they base [their work] is peer reviewed,” the official said. [bold added, first set of parenthesis in original]

As the citizen audit results I released four days ago reveal, the 18,531 references cited by the IPCC are so far from being 99 percent peer-reviewed it’s laughable. A full 30 percent of them (5,587) were not published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Moreover, in 21 out of 44 chapters (48 percent) the level of peer-reviewed references was so low the chapter received an ‘F’ on our report card.

Let’s restate this: the rate of non-peer-reviewed source material cited by the IPCC is thirty times larger than what the British government suggested would be acceptable a mere 12 weeks ago.

Entry filed under: climate bible, IPCC, peer-review, Rajendra Pachauri, World Wildlife Fund. Tags: , , , , , , , .

What’s Left if We Disregard Non-Peer-Reviewed Claims? A Seasoned Veteran’s View of the IPCC


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