The IPCC’s Pretend Neutrality

April 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Suppose there are two amateur baseball teams – the blues and the reds.  Suppose they both believe they’re entitled to use the same playing field on Saturday mornings and that an arbiter is appointed to decide the matter. Each team is given a chance to argue their case. The arbiter makes a show of listening carefully to both sides. Then he announces he’ll return in a week with his verdict.

Suppose that, in the interim, it becomes clear the arbiter is actually pals with the red team. More than once he’s seen fraternizing with them in a pub. Enroute to deliver his ruling, he catches a ride with them.

Suppose he prefaces his verdict by insisting his deliberations have been rigorous and balanced, that the highest standards have been adhered to. Suppose he ends by declaring that the red team’s claim is stronger. “Sorry blue team,” he says solicitously. “Better luck next year.”

One need not be a member of – or sympathizer with – the blue team to suspect it never had a hope of winning the argument. No matter how forcefully the arbiter insists his decision was impartial, his behaviour suggests otherwise.

Which is all a long way of saying that actions speak louder than words. And that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

Al Gore says that climate change amounts to a planetary emergency. If there’s the slightest chance he’s correct, those who are tasked with evaluating the pro and con scientific evidence have been entrusted with one of the world’s most important jobs.

We have every right to expect these people – these arbiters of scientific truth – to behave in an upright and impartial manner. It isn’t good enough for them to claim they’re rigorous and balanced. They must conduct themselves as though this were the case. Their behaviour must be beyond reproach. They must give us no reason to suspect they are anything less than scrupulously evenhanded.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), I’m sorry to say, fails this simple test. Its personnel do not remain aloof. They do not treat their assignment with the care and reverence it deserves. Instead they pal around with the red team (environmental activists). Even worse, they invite members of the red team into the deliberation chamber.

In recent weeks I’ve written about Richard Moss, the senior IPCC official who’s also a Vice President of the activist World Wildlife Fund. I’ve written about Bill Hare, the Greenpeace “legend” who was one of only 40 people who helped write the influential IPCC Synthesis Report. Last fall, I pointed out that five of 10 lead authors of an IPCC chapter that examined the species extinction question have links to the WWF – as do three more of that chapter’s contributing authors.

Tomorrow I’ll turn my attention to IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri. As a report about the IPCC observed last year, Pachauri is “the leader and the face” of the IPCC.

Leaders set the example. Their behaviour signals to everyone else what sort of conduct is expected. If the IPCC were serious about impartiality, if it were an organization worthy of the public’s trust, how would Pachauri behave? Would he be down at the pub, fraternizing with the red team?

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Entry filed under: activist scientists, climate bible, ethical & philosophical, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri. Tags: , , , , .

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