Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
In November 2009 a collection of e-mails was released into the public domain. Dubbed Climategate, these documents struck the climate change world with the force of a cyclone.
For some members of the public, the event was a catalyst. Having paid little attention to climate matters beforehand, what they learned left them aghast. They’d had no idea, for example, that prominent climate scientist Phil Jones holds Freedom of Information laws in such contempt he encouraged others to delete e-mails and talked of destroying records rather than making them public.
The powerful thing about Climategate is that it presents these scientists in their own words. As outsiders we can speculate about how people think and behave – but hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth is infinitely more instructive.
In my opinion, 13 months after Climategate an equally important document was made public. It is a single PDF file three megabytes in size and 678 pages in length. Although it contains the remarks of 232 separate individuals, no attempt was made to, say, number these individuals for easy reference. Thus, it is far from user-friendly.
Nevertheless, it is a gold mine. Info about the document may be found here. Details of a Canadian blogger’s efforts to shake it loose are here and here. The crucial point is that, within its pages, IPCC insiders have been remarkably candid. If one understands the larger context, many of their comments are jaw-dropping.
As a former investigative journalist who is now writing an expose of the IPCC, I know that my biggest challenge is making it onto the radar of the average person. People are done with global warming. Many were not entirely convinced of the danger to begin with, since they weren’t born yesterday. Acid rain, the ozone hole, Y2K, Mad Cow disease, Bird Flu, H1N1 – it’s always something. They were told that snow was a thing of the past and that little kids would never ever own sleds again (I exaggerate only a little). But successive harsh winters – and plenty of shoveling – means that anyone trying to talk about global warming these days gets tuned out. The public has heard enough already.
But suppose that, somehow, I manage to catch people’s attention and that they do me the great honour of spending several hours of their lives reading my book. My job is to help them see what I see. I need to assemble the documentary evidence and the first-hand sources that demonstrate my case. I need to explain how and why I’ve arrived at my conclusions.
This nearly 700-page PDF has made that task substantially easier. Again and again as I analyze its pages I find myself exclaiming: There it is! They’ve just admitted it. Three different people acknowledge that X is common practice at the IPCC.
I’ve come to think of this document as Climategate 2.0. I see it as the other shoe dropping. In recent weeks I’ve explored a number of issues raised by this PDF. Several more blog posts are in the works. Preparing them is time-consuming. In each instance hundreds of pages must be searched/scanned yet again so that the relevant bits can be collected in one place.
But I believe the end result will be dramatic. The picture that is emerging is not a pretty one. I’ve already used this document to demonstrate that IPCC insiders are fully aware that Chairman Rajendra Pachauri’s claim that IPCC reports rest solely on peer-reviewed literature is false. By showcasing the remarks of these insiders I’ve revealed that, rather than being comprised of the world’s top experts, the IPCC appoints authors based on their gender and their nationality. I’ve exposed the disturbing degree to which IPCC reports are seen by the scientists who write them as being political documents that serve political purposes. I’ve shown that even though the IPCC claims to be a transparent organization, it selects its authors in a fashion that is so secretive even IPCC veterans describe the process as mysterious.
It’s true that some people whose comments appear in this document admire the IPCC. They says things such as:
…it is the best assessment process I know of. (p. 93)
I have never observed anything close to the stringency employed in the IPCC. I have been part of a number of international assessments…but have never experienced something that was as carefully executed as this. (p. 111)
IPCC has served the international community very well…by using and developing an interesting and also beautiful model of strict scientific standards… (p. 146)
The intergovernmental nature of IPCC is unique and precious… (p. 164)
One finds rose-coloured glasses everywhere, apparently. Being an outsider, perhaps the big picture is easier for me to see. After examining a great deal of evidence, and after considering the implications of many of these comments, I find myself more inclined to agree with the person who declared:
If you wanted to design a body that does what IPCC does from scratch, you wouldn‘t start from here! (p. 125)
My blog posts regarding this document are collected in one place. (If you’re trying to find them later, click on the Climate Bible link at the top of this blog.)
The bottom line? Nearly every dark deed I’ve suspected the IPCC of is confirmed by this remarkable PDF.