Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A UN press release falsely describes those attending an IPCC meeting as “climate scientists,” In fact, these people are policy wonks, economists, political scientists, and UN advisors.
According to a headline in the Kenya-based African Review, “climate scientists” with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are currently attending a five-day meeting in Ethiopia.
But that claim is untrue. Instead, this is a classic example of United Nations-inspired media spin.
On July 1st, the lead authors of the IPCC’s Working Group 3 gathered in Abbis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. There is a huge difference between Working Group 1 personnel (who write about the science of climate change and therefore might be bona fide climate scientists) and Working Group 3 personnel (who examine possible responses to global warming).
Pages 31-47 of this IPCC document lists the individuals associated with Working Group 3. The first name that appears there is David Victor. As this online biography tells us, he’s a professor of international relations. According to his CV, his PhD is in political science.
The second name is Dadi Zhou – a high-ranking Chinese bureaucrat with a 1982 Masters degree “from the Department of Environmental Engineering, Tsinghua University.” When Zhou took a job in 2008 with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a press release quoted him saying:
I am delighted to join Carnegie to work on improving cooperation between the United States and China on energy and climate change issues. Further cooperation can only be incredibly beneficial for both countries.
Accomplished as this gentleman may be, by no stretch of the imagination is he a “climate scientist.”
Another name on that first page of Working Group 3 personnel is Holger Rogner, whose online bio describes him as “an expert in the application of systems analysis to long-term energy demand and supply issues and their underlying driving forces.” Evidently, Rogner knows a great deal about mechanical engineering and nuclear power – but a climate scientist he is not.
It turns out he is one of nine individuals currently associated with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) attending the IPCC’s Working Group 3 Ethiopia meeting. The IIASA website helpfully provides a bio for each of them:
Not one of these people is a climate scientist. To say that the Ethiopia gathering is a meeting of “climate scientists” therefore, is like equating a meeting of air traffic controllers with a gathering of pilots. Both roles are important, but they are profoundly different.
So where did the African Review get the idea that this was a meeting of climate scientists?
Gee, might it have been from a press release titled Climate Scientists gather for fourth meeting in Addis Ababa issued on July 1st? A press release about the IPCC (a UN body) issued by another UN body – the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa?
This isn’t the first time a UN body has inflated and overstated IPCC-related news. The climate panel is now in the final stages of its Assessment Report #5 (aka AR5). Back in 2007, when it released AR4, the IPCC declared that global warming was “unequivocal” (see the yellow box on page 5 here).
It further said that, in the opinion of its experts, most of the temperature rise since 1950 was very likely due to human-generated greenhouse gases (see the yellow box on page 10).
The word “unequivocal” was used to describe the warming. When discussing human responsibility for that warming, the IPCC used the words “most” and “very likely.” It also specified a time frame.
When the UN News Centre issued a press release, however, it’s headline said something rather different: Evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming – UN report.
To this day that inaccurate, uncorrected claim remains on the UN.org website. For more than six years, the UN has flamboyantly exaggerated the findings of one of its own organizations.
Moral of the story: don’t believe a word the UN says.
The Africa Review story is backed up here