Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

The IPCC: Providing ‘Hope for Our Earth’

An IPCC document produced for its meeting in Yokohama uses emphatically activist language. What happened to the scientific body delivering a scientific report based on scientific research?

hope_for_our_Earth_IPCC2014

click to see the full, 7-page document

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls itself a scientific body. Indeed, it’s online self-description uses some version of the word ‘science’ seven times in a few paragraphs.

But a document prepared for the current IPCC meeting in Japan utterly obliterates those claims. It’s titled Hope for Our Earth from Yokohama. Please note the large IPCC logo on the bottom of the first page – next to the logo of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Page two of this document contains this headline: Saving the Planet for Future Generations. Beneath it, we read:

We must bequeath to future generations a safe environment in which to live, and that means properly understanding the information published by the IPCC and taking action in Yokohama. [bold added]

Well, I feel like an idiot. It took me years of research – in which I carefully gave the IPCC the benefit of the doubt, in which I conscientiously eschewed lazy intellectual shortcuts – before I reluctantly concluded that the IPCC is actually an activist organization pretending to be a scientific one. Evidently, I should have spent more time in my garden and saved myself a ton of trouble. Because nothing I have written in the past five years reveals the IPCC’s true colours better than the single sentence I’ve just quoted.

First, the IPCC is supposed to be policy neutral. Words like must are not supposed to be in its vocabulary. It is explicitly not the IPCC’s job to tell us what we must do.

Second, the IPCC is charged with examining existing scientific research. It is beyond the purview of that organization to express opinions about what any of us owe future generations.

My relationship with future generations is a philosophical and moral question. The definition of safe environment is equally open to debate. These are not scientific matters. Nothing – I mean nothing – gives IPCC personnel the right to determine amongst themselves what we all must bequeath to future generations.

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Third, the IPCC believes there’s a proper way to understand the material it produces. In other words, it’s trying to de-legitimize independent opinion.

Let’s get a grip. The IPCC is about to release the Working Group 2 section of its latest climate assessment. That section is comprised of 30 chapters totalling 2,500 pages. There will be many reactions to these 30 chapters. Many perspectives will be expressed about whether the information is accurate, the analysis rigorous, and the judgment unbiased. (I’ve already written about the fact that the authors of Chapter 7 were twice told about an error they’ve neglected to correct.)

There is no single, proper way to understand 2,500 pages of material. This is not a religious tract. That the IPCC seems to regard it as such should be sending shivers down our spines.

Fourth, since the IPCC is supposed to be a policy-neutral body, it has no business talking about taking action – in Yokohama or anywhere else. Science is one thing. Policy (actions) are another matter entirely.

Allow me to repeat myself: This one sentence tells us everything we need to know. The IPCC isn’t a collection of dispassionate scientists, but an activist group pushing an activist agenda.

These people imagine that they’re saving the world – that they’re delivering “Hope for our Earth.” They know what the rest of us must do. They believe they have the right to make moral judgments on behalf of all of humanity – without our participation or consent. Like religious zealots, they insist there’s a proper way to understand their material – never mind intellectual freedom or free speech. And then there’s their insistence that the Yokohama meeting is about taking action.

Hope for Our Earth. And here I thought this was just another tedious meeting, of a moth-eaten scientific body, in which yet another long-winded scientific report was being foisted on an indifferent public.

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