Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
In one chapter alone, IPCC personnel relied on unpublished studies 21 times to make their case.
‘Bleeding edge’ is a term from the world of technology. It refers to a product that is so new nothing about it is yet certain. It might not work as advertised. It might be so buggy it’s unusable.
People who purchase bleeding edge tech are, by definition, risk takers. They gamble their hard-earned cash on the latest gadgets knowing that some of the things they buy will turn out to be duds. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
That’s all very well where consumer products are concerned. But should an influential body such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) be basing its conclusions on bleeding edge research – research so new it hasn’t been published yet?
Next week, the IPCC will release another section of its massive climate report. Draft #1 was finalized in June 2012. Draft #2 was finalized in March 2103. By May 2013, volunteer external reviewers had examined Draft #2 and submitted thousands of comments in response.
The two-stage review process is intended to catch errors. It’s supposed to help make the IPCC’s final text bulletproof. But as I’ve discussed elsewhere, the IPCC short-circuits its own safeguards. Even though the second draft was finalized in March 2013, the IPCC’s conclusions rely on research that appeared in print after that.
For example, Chapter 7 examines the impact climate change might have on humanity’s food supplies. A leaked copy of this chapter can be downloaded here.
In Chapter 7 alone, therefore, bleeding edge research is cited in 21 instances. In order to make their case, IPCC personnel relied on studies that couldn’t even be called hot-off-the-press. They hadn’t even been published when Draft #2 was sent out for review.
In two of these instances, the research didn’t appear in a physical journal until Jan 2014 – 10 months after the 2nd draft was finalized.