Published November 07, 2011
Most people have never heard of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but it performs one of the most important jobs in the world. It surveys the scientific literature, decides what it all means, and writes a report informally known as the "Climate Bible."
That "Bible" is cited by governments everywhere. It is the reason carbon taxes are being introduced, heating bills are rising, and costly new regulations are being imposed.
According to John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, the IPCC is the source of the "most important conclusions" about climate change. It's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, says that "all rational persons" should be persuaded by his organization's findings.
The IPCC has been around for 22 years and has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. And yet my newly published book is the first time anyone has taken a close, critical look at this organization. After two years of research, I've discovered that almost nothing we've been told about the IPCC is actually true. Rather than being written by a meticulous, upstanding professional in business attire, it turns out the Climate Bible is being produced by a slapdash, rule-breaking, not-to-be-trusted teenager.
For example, in the grown-up world, whenever important decisions and large amounts of money are involved conflict-of-interest mechanisms are firmly in place. Lawyers, accountants, politicians, and many others are subject to these rules as a matter-of-course. People who expect to be trusted by the public adopted them long ago.
Yet even though the IPCC evaluates matters in which trillions of dollars are at stake, well into the 21st century it saw no need to even discuss conflict-of-interest. This organization is so arrogant, so used to being praised and admired, that its leaders failed to take the most ordinary of precautions.
Alas, this is only one of many troubling signs. In 2009 Pachauri assured a US Senate committee that his organization mobilizes "the best talent available across the world." On other occasions he has insisted that IPCC authors are at the top of their profession and are chosen for their impressive track records.
But as anyone who does a little math can discover for themselves, the IPCC has been relying on the expert judgment of 20-something graduate students for years.
In one instance, a young man who hadn't even acquired his Masters degree was recruited to be a lead author. In another, a woman 16 years away from completing her doctorate (and three years from the publication of her first academic paper) was one of only 21 people in the entire world selected by the IPCC to write about climate change and human health.
But why stop at students when you can recruit brazen activists, as well? Richard Moss has been involved with the IPCC for nearly two decades. During part of that time he was on the World Wildlife Fund's payroll – as a vice president, no less.
Richard Hare is considered a Greenpeace "legend." He has been one of its spokespeople since 1992 and was its chief climate negotiator in 2007. None of this prevented him from being admitted to the IPCC's inner circle. In 2007, Hare was one of only 40 people on the "core writing team" for the overall, big-picture IPCC summary known as the Synthesis Report.
Chairman Pachauri has further insisted that the IPCC bases its reports solely, only, and exclusively on research that has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals. In testimony before U.S. lawmakers he has said that the IPCC doesn't "settle for anything less." He has further declared that non-peer-reviewed material should be tossed "into the dustbin."
Yet it turns out that one in three sources relied on by the IPCC's landmark 2007 report didn't come within a mile of a peer-reviewed journal. Or, to rephrase that: one third of the sources referenced by the Climate Bible are to material the IPCC's own chairman has said belongs in the trashcan.
How could he have been so mistaken? How could he have repeatedly made the 100% peer-reviewed claim before he'd personally taken steps to ensure it had actually happened that way?
We're told we should trust the judgment of the scientists who write IPCC reports. Yet in an organization in which hundreds of people knew the chairman was traveling the world uttering balderdash, no one apparently took him aside and corrected him.
I've done my share of investigative reporting. But I've never seen a story like this one. -- No matter what IPCC rock I turn over, I find something scandalous.
Donna Laframboise is the author of the newly-published IPCC exposé The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert. She blogs at NoFrakkingConsensus.com.