Published April 28, 2010
A leading global warming skeptic recruited a group of concerned citizens to fact-check the sources referenced in the U.N.'s latest climate-change bible -- and gave the report an "F." Now she's planning the nail in the coffin: a comprehensive audit of the entire report.
Following a series of scandals that led to doubts about the accuracy of the United Nations' most recent climate-change report, Donna Laframboise of NoConsensus.org gathered a group of citizens online and proved that the U.N. over-relied upon so-called "gray literature," rather than using exclusively peer-reviewed scientific reports as the organization was supposed to do.
Now Laframboise and her colleagues are taking the next step, FoxNews.com has learned. They are building an online database that will let everyone see exactly what the report claims -- and precisely how it came to those conclusions.
“There's a pile of work that can and should be done on this report,” Laframboise told FoxNews.com.
The Canadian watchdog is working with a computer programmer in Australia whose software will let her and her colleagues further analyze the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N.'s climate arm.
“It's starting to look good, and he is linking in all sorts of other material, including IPCC reviewer comments to various parts of the text -- at the moment they aren't easy to access by the average person -- as well as the entire Climate-gate e-mail database,” Laframboise said.
“I suspect it'll be a month, perhaps two, before he's ready for prime time. At that point, there will be a friendly web-based interface for everyone to use. When he finally goes live, it's going to be an extremely powerful research tool. So there are good things in the pipeline.”
Contacted repeatedly by FoxNews.com for comment on Lafromboise's criticism's and NoConsensus.org's plans, IPCC spokeswoman Isabel-Garcia Gill refused to comment.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was critical of Lafromboise's initial effort. Chief scientist Peter Frumhoff, a lead author of the deforestation section of the U.N.’s climate-change report, claimed that “by and large, the IPCC process works exceptionally well.” He welcomed an additional review of the IPCC data, saying that “independent review of IPCC procedures … will assess opportunities for further strengthening it.”
But another former contributor to the IPCC process, Patrick J. Michaels, a scientist and senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, told FoxNews.com that the real criticism of the U.N.’s climate report has just begun.
In addition to Laframboise’s NoConsensus.org, he said, there is a new “parallel universe” of online publications emerging, manned by serious scientists critical of the approach by governments around the world to climate change. He includes sites such as Climate Audit, Watts Up With That?, and TheBlackboard in that galaxy.
“A parallel universe is assembling itself parallel to the IPCC,” Michaels told FoxNews.com. "This universe has become very technical -- very proficient at taking apart the U.N.’s findings."
Michaels is presenting a new report during the upcoming Heartland Institute conference on climate change that examines the EPA finding that carbon dioxide is endangering the planet and needs to be regulated. The finding was released last winter on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
“The endangerment finding was based on the fourth assessment finding by the IPCC and the synthesis report by the U.S. Global Change Research Institute,” said Michaels. He worries that policymakers, who cannot get cap and trade legislation through the U.S. Senate, may try to make regulations based on the U.N.’s global warming report, as incorporated into the “endangerment” finding on CO2.
That report, says Michaels, “suffers from systemic errors.”
All of this skepticism is hacking away at public support for global warming regulations. A poll published last week by Rasmussen Reports indicates that only 33 percent of Americans think global warming is caused by human activity; 48 percent think it is caused by longer-term planetary trends.
Getting new data out to the public is the mission of Laframboise, Climate Audit, and the other online publishers. “Many of the volunteers who participated in the citizen audit feel there is more work to be done and have expressed an interest in taking part in future projects,” Laframboise told FoxNews.com.
“We're in a position to assess whether the IPCC followed or broke any other rules. Now that we’ve seen how seriously they took the peer-reviewed rule, we suspect that there are numerous other guidelines, that they themselves established, and boasted about following, that were also violated. A number of promising avenues for further research were suggested by the project we’ve just completed.”