Published June 30, 2010
Diversity, apparently, is in the eye of the beholder.
The United Nations, which has come under fire for stocking its climate change group with scientists who are lockstep in their endorsement of the theory of manmade global warming, is trumpeting the "more diverse" panel it has selected for its fifth report on the issue, expected in 2014.
But that doesn't mean the UN is assembling a group that is open-minded to contrary theories. All it means, critics say, is that the scientists will come from a more diverse range of countries.
The more things change, they say, the more you can bet they'll stay the same.
According to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 60 percent of the team it assembled to produce its fifth assessment on climate change -- a document called the "AR5" -- is new to the panel. The report then loudly trumpets the wide array of participating countries and an increased number of women among the panelists -- not their viewpoints on the contentious issue they will study.
"Participation from developing countries has been increased reflecting the ongoing efforts to improve regional coverage in the AR5," the IPCC says. "About 30% of [the report's] authors will come from developing countries or economies in transition," the IPCC says. "The proportion of female experts has significantly increased since the AR4, reaching approximately 25% of the selected authors."
But the U.N.'s complete list of authors doesn't cite their field of expertise or their perspective on climate change. In fact, the country each scientist comes from is the only bit of information the U.N. deemed relevant to cite.
Asked to explain how the U.N. selected the panel from among 3,000 nominees, spokeswoman Carine Richard Van Maele declined to comment. But Michael Mann of Penn State University, a leading global-warming guru, was enthusiastic about the selections. "It looks like a great bunch of scientists, and I'm happy to see a lot of new blood in there, and an appropriate diversity of backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints," Mann told FoxNews.com.
But other policy experts and scientists fretted that the panel's geographic diversity won't guarantee an accurate report.
"The U.N. cannot be trusted on this issue," said Peter Ferrara, a former Reagan White House policy adviser, and associate U.S. deputy attorney general, who is now with the Institute for Policy Innovation. "They have a vested interest. They want to use global warming concerns to create laws that will increase their power. They are about as biased as a big oil company when it comes to the environment."
Ferrara said the U.S. should convene a panel of its own, from those who have not been selected by the U.N., to assess the forthcoming IPCC report. "We need to take a tactic from the Cold War and create a 'B Team' of experts to assess the information, just like the CIA assembled a 'B Team' in the 1970s to review the nation's intelligence on the Soviet Union," Ferrara told FoxNews.com. "Let them do a rebuttal."
Zbigniew Jaworowski, professor emeritus at Poland's Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection and a former chairman of the U.N.'s Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, agreed. "A new panel of experts, independent from the U.N., governments, green, or other ideologies, might be able to assess without bias the current state of science -- and present sober recommendations to the world," Jaworowski told FoxNews.com.
Other scientists defend the U.N.'s panel. Stanford University recently released a study in support of all the 2007 U.N. report's authors, stating that scientists who do not accept that humans have hastened the Earth's climate change have "far less expertise and prominence in climate research" than their peers.
"These are standard academic metrics," said William Anderegg, lead author of the paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
But former Virginia governor and senator George Allen told FoxNews.com that, from the way the U.N. constructed its new climate change panel, it appears that the agency is somehow trying to achieve a "political answer" to climate change questions.
"The IPCC is continuing efforts to achieve a political answer to the issue of climate change, rather than a scientific solution," said Allen, who now is an energy policy expert at the American Energy Freedom Center. "The goal is to redistribute wealth, rather than actually try to understand all of the ecological aspects to the Earth's weather system."
Allen's latest book, "What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports," contains a number of energy and environmental policy recommendations. He said that the U.S. should pursue practical conservation and remove burdens that prevent clean coal technology from advancing, and reduce regulatory hurdles to build the "next generation of advanced nuclear power plants." These "common sense" solutions will reduce concerns over emissions from carbon-based fuels, he said.
Another expert, a scientist, thinks that it would be a common sense solution for the U.N. to hold public debates between global warming skeptics and global warming advocates, rather than convene a group of like-minded theorists who happen to be from different genders and geographies.
"A panel should be set up with the best 10 or so from each side," Sonja A. Boehmer-Christiansen, an emeritus faculty member of the department of geography at Hull University in the U.K., told FoxNews.com. "They should have to argue their disagreement out -- to an agreement on what they agree on."