For those of us who view the concept of man-made global warming as one of the greatest hoaxes in history, two events this week give some hope that the international "climate change" juggernaut may eventually be halted.
The UK Daily Express and the New York Times report that the InterAcademy Council (IAC), a multinational organization of science academies assembled to produce independent analyses on major scientific, technological, and health issues, has released a 113-page critical assessment of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Serious criticisms of the IPCC's 2007 Fourth Assessment Report forced the panel and its UN overseers to request an evaluation by the IAC. The criticisms centered on numerous highly suspect IPCC conclusions including an exaggerated and false claim of Himalayan glacier melting and faulty sea level change data affecting the Netherlands. Claims of faulty peer review of technical papers printed or referenced in the Report (which became known as Climategate) also added to an urgent IAC review.
The IAC report does not evaluate the merits of the science in the IPCC assessment but says the panel's management and methods for doing its work need serious overhaul. One major recommendation is that the panel should become a more professional organization with a paid top management limited to eight-year terms coinciding with publication of each new assessment report. This was viewed as a hint that Rajendra K. Pachauri, the current IPCC chairman should step down;
Other recommendations offer hope that skeptics will have a greater say in what passes for science in the global warming controversy. As the Times reports:
The committee noted that some climate panel leaders had been criticized for public statements perceived as advocating specific policies. "Straying into advocacy can only hurt I.P.C.C.'s credibility," the report said.
It also suggested that the panel revise the way it rates doubts about some of the science, that the process of choosing the scientists who write the report be more open and that the panel require that any possible conflicts of interest be revealed.
The initial reaction from skeptics has been positive. For example:
Hans von Storch, a climate researcher at the Institute of Meteorology at the University of Hamburg and a frequent critic of the climate panel who has called on Mr. Pachauri to resign, said past mistakes tended to dramatize the effects of climate change.
Carrying out the recommendations would make the climate panel much less aloof and help the climate change debate, Dr. von Storch said. He added, "I am pretty optimistic that all this will lead to a much more rational and cooled-down exchange."
If growing ranks of skeptics can have a greater say in the underlying science of climate change, that can only be beneficial to tamp down the hysteria which seeks to control debate.
In anther important development, Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor of the UK Independent attempts to spread alarm over the possibility that the upcoming international conference in Cancun this winter will be no more productive than the admitted failure of last December's climate change "summit" in Copenhagen
It is hard to exaggerate the dire effect which the failure at Copenhagen has had both on the climate change negotiating process itself, and on the belief of those involved that an effective climate deal might be possible.
A year ago, many environmentalists, scientists and politicians genuinely thought that the meeting in Denmark might produce a binding agreement to cut global CO2 by the 25-40 per cent, by 2020, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated is necessary to keep the warming to below C [sic].
Today that optimism has vanished.
McCarthy holds out little hope of any real progress in spite of the latest bogeyman gripping global warming activists: the "gigaton gap."
Cancun, or "COP 16" as it is officially known, will again see ministers and officials from nearly 200 nations grapple with the politics of global warming, but no one thinks they will be able to close a widening breach in the world's defences against dangerously rising temperatures - the "gigatonne gap".
McCarthy claims without attribution that the world is currently emitting annually about 45 gigatons -- or 45 billion tons -- of CO2 which could grow to 51-55 gigatons by 2020 implying a potential gigaton gap catastrophe. This hyper rhetoric sounds very ominous until you consider, as Dr. Roy Spencer points out in his book Climate Confusion, that the total weight of the atmosphere is 5 quadrillion tons. In other words, 50 gigatons added to 5 million gigatons represents a mere 10 parts per million -- relatively speaking, a trivial change each year.
All of this scare-tactic hysteria comes without any credible and repeatable scientific tests showing how trivial amounts of CO2 can have any major impact on global warming and without any believable mathematical model showing minimal climate change in over 1000 years except for the last 70 years of technological progress.
For those of us wishing for a return to rigorous science in the climate change debate, failure at Cancun can only help stall progress until greater transparency of IPCC assessments makes the whole process moot.