Book review: The Delinquent Teenager

Andrew L. Urban.

A bravado metaphor captures the reader’s imagination from the opening sentence: “This book is about a spoilt child.” We know from the cover that the book is an ‘IPCC expose’, so we know that spoilt child … who grows into a delinquent teenager, argues Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. And no wonder, she adds, with over 100 godparents (all the countries represented on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) this child is bound to be spoilt.

“Having morphed into an obnoxious adolescent, the IPCC is now everyone’s problem,” she notes, and goes on to thoroughly disembowel the organisation, which produces the Climate Bible, the sequence of reports collated by the Panel and cited by Governments the world over. This Bible is the reason for carbon taxes, rising bills, costly regulations and “why everyone thinks carbon dioxide emissions are dangerous.”

What Laframboise goes on to prove (yes, prove) is that the Climate Bible is written, not by a meticulous upstanding professional in business attire, but “a slapdash, slovenly teenager who has trouble distinguishing right from wrong.”

Her first indictment is that “the organisation is so arrogant, so used to being fawned over, that its leaders failed to take the most ordinary of precautions.” It saw no need to discuss conflict of interest issues.

And while it has written down some of the rules of the road, it has never hired any traffic cops, she complains. The IPCC and much of the media spout that the reports it produces come from the “best talent available across the world.” Laframboise cites several examples to show such claims to be bogus, whether in the field of extreme weather events, mosquitos or sea levels expertise.

Of several examples cited, one is that of a woman who was a research assistant at Australia’s Monash University in 2008. After earning her PhD in 2009, she was hired by another university which boasted that she had already played a key role in both the 2001 and 2007 editions of the Climate Bible. The IPCC selected its 2001 authors in 1999; “this means its leadership decided she was a world class expert 10 years before she had earned her doctorate.”

Another author didn’t earn her PhD until 2010, yet in 1994 – 16 years earlier and three years before her first academic paper was published, she was one of just 21 people in the entire world selected to work on the first IPCC chapter that examined how climate change might affect human health.

A survey of IPCC policies and procedures by the InterAcademy Council, comprised of science bodies from around the world, found that even IPCC insiders were concerned that (in their own responses) “some of the lead authors are clearly not qualified…” and that there are far too many politically correct appointments. “The whole process is flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific,” echoing the most damning and frequent criticism made of the IPCC by its critics.

Laframboise finds that the IPCC has taken no steps to safeguard its reputation by maintaining a strict boundary between itself and green groups. The improper relationship is illustrated by the foreword to a 2007 Greenpeace publication written by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, then chairman of the IPCC (2002 – 2015). The following year he did it again, for another Greenpeace publication. And that’s just for starters, says the author; the IPCC has filled many positions with Greenpeace or World Wildlife Fund activists. The ‘activist scientist’ is a species commonly found at the IPCC, as Laframboise shows.

The author devotes a chapter to the dark art of climate modelling – and points out that the IPCC has not subjected climate models to rigorous evaluation. It simply asked climate modellers to evaluate their own handiwork. “This is like asking parents to rate their own children’s attractiveness,” she quips.

And if you are one of those who still believe that, of course, the IPCC carefully verifies the research on which its most important conclusions are based, you will be disappointed if not devastated to learn – from the mouths of those who have worked inside the beast – that it does a very poor job of that. Laframboise cites some of the answers from insiders published in that InterAcademy Council survey: “Quality assurance and error identification is not existent,” says one. Another confirms that: “As far as I can tell, there is no data quality assurance associated with what the IPCC is doing.” There are several others along these lines.

The peer review is just as flawed, contrary to Pachauri’s arrogant response to critics; “The IPCC studies only peer reviewed science…” This notion (promulgated by all IPCC supporters, including President Obama and his science advisor John Holdren) has been disseminated by journalists and governments – and scientists, Laframboise says accusingly. But peer review – a notion as misused as it is at the IPCC – is harnessed by the IPCC both “as a shield behind which it hides, and a sword with which it skewers dissenting voices”, as Laframboise puts it.

Her book forensically exposes instances of what can only be called scientific fraud, ethical failures and political massaging of information. Her accusations are all backed by dozens of citations.

This sardonically titled book is a valuable and damning insight into the multinational organisation that has immense influence in policy making around the world, Australia very much included. The false confidence in its scientific probity trumpeted by the organisation and its uninformed – wilful or otherwise – adherents, makes a total mockery of the ruling orthodoxy on climate science as expressed by the IPCC.

Canadia’s self described feminist and activist, Laframboise concludes that the IPCC should be disbanded. “A new, untainted group of people must start from scratch.” And this time, it should be ruled by genuine checks and balances, environmentalists should be kept well away for everyone’s sake”. As for the media it “should have subjected the IPCC to the same kind of scrutiny that keeps other organisations honest.”

The Delinquent Teenager (Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert)
by Donna Laframboise
Connor Court, 237 pages, $29.95
ISBN 9781921421686

 

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