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The crumbling edifice of the IPCC

By Max Rheese - posted Friday, 11 November 2011

A book published last month by Canadian investigative journalist, Donna Laframboise details an astonishing array of flaws, omissions and misinformation contained within the 2007 Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These revelations completely undermine the already tarnished integrity of the report.

Laframboise spent two years researching the content and references of the report before she wrote The Delinquent Teenager, an appalling account of how the world has been hoodwinked by an unaccountable bureaucracy that does not even abide by its own rules.

Laframboise's diligent research shows that numerous graduate students were lead authors of the report and conclusions were drawn from papers not then peer-reviewed – let alone published.


This has the appearance of a circular, incestuous process that saw IPCC chapters written while the necessary referenced papers were published after the fact in peer-reviewed journals under the influence of IPCC authors.

Large numbers of contributors to the report, like Bill Hare, were directly linked to organisations such as Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature; five out of ten contributors to one chapter have a formal, documented link to WWF, 28 out of 44 chapters of the report included at least one individual affiliated with WWF.

The all important Working Group 1 chapters, the scientific foundation of the report, contained 431 references to non peer-reviewed material. In the complete report 5,587 references were not peer-reviewed, 30 per cent of all references, of these, only six were flagged as such.

Sources used to support IPCC assertions were newspaper and magazine articles, unpublished Masters and Doctoral theses, Greenpeace and WWF documents as well as press releases.

These revelations do not inspire confidence in an organisation that claims to be, and is portrayed, as basing its conclusions on peer-reviewed literature.

Key contributing author, Dr Phil Jones of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit fame admitted during testimony before a House of Commons committee that peer-reviewers never contacted him to examine raw data for papers he submitted for publication.


The forensic dissection of the IPCC peer-review process by Laframboise, utilising in part, the comments of the IPCC's own peer-reviewers demonstrates many reviewers had little faith in or understanding of how chapters were approved. In fact many reviewers were wasting their time as is demonstrated by IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri's explanation of the process of refinement – "we necessarily have to ensure the underlying report conforms to the refinements." The IPCC tweaks their words so that the underlying scientific sections accord with the version of reality that was hammered out by the politicians.

Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Jason Johnston researched what the IPCC had concluded on climate change to compare their findings with the peer-reviewed climate science literature. He discovered that "on virtually every major issue in climate change science" IPCC reports "systematically conceal or minimise what appear to be fundamental scientific uncertainties."

He concluded the IPCC had been leaving out important information – it had been tailoring its message.

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About the Author

Max Rheese is the Executive Director of the Australian Environment Foundation.

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All articles by Max Rheese

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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