John Houghton on the Swindle

John Houghton, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) working group, has another response to the Swindle. It lists lots of interesting points, and also responds to the accusation that “The IPCC process stifles debate and is used by scientists to further their own self interest”:

I chaired the main meetings of Working Group I during the production of the first three IPCC scientific assessments. I can say categorically that the process was very open and honest. The aim was to distinguish between what was reasonably well known and the areas where there is large uncertainty. The chapter groups had complete freedom to investigate and assess the scientific literature and draw their conclusions.

Contrary to the impression given in the programme, no one ever resigned from being a lead author in Working Group I because of their disagreement with the process or the final content of their chapter. In fact, no one ever communicated to me a complaint about the integrity of the process.

I should mention, however, a case of disagreement that occurred in Working Group 2 of the IPCC that dealt with the impacts of climate change – a more complex area to address that the basic science of Working Group I. Professor Reiter who appeared in the programme described how, unfortunately, his expert work on malaria failed to get recognition in the relevant IPCC chapter.

Even Professor Lindzen, who appeared at length on the programme, stayed the course as lead author within Working Group I, expressing his satisfaction with the report’s chapters as good scientific documents. He has often, however, gone on to express his view that the conclusions of the Policymakers Summary did not faithfully represent the chapters. But he has never provided any supporting evidence for that statement – nor, to my knowledge, has anyone else who has quoted that statement originating from Lindzen.

It is important to note that IPCC Policymakers’ Summaries are agreed unanimously at intergovernmental meetings involving over 200 government delegates from around 100 countries. This agreement is only achieved after several days of scientific debate (only scientific arguments not political ones are allowed) the main purpose of which is to challenge the scientific chapter authors regarding the accuracy, clarity and relevance of the summary and most especially its consistency with the underlying chapters. Agreement at such a meeting has ensured that the resulting document, so far as is possible, is scientifically accurate, balanced and free from personal or political bias.

Reference was made in the programme to an article in the Wall Street Journal in 1995 about the 1995 IPCC report accusing the IPCC of improperly altering one of the agreed chapters before publication. This was a completely false accusation as was pointed out in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 1996, 77, pp1961-1966.

The article also has two interesting links about Martin Durkin, producer of the Swindle.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “John Houghton on the Swindle

  1. Hello fermiparadox,

    Glad to see you are also covering authoritative responses to TGGWS. Did you see the brief, but neat, press release by the Royal Society, and the article in NewScientist by Alan Thorpe (which I have requested permission to republish in full on my blog)?

  2. Thanks inel,

    yes, I saw those posts earlier today, but thanks for the links. I think one day I will make a summary of all responses so far. Unfortunately the article in the New Scientist is only available for subscribers.

    As for posting about TGGWS: the film just annoyed me so much that I cannot possibly be quiet about it, so I want at least try to undo some of the damage done by it. Fighting windmills, I guess.

  3. The NewScientist article I have already typed up in full from the print copy I bought last week. Send me an email to idwr AT mac DOT com and I will tell you more.