Kevin Trenberth: Standing up for the IPCC Process

Below is a note, and attached a copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) review process, both authored by Kevin Trenberth, one of the scientists in the midst of the tempest about the University of East Anglia emails.

Trenberth says, rightly, that he is proud of the openness and accountability shown by scientists such as him and Phil Jones from the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit. We could only cheer the day that the same transparency was shown by, say, the Competitive Enterprise Institute or the Cato Institute - two parties that are being inordinately enthusiastic about these stolen emails.

An Open Letter to Scientists from Kevin Trenberth

… This has been a difficult time for us, with very personal abusive and threatening emails, protesters at the bottom of the NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) hill, and trying to get a decent hearing. I am proud of what Phil and I did for Chapter 3 in AR4, and it is disappointing that the IPCC has not been more forthright in standing up for its procedures. After
the SAR, when editors were introduced, the IPCC process has become very open, transparent and thorough, but it is not documented anywhere that we can hold up to the world and say, “look, see”. The IPCC web site is not
helpful. It is possible to find something on IPCC procedures and the URL is in the attached. However, the attached is my attempt to detail the process of which we should be proud. In particular it documents the process down to the level of Chapter 3 of AR4. Along with the huge xls spread sheets that document how every comment (for chapter 3 over 3500) were handled and responded to (now why aren’t those made publicly available???) the process does not allow any of the finagling or manipulation we have been accused of.
Indeed in the stolen emails you will find evidence of this. Please promote the attached document and maybe we can get it onto the IPCC web site somehow? And maybe we can get others to pay attention to it.

Also, for those who have not seen it, I highly recommend the recent editorial in the latest Nature editorial Dec. 3, 2009:


Microsoft Office document icon IPCC_Process.doc43 KB


I guess he’s standing up for the process, it’s brought him riches and opportunities to hob knob with the loony left hollywood types. It’s the rest of us that have to bend over and take it.

Thanks for the summary! Those of us (like myself) just getting familiar with the IPCC process might not know what a “WG” is. (Working Group -right?) Perhaps you could update the Summary with this clarification.
Best regards,
Bill Bishop

This is extremely valuable. I have some detailed questions about the process. I don’t believe they were addressed in this document or the IPCC reports. My intention is not to give the deniers any more ammunition to make nonsensical attacks, but to gain a deeper understanding of just how open and thorough the process is. My questions are directed at the author of the process document.

You write: “All comments were responded to in writing and by changing the report.”

Beyond if the comments are availble to the public, I also ask what information is recorded? For example, if one comment asserts that a study is incorrect, is it documented anywhere that the report 1) who made the comment, 2) that the comment was dismissed or accepted, and 3) who made the decision to dismiss or accept, and 4) why that decision was made? (This is particularly important for comments which were rejected.)

(I work in an industry where we are supposed to record all comments; but I know that’s next to impossible.)

You write: “The process is overseen by two Review Editors for each chapter.”
How are the review editors selected, and is this process documented? How are the credentials of these authors assessed?

You write: “The SPM were approved line by line by governments. The rationale is that the scientists determine what can be said, but the governments help determine how it can best be said.”

Two questions re: SPM (I assume SPM is Summary for Policy Makers) 1. Who is reponsible (governments, scientists, or both) for the citations to the technical chapters that direct the readers from the government-written sections in the SPM to the individual scientific chapter references?

and 2. Are the governments involved in the Technical Summary? If so, how?

The Nature editorial highlights a major problem faced by the climate change supporters. Why are FOI requests considered “endless, time-consuming demands for information” instead of an opportunity to prove the skeptics wrong?

Even Kevin Trenberth admits the IPCC process isn’t not documented anywhere that we can hold up to the world and say, “look, see” and that it’s disappointing that the IPCC has not been more forthright in standing up for its own procedures. Isn’t that the basic, underlying problem - No “look, see” proof. We’re not talking about top-secret, eyes-only, national security issues. We’re talking about committing to major changes in lifestyle, manufacturing and wealth re-distribution on a global scale.

The issue is best summed up by the statement, “The canons of scientific openness require scientists to make public the data on which they base their conclusions or to explain why the data hasn’t been made public.”

Here’s the data sources. Knock yerself out. Let us know what you learn from them.