On the Radio4 Today programme this morning, Simon Cox reported that Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, says that they will be investigating the CRU emails . See first item at 07:09, here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8394000/8394501.stm

The BBC website carries the same story but with a rather different slant here:

“We will certainly go into the whole lot and then we will take a position on it,” he said.

“We certainly don’t want to brush anything under the carpet. This is a serious issue and we will look into it in detail.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8394483.stm

For the first time, Climategate made the  headlines on the BBC’s morning news coverage. Their flagship Today programme, the one that politicians and policy makers can’t afford to miss, ran no less than three items on the story.

In a post here, I suggested that Climategate, like Watergate, is a story that will grow and grow. With the involvement of the IPCC  this seems bound to happen.

Up until now, the action and news coverage has centred on the University of East Anglia’s campus. After all it was Phil Jones’s mailbox at CRU that got raided. But from the very beginning it was clear that the scandal had international dimensions. As I have said before, the address headers on those emails reads like a list of the great and the good in climate research from around the world, and that means that they are the movers and shakers of the  IPCC process too.

In particular Michael Mann, Keith Briffa, and Kevin Trenberth to say nothing of Phil Jones himself have played a major role in the last two IPCC Assessment Reports. All have said apparently compromising things in the leaked correspondence.

  • There is little doubt now that confidence in Mann’s hockey stick, the iconic graph that Sir John Houghton used so successful as a brand image for the IPPC in its Third Assessment Report, was only maintained by collusion with colleagues to suppress criticism.
  • Briffa admits, referring to his IPCC duties, that the needs of the IPCC and science are not always the same.
  • Trenberth questions scientific understanding of the radiation budget, perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the greenhouse hypothesis, and admits that the present cooling cannot be explained. Yet he is a factotum of the organisation that has done more than any other to implant the idea in the minds of politicians, policy makers that the general public that the science is settled and a consensus exists.
  • Jones talks openly of keeping inconvenient scientific research out of the Fourth Assessment Report.

The intervention of the IPCC chairman is a turning point in the development of the CRU affair for two reasons. If the IPCC need to investigate, then it is no longer possible for anyone to pretend that the problem only concerns a few people and a limited amount of research at CRU. Climategate will have gone global. Secondly, any intimation that the IPCC are going to investigate is likely to bring forth a chorus of demands that it is not the place of the IPCC to investigate this matter, but it is the IPCC that should be investigated.

As I have said before, the people whose behaviour has been brought to light by this scandal are not bit players in the world of climate science; they are senior functionaries at the heart of  the IPCC process.

In a report on this morning’s Today programme (here at 08:56), Roger Harrabin had this to say:

Climate change has become the sort of great organising theme, a great grand narrative of our age. And what you’re seeing in Copenhagen now is the sort of businesses who previously rejected ideas that we had to cut emissions now buying into climate change science, and from that position making policies of their own for a transformational economy; a low carbon economy. So you had for instance five hundred businesses last night at Downing Street presenting a petition to Gordon Brown saying give us a strong deal. And I saw Richard Lambert there, Director Genera of the CBI, and said look! what about these stolen emails? Does this put you off?  And this is what he said;

Business people aren’t scientists and they’re not climatologists, but they are paid to understand risk. And they see a risk in climate change and they also see an opportunity. The question is, is it going to be an orderly transition to a low carbon economy or a disorderly transition.  And are investment plans going to be [served ?] by the way that [transition] creates business opportunities in the future. That’s is why business has an real interest, in a successful outcome to the Copenhagen discussions.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8394000/8394501.stm

Why Harrabin should choose to interpret this very cautious response to a question about Climategate  as a refutation of the impact of the CRU debacle is not a subject for this post, but the real burden of what Lambert said certainly is.

Industry has billions invested in what they have been told are the new opportunities that the perceived risk of AGW are supposed to create. Businessmen are, as Lambert rightly says, paid to understand risk. But they are also paid to assess the information on which decisions on risk are based. In the case of global warming the main purveyor of this information is the IPCC, aided and abetted by government and the  quangos it has created.

Businessmen, or the best of them at least, are also paid to know when the information they are relying on can no longer be trusted. In the case of the IPCC, trust is a very important word. As Lambert makes clear, businessmen are not climate scientists and the number of people who can make a critical appraisal of what the IPCC has been telling us are relatively few. The decisions on risk are based almost entirely on what the IPCC has been telling us all for the last decade.

If the new markets that the businessmen are relying on to help ride out the recession begin to collapse because the IPCC process is flawed, then the IPCC can expect no mercy form the business leaders who have become its cheerleaders.

63 Responses to “CRU Email Hack: Don’t panic! Pachauri of the IPCC is on the case”

  1. It’s a Climategate Christmas
    (Featuring Jones, Mann, Gore, Pachauri, Inhofe, Monckton and many more)

    http://www.examiner.com/x-25061-Climate-Change-Examiner~y2009m12d14-Group-releases-video-parody-of-Climategate-scandal–Its-a-Climategate-Christmas

  2. Neil Craig (48)

    Harrabin’s remark “The question is, is it going to be an orderly transition to a low carbon economy or a disorderly transition”

    raises the questions you have asked as well as the conclusion you have reached that a free market can respond to market challenges and opportunities far better than a “centrally planned economy” can.

    The eventual failure of the once-mighty Soviet Union is just one example.

    The problem with “centrally planned” solutions is that they are not reactive to constant new input data.

    We see a good example at Copenhagen.

    Climategate has raised serious questions concerning the validity of the scientific paradigm, which was used to support the need for a “transition to a low carbon economy”.

    Yet, rather than reacting to this new input data and re-evaluating the need for the “transition to a low carbon economy”, the bureaucrats at Copenhagen are stuck in their paradigm (“the science is settled”) and are continuing to push for various schemes to force this transition from the top down.

    The free market must react to any new input data that comes along; those businesses that do not react and adapt are lost.

    Most successful of all are those who create the new realities, which break the old paradigms.

    But you won’t see any of these at Copenhagen.

    Max

  3. Neil Craig

    I wrote (52)

    Most successful of all are those who create the new realities, which break the old paradigms.
    But you won’t see any of these at Copenhagen.

    I was wrong.

    Not about the thousands of delegates: bureaucrats, politicians, activists, lobbyists, corporates, scientists, etc. These are stuck in the paradigm and are just producing a lot of “hot air” (and a massive “carbon footprint” along the way).

    But here is a 15-year old schoolboy with a real idea

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8406331.stm

    Hats off to ingenuity and “thinking outside the paradigm”!

    Max

  4. The street lamp powered by speed bumps is a good idea if we accept we need more speed bumps & expensive energy saving devices. I don’t think we do – that all we need is to build lots of cheap nuclear plants, but I can see that within the limits of what “environmentalists” like this is neat.

    I think your point about top down organisations, specifically government, being unable to change direction is worth repeating. It may be that some day somebody will reinvent a workable form of socialism but it will have to be bottom up & include competition & bankruptcy.

  5. Max (53)

    I was with him all the way until the last sentence:

    “I want a career in politics,” he says.

    Oh dear!

  6. Robin (46)

    I heard that, too. Best thing I’ve heard on the radio for ages (and his second poke at AGW in that slot – do the you think the Beeb has noticed yet?).

  7. James P (55)

    Yeah. I agree that “wanting a career in politics” was the low point of the article. But he did preface that with “if his invention does not work out”.

    So does this mean that those that have failed elsewhere go into politics?

    Or, like Al Gore, those who fail in politics go into the climate change game?

    Max

  8. James P (55)

    Let’s back off a bit on the 15 year old inventor schoolboy.

    Remember, he is talking to a crowd of politicians and bureaucrats (wannabe politicians) when he flatters their egos by telling them he would like a career in politics.

    Could it be that this kid is really much more intelligent than his audience?

    Max

  9. Max

    I’m only jealous! I’m sure you’re right that he was playing to his audience (rather like the beauty contestants who suddenly develop an interest in children and world peace*).

    He should go far.

    *And I expect extra points will be awarded to any who profess a desire to reduce their carbon footprints.

  10. At the BBC website:

    I will not go, says climate chief

    Three things that I noticed:

    1) Compare the following quotation in the ‘print’ report with the sound track on the video clip:

    I want to tell the sceptics … who see me as the face and the voice of the science of climate change I am in no mood to oblige them; I am going to remain as chairman of the IPCC for my entire term.

    Why were the words ‘I want to tell the western interests’ edited out I wonder? It is particularly revealing as it suggests that Pachauri is preparing to portray any attempt to remove him as a plot by the developed countries. If he does so that certainly isn’t going to do anything to heal the divisions that the Copenhagen summit revealed, in fact it will make them even more bitter.

    2) He is now on record as saying that he did not know about the Himalayan glacier ‘error’ until about a week ago, and therefore the glacier scandal has no implications for research grants that TERI applied for. That could be his death warrant.

    3) Not a murmur from the BBC about concern that Pachauri‘s extra-curricular activities may not altogether be in keeping with his role as IPCC chairman. Perhaps the BBC Newsroom budget won’t run to buying all the national newspapers.

  11. TonyN, actually I’m wondering whether he said “vested interests” at that point in the video – mind you, that interpretation has its share of irony as well, given that Mr Pachauri has his own vested interests (which, as you say, the BBC inexplicably fail to mention.)

  12. Alex:

    Having just listened to the clip again at ear splitting volume using headphones I am quite sure that the word he used is ‘western’ although I admit that it is not very distinct. Listening to the rest of the interview Pachauri seems to mange to get the ‘v’ sound in ‘very’ absolutely right. But I may be mistaken; just one more mystery.

  13. Tony, whichever one it was (have listened to it again now and can’t make up my mind!) it is interesting as ever to note the things that the BBC choose to emphasise and those that they do not emphasise. Often IMO the things that they don’t stress are the key to what is intended.

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