A Good Example why Politics/IPCC Matters

January 27th, 2005

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Here is a good example why the IPCC should be concerned about the role of its leaders in political advocacy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, released a press release today titled, “Pachauri Must Resign as Head of UN Climate Panel Activism Compromises Scientific Objectivity.”

The CEI describes itself as “a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. We believe that individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace.” It is safe to say that the CEI is firmly against the Kyoto Protocol and highly skeptical of climate science. So the political agenda supported by CEI is in direct opposition to the political agenda endorsed in recent months by R. K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC.

Here is the calculus that I’d like the IPCC folks to understand: Whatever benefits they believe lending the IPCC’s name and authority (as an institution or as individuals) to their favored political causes is more than outweighed by the substantially greater benefits that they provide to their political opponents by defecting from the IPCC’s formal position as honest broker. Not only does this contribute to a loss of legitimacy and authority of the IPCC (which matters to everyone because we need honest brokers) but it is just poorly played politics in support of the causes to which Dr. Pauchari has lent his name and that of the IPCC.

6 Responses to “A Good Example why Politics/IPCC Matters”

  1. Sound and Fury Says:

    Scientists and the Public Square

    The only “honest broker” available, then, is science itself. And so long as fallible scientists, of whatever ideological persuasion, take care to limit their political statements to the current scientific consensus in their field, I see little harm, an…

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  3. Peter J. Wetzel Says:

    You remarked recently (and I take it entirely on faith that you have a correct understanding) that Dr. Robert Watson was replaced as IPCC Chairman because the current US administration objected to the policy position which he took.

    Now, in the best spirit of “the paranoids are out to get me”, I’d like to propose that Dr. Pauchari, who you seem to have identified as a hand-picked US-administration-approved replacement for Dr. Watson, is deliberately attempting to sabotage the IPCC’s credibility. Can anyone prove that this is not true?

    More to my point, can the world of political machinations actually override substantive reality in the end? Don’t bet on it. If and/or when a clear anthropogenic climate signal emerges (or is currently emerging), and reaches the point that it becomes obvious to the general public, we’ll find our politicians obediently towing the line — no, we’ll find them pathetically tripping over themselves to be first to claim leadership toward this new paradigm.

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  5. FuturePundit Says:

    Hockey Stick Climate Temperature Trend Theory Challenged

    A pair of Canadian researchers, University of Guelph Canada economist Ross McKitrick and Toronto-based mineral exploration consultant Stephen McIntyre, have a paper…

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  7. Jim Says:

    What if my choice is for the goverment to take action on global warming and other problems? The CEI is taking away my freedom in the name of freedom.

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  9. Carleton Wu Says:

    Furthering Jim’s point, how would the CEI react to the IPCC if it insisted that global climate change skeptics were barred from any participation bc of their ‘political’ stances?
    Id rather allow both in, unless it can be demonstrated that their objectivity has been compromised or that their work for the IPCC is biased in some way.
    Admittedly this does create the opportunity for nonscientific political activists like the CEI to distort and malign the IPCC itself, but I think that the damage is relatively limited vis a vis the more fundamental problem of limitng the IPCC to only those who follow a certain orthodoxy.
    Furthermore, such a limitation would itself be a reason for challenge from groups such as the CEI. In the final analysis, nonscientific groups which inject themselves into scientific processes will not be satisfied until the conclusions fit their preconceptions, no matter what artificial pre-conditions we create to insure a balanced working group. So why kowtow to their pretended outrage when it can only disatvantage the scientific output?

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  11. Mark Bahner Says:

    “What if my choice is for the goverment to take action on global warming and other problems? The CEI is taking away my freedom in the name of freedom.”

    What if my choice is for the government to take action to make women cover their faces? Are you going to take away my freedom in the name of freedom?

    No one at CEI is asking the government to make laws prohibiting you from getting all your photovoltaics, or driving a hybrid vehicle (or riding a bike).