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Were key 1995 IPCC scientists' conclusions of
man-made global warming, tampered with?

One of the most serious issues in the public perception of global warming is the notion that alarmism has been promoted by false statements from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There are serious claims that the lead author of the key Chapter 8 reversed the conclusions of IPCC's other scientists, after their final submission for IPCC 1995, and without their knowledge, to present Anthropogenic Global Warming as endorsed by all the IPCC scientists. The following text is taken from Unstoppable Global Warming by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. Singer is a first-rate scientist with a formidable record of achievements.

Below are a lot of revealing excerpts: from Seitz' op-ed of 12 June 1996, from the responses from key IPCC figures, from IPCC: a View from the Inside, and from Protecting the IPCC turf.

Here are actual key changes to Chapter 8 "Summary for Policymakers"

"Discernible Human Influence" was never documented, say Singer and Avery

Climate is so complex and variable that it's difficult to distinguish the causes of its variations. The technique adopted by the IPCC for second assessment report, Climate Change 1995, was called "fingerprinting." The IPCC compared the detailed geographic patterns of climate change with the calculations of the climate models. This comparison seemed to indicate a growing correspondence between real-world observation and modeled patterns.

On examination, however, this result proved to be false. The correspondence appeared only for the time interval 1943 to 1970. More recent decades show no such correspondence, nor does the complete record, which dated from 1905 to 1995, The IPCC claim is based on selective data. Under the rules of science, this cancels the IPCC's claim of having found a human impact on climate.

The IPCC's defenders claim that the crucial chapter 8 of the panel's Climate Change 1995 was based on 130 peer-reviewed science studies. Actually, the chapter was based mainly on two research papers by its lead author, Ben Santer, of the U.S. government's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Neither of the Santer papers had been published at the time the chapter was under review and they had not been subject to peer review. Scientific reviewers subsequently learned that both the Santer papers shared the same defect as the IPCC's chapter 8: Their "linear upward trend" occurs only from 1943 to 1970.

In fact, the IPPC report itself documented the reality that the man-made warming claim was false. The "fingerprint test," as displayed in figure 8.I0b of` the 1995 report, shows the pattern correlation between observations and climate models decreasing during the major surge of surface temperature warming that occurred between 1916 and 1940.

The IPCC's Climate Change 1995 was reviewed by its consulting scientists in late 1995. The "Summary for Policy Makers" was approved in December, and the full report, including chapter 8, was accepted. However, after the printed report appeared in May 1996, the scientific reviewers discovered that major changes had been made "in the back room" after they had signed off on the science chapter's contents. Santer, despite the shortcomings of the scientific evidence, had inserted strong endorsements of man-made warming in chapter 8 (of which he was the IPCC-appointed lead author):

There is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols ... from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change. ... These results point toward a human influence on global climate. [ch.8 p.412]

The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate. [ch.8 p.439]

Santer also deleted these key statements from the expert-approved chapter 8 draft:

  • "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases."
  • "While some of the pattern-base studies discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed] to [man-made] causes. Nor has any study quantified the magnitude of a greenhouse gas effect or aerosol effect in the observed data - an issue of primary relevance to policy makers."
  • "Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced."
  • "While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions, for which there is little justification."
  • "When will an anthropogenic effect on climate be identified? It is not surprising that the best answer to this question is, `We do not know. "'

Santer single-handedly reversed the "climate science" of the whole IPCC report--and with it the global warming political process. The "discernible human influence" supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world and has been the "stopper" in millions of debates among nonscientists.

The journal Nature mildly chided the IPCC for redoing chapter 8 to "ensure that it conformed" to the report's politically correct Summary for Policymakers. In an editorial, Nature favored the Kyoto treaty.

The Wall Street Journal, which did not favor Kyoto, was outraged. Its condemning editorial, "Coverup in the Greenhouse," appeared I 1 June 1996. The following day, Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, detailed the illegitimate rewrite in the Journal in a commentary titled Major Deception on Global Warming.

Oddly enough, a research paper, coauthored by Santer, was published at about the same time - and says something quite different than the IPCC report. It concludes that none of the three estimates of the natural variability of the climate spectrum agrees with the other, and that until this question is resolved, "it will be hard to say, with confidence, that an anthropogenic climate signal has or has not been detected."

Why did Santer, a relatively junior scientist, make the unsupported revisions'? We still don't know who directed him to do so, and then approved the changes. But Sir John Houghton, chairman of the IPCC working group, had received a letter from the U.S. State Department dated November 15, 1995. It said:

It is essential that the chapters not be finalized prior to the completion of the discussions at the IPCC Working Group I plenary in Madrid, and that chapter authors be prevailed upon to modify their text in an appropriate manner following the discussion in Madrid.

The letter was signed by a senior career Foreign Service officer, Day Olin Mount, who was then Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. The Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs at that time was former Senator Timothy Wirth (D-CO). Wirth was not only an ardent advocate of man-made warming. but was a close political ally of then-President Bill Clinton and then-Vice President Al Gore. There seems little doubt that the letter was sent by Mount at the behest of Wirth.

Mount was later named Ambassador to Iceland. That's a plum post in a pleasant, peaceful First World country. That ambassadorship has often gone to a political ally of the White House rather than to a career diplomat,

The Madrid Plenary, held in November 1995, was a political meeting. There were representatives of ninety-six nations and fourteen nongovernment organizations (NGOs). They went over the text of the “accepted" report line by line. Chapter 8, which should have governed the entire IPCC report, was rewritten to accord with the global warming campaign being waged by the United Nations, the NGOs, and the Clinton administration.

For the record, here are excerpts from Frederick Seitz' Wall Street Journal op-ed, 12 June 1996:

Seitz: A Major Deception on Global Warming

...In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.

A comparison between the report approved by the contributing scientists and the published version reveals that key changes were made after the scientists had met and accepted what they thought was the final peer-reviewed version. The scientists were assuming that the IPCC would obey the IPCC Rules - a body of regulations that is supposed to govern the panel's actions. Nothing in the IPCC Rules permits anyone to change a scientific report after it has been accepted by the panel of scientific contributors and the full IPCC.

The participating scientists accepted "The Science of Climate Change" in Madrid last November; the full IPCC accepted it the following month in Rome. But more than 15 sections in Chapter 8 of the report - the key chapter setting out the scientific evidence for and against a human influence over climate - were changed or deleted after the scientists charged with examining this question had accepted the supposedly final text.

Few of these changes were merely cosmetic...

It is perhaps relevant to note that several IPCC scientists and reviewers have, since 1995, resigned from the IPCC, on similar grounds. Now here are quotes from the response:

Houghton, Bolin, Santer etc: responses to Seitz' op-ed

[from letter to Ben Santer] We believe that attacks on the IPCC process in general, and you in particular, such as occurred in the editorial-page piece in The Wall Street Journal by Frederick Seitz, have no place in the scientific debate about issues related to global change. Dr. Seitz is a prominent scientist, but his expertise is not atmospheric sciences and he was not involved in the IPCC process. The Wall Street Journal essay is especially disturbing because it steps over the boundary from disagreeing with the science to attacking the honesty and integrity of a particular scientist...

...The larger debate (related to what actions should be taken by the nation and the world in response to global change) will take place in the public and political fora; and it is our responsibility as scientists to take an appropriate role in that larger debate...

...We restate our strong support for the integrity and openness of the IPCC process...

[from letter to WSJ from Santer and 40 other scientists] Dr. Seitz is not a climate scientist*. He was not involved in the process of putting together the 1995 IPCC report on the science of climate change. He did not attend the Madrid IPCC meeting on which he reports. He was not privy to the hundreds of review comments received by Chapter 8 Lead Authors. Most seriously, before writing his editorial, he did not contact any of the Lead Authors of Chapter 8 in order to obtain information as to how or why changes were made to Chapter 8 after Madrid. He also did not contact either Prof. Bert Bolin, the Chairman of the IPCC, or those in charge of the report, the Co-Chairmen of IPCC Working Group I, Sir John Houghton and Dr. L.G. Meira Filho, in order to determine whether IPCC rules of procedure had been violated by the changes made to Chapter 8.

[from letter from **Bert Bolin, Sir John Houghton & other IPCC members] ...The crucial error in Mr Seitz's article - which could have been avoided if he had simply taken the time to familiarize himself with IPCC rules of procedure- is his assumption that the version of the IPCC report from which he quotes was the final version approved by the scientific authors and accepted by the IPCC. This is not the case. He quotes from the draft version of October 1995, which was sent out to delegates in preparation for the November 1995 Plenary Meeting which was held in Madrid. The final version is the one which was modified in accordance with the guidance received at the Madrid meeting and which has now been published. His attack on Dr Santer and the other scientists involved is therefore completely unfounded....

*but by the same criteria, Al Gore and James Hansen are even less climate scientists.
** Bert Bolin ridiculed Svensmark and tried to block his work as "irresponsible". Sir John Houghton, first co-chair of the IPCC, said, “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen” and “The impacts of global warming are like a weapon of mass destruction”. He claimed that it kills more people than terrorism. These are key statements and core attitudes.

The IPCC: a View from the Inside: excerpts
Dr John W Zillman AO FTSE, Director of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.

The Significance of the Chapter 8 Controversy
By far the most heated controversy surrounding the Second Assessment Report was that which erupted in the US, in particular, over allegations of politically motivated rewriting of Chapter 8 (Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes) of the WG I report. Without going into the detail of this controversy, I believe it is fair to say that, while there was some unavoidable informality in the IPCC procedures relating to Chapter 8 - before, at and after the November 1995 Working Group I Session in Madrid- there was no conspiracy involved and the suggestions of “scientific cleansing” were unfounded.

The Pressure for Consensus
While one of the great achievements of the IPCC process has been its contribution to consensus in both the national and international scientific communities as to what can reasonably be said on the current state of climate change science, there has also been a down side. Those who have been heavily involved in the IPCC and have developed a sense of ownership and pride in what has been achieved have, during the sessions, felt a strong need to avoid a situation in which the IPCC was seen to “fail”. As a result, there has been unusually intense pressure for consensus to be achieved even when many individual participants clearly felt extremely uncomfortable with signing on to the “consensus” language. These pressures became extreme in some of the late night meetings when the time for achievement of consensus was running out, delegations were exhausted and dissenting individuals were subject to considerable peer pressure to agree in order to avoid the stigma of being seen to have prevented the IPCC from achieving a consensus report. These pressures have led to increasing questioning of the appropriateness of the concept of “science by consensus”.

The Time Frame of the Review Process
Despite the three years available for the preparation of the Second Assessment Report, in the end the time frame for the review process was extremely tight and many countries felt quite unable to conduct an in-depth review with any measure of integrity in the time allowed. This resulted in anumber of delegations in Madrid and Rome complaining that they had not had adequate opportunity to consider the documentation and criticising the IPCC for not adhering to its own rules of procedure.

The Risk of Disproportionate Influence of Dominant Personalities
The system of preparation of chapters of the IPCC reports in which the selected Lead Authors play a very strong role in determining the content of the final report provided a vehicle for dominant personalities in the scientific community to play a stronger role than some of their colleagues believed appropriate. While there were a number of checks and balances provided by, for example, the Working Group Bureaux and the core groups charged with writing the Summaries for Policymakers, the impression remained within some of the Groups that certain individuals were overly dominant in using the IPCC process as a fast-track way of getting their own scientific views built into the orthodoxy of climate change.

The Location of Authority for Final Decision with Lead Authors
In order to avoid the risk of having the IPCC reports made vulnerable to charged of political influence, the IPCC Chairman and the WG Co-chairmen were meticulous in insisting that the final decision on whether to accept particular review comments should reside with chapter Lead Authors. This was at variance with the normal role of journal editorial boards and led to suggestions that some Lead Authors ignored valid critical comments or failed to adequately reflect dissenting views when revising their text.

Protecting the IPCC Turf by R Pielke Sr. says

Thus, the intensity of the dismissive and negative comments by a number of the committee members, and from even several of the agency representatives, with respect to any view that differed from the IPCC orthodoxy, made abundantly clear, that there was no interest in vesting an assessment of climate to anyone but the IPCC.

The IPCC is actually a relatively small group of individuals who are using the IPCC process to control what policymakers and the public learn about climate on multi-decadal time scales. This NRC planning process further demonstrates the intent of the IPCC members to manipulate the science, so that their viewpoints are the only ones that reach the policymakers.

Here are the exact key alterations to the scientists' report
You can make up your own mind now.
If you find any errors or other problems with this page, please let me know.

Page updated 7th March 2009


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