Phi Beta Cons

Student Paper Is Prime Source on Ice-Melting

The reputedly expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has already had to backtrack on biased statements about global warming, is once again in hot water, reports the Telegraph.  

The IPCC’s latest scientific transgression consists in basing assertions about ice disappearing from the earth’s mountain tops on a dissertation written by a geography student studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree at the University of Berne. 

The IPCC accepted the student’s claims of ice loss, derived from interviews with mountain guides in the Alps, even though other scientists point out, one, there is no long-term data regarding ice from ice climbs and, two, the latter do not accurately show ice reduction because climbers knock down (reduce) ice as they climb with their axes and other paraphernalia.

On the basis of this anecdotal evidence, as well as similar claims made in an article published in a popular magazine for climbers, the panel proceeded to issue a study affirming loss of mountain ice in various parts of the world.  

Some scientists, fortunately, are protesting the group’s repeated use of unreliable information sources and non-peer-reviewed data. Prof. Richard Tol, based at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, calls its scientific work in this instance “sloppy.” And, in the judgment of Roger Sedjo, a senior research fellow at the U.S. research organization Resources for the Future:

’The IPCC is, unfortunately, a highly political organisation [most of whose leaders border] on climate advocacy. It needs to develop a more balanced and indeed scientifically sceptical behaviour pattern. The organisation [sic] tend to select the most negative studies ignoring more positive alternatives.’

But is the IPCC so far gone scientifically that it is beyond redemption? Can it be reformed so as to base its work only on reliable, objective, peer-reviewed scientific literature and publish it transparently? If not, the panel, which is wrongly influencing governmental decisions throughout the world that affect billions of people, should be dissolved.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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