THE fifteenth United Nations Climate Conference (COP-15) will be held in Copenhagen in November. While only one official view on the science, that of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is usually put forward at these gatherings, this year the United Nations has agreed to support an alternative and probably rival overall assessment from a team of climate change sceptics.
This decision follows a recommendation from Vaclav Klaus, the well-known climate sceptic who currently holds the European Union Presidency.
The recommendation was first made to President Klaus by David Henderson, a former chief economist at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based on the work of Irving L. Janis on ‘Groupthink’.
According to the late Mr Janis irrespective of the personality characteristics and other predispositions of the members of a policy-making group, when the decision-makers constitute a cohesive group and are under stress from external threats it can lead to illusions of invulnerability and belief in the inherent morality of the group leading to self-censorship, illusions of unanimity and an incomplete consideration of alternatives solutions to the issue at hand.
In order to avoid groupthink the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has accepted the recommendation from President Klaus in particular that the IPCC adopt Janis’ nine principles including that several independent groups work on the same problem, that alternatives be properly examined, and at least one member of every working-group be assigned the role of Devil’s advocate.
The team of sceptics, to be headed by Australian meteorologist William Kininmonth, will be forced to work within the United Nation’s framework, in particular as an independent working-group re-assessing the science in the lead-up to Copenhagen.
Mr Ki-moon said, “They will provide an important counterpoint. We will be making important decision at Copenhagen, decisions that will impact on all the world’s citizens, it is important we discuss and debate the underlying scientific theories, otherwise we could be working from a weak foundation.”
President Klaus commented, “It is certainly not too late for the IPCC to change its decision-making process. This may be the most significant reform that I achieve as President of the EU and, well, I am proud.”
April 1, 2009.