The following comment from Ian Castles was made at the thread on yesterday’s blog post Greenhouse Mafia Gagging Scientists?:
“I hold the directly contrary view to that presented in the [4-Corners] program: CSIRO scientists have had exceptional freedom to present their personal views, and this freedom has been used to present a one-sided perspective on climate change issues, including in official publications of the Australian Government.
I could give many examples, but for the sake of illustration I’ll focus on Dr. Barrie Pittock, who lamented on last nights program that he wasnt allowed to put policy views into a government document.
Well, he’s had free rein to give his opinions in the book Climate Change: Turning Up the Heat, which was published by CSIRO Publishing last October with a laudatory Foreword contributed by Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. The book has also been published in London by Earthscan, which is marketing it as a ‘major new textbook’.
Dr. Pittock makes no pretence of objectivity. On the pros and cons of the Kyoto Protocol and of quantitative emissions targets he cites a report to three State Governments, a report by the Australian Climate Group (‘consisting of a number of industry, science, and environment experts’), the Federal Governments Chief Scientist, Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute and ‘EU and UK thinking’.
He doesn’t so much as mention the views of experts whove studied these subjects in depth, such as Warwick McKibbin (‘the Kyoto Protocol is so badly constructed that it has set back the search for sensible and effective policy responses by at least a decade’), Aynsley Kellow (the Protocol is ‘a step in the wrong direction, and one which could hinder rather than help future international cooperation’), Richard Tol (‘the emission reduction targets as agreed in the Kyoto Protocol are irreconcilable with economic rationality’) and William Nordhaus (‘the Kyoto Protocol is widely seen as somewhere between troubled and terminal [and] threatens to be seen as a monument to institutional overreach’).
The Australian Governments ‘stated reasons for not ratifying the Protocol’ are set beside ‘some counter arguments’ in a box which is acknowledged to be based on a lecture in which Clive Hamilton caricatured the Governments reasons as ‘Silly Reason No. 1’, ‘Silly Reason No. 2” and so on. Dr. Pittock uses essentially the same ten reasons, but leaves out the word ‘silly’ and tones down Dr. Hamilton’s language somewhat.
Pittock represents Australias refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as a symptom of an unenlightened attitude to the threat of climate change and to the future of humanity generally. He says that ‘The industrialised world currently gives about 0.22% of GDP [in international aid], with the United States and Australia (WHO HAVE NOT SIGNED THE KYOTO PROTOCOL) giving far less.’ This is wrong according to Yearbook Australia 2006, released by the ABS last month, which says ‘The ratio of Australia’s ODA to gross national income for 2005-06 is estimated at 0.28%, placing Australia above the donor average which, in the latest year available (2004), was 0.25%.
So far as the facts are concerned, I’ll put my money on the ABS – but why was the reference to the Kyoto Protocol introduced into a discussion of foreign aid?
In my own area of interest, the IPCCs emissions scenarios, Dr. Pittocks analysis is all over the place. In Chapter 3 he says that the scenarios ‘are clearly not predictions, and do not have equal probability of occurrence in the real world.’ Then in the next Chapter, he gives a simple example of a climate change PREDICTION in which CSIRO used its projected warming in the Macquarie Valley of New South Wales of between 1.0 and 6.0 deg C by 2070 (which uses the IPCC scenarios in conjunction with CSIROs calibration for regional variation) as input to a runoff model, from which it was concluded that ‘the projected change in runoff into the main water storage dam was in fact between no change (zero) and a decrease of 35% by 2070, which means a 50% chance of water supply decreasing by more than 17%.’ This calculation implies that the IPCC scenarios DO have equal probability of occurrence in the real world.
In a box headed ‘Impacts on Food Production’, Dr. Pittock reports the results ‘for all SRES scenarios’ of ‘a major international study’ of this subject by Martin Parry and colleagues. But Parry and his team didnt use all the SRES scenarios: for example, in the A1 family they only modelled the A1FI (FI = fossil intensive) scenario, and didn’t use the A1B (B = balanced) or the A1T (T = transition to sustainability) scenarios. Pittock correctly quotes the Parry et al paper as saying that the A1FI scenario is one of ‘greater inequality’, but in fact it is the scenario of LEAST inequality. He says that ‘the majority of people will be worse off’ by 2080, but with the possible exception of the A2 scenarios (which assume, improbably, that the world will by then have 14 billion people), the study shows unambiguously that the majority of people will be much better off by 2080. And so on.
Dr. Pittock has produced a 50-page set of ‘Supplementary notes and references’ to the book, which has been published on the CSIRO Publishing website. Its purpose is to avoid the need for footnotes or references to the literature in parentheses, which ‘can be offputting to the general reader’, and also to ‘bring the notes up to date, for example in relation to Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans about the beginning of September. Barrie Pittock says that, if he gets the time he ‘will try to further update these notes once or twice while the book remains current’. It appears that he’s completely free to do so.
The Supplementary Notes are outrageously one-sided. McIntyre and McKitrick are said to have made an ‘attack’ on the IPCCs ‘hockey stick’ graph, but Pittock explains that ‘Mann and co-authors are the recognised experts in the field, and thus best qualified to make the expert judgments on data quality and representativeness needed.’ (Have the experts in CSIRO’s Maths/Stats Division been consulted about the data quality and representativeness of the work of Mann & co?) . Dr. Pittock does not mention any of the three papers by M&M that were published in Geophysical Research Letters in 2005, or McIntyre’s Climate Audit site (though there are several references to the realclimate site which includes Michael Mann among its proprietors).
Dr. Pittock names Bjorn Lomborgs ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ as a classic sceptic text and cites two hostile reviews of the book (but no favourable ones). The immediately succeeding sentence begins with a reference to ‘Documentation of the fact that some [unnamed] leading contrarians have been funded by fossil fuel groups’.
Dr. Pittock claims that ‘IPCC in its emissions scenarios used both MER and PPP’, although David Henderson and I have explained in detail why it is that the so-called PPP scenarios produced by one of the IPCC’s model builders are not in fact PPP. He says that McKibben (sic) and colleagues have reviewed the argument over the use of MER or PPP in a paper published by the Lowry (sic) Institute for International Policy, but does not mention that the paper strongly criticises the IPCC emissions scenarios. Nor does he mention a paper in which McKibbin & Stegman ‘find strong evidence that the wide variety of assumptions about ‘convergence’ commonly used in emissions projectiions are not based on empirically observed phenomena.’ Nor does he mention a recent peer-reviewed paper by Peter Dixon and Maureen Rimmer of Monash University which lends support to the Castles & Henderson critique.
On the other hand, Dr. Pittock reports that ‘Pant and Fisher, from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, conclude in a 2004 paper ‘PPP versus MER: Comparison of real incomes across nations’ that ‘The use of MER by IPCC remains valid and the critique by Castles and Henderson cannot be sustained’. This conference paper has not been peer-reviewed, whereas the Castles and Henderson paper ‘International Comparisons of GDP: Issues of Theory and Practice’ (which Pittock does not mention) was published in World Economics, January-March 2005. The publisher of WE states that ‘All papers published in World Economics are read and reviewed by the executive editors who are all professors of economics of international repute.’
Incredibly, in the light of Barrie Pittock’s highly selective citation of sources, peer reviewed or not, which support his position, he says in his book that:
‘The peer review system means that statements based on such papers tend to be more reliable than other kinds of statements or claims. Claims made by politicians, newspaper columnists, special interest think tanks and campaign groups are not normally subject to such quality control beforehand.’
It would be interesting to know what quality control CSIRO Publishing applied to Dr. Pittock’s book.”