Judith Curry has an article about economists Richard Tol and Robert Stavins and the IPCC.
Professor Robert Stavins has a blog post complaining about how much text was deleted from WGIII SPM. He's posted an article with a letter he wrote to the IPCC Chair and the Co-Chairs of Working Group III. He also posted selections from the Summary for Policy Makers from which text was removed, as Item a (before) and Item b (after). He was concerned that governments chopped out almost all of the explanatory text under the key headings. Most of you will have read about this already, but it's interesting to compare the versions side by side. For further comparison, you can get the final Summary for Policy Makers and the full report here.
Judith is spinning this as the IPCC process is flawed. In fact, it's flawed in the wrong direction for Judith (but she doesn't admit that). Robert is complaining that the report was toned down, not beefed up.
The other interesting thing is that Richard Tol has been taken to task by Brandon Shollenberger for replacing text with his own in WG2. (I noticed how that section of the report had almost no recent studies.) Brandon is very Tol-like in his obsession with trying to find something wrong in minute detail, so it comes across as two-of-a-kind locking horns. (Richard isn't exactly a science denier, though he behaves like one a lot of the time. Brandon on the other hand does fit the definition of a climate science denier.)
Judith Curry is, as usual, advocating we take the highest risk pathway. She wrote on her blog:
I am even more dismayed by public statements from the IPCC leadership that has spun the AR5 message into the usual alarmist meme.
What alarmist meme would that be? That we are causing global warming? That's not alarmist. It's alarming but true. In the past, Judith has made it clear that she would prefer the IPCC not exist at all. Her position seems to be against mitigation or at best "wait" till it's all too late. It's a "those who survive will adapt" stance and for those who don't, tough luck.
Hyperbole plus from David Rose, tabloid political commenter
David Rose has picked up Robert Stavin's blog post and written about it in his own hyperbolic style (archived here), using words: sensationally, meddling, crucial, electrified, debate, astonishing. Those words were all in the headline and the first two short sentences!
Robert Stavins asks if the IPCC process is broken. Once you get past David's emotive language, what he wrote wasn't all that different to what Robert Stavins wrote. David does pop in a plug for Richard Tol's dummy spit and Judith Curry's anti-IPCC stance. But he also puts in a plug for the IPCC from Bob Ward.
Too alarmist or toned down too much?
To sum up, it seems the contrarians are now complaining because the reports aren't sufficiently alarmist. If only they would make up their minds.
Anthony Watts has copied from Judith Curry (archived here). He's gone further in his headline and claimed that "Two scathing reviews by scholars working with the IPCC show why the organization is hopelessly corrupted by politics". However it was only Robert Stavins who directly pointed to specific examples where government input resulted in a change to the report - and that was arguably on diplomatic grounds not political grounds (IMO there is a distinction).
In regard to complaints about government input, Richard's article didn't say that outright. He merely insinuated. A casual reader might infer that the WG2 Summary for Policy Makers was beefed up because of the views of delegates. Yet Richard didn't point to any example of same. (The IPCC provides drafts and lists changes that were made to the report.) Richard seems to be complaining that he couldn't get things all his own way. He was complaining that the Summary for Policy Makers focused on areas of high risk and didn't give sufficient space to any pluses, for example, the decrease in death from cold as opposed to the increased mortality from heat.
This time around Richard's article (archived here) comes across as a mix of excuse-making and whining, but still isn't quite as ratty as some of his previous outbursts have been. He is wrong, too. He wrote:
The SPM, drafted by the scholars of the IPCC, is rewritten by delegates of the governments of the worldIt's not rewritten by delegates. Delegates can suggest changes to the report but the authors have to agree to those changes. In other words, the final Summary for Policy Makers cannot be at odds with the full report.
Empty-headed fake sceptics
Richard also seems to think that fake sceptics aren't capable of doing science or economics, implying group think, writing:
Academics who worry about climate change are more likely to publish about it, and more likely to get into the IPCC. Groups of like-minded people reinforce their beliefs.
Well, if fake sceptics don't have sufficient "like-mind" to do research into climate change, that's more a sign that their "like-mind" is "wrong-headed" and "empty-headed" than anything else.
Climate change in an imperfect world
As for Anthony Watts, he doesn't know the difference between the UN and individual nations. It looks as if he has a tendency to adopt the wacky UN conspiracy theories and he certainly promotes them on his blog. He wrote:
This statement by Tol pretty well sums up the IPCC:
Many of the more worrying impacts of climate change really are symptoms of mismanagement and underdevelopment.
That’s systemic culture in the U.N. so it is no surprise to me.
After writing that, Richard foolishly drew the wrong conclusion, writing: "This message does not support the political agenda for greenhouse gas emission reduction."
Richard's wrong. Underdevelopment (whatever that means) and mismanagement (presumably of natural resources) makes greenhouse gas emission reduction even more critical. When you combine the impact of, for example, hillside deforestation with higher precipitation you get much worse floods. Both need to be tackled to reduce the harm. Re-forestation will help but it won't be enough to stop the heavier rainfall. It won't be enough to stop the flash flooding. In any case, reforestation is a mitigation measure in itself.
Richard Tol advocates a carbon tax
The odd thing is that shortly after that Richard wrote:
A polarized debate is not conducive to enlightened policy in an area as complex as climate change – although we only need a carbon tax, and a carbon tax only, that applies to all emissions and gradually and predictably rises over time.So is Richard advocating reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or isn't he? It looks as if he is indeed advocating emissions reduction doesn't it.
Richard Tol was writing about Working Group II. You can download the Summary for Policy Makers and full report of Working Group II here. It's well-written but an absolute pain to navigate, not having a full consolidated report.
From the WUWT comments
Just a few today, because this article is long.
Latitude points out that Richard Tol is inconsistent and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm
This statement by Tol pretty well sums up Tol…
‘– although we only need a carbon tax, and a carbon tax only, that applies to all emissions and gradually and predictably rises over time’
John F. Hultquist picked up on Anthony Watts confusing individual countries with the UN itself and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:40 pm
First, I think we can thank these two, and others not yet named, for the work they have done and their public statements such as reported here.
The final line of the post is “That’s systemic culture in the U.N. so it is no surprise to me.” seems to reference the UN and I agree it is a massive waste – for the most part. However, the 2 lines attributable to Richard Tol seem to be a comment on the manner in which many countries operate. Since Prince Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries not much has changed for many “countries” from A to Z as they remain underdeveloped and mismanaged.
Streetcred isn't buying Anthony's spin either and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm
Can’t say much about Dr. Robert Stavins’ benign letter of protest … half of it at the least is butt covering and brown-nosing. The process competence of the managers amounts to nought if the meaning of the body of research is transformed into political claptrap.
ossqss says - well nothing at all it turns out, just vaguely arm-waves:
April 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm
This is just another example of the corrosion in climate science.
There are many lessons to learn here.
Here are the links to the IPCC AR5 reports: