Former IPCC Leader Says Alternative Group Needed

Published February 3, 2010

Climate science credibility requires the creation of an alternative scientific body outside the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said Dr. William Sprigg, research professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona and head of the International Technical Review Panel for IPCC’s first report, speaking at the Thirteenth Annual Energy and Environment Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nongovernmental Alternative
The alternative science panel should be funded and administered by nongovernment, private entities, Sprigg emphasized.

“To improve credibility, we need one more group to study the issue carefully,” he said. “This group should not be funded by the government but should be funded by the private sector. We must allow alterative views into the system and show that we are doing so.”

Climategate Harms Credibility
Focusing closely on the Climategate scandal, in which leaked emails revealed IPCC gatekeepers hid, manipulated, and destroyed scientific data that contradicted claims of substantial human-induced global warming, Sprigg said the scandal has harmed the movement’s scientific credibility.

Sprigg highlighted as particularly embarrassing an email from University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit climatologist Phil Jones instructing Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann and two others not to tell people the United Kingdom has a freedom of information act. Sprigg called for full and open sharing of data for research and education.

Sprigg also criticized Jones for an email in which Jones reported doctoring a set of proxy temperature data by substituting real-world temperatures for the proxy temperatures when the allegedly highly reliable proxy temps didn’t match real-world conditions.

“What I don’t like about this is that someone took out some climate data to make the record look ‘better.’ That’s a no-no,” said Sprigg.

Calls for IPCC Reforms
During the question and answer period, Sprigg said IPCC should undergo substantial reform or in the wake of Climategate, glaciergate, Amazongate, and other recent scandals.

“There will be some reforms,” he said. “There will be changes in the peer-review process. There are calls for [IPCC Chair Raj] Pachauri to resign.”

“Since the IPCC’s first report, there has been no technical review,” Sprigg noted. “There are other reforms that need to be done as well. We need to take into consideration the perceptions of IPCC. We tend to get some hubris some times. I am confident in IPCC and the IPCC process, but I would like to see reform and revisions to the IPCC process.”

Still Believes in Warming
Sprigg’s observations are particularly noteworthy because he held such an important role with IPCC and he is not one of the skeptics who have strongly challenged IPCC and its claims of human activity creating a global warming crisis.

During his presentation, Sprigg said the lack of warming in the past 10 years does not mean global warming has stopped or is no longer a concern.

“Don’t get excited if temperatures go down in the next year or two,” said Sprigg.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.