Panel of Scientists Says UN Study Retreats, Misleads, and Misinforms

Published October 16, 2013

A panel of 50 scientists from 15 countries says the newest report from the United Nations on climate change is filled with concessions that its past predictions were too extreme and contains “at least 13 misleading or untrue statements and 11 further statements that are phrased in such a way that they mislead readers or misrepresent important aspects of the science.”

The Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was created to act as an independent auditor of the work of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The NIPCC receives no government or corporate funding. On September 17, ten days before the IPCC released its fifth assessment report, NIPCC released Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, a 1,000-page report listing some 50 climate scientists as authors, contributors, or reviewers.

While the IPCC reports growing confidence that climate change is man-made and likely to be harmful, the NIPCC finds just the opposite: The human impact is likely to be very small, and a modest amount of warming would probably produce as many benefits as costs.

“Why should we believe what the IPCC predicts, given the model prediction/projection failures, plus manipulation of the data, plus hiding of data, plus false claims that those preparing IPCC reports are experts, plus Climategate in general, plus Glaciergate?” asked Laurence Gould, professor of physics at the University of Hartford, a chapter peer-reviewer for the NIPCC report.

“Pick an area of physics and ask whether that area has been subjected to the same kind of behavior as engaged in by the IPCC,” Gould continued. “Would those working in that area be believed?”

IPCC Summary Critiqued In a new and smaller report issued in mid-October, four of the lead authors of the NIPCC report offer a withering critique of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers, a 30-page summary of the much larger report, which is still being revised. Among the “retreats” they identify in the IPCC’s latest report:

  • Global temperatures stopped rising 15 years ago despite rising levels of carbon dioxide, the invisible gas the IPCC claims is responsible for causing global warming.
  • Temperatures were warmer in many parts of the world approximately 1,000 years ago, during the so-called Mediaeval Warm Period, due entirely to natural causes.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent is increasing rather than shrinking.
  • Climate computer models fail to reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10-15 years.

The scientists also fault the IPCC for claiming the warming of the late twentieth century was “unequivocal” when many temperature databases show no warming, and for saying changes since 1950 were “unprecedented” when the historical record contains many examples of changes due to natural causes that were more rapid or more extreme.

The scientists are especially critical of the IPCC’s claim that it is “95% confident” that global warming is man-made and will be harmful. “This terminology is unscientific,” they write. “It has been used improperly to create a false impression of increasing statistical certainty through the most recent IPCC assessment reports…. IPCC’s quasi-numeric confidence statements represent considered ‘expert opinion,’ reflecting a process not very different from a show of hands around a discussion table. The terminology confers an impression of scientific rectitude onto a process that is inescapably subjective and has been widely criticized as misleading.”

Jim Lakely ([email protected]) is communications director for The Heartland Institute.

Internet Info

The 18-page critique of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers, as well as the complete text of the NIPCC’s Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science and its Summary for Policymakers, is available online at