Friday, June 17, 2011

Mind over matter

"Comprehensiveness, objectivity, openness and transparency" are the principles governing IPCC work, according to the organisation's very own website, which then sets out in detail the principles and procedures of the IPCC.

Clearly, the use of Greenpeace and the trade association umbrella group, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), to co-author the latest IPCC renewables and mitigation report breaches every known concept of "objectivity", with lead author Dr Sven Teske, an employee of Greenpeace International, referred to no less than seventy times in the report.

Quickly picked up by the blogosphere, the issue has quickly broken into the MSM, with The Mail and The Independent crawling all over what is such an egregious example of the IPCC ignoring its own principles.

This has Donna Laframboise and sundry others champing at the bit. Donna, in particular, charges that the IPCC haven't learned a thing. She then argues that the IPCC does not understand that its credibility will continue to be non-existent so long as it continues to allow its own lead authors to pass judgment on research they themselves have authored.

But this is perhaps to miss the point. We cannot be dealing with an organisation that has learned nothing. After the furore over AR4 in the wake of Climategate, no one person, and no institution can be that stupid as to fail to take away lessons from the experience. Doubtless, the IPCC has learned something – just not what its critics would have it learn.

And from its current behaviour, it is self-evident that it has learned that its critics do not matter. They are not important to the institution and cannot damage it or prevent it from operating. Nor is it in the least bit concerned about "credibility", scientific or otherwise.  With Rajendra Pachauri at its head, writing the foreword for the current report, it enjoys something more important and powerful – the element of "prestige".

To its customers and clients, the IPCC's prestige was and is completely unaffected by the fallout from Climategate. This is just as well because, even without driving a horse and cart through its own principles, the report is unmitigated tosh. Nowhere, then is it credible but, unlike its critics, the IPCC understands the realities of power – that single, all-important word, "prestige", is all it needs.

What the IPCC has done is tap into the nexus of transnational players, linking in with member state funders – the various governments which, like Cameron's administration, are not in the least bit concerned what their own voters think or want, and have long since ceased to be functional democracies.

Thus, as long as the IPCC satisfies its true clients, it can - like its clients - completely ignore the critics. They are valueless, unimportant and powerless. That is what it has learned – the classic "mind over matter" trick. It doesn't mind and we don't matter. That is the way modern government works, and the IPCC is part of it - as this brazen example shows.