A majority of the 13 senior scientists responsible for a US government report are also associated with activist groups. (Eight of them have an IPCC connection.)

Environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. recently accused the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) of “extreme misrepresentation.”

A recently released 1,149-page draft report prepared by the USGCRP says that US flooding is now worse due to human-caused climate change. In Pielke’s view, the scientists who wrote that report are “playing games” since no scientific evidence supports this conclusion. In his words, this draft report:

is well out of step with the scientific literature, including the very literature it cites.

Given the strength of the science on this subject, the USGCRP must have gone to some effort to mischaracterize it by 180 degrees. In areas where I have expertise, the flood example presented here is not unique in the report (e.g., Hurricane Sandy is mentioned 31 times).

just because the report is erroroneous [sic] in areas where I have expertise does not mean that it is incorrect in other conclusions. However, given the problematic.treatment of extremes in earlier IPCC and US government reports, I’d think that the science community would have its act together by now.

As Pielke acerbically notes:

a four-year effort by the nation’s top scientists should be expected to produce a public draft report of much higher quality than this.

So who created this flawed document? Its first page tells us that a “60-person Federal Advisory Committee” oversaw “the development of this report.” The names of the committee members are then listed.

So let’s take a cursory look at its 13 most senior people. First up is the chairman, biologist Jerry Melillo. According to an online bio, he “has had a long association with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

The USGCRP website tells us that, of the two vice-chairs, economics professor Gary Yohe “is a senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” (Strictly speaking, the only members of the IPCC are countries – not individuals. But never mind.)

On the USGCRP’s executive secretariat we find more IPCC personnel:

  • James Buizer, whose academic bio highlights his association with the IPCC
  • Sharon Hays, who “led the U.S. delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” in 2007
  • Thomas Karl, who “has been a lead author on several IPCC Assessments”
  • Susanne Moser, who has served the IPCC in a number of capacities
  • Richard Moss, “a long-term member” of the the IPCC
  • Donald Wuebbles, whose academic bio tells us he “shares in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the international Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”

Eight of the top 13 people responsible for the USGCRP report, therefore, are also associated with the IPCC. Which begs the question: If, in one instance, they are ignoring the scientific literature and “playing games,” how do we know they haven’t done the same while working on IPCC reports?

Paradoxically, Pielke points out that the IPCC appears to have learned a few things with respect to natural disasters. He says its most recent documents acknowledge the absence of any conclusive evidence linking flooding to climate change.

One would think that, because these USGCRP personnel know all about the IPCC, they’d have little excuse for continuing to claim the opposite. Unless we get horrendously cynical and remember that once something is stated as a fact in a US government report, the door is then open for the IPCC to later cite it as hard evidence (chapter 28 of my book explains that this has, in fact, happened).

But there’s another reason to be concerned about USGCRP’s most senior brass. Rather than being impartial and disinterested, a majority of them are also linked to activist organizations.

Vice-chair Gary Yohe is part of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) panel. Richard Moss used to be employed as a WWF vice president.

James Buizer is on the board of directors of Second Nature, which thinks the taxpayer-funded college system should serve a purpose that was never intended. To quote its website:

Second Nature’s mission is to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education.

And then there’s the Union of Concerned Scientists. Rather than being limited to those with scientific credentials, membership in that US-based lobby group is open to anyone with a credit card.

As environmental writer Mark Lynas observed recently, this is “one of the most ideological of all the green groups.” In his view, scientists who work for that organization “leave their credentials at the door.”

How distressing, therefore, to learn that Susanne Moser is a former staff scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Andrew Rosenberg (who appears to have no IPCC connection), became an employee of the Union of Concerned Scientists in July 2012. The USGCRP website tells us he is also a senior vice president of Conservation International – which talks about changing the world’s dominant “economic model.”

Donald Wuebbles has been writing reports for the Union of Concerned Scientists for at least a decade. His name can be found among the authors of its 2003 Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region publication, as well as a 2005 update.

For the icing on the cake, it turns out that the Advisory Group chairman himself, Jerry Melillo, also has a relationship with the Union of Concerned Scientists. It dates back to at least 2003, when he served on one of its committees (see the last page of this PDF).

So if we look at the top 13 people producing a high-level scientific report for the US government we find that eight of them have a close connection to the IPCC – and seven of them have publicly-documented links to activist organizations.

Inspires confidence all round, don’t you think?


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