Helmut Schmidt, the respected former Chancellor of Germany, has told an audience at the Max-Plank-Gesellschaft that a full inquiry needs to be held into the credibility of advice on global warming that stems from the UNâ€™s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Set up in 1988 in order to deliver policy advice to governments regarding global warming, ever since 2005 the IPCC has been become mired in controversy over the integrity and accuracy of its procedures. Most recently, in early 2010, a number of scandals erupted over the selective use of published literature by the IPCC, and also its practice of relying upon documents from environmental lobby groups rather than refereed scientific papers.
In his speech, Helmut Shmidt said:
In addition to all the aforementioned problems caused by humans, we are also concerned, at the same time, by the phenomenon of global warming and its alleged consequences.Â We know that there have always been naturally occurring ice ages and warm periods; what we don’t know is how significant the human-induced contribution to present and future global warming is and will be.
The climate policy adopted by many governments is still in its infancy. The publications provided by an international group of scientists (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC) have encountered skepticism, especially since some of their researchers have shownÂ themselves to be fraudsters (BetrÃ¼ger). In any case, some governments’ publicly stated targets are far less scientific, but rather politically endorsed.
It seems to me that the time has come that one of our top scientific organisations should scrutinise, under the microscope, the work of the IPCC, in a critical and realistic way, and then present the resulting conclusions to the German public in a comprehensible manner ….
The Max-Plank-Gesellschaft is Germanyâ€™s most eminent science organisation, and that Helmut Schmidt should deliver his lecture there is highly symbolic. But in calling for an investigation by one of Germanyâ€™s â€œtop scientific organisationsâ€, Schmidt shows that he only appreciates part of the problem, which is the integrity of the IPCC.
An equal problem in nearly all western countries (Russia perhaps excluded) is the integrity of their national science academies and leading organisations, nearly all of whom, under the leadership of the Royal Society of London, have been acting as cheerleaders for the IPCC for the last ten years or more. Remember, too, that no fewer than three independent inquiries into last yearâ€™s Climategate (leaked email) scandal at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, ended up as anodyne whitewashes, and this despite the undoubted â€œdistinctionâ€ of the chairmen of the inquiries.
Helmut Schmidt is undoubtedly right to call for a searching inquiry into the IPCC, but any such inquiry will need to be conducted by a special, independent scientific auditÂ group with full legal powers. For, to be effective, any review of the IPCC is going to need to also investigate the actions of other leading national and international science organisations.