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Unpaid students to review AR5. This is rigorous expert science right?

Posted By Joanne Nova On March 28, 2013 @ 6:52 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

The Risk Monger (David Zaruk) was astonished to receive an advertisement from the Dutch government looking for 60 young PhD students to help with the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

They salary is “none”. But they are not just looking for any old student. You don’t need experience, but to qualify you need “an affinity with climate change”. I guess they are not looking for skeptical students who feel an affinity with logic, reason, and empirical evidence?

The reasons for asking the unpaid students is actually described as an “ambitious plan” to do a “thorough review” because there were “errors in the fourth assessment report…”. O.K.

The Risk Monger:

Maybe I am jumping to conclusions, but with all of the mess of the last IPCC Assessment Report (including a non-scientific WWF campaign document predicting the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers getting through the review process and becoming one of the IPCC’s main conclusions), shouldn’t they try to do a more rigorous review process this time around? Students, working for free, are not perhaps the ideal choice of reviewers needed to challenge the experts

What troubles the Risk-Monger more here is that many environmental activists are working on their PhDs and would jump at the opportunity of shaping the IPCC’s subjective conclusions to match their personal political biases. I suppose Greenpeace or WWF will pay their time-sheets to help shape the IPCC’s most socially important chapters.

Strangely, in that month when the entire review process will be done, students will also be taught about what the IPCC is, and how to review a document (I really wish I was making this up). The review process starts with a drink on April 12 and ends with a dinner on May 13. One lucky reviewer will receive € 250; the rest go home with nothing.

I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report will be loaded with more than just spelling mistakes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the one who says there are no Gods in Science, and scientific truth lies in evidence and reasoning, not in qualifications — perhaps an unpaid student will straighten out the IPCC and stop them from making more embarrassing mistakes? But note the contradiction that hiring unpaid students provides compared with the IPCC promotion that they only use expert peer review.

No doubt the students work will be checked and overseen with a leading top climate expert with decades of experience (but then a government appointee will re-write their conclusions anyway). This expedition appears to be more about fishing and training up-and-coming PhD’s rather than the IPCC running out of money.

We all know that newly graduated PhD’s are sometimes the best at rewriting history and producing hockeysticks to fit the policy.

 The PDF of the letter to students

Richard Betts (the IPCC Lead Author that Lewandowsky mistakenly thought suffered from “conspiracist ideation”) points out that technically anyone can review an IPCC report, which is true. You can apply too.

The review of the WG2 volume starts tomorrow, and last until 24th May. Further info is here:




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