Citing what it calls “a scathing new expose on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change,” Fox News is trumpeting claims that IPCC reports “have often been written by graduate students with little or no experience in their field of study.” Fox's article, titled “U.N. Hires Grad Students to Author Key Climate Report,” comes as the IPCC prepares to issue a new report on weather extremes.
Fox's “expose” is an e-book by Canadian writer Donna Laframboise, who recruited “a team of citizen auditors” to pore over IPCC reports from the past two decades. Drawing from the book, Fox identifies four IPCC authors since 1994 who were in, or had recently completed, grad school.
Here are the facts Fox characteristically avoided: There were over 450 lead authors for the 2007 assessment report, plus 800 contributing authors and more than 2,500 reviewers. Fox identified only one graduate student who worked on the 2007 report. 1 out of over 1250 authors.
The IPCC does not conduct climate research, it reviews and summarizes scientists' studies of climate change. The assessment reports have three volumes consisting of 10-20 chapters. Each chapter has around 7-10 lead authors and 2 coordinating lead authors and goes through two rounds of scientific review. Four of the lead authors could have been chimpanzees and it wouldn't have made a dent in the scientific heft of these massive reports.
- Fox News dismisses Jonathan Patz as a lead author because he had “earned his master's only two years earlier.” However, Patz was already a doctor -- board certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine -- when he earned his Masters of Public Health (see Patz's CV). He was one of the principal lead authors on a chapter on “Human Population Health.”
- Fox News claims that Richard Klein “was promoted to the panel's most senior role” - a coordinating lead author -- prior to completing his PhD. However, Klein was the coordinating lead author for a chapter of one of IPCC's special reports -- not one of the major assessment reports.
- Fox News claims that Lisa Alexander was an “assistant author” in 2001 and a “lead author” in 2007. However, the 2001 report simply referenced studies that Alexander had co-authored and in 2007 Alexander was listed as a contributor but not a lead author, as Fox claimed. Alexander will be a lead author for a chapter in the 2013 assessment report -- she now has a Ph.D.
The thesis of Laframboise's book is that IPCC is “a spoiled child” that has “morphed into an obnoxious adolescent.” We'll leave you with this excerpt:
Notice that the word intergovernmental is part of its name. This means that every country that chooses to send delegates to infrequent meetings is a godparent of the IPCC. Any child with over 100 godparents is bound to be spoiled. Even when he torments small animals there will always be those who think he can do no wrong.