U.N. Panel Sharing Nobel Prize Is Fundamentally Flawed, Expert Says

     If you haven’t heard – Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Based on the media coverage, if that is news to you, you should probably crawl out from under your rock.


     However, Gore is sharing the award with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a group that describes itself as having a role to assess “information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change” and claims to be “comprehensive, objective, open and transparent.”


     But according to David Henderson, a former chief economist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the panel is anything but. Its leaders are biased and its research not reviewed strictly enough, he said.


     “From the outset, leading figures within the IPCC process have shared the conviction that anthropogenic [human-caused] global warming presents a threat which demands prompt and far-reaching action,” Henderson wrote in the October 11 Wall Street Journal. “Indeed, had they not held this belief, they would not have been appointed to their positions of influence.”


     Despite its claim of scientific peer review, the IPCC relies on peers “largely drawn from the same restricted professional” circles and accepts “failures of disclosure, such as many journals would not tolerate,” Henderson charged. 


     The IPCC has played the role of alarmist, warning of catastrophic worldwide problems from global warming. One of its recent reports released in February 2007 painted the gloomy scenario that the effects of global warming are beyond mankind’s control.


     “Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized,” the IPCC report “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis – Summary for Policymakers” stated.


     While alarmism may be its strong suit, the IPCC is lacking when it comes to actual economic calculations, Henderson said.


     “A specific weakness in some IPCC documents is the treatment of economic issues, which is not professionally up to the mark,” Henderson wrote. “One aspect of this has been the use of invalid cross-country comparisons of real GDP, based on exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity estimates.”


     In 2004, a report issued by the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee also pointed out those serious defects – defects underlying the IPCC’s policy recommendations for emissions standards. Problems included overestimating global economic growth and using exchange rates to make income comparisons – which don’t take into account differentiation in local prices.


     “The purchasing power of a Bangladeshi’s income is much greater if he can buy goods and services at Bangladeshi prices, rather than at world prices,” stated the report. “Assuming that he must buy those goods and services at world prices makes him look much poorer than he really is, and the gap between his income and the income of the average person from a developed country also looks much larger than it really is.”


     That supports Henderson’s case that the work of the IPCC deserves more scrutiny, especially when it comes to recommending – or mandating – measures that could be detrimental to the global economy.


     “Even if the IPCC process were beyond challenge, it is imprudent for governments to place such heavy reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties remain, on this particular source of information, analysis and advice,” Henderson wrote. “In fact, the process is flawed, and this puts in doubt the accepted basis of official climate policies.”