Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

LaRaspberry in Oz

with 13 comments

Got a call from Rob Gell because he’s co-host in the conversation hour on the Jon Faine morning show on ABC774 Melbourne radio, today July 6 at 11 am EAST. The conversation hour usually has two guests – the guest in question? Donna Laframboise, denialista and author of  the book The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. It is the real story behind the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Apparently the selection of a few lead authors who are not hoary old farts who have gone emeritus, disqualifies the IPCC from saying anything useful.

Preferred IPCC author by those who deny the IPCC is of any use – no young scientists here, thankyou!

Rob was checking up on the IPCC process for author selection. Authors are nominated by governments, recommended by IPCC technical support units and approved by the IPCC Bureau – the Chair and Vice Chairs. They may be invited by the IPCC itself. Another route by which  an author can become a lead author is if, during the writing of the chapter, the author has done sufficient work to justify their elevation to lead author. This can happen to contributing authors, to authors assisting a lead author who does enough of their own work and on the odd occasion, someone who makes extensive review comments that are worthy of becoming chapter material.

Yours truly became a lead author in the IPCC Third Assessment Report on the back of the first and third reasons. I was a CA for a short section that became elevated to a full section and I provided extensive review comments with references that were pretty much cut and pasted into the chapter (edited in later drafts and in response to more review comments). Another chapter took on significantly more material from one of the three refereed papers I had in the literature at that stage (via the late and lamented Steve Schneider). All three papers were cutting edge so were cited extensively in that report. I’ve been a coordinating lead author in the subsequent two reports.

So Laframboise takes shots at people like Sari Kovats, who was an unpublished grad student in her first round (smart as a whip, climate and health scientist who has since shown that she was no shoe-in via a substantial body of work), Richard Klein who was a young Masters scholar with a few publications in coastal vulnerability, now a Ph D who heads a big group in the Stockholm Environment Institute. Media Matters unfortunately said that the reviewing process was so comprehensive that the accused “junior” authors could have been chimpanzees (they thought they were helping). This led to many photos of chimps being sent to Richard.

Not Richard Klein

The IPCC Reports are reviews, they assess the existing literature and are refereed extensively over four iterations. If an author does the work, they get the credit – that’s the way we do things in science (ideally). There are a few passengers in the IPCC author list because of the selection process that attempts to balance geography and developed and developing country representation – this doesn’t detract from the overall effort – everyone else just has to work harder. Also, authors from developing countries may not have top skills due to lack of prior opportunity, however their research skills get a big boost because they are exposed to a large group of very collaborative scholars. The final irony is that all the young authors that Laframboise picked on have made sustained and substantial contributions since their first efforts on the IPCC.

In fact she’s  got it totally arse-about. A young scientist who joins the IPCC process will the best job they can because they have a reputation to establish. Their credibility depends on the quality of their writing and how well it survives review.

The same goes for LaRasberry’s other points in the book. 30% grey literature (not in scientifically refereed journals) in reference lists is seen as degrading the assessment. Shock, horreur! It’s allowed within the assessment process, especially for reports describing how adaptation and mitigation are being applied on the ground. There is always a delay between when reports are written and when it gets into the scientific literature, if at all. Again, it’s legitimate scholarship.

The epic fail in Laframboise’ case is that there is no credible alternative scholarship that exists to counter the sustained and substantive findings of the IPCC. If the IPCC has failings, it is in framing the science-policy relationship (which is also improving substantially), but there are no alternative facts to the science that the IPCC assesses and summarises in their conclusions.

Finally, LaRasberry’s trip to Australia is being sponsored by the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative Australian think tank. I wasn’t sure how the IPA fitted into the denialosphere, giving them the benefit of the doubt until I had proof. This is despite John Roskam’s involvement with Connor Court Publishing (on the editorial panel), the peddler of Plimer’s piddle amongst other rubbish. Here is an excerpt from a letter he sent out to supporters on behalf of the IPA:

Dear Friend,

Next month the Institute of Public Affairs is bringing to Australia world-renowned Canadian author and journalist Donna Laframboise to talk about her new book The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. It is the real story behind the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Gillard government is introducing the carbon tax on 1 July because of the IPCC. Yet the IPCC has escaped practically all scrutiny from the mainstream media in Australia.

I’ve read Donna’s book. It is a fascinating story of how corruption in international politics produces corrupt science. Donna discussed her book on The Bolt Report. And in this article on Foxnews.com she explains her criticism of the IPCC.


The details of Donna’s public lectures in Australia are:

  • Melbourne on Friday 6 July from 5.30pm at CQ Functions, 113 Queen Street. RSVP here.
  • Sydney on Tuesday 10 July from 5.30pm at Sheraton on the Park, 161 Elizabeth Street. RSVP here.
  • Brisbane on Thursday 12 July from 5.30pm at Royal on the Park, Corner of Alice and Albert Streets. RSVP here.
  • Perth on Sunday 15 July from 5.30pm at the Hyatt Regency, 99 Adelaide Terrace. RSVP here.

Admission is free for all IPA members and $35 for non-members. If you’re not a member but would like to join, click here.

RSVP is essential to secure your place. Every one of the IPA’s events with international guest speakers this year (Dan Hannan, Mark Steyn and James Delingpole) has sold out well before the event, so make sure you book as soon as possible. After you’ve reserved your place be sure to forward this email to your friends so they can hear from Donna too.

I hope to see you at one of our events with Donna soon.

regards John

John Roskam
Executive Director

Institute of Public Affairs
Level 2, 410 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

T:             03 9600 4744

So, this is proof. The IPA is anti-science and consequently a risk to society. That is quite clear. They need to be opposed at every turn.

Update: last night on Le Taste of Le Tour, Gabriel Gate’s dish (he’s Jon Faine’s personal chef when in Melbourne) presented a rhubarb and framboise tart. Spooky eh? I’m not doing the double entendre with the type of dish but the two main ingredients juxtaposed are just fine.


Written by Roger Jones

July 6, 2012 at 12:22 am

13 Responses

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  1. The IPA tried for a long time to appear agnostic on this. never really worked – and anyway, who really thinks they’re rational?

    Donna Laframboise seemed to get a reasonably hostile reception on the conversation hour.


    July 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    • Ta. I was going to listen but my Mum rang – time was much better spent. I hope Rob G gave her a hard time – I know Faine would have (Rob and I converted him from being a mild skeptic to accepting AGW on a conversation hour some years ago)

      Roger Jones

      July 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      • “Converted” may be an unfortunate choice of words, Roger.

        Bob Beale

        July 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      • Indeed Jon did a good job on this occasion – I hope I did too. There’ve been some positive responses. Frightening though that we allow “fruit” like this to make the suggestion that because Al Gore gets paid six figure sums for speeches climate change must be a hoax. When questioned on whether she accepted the science behind Higgs boson “fait accompli”, Madame LaFramboise declared she was not an expert. Does this mean she is or isn’t an expert on AGW?

        Rob Gell

        July 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm

  2. Ha! We Maynard Keynsed him then: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Jon had reacted negatively to what he thought was greenie overkill – when he was presented with a number of facts all at once and counterpoints to the objections that “climate can’t change due to human agency”, he changed his mind. I know it was replayed 3 or 4 times when he was ill or on leave.

    Roger Jones

    July 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm

  3. Hi Roger

    Talking of deniers. Are you going to claim right of reply to that idiot Spooner in today’s Saturday Age? I would think this is quite important and it would be interesting to see whether The Age gave you right of reply or not. WRT Faine’s climate stance he is pretty close to the clowns from the IPA who regularly feature on his show so although I also missed LaFramboise and I would like to think you are right I remain to be convinced.

    Douglas Evans

    July 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    • Douglas,

      I’ll take your word on Faine; I actually haven’t listened to him for a long time. I know he has Roskam on regularly – the IPA makes mileage out of the fact that media needs balance and they have a stable of articulate neo-cons to farm out to audio and print. Money for jam.

      Just brought the paper home – have been propping up the economy one farmer’s market at a time. Now I’m too scared to open it up – it’s a sunny day and I’m in a great mood!

      Roger Jones

      July 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

  4. On the topic of the IPA and climate change denialism the ir position has long been known. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald IPA Executive Director John Roskam confirmed the IPA’s key role in supporting Australian climate sceptics.
    “Of all the serious sceptics in Australia, we have helped and supported just about all of them in their work one way or another,” he says, listing some prominent figures on the local circuit. “Ian Plimer – we launched his book – Bob Carter, Jo Nova, William Kininmonth.”
    In 2008, the Institute facilitated a donation of $350,000 by Dr G. Bryant Macfie, a climate change sceptic, to the University of Queensland for environmental research. The money is to fund three environmental doctoral projects with the IPA suggesting two of the three agreed topics. The Australian, May 7, 2008, George Bryant Macfie is a top 20 shareholder in Strike Resources Limited.

    Douglas Evans

    July 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

  5. Sponner quotes you sorry to wreck your good humour.

    Douglas Evans

    July 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    • Damn! Can’t ignore that.

      And I checked your extract above – for the good folks out there it’s from Sourcewatch. I should have looked there earlier – wouldn’t have said that stupid stuff in the post about giving them the benefit of the doubt.

      They are teh evils. It’s one thing to disagree about political views but what they do is immoral and unethical – their funders and supporters should be held to account.

      Roger Jones

      July 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      • Just looked at the copy of The Age I brought home. Man – that’s an opportunity. Excellent!!!

        Roger Jones

        July 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

  6. Yes Roger

    They are hired image launderers to the unspeakable – no more no less. For what it\’s worth the IPA website lists Bob Carter as Emeritus Fellow Science Policy Advisor. Also, for what it\’s worth I listened to the Jon Faine Rob Gell broadcast and Faine did a pretty fair job of trying to hold La Framboise to account – i take it all back.

    Douglas Evans

    July 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

  7. Roger. For some more background on the IPA’s long role in spreading climate science denial, try http://www.desmogblog.com/tags/ipa and also http://www.readfearn.com/tag/ipa/ and also http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41292.html

    Graham Readfearn

    July 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

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