The Wisdom of Solomon

  • Date: 22/06/10

As part of his ongoing investigations into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, David Holland has used FoI to get hold of a pile of emails from Professor Brian Hoskins, then of the University of Reading and now at Imperial College.  Readers will remember that Professor Hoskins amusingly rubber-stamped the list of papers chosen by UEA for the Oxburgh report.

I thought I’d highlight one particular email, which stands on its own as being something of an indictment both of the Royal Society and the IPCC. It’s an email from an IPCC bigwig, Susan Solomon, who was in charge of the admin for the Working Group 1 report for the Fourth Assessment Report. Solomon sent it to Rachel Garthwaite of the Science Policy Unit of the Royal Society. Regular readers may remember Ms Garthwaite as the person who stopped answering my questions about who it was who wrote the IPCC’s position papers on climate.

The email dates from 2006, nearly 9 months before the release of the Fourth Assessment Report. Garthwaite is trying to organise speakers to attend a Royal Society lecture to coincide with the report’s publication. The email appears to be from Garthwaite with Solomon’s inline responses:

RG: Thank you for calling last week and my apologies for having taken so long to get back to you. I am out of the office all of this week but wanted to reassure you that the Royal Society is still very keen to hold an event to showcase the WG1 report and we have taken your comments regarding the potential content of the meeting very seriously.

SS: thanks – I think it was very helpful.

RG: In terms of ensuring there are no climate sceptics present at the meeting, obviously this will be difficult to ensure if the meeting is open to members of the public.

SS: I didn’t say anything along these lines.   I fully expect some to be present in the audience.

RG: However we have no intention of inviting any known sceptics to the meeting, and certainly would not have invited representation on any discussion panel should we decide to have one.

SS:Yes, that is the point – they should not be invited to take the podium as speakers or panelists because that is simply not an appropriate representation of the state of understanding and uncertainty.  The public has been confused enough by one side says this, the other that.  This issue has gone far beyond that and this meeting should reflect that.

It’s astonishing to see these two organisations, which are supposed to be neutrals in the climate debate, getting down and dirty, taking sides and doing their darndest to make sure their side wins. No sceptics allowed. In fact, Rachel Garthwaite goes on to try to persuade Solomon that the Royal Society event should be about policy matters rather than scientific ones.

RG: In terms of ensuring that the content of the meeting does not breach IPCC rules we will of course include both yourself and Tim Palmer in the organisation of the meeting to ensure the content reflects these rules while still meeting the needs of the Royal Society (ie that there is some element of policy discussion)…

SS: As you know, WG1 is the physical science report.   I am concerned to understand what it is you are proposing.  Please clarify what it is you are envisioning regarding ‘some element of policy discussion’.

It’s funny to see the Royal Society trying to argue that one of their events should be about policy rather than science. Does anyone seriously doubt that the Royal Society has become simply another arm of the government, a body to give a scientific gloss to whatever it is the government wants to do?

Bishop Hill, 22 June 2010

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