Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IPCC research model promotes mediocrity

Unpublished letter to the Sydney Morning Herald

Dear Editor,
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has failed dismally in providing conclusive scientific evidence that humans are having a dangerous impact on the climate. After more than 20 years of research and 10s of billions dollars spent, the best reason the IPCC can offer to justify radical reductions in CO2 emissions remains the nonscientific axiom: the Precautionary Principal. Revelations contained in climate-gate, glacier-gate (Storm brews over glacial blunder, SMH 25/1), and with more errors and misjudgments in the IPCC's latest assessment report likely to follow, indicate the IPCC research model is prone to mistakes, subject to confirmation bias and is too open to political influence.

It's time for world governments' to consider other scientific research models that yield more definitive answers required by policy makers. History has shown that a competitive, rather than consensual, approach to undertaking research is more likely to bring better results, faster. The Space Race in the 1960s and the recent success of the Human Genome project are both testament to the benefits of intensely competitive research environments that fast tracked major scientific and technological breakthroughs. If the world wants to understand the climate system then we need a "Climate Race" not the inefficient, mediocre, committee driven methods that characterise the IPCC.

All is not wasted however as the IPCC consensus model will provide a useful case study for future investigators looking at how science should not be done.

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