Mark W. Hendrickson

To better understand the “consensus” presented in the policymakers’ summaries, it is helpful to be aware of the structure of the IPCC. Those who compose the summaries are given considerable latitude to modify the scientific reports. Page four of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work states: “Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group of the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.” In other words, when there is a discrepancy between what the scientists say and what the authors of the policymakers’ summaries want to say, the latter prevails.

Here is a specific example: One policymakers’ summary omitted several important unequivocal conclusions contained in the scientists’ report, including, “No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of observed climate change] to anthropogenic [i.e., man-made] causes,” and “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.” These significant revisions were made, according to IPCC officials quoted in Nature magazine, “to ensure that it [the report] conformed to a policymakers’ summary.”

Elsewhere, Rule 3 of IPCC procedures states: “Documents should involve both peer review by experts and review by governments.” In practice, IPCC sometimes bypasses scientific peer review, and the policymakers’ summaries reflect only governmental (political) review. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the IPCC is a political, not a scientific, entity. It is the “Inter-GOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change,” not a “global SCIENTISTS’ panel.”

Also, “consensus” is a political phenomenon, a compromise, whereas scientific truth is not subject to obtaining a political majority. (Actually, 31,000 scientists have signed a petition protesting the “consensus” that human activity is dangerously altering the Earth’s climate. Consider that against the 2,500 scientists cited by IPCC—many of whom publicly refute IPCC’s press releases.)

To its credit, the IPCC debunks many of the alarmist exaggerations of radical greens. However, its scientific authority remains irreparably compromised by political tampering. When a U.S. State Department official writes to the co-chair of the IPCC that “it is essential that … chapter authors be prevailed upon to modify their text in an appropriate manner,” the political character of IPCC is plain.

The sponsors of the IPCC, the United Nations, and liberal American politicians all share the goal of reducing Americans’ wealth by capping our consumption of energy with a binding international climate change treaty. They are willing to resort to scientific fraud to further their goal. In the words of Al Gore’s ally, former Under-Secretary of State Tim Wirth, “Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing” by reducing Americans’ consumption of fossil fuels. Keep that in mind whenever the IPCC is cited in support of a climate treaty.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.