I’m Selected As An IPCC Expert Reviewer


Dear William Briggs,

The IPCC Working Group I (WGI) Co-Chairs are pleased to announce the Expert Review of the First Order Draft (FOD) of the WGI contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (AR5) and invite you to serve as an Expert Reviewer.

I’m in; my first time as an IPCC reviewer. Surprise? I’ve downloaded the documents and have started to read them over, The deadline for the review is 10 February.

Like all reviewers, I promised to not tattle about what’s in the draft. Once the actual IPCC5 document is published, I’ll weigh in.

I can’t say what’s in the draft, but I can tell you it’s longer than Marley’s chain. Each chapter weighs about the same as a Buick. Too, everything you’ve heard about documents written by committee applies.

For this work, I’ll be remunerated at the rate of no-dollars and no-cents, bringing the grand total of all the monies I’ve received for my work on climatology to something less than what the guy you saw rooting around the rubbish bin collecting cans realized on a slow weekend.

By the logic of journalists, this makes me, so far as I can discover, the purest global warming researcher there is. My opinion should therefore carry more weight than the host of other scientists whose livelihoods depend on global warming grants (from the government and from Big Green).

Look to this space for updates.

(Please don’t email and ask me about what’s in the draft.)

Original Post 10 October 2011

Thank you for registering for the Expert Review of the First Order Draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. A confirmation email will be sent shortly.

I’ve registered as an expert reviewer for the next round of the IPCC. I’ve sworn—via references to peer-reviewed! publications (some in the Journal of Climate), my past experience on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee, and as an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review1—that my expertise is in the area of forecast and “projection” verification and usefulness. My confirmation number is 431.

Even though I say it myself, I appear as well qualified as many other reviewers. I am now taking wagers on whether I will in fact be picked. I’ll let everybody know their decision as soon as I hear.

Unlike my wealthier colleagues, whose work is funded by Big Green—lavish travel, grants, jobs, speaking fees!, billions of dollars for research—if I am picked, I’ll have to pay my own way. As usual.

Thanks to my friend Marcel Crok, where I learned of this grand opportunity.


1My term for both these positions expires this year. My papers are under “Resume”, at the top of the page.


  1. Rich,

    Chapter 9: Evaluation of Climate Models
    Chapter 11: Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability
    Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility

  2. Silverviddle,

    I’ve only registered as a candidate reviewer. They still have to vet and pick me. I’m guessing I won’t be picked (but this publicity might up my chances).

  3. Dr. Briggs,
    You are way overqualified. Isn’t the person in charge of the IPCC a railway engineer? They must not have been able to find any more railway engineers to do the statistics. BTW, Dr. Segalstadt has already pointed out the climate models are wrong. The climate models use a CO2 residence time of 50-100 years. According to Dr. Segalstadt’s, and others, measurements, CO2 only persists in the atmosphere for about 5 years.

  4. Excellent idea. I appreciate you being willing to give of your time to help review and hope that they decide to include you.

    Keep us posted!

  5. Congratulations Briggs 🙂

    I predict that you will be accepted. You will be rubbing virtual shoulders with the likes of the estimable Vincent Gray and Steve MacIntyre. Like theirs, your input will mostly be ignored, but you will be one of the “2,500” scientists on the IPCC. Dunno if it’s worth the candle though, as we say in the Land of Under. You should have done it last time, then you could have had a share in a Nobel Prize 😉

  6. Oh brave new world! That has such people in it!

    I greatly admire your chutzpah, but you appear to be a drunken sailor disembarking.

  7. Don’t waste your time. IPCC chapter reviews and recommendations are up to the lead authors to do what the want with. Like any other blog.

  8. You say
    “I am now taking wagers on whether I will in fact be picked. ” and
    “I’m guessing I won’t be picked”.
    My understanding of the IPCC procedure explained in their document
    is that you will be:
    “In order to keep the process as open and as broad-based as possible, WGI relies on a self-declaration of expertise”….
    “Registrants who provide the supporting information requested and confirm their scientific expertise in a self-declaration will be accepted for participation in the review and will be given access to all chapters.”
    My reading of this is that anyone who declares “I am an expert” will be accepted as a reviewer.

    But there have been instances of the IPCC using deceptive wording in the past, and there is a get-out clause at the end of the document saying that the process is subject to review and may be amended.

  9. Good luck with that. Although I am familiar with some of the IPCC’s transgressions, I think they get a bad rap from their admirers, and supporters. Whenever I hear someone delivering calamitous predictions based on the latest IPCC publication, I rarely find even a whiff of support for their claim in what the IPCC actually released.

    Here is to your acceptance and to the hopes that the IPCC will be a better body for your input! (It would be too much to hope that they would disolve thamselves and not need you after all.)

  10. Mr. Briggs,

    Congratulations. I do hope you get to review the AR chapters you’ve registered for, and work with climatologist — I’m sure their work will benefit from your criticism, and on the other hand, perhaps in the process you’ll learn more about the science you try to comment. Or even about the real, not mythological, amounts of money that go into climate research. Hope springs enternal.

  11. @Ray

    Segalstad confused CO2 particle turnover time with reservoir adjustment time. See http://goo.gl/NY2hQ (search for his name). And there’s a sweet irony in the criticism of Pachauri for lack of competence, while his immediate predecessor, Watson (http://goo.gl/I8YPJ) was ousted, through an effort of Bush administration acting as a proxy for Exxon Mobil (http://goo.gl/2E5TJ), for being a bit too competent. Seems some people are never satisfied.

  12. Ah Grzegorz, you wonder why you are pidgeon-holed and here you are criticising “Big Oil”. Dunno if anyone else noticed that Exxon Mobil/BP/Shell only account for 10% of the world’s production and 3% of its reserves. One wonders why “Little Oil” never come in for such criticism.

  13. @Pompous Git

    Is there an immunity on criticism for oil companies? If they do something not very nice — and in this case they did — should I never mention it? Why?

    The answer to your question is very simple: “Little Oil” doesn’t push governments to do things like replacing Watson with Pachauri. Accusing Pachauri of incompetence now is just hypocrisy. If the US wanted someone competent in charge of IPCC, they should ignore Exxon and let Watson do his job.

  14. Let’s see: Saudi Aramco, The National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuaela, Gazprom, Rosneft, China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas, and Petrobras. Now why don’t they “push governments to do things like replacing Watson with Pachauri”? Could it be because they are government owned enterprises?

    Yup, oil companies are not immune to criticism. They get criticised — a lot. Mainly for supplying people with what they want. Except the government-owned oil companies never seem to rate a mention. Oil companies are a bit like farmers really; they get criticised for supplying people with food.

    As for Pachauri, he is incompetent. I seem to recall he preferred the testimony of a tourist guide to that of Indian glaciologists. He referred to their 30+ years of study as “voodoo science”.

  15. @Pompous Git

    Again I’m missing your point. What’s the logic behind it? “Because there are other, government-owned oil companies, one cannot criticise Exxon for pressuring US government to intervene with IPCC”? I’m not criticising “oil companies” in general, and not for “supplying people with what they want”. You keep reading meanings into my comments as if you knew better what I wanted to say.

    And anyway, if Pachauri is an incompetent IPCC head, it’s on the US government request. It still is hypocrisy to criticise him today for what was his main strength yesterday — not being that pesky Watson telling the world things the US didn’t want to hear.

  16. Grzegorz …. & all with his similar views against “big oil”:

    Look around you & try & survive without the benefits of what “big oil” provides. Besides fuels & lubricants, things like many plastics, many medications, etc. etc.

    If you really think “big oil” is so bad–eliminate everything in your life that derives from what it provides.

    Of course, if you managed to accomplish that you will die.


  17. Briggs, IF you manage to get to be a reviewer, or not, consider referencing “Augustine’s Laws” by Norm Augustine (then-CEO of Martin Marietta) for inspirational ideas for presenting facts in particularly memorable ways. He was a master at coming up with seemingly whacky presentations (associated with DoD & NASA developments) that, used properly, really drive home some points. For example:

    – Cost of a system is directly proportional to the thickness of the proposal in millimeters ;
    – A logarithmic chart showing number of tests vs. system/system complexity (noting that the MX/Peacekeeper ICBM had a handful of flight tests while basic artillery rounds were subjected to hundreds–illustrating that the simpler a system is the more testing required, and, that a very simple system is impossible as effectively infinite [beyond the limits of available financing] would be required to test it);
    – The ratio of lawyers/barristers/etc. to national GNP is fixed (brilliantly highlighting that while lawyers may be the despicable lot of stereotypes, they are still very valuable in limited numbers);
    – System technical complexity is immune to resolution relative to/completely UNintimidated by the rank/prestige of the Program Manager assigned (this is closely related to the observation that sports teams seldom show any appreciable improvement after the coach is fired & replaced);
    – and many more (52, one for each week, apparently, in all).

    Review the book at:


  18. Briggs, the possibility of your appointment as a reviewer is very welcome news. I hope it happens.

  19. Congratulations Dr Briggs, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy and I hope you make the cut. Looking forward to another year of your fine and thought-provoking blog.

  20. It doesn’t matter whether you are picked. As I’m sure you know, reviewing an IPCC chapter is not like the same activity for a peer reviewed journal. The IPCC vests the power to ultimately accept or reject reviewer input with the lead authors. A quality journal vests power in an editor who is motivated to maintain quality standards in the journal.

    This difference has moved one wag to comment that the review process for IPCC reports is closer to that of a blog than a peer reviewed journal.

    Want proof? Just review the long frutiless history of McIntyre’s reviews/suggestions in AR4.

  21. Grzegorz, big oil has done more good things for humanity than you ever will.

    Oh and I thought Bush was an idiot…yet he’s able to get people dismissed….cripes he must be a criminal mastermind!

  22. Briggs : I have almost never seen anyone talk about what happened with the FAR (Fourth Assessment Report) draft in this regard. The Bush administration put the draft and supplemental materials online behind a userid/password barrier, and then emailed a userid & password to anyone who mouse-clicked under penalty of perjury (or something) that he or she was a U.S. citizen or legally resident alien, intended to review the draft, and would not publish it, quote it, disclose any part of it, etc.

    It was obvious that everyone was getting the same userid & password. I don’t recall them, so I’ll invent; they’d be something like USIPCCREVIEWER and IPCCFAR.

    I downloaded the whole thing and burned it to a CD.

    I’ve always imagined that Bush was deliberately subverting the IPCC rules by implicitly taking the position that the U.S. government could not possibly know of the qualifications or lack of same of more than a relatively few people, so it had to trust every individual to make this judgement about himself. But, of course, I don’t know.

    I’ve almost never seen anyone talking about this episode. It’s as if it disappeared from history, 1984-style.

  23. As a regular reader of your blog (now delurking) I offer you congratulations Dr. Briggs. I find many of your posts insightful. However, I am sometimes mystified by the occasional comment, like this one:

    “Unlike my wealthier colleagues, whose work is funded by Big Green—lavish travel, grants, jobs, speaking fees!, billions of dollars for research—if I am picked, I’ll have to pay my own way. As usual.”

    The colleagues you are complaining about will almost certainly be using travel funds from relevant grants to pay for their IPCC-related travel. If you don’t like having to pay your own way, why don’t you start submitting proposals yourself and include some travel funds in your budget?

    I’m curious also about what exactly you mean by “Big Green”. Would NOAA and the EPA be included as members, or is membership restricted to private and non-profit organizations?

  24. Ken and Pompous Git:

    At the risk of creating animosity after only two posts on Briggs’ blog, I’m going to have to agree with Grzegorz in saying that your replies to his comments are completely missing his point. He criticized a specific action taken by a specific oil company, yet your replies are worded as though he issued a blanket condemnation of everything every oil company has ever done.

  25. Rocket, “Green Group” allegations do not a smoking gun make.
    I think Watson was ousted because he would have made US Govt waste Trillions on AGW when Bush could easily waste it on other things.

  26. Rocket Ranger,

    Good question, long answer. Number 1, I’m unaffiliated. Grants are rarely given to individuals. Then if I were affiliated, it would still be tough (not impossible) since I’d have to be part of a group. People on granting agencies know who they are giving money to, if you catch my drift.

    Big Green is Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and other quasi-governmental groups who issue monies to scientists. And like you say, the EPA, which is a raging, metastasized bureaucracy. NOAA not so much. My use of the term is a joke, of course, on Big Oil, that mysterious organization which is supposed (so the press and activists tells us) which is funding global warming skepticism.

    Smoking Frog,

    Well, I had to submit my qualifications earlier—named some papers, gave my CV-lite, essentially. Near as I can tell, my username and password are unique.

  27. @ Rocket Ranger: “going to have to agree with Grzegorz in saying that your replies to his comments are completely missing his point. He criticized a specific action taken by a specific oil company, yet your replies are worded as though he issued a blanket condemnation of everything every oil company has ever done”

    REBUTTAL: If one reviews the “evidence” Grzegorz provided there is no evidence that Exxon (the specific company) did what various environmental groups claimed it did (the “specific action”), which was to have Watson removed. ALL that we know with certainty is that Exxon forwarded a letter to the Bush Administration regarding an IPCC official that the US Government, among others (a point negleted in Grezgorz’ remarks), lobbied to have ousted. Neither Exxon nor an Exxon employee authored that letter.

    The link Grzegorz provides contains the following: “Atmospheric scientist Robert Watson was seeking re-election as head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. … Watson was defeated by Indian challenger Rajendra Pachauri, who was backed by the United States and 75 other nations. Watson received 49 votes … .”

    It’s a huge difference to assert, without compelling evidence, that Exxon was able to and did exert such omnipitent control unilaterally, and, that the US Government then was so powerful it made the change happen. That’s absurdity.

    The facts are are clear that Watson lost a scheduled re-election 75-49 (those numbers represent countries voting, by the way). Even if the US was influenced by Exxon, its vote going the other way would not have mattered as Watson would have lost re-election anyway, 74-50.

    In other words, Grzegorz radically misrepresented what happened–or even could have happened. Watson was not ousted, he lost a re-election. And he lost that election by a sizeabe margin involving as many independent countries. Huge difference from being ‘ousted by the US acting as an Exxon puppet.’

    Ergo, Grzegorz sensationalized remarks grossly misrepresent facts–including those he presents, in a manner consistent with the unsubstantiated conspiracy theorists that mindlessly blame “Big Oil.” Note that elsewhere Grzegorz makes a distinction, also false, about “Little Oil” that doesn’t lobby like “Big Oil” (false because all firms contribute to political campaigns, etc. and as such do lobby via various channels). His remarks are logically inconsistent, factually incorrect, sensationalized, and omit significant facts — all in a particular manner consistent with achieving a particular dogmatic outlook.


  28. Dr. Briggs:
    My first comment here. Regarding your comparison of your IPCC rate of pay to that of the guy rooting around in the trash, I seem to recall that in the clever business cartoon series “Dilbert”, the smartest, most knowledgeable guy with all the technical and strategic insight is the trash collector!

  29. Briggs: I don’t doubt that you had to do what you say you had to do. I’m just suggesting that it’s very odd that what the Bush administration did with the FAR was so little known. For one thing, why didn’t the liberals have a field day of condemning Bush for it? Instead, they never even mentioned it.

  30. Briggs on January 5 wrote: “People on granting agencies know who they are giving money to, if you catch my drift.”

    I must make an appointment with the optometrist. I initially read the latter portion as “…if you catch my grift.”

  31. Ken,

    I didn’t say anything about the accuracy of Grzegorz’s claims. All I was pointing out was that, up until your last post, your replies were based on an extrapolation of what Grzegorz actually said.

    To me, criticizing a specific action taken by a specific oil company != ‘thinking “big oil” is so bad’.

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