12 April 2010

Climate Science Advisory Dream Teams

As I mentioned last week, graduate students in my science and technology policy seminar are working on a unit on expert advisory committees. They have been divided into 3 groups with an assignment to empanel a scientific advisory committee on climate science, with a focus on IPCC Working Group I issues. you can see the assignment details here. Here are the links to their products:

Group 1 (PDF)
Group 2 (PDF)
Group 3 (PDF)

How did they do? Is one group's panel better than another? If so, why? Could you have done better? If so, please explain.

The class awaits your feedback.


  1. Two words, one name.

    Lionel Messi.


  2. All are academics which means single mindset. You need to draw from the private sector.

  3. Don't have time to investigate all those people. But it appears to me that one underlying problem (for which I see no solution) is that most of them have a conflict of interest in that they are publicly funded. This might not be a conflict in many areas of science, but it seems to be a big problem in climate science; the way things seem to work in the "climate change" research world is that you are denied funding and publications if you are skeptical. Maybe that's changing, now that many people are admitting that there is no "consensus?"

  4. Unsurprisingly, I had only heard of a small number of these. I would replace James Hansen with Lionel Messi as Malcolm recommended, and Stephen Schneider with Wayne Rooney, who lives in one of the most climatically challenging regions of the world, Manchester. Hansen and Schneider have form, bad form.

    Isn't the problem that all of those people have a financial stake in climate alarmism ? I have a family member who has travelled the world (now in Saudi Arabia) chasing research money. It isn't an accusation, it's a fact that grants are important to academics.

    Interesting that you think science arbiters should provide facts, not opinions. You may remember the UK drugs committee controversy. There have been more resignations and more drug bans (election coming very soon). These scientists want their opinions not only heard, but acted upon.

  5. Interesting that only one group, #3, felt it appropriate to include well known contrarians. Infortunately, the make up of that panel seems more conducive for a reality show than coherent advice.

  6. Judith Curry would be top of my list. And a statistician.

    Would love to be a fly-on-the-wall at Panel 3!

  7. Interesting that the students pretty much stayed away from the "hockeystickologists" (with one exception that I'm aware of).

  8. The first two groups managed to produce lists with names that are almost completely unknown to a nonspecialist like me. It's probably a very good sign that they've avoided the usual suspects, but how would any of us know whether they've done well? On the other hand, isn't a "dream team," by definition, supposed to consist of celebrities in their fields? In this sense, groups 1 and 2 seem to have failed.

    Group 3 proceeded in a more conventional way by naming multiple climate-science celebrities to their dream team. But I would consider several of them as being too bound up in climate science advocacy to be a good advisory panel.

    All in all, I imagine groups 1 and 2 to have done the better job, but I can't prove it.

    Was the point of the assignment to give your students an impossible task and see how they do with it?

  9. Panel 3 is probably likely to be the least productive but the most interesting. Hansen and Lindzen at different poles, Pielke Sr. vainly trying to get a more comprehensive definition of the issue.

    I would have excluded any past lead IPCC authors on the theory that they are more invested in the theoretical status quo, less capable of a fresh look.

    Also, I would have tossed in someone like Demetris Koutsoyiannis or a top chaos mathematician to question whether modeling as we currently understand it is even worth doing. That would be a more interesting and effective check on overselling consensus models than the inclusion of an overt skeptic or two on the panel.

  10. I like the approach of group number three. There is no point in pretending that the overt politicization of climate science has not already occurred.

    None of the major actors have made a commitment to respecting the guidelines for acting as honest brokers as laid down in Roger's book. There is every reason to believe that a panel containing a handful of alarmists and no skeptics would be held hostage to the views of its alarmist members.

    Even if, individually, the members of group #3 are less reasonable honest brokers, collectively they would do a better job.

  11. I must say that I would like to be a fly on the wall to assist at the exchange for group 3. One thing is sure it is that the meeting would never be dull. Maybe there would even be some jousting between Lindzen, Pielke sr and Hansen Schneider.

    Other than that such disparate views should lead to a more balance report.

  12. Team #3 is good because you will end up with grid lock which is actually good. They will have to find a bipartisan way to solve their issues. They will need to incorporate all views in their solution.

    However, we can not solve problems by committee. The dream team merely ends up as a “committee”. The dream team needs a coach in order to focus on real solutions.

    Plus any solution will fall right into the realm of political-economy.

    Since Milton Friedman is no longer available, and no one person can fill Friedman’s shoes, fill the coaching duties with Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams.

    **Krugman can be water boy or cheerleader (which he does best). Then again, Sowell and Williams would more than likely (InTrade Odds 99%) trade Krugman for a new water bucket and a set of new pom-poms.

  13. My dream team would consist entirely of well-credentialed skeptics :) That would probably be just as fair as the first two teams.

  14. "How did they do?"

    Well, I'm already willing to replace the IPCC with any one of the 3 expert panels. :-)

    "Is one group's panel better than another? If so, why?"

    Like others, I prefer Group 3's panel, because Group 3 seems to have more clearly attempted to get diverse views (e.g. Hansen, Lindzen,

    "Could you have done better? If so, please explain."

    Here were 11 of my 12 (not in order of anything):

    1) James Hansen
    2) Patrick Michaels
    3) Jesse Ausubel
    4) Vaclav Smil
    6) Arnold Kling
    7) Richard Tol
    8) Veerabhadran Ramanathan
    9) James Hurrell
    10) JFB Mitchell
    11) Benjamin Horton

    None of your three class groups has an expert on emissions. That's a huge component of any analysis of future climate change. In contrast, my group has 2 experts on emissions: Jesse Ausubel and Vaclav Smil.

    My list also has two economists: Richard Tol and Arnold Kling. Maybe two economists is overkill, but there ought to be someone who has expertise in evaluating the economic effects of climate change.

    "The class awaits your feedback."

    Overall, very well done, and very interesting.

  15. Just a first glance impression from someone who doesn;t instantly recognise or appreciate all the names.

    Led by the theory of the Wisdom of Crowds I would go with Number 3. I am most drawn by the immediately obvious diversity of expressed views.

    Lindzen versus Hansen. I would pay good money to see those too int he ring together.