As it happened.....
the American Enterprise Institute/AEI geared up last summer for the fourth IPCC climate assessment by offering $10KUS for those who would write papers on it. This came to light when one of the recipients, Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M showed the letter to Andrew Dessler and Dessler blogged about it. This says something important about how blogs are affecting the flow of information. The letter to Schroeder and North was unconditional, the money would be paid for an article between 7,500 and 10,000 words. A subsequent version included this language
Above all we want to have a diverse collection of pre-eminent thinkers on this subject, which is why we are keen to include you in the project. AEI is willing to offer honoraria of up to $10,000 for participating authors, for essays in the range of 7,500 to 10,000 words, to be completed by September 1, and we are keen to work with you to refine an appropriate topic.which was included in a recent exchange of letters between Dessler and AEI's Steve Hayward.
As Dessler says, concurrent with the deliver of the Summary for Policymakers by the IPCC, this has blown up again. Another point he makes is that the original letter focused on critiquing the science, the current revised version focuses on policy and economics. This revisionism was evident on the Canadian news program, As It Happens in interviews with Schroeder and Ken Green of AEI as linked on Rabett Run. In the interview Green stated that the letter was sent primarily to policy people and economists. It now seems that there were two letters, and they probably were sent to different people at different times.
UPDATE: In the comments Andrew points to Steven Colbert's take on all this: As long as the administration can find one scientist that disagrees with the IPCC report then there is no global warming, and they are working very hard to find that scientist. Go watch the video. There is an annoying ad in front of it, but you can get your popcorn while it plays. A flip o the ears for the link. Many thanks!
The Volokh Conspiracy has done its best to keep the story afloat with five posts in the last few days, (and Volokh is a very popular blog). The latest one points to a response by AEI in the Weekly Standard (warning, very right wing fishwrap) trying to stamp out the conflagration that they are currently enveloped by. One part of that deals with the letter to North:
North declined our invitation on account of an already full schedule. Schroeder shared our letter with one of his Texas A&M colleagues, atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler. Dessler posted our complete letter on his blog in late July, along with some critical but largely fair-minded comments, including: "While one might be skeptical that the AEI will give the [IPCC Fourth Assessment Report] a fair hearing, the fact that they have solicited input from a credible and mainstream scientist like Jerry North suggests to me that I should not prejudge their effort."The As It Happens Interview deals with the other side of this, why North and Schroeder had a headache and could not date AEI (transcribed here, the things Eli does for you):
Schroeder: Well, I basically decided not to participate partly by talking to Gerald North, he got the same offer, he has worked with the same person before also and he was the one who mainly expressed to me that he felt that even if we could produce an objective report even if the contents weren't changed that it was likely to be misused by people either in the AEI or outside itSomehow Schroeder manages to Rasool** one of the authors on that paper he wrote with Ken Green, Tim Ball, Canadian Holiday Inn Express climatologist: The Science Isn't Settled: The Limitations of Global Climate Models. The article acknowledges help from Pat Michaels faithful companion Chip Knappenberger of New Hope Environmental Services and even has another number for how many years Tim was a professor of climatology. Now, which side do you think Ken thought Schroeder would come down on?
Interviewer: So what concerns did you and Prof. North have about how your work might be used
Schroeder: Well it does seem that the issue of climate change is quite polarized and so the views that future warming will be catastrophic seem to get overly publicized and also the views of other people that there is no global warming and there is nothing to worry about. Those also seem to get overly publicized And we were thinking it would be more likely that people would use any criticism of the process that we mentioned more in that area to say Well they are overhyping the danger of global warming and so we should bury our heads in the sand and not do anything about it.
People have suggested that the strategy of those who are trying to discredit the IPCC Report and those climate change Scientists are using the same strategy as was used the tobacco industry to discredit the science that you don't need to say that it is not true You just need to muddy the scientific waters. What do you say to such claims
Schroeder: Well actually I agree with that. Ken Green used to be with the Fraser Institute, in Canada and before that he was with the Reason Institute, in the United States. and that's when I had done the previous work with him, it was an assessment of climate models. In the Fraser Institute he was there I guess I would say a relatively short time, So I didn't happen to be aware that the FI was planning to also put out an assessment of the IPCC Report. So I printed out what they put on their web page, In that case, yeah you could substitute Tobacco for Climate Change and it would be similar wording almost. because I noticed on that one they were saying that the public attention focused on the SPM produced through negotiation by government bureaucrats and then, in contrast the FI's independent summary is by efforts of experts in fields related to Climate Science and has been reviewed by more than 50 scientists around the world But of course the IPCC report itself has been reviewed by many hundreds of scientists around the world including people with many different viewpoints on the issue of climate change and so I would count the statement of the FI to be almost inflammatory on that issue, but at least this original letter that I got from the AEI was stated a little more cautiously that that.
Interviewer:The AEI offered to pay you 10K$Us for your work on that paper plus travel expenses to bring you to any conference they might have later. Is this typical
Schroeder: I think so I would say that wouldn't come out to be very much per hour. or anything like that And That would be kind of like of say a smoking gun if I had not had any previous contact with this person to say they were trying to steer me to a certain conclusion
Interviewer: In the end you turned down their offer. Could you just tell me just simply why you did that
Schroeder: Even if Ken Green and the other people at the institute would not try to steer me to particular conclusions one way or the other that it was likely to be misused even if the report itself was allowed to be reasonably objective and reflect my actual opinions
Interviewer: Prof. Schroeder thank you very much for speaking with us
Schroeder: OK Well thank you, I am sorry that I was not able to say that there is no global warming and the earth is flat or something like that.
**A very famous paper by S. Ichtiaque Rasool and Steven Schneider in the early 70s modeled the effects of aerosols on global temperature. For years it has been used by denialists to attack Schneider and by claiming that global cooling was predicted in the 70s to attack the fact that global temperatures are warming rapidly. As part of their strategy, Rasool often disappears, much as has happened with Michael Mann, whose first papers on multiproxy modeling were co-authored by Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. Mann was out front on the issue, Bradley and Hughes have been Rasooled.