The “AEI vs. AR/4” story has gotten a surprising amount of play in the mainstream press over the last few days. Briefly: last summer conservative think tank AEI sent letters to two of my colleagues asking them to participate in a “critique” of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR/4). Oh yeah, and they offered them $10,000 to do this.

My initial blog post from July can be found here. It got picked up by the mainstream press and has been widely reported on over the last few days (e.g., here and here).

This morning I received an email from AEI, asking me to post a statement about this kerfuffle, as well as a revised description of their examination of the AR/4. I posted them on my personal blog here.

Here is my critique of AEI’s new proposal to critique the AR/4.

There is a strong emphasis on examining policy responses:

… the time seems propitious for a fresh round of discussion of climate policy.

One idea is to solicit essays in two categories. The first category would be along the lines of a blue-sky essay on “What Climate Policies Would I Implement If I Was King for a Day.” The second category would be specific critiques of existing or proposed policy responses such as will appear in Working Group III or have been put forward in reports such as the Stern Review. (Such essays might take as their focus a single chapter from Working Group III, or an aspect of the Stern Review.)

This is exactly where the discussion needs to be focused. Most discussions start and end with cap-and-trade systems, and the argument is over whether it’s 10 percent cut in 10 years, or 50 percent cut in 50 years, etc., etc. We need to begin thinking outside the box and come up with new and innovative ideas about what we can do to address the problem. Cap-and-trade and taxes are certainly important options, but the debate should not end there.

AEI’s previous plan to critique the AR/4 had a much greater emphasis on examining the science. However, providing a review of climate science would be an utter waste of time. After all, the IPCC goes through many, many levels of review: the report is written by hundreds of climate scientists from 130 countries, and based on the peer-reviewed literature. It is then reviewed by thousands of other climate scientists, by hundreds of government agencies, and opened for public review as well. The IPCC’s 2001 report then went through review by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which endorsed its findings. The conclusions of the 2001 IPCC report was also endorsed by the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and others. What is a review by AEI going to add?

Their new proposal has much less of an emphasis on science. They must know that any report that seriously questions the reality of climate change is going to be dismissed by just about everyone.

For a contribution to the climate change debate that will be taken seriously by the vast majority of those interested in the problem, I suggest AEI start its critique with:

We accept the scientific summary of climate change provided by the IPCC. Our goal it to investigate how we can and should address this issue …

That would be a report worth reading.