IPCC : Could Do Better ?

[ UPDATE FROM JOABBESS.COM : GOOD LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION : http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/ipcc-report-card/ AND http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100831/full/467014a.html AND http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/ipcc-review-by-interacademy-council-iac/ AND http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2010/100830_IPCC.doc.htm AND THE SLIGHTLY NEGATIVE http://www.economist.com/node/16941153?story_id=16941153 ]

Entropy versus Order – the central battle of the Universe.

Also the struggle within the realm of Science, trying to make global sense out of a very disparate, creative spectrum of study on Climate Change.

Here, at the very hub, we find the bubble of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC – a wide variety of people with a wide variety of knowledge and viewpoints all trying to establish a common perspective.

The management of this enterprise has been under review, and thought to be found partially wanting :-


“InterAcademy Council Report Recommends Fundamental Reform of IPCC Management Structure : UNITED NATIONS — The process used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce its periodic assessment reports has been successful overall, but IPCC needs to fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny coming from a world grappling with how best to respond to climate change, says a new report from the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an Amsterdam-based organization of the world’s science academies. “Operating under the public microscope the way IPCC does requires strong leadership, the continued and enthusiastic participation of distinguished scientists, an ability to adapt, and a commitment to openness if the value of these assessments to society is to be maintained,” said Harold T. Shapiro, president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in the United States and chair of the committee that wrote the report. Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa and professor emeritus of environmental sciences and honorary senior research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, served as vice chair of the committee, which included experts from several countries and a variety of disciplines…These assessment reports have gained IPCC much respect including a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. However, amid an increasingly intense public debate about the science of climate change and costs of curbing it, IPCC has come under closer scrutiny, and controversies have erupted over its perceived impartiality toward climate policy and the accuracy of its reports. This prompted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC chair Rajendra K. Pachauri to issue a letter on March 10 this year requesting that the IAC review IPCC and recommend ways to strengthen the processes and procedures by which future assessments are prepared…”



“InterAcademy Council Delivers IPCC Review Report : 30 August 2010: The InterAcademy Council (IAC) has delivered its independent report into the processes and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report was delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chairman Rajenda Pachauri during a press conference held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 30 August 2010. The review examined the management of the IPCC, its procedures for communication with the public, the use of non-peer reviewed literature and the incorporation of various viewpoints. The IAC’s recommendations will be reviewed by the IPCC at its 32nd Plenary Session, to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 11-14 October 2010. The IAC report concluded that the process to produce its assessments has been successful but that the IPCC needs to reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures. The report recommends establishing an executive committee, including members from outside the IPCC, to act on the Panel’s behalf and ensure ongoing decision-making capability. It suggests the appointment of an executive director, and states that the IPCC Chair, Executive Director and Working Group Co-Chairs should be limited to one-assessment period. It highlights the need for: formal qualification requirements for the Chair and Bureau members; and a conflict of interest policy for all IPCC leaders, authors, reviewers and staff. On the review process, the IAC concludes that the existing process is thorough, but stresses the need for stronger enforcement of existing IPCC review procedures. It calls for review editors to reflect genuine controversies, and underscores the need for increased consistency in the characterization of uncertainty. The IAC also suggests the continued use of gray literature, noting that more specific guidelines for evaluating gray literature sources are required. On the response to revelation of errors, the IAC suggests that the IPCC implement a communications strategy that includes a plan for rapid but thoughtful responses in crisis highlighting the need for guidelines for who can speak on behalf of the IPCC. At the press conference, Pachauri welcomed the review, highlighting that “only by challenging scientific findings do we expose weak arguments and substantiate strong ones.” He underscored the IAC’s qualifications to conduct the review, as an organization to mobilize scientists and engineers to provide objective advice to international bodies…”

The IPCC and its leaders appear to have been doing the best that they can, given the structure in which they have been operating, and improvements offered by refinements, as in any human system, are always possible.

All very reasonable – which makes other commentary from this week’s news appear completely tangential, inappropriate and poorly thought-out, including this completely unwarranted attack piece from Geoffrey Lean (leaning towards what, I’d ask ?) :-


“IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri is damaging the world : The IPCC’s head should quit to avoid harming the global warming cause further, says Geoffrey Lean. : By Geoffrey Lean : Published: 01 Sep 2010 : Beware of winning the Nobel Peace Prize – for the world’s highest accolade for the great and supposedly good, endowed by and named after the inventor of dynamite, has a nasty habit of blowing up in the face of those who ceremoniously receive it. For Barack Obama, things have only gone downhill since he was awarded the prize (prematurely, to put it at its kindest) last year. Al Gore has looked increasingly tarnished since getting it in 2007. Although most past winners have been praiseworthy choices, others have included Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho (although the North Vietnamese revolutionary-turned-negotiator had the grace to refuse to accept). Yet no fall from grace has been so unforeseen as that of Gore’s co-winner, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Just two years after picking up the prize, the UN organisation – chiefly criticised until then for its caution in interpreting the growing evidence of climate change – was plunged into controversy, after it was found grossly to have exaggerated the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are melting. Climate sceptics were quick to seize on other “errors” in the IPCC’s latest 3,000-page report – sometimes justifiably. Coinciding with the cold winter in Britain and the US, the controversy caused by hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit, the furore severely eroded public support for measures to tackle global warming. Now an inquiry carried out under the auspices of the world’s top 15 academies of sciences, including Britain’s Royal Society, has revealed shortcomings in the IPCC’s organisation and management. It strongly suggests that the panel’s controversial chairman, Rajendra Pachauri – who collected the Nobel Prize on his institution’s behalf – should not continue in his post…”

Geoffrey ! You are playing with words most nastily, in my view : “It strongly suggests that…Rajendra Pachauri…should not continue in his post…”

Nowhere in the report does the IAC suggest that Pachauri should be removed from post for any wrongdoing, which is what you appear to imply ! A trick of semantics !

“Plunged into controversy”, Geoffrey ? No, actually, there were no significant errors, as has been shown repeatedly and expertly, only lots of accusatory froth, flim-flam and smoke from the Climate Change deniers.

As for “Al Gore has looked increasingly tarnished since getting it in 2007”, that’s plain rude, and refers to a non-story about Gore’s private life.

For some reason, the Daily Mail appears to have capitulated to the ranks of the accusers and backbiters, after apparently finding somebody who could understand Science to report on Climate Change a few weeks ago :-


“UN climate experts ‘overstated dangers’: Keep your noses out of politics, scientists told : By FIONA MACRAE : 31st August 2010 : UN climate change experts have been accused of making ‘imprecise and vague’ statements and over-egging the evidence. A scathing report into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called for it to avoid politics and stick instead to predictions based on solid science.
The probe, by representatives of the Royal Society and foreign scientific academies, took a thinly-veiled swipe at Rajendra Pachauri, the panel’s chairman for the past eight years…”

The Daily Express appears to just make up world Scientific opinion on the hoof :-


“CLIMATE CHANGE LIES ARE EXPOSED : A damming report has highlighted questions over the credibility of a leading climate change body : Tuesday August 31,2010 : By Donna Bowater : THE world’s leading climate change body has been accused of losing credibility after a damning report into its research practices. A high-level inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found there was “little evidence” for its claims about global warming. It also said the panel had emphasised the negative impacts of climate change and made “substantive findings” based on little proof. The review by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) was launched after the IPCC’s hugely embarrassing 2007 benchmark climate change report, which contained exaggerated and false claims that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035…”

The Daily Telegraph proves it can fight on both “sides” of any debate about Global Warming, by interviewing researcher Myles Allen who recognises the inherent danger in messing with the IPCC community structure and management :-


“Overhaul of UN climate change body ‘could lead to more mistakes’ : A major overhaul of how the UN advises the world on climate change could lead to more mistakes on the impacts of global warming, an Oxford academic has warned. : By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 31 Aug 2010 : In a damning report out earlier this week, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was criticised for making a number of errors about the potential impacts of global warming. The most notable mistake was wrongly predicting that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. The IPCC was also told to stick to the science rather than straying into the politics of climate change. The review, by the InterAcademy Council, called for “fundamental reform”, including a more formal review process. But a leading British academic said the recommendations are in danger of making the situation worse by imposing so much bureaucracy on reviewers they are unable to spend enough time actually assessing the science. There is also a risk it may lead to top scientists refusing to take part, leaving only Government scientists that are more likely to be influenced by politics. Dr Myles Allen, Head of the Climate Dynamics Group at the University Of Oxford, said wasting time on red tape could lead to more mistakes. He pointed out that all the authors and reviewers are unpaid volunteers. “They could actually make it worse because the more time scientists are spending on bureaucracy the less time they have to deal with the scientific questions they should be dealing with,” he said. Dr Allen said there was also a risk that the process could become even more political. “There is a real danger that the only people that are willing to do it are people put forward by the Government, which will further politicise the thing,” he added…”

George Monbiot is back on the side of right and light, and this time does not give in to the evil rumours and bay for any blood (like he did when he called for Professor Phil Jones to resign over the theft of the University of East Anglia (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) e-mails, a position he had to later retract) :-


“Press continue to hound Rajendra Pachauri despite his innocence : The profiteering Pachauri story joins a host of falsehoods about climate change which keep resurfacing despite being disproved : Rajendra Pachauri innocent of financial misdealings : George Monbiot : guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 September 2010”

One thing that could certainly improve about the IPCC is the reportage it gets from the Media.

Good thing that there’s stuff in the works to cover just that. I can’t reveal all the details of what is likely to happen, but I can point you at part of the trail :-




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