Sunday, July 11, 2010

Climate controversies: Flawed scientists | The Economist
That the panel’s mistakes and questionable judgments almost all make the picture more gloomy, not less, reinforces a widespread worry that some of the authors are policy advocates as well as scholars... Being linked to Al Gore through a Nobel peace prize has not helped.

Though transparent in some ways, the IPCC is woefully opaque in others. Depending as it does on expert judgment, the bona fides of its authors—the next batch, all 831 of them, was named in June—is crucially important. Yet their selection from national lists of nominees goes on entirely behind closed doors. This has led to a perception that points of view that do not hew to some sort of party line are being excluded.
The governments which run the IPCC will meet in South Korea in October. They should use the opportunity to begin a full reappraisal of what they and their citizens want from the panel in terms of timeliness, transparency and trust, and how to get it; if this means pausing the current assessment round, then so be it. They should give the panel new staff, resources and rules. And they should look at a range of candidates for a new position as the full-time chair. Dr Pachauri has been a staunch defender of the panel as it is rather than an advocate for reform that would improve it. He is not the man to carry out the changes it badly needs.
The controversies in climate science: Science behind closed doors | The Economist
Martin Parry, who in 2007 was co-chair of the relevant IPCC working group, says there was not a conscious decision to highlight negative effects, but to highlight important ones, as measured by such things as scale and irreversibility. The important effects are negative ones [wait, what?!: why would all positive effects necessarily be unimportant?]: this is why people are worried about climate change. A tendency for the IPCC process to produce outputs more worrying, at the margins, than its inputs does not necessarily show bias. It may reflect accurate expert assessment. But the risk that it is a sort of self-reinforcing groupthink merits attention.

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