Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Doing climate change science better

The language was formal and measured but the message was savage enough. The InterAcademy Council (IAC), a multinational organization of science academies “created to produce reports on scientific, technological, and health issues related to the great global challenges of our time, providing knowledge and advice to national governments and international organizations”, found the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had some major failings in the way it went about “providing policy-relevant information”.
Some examples from the section of the report on Transparency:
From extensive oral and written input gathered by the Committee, it is clear that several stages of the assessment process are poorly understood, even to many scientists and government representatives who participate in the process. Most important are the absence of criteria for selecting key participants in the assessment process and the lack of documentation for selecting what scientific and technical information is assessed.
… no matter how well constructed IPCC’s assessment practices may be, the quality of the result depends on the quality of the leaders at all levels who guide the assessment process. It is only by engaging the energy and expertise of a large cadre of distinguished scholars as well as the thoughtful participation of government representatives that high standards are maintained and that truly authoritative assessments continue to be produced. Moreover, the IPCC should think more creatively about maintaining flexibility in the character and structure of the assessment, including the number and scope of Working Groups and the timing of reports.
For a review by perhaps the world’s most prestigious scientific organisation of a Nobel prize winner the report was quite a severe rebuke.
31-08-2010 reviewsummary

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