Banner
    InterAcademy Council Report Urges 'Fundamental Reform' Of IPCC
    By News Staff | August 31st 2010 01:00 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    The InterAcademy Council Board, composed of presidents of 15 academies of science and equivalent organizations(1) representing Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, pulled no punches in assessing the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) performance during the latter part of the decade.

    Despite overwhelming evidence for climate change, the IPCC issued “substantive findings” based on little proof and needs to rework its process, the independent review said.   The UN had requested the IAC review.   

    That's a long way down from the heady days of a 2007 Nobel Peace prize for the IPCC.   

    Among the recommendations; "To enhance its credibility and independence, the executive committee should include individuals from outside the IPCC or even outside the climate science community."

    Why include a non-climate scientist on a UN executive committee of the IPCC?   The chair of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, is a Ph.D in economics so it already has non-climate scientists, and the perception due to the problems at East Anglia, the IPCC and elsewhere is that people who disagreed with the causes or future predictions of global warming were removed from the IPCC, making it more of an advocacy body and less of a science one, science being its original mandate in 1989.

    To that end the IAC stated the "IPCC should encourage review editors to fully exercise their authority to ensure that all review comments are adequately considered."

    The use of 'gray literature' from unpublished or non-peer-reviewed sources, like including speculation from a 1999 magazine story claims that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, needed to be addressed and was, with the the IAC saying that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature needs to be appropriately flagged.

    The report also criticized the Working Groups.   The Working Group II report, they noted, contained statements that were assigned high confidence but for which there was little evidence.

    The lack of any oversight resulted in errors that cast the accuracy of the entire report in a bad light, like claims that 55 per cent of the Netherlands was below sea level when the figure is 26 per cent and Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035, which would require a drop of 50 feet per year, well-beyond even the most exaggerated estimates.

    The IAC recommended that in future assessments, all Working Groups should qualify their understanding of a topic by describing the amount of evidence available and the degree of agreement among experts - the 'level of understanding scale' - and all Working Groups should use a probability scale to quantify the likelihood of a particular event occurring, but only when there is sufficient evidence to do so.

    The IAC also noted "slow and inadequate response to revelations of errors in the last assessment" by the IPCC.

    When the IPCC was created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1989, its charge was to provide scientific and comprehensive information about climate change and the IAC urged them to get back to the concept of science-based recommendations.

    "The IPCC will be strengthened by the IAC review and by others of its kind this year," said IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, Ph.D in economics. "We already have the highest confidence in the science behind our assessments. We're now pleased to receive recommendations on how to further strengthen our own policies and procedures."

    The IAC had no comment on Pachauri, who has been accused of a conflict of interest due to investments in groups such as the Energy Research Institute receiving £10 million in taxpayer grants over the next five years, and has been criticized because he is not a climate scientist, but said the period for chairs "should be limited to the term of one assessment in order to maintain a variety of perspectives and fresh approach to each assessment. Formal qualifications for the chair and all other Bureau members need to be developed."

    The chair is occupied for up to two six-year terms now.

    Read the entire report at http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/

    NOTE:

    (1) Also the African Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) as well as representatives of the InterAcademy Panel (IAP) of scientific academies, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS), and the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP) of medical academies.