Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recommendations for the IPCC

Union of Concerned Scientists: An independent panel of scientists and other experts will release a report on August 30 assessing the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) procedures for producing reports on the state of climate change science, impacts and solutions.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri asked the InterAcademy Council (IAC)—an association of science academies around the world—to convene the panel to conduct an independent review after a handful of errors were discovered in the IPCC’s most recent report, issued in 2007. The report, which fills some 3,000 pages, was the IPCC’s fourth. The IPCC, which is comprised of more than 2,500 scientists worldwide, published its first report in 1990, its second in 1995, and its third in 2001. It plans to issue its fifth report by 2014.

“I expect the Inter-Academy Council review to largely support the IPCC process, acknowledging that it produces high quality reports,” said James McCarthy, board chair of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a biological oceanography professor at Harvard University. “But the review also will likely recommend that the IPCC adhere more strictly to its established editorial and review policies, and establish new policies to catch errors before finalizing its reports.

“While there is always room for improvement, the bottom line is the IPCC does an admirable job presenting climate science accurately and cautiously,” added McCarthy, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a co-chair of the 2001 IPCC report.

….Frumhoff also anticipates that the IAC panel will reaffirm the importance of some highly criticized IPCC policies, such as permitting careful citations of so-called “gray” literature—reports by governments, private companies and non-governmental organizations that have not been formally peer-reviewed.

“There is often timely, policy-relevant information in government agency and private organization reports that are not formally published in the scientific literature,” Frumhoff said. “The IPCC should continue to draw upon those sources as needed, and more consistently apply and strengthen its own rigorous review standards to catch any errors.”

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