IPCC says yes to reform recommendations

All right, to sum everything up: no, in the only scientifically relevant climate report, the 2007 report of IPCC Working Group 1, ‘The Physical Science Basis’, on the fundamentals of climate science – no flaws were observed. Someone did allow a slippery reference about Himalayan glaciers in the subreport of WG2, but that one is on social implications – written by a whole different bunch of people.

Last week the IPCC held a plenary session in Busan, South Korea, to discuss its operations. Governments and participating climate experts of all of the world’s leading climate research bodies agreed on a new course for the scientific climate panel. Once they remove that enormous Yann Arthus-Bertrand banner [nice pictures, but why doesn’t it land on info on the actual new challenge?] they can now indeed move on towards the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), to be released in 2014. (Btw: Rajendra Pachauri gets to keep his job – as long as he doesn’t linger on the reforms. Indians happy.)

Stern investigation

Although renowned painters like Rembrandt did very much join in on the feast, 17th century Dutch architects disliked the Baroque fashion of their time. It may have been a dislike for anything too Spanish or too Catholic – or a more general trait of the ocean-going entrepreneurs, but the Dutch wanted their buildings to be as straightforward as anything else. Things were allowed to be beautiful, but they also had to be in order – tidy, decent, stern, and a bit on the sober side as well. Amsterdam architects introduced Dutch classicism to follow up on the prevalent Dutch renaissance builds of the 16th century. One of the best classicist examples in Amsterdam is located at Kloveniersburgwal 29, called Het Trippenhuis.

By chance it’s the very suiting home to the InterAcademy Council (IAC), the advisory board of the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the network of 100 National Science Academies.

It is the task of IAC to thoroughly investigate the IPCC procedures. On August 30 it presented its recommendations report:

  • The IPCC reporting process has been successful in general, but
  • Its management structure needs to be fundamentally reformed, and
  • Its procedures strengthened to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments

The IAC actually reached the conclusion the IPCC review procedures were already strong, but would have to be reinforced even further. To that end lead authors should explicitly document that the full range of thoughtful scientific views has been considered. The IAC calls the use of ‘gray literature’ (unpublished or non-peer-reviewed) ‘often relevant and appropriate for inclusion in the assessment reports’. Problems occur because authors do not follow IPCC’s own evaluation guidelines. The IAC recommended that these guidelines be made more specific.

Of course IPCC came to fail just because the main criticism it faces holds no ground. The IPCC is in fact not a political institution. If it were, it wouldn’t have made the kind of absent-minded communications mistakes only brilliant physical scientists can make.

If it were a political institution it would have foreseen the backlash of an economic system that seeks an alternative to trillion dollar reforms – even if that alternative would have to mean attacking the credibility of science.

Anyway, let’s move on.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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