IPCC Releases More Information

A couple of days ago Climate Change: Fueling the "Debate", about "balanced" news coverage, Acronym Required commented on an editorial by Clive Crook published by the Financial Times. Quoting an economist who has long denied the causes and effects of global warming, Crook called IPCC report nothing but a product of biased scientists with limited knowledge. The FT article criticized the economic projections made by the committee, and accused the committee in general of ignoring complaints about errors.

Far from acknowledging the point and correcting the projections, the IPCC treated these eminent former civil servants as credentialed troublemakers....the episode was symptomatic of a wider pattern of error (often, in the case of economics, elementary error) and failure to correct it. How can this be possible? The IPCC prides itself on the extent of its network of scientific contributors and on its rigorous peer review. The problem is, although the contributors and peers are impressively numerous, they are drawn from a narrow professional circle.

Moreover, the editorial and its source accused the IPCC of "pervasive bias" and lack of disclosure:

Add to this a sustained reluctance - and sometimes a refusal - to disclose data and methods that would allow results to be replicated. (Disclosure of that sort is common practice these days in leading scholarly journals).

Via Real Climate, in a post that helpfully provides some background, for instance by explaining both the both the IPCC review process and the different academic peer review process, we learn that the IPCC has now released draft and comment information that informed the reports. As the IPCC site says:

The following web page provides links to: the first draft chapters of the WG I report; review comments on the first drafts and corresponding author responses; the second draft chapters; and expert/ government review comments on the second drafts and author responses.

The IPCC information (thousands of pages) should provide even more transparency into the process for the public and scientists. It provides of wealth of information that can be used as anyone sees fit -- for better or worse .

One notion it helps challenge, often propagated by people who set out to deny many valid scientific conclusions, is that scientists are a "lockstep/groupthink community". Such an statement is either made by someone who honestly doesn't know too many scientists or understand the scientific process, or by someone out to distort public perception of science.

The release of draft comments in such a report is unusual, as Real Climate points out, concluding:

..the IPCC is indeed an open and transparent process and there is plenty of criticism from all quarters during the review process and the idea that it is just a closed forum is completely bogus.

Of course the same people will turn around -- as they are sure to following the release of this information, and angrily point out that the scientists "don't agree". But hopefully this new IPCC release will diffuse the influence of those who, capitalizing on a lack of information, have set out to spin false and nefarious tales about the IPCC and its reports.

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