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UN To Create Independent Panel To Review IPCC 342

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that an independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the workings of the world's top climate science panel, which has faced recriminations over inaccuracies in a 2007 report that included a prediction that Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035, although there is no scientific consensus to that effect. That brief citation — drawn from a magazine interview with a glaciologist who says he was misquoted — and sporadic criticism of the panel's leader have fueled skepticism in some quarters about the science underlying climate change. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, said the review body would be made up of 'senior scientific figures' who could perhaps produce a report by late summer for consideration at a meeting of the climate panel in October in South Korea. 'I think we are bringing some level of closure to this issue,' says Nuttall. One area to be examined is whether the panel should incorporate so-called gray literature, a term to describe nonpeer-reviewed science, in its reports. Many scientists say that such material, ranging from reports by government agencies to respected research not published in scientific journals, is crucial to seeking a complete picture of the state of climate science."
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UN To Create Independent Panel To Review IPCC

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:23PM (#31297140)
    - to review the work of another independent panel?
  • My particular facts. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:27PM (#31297172)
    Here's how I see it: Something is causing the environment to change. It may not be all us but it is very likely that we are contributing in a significant amount. Individually we need to be responsible to the environment and that means that the one thing in our direct control, our car, is the place to start. Cars are necessary, we don't know what we would do without them. That doesn't mean we can't point to them as an issue. The effect of climate change is that people who do not matter will die. Here in the first world we have technology and more importantly infrastructure to deal with the changes that are happening. In the third world millions of people who are already on the edge will be pushed over by drought. But in the end, they don't contribute to the bottom line anyway and its much easier to drive the SUV and make it someone elses problem.
  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:45PM (#31297298)
    The sun is the primary source of the far strongest greenhouse gas.. water vapor.
  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:55PM (#31297372)

    are we even sure there's a correlation between greenhouse gases and temperature ? And, if that's the case, what those gases are and where they come from ?

    I've just listened to a 1-hour program on national radio, with kinda independent climatologists (a French luxury, where many scientists do work for the government), about climate change. These guys don't really seem to agree on anything, with one them them strenuously making the point that earth temperature was mainly linked to solar activity... to the point of making anything else irrelevant.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:59PM (#31297396)

    Where's Richard Feynman when you need him?

    Seriously I think that one of the most important lessons from his role on the NASA Challenger commission, is what an outside can accomplish. He did this by asking questions that the insiders never thought of, and took as "givens."

    I would like to see a panel of experts that are not outspoken about global warming, in one way or another. Even if they are not weather experts, they may provide some insight to the scientific methods used.

  • by dwguenther ( 1100987 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:11PM (#31297458)
    It's good that another review has been announced in order to offset the political hype, but it's discouraging that there was political attacks on the science to begin with. As the article points out, the controversy has essentially been about a single wrong number in the IPCC report, which itself is a summary of over 10,000 peer-reviewed papers published over the last three or four decades. Criticism of this single error has only gained traction because of pointless repetition by critics who stand to make some profit over creating controversy.
    The discussions and debate should be focused on policy, not on the science. We have already made our best effort at determining whether there is a problem. Now we need to determine what to do about it.
  • Northwest Passage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:17PM (#31297484)
    Remember what used to be the mythical North-West Passage? I hope to be wrong but there is now ocean where you can sail ships through that used to be a global ice cap.
  • by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) * on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:30PM (#31297604)

    Regardless of which side of this debate you are on, you must realize that 10 years doesn't mean anything in this debate AND if we're all honest with ourselves, the past 200 years barely scratch the surface. Both camps will claim(when it is convenient for them) that the longer trends are what is important. Hell, we just recently learned of a 60 year cycle in the climate*** and yet we're still bringing up 10 years as if it means something. Knowing there's a cycle that lasts 60 years should mean we should be looking at the past 2,000 years before we open our mouths...

    I personally am skeptical of both sides. I can see how AGW would be plausible but I can also see that some of what the so-called deniers are claiming is also factually true and being glossed over.

    ***That climate cycle just shifted to its cool pattern in the past year so I'm even more skeptical of the claims of "global warming is causing this bad snow", though it *could* hold some truth..I just think they're declaring a winner before the race has even begun.

    AND to top it off, the AGW side wants non-peer-reviewed science to be counted on their side but if it's not peer-reviewed and it says the opposite then it's considered garbage. Double standards are not the way to go here if they want to be believed.

  • by benjto ( 1175995 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:56PM (#31297918)

    IPCC = Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    The climate has been changing for hundreds of thousands of years. But to me the name suggests there is some kind of unprecedented change to the climate that we are now tasked to study. Doesn't that prejudice the findings? What if (just a hypothesis) the data shows that the climate is not going through any kind of change that is out of line with historical patterns of change. The conclusion would be that the current dynamics of that climate to not represent a "macro" change in the climates behavior.

    Why not name the panel the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Monitoring? Let the data suggest the conclusion, not the panel name.

  • by crmarvin42 ( 652893 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:29PM (#31298312)
    Mod this guy up.

    There will always be problems with "indepenence" of scientific research when the main (only) funding agency is a political body and an incredibly long validation period. If you don't produce the results the political body wants, they'll cut funding. If they are the only funding source, your options are being broke but honest, or putting at least a little spin on your results to keep getting funded at some level.

    My research has been pressured by funding agencies, but since the main funding source is industry I can always find funding from a competitor (it helps that there are several) to continue my work if the original funding agency doesn't like what my data indicates.
  • Re:Extra, Extra! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:32PM (#31298340)

    calling those of us who have some skepticism "deniers" doesn't do you any favours.

    And yet, calling people global warming alarmists [google.com] and warmists [google.com] is fine... ... regardless, what would you prefer to be called? Calling someone who denies global warming theory a "global warming denier" seems to be somewhat logical - rather more intellectually honest than those who would then immediately "Godwin" [wikipedia.org] any further discussion by pretending that they have been called a Nazi. Does denying that the world is flat make you a Nazi? No. Does denying that the moon landings have occurred make you a Nazi? No. So why is it that only global warming deniers immediately leap to the conclusion that they are being likened to those who deny the Holocaust? This is not the behaviour of reasonable debaters.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:27PM (#31298842)

    Yeah you know why they were disparaged? Because their paper was crap. The journal only published the paper because it was controversial; the actual science contained therein was useless.

    Yes, the guys at the CRU were trying to keep that paper from being published because it went against the current scientific consensus - but the reason why it went against the current consensus is because the authors were wrong in the first place. The journal chose to publish a controversial and scientifically flawed paper, just because it was controversial.

  • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:58PM (#31299138) Homepage

    (a) There is not such a huge difference in the amount of money scientists receive for one result versus the opposite result; or
    (b) The field is not as politically charged; or
    (c) The ultimate accuracy of a theory is seen more decisively in a shorter period of time.

    (a) is a pretty bold claim. Got any evidence, any what-so-ever, showing that climate scientists who don't argue for climate change aren't getting funding? That they're systematically being denied grants?

    (b) is nonsense, there are many politically charged fields in science. Evolutionary biology? Vaccine research lately (thanks to people like Jenny "Oops, it wasn't autism" McCarthy)?

    (c) is always just silly. Quite a lot of science isn't decided on short timescales. Decades is more of than not how long you have to wait to find out how accurate a theory really is. (That's how long it takes for better tests to get developed.) Even medical testing often takes years to decades to pan out. That's why we don't really know what makes for a healthier diet (butter or margarine? how much salt is OK? does wine really help with cholesterol?)

    However, with climate scientists, just like with economists, they can always claim their theories are correct throughout their entire lifetimes regardless of the outcomes.

    Again, that's the norm for most areas of science. Most of us go a lifetime without seeing most of our work being shown to be wrong, even when it turns out to be way off. (Weak evidence often exists, but the really decisive evidence generally takes decades to emerge. The old joke about science is that new theories aren't so much accepted as the old theories' adherents just die off. That's because science, unlike the simple model you're taught in school, seldom moves forward from single, definitive experiments.

    note that "ClimateGate" was the result of hacking rather than systematic review or investigation.

    In as much as there was nothing in those emails that was incriminating, all of the innuendo and out of context quoting by FOX and others not withstanding, it's difficult to see what your point is.

    Climate research isn't really any different from any other area of science, except that there's a lot of money being thrown against it by various lobbying groups who don't like where it's pointing. (Which makes it a lot more like evolutionary biology than anything.)

  • by 10101001 10101001 ( 732688 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @04:09PM (#31299208) Journal

    The problem with AGW is that we are being asked to choose between a half-ton of prevention and a pound of cure.

    Last I checked, the damage that will result from just sea level rise is a lot more than "a pound" compare to a half-ton of prevention.

    And the half-ton has practically zero chance of working.

    For this, you might well be right. We very well might be too late for anything but CO2 sequestering to actually work. Even if not to late already, it's unlikely that the US, China, etc will agree in time. The best chance we might have is to limit the damage, and to that, yes, the ratio might be closer to a half-ton of "prevention" to a pound of cure.

    In the end, the real issue is the energy crisis of having so many countries competing for so much oil. Pragmatically dealing with might be a better reason to act now. But, given how long the US and China have waited to even consider real action over the climate, I doubt they'll preemptively do much in that arena either.

  • Re:Extra, Extra! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @04:19PM (#31299284) Journal

    It's a pertinent question. When someone claims that there is effectively no evidence in favor of AGW, they'd damn well better know what is actually being written in the relevant science journals otherwise it's little different than what the creationists do. i.e. a YEC claiming evolution doesn't exist ought to be fairly knowledgeable of any scientific papers on the subject of evolution just as AGW deniers. This isn't an unreasonable request, that is that if your going to make a claim either way you ought to know what the hell you're talking about.

    A fair point and one Hell of a lot better put (and more politely) than the GP. But it's essentially a different point to the one the GP was making. He was stating that anyone who says they don't know if AGW is reasonably certain or not is a "denier" and believes the default position should be that we take it on faith that AGW is correct and that it is a binary affair: you believe in AGW or you're a "denier". I, like many others, fall into the agnostic position, for want of a better term. Your point is a very valid rebuttal to the "atheist" position, those that say categorically that there is no AGW. And truly, your logic is correct, imo. My point, and I hope it hasn't become lost in this, is that it is wrong to shout "denier" at those who are simply skeptical but that unfortunately this is what appears to be happening quite a lot right now. Certainly there are examples in the comments here on Slashdot and I've seen that logic (I use the term loosely here) in the mainstream media. I think there are few if any people who say that the climate isn't changing - it's the climate, that's what it does. ;) There probably aren't that many who say that man isn't having an effect on the climate (I think we probably are). But there are many that don't know what that effect is and so far haven't been convinced that AGW is correct (to a reasonable degree). I say it's wrong to label such people as deniers, yet this seems to be popular.

    This is off-topic, but I'm probably an odd case. I originally thought that AGW was very probably the correct. I grew up learning about global warming and, not being an expert on climate science, I worked on the logic that a lot of people who studied it in depth with no apparent motive to misrepresent it said it was so, therefore my best course of action in any case where I was required to act according to whether AGW was true or not was to assume that it was. Also, a few poorly thought out stunts by groups funded by Exxon and pals helped me look on those arguing against AGW with great suspicion.

    Now I haven't undergone some great conversion and started denouncing AGW as a huge conspiracy or anything. But I've since had some first-hand experience with bias, propaganda and selective reporting in the mainstream media on the subject of AGW. Not in the acceptable manner of refuting AGW critics with logic or data, but with simple ad hominems, suppression and out-of-hand dismissals. And we've seen examples here and there of the same behaviour in the academic community. Having worked in academia, I also came across a frightening amount of group think on the issue of AGW and, though AGW may even be correct, I have seen first hand that a lot of its proponents are arguing it on faith rather than facts. That's very disturbing. And also in this time, I've seen it shift from "Global Warming" to (when the former turned out to be too hard to prove) to "Climate change" which is pretty much irrefutable, and pretty much useless as well. I've read more on the subject and realised just how very complex this really is. We're a long way from the 'pollutants build up in the upper atmosphere and trap heat on Earth like a greenhouse' that I was given in school. I don't know that AGW is false, but exposure and interest have caused me to move my position to one of thinking we don't have enough certainty to say 'yes' or 'no' yet, or more accurately, enough to say it's reasonably probable. Naturally I object t

  • by neoform ( 551705 ) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:35PM (#31300184) Homepage

    Climate research isn't really any different from any other area of science, except that there's a lot of money being thrown against it by various lobbying groups who don't like where it's pointing.

    You mentioned about baseless claims... yet you just made one. What lobbying groups are fighting the IPCC report? All I ever see and hear in the media (with exception to Fox 'News') is that climate change is man made, end of story, no room for questions, the end, it's done.

    I hate that kind of crap, can anyone here think of a single other scientific theory that is so adamantly fought for by a group of people?

    There is NOTHING wrong with skepticism and questioning; if the science is good, it will hold up.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @07:31PM (#31309932) Journal

    Yes, older thermometers are less reliable and hence temperature data has to be corrected for just like things like urban island effect has to be corrected for today.

    Unfortunately, it appears the modus operandi is to correct the real rural stations UP to match the urban stations, exactly opposite what any rational person would do.

    And apparently my joke went over your head. Yes, of course the ice core data is used by AGW proponents (and climatologists in general). The seeming discrepancies in the ice core data, at least in recent time, is well accounted for in models, actually; I don't mean fudged, btw--things like the Medieval Warm Period occurring in Greenland and/or Europe doesn't mean that it was a global event (Souther Hemisphere data indicates it wasn't). It very well might have had to do with the North Atlantic Current.

    Sorry, I missed the joke. Currently the Southern hemisphere really isn't seeing warming anywhere near the trends of the Northern hemisphere; perhaps the relative lack of land down South stabilizes the temperatures (being so totally dominated by oceans)? Nevertheless, data is data, and many of the most vocal proponents of AGW appear to have no issues with tossing data that doesn't fit the model, which is pretty much the opposite of what the scientific method calls for.

    The real question to ask is, why is it that current models only map well to current temperatures when man-released CO2 is a significant component in the noted global warming; that is why don't things like methane, natural CO2, solar variance, etc account for nearly all the warming?

    Perhaps because CO2 is something that can be taxed and controlled, as opposed to solar output or ocean currents. There's at least one scientist with a model [wwu.edu] that appears to tie climate change to the Sun and currents, and does so quite accurately.

    But then, if it's not something we can control then there's no justification for taxation by Governments meaning why finance that type of research?

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.