Environment Forum

U.N. climate panel under review: no stranger to controversy

glaciersipccThe U.N. panel of climate scientists came under the microscope on Friday by  experts named by the United Nations to figure out how to restore faith in its work after errors including an exaggeration of the thaw of the Himalayas. 

They’ll have to write clearly, check their findings and avoid overstating their case (sounds like a journalism manual). But how? And are there only isolated slips, or a wider problem? Also, why hasn’t the panel learn more from past controversies?

Rajendra Pachauri (below right), chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, acknowledged at the start of the session in Amsterdam there had been errors in the last major report in 2007 — but said the did not detract from the overall conclusions that warming is under way and that people are very likely to be the cause by burning fossil fuels.

The panel has drawn most criticism for wrongly projecting that glaciers in the Himalayas might all melt by 2035 (that was part of a 3,000 page text but did not make it to a summary for government policy makers). Pachauri said people had got the message from the media that  projections of glacier melt were wrong, for instance, but the panel had not managed to restate its overall message that the ice is in retreat around the world. To show that point, he gave the graph (above left).

A repeated theme was that the Geneva-based Secretariat was “lean” with a budget of just $5-7 million a year and would need to be bolstered to face future challenges to its work, including better communications.pachauri

from UK News:

Climate scientists seek to calm storm of doubt

INDIAIf the scientific evidence for manmade global warming is so compelling, why do so many people still have their doubts?

Why do politicians and the media often discuss global warming with such certainty, ignoring the scientists' carefully worded caveats?

And how much harder will it be to persuade the sceptics after the uproar over whether scientists exaggerated unreliable evidence or colluded to withhold information to strengthen their case?

Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences: Reply to Jenkins

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”; this is a reply to a blog by Holman Jenkins, a Wall Street Journal columnist and member of the WSJ editorial board. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

Mr. Jenkins replies that the clarification of his perplexing column is reiteration of his original sentence “…We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere’s component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability…”

He still doesn’t say where his ‘most plausible indication’ comes from except for his reference to some unnamed : “ … many scientists who have pursued empirical results [that] show the human contribution [has] been …maddeningly elusive or indeterminate.”