IPCC, key target of war on climate science, announces 831 experts to author Fifth Assessment Report

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has announced its selection of 831 authors and review editors for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report to be published in 2013-2014. In light of the denial machine’s war on climate science, which seeks to delegitimize the IPCC and lay a predicate for rejecting any unwelcome conclusions of the forthcoming reports, we expect they will find a way to challenge the author selection and subsequent steps of the IPCC process.

For each chapter of the three volumes of the assessment — on The Physical Science Basis; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and Mitigation of Climate Change — the IPCC has designated a team consisting of Convening Lead Authors, Lead Authors, and Review Editors selected from about 3,000 nominees. These experts will also provide contributions to a Synthesis Report to be published in 2014.

The IPCC announcement on June 23 said “more than 60% of the experts chosen are new to the IPCC process, which will bring in new knowledge and perspectives.” In addition, the IPCC says, the inclusion of more women authors and more authors from developing countries in comparison with the 2007 assessment reflects a wide diversity of disciplines and scientific views.

The New York Times reported: “Working Group II, the section that focuses on the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to it, was a particular target for climate skeptics in assailing the fourth assessment report. Today the working group went into public relations overdrive.”

Chris Field, co-chairman of Working Group II and director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science said: “We were thrilled and honored by the number and quality of scientists who expressed interest in being a part of the IPCC. for this important process. It was important for our authors to reflect a range of views, expertise and geographic regions. And that priority is reflected in an author team that’s more diverse than ever.”?

The bogus “Amazongate” charge: Recent retraction of one piece of anti-IPCC disinformation by the Sunday Times (UK)

Here’s a follow-up on one of the climate ‘skeptics’’ false charges against the 2007 IPCC impacts report.

On June 19 the UK Sunday Times issued the following retraction and apology for having falsely reported that the IPCC had made an unsubstantiated claim about Amazon rainfall – a charge that was promptly labelled “Amazongate” and splattered all over the denialosphere.

The article “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” (News, Jan 31) stated that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had included an “unsubstantiated claim” that up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall. The IPCC had referenced the claim to a report prepared for WWF [World Wildlife Fund] by Andrew Rowell and Peter Moore, whom the article described as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise.” The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the impact of human activity rather than climate change.

In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change. We also understand and accept that Mr Rowell is an experienced environmental journalist and that Dr Moore is an expert in forest management, and apologise for any suggestion to the contrary….

Lots of bloggers should be joining in this apology, but don’t hold your breath:

The story was covered well by Climate Progress (“Sunday Times retracts and apologizes for shameful and bogus Amazon story smearing IPCC”), World Wildlife Fund climate blog (“Sunday Times (UK) Publishes Correction and Apology for Asserting that IPCC Amazon Statement was ‘Bogus’”), RealClimate (“Leakegate: A Retraction”), DeSmogBlog (“UK Sunday Times Retracts Bogus ‘Amazongate’ Story, Apologizes to Simon Lewis”), and by Monbiot in the UK Guardian (“Sunday Times admits ‘Amazongate’ story was rubbish. But who’s to blame?”).

Morphing ‘climategate’ into an effort to blacklist scientists and discredit the IPCC

Late last year we saw the “Climategate e-mails show that the IPCC is corrupt and discredited” meme start to propagate in the denialosphere.

In December Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), ranking Republican on the House global warming committee, sent a letter to IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri calling for scientists whose names appeared in the e-mails stolen from the UK Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia to be blacklisted from participating as contributors or reviewers of the next IPCC assessment. This attack was indicative of how the manufactured controversy over the stolen e-mails was being turned into a larger effort to bully and intimidate the science community.  Sensenbrenner and his allies have shown no real interest in meaningful dialogue, nor in an honest examination of climate science findings.  Rather they would like to broadly discredit the climate science and assessment enterprise when it refuses to cooperate with their demand for a purge. (See our December 9, 2009 post, “Sensenbrenner IPCC witch-hunt: Attempt to blacklist climate scientists must be rejected.”)

Then, in February, Sen. James Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, went a step beyond promoting his long-notorious global warming denialist propaganda. He indicated that he would use the resources of the Senate committee to seek opportunities to criminalize the actions of 17 leading scientists who have been associated with the IPCC. A report released by Inhofe’s staff on February 23 outlined this classic witch-hunt: page after page of incorrect and misleading statements, a list of federal laws that allegedly may make scientists subject to prosecution by the Justice Department, and a list of names and affiliations of 17 “key players” in the “CRU Controversy” over stolen e-mails and their connections with IPCC reports. Another Blacklist. (See our February 24 post, “Sen. Inhofe inquisition seeking ways to criminalize and prosecute 17 leading climate scientists.”)

What will they say about the newly-announced roster of authors?

InterAcademy Council Review of IPCC

There are legitimate issues to be considered about how to ensure that IPCC’s procedures for developing the Fifth Assessment will produce a set of reports that is of impeccable quality and credibility.

At the request of the United Nations, the InterAcademy Council (IAC), a multinational organization of science academies is conducting an independent review of IPCC processes and procedures. Based on this review, the IAC will issue a report with recommended measures and actions to strengthen IPCC’s processes and procedures so as to be better able to respond to future challenges and ensure the ongoing quality of its reports. The report is scheduled to be completed by August 30.

From the IAC website:

The InterAcademy Council (IAC) is created to produce reports on scientific, technological, and health issues related to the great global challenges of our time, providing knowledge and advice to national governments and international organizations.

The IAC embodies the collective expertise and experience of national academies from all regions of the world. The current eighteen-member InterAcademy Council Board is composed of presidents of fifteen academies of science and equivalent organizations.

When requested to provide advice on a particular issue, the IAC assembles an international panel of experts. Serving on a voluntary basis, panel members meet and review current, cutting-edge knowledge on the topic; and prepare a draft report on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations. All IAC draft reports undergo an intensive process of peer-review by other international experts. Only when the IAC Board is satisfied that feedback from the peer review has been thoughtfully considered and incorporated is a final report released to the requesting organization and the public. Every effort is made to ensure that IAC reports are free from any national or regional bias.

Chris Field, who co-chairs the group that will examine the impact of climate change, told a conference call the IPCC authors were open to making changes to their work if recommended to do so by the independent review.

“I believe the [error in the 2007 report] concerning the Himalayan glaciers was a genuine mistake made in good faith,” said Field. Nevertheless, the group will put in place better quality controls, particularly for the regional reports, he said.

See here for slides of Chris Field’s June 15 presentation to the IAC Review Committee.

For full listings of authors and review editors see the IPCC website

Earlier CSW posts:

(June 21) New study finds striking level of agreement among climate experts on anthropogenic climate change

(May 7) Letter from 255 National Academy members on Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

(May 5) InterAcademy Council Names IPCC Review Committee

(March 11) Open Letter to the U.S. Government from U.S. Scientists on climate change and the IPCC reports

(March 7) Robert Watson: IPCC is fundamentally sound; don’t let “skeptics” distract or derail action

(February 5) Questions to an IPCC co-chair on ensuring the credibility of IPCC leadership and communications

(January 21) Worldwide glacier melt a real concern; Himalaya controversy leaves questions about IPCC leadership

(January 19) IPCC slips on the ice with statement about Himalayan glaciers

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