UN climate change panel promises more open view
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change included more women and scientists from developing countries, but also selected authors with a wider range of backgrounds than previously – partly in response to recent criticism that earlier groups refused to address dissenting views.
The previous panel had 559 members, chosen from 2,000 nominations. This one has 861 experts, picked from 3,000 nominations. Some 60% of the scientists are new to the role.
The group, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, issues reports that governments, businesses and individuals use to determine how they will deal with climate change. It began in 1989, and has issued four reports so far – the most recent one in 2007.
Roger Pielke, an environmental studies scientist at University of Colorado and past critic of the IPCC, said the list “looks like business as usual,” but insisted the authors should be given a chance to show they could improve on previous reports.
He said his concerns with the reports have “far less to do with the individuals involved than a deeply flawed process.”
Chris Field, who co-chairs the group that will examine the impact of climate change, said the IPCC authors were open to making changes to their work if recommended to do so by the independent review.
Among the most blatant errors in the fourth report was the conclusion that Himalayan glaciers would disappear as early as 2035 – a date that turned out to be wrong by hundreds of years.
Climate change critics say IPCC scientists have in the past overestimated the effect of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and underplayed natural cycles of warming and cooling, which cannot be controlled.
Others have claimed the authors, who are not paid for their work, exaggerated the effects that climate change will have on the environment and human life.
A series of emails stolen last year from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Britain showed climate scientists discussing ways to keep the research of climate sceptics out of peer-reviewed journals.
photo: United Nations Climate Change Conference, 1 – 12 December, Poland. Flickr