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Results tagged “climategate” from ScienceInsider

by Eli Kintisch

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has always had a highly polished reputation, but it’s facing an unprecedented amount of criticism now. Here’s a roundup of recent criticism and commentary on Climategate and the IPCC, organized by five issues: 1) "glaciergate," 2) African crops, 3) disaster losses, 4) whether panel head Rajendra Pachauri has too many conflicts of interest to run the IPCC, and 5) the future of the panel.


The section of the 2007 IPCC report that deals with climate impacts, called Working Group II, included a statement in its chapter on Asia (see p. 493) that Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than any other glaciers on Earth and “the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.” That statement was challenged by an Indian government report released late last year that suggested, qualitatively, that “many” Himalayan glaciers were instead growing in size and that others were stable. (The report’s conclusions were first widely publicized in a November story in Science, and the flimsy basis for the “very high” statement in the 2007 report is detailed here, in a letter to Science by a Canadian expert on glaciers.

IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri at first defended IPCC, calling the Indian government report “voodoo science,” opening up a row with scientists in his country’s government.

by Eli Kintisch

Scientists at the helm of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have spent weeks on the defensive after e-mails uncovered by hackers revealed private messages in which they criticized papers relevant to their 2007 report. That behavior has led to accusations of bias, or worse, and undermined the credibility of the climate research community. Now the IPCC leadership is preparing its response, with steps that may include additional training for the authors of the next report, due out in 2013, and a review of the incident by an outside organization. At least one key scientist is unhappy with those options.

In December, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, said that the discussions in the e-mails raised "a serious issue and we will look into it in detail." Atmospheric chemist Pauline Midgley, a support scientist on staff for the 2013 IPCC report, says that officials asked themselves three questions: Were there problems with the IPCC's procedures for 2007? Were those procedures sufficient? Are changes needed in preparing the 2013 version?

IPCC never conducted a formal investigation of the issue, but the scientists who run the organization and their support staff members have looked over the messages, and found no evidence that the authors were lax in their review of the papers. Still, says Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science, a co-chair of one of the 2013 IPCC reports’ three working groups, it hasn't been "a particularly good period."


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