Well, ok, it’s AR5 not AR5E, but I couldn’t resist. 🙂
The BBC has an article by Richard Black worth deconstructing carefully.
procedures used in compiling AR5 will reflect some criticisms made in the wake of errors uncovered in its previous assessment, in 2007.The recent review of the IPCC’s procedures, conducted by the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an umbrella body for the world’s science academies, said that some assertions about the likelihood of severe impacts were based on little research.
“Authors reported high confidence in statements for which there is little evidence, such as the widely-quoted statement that agricultural yields in Africa might decline by up to 50 percent by 2020,” it noted.
The IAC recommended that the next assessment must deal much more carefully and consistently with uncertainties – and Chris Field, co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, indicated the message had been taken on board.
“The fact of the matter is that climate change impacts are very poorly known,” he told BBC News.
Well blow me down with a climate disruptive typhoon, the IPCC paying lip service to uncertanty in climate science. 🙂
Chris Field is a biologist, a long time colleague of recently deceased IPCC lead author Stephen H Schneider, who famously said:
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
So, is this the beginning of a new era of frankness regarding uncertainty? Or is this the carefully crafted preamble to business as usual? Will Pachauri continue to preside, or can we expect the all new IPCC to be “under new management” in the near future?
Time will tell.