The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

The second IPCC report on climate change… ???

Posted by rantingkraut on April 6, 2007

The BBC reports on ‘political wrangling’ prior to what it calls the release of the second IPCC report on climate change. Three things are worth noting here:

1. There are political negotiations about what should be emphasized how strongly in the ‘report’. This is no bad thing as such—all forecasts come with some uncertainty, so subjective expectations and preferences would normally have some impact on the interpretation of forecasts. However, reports of this kind are often presented as completely objective scientific research so one should remember—and quote this BBC news item as evidence—that this is a multilateral policy document, and nothing like a peer reviewed journal article.

2. The EU seems to be more alarmist than most, with developing countries and the US pressing for a calmer message: “Correspondents say the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India were unhappy with the strength of the language in the draft summary, due to be released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” (source)

3. The BBC again gives the impression that the document released is a major UN report—the second one this year. It doesn’t seem to be! From what I can see on the IPCC website, the first ‘report’ released earlier this year was a summary of a chapter of a report which is yet to be published. I would expect the upcoming publication (the ‘WG2 release’ as the IPCC calls it) to be the summary for the next chapter. There is nothing wrong in principle with publishing this kind of press release, but one should remember this: the IPCC is gradually releasing summaries on work in progress, not one major report after another.

[UPDATE]: There are some worthwhile critical comments on this posting here. (There is a link in the comment section but it is not too obvious what is being linked to.)

As a result of the above, I have corrected the first sentence under 2. This sentence originally began ‘2. According to the BBC, the EU seems to be…’ thus attributing my own interpretation on the BBC.

As for 3. I originally referred to the chapters as drafts. That was the impression I got from the first summary released in February, where it was clearly indicated-at the time of publication-that figures are still subject to checking and editorial adjustments. The link to the first summary now leads to a different copy, where it states that text, table and figures are final and subject to copy editing only.

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One Response to “The second IPCC report on climate change… ???”

  1. […] science, Interpretation, Global warming, Climate change | Re: your three points in italics below, rantingkraut: 1. this is a multilateral policy document, and nothing like a peer reviewed journal […]

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