March 10, 2010

Warming Panel Comes Under Outside Scrutiny

The struggling Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given an outside science group complete control to review its rules, procedures and reports on global warming.

The InterAcademy Council, a Netherlands-based organization of the science academies of 15 nations, will undertake the task of reviewing the IPCC's reports by independently choosing reviewers, a scientist close to the situation, who asked not to be named, told the Associated Press (AP).

The IPCC has had several troubling errors in their climate panel reports issued in 2007. And although the mistakes do not undermine the broad consensus on global warming, they have damaged the credibility of climate scientists.

The plan is to have the review completed before the annual meeting of the IPCC in October, the source reported. It will be up to the InterAcademy Council to decide if it is acceptable for its reviewers to have taken part in past IPCC reports. Many top climate scientists have been involved with the IPCC. The council will also decide if reports should include non-peer-reviewed literature often written by governments or advocacy groups, said the source.

The reviewers will also look at whether to include procedures to help catch and correct errors more easily, the source added.

The review details will be announced Wednesday at the UN, after the IPCC chairman meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Ki-Moon had also requested the review of the IPCC, according to another source.

"It's to be welcomed," said IPCC co-author and Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer. "It's a step in the direction of re-establishing the IPCC's credibility with the general public. I, as an IPCC scientist, welcome this kind of check on things."

The IPCC produced reports that had a host of errors, from mistaking how much of the Netherlands is below sea level to falsely state how fast Himalayan glaciers are expected to melt. The IPCC is mostly a collection of scientists who volunteer their studies and work.

The IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former Vice President Al Gore.


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