Reuters wrote on Monday that scientist called for the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to undergo for thorough reform in terms of sticking to solid scientific evidence and avoid policy advocacy in order to stay credible.
The IPPC has been criticized over the last few months about admitting its 2007 report wrongly warning about Himalayan glaciers vanishing as early as 2035 as well as exaggerating how much of the Netherlands was below sea level. The the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an Amsterdam-based organization of the world’s science academies requested that such forecast can only be made on the basis of solid scientific evidence. Errors such as the ones mentioned could lead to the whole science of global warming being questioned.
The U.N. is worried that the focus on errors of the report could actually undermine the broader U.N. message that climate change is a real phenomenon requiring urgent action. The urge to be “policy relevant” must not lead to straying into advocacy, the current report said.
Furthermore the review raised the subject of reducing the current the limit of two six-year terms for the chair of the IPCC which apparently should be shortened to one term only, in line with other senior officials at the U.N. climate panel.
Yet the report did not call for a replacement of currently Rajendra Pachauri of India, who stated that he would resign if asked to by the IPCC’s 194 member states in October.
While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged there were mistakes in the 3000 page-strong document, his press office released a statement that welcomed the review and “firmly maintains that the fundamental science on climate change remains sound.”
Harold Shapiro, a Princeton University professor and chair of the committee that reviewed the IPCC’s work said that the errors “did dent the credibility of the process.” The glacier error was put down on not paying enough attention to peer review. Rajendra Pachauri reckons that the IPPC „will be strengthened by the scientists’ review and others of its kind this year.”
It was also acknowledged that the panel could face new attacks from its critics.
The next report is due in 2013 and 2014.
Another paper published by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of the United States of America in June underscored widespread consensus for the content of the ICCP report. It strengthens the fact that climate change is human induced and that there is an urgent need to respond. The main uncertainty is the amount of CO2 dumped in the atmosphere in the next years. Therefore it is up to policymakers to act now and reduce the release of heat trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Doubt has always been the main argument for putting human induced climate change in discredit. No doubt it’s convenient to point out a handful of mistakes in a 3000 page paper and to raise the question of its credibility as a whole. Yet scientific reasoning has proved beyond doubt that we are responsible to what happens to climate and has pointed out what needs to be done: a serious commitment to renewable energies, energy efficiency and further funding for research is really the only viable option we have.