Monday, September 27, 2010

IPCC Scientist: Bias and corruptibility of the IPCC’s assessment process are of substantial concern

Dr. Judith Curry, IPCC scientist and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a highly recommended post at her new blog today, No consensus on consensus. Selected quotes are below:

I think the IPCC consensus approach was valuable in the 1990’s and arguably through the third IPCC Assessment Report, in terms of sorting through and assessing the large amount of scientific research on the topic.  The Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, questions regarding bias and the corruptibility of the IPCC’s consensus-based assessment process are of substantial concern.

while the IPCC consensus approach has been effective in communicating climate science to policy makers, it has marginalized dissenting voices.

...a complete characterization of uncertainty is more important than consensus.  While I understand the policy makers’ desire for a clear message from the scientists, at this point the consensus approach being used by the IPCC doesn’t seem to be up to challenge of an accurate portrayal of the complexities of the problem and the uncertainties.

...a more realistic portrayal of confidence levels would go a long way towards reducing the “noise” and animosity portrayed in the media that fuels the public distrust of climate science and acts to stymie the policy process.

The legal memo framework requires providing evidence for and against, and a full characterization of the uncertainties. Subsequent arguments based on the legal brief model would then  stake out a specific positions on policy options and their justification (based upon science, economics, politics, values, etc.), with extensive follow-on cross examination of all briefs that are presented.   This framework would broaden the assessment scope and allow for a range of perspectives, providing a better informational basis for decision making on this complex issue.

The formal process of achieving consensus requires serious treatment of the considered opinion of each group member, noting that discussion of opposing views enhances the value of the ultimate consensus.
Please visit Dr. Curry's blog for the entire essay and comments

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