21 Jul 2010: The Economist, long-known for largely independent thought and in-depth analysis of international issues, recently posted articles on the IPCC and its many controversies (e.g., Climategate, Himalayan Glaciers; see our separate tab on Climategate).
The Economist says:
"[The IPCC scientists] have too often mistaken real doubts for scurrilous attacks, and relied on mutual reinforcement rather than open debate, on authority rather than argument. The IPCC, chaired by Rajendra Pachauri, should by its procedures and example do much to help with this. Unfortunately, it has allowed itself to become part of the problem."
The Economist's staff also notes that although the IPCC is somewhat transparent on some things, it "is woefully opaque in others." For example, The Economist writers note that the selection of nominees back in June to work on the next major Assessment Report was conducted "entirely behind closed doors." Several other concerns voiced are:
- At present, the IPCC lacks a full-time chair (Dr Pachauri continues to run a large energy-research institute in India).
- It does not have the resources needed to support its volunteer authors.
- It lacks clear standards for judging conflicts of interest and an independent ombudsman.
- Dr Pachauri has been a staunch defender of the panel as it is rather than an advocate for reform that would improve it. He is not the man to carry out the changes it badly needs.
The Economist's staff notes that "[a] form of groupthink certainly seems to have been at work in the climategate e-mails." As well, "[r]ather remarkably, neither the Russell committee or the university has asked Phil Jones, who ran the CRU, whether he actually deleted e-mails with the intention of foiling subsequent requests under the act. The university says it takes very seriously the need to improve its openness. At the same time it has appointed Dr Jones to a new position as director of research at the CRU—'definitely not a demotion'—while abolishing the role of director and integrating the unit more fully into its school of environmental sciences."
However, the last paragraph of the full article is quite important: "And then there is the science. An earlier report on climategate from the House of Commons assumed that a subsequent probe by a panel under Lord Oxburgh, a former academic and chairman of Shell, would deal with the science...."
"Climate controversies: Flawed scientists"
"Science behind closed doors"