Friday, February 5, 2010

Dissection of IPCC’s 2035 Himalayan Mistake.

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The truth, no matter how scientifically complex, will set an anti-science denier free.

Anatomy of IPCC’s Mistake on Himalayan Glaciers and Year 2035
A careful look shows a complex set of conflations and misquotations begun by some science journalists more than a decade ago, transmitted and compounded by members of the IPCC Working Group II writing team, and hopelessly muddled by hasty, confused press coverage.
It seems that none of the journalists who have cited Pearce’s account of the controversy have read the original sources in question. If papers like The New York Times and the Sunday Times had adequately source-checked, they would have realized that the story was more complicated than Pearce’s account suggests.
Despite what has been regularly reported in the media, IPCC’s formal policies do not prevent it from quoting non-peer-reviewed literature in certain cases. As the IPCC has acknowledged, the sequence of steps required to do this was not followed for the paragraph in question.
The IPCC’s Himalayan glaciers mistake in the end can encourage stricter editing, closer scrutiny, and more transparency in the review process. In that case, the mistake will have served a valuable function.
Increased attention to primary scientific literature may help avoid future errors and also serve as a reminder that the IPCC process often tends towards conservative statements. It’s also important to remember that the science is constantly being updated. Consider, for example, the recent finding that the IPCC models may have systematically overestimated the ability of the biosphere to grow in response to increased carbon. If this research proves right, the IPCC’s long-term temperature projections for the world may be a full degree Centigrade too low, and controversies now commanding headlines will recede into history.
Bottomline, the melting of Himalayan glaciers is accelerating, and the planet is getting hotter each decade.

SciGuy re: Himalayan Glaciers and Year 2035
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