Thursday, December 1, 2011


date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 22:24:16 -0700
from: Jonathan Overpeck
subject: [Wg1-ar4-clas] Responding to an attack on IPCC and ourselves

Hi Richard - You certainly can count me in. I
have a talk, a class lecture and a press event
tomorrow, so can't think in detail about this
now, however. My understanding of what we did in
Paris is the same as Kevin's. The focus was on
communication to policy-makers, not altering the
science of the report. But, I'll read in more
detail and will be open to any and all ideas. The
main thing is to get set the record straight -
the process was clean, and scientifically of the
highest quality. We owe it to ourselves and Susan
to make this clear.
Thanks for being pro-active. Best, Peck

>X-Sieve: CMU Sieve 2.2
>Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 21:58:25 -0700 (MST)
>From: "Kevin Trenberth"
>To: "Richard Somerville"
>Subject: Re: [Wg1-ar4-clas] Responding to an attack on IPCC and ourselves
>List-Unsubscribe: ,
>List-Subscribe: ,
>I did not see where Susan Solomon was mentioned by name anywhere? The
>report and editorial are not correct, as you say, and they seem not to
>understand the process at all. But I did not feel as strongly as you.
>Did I miss something?
>A brief response along the lines that there were various drafts of the
>report, but the final process of building a consensus among the political
>delegates who were present in Paris is obviously not understood. It was
>hardly a closed meeting or process. The SPM was indeed approved line by
>line by governments in Paris from 29 January to 1 February, 2007. The
>rationale is that the scientists determine what can be said, but the
>governments help determine how it can best be said. Negotiations occur
>over wording to ensure accuracy, balance, clarity of message, and
>relevance to understanding and policy. But the basic scientific message
>was not changed and Wasdell's claims have no basis in fact.
>I would sign such a short letter. I am also on travel.
>> Dear Fellow CLAs,
>> The British magazine *New Scientist* is
>> apparently about to publish several items
>> critical of the IPCC AR4 WGI SPM and the process
>> by which it was written. There is an editorial,
>> a column by Pearce, and a longer piece by Wasdell
>> which is on the internet and referenced by Pearce.
>> I think that this attack on us deserves a
>> response from the CLAs. Our competence and
>> integrity has been called into question. Susan
>> Solomon is mentioned by name in unflattering
>> terms. We ought not to get caught up in
>> responding in detail to the many scientific
>> errors in the Wasdell piece, in my opinion, but I
>> would like to see us refute the main allegations
>> against us and against the IPCC.
>> We need to make the case that this is shoddy and
>> prejudiced journalism. Wasdell is not a climate
>> scientist, was not involved in writing AR4, was
>> not in Paris, and is grossly ignorant of both the
>> science and the IPCC process. His account of
>> what went on is factually incorrect in many
>> important respects.
>> New Scientist inexplicably violates basic
>> journalistic standards by publicizing and
>> editorially agreeing with a vicious attack by an
>> uncredentialed source without checking facts or
>> hearing from the people attacked. The editorial
>> and Pearce column, which I regard as packed with
>> distortions and innuendo and error, are pasted
>> below, and the Wasdell piece is attached.
>> My suggestion is that a strongly worded letter to
> > New Scientist, signed by as many CLAs as
>> possible, would be an appropriate response. I
>> think we ought to say that the science was
>> absolutely not compromised or watered down by the
>> review process or by political presure of any
>> kind or by the Paris plenary. I think it would
>> be a mistake to attempt a detailed point-by-point
>> discussion, which would provoke further
>> criticism; that process would never converge.
>> Please send us all your opinions and suggestions
>> for what we should do, using the email list
>> I am traveling and checking email occasionally,
>> so if enough of us agree that we should respond,
>> I hope one or more of you (not me) will volunteer
> > to coordinate the effort and submit the result to
>> New Scientist.
>> Best regards to all,
>> Richard
>> Richard C. J. Somerville
>> Distinguished Professor
>> Scripps Institution of Oceanography
>> University of California, San Diego
>> 9500 Gilman Drive, Dept. 0224
>> La Jolla, CA 92093-0224, USA
>> --
>>>Here's the editorial that will appear in New Scientist on March 10.
>>>Editorial: Carbon omissions
>>>IT IS a case of the dog that didn't bark. The
>>>dog in this instance was the Intergovernmental
>>>Panel on Climate Change.
>>>For several years, climate scientists have grown
>>>increasingly anxious about "positive feedbacks"
>>>that could accelerate climate change, such as
>>>methane bubbling up as permafrost melts. That
>>>concern found focus at an international
>>>conference organised by the British government
>>>two years ago, and many people expected it to
>>>emerge strongly in the latest IPCC report, whose
>>>summary for policy-makers was published in Paris
>>>last month.
>>>It didn't happen. The IPCC summary was notably
>>>guarded. We put that down to scientific caution
>>>and the desire to convey as much certainty as
>>>possible (New Scientist, 9 February, p 3), but
>>>this week we hear that an earlier version of the
>>>summary contained a number of explicit
>>>references to positive feedbacks and the dangers
>>>of accelerating climate change. A critique of
>>>the report now argues that the references were
>>>removed in a systematic fashion (see "Climate
>>>report 'was watered down'").
>>>This is worrying. The version containing the
>>>warnings was the last for which scientists alone
>>>were responsible. After that it went out to
>>>review by governments. The IPCC is a
>>>governmental body as well as a scientific one.
>>>Both sides have to sign off on the report.
>>>The scientists involved adamantly deny that
>>>there was undue pressure, or that the scientific
>>>integrity of their report was compromised. We do
>>>know there were political agendas, and that the
>>>scientists had to fight them. As one of the
>>>report's 33 authors put it: "A lot of us devoted
>>>a lot of time to ensuring that the changes
>>>requested by national delegates did not affect
>>>the scientific content." Yet small changes in
>>>language which individually may not amount to
>>>much can, cumulatively, change the tone and
>>>message of a report. Deliberately or not, this
>>>is what seems to have happened.
>>>Senior IPCC scientists are not willing to
>>>discuss the changes, beyond denying that there
>>>was political interference. They regard the
>>>drafting process as private. This is an
>>>understandable reservation, but the case raises
>>>serious doubts about the IPCC process. A little
>>>more transparency would go a long way to
>>>removing those qualms.
>> --
>> Here's the Pearce column:
>>>Climate report 'was watered down'
>>>10 March 2007
>>>From New Scientist Print Edition. <>Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
>>>Fred Pearce
>>>BRITISH researchers who have seen drafts of last
>>>month's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on
>>>Climate Change claim it was significantly
>>>watered down when governments became involved in
>>>writing it.
>>>David Wasdell, an independent analyst of climate
>>>change who acted as an accredited reviewer of
>>>the report, says the preliminary version
>>>produced by scientists in April 2006 contained
>>>many references to the potential for climate to
> >>change faster than expected because of "positive
>>>feedbacks" in the climate system. Most of these
>>>references were absent from the final version.
>>>His assertion is based on a line-by-line
>>>analysis of the scientists' report and the final
>>>version, which was agreed last month at a
>>>week-long meeting of representatives of more
>>>than 100 governments. Wasdell told New
>>>Scientist: "I was astounded at the alterations
>>>that were imposed by government agents during
>>>the final stage of review. The evidence of
>>>collusional suppression of well-established and
>>>world-leading scientific material is
>>>He has prepared a critique, "Political
>>>Corruption of the IPCC Report?", which claims:
> >>"Political and economic interests have
>>>influenced the presented scientific material."
>>>He plans to publish the document online this
>>>week at
>>>Wasdell is not a climatologist, but his analysis
>>>was supported this week by two leading UK
>>>climate scientists and policy analysts. Ocean
>>>physicist Peter Wadhams of the University of
>>>Cambridge, who made the discovery that Arctic
>>>ice has thinned by 40 per cent over the past 25
>>>years and also acted as a referee on the IPCC
>>>report, told New Scientist: "The public needs to
>>>know that the policy-makers' summary, presented
>>>as the united words of the IPCC, has actually
>>>been watered down in subtle but vital ways by
>>>governmental agents before the public was
>>>allowed to see it."
>>>"The public needs to know that the summary has
>>>been watered down in subtle but vital ways by
>>>governmental agents"
>>>Crispin Tickell, a long-standing UK government
>>>adviser on climate and a former ambassador to
>>>the UN, says: "I think David Wasdell's analysis
>>>is very useful, and unique of its kind. Others
>>>have made comparable points but not in such
>>>analytic detail."
>>>Wasdell's central charge is that "reference to
>>>possible acceleration of climate change [was]
>>>consistently removed" from the final report.
>>>This happened both in its treatment of potential
>>>positive feedbacks from global warming in the
>>>future and in its discussion of recent
>>>observations of collapsing ice sheets and an
>>>accelerating rise in sea levels.
>>>For instance, the scientists' draft report
>>>warned that natural systems such as rainforests,
>>>soils and the oceans would in future be less
>>>able to absorb greenhouse gas emissions. It
>>>said: "This positive feedback could lead to as
>>>much as 1.2 °C of added warming by 2100." The
>>>final version does not include this figure. It
>>>acknowledges that the feedback could exist but
>>>says: "The magnitude of this feedback is
>>>Similarly, the draft warned that warming will
>>>increase atmospheric levels of water vapour,
>>>which acts as a greenhouse gas. "Water vapour
>>>increases lead to a strong positive feedback,"
>>>it said. "New evidence estimates a 40 to 50 per
>>>cent amplification of global mean warming." This
>>>was absent from the published version, replaced
>>>elsewhere with the much milder observation
>>>"Water vapour changes represent the largest
>>>The final edit also removed references to
>>>growing fears that global warming is
>>>accelerating the discharge of ice from major ice
>>>sheets such as the Greenland sheet. This would
>>>dramatically speed up rises in sea levels and
>>>may already be doing so. The 2006 draft said:
>>>"Recent observations show rapid changes in ice
>>>sheet flows," and referred to an "accelerating
>>>trend" in sea-level rise. Neither detail made
>>>the final version, which observed that "ice flow
>>>from Greenland and Antarctica... could increase
>>>or decrease in future". Wasdell points out
>>>recent findings which show that the rate of loss
>>>from ice sheets is doubling every six years,
>>>making the suggestion of a future decrease
>>>"highly unlikely".
>>>Some of the changes were made at the meeting of
>>>government invigilators that finalised the
>>>report last month in Paris. But others were made
>>>earlier, after the draft report was first
> >>distributed to governments in mid-2006.
>>>Senior IPCC scientists contacted by New
>>>Scientist have not been willing to discuss how
>>>any changes took place but they deny any
>>>political interference. However, "if it is true,
>>>it's disappointing", says Mike Mann, director of
>>>the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania
>>>State University in University Park and a past
>>>lead author for the IPCC. "Allowing governmental
>>>delegations to ride into town at the last minute
>>>and water down conclusions after they were
>>>painstakingly arrived at in an objective
>>>scientific assessment does not serve society
>>>From issue 2594 of New Scientist magazine, 10 March 2007, page 10
> > --
>> -- _______________________________________________
>> Wg1-ar4-clas mailing list
>Kevin Trenberth
>Climate Analysis Section, NCAR
>PO Box 3000
>Boulder CO 80307
>ph 303 497 1318
>Wg1-ar4-clas mailing list

Jonathan T. Overpeck
Director, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth
Professor, Department of Geosciences
Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

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