CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 14, 2012) – Yesterday, a blogger who had signed up to review a forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate science posted unauthorized drafts online.
Below is a statement by Peter Frumhoff, Science and Policy Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a lead author for the IPCC’s 2007 report:
“The report is a draft and will change. Overall, scientific groups like the IPCC recognize that climate change is happening faster and with greater consequences than previously anticipated. Whether it’s the National Academy of Sciences or the United States Global Change Research Program, there is, and will remain a strong scientific basis to inform and motivate policymakers to reduce the serious risks that climate change poses for our nation and the world.
“Transparent, publicly accessible scientific advice helps policymakers and the public reach informed decisions. Scientists also need to be able to freely exchange ideas. The release of early drafts and selective reporting of interim results for political purposes stifles their work. The IPCC should use this as an opportunity to strengthen its commitment to transparency and openness.
“The IPCC is the most heavily scrutinized scientific body in the world. It’s unfortunate, but not unexpected, that someone would abuse its peer review process. This won’t be the last attempt to undermine the IPCC.”
The IPCC has responded, noting that, “These drafts were provided in confidence to reviewers and are not for distribution. It is regrettable that one out of many hundreds of reviewers broke the terms of the review and posted the drafts of the [report]. Each page of the draft makes it clear that drafts are not to be cited, quoted or distributed and we would ask for this to continue to be respected.” The IPCC also noted that additional findings from new peer-reviewed studies published between now and March 15, 2013 will be integrated into the report.
In many cases, scientists are finding that the climate system is responding more quickly than previously thought due to human activities. For example, a new peer reviewed study found that global sea-level rise is happening more quickly than the IPCC projected in 2007.
Similarly, two recent reports from the International Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program found that emissions of heat-trapping gases are growing faster than anticipated and consequences are outpacing previous scientific projections. Importantly, the reports point to domestic and international opportunities for reducing emissions – such as through energy efficiency and renewable energy development – as well as preparing for now unavoidable climate change.