Saturday, February 03, 2007

Where is the actual IPCC global warming report?

Although the IPCC's 21-page Summy for Policymakers is easy to find, where is the full report?

I reread the article in The New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Revkin titled "Science Panel Says Global Warming Is 'Unequivocal'", and found the following:

Government officials are involved in shaping the summary of each report, but the scientist-authors, who are unpaid, have the final say over the thousands of pages in four underlying technical reports that will be completed and published later this year.

So, if The Times is to be believed, the actual report is not yet available. And the "technical reports" are not even completed.

In short, the "scientists" expect the public and "policymakers" to believe a prewritten summary before the underlying science is made available to the public. Or, since the technical reports comprising the actual report are merely "assessments" of existing science, that existing science may already be as public as it is ever going to get. It is possible that footnotes and references in the technical reports might draw attention to underlying science which either escaped attention or was never formally released for public consumption.

The Times offers only a small amount of additional information about the actual report:

The full report, thousands of pages of technical background, will be released in four sections through the year � the first on basic science, then sections on impacts and options for limiting emissions and limiting inevitable harms, and finally a synthesis of all of the findings near year�s end.

This doesn't sound promising and seems to promise only limited billing to actual science. And I definitely cringe when I see the word "synthesis" used in conjunction with science. Synthesis is where real science begins to shift from hard reality to speculation and truthiness.

The IPCC report is not really about doing science itself, but focuses on assessment of the existing science. In other words, any breakthroughs in the report are more in the way of rhetoric and juicy sound bites rather than actual scientific analysis.

Simple question: Why not hold off on the summary and its essentially political and policy decisions until the underlying science has been completed?

The Times is at least good enough to acknowledge some of the inherent uncertainty despite the public pontificating by the proponents of global warming that there is no significant uncertainty about the "science" of global warming:

Big questions remain about the speed and extent of some impending changes, both because of uncertainty about future population and pollution trends and the complex interrelationships of the greenhouse emissions, clouds, dusty kinds of pollution, the oceans and earth's veneer of life, which both emits and soaks up carbon dioxide and other such gases.

The chapters outline for the four underlying technical reports are on the IPCC web site.

  1. Working Group I "The Physical Science Basis"
  2. Working Group II "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability"
  3. Working Group III "Mitigation of Climate Change"
  4. The Synthesis Report (SYR) (outline of topics)

-- Jack Krupansky


At 3:21 PM , Blogger Brit & Grit said...

Hi Jack,

Not to worry. The UN has that covered:

From Climate Change’s Carnival Atmosphere (,2933,249598,00.html)

If you’re wondering how the UN can issue a summary of a report that’s not even finished, fear not. The UN has announced that changes to the full report shall be made “to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policy Makers.”

Summary Reports are much easier to write this way. You don't even need to read all the actual report, so it saves a lot of time.

the Grit


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