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Three Scientists Criticize IPCC, Pachauri's Leadership

25 January 2010 4:01 pm
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The German magazine Der Spiegel has an op-ed today by climate researchers Richard Tol, Roger Pielke, and Hans von Storch criticizing a range of procedures at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and its head, Rajendra Pachauri.  The three have criticized the body in the past, but this call for reform, which will be published in English tomorrow (here), is probably their most strident yet.

"Without deep-reaching institutional reform, the IPCC and climate science as a whole are threatened with more than bad press. They risk their credibility and the acceptance of the people," write the researchers. The authors criticize Pachauri for what they call his political pronouncements—calling for carbon dioxide levels of no more than 350 parts per million, for example, or recommending that people eat less meat—as well as his handling of the leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia.

The latest debate over a mistake in projections that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 is "not an isolated case," the authors write, and while mistakes are unavoidable, Pachauri has failed to implement a system that would catch and correct them.

There's no erratum policy, no stated conflicts-of-interest policy, and no transparent vetting of participants, they say. "Climate politics is important. The IPCC is also important. This importance requires a reform—before the reputation of climate science is irreparably damaged."  Should Pachauri step down? "It's not really about him. It's an institutional failing," Pielke told ScienceInsider.

To come soon: an exclusive interview with Pachauri.

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