Climate panel faces challenges

The United Nations is to announce
an independent review of errors made by its climate change advisory body in an
attempt to restore its credibility.

A team of the world’s leading
scientists will investigate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and
ask why its supposedly rigorous procedures failed to detect at least three
serious overstatements of the risk from global warming.

The review will be overseen by the
InterAcademy Council, whose members are drawn from the world’s leading national
science academies, including Britain’s Royal Society, the United States
National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The review will be led by Robbert
Dijkgraaf, co-chairman of the Interacademy Council and president of the Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and ScHe has been asked to investigate the internal
processes of the panel and will not consider the overarching question of
whether it was right to claim that human activities were very likely to be causing
global warming.

The review is expected to recommend
stricter checking of sources and much more careful wording to reflect the
uncertainties in many areas of climate science.

The panel’s most glaring error was
a claim that all Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Most glaciologists
believe it would take another 300 years for the glaciers to melt at the present
rate.

It also claimed that global warming
could cut rain-fed North African crop production by up to 50 per cent by 2020.
A senior panel contributor has since admitted that there is no evidence to
support this claim.

The allegations about climate
scientists are believed to have contributed to a sharp rise in public
scepticism about climate change. Last month an opinion poll found that the
proportion of the population that believes climate change is an established
fact and largely man-made has fallen from 41 per cent in November to 26 per
cent.

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