IPCC's Future Questioned

With lingering disappointments from Copenhagen and frustrations over roadblocks to climate legislation in the Senate, a growing number of environmentalists, scientists and journalists are asking if our fundamental approach to connecting science and policy may be off track.

A story by Peter N. Spotts in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor asks, "Is it Time to Overhaul the IPCC?" The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established in 1988 as an international, nonpartisan body charged with the task of reviewing and assessing science related to climate change, has recently suffered a slew of criticism ranging from balanced deliberations to excoriating harangues following climategate.

One of the more mild discussions centers around what is perceived as the IPCC's increasing rigidity even as new scientific developments reveal new uncertainties. Critics complain the Panel has become monolithic, issuing pronouncements as though it were the only legitimate voice at the table. The IPCC is increasingly perceived as unwilling to inform the public of all the steps it takes along the way to reach its conclusions. More damning criticisms come from climate change skeptics, who charge the IPCC has published and embellished faulty conclusions.

But despite the accusations and arguments, there is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that the IPCC's basic conclusion remains sound: the planet is warming at an unprecedented rate, and human activity is largely to blame for it.

Click on these links to read more about the discussion: the CEJ Journal; a pre-Copenhagen take on science and policy from The Daily Climate; and a "let's get on with it" take from David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor of the U.K.