05 July 2010

The Economist on Dutch IPCC Report

The Economist has a brilliant online article on the Dutch IPCC report, that is well worth reading in full. Here is how it concludes:

Perhaps the most worrying thing about the PBL report, though, is a rather obvious one about which its authors say little. In all ten of the issues that the PBL categorised as major (the original errors on glaciers and Dutch sea level, and the eight others identified in the report), the impression that the reader gets from the IPCC is more strikingly negative than the impression which would have been received if the underlying evidence base had been reflected as the PBL would have wished, with more precise referencing, more narrow interpretation and less authorial judgment. A large rise in heat related deaths in Australia is mentioned without noting that most of the effect is due to population rather than climate change. A claim about forest fires in northern Asia seems to go further than the evidence referred to—in this case a speech by a politician—would warrant.

The Netherlands look more floodable, Asian glaciers more fragile. A suspicion thus gains ground that the way in which the IPCC sythesises, generalises snd checks its findings may systematically favour adverse outcomes in a way that goes beyond just serving the needs of policy makers. Anecdotally, authors bemoan fights to keep caveats in place as chapters are edited, refined and summarised. The PBL report does not prove or indeed suggest systematic bias, and it stresses that it has found nothing that should lead the parliament of the Netherlands, or anyone else, to reject the IPCC’s findings. But the panel set up to look at the IPCC’s workings by Dr Pachauri and Mr Ban should ask some hard questions about systematic tendencies to accentuate the negative.

Read the whole thing.