Magazine article Science News

Controversy Erupts over Climate Report

Magazine article Science News

Controversy Erupts over Climate Report

Article excerpt

In a war over words, critics of an influential United Nations' climate report have charged its authors with "scientific cleansing"-altering the text to downplay uncertainties about humanity's influence on climate. The scientists who wrote the document counter that the critics have misrepresented the situation to divert attention from the report's basic conclusion, approved by 96 countries, that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate."

The skirmish centers on chapter 8 of the 1995 scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published last month by Cambridge University Press. This chapter, written by 4 scientists, with contributions by 32 others, is titled "Detection of climate change and attribution of causes."

The Global Climate Coalition, a lobbying group funded in part by the energy, transportation, and manufacturing industries, argues that the authors of chapter 8 altered the text improperly after representatives of the IPCC had accepted the document at a meeting in Madrid in November 1995. "There was a total breakdown of IPCC's agreed procedure for preparation and publication of this assessment report," says John Shlaes, executive director of the Global Climate Coalition in Washington, D.C.

Leaders of the IPCC disagree. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal on June 25, Bert Bolin, chairman of the IPCC, and the two cochairmen of the science panel assert that "in accordance with IPCC procedures, the changes to the draft of Chapter 8 were under the full scientific control of its convening lead author, Benjamin D. Santer. No one could have been more thorough and honest in undertaking that task."

Santer, an atmospheric researcher at Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Laboratory, says that he made the changes to reflect comments and criticisms he received in Madrid, as well as to assess the science better. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.