Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Politicizing the IPCC

As we put the final touches on the arguments for the public debate with Robert Balling, I am trying to make sense of the recent resignation of hurricane scientist, Chris Landsea, from the IPCC. I have read several accounts of the reasons for resignation, including Landsea's public announcement, and it seems to me that his main problem was that the IPCC was using the media to amplify the link between hurricanes and global warming. A skeptic himself, Landsea disagreed with the fact that his research was being used to support the hurricane claim. First, doesn't this disagreement seem to suggest that Landsea's research DID support the claim, but that he was trying to suppress the information? Second, this whole controversy seems more like an interpersonal clash between Landsea and Dr. Kevin Trenberth, not a reason to condemn the entire IPCC body. Finally, doesn't the fact that there are skeptics working within the IPCC severely deflate the skeptics arguments against the IPCC?

The most reason buzz about the upcoming IPCC report is mostly that IPCC members are becoming too politicized, and risk their objective standpoint. This was made clear in some recent articles which detailed IPCC chair, Rajendra Pachauri's recent public statements that we should institute policies to reduce emissions. Critics claim that such statements go beyond the prescribed role as an honest broker and politicize the IPCC. I admittedly don't know all of the details of the formation of the IPCC, but it seems to be that it would be very difficult for everyone of the scientists to remain politically neutral all of the time. As long as the science drives the politics instead of the politics driving the science, I don't see what the fuss is about.



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