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No consensus on IPCC's level of ignorance

BBC News, Tuesday, 13 November 2007 - VIEWPOINT By John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama (Hat tip: John D.)

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) puts the finishing touches to its final report of the year, two of its senior scientists look at what the panel is and how well it works. Here, a view from a leading researcher into temperature change.

The IPCC is a framework around which hundreds of scientists and other participants are organised to mine the panoply of climate change literature to produce a synthesis of the most important and relevant findings.

These findings are published every few years to help policymakers keep tabs on where the participants chosen for the IPCC believe the Earth's climate has been, where it is going, and what might be done to adapt to and/or even adjust the predicted outcome.

While most participants are scientists and bring the aura of objectivity, there are two things to note:
- this is a political process to some extent (anytime governments are involved it ends up that way)
-scientists are mere mortals casting their gaze on a system so complex we cannot precisely predict its future state even five days ahead

The political process begins with the selection of the Lead Authors because they are nominated by their own governments. Thus at the outset, the political apparatus of the member nations has a role in pre-selecting the main participants.
But, it may go further. Continued at BBC News...

John R Christy is Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, US He has contributed to all four major IPCC assessments, including acting as a Lead Author in 2001 and a Contributing Author in 2007
© BBC MMVII

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