Guest essay by Roger A. Pielke Sr.
With the appearance of the new 2013 WG1 IPCC report, it is useful to visit my recent experience with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) assessment process that I had not commented on before.
My experience exemplifies how the climate assessment processes has been “colonized” [using Ross McKittrick’s terminology – http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/09/16/ipcc-models-getting-mushy/] to promote an inappropriately too narrow (and often incorrect) assessment of climate science.
To place the issue in context, I will first present the “charge” and “guidelines” presented to our Committee [highlighting specific text]
Next, I present the AGU guidelines that were provided to us [highlight added]
Guidelines for AGU position statement panels
• Following appointment to the panel, each panel member will receive a list of names and contact information of their fellow panel members.
• The AGU Council and membership will be informed that the panel is working on a statement and that comments are welcome. The staff liaison will forward relevant comments to the panel and members shall consider them as they see fit.
• Each panel member should first review the charge to the committee (written by AGU public policy staff for each statement), and AGU policy on its role in advocacy of public issues and its procedures for developing Union positions (available on the web).
• The panel should begin its deliberations with a planning conference call. The panel should discuss the charge to the panel and the AGU policy on position statements so there is no misunderstanding amongst panel members. The panel should also discuss the timetable for completing a draft statement for Council review, and roles and responsibilities for panel members. AGU Public Affairs Coordinator Erik Hankin (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel-202-777-7523) will serve as staff liaison to the panel.
• The panel should identify the primary audience or audiences for the statement as part of the preliminary discussions to help focus the writing effort. Panel members should be aware of expressions and uses of language that may not be appropriate for or may be misinterpreted by a non-scientist audience. For example, when speaking of what scientists do, avoid the verb “believe” and the noun “belief” because they are more appropriate to religion than to the scientific process. Instead, it is acceptable to use the verb “think” and, if needed, the noun “concept”.
• Typically the panel can conduct much of its business via e-mail or with additional conference calls. At least one face to face meeting is very useful to bringing diverse views into the discussion. More meetings may be required to resolve disagreements that cannot be worked out over the phone or via e-mail.
• When the panel has completed a draft statement, the AGU Public Information Manager, Public Affairs Manager, and an Eos editor will review the draft statement with the panel and offer suggestions based on their expertise that may strengthen the statement.
• When the panel is satisfied with the edited statement, the chair will submit the statement to AGU Council for their vote or comment.
However, my “comments” were not welcome. In the article by Carol Finn [highlight added]
AGU Updates Climate Change Position 20 AUG 2013
DOI: 10.1002/2013EO340006 Statement http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EO340006/pdf
which presents the accepted final version of the AGU Statement, this is what she wrote
The draft statement was published in Eos in November 2012 (Eos, 93(48), 502, doi:10.1029/ 2012EO480009) for member comment. The panel addressed the comments and submitted the statement for approval.
The panel did not review the wholly separate statement he drafted because it did not meet the charge from AGU’s Board.
In other words, despite stating it is AGU policy to address comments, they failed to discuss mine as summarized in my minority statement (which clearly is a “comment”).
This failure to review by the Panel is yet another example of how parochial the climate assessment process has become.