[asa] Sir John Houghton on the Recent Controversy and the IPCC

From: Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Nov 30 2009 - 20:39:19 EST

Some of you may recall Sir John Houghton from our 2007 annual meeting on the
other side of the Pond. Sir John was instrumental in getting the NAE on
board on the issue of climate change. The BBC quoted him as follows:

John Houghton, chair of the science panel for the first IPCC report, says
the current process could be improved, but should certainly not be scrapped
in favour of something else.

"The IPCC has involved large numbers of scientists from many countries and
disciplines. As a result, the world climate science community can to a
substantial extent speak with one voice about the most important elements of
the story.

"In other areas of science that are as diverse and uncertain as the climate,
this convergence of informed opinion has not occurred.

"The IPCC has (also) brought about ownership of its conclusions by
governments. Without this, governments' policies (with regards to) climate
change would have been much more diverse and contradictory.

"I deny that this ownership has 'politicised' science. In fact, I believe
that without it the science would have been much more politicised - by
different groups of scientists serving groups with different and
incompatible political agendas."

Professor Houghton said that in future it would be wise to offer the IPCC
protection from harassment in its work. "IPCC meetings were open to all -
including (representatives) from organisations such as the Global Climate
Coalition whose clear agenda was to weaken our work and our conclusions.

"A particular way they continually did this was to publish selected
provisional material from the IPCC process, for example draft chapters or
contributions not meant for publication, and used this to discredit the IPCC
and the process.

"For people being targeted, it is very difficult to be completely open when
provisional material emerging during the process is being used as stick to
beat the scientists with."

Rich Blinne

Member ASA

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Received on Mon Nov 30 20:39:48 2009

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