Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Leak" of IPCC AR4

So, the nasty US Govt (in the form of the Climate Change Science Programme) has "leaked" the draft AR4 by putting it on a password-protected site, but issuing passwords automatically to anyone to bothers to ask for one. And the usual suspects are getting predictably outraged over it.

First, it does look like a clear breach of the conditions that the IPCC attached to the report - that it should not be distributed any further. That's naughty of the US CCSP. On the other hand, it is not clear that the IPCC has any real mechanism to refuse access to anyone who asks for it anyway - some septics have been observed to label themseves "IPCC expert reviewer" by way of credentials, and I've not heard of anyone complaining that they have been refused access - not that my lack of knowledge on these matters can be considered definitive of course, but does anyone have any evidence to the contrary?

But as importantly, those who are complaining in advance about the IPCC authors being flooded by "comment spam" have obviously not checked to see what the US CCSP has actually done. They are soliciting comments for themselves, which they will then take into account in their official comment, and they specifically instruct reviewers to not also email the IPCC directly. I assume the IPCC authors will not consider themselves to be under any obligation to deal with comments from people who they did not give the report out to in the first place. So the US CCSP will be the ones filtering any comment spam they generate. I can't imagine they will be silly enough to simply pass on the whole heap of comments unchecked (inclusive of any and all clue-free drivel they receive) as their official response, but it would be funny if they tried.

And furthermore, probably no-one had even heard of this "leak" until it was splashed in the press. I'm not going to blame the journalists really - information wants to be free - but there is some irony in people thundering about a "secrecy breach" and thereby magnifying it by orders of magnitude. Although I would agree that it is best to allow the review and redrafting to take place in an orderly manner and out of the full glare of the press, it's not as if there are any "secrets" in the document anyway - it is only a literature review, after all.

8 comments:

Belette said...

Glad I'm a suspect.

Comment spam - good point - yes the IPCC won't have to filter it. Hadn't thought of that. To defend myself, I'll point out that I was (when talking about comments) discussing what would happen if the IPCC themselves had publically released it.

Adam said...

With regards to Belette being a "usual suspect" there does seem to be a distinct closeness between this post and his. Both merely describe the release as "naughty" and this paragraph (the one referred to by Belette above) could *almost* be a summary:

"But having said the US is wrong, what would happen if it was simply publically released? Even the IPCC distribution system wasn't strongly controlled - I'm fairly sure all the septics got a copy - so why the need for restriction? It doesn't matter much who you allow to read it, as long as you don't have to bother reading comments from all the wackos."

James Annan said...

Fairynuff - but it's my blog and I'll tease who I want to :-)

The other linked comments are rather more outraged than Belette was.

Adam said...

Couldn't argue with either of those two points, even if I wanted to. :)

Calvin Jones said...

It is a truly bizzare story...my take on it is on my blog.

EliRabett said...

Basically, the one thing I would do if I was the IPCC is refuse any comments (directly submitted or not) from anyone who broke the embargo. That means you Vincent Gray.

Hank Roberts said...

Here's the TAR; anyone seen a comparable list for the FAR?

http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/559.htm

Hank Roberts said...

Oh, this will do:
http://hcl.harvard.edu/collections/ipcc/