February 28, 2007
GCRIO Program Overview
Our extensive collection of documents.
Archives of the
Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 7, JULY 1996
MORE IPCC ATTACKS
Formal publication of
the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change on June 5 set off a new round of complaints over the IPCC process. (See
publication announcement in
Global Climate Change Digest, Books/General Interest and Policy, June
1996.) The controversy involves revisions to Chapter 8 of the science working
group contribution, "Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes,"
that were made after its acceptance in draft form by the full IPCC in Rome last
December. (See News, Global Climate Change Digest, Jan. 1996.)
The common theme of criticism is that the presentation of the scientific
findings was deliberately slanted by political pressure to keep concern over
global warming alive. Critics claim this was accomplished in violation of IPCC
rules after the text had been accepted, and that the modifications downplay the
uncertainty of evidence for a human influence on climate. The major accusers are
the Global Climate Coalition, a U.S. business and industry group; British
chemist John Emsley, a member of the European Science and Environment Forum (see
Global Climate Change Digest, News, April 1996); and Frederick Seitz,
chair of the George C. Marshall Institute of Washington, D.C. The Global Climate
Coalition has been circulating a memo in Congress and elsewhere in Washington on
what it calls "scientific cleansing" by the IPCC, and recently called
for an independent review of the alterations made to the text.
In defense of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, co-chair of the science working
group that produced the disputed text, maintained that it represents solid
science and that the charges being lobbed are "a mixture of confusion and
misinformation." And lead author Ben Santer (Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory), accuses the critics of being politically motivated, rather than the
IPCC. He explains that he properly made the changes in response to reviewers'
The views of Frederick Seitz appeared in a Wall Street Journal
editorial on June 1, 1996, entitled "A Major Deception on 'Global Warming.'"
In response, over 40 authors and IPCC contributors have written to the paper
defending the IPCC and lead author Ben Santer. Further comments by Seitz and two
other critics were printed on July 11.
An editorial in Nature (p. 539, June 13, 1996), which in the past
has criticized the IPCC, sees some room for improvement in the review and
approval process, but backs the thrust of the IPCC document and the need for
A nine-page, line-by-line analysis of the changes made to chapter eight is
available from the Global Climate Coalition (1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite
1500 N. Tower, Washington DC 20004; 202 628 3622). Articles discussing the
controversy have appeared in (all 1996): Nature (p. 455, June 6; p. 546,
June 13; p. 639, June 20), Science (p. 1734, June 21), and in The
New York Times (June 17).
Guide to Publishers
Index of Abbreviations