I’ve just found a couple of letters in Nature (subs req) re the “leaking” of the AR4. Climate: open review may ease acceptance of report by Michael MacCracken, saying As executive director of the Office of the US Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 1997, I was responsible in 1995 for urging adoption of the national review process of the IPCC report that is questioned in your News story. And Climate: US has always made IPCC drafts available says Harlan L. Watson;In fact, US procedures, first published in the Federal Register in 1995, reflect our longstanding commitment to open IPCC reviews. Under the 1995 procedures, we provided paper copies of IPCC draft reports to any individual upon request

So how does this affect things? If correct (and I presume it is) then if the IPCC failed to protest then, it has tacitly accepted the procedure, which may be why it didn’t protest this time. However the SAR (95) was only available on paper, a rather higher barrier to bothering to get and read it than jmust an email click. And for the TAR there was at least a pretence of checking qualifications. Overall, this appears to clear the US govt of any evildoing (gasp; at least in this area); and perhaps, as various people have suggested, its even sensible.


  1. #1 llewelly

    William, I suggest you turn your eyes to the US government. During the past several years, it has put great effort into keeping many secrets. But despite its efforts, it has failed to keep many of its secrets. This is all the more striking when compared to earlier times, when similar methods kept similar secrets for years, even decades. Today, many carefully guarded secrets are found romping about on the web only mere months after their creation. This occurs primarily due to modern exponential advances in communications and data-gathering technology; secrets are discovered by data gathering, and spread by communication. Almost any technology which makes data gathering or communication cheaper or more effective, will make secrecy more difficult.

    The IPCC does not face quite the level of adversarial scrutiny the US government does – but it has far fewer resources. More importantly, scientists are not in general accustomed to secrecy; on the contrary, science is one of the more open enterprises humans engage in.

    I do not believe the IPCC can reasonably expect to maintain any useful level of secrecy. In my eyes, the proper reaction to the leaking of AR4 is design processes which do not rely on secrecy at any stage.

  2. #2 llewelly

    Correcting a small error in my last post, I intended my last sentence to be:
    In my eyes, the proper reaction to the leaking of AR4 is to design processes which do not rely on secrecy at any stage.

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