Andy Revkin has the scoop on a letter from the IPCC (very misguided, to my mind) advising its scientists against having media contacts. An IPCC scientist, Edward R. Carr, also thinks this is a very bad idea.
More specifically, IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri wrote this to researchers:
I would also like to emphasize that enhanced media interest in the work of the IPCC would probably subject you to queries about your work and the IPCC. My sincere advice would be that you keep a distance from the media and should any questions be asked about the Working Group with which you are associated, please direct such media questions to the Co-chairs of your Working Group and for any questions regarding the IPCC to the secretariat of the IPCC.
What Pachauri’s letter should have said is the following:
I would also like to emphasize that enhanced media interest in the work of the IPCC would probably subject you to queries about your work and the IPCC. For this reason, the IPCC has developed a number of tip sheets, trainings, and other content to help scientists who may receive queries from the media. We also have several trained media consultants available at any time to answer your questions about the press, and to manage any journalistic contacts that you may have or help set up interviews. For more detail and to avail yourself of these resources, please see our new science in the media website….
My latest blog post for Science Progress is up; it’s about the scientific black-eye known now as “GlacierGate,” in which the IPCC was found to have published plagiarized misinformation about the vulnerability of the Himalayan glaciers to climate change in its Fourth Assessment Report. The content was indefensible; a quick retraction should have occurred. But instead, there was wagon-circling and defensiveness and hence, we have yet another scandal on our hands.
Here’s a sampling of my take:
…without exonerating the IPCC in this instance—there is no defense for such shoddy work—let’s attempt to inject a little sanity here. The IPCC goofed, but we should keep matters in perspective. We’re talking about one tiny section of a 938-page report on how climate change will affect different parts of the world. It would be amazing if errors did not slip into such a vast document, whatever the professed peer review standards may be. And the mistake was originally caught not by skeptics, but by scientists, including an IPCC report co-author. In the broadest sense, the scientific process is actually working here, even if the IPCC stumbled in this case.
Moreover, Himalayan glaciers are retreating, even if they’re not doing so faster than glaciers in other parts of the world, and even if they won’t be gone by 2035. As a team of scientists who exposed the IPCC’s mistake in a letter to the journal Science judiciously put it:
This was a bad error. It was a really bad paragraph, and poses a legitimate question about how to improve IPCC’s review process. It was not a conspiracy. The error does not compromise the IPCC Fourth Assessment, which for the most part was well reviewed and is highly accurate.
That’s the true significance of “GlacierGate,” but sure enough, it is being vastly misused in yet another cynical attempt to undermine all of earthly climate science.
You can read the full blog post here.
As events begin in Denmark, the Intersection is joining journalists from Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Treehugger.com, and numerous other outlets to pool together our blogging and reporting resources into the Copenhagen News Collaborative. If you peer over at the new widget added to our sidebar just below our names–called “Copenhagen News Feed”–you’ll see the latest news that the collaborative is producing or linking. Soon items from the Intersection will be appearing in the mix as well–and this widget is appearing on many sites other than our own.
So stand by–there is a lot of Copenhagen news coming, and we stand at a nexus for producing it….