Today the full final, definitive AR5 WGI report has been released and also all the drafts, the review comments and the author responses on these comments. Finally IPCC also released the review editors reports.
After AR4 David Holland and Steve McIntyre put a lot of effort in getting the review editor reports. When they were finally released it turned out that all except one review editor reports were just a standard form. The Interacademy Council then recommended that the role of the review editors (they have to judge the process) should be strengthened.
The review editors reports were available for the national delegations during the final approval session in Stockholm in September. But until recently it was unclear if the review editor reports would be released together with the review comments and author responses. I have communicated with the IPCC WGI TSU and Secretariat about this since October, encouraging them to release the reports. This week they sent me an email confirming they would be released as has happened today. So credits to the IPCC for releasing them.
It will take time to go through the full 100 pages of review editor reports. One can already conclude that the review editors did take their job more seriously than during AR4.
Two things that catched my eyes so far. Peter Wadhams in his review report on Chapter 1 (page 6 of the document) makes a totally unnecessary and off-topic remark about a UK politician:
I myself have had such an experience in September 2012 when, after a well- balanced BBC TV programme on the summer retreat of Arctic sea ice, I was viciously attacked on air by a UK politician directly paid by the fossil-fuel industry (name removed) who, as part of his diatribe, read from the cryosphere chapter of AR4 that scientists were not predicting that summer sea ice would disappear before 2080 or later. On being asked by the program chairman (name removed) whether he knew more about climate change than someone who had spent all his life on this problem (i.e. me) he said “Yes – because that’s what the IPCC says and that is the consensus view”. Many other climate scientists have had this experience and it is a real problem. It is of concern for policymakers, the public and the mass media – all those, in fact, who are to be the users of AR5 rather than the writers of it.
Two names are removed here, but anyone with some knowledge about UK global warming discussions know who they are: MP Peter Lilley and Jeremy Paxman. This remark of Wadhams and specifically his accusation that Lilley is paid by the fossil fuel industry will certainly generate discussion in the UK.
Another comment that was interesting was this part of Kevin Trenberth’s report on Chapter 14:
Overall comments on procedures. It was extremely frustrating to not be able to make review comments and suggestions on the chapter of which we were review editors. Advice was given about procedures and priorities and how to organize, and I believe these were effective. But I would not do this again and I think the whole process needs major revisions. I would like the following added to the chapter to ensure that we (REs) are not responsible for any text:
Review Editors were responsible only for seeing that review comments were appropriately responded to. They were not permitted to comment on their own chapter and therefore have no responsibility for the content or quality of the chapter. They do not necessarily endorse the chapter.
I do not say this lightly. Because I am often quoted in the media and I had a lot of exposure via “climategate”; climate change deniers are apt to take stuff out of the chapter and attribute it to me personally. Therefore I hope that such a disclaimer can be added.
As an expert reviewer I understand his frustration about the IPCC process all too well. For example, by not releasing the author responses on the FOD review comments, I as a reviewer had to go through all the text to see if they did anything with my comments. Do realise that even page numbers change between FOD and SOD because many changes are made in the chapters.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to talk for two hours with Thomas Stocker, the co-chair of the WGI report. He admitted that this indeed is impractical. The good news is that Stocker for any future IPCC report is in favor of making the whole process more public. This could mean that all drafts are publicly available and also the review comments and author responses.
[Update] David Holland has a post here: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/1/30/the-unprofessional-panel-on-climate-change.html