The IPCC’s Fake Review Editor

November 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

A few days ago I blogged about Chapter 3 of the Working Group 1 section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Based on a PDF version of the report, it is apparent that the IPCC’s website leaves out the 10 lead authors of that chapter and instead incorrectly applies the lead author label to a list of contributing authors.

Richard Betts, the person who raised this matter, has since contacted the IPCC – and says the website will be corrected. This is good news.

But it turns out there’s a far more serious problem with Chapter 3. It lists includes a fake review editor – the people who are supposed to ensure that feedback solicited from external experts receives proper attention at the IPCC.

Over at his ClimateAudit blog, Steve McIntyre wrote about this more than a year ago but I missed it. A Freedom of Information request filed by retired UK engineer David Holland turned up an October 2006 e-mail from Kevin Trenberth, who was one of the coordinating lead authors of Chapter 3 (aka one of the two people in charge).  It says, in part:

I am writing to protest the inclusion of Bubu Pateh Jallow as Review Editor…He played no role whatsoever in our chapter. He did not attend any meetings, he did not answer email and he should NOT be listed in my view. [bold added, backup link here]

I’m critical of Trenberth in my book, but in this instance we see him trying to do the right thing. His e-mail was sent to 14 IPCC personnel. We’re told the IPCC is a rigorous scientific body composed of upstanding, trustworthy individuals. But despite Trenberth’s efforts to ensure that the official record was, in fact, honest a month later Jallow signed a document in which he declared:

As Review Editor of Chapter 3…I can confirm that all substantive expert and government review comments have been afforded appropriate consideration by the writing team in accordance with IPCC procedures.

You can see that document here (backup link here). Since one of the chapter’s leaders has made it clear that Jallow played no role whatsoever how could Jallow possibly have known whether the rules were followed in Chapter 3? And yet he was prepared to affix his signature to a statement declaring this to be the case.

So who is Jallow? Employed by the Department of Water Resources for the government of The Gambia, he was one of the IPCC’s most senior personnel. Indeed, he was a vice-chair of Working Group 1.

If you go to this page on the IPCC’s website and click on the blue Previous Bureau button halfway down on the right you’ll find Jallow’s name along with that of the other 29 people who belonged to the IPCC’s ruling elite.

Where is Jallow now? He’s an employee of the United Nations Environmental Programme – in charge of a project that is being funded by the Danish Foreign Affairs ministry.

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h/t David Holland

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