This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
Help annotate the new IPCC report so that it’s more user friendly – and more informative about its authors and source material.
Richard Tol, a veteran Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) author who specializes in the field of climate change economics, has launched a Wiki devoted to the recently-released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
The idea is to establish a central location in which people can comment on/annotate/improve the usability of this 7,000-page document. In an e-mail, Tol writes:
As a first step, I hope to get the report-as-is on there. Then, we can look at the quality of the authors, the quality of the references, link up to the underlying papers to flag (dis)agreement between source and survey, add other papers, and so on.
This is too much for a single person, so could you be so kind as to alert people on your blog and call for volunteers?
Wikia is a user-friendly environment. Anyone can sign up, anonymously if they want to.
I’m not as familiar as I should be with the Wiki universe, but things look fairly straightforward. The basics – including how to sign up for an account that will allow you to become a participant – are explained here.
You can find Chapter 1 from Working Group 1 on the IPCC’s website. Tol has set up a Wiki page for Chapter 1. The PDF version of that chapter ends with three pages of references – external source material on which the IPCC has relied in order to form its conclusions. See those references on the Wiki here.
In the year 2014, there’s no reason why the IPCC could not have supplied online info for the vast majority of these references. For example, the first entry is a 2013 paper written by Myles R. Allen and two colleagues, titled Test of a decadal climate forecast. Ten seconds with Google locates the abstract of that paper.
This morning, I created a Wiki account and added the abstract’s online address to the list of references appearing on the Wiki. From now on, no one else will need to go through that step.
Because the IPCC cites tens of thousands of documents, adding in these online links is a time-consuming task. But it’s an easy and straightforward one that anyone with an Internet connection and 20 minutes of spare time can do.
Tol has entered the names of the people responsible for writing Chapter 1 under the headings CLA (which stands for coordinating/convening lead authors) and LA (lead authors). The additional 16 contributing authors (CAs) who worked on the chapter aren’t yet listed, but could be easily added by someone consulting the PDF version of the chapter.
I’ve long complained about the fact that the IPCC declines to post the CVs of the people who write its reports. This organization has never been interested in allowing the public to judge for itself whether its personnel are, in fact, the world’s top scientists. We’re just supposed to take its word for it.
In my view, we could collectively build an amazing resource if each IPCC author’s name were annotated to include any of the following info:
This morning, I added info about Donald Wuebbles, one of the leaders of Chapter 1. Wuebbles’ page on the Wiki now mentions his long-standing link to the green lobby-group known as the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In essence, I’ve taken material from the end of a blog post I wrote in January 2013 and inserted it into a central location to which people looking for info about AR5 will hopefully find their way. If a small army of volunteers spent a couple of hours each week inserting this sort of information, six months from now we’d have an amazing resource at our fingertips.
Don’t be fooled. This stuff matters. Recently, I was contacted by a journalist in Los Angeles who was exploring the possibility of writing a story about IPCC author and non-Nobel-laureate Woodrow Clark. There are lots of puff pieces about Clark on the Internet. But my explanation of why his Nobel claims are inaccurate is also now on the record.
After reading my coverage, the journalist advised me that a Clark story was no longer viable. In his words:
I appreciate your excellent work. Because of it, Woody Clark is now radioactive.
One inch at a time, one person at a time, we can help make the world a saner place.
Working Group 1 chapters may be found on the IPCC website here (14 in total)
Working Group 2 chapters are here (30 total)
Working Group 3 chapters are here (16 total)