Korhola: The UN climate change panel has reached its end

According to Atte Korhola, the Professor of Environmental Change, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, has been given too great a role in public debate and political decision-making.

He considers the erroneous information in the climate report to be serious. Korhola agrees with the criticism presented in the recent Nature journal about the panel not functioning properly in its current form.

“Unreasonable expectations are placed in the IPCC report. The report is being read as if it were a holy book, and details presented in it are taken as truths carved in stone. However, science develops all the time and reduction of scientific ambiguity is not realistic.”

According to Korhola, the issue of climate change has proved increasingly complex, which means that the ambiguity of the models increases.

“Decision-makers should make sensible choices regarding the overall benefits in the environment of uncertainty. We shouldn’t expect anything magical from the climate change panel that it is incapable of producing.”

The structure and operating methods of the panel should be reformed

In Korhola’s view, the structure and operating methods of the climate change panel founded over 20 years ago should be changed as soon as possible. The panel should correspond better to the requirements of today and the whole field of climate research.

According to Korhola, the mistakes and exaggerations of the IPCC report that have now come to light – for example, regarding the Himalayan glaciers, destruction of the Amazon rain forest, collapse of the grain crop in Africa, and the link between climate change and natural disasters – have in this respect done a favour.

“The mistakes demonstrate that IPCC has taken on too much when trying to cram the entirety of diverse climate research in one book and force it into consensus. The panel should be broken into smaller pieces and its links with political and governmental steering discontinued.”

Scientific community’s trust has been shaken

“At the national level, the coordination of the IPCC activities should be transferred from government research institutes to independent university researchers. The evaluation of climate change should be continuous, and it should genuinely allow for differing views.”

According to the Professor of Environmental Change, many researchers have lost their confidence in the independence of the climate change panel. Without radical changes, there will be a lack of high-quality contributors to the next report, predicts Korhola.

Department of Biosciences » »

Text: Atte Korhola
Photo: Simo Salmela
15.2.2010
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