Statement on stolen emails by IPCC Working Group I on basic climate science

“The warming in the climate system is unequivocal” and has been attributed to increased GHGs.

Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) firmly stands behind the conclusions of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the community of researchers and its individuals providing the scientific basis, and the procedures of IPCC Assessments.

So begins a strong statement by the leaders of the IPCC working group focused on “The Physical Science Basis” of climate change and its causes (emphasis in original).  Here’s the rest:

Comments on blogs and in the media about the contents of a large number of private emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, have questioned both the validity of the key findings of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) and the integrity of its authors. IPCC WGI condemns the illegal act which led to private emails being posted on the Internet and firmly stands by the findings of the AR4 and by the community of researchers worldwide whose professional standards and careful scientific work over many years have provided the basis for these conclusions.

The key finding of IPCC AR4, “The warming in the climate system is unequivocal […] “, is based on measurements made by many independent institutions worldwide that demonstrate significant changes on land, in the atmosphere, the ocean and in the ice-covered areas of the Earth. Through further, independent scientific work involving statistical methods and a range of different climate models, these changes have been detected as significant deviations from natural climate variability and have been attributed to the increase of greenhouse gases.

The body of evidence is the result of the careful and painstaking work of hundreds of scientists worldwide. The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges, many of whom have dedicated their time and effort to develop these findings in teams of Lead Authors within the production of the series of IPCC Assessment Reports during the past 20 years.

The IPCC assessment process is designed to ensure consideration of all relevant scientific information from established journals with robust peer review processes, or from other sources which have undergone robust and independent peer review. The entire report writing process of the IPCC is subjected to extensive and repeated review by experts as well as by governments. Consequently, there is full opportunity for experts in the field to draw attention to any piece of published literature and its basic findings that would ensure inclusion of a wide range of views.

In compliance with the procedures of IPCC, the conclusions of AR4 have undergone scrutiny in the form of several stages of reviews by peers and governments, have been revised and refined to take into account these review comments, and have finally been approved word by word by the governments of the world1.Every layer in the process (including large author teams, extensive and multi-step reviews, independent monitoring of review compliance, and plenary approval by governments) plays a major role in keeping IPCC assessments comprehensive, unbiased, open to the identification of new relevant literature, and policy relevant but not policy prescriptive. Therefore, no individual scientist in the IPCC assessment process is in a position to change the conclusions, or to exclude relevant peer-reviewed papers and scientific work from an IPCC Assessment Report.

In conclusion, IPCC WGI firmly stands behind its unique procedures and behind the scientific community and their collective work which has been, and continues to be, the basis of unbiased, open and transparent assessments of the current knowledge on the climate system and its changes.

Stocker Dahe
Prof. Thomas Stocker                                                     Prof. Qin Dahe
Co-Chair, Working Group I                                            Co-Chair, Working Group I

1 The Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, the Drafts, Review Comments and Author Team Responses are available from the WGI website:

2 Responses to Statement on stolen emails by IPCC Working Group I on basic climate science

  1. Jim Bouldin says:

    The leader?–didn’t get his name–of the American delegation also made a very strong statement in their press briefing as well, and de Boer as well.

  2. David Lewis says:

    Here is what James Hansen said on the subject of the stolen emails in an interview with The Guardian a few days ago:

    “It has no impact on our understanding of the climate system. Its a public relations matter. And its very bad public relations for the science. You know its….

    I think there were two fundamental mistakes revealed by that. The one is you have to make your data, your input data, available to the community. You can’t say its not available… with science you have to allow other people to try to duplicate your analysis that’s just very fundamental. So that was one mistake.

    But the other one is the trying to prevent contrarians from making their viewpoint. I mean you could say its shoddy science so the review process should prevent them from publishing…. But, if you submit a paper to enough places you can eventually publish it even if its got some… if its somewhat shoddy. And the fact that Al Gore in his movie says oh there’s 930 papers that agree on human caused… and [on the other hand the number of peer reviewed papers published that assert that humans have not altered the climate are] zero, well, that’s just not realistic. In any scientific issue there’s going to be some people who have contrary opinions, and you shouldn’t try to prevent that. I think that was a mistake.”