In sum, the review process of the IPCC failed miserably. AR4 of WG3 substantially and knowingly misrepresents the state of the art in our understanding of the costs of emission reduction. It leads the reader to the conclusion that emission reduction is much cheaper and easier than it will be in real life.On several occasions here on Klimazwiebel we have briefly discussed how a reform of the IPCC could look like. It appears this was too brief. I therefore start a new thread on this very topic. Let us begin with the claim raised by Richard Tol, that the peer review process in WG 3 has failed and address the question how it could be improved in the future.
In a comment to Nature (Vol 463, 11 February 2010) John Christy suggested a Wiki style peer review (for all of the IPCC WGs) which could serve as starting point for our discussion here. He says:
... voluminous printed reports, issued every six years by government-nominated authors, cannot accommodate the rapid and chaotic development of scientific information today. An idea we pitched a few years ago that is now worth reviving was to establish a living, ‘Wikipedia-IPCC’. Groups of four to eight lead authors, chosen by learned societies, would serve in rotating, overlapping three-year terms to manage sections organized by science and policy questions (similar to the Fourth Assessment Report). The authors would strike a balance between the free-for-all of true science and the need for summary statements. Controversies would be refereed by the lead authors, but with input from all sides in the text, with links to original documents and data. The result would be more useful than occasional big books and would be a more honest representation of what our fledgling science can offer. Defining and following rules for this idea would be agonizing, but would provide greater openness.I think this suggestion would provide a mechanism to overcome the present practice of brushing 'inconvenient' views under the carpet.
Other comments in the same Nature issue contained views from Muke Hulme, Thomas Stocker, Jeff Price and 'our own' Eduardo Zorita (these are less concerned with peer review as such but take it for granted). In case people want to refer to these contributions, they should copy and paste the relevant passages into their comments as the PDF from Nature is not freely available.