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An open letter to Sir Paul Nurse

Dear Sir Paul

In your article in the FT today, you repeat remarks you have made in the past about scientists having to be open about their work:

Scientists have an obligation to communicate their work to the world, and to be open and transparent about doing it. “Trust me, I’m a scientist” is not a good enough answer to give to policymakers or the general public who are looking to make informed decisions on important topics.

This is an area on which people on both sides of the global warming debate should be able to agree. However, it is clear that many in the climatological mainstream do not share this belief. The IPCC has indicated that drafts and review comments on its reports will not be published until after the main report and that, for Working Group I at least, the panel's new conflict of interest policy will not apply to the Fifth Assessment Report.

As I am sure you will agree, these decisions go against the principles of openness and transparency that you say you favour. This being the case, I am asking you, on behalf of the Royal Society, to make a public call for the IPCC to correct these issues.

I hope you can help.

Yours sincerely

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Reader Comments (105)

Richard Betts, I would like to say that it is good to have this debate with someone on the "inside" of the IPCC.

The host of this site Bishop Hill, AKA Andrew Montford has an excellent book, "The Hockey Stick Illussion", advertised on this site, and I am sure available discounted elsewhere.

The book has attracted strong sentiments, even though it does not disprove AGW

Would you consider reading it? Feel free to read Bob Ward's review if you can not be bothered to read the book, but do consider what he does not want you to read......

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Let's bear in mind that Richard Betts has said, at least twice here:

Thanks. Like I say, I'm not trying to defend anything, just let you know how you can see the work in progress.

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I seemed to recall Steve McIntyre saying he was invited to be a IPCC reviewer & found the relevant post link -

has anything changed? time will tell.

ps. thanks to Richard Betts for open,informative answers & being willing to discuss.

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

golf charley

You will hopefully be pleased to hear that I have actually read The Hockey Stick Illusion, and discussed it with Bishop Hill / Andrew / @adissentient on Twitter.

Without going into discussion of techicalities, and bearing in mind that I do of course know many of the people involved, I thought was very interesting to see the whole story documented in that way.

Whatever one's view of the science and the individuals (let's not go there and get into arguments!) there is no denying that it was an important and influential episode in the history of climate science and its communication. I found it quite eye-opening in terms of how my profession is perceived by (presumably) quite a few people. It does illustrate the unfortunate consequences of the whole climate change issue becoming so polarised, with two well-entrenched "sides" regarding each other with deep mutual suspicion. Not good for anybody.

I am passing it round my colleagues.

BTW Anyone read Garth Paltridge's "The Climate Caper"? That's quite an interesting read too. Again I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but he does make some important points about not getting carried away and thinking things are more certain than they are.

Jun 28, 2011 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

I bet on the Stewball,
And I'd bet on Old Richard;
He'll be free some day.

Jun 28, 2011 at 3:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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