Soon … and sounds of silence from the InterAcademy Council

(December 20: Please see updates at bottom of this post)

On August 30, the InterAcademy Council (IAC) – a prestigious scientific body upon which was conferred (with great fanfare) the remit of the evaluation the policies, practices and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – released its report. Here’s the video of the Press Conference that was held that day.

It so happens that I was one of many individuals who took the time to respond to the IAC’s questionnaire.

The questionnaire page on the IAC site now states:

A critical element of the InterAcademy Council committee’s analysis is the opinions of knowledgeable experts and thoughtful observers regarding IPCC’s processes and procedures for producing assessments.

The aggregated written input, with all names and affiliations removed, will be made available to the public following release of the report.
Thank you for your input.
PLEASE NOTE: THE COMMITTEE HAS COMPLETED ITS REVIEW OF QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES AND COMMENTS. THE REPORT WILL BE RELEASED AT THE UN ON AUGUST 30 [CAPS in original and emphasis added -hro]

I had downloaded my “Prepublication Copy—Subject to Further Editorial Revision”. In the Acknowledgements I found:

Community input was an essential element of this review. The Committee thanks the individuals who participated in IAC Committee or subcommittee meetings (listed below), as well as the more than 400 individuals who provided other oral or written input (listed in Appendix C).

So I took my mouse to Appendix C “Contributors to the Review” which showed:

Girma Orssengo, University of Western Australia, Australia
Tim Osborn, University of East Anglia, UK
Hilary Ostrov, UK
Rajendra Pachaurai, IPCC, India
Tim Palmer, University of Oxford / ECMWF, UK

Hmmm … Well, I was born in the U.K., but I’ve lived most of my life in Canada! And, oh my … they’ve misspelled “Pachauri”. Further perusal of the document showed (page 11):

More than 400 individuals, listed in Appendix C, provided input. The prevailing views of the questionnaire respondents about the various steps in the IPCC assessment process are summarized in this report and a compilation of all of the responses, with identifiers removed, is available from the IAC6 [emphasis added -hro]

And sure enough Footnote6 was duly hyperlinked and read:

6 See http://www.interacademycouncil.net/.

I followed the link, but could not find this “compilation” anywhere on the IAC site. So I decided to sit right down and write them a letter:

From: Hilary Ostrov [hostrov@xxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:21 AM
To: Secretariat
Subject: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Hello,

On page 11 of the report, I noticed the following:

“The prevailing views of the questionnaire respondents about the various steps in the IPCC assessment process are summarized in this report and a compilation of all of the responses, with identifiers removed, is available from the IAC.6”

As one of the “more than 400” who provided input, I was interested in seeing the other responses. Yet neither the link in footnote 6 (http://interacademycouncil.net) nor any of the links on http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/index.html appear to indicate where this compilation might be found. Could you provide the link to this compilation?

Also, while I had submitted a comment earlier today indicating that I reside in Canada (not in the UK, as shown in Appendix C), I also noticed this evening on further perusal of this list that you also show “Thomas Fuller, Journalist, UK” – my understanding is that Mr. Fuller resides in the USA. When you make these corrections, you might also want to correct the name immediately following my own, which currently reads: “Rajendra Pachaurai, IPCC, India”. I believe the correct spelling of his surname is “Pachauri” :-)

Thanks,
Hilary Ostrov

Hilary Ostrov
E-mail: hostrov@xxxxxx
Blog: The View From Here https://hro001.wordpress.com

I received a very prompt reply:

From: Secretariat [mailto:secretariat@xxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 5:53 AM
To: Hilary Ostrov
Subject: RE: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Dear Hilary Ostrov,

We are sorry for the inconvenience, the responses to the questionnaire are not yet posted. They will soon be available on the website. Thank you very much for your comments. We greatly appreciate it.

Your message has been forwarded to the IPCC Review Committee.

My best regards,

Ms. Tu Nguyen
Project Assistant

InterAcademy Council (IAC)

P.O. Box 19121, 1000 GC Amsterdam, the Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 551 0879
E-Fax +31 (0)20 890 8499
E secretariat@xxxxxxxxx

Visiting address: Trippenhuis, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW),
Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam

So I waited, and waited and checked the IAC site from time to time, but eventually came to the sad conclusion that “soon” must mean something completely different in IAC-speak because by October 7 (at which point several IPCC countries and others had responded to the report) there was still no sign of the “compilation” on the IAC site. So I wrote again:

From: Hilary Ostrov [hostrov@xxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2010 10:19 AM
To: Secretariat
Subject: FW: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Hello,

I just checked the site again, and still don’t see any link to the questionnaire responses. Could you perhaps provide an indication of when they will be available.

Thanks,
Hilary Ostrov

This time the reply was far from “prompt” – and even less promising:

From: Secretariat [mailto:secretariat@xxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 12:54 AM
To: Hilary Ostrov
Subject: RE: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Dear Hilary Ostrov,

The questionnaire responses will soon be available. We are working on it now.
Unfortunately we do not yet have an exact date.

My best regards,

Ms. Tu Nguyen
Project Assistant

While I was waiting (and waiting and waiting – not to mention considering that the word “soon” may need to be redefined), I decided to check out the meeting documentation from the IPCC’s 32nd Session at Busan, Korea [Note: this was not the original link, which is now “broken”, and I have not compared “content” -hro]

There I found that it was the “pre-publication” version of the IAC’s report that was reviewed – and “commented on” by some countries (and by the “IPCC Chair on behalf of the E-team”)

Incidentally, there is a very interesting “New” document on the documentation page:

Decisions taken by the Panel at its 32nd Session with regards to the Recommendations resulting from the Review of the IPCC Processes and Procedures by the InterAcademy Council (IAC)

A quick scan of this document’s 27 pages suggests that not much (if any) change can be expected before the 33rd Session of the IPCC (which appears to be scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi May 10-13) But I digress …

By November 26, there was still no sign of this “compilation” of questionnaire responses. So, I wrote again:

From: Hilary Ostrov [mailto:hostrov@xxxxxx]
Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 3:18 PM
To: ‘Secretariat’
Subject: RE: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Hello,

I just checked the site again, and I still don’t see any link to the questionnaire responses. As I’m sure you know, the IAC’s report indicated that a:

“compilation of all of the responses, with identifiers removed, is available from the IAC” [emphasis added -hro]

It is now almost 3 months since the report was released. So I trust you’ll appreciate that I’m having some difficulty understanding why it is taking so long to make this compilation public.

In fact, I would respectfully suggest that prior to the IPCC’s October 11-14 Busan meeting (at which the IAC’s report was to be reviewed and discussed) such a compilation would bave been required by those responding to the report.

If you can not provide me with a reason for this delay and an exact date when the compilation will be available, I would appreciate receiving the contact information of someone who can.

Thanks,
Hilary Ostrov

Alas, I was greeted with sounds of silence. So I waited a few days and then wrote again:

From: Hilary Ostrov [mailto:hostrov@xxxxxx]
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2010 6:15 PM
To: ‘Secretariat’
Subject: FW: IAC Review of IPCC – Looking for link to deidentified questionnaire responses (and some typos)

Hello again,

Sorry but I do not seem to have received a reply to my Nov. 26 E-mail [below]. However, I see that the site has been updated and now contains what I presume to be the final copy of the IAC’s Review of the IPCC [ http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/report/Climate%20Change%20Assessments,%20Review%20of%20the%20Processes%20&%20Procedures%20of%20the%20IPCC.pdf ]

I appreciate the correction in this presumed final version, so that my location appears as Canada (rather than the U.K.) in Appendix C (although I note that Dr. Pachauri is no longer listed as a “contributor who provided oral or written input”).

However, I also note that Page 6 of the above .pdf retains the text as per my August 31 observation [also below] and the same footnote (6) which links to http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/index.html. And I am still unable to locate the cited “compilation of all of the responses, with identifiers removed” – or link thereto – on the website.

Could you please provide me with a link to the page on which this (long overdue!) compilation can be found.

Thank you,
Hilary Ostrov

It is now December 12, and I’m sorry to report that I’ve been greeted with … more sounds of deafening silence.

But while I wait, (and wait) here’s a more convenient link to the presumed final version of the IAC’s report: http://tinyurl.com/IACReview.

I’ve just discovered a new, improved list of 5 “media contacts“.

I’m forwarding the above correspondence to all five “media contacts” – along with a link to this post. I’ll let you know if/when I receive any replies. In the meantime … to paraphrase an old song, “It’s a long, long time from August to December …”.

UPDATE: December 17 Not one of the above 5 “media contacts” has responded to my enquiry of
December 12 – nor have I heard from anyone else at the IAC. So I’ve now forwarded the entire string of correspondence to Dr. Harold Shapiro, the Chair of the IAC Review Committee in the hope that he might be prevailed upon to:

investigate the cause of this rather inordinate delay (not to mention the discourtesy) and advise me when this “compilation” will in fact be available. Not only do I find the delay and lack of courtesy somewhat dismaying, but I believe that it has potential to undermine the credibility of what is a very important report.

I’m sure this isn’t your fault, and you may not even be aware of the problem. But anything you can do to persuade those who are responsible to act responsively and responsibly would be appreciated.

No reply, yet. But I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: December 20 I have still heard nothing directly from the IAC (or Dr. Shapiro) but the “compilation” is now available, as I’ve noted in a post today.

8 thoughts on “Soon … and sounds of silence from the InterAcademy Council

  1. Exercising the prodigious deductive capacities of my planet-sized brain, I conclude that there were some decidedly unwanted responses and consensuses in that feedback, sufficient to make Choo-choo head for the hills and everyone else to hunker down behind a stone-wall.

    But there is now a technical solution for stone walls!
    http://shock.military.com/Shock/videos.do?displayContent=219051
    The demonstration starts at about the 5:30 mark.
    :)

  2. I am in Costa Rica. No email messages to local Spanish-language media produce a response.

    However, I did receive automated responses to a request addressed to the American Embassy, and an actual direct response. I had asked for an English version of Amb. Andrew´s Opinion page essay. Unsigned response:
    to john moore ,
    “ACS, SanJose”
    cc jrtmenviro@yahoo.com
    date Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM
    subject RE: request for English text of la Nacion 07 Dec 2010´Opinion´ – -Amb. Andrew
    mailed-by state.gov
    hide details Dec 8 (4 days ago)
    Dear Mr. Moore,

    Unfortunately the American Citizen Services Unit does not have an English translation of the Ambassador’s piece from La Nacion.

    I was directed to Facebook and other social media – which I do not use.

    Still no response. UNFCCC, IPCC, and now, US Ambassador Anne Andrew writes for Spanish readers , only.

    Hilary, maybe our problem is – we speak the wrong language. Do you have a CAGW glossary, thesaurus, style manual? any suggestions?

    warmest regards, John R T

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