The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the controversial Dr Rajendra Pachuari, has spoken out ahead of a review of the panel’s procedures by backing the use of ‘grey literature’ in its publications.
Dr Pachuari has maintained that the majority of the conclusions published in the 2007 Fourth Assessment report are suitably reliable despite a series of high profile mistakes which led to many questioning his leadership of the intergovernmental body.
In particular the infamous glacier-gate claim that the Himalayan glaciers would have melted by the year 2035 was cited as proof of how research was conducted without providing the necessary scientific evidence. Pachuari has since claimed that this error was due to ‘human failure’, which the review will aim to eliminate in future.
The basis for some claims were in fact founded on what has come to be termed ‘grey literature’, essentially non-peer-reviewed literature, which it is argued is often as scientifically sound as the ramblings of the average opinionated drunk at your local pub.
However, Dr Pachauri has argued that the non-peer-reviewed nature of much is necessary and is indeed worthy of inclusion in further reports, claiming that the press have sullied the name of such evidence.
“The media and several other people have completely misunderstood the need for using non-peer-reviewed literature. The loose term that is used is ‘grey literature’ as though it was some form of grey muddied water flowing down the drains,” claimed Dr Pachauri.
“But I’d like to highlight what non-peer-reviewed literature constitutes: reports from the reports from the International Energy Agency, the OECD, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank… and some NGOs – there are some highly prestigious NGOS that are doing detailed academic work, and you cannot ignore this.”
Pachauri has admitted, however, that there are certainly lessons to be learnt from the mistakes of the past, and will take on board comments from critics who will be working with the independent review panel over the coming months in an attempt to reinforce scientific procedures ahead of the upcoming Fifth Assessment report.
“We have to listen and learn all the time and evolve in a manner that meets the needs of societies across the world,” said Pachauri.
“We have not been effective at telling the public that ‘yes, we made a mistake’, but that does not change the fact that glaciers are melting.”