Science czar calls for openness on climate questions

Reveal the things we know we don't know


The government's chief scientific adviser John Beddington has called for openness and honesty in the debate over man-made climate change.

He said climate scientists should release the data behind their predictions and be less hostile to those who disagree with them. He said that more openness about the uncertainties of climate science would increase public confidence rather than undermine it.

He said: “I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper scepticism. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can’t be changed.”

Beddington is particularly dubious about the use of computer modelling. He told The Times: “When you get into large-scale climate modelling there are quite substantial uncertainties. On the rate of change and the local effects, there are uncertainties both in terms of empirical evidence and the climate models themselves.”

He also said climate scientists should release the data on which they base their predictions. He said: "Wherever possible, we should try to ensure there is openness and that source material is available for the whole scientific community."

He added: "There is a danger that people can manipulate the data, but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger.”

In other news, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will not resign because of mistakes in a 2007 report which claimed that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 or sooner.

He dismissed the mistake as human error and said it did not detract from the fact that glaciers were indeed melting, nor would it undermine confidence in climate science as a whole. ®


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