Typos, Projections, and Peer Review in the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
This chapter examines two different controversies surrounding the IPCC Fourth Assessment report: one arising from a typographical error in the discussion of the Himalayan glacier melt projection, the other from the exclusion of dynamical processes from the proffered sea level rise projections. O’Reilly analyzes the chain of citations that each reference—there are thousands in an IPCC report—travelled through, and considers how “trust in numbers” (Porter 1995) compares with “trust in scientists” (Shapin 1995). This paper argues that the IPCC assessment report, though peer reviewed, occasionally contains “casual numbers.” This raises a critique of phenomenon of assessment itself, suggesting that it moves from a scientific project to one of auditing and accountability.
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