Accusations of alarmism are flying. If only the IPCC released cartoons as good as this one... (image from

I realise that blogs are supposed to express strong opinions clearly, but I’m a bit divided on this one. The IPCC was cleared on Monday (today as I write this) of “errors that would undermine the main conclusions” by an independent review called for by the Dutch parliament.

I suspect that, as with most enquiries anyone who wants to go on attacking the IPCC will focus on the negatives, like the argument that the IPCC focuses on worst case scenarios, and find some kind of evidence for bias to dismiss the positives. Anyone who wants to defend the IPCC will hold the exoneration up as gospel truth, as its Professor Martin Parry already has.

I can’t help but wonder if the IPCC could do with a more full-on media management strategy, tangling with specific criticisms as they arise, dealing with very specific detail and getting quotes out from key officials as soon as needed. By contrast, the press release dealing with their review is, frankly, drier than their own worst-case scenarios for the Sahara.

Then again, perhaps dignifying the media hoards looking for blood, and especially the die-hard sceptics (like Christopher Booker in the Telegraph, who’s been savaging the IPCC again recently, particularly over “Amazongate“) would politicise the IPCC more than it already is politicised and open it up to further mud-slinging. There have been a raft of controversial accusations recently, some withdrawn and apologised for.

By and large I’d say that more media management is better media management, but in this case their mistakes are often only interesting to people who obsessively follow climate change developments anyway, for business or for pleasure, and I suspect most of them know what they think already and are not going to change on the basis of a few vocal commentators. Perhaps by talking more, the IPCC would risk needlessly raising its profile and the profile of its controversies.

We shall see