The IPCC Must Maintain Its Rigor

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Science  14 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5869, pp. 1457
DOI: 10.1126/science.1155724

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Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Albert Gore Jr., sending a strong message about the importance of the world's future climate. Indeed, for two decades, international scientists and policy-makers contributing to the IPCC process have provided assessments of climate change science, impacts, and mitigation, addressing one of the most far-reaching and complex challenges that society has ever faced. Yet this is no time for the IPCC to rest on its laurels. The climate system continues to change and science continues to improve, so policy must be kept current with our best understanding. Reformulating the science/policy interface should be considered and be open to change but must acknowledge lessons from the past. The factors that have been critical to the success of the IPCC need to be preserved if a rigorous scientific basis is to continue to inform the growing challenge of decision-making on climate change.