AMSTERDAM – AMSTERDAM (AP) — A former Princeton University president was named Monday to head a prestigious 12-member group reviewing the work of the U.N. scientific panel on climate change, whose mistakes have undermined public confidence that global warming is happening.
The InterAcademy Council, an association of national science academies, said economist Harold T. Shapiro will chair the committee of top scientists from around the world.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon assigned the task to the independent council after several errors were discovered in the voluminous 2007 report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which earned the panel a share of the Nobel Peace prize that year.
The mistakes were seized upon by skeptics who doubt the U.N. panel's conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the Earth's average temperatures to increase, and that humans are responsible.
The council, based in the Dutch capital, said the committee will review how the U.N. panel ensures the quality of the data from more than 2,000 scientists that feed into its authoritative reports, published every four or five years.
The review panel also will recommend how errors may be corrected after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports are released.
The mistakes in the latest report mainly came from the use of information from governments and advocacy groups, while most of the report relies on peer-reviewed scientific papers.
The most glaring errors came in a single entry saying Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — hundreds of years earlier than other information suggests. The chapter on Europe states 55 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level, when the true figure is about half that.
The discovery of the errors came a few months after e-mail exchanges between leading climate scientists were stolen and published. Skeptics said the e-mails showed climate scientists were suppressing evidence contradicting their global warming theories.
Shapiro, 74, an economist who writes on bioethics, was president of the University of Michigan for eight years before moving to the same job at Princeton in 1988. He served on scientific advisory committees under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
It will submit its findings and recommendations to the U.N. by Aug. 30.