《经济学人》:气候之争
日期:2011-06-28 11:16

(单词翻译:单击)

A new row about the IPCC
政府间气候变化专门委员会的新争吵

A climate of conflict
气候之争

The world’s climate experts must work harder to avoid conflicts of interest
全球的气候专家们必须要竭尽全力以避免利益之争

Jun 23rd 2011 | from the print edition | International

PANELS of experts assessing scientific investigations tend to be messy affairs, particularly when their customers are governments. People with expertise in one field, such as renewable energy, may have a bias towards it. Summaries of their work are the result of political negotiations. And findings are further boiled down in an attempt to win media coverage.

那些评估科学考察的专家小组越发地变得复杂了,尤其是当他们的客户是政府时更是如此。在某个领域,如可再生能源方面拥有专业知识的人或许对此有偏见。他们的工作摘要是政治谈判的结果。这样的发现可以进一步归结为试图赢得媒体的报道。

Much of this can be seen in a new “special report” on renewable energy by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was released last week. Possible conflicts of interest, revealed by Steve McIntyre, a blogger, have led to another controversy about the panel—only 18 months after its embarrassment over an incorrect claim about the imminent demise of the Himalayas’ glaciers.

从新的有关可再生能源的“特别报告”中就可以看到以上的大部分情况,该报告是在上周由政府间气候变化专门委员会(IPCC,以下简称气候委员会)发布的。一个叫史帝夫.麦因特(Steve McIntyre)的博客透露,可能的利益纷争已经又引发了一场关于专家小组的争议——这距离上次关于喜马拉雅山冰川即将消失的错误言论仅有18个月的时间。

For a start, the press release about the report was misleading. “Close to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies, a new report shows,” it claims. In fact, the report merely discusses the assumptions needed to produce this outcome, one of the more extreme scenarios the IPCC looked at.

首先,出版机构发布的这个报道就有误导性。它声称“一个新的报告显示,如果在正确且有效的公共政策支持下,在本世纪中叶,可再生能源可以提供全球近80%的能源供应”。事实上,该报告仅仅讨论了能够出现这种结果的假设,而在气候委员会看来,这只是一种更为极端的情况之一。

A poorly written press release might have caused less of a stir, were it not for the fact that Greenpeace had come up with the scenario. Its development was led by Sven Teske, director of the group’s renewable-energy campaign. He was also one of the 12 authors of the chapter in question. What is more, a Greenpeace publication based on this scenario was graced by a foreword written by Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s chairman.

一个写得不好的新闻稿或许不会造成太大的轰动,然而对于“绿色和平”已经出版的大纲却不是这样。该大纲是由思凡•泰斯科(Sven Teske)领导编写的,他是绿色和平组织可再生能源项目主管,也是相关有争议内容的12个作者之一。此外,气候委员会的主席金德拉•帕乔里(Rajendra Pachauri)还为绿色和平组织的一个出版物作序,为其添彩不少,该出版物是也是以有争议的章节为依据的。

As if to underline such problems, when the governments that make up the IPCC met in May to release the summary of the report, they also adopted, for the first time, a policy on conflicts of interest among expert authors. Such a policy had been strongly recommended by an outside panel asked to look into the IPCC last year.

气候委员会的政府成员在五月份会见时,发布了该报告的摘要,似乎就是为了强调这样的问题,他们也是第一次接受了在专家作者之间产生利益冲突的政策。去年,这样的政策受到一个要求调查气候委员会的外部专家小组强烈地支持。

Although Mr Teske’s case produced headlines, it is not necessarily the most worrying conflict of interest. Environmentalists are concerned about the number of “pro-dam” people on the team of authors reporting on hydropower. And it is not just the authors that may be conflicted. Each chapter of an IPCC report goes through a review process to ensure that all comments have been addressed satisfactorily. One of the two editors overseeing this process for the chapter on wind energy was Christian Kjaer, the boss of a lobbying group, the European Wind Energy Association. He points out that he did not seek the role of review editor, but was asked when someone else dropped out. Given the procedural nature of the task, he does not think that he had a conflict of interest.

虽然泰斯科的报告成了头条新闻,不过这不会成为最让人担忧的利益冲突。对于报告水利方面的作者,环保人士则关注其小组中“支持水坝”的人数。并不仅是作者会陷入冲突。气候委员会每章的报告都要通过审查程序以确保都得到满意的解释。在监督有关风能那一章的两个编辑之一是克利斯蒂坦•凯嘉尔(Christian Kjaer),他是一个游说集团欧洲风能协会的老板。他指出,他并没有找到当审查编辑的感觉,不过他被问及到了是否有其他人退出。鉴于该任务的程序化特点,他并不认为有利益冲突。

Personal bias can be overcome with large, balanced author teams, but in the case of the report on renewables it is not obvious there was such a balance. The report discusses the downsides of various renewable energies, the challenge of incorporating them into existing infrastructure at scale and the vast if poorly bounded costs of deploying them: $1.5 trillion to $7.2 trillion in the 2020s, depending on the scenario. But the summary, in particular, is largely upbeat.

个人偏见可以在很大程度上被均衡的作者团队所解决,不过在报道可再生能源方面,却很少能够看到这样的均衡。该报告讨论了各种可再生能源的缺点,在现在基础设施上大量使用它们所面临的挑战,以及整合不好这些能源时所付出的代价:按照此纲要,在21世纪20年代需要投入1.5万亿到7.2万亿美元。但该报告的摘要在很大程度上还是持乐观态度。

A case in point is the generating capacity of renewables. The report discusses the fact that this is smaller than for other forms of power generation. But the summary glosses over the problem, for instance by not mentioning that, although renewables have accounted for almost half the world’s new generating capacity in the past two years, the other half has probably generated a lot more electricity.

在这一点上,典型的例子便是可再生能源的发电量。该报告讨论了可再生能源比其他形式的能源发电规模小的事实。不过摘要掩饰了问题,例如,虽然可再生能源在过去的两年间,占到了全球新增发电量的一半,但另一半可能已经产生了更多的电量,报告却并没有提到这些。

This is not all the boffins’ fault. Some countries, such as Germany, which nominated Mr Teske, are very keen on renewables—and wanted the summary to reflect this. Brazil has little interest in anything that can be seen as biofuel-bashing.

这也不全是科学家们的错。一些例如德国这样非常热衷于可再生能源的国家提名了泰斯科,并希望摘要上能体现这一点。巴西则在任何能够产生生物燃料的东西很少的兴趣。

The lesson of the latest IPCC row is that its authors and organisers must fight harder against groupthink—and speedily implement the new conflict-of-interest policy. It is wrong, as Mr Pachauri seems to think, that the policy should not immediately and fully apply to everyone involved in the panel’s current climate assessment. It would be churlish to see no progress on reforming the IPCC, but blindness to believe there had been enough.

从气候委员会最新一系列事件中所吸取的教训就是,它的作者和组织都必须更加尽力地对抗群体思维——并且迅速实施新的利益冲突政策。就像帕乔里似乎思考的那样,涉及专家小组目前气候评估的政策不能立即,全方位地适用于每个人,这一点是错误的。除了气候委员会曾经存在的很大盲目性,如果在的改革再看不到有任何进展,这将会很糟糕。

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重点单词
  • capacityn. 能力,容量,容积; 资格,职位 adj. (达到最
  • releasen. 释放,让渡,发行 vt. 释放,让与,准予发表,发
  • obviousadj. 明显的,显然的
  • churlishadj. 粗野的,举止粗俗的,难对付的
  • blindnessn. 失明;无知;[军]盲区
  • faultn. 缺点,过失,故障,毛病,过错,[地]断层 vt.
  • keenadj. 锋利的,敏锐的,强烈的,精明的,热衷的
  • imminentadj. 逼近的,即将发生的
  • outcomen. 结果,后果
  • controversyn. (公开的)争论,争议