MADRID 1995: Tipping Point?—The Quest (Part II)–The Last Day (Part II)
We continue our quest for how human attribution was first established by the IPCC with a close look at the dramas on the final day in Madrid using the Australian Delegation Report as our guide. The first and second essays on the Chapter 8 Controversy will help readers follow the story, but the main tip for new readers is to catch up on the importance of Barnett et al 1996 in maintaining the scepticism of all but the published version of Chapter 8. Also helpful will be this key to drafts and meetings:
SAR 18Apr95 draft: the version of the Working Group 1 Second Assessment Report sent out for review before the deadline for comments on chapters in early July 1995
Asheville Meeting of Lead Authors (25-8 Jul) convened primarily to redraft the Working Group 1 Report’s Summary for PolicyMakers (SPM) in the light of comments and in preparation for Madrid
SAR 9Oct95 draft: the version of the Working Group 1 Report circulated to the governmental delegates prior to Madrid
Madrid Working Group 1 Plenary (27-29 Nov) convened primarily to give line-by-line approval to the Summary for PolicyMakers (SPM) and to accept the underlying Report.
Rome IPCC Plenary (11-5 Dec) to accept all the Working Group Reports and give line-by-line approval to the Synthesis Report.
SAR: The IPCC Second Assessment Report as published in June 1996, the Working Group 1 part of which is also referred to as the ‘Scientific Assessment’ [pdf].
If we were to fashion a comic strip, or a cartoon for some fantastic narrative of Madrid, we might imagine our evil antagonist as the chief delegate from some fabulously wealthy kingdom in Arabia.
He would arrive in costume from the North African deserts of sand dunes, oil and Mohammad. He would be Mohammad yes, but Dr Mohammad, a scientist with the best education the West could offer, enunciating graciously the lingua franca of modern diplomacy. And he would have the most wonderful Big Oil title, like:
Economic Advisor to the Minister of Oil for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian delegate: Dr Mohammad Al-Sabban
And so it is Dr Mohammad Al-Sabban from Jeddah who raises his flag once again to speak. Ever polite, but never afraid to re-state his point if it were slightly misconstrued…and persistent…Is he persistent! He is legendary at the various climate conferences for his ability to keep going, tenaciously labouring a point, sometimes solo against the whole room, politely—And just one more matter if you please Mr Chair—miraculously all day and into the night if necessary, one time even until dawn, only stopping when the Chairman simply said Enough is enough! It is diplomacy by exhaustion. And then it becomes consensus by exhaustion as we shall see.
This is the sort of thing that Tim Barnett could not stand for a moment. Tom Wigley has gotten used to it, as much as a scientist could. But then there are the likes of John Zillman who seem to thrive on it. Zillman won’t tell you that. Instead, he will complain of the talks getting bogged down in some nuance, of stalling and blocking with dubious motivation, of marathons session for which no amount of coffee could prepare. But these types like Zillman still managed to stay calm and hang in through the day and into the night and then up again the next morning. They seem to be blessed with some super-human tolerances for what would do in the heads of any of us mortal folk. Mortal folk like Ben Santer for instance. He could only tolerate so much, and this time he snapped. For a moment he completely lost his cool, barking back at the Saudi: If YOU are so interested in this topic then why had YOU not joined the Side Group to discuss it!