Our Planet's Climate is broken, but copyright stops us reading about it (unless you have 50,000 USD)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published the draft of its report last week - http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.UkweFhDB_cg . It's > 2100 pp and I have downloaded the whole lot and - with the help of my software - will read it. The simple conclusion is that Climate Change (or more drastic, the Breakdown of Climate) is real and supported by scientific evidence.  Many responsible and concerned citizens (at school, in policy making, in business, in planning, in environment... in fact YOU) will rightly want to read about it. And many of you will want, and would be able to understand, the scientific basis. Because we can all be scientists.

The report is based on >9200 references, some from government departments, but many in the scholarly literature. And here's the problem.

Many of those references are behind a paywall.  I've manually followed the first 20 in Chapter 1. [We are planning an OKF Open-Science project to Crowdcraft the whole lot... Please join us http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-science/2013-October/002764.html ] and I list them below. Some are books, though in electronic form, but many are paywalled behind profit and non-profit publishers. My rough estimate is that it would cost at least 100 USD to read the papers in these 20 refs.

There's nearly 10000 references so lets say it will cost 50, 000 USD for ONE concerned citizen to read the Climate literature. (of course that doesn't allow reading references in references which is often required.) remember that this is what the UN, through its IPCC thinks are the most critical papers.

Now it would technically be possible for the IPCC to copy these papers and post them. It makes technical sense as many are chapters in larger volumes. But the IPCC can't do that as it would violate copyright.

Yes, we cannot discuss the planet's future responsibly because copyright is more important.

I plan to read the 2100 page report by machine and see how it can be made more digitally tractable. For example I'd like to extract diagrams and turn them into tables - this makes it easier to re-run analyzes and make comparisons (anyone interested please let me know).

And I'd like to extract data from those publications in the same way. But the publishers are strenuously trying to stop this. (More on this later). It could  be called copyright theft. And parliament is being lobbied to increase the penalties: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmcumeds/674/67406.htm ("We recommend that the maximum penalty for serious online copyright theft be extended to ten years' imprisonment. ").

So while our planet is dying we are making sure that it won't be due to copyright violation.

Here's the evidence...

Allen, M. R., J. F. B. Mitchell, and P. A. Stott, 2013: Test of a decadal climate forecast. Nature Geoscience, 6, 243-244. [18 USD, PAYWALL http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n4/full/ngeo1788.html?WT.ec_id=NGEO-201304]


AMAP, 2009: Summary – The Greenland Ice Sheet in a Changing Climate: Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA). Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), 22. [FREE, http://www.amap.no/documents/doc/arctic-climate-issues-2011-changes-in-arctic-snow-water-ice-and-permafrost/129]


Armour, K. C., I. Eisenman, E. Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, K. E. McCusker, and C. M. Bitz, 2011: The reversibility of sea ice loss in a state-of-the-art climate model. Geophysical Research Letters, 38. [Corrupted Ref, PAYWALL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011GL048739/pdf]


Arrhenius, S., 1896: On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground. Philos. Mag., 41, 237–276. [FREE at http://www.rsc.org/images/Arrhenius1896_tcm18-173546.pdf]


Baede, A. P. M., E. Ahlonsou, Y. Ding, and D. Schimel, 2001: The Climate System: an Overview. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press. [PAYWALL? Google Books omits pages ]


Beerling, D. J., and D. L. Royer, 2011: Convergent Cenozoic CO2 history. Nature Geoscience, 4, 418-420. . [18 USD, PAYWALL]


Bretherton, F. P., K. Bryan, and J. D. Woodes, 1990: Time-Dependent Greenhouse-Gas-Induced Climate Change. Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment Cambridge University Press, 410. [UNAVAILABLE]


Brönnimann, S., T. Ewen, J. Luterbacher, H. F. Diaz, R. S. Stolarski, and U. Neu, 2008: A focus on climate during the past 100 years. Climate Variability and Extremes during the Past 100 Years,  S. Brönnimann, J.  Luterbacher, T. Ewen, H. F. Diaz, R. S. Stolarski, and U. Neu, Eds., Springer, 1-25. [PAYWALL 140 GBP]


Broomell, S., and D. Budescu, 2009: Why Are Experts Correlated? Decomposing Correlations Between Judges.

Psychometrika, 74, 531-553. [PAYWALL, 40 USD http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11336-009-9118-z]


Brunet, M., and P. Jones, 2011: Data rescue initiatives: bringing historical climate data into the 21st century. Climate Research, 47, 29-40. [FREE, http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr_oa/c047p029.pdf]


Budescu, D., S. Broomell, and H.-H. Por, 2009: Improving communication of uncertainty in the reports of the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Psychological Sci., 20, 299-308. [UNAVAILABLE]


Byrne, R., S. Mecking, R. Feely, and X. Liu, 2010: Direct observations of basin-wide acidification of the North Pacific  Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 37. [FREE, ftp://soest.hawaii.edu/coastal/Climate%20Articles/Acidification%20Pacific%20Byrne%202010.pdf]


CCSP, 2009: Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making. U.S. Climate Change Science Program. , 96 pp. [FREE http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap5-2/final-report/sap5-2-final-report-all.pdf]


Church, J. A., and N. J. White, 2011: Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century. Surveys in

Geophysics, 32, 585-602. [PRINT BOOK, ca 35 GBP]


Church, J. A., J. M. Gregory, N. J. White, S. M. Platten, and J. X. Mitrovica, 2011: Understanding and Projecting Sea Level Change. Oceanography, 24, 130-143. [FREE http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/24-2_church.pdf]


Cleveland, W. S., 1979: Robust Locally Weighted Regression and Smoothing Scatterplots. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 74, 829-836. [JSTOR, FREE? copy at http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~gov2000/Handouts/lowess.pdf]


Collins, M., and M. R. Allen, 2002: Assessing the relative roles of initial and boundary conditions in interannual to decadal climate predictability. Journal of Climate, 15, 3104-3109. [FREE, http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442%282002%29015%3C3104%3AATRROI%3E2.0.CO%3B2 ]


Covey, C., et al., 2003: An overview of results from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Global and Planetary Change, 37, 103-133. [FREE at http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/shared/articles/Coveyetal-GlobPlanChng03.pdf ]



Dee, D. P., et al., 2011: The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 137, 553-597. [FREE http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.828/pdf]


Dlugokencky, E. J., et al., 2009: Observational constraints on recent increases in the atmospheric CH4 burden.

Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L18803. [ FREE http://biodav.atmos.colostate.edu/kraus/Papers/Methane/methane/CH4%20trend/2009_CH4trend.pdf]

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6 Responses to Our Planet's Climate is broken, but copyright stops us reading about it (unless you have 50,000 USD)

  1. Andrew says:

    A couple of others that are available:

    The reversibility of sea ice loss in a state-of-the-art climate model - http://web.mit.edu/karmour/www/Armouretal_GRL2011.pdf [Green OA by author]

    "Improving communication of uncertainty in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" - http://www.climateaccess.org/sites/default/files/Budescu_Improving%20Communication%20of%20Uncertainty.pdf [not sure if permitted reposting]

    A couple more seem to be early IPCC documents, and I'm surprised they haven't made those available.

    • pm286 says:

      I deliberately didn't take more than 2-3 clicks after the Google search. I am sure that some Open copies of some references are available. Indeed the world might feel so guilty that they voluntarily post the 9000. That will help the climate discussion but it sidesteps the problem. That won't affect most of the scholarly poor like Jack Andraka trying to cure disease.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Peter and thank you for this revealing and empassioned post on the challenge we face.

    We live in a crazy world.

    A couple of questions though.

    In your experience who 'owns' the copyright? Who would we petition to release the material and to whom?

    I ask this because I want to do something and I want to make sure it is an effective something.

    This situation is too important to leave to compromised politicians.


    • pm286 says:

      >>In your experience who ‘owns’ the copyright? Who would we petition to release the material and to whom?

      It's a rat's nest. Effectively the publisher controls it.

      >>I ask this because I want to do something and I want to make sure it is an effective something.

      Good. There are legal things, and things which push the boundaries. Most of the disputed ground is very unclear. Beyond that you are into civil disobedience which is a necessary action at times.

      >>This situation is too important to leave to compromised politicians.

      Yes. I think bottom-up action is critical. The question is whether we announce it before or after we do it. if you mail me I'll keep confidentiality...

  3. Gustavo Lopes says:

    I think it would be cheaper to go the library.

    • pm286 says:

      Suppose you live in SubSaharan Africa? You'll be one of the first to be affected by Climate Breakdown. And your nearest library ?? and even then it won't have access to many of the journals.

      And if you live in the Maldives?

      And even UK - Where's the nearest university to Penzance?

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