Taking shape

The implementation plan lays out how the summary document is to be produced: "This volume will be prepared by the ASC [Assessment Steering Committee] in concert with a scientific editor and lead authors in a simple, jargon-free language meant for policymakers and the broader public, and will be subjected to peer review guided by the ASC." In ACIA's jargon, this document later became the "overview document." The responsibility for writing it was placed with a science writer, who worked closely together with the ACIA graphics expert.89 Formally, the responsibility for the overview was placed with the Assessment Integration Team.

By the cross-fertilization meeting in New Hampshire in March 2003, the science writer and graphics expert were part of the ACIA process and this meeting marked their first

89 Summary Report of the Ninth Assessment Steering Committee (ASC) Meeting 2-5 June, Asker, Norway.

interaction with the authors working on the scientific report. Based on these discussions and drafts of the science chapters, a list of key findings was developed that later became a structuring principle for the overview. The science writer and graphic artist had an idea early on of structuring the material differently than the chapter divisions of the scientific report: "The idea was that it was going to ... be these integrated themes and we would use a lot of case studies and explain the thing in a storyline manner."90 When they started preparing a manuscript however, the structure of the scientific document was used to lay out the initial version of the overview. This initial draft version was sent out to lead authors for comment in the summer of 2003. At an informal meeting to present ACIA's results to the Senior Arctic Officials on Svalbard at the end of the summer, the science writer presented her ideas on the overview for the policy community.91

When the science writer and graphic artists next met the lead authors at the Assessment Steering Committee meeting in London in the fall, the science writer put out a request for more input. The main comments concerned the structure of the document with some wishes to place the major impacts more up front, where they would catch the attention of politicians, while others emphasized the need to follow the same sequence as in the scientific document. A specific concern was how to best trace material in the overview to the scientific document, as had been done in the overviews produced by the IPCC. There was also a discussion about the need for careful review of the overview.92 The science writer and graphic artist afterwards described this meeting as coming back full circle to their original idea for a more integrative approach.93

In addition to the formal discussion, the meeting also offered the overview team opportunities to meet with lead authors and to discuss how the different sections of the science document would be best presented. They describe these meetings as a venue for synthesizing the information in a way that it had never been presented before:

For example, the climate change indicator graphics ... It's a new accumulation of content that has been separated out in a different way before.94

We wish we had started way earlier with a process like that because we could have created something much more original and perhaps more effective of the stuff we want to show than to just draw on existing published literature.95

They made a point about how meteorological data from a particular place could have been effectively integrated with indigenous knowledge in the same layout and thereby create a stronger message.96

Central to the introductory part of the overview are the key findings, and the discussion about them illustrates how the wish to make a strong, policy-relevant message at times came in conflict with keeping the science and policy spheres separated. For example,

90 Interview Susan Joy Hassol October 16, 2003.

91 Interviews 2, 3, and 12.

92 Observation notes from London meeting of the Assessment Integration Team October 14, 2003.

93 Interview Paul Grabhorn and Susan Hassol, October 16, 2003.

94 Interview Paul Grabhorn, October 16, 2003.

95 Interview Susan Joy Hassol, October 16, 2003.

96 Interview Susan Joy Hassol and Paul Grabhorn October 16, 2003.

during the Assessment Integration Team meeting in London, ACIA's chair argued for a clear strong message about human-induced climate change, while other voices in a lively discussion stressed the importance of keeping the sequence of science-overview-policy very clear. This discussion also raised issues about the "ownership" of the overview. Whereas several of the scientists and organization representatives at the meeting wanted to enter into specific discussions about language, the science-writer-graphics team emphasized the difficulties of word-smithing, i.e. formulating language, in such a large group.97

Right after the meeting, a new version of the key findings and a new outline of the overview organized around the ten key findings was distributed to the Assessment Steering Committee with a request to review them to "assure ourselves that these are the essential ones."98

According to the Assessment Steering Committee protocol, the next draft of the overview was to be ready by mid-January, the same date as was set for the final version of the scientific report, giving the lead authors a week for comments. The tight time table was set to meet the time lines of the policy process. Later it became clear that the policy community also wanted a national review of overview document.

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