Science & Technology

First Climategate, Then Glaciergate, Now Amazongate and …


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Hurricanegate? Proponents of catastrophic man-made global warming gave critics a lot of ammunition when emails leaked from the East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit indicated that some prominent climate scientists may have been manipulating data, and were definitely stonewalling critics and plotting boycotts against journals that dared to publish skeptical research. Next came the revelation that the Fourth Assessment Report of Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prediction that global warming would melt away Himalayan glaciers by 2035 had no more scientific sourcing than to a quote from a popular science magazine article published in 1999. The IPCC head, Rajendra Pachauri, was forced to admit that the glacier prediction was in error. Since then skeptics and bloggers have been pouring poring over the Fourth Assessment, and preliminarily what they have found is disturbing.

For example, Hurricanegate. BBC blogger Andrew Neil reports:

The IPCC 2007 report claimed that global warming was leading to an increase in extreme weather, such as hurricanes and floods. Like its claims about the glaciers, this was also based on an unpublished report which had not been subject to scientific scrutiny—indeed several experts warned the IPCC not to rely on it.

The author, who didn't actually finish his work until a year after the IPCC had used his research, has now repudiated what he sees has its misuse of his work.

His conclusion: "There is insufficient evidence to claim a statistical link between global warming and catastrophe loss." Yet it was because of this—now unproved—link that the British government signed up to a $100 billion transfer from rich to poor countries to help them cope with a supposed increase in floods and hurricanes. It was also central to many of the calculations in Britain's Stern Report, which might now need to be substantially revised.

Note to Neil: It would be helpful (and more credible) if you named the researcher you quote. And then there is Amazongate. As blogger Richard North reports, the IPCC Assessment stated on page 596:

Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.

Sounds quite dire. But notice the citation to Rowell and Moore, 2000. It turns out that the reference is not to peer-reviewed science but to a report done by an advocacy group, the World Wildlife Fund. The authors are an Australian policy analyst who works for the WWF and a green activist/freelance journalist. Of course, it needs to be said that there are more cautious assessments of the possible effects of climate change on forests included in the IPCC report.

And there's more. For example, the folks over at the Heartland Institute have been uncovering a plethora of dubious "scientific" citations from the "rigorously peer-reviewed" IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. All very interesting.