More Bad News for the IPCC
Seems like the hits just keep coming and coming these days for the IPCC.
The IPCC in their fourth review (AR4) made a claim that Global Climate Change would have a devastating impact on the Amazon rain forest.
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.
According to Booker at the UK Telegraph and Leake at the UK Times, Mr. Rowell is a well known Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth activist. I don’t think that precludes him from making a valid scientific claim, but that claim should be subject to strict scrutiny. Mr. Rowell isn’t exactly an unbiased party. I think if it’s okay to question the funding for anti-AGW scientists, then it is equally valid to question the motive for pro-AGW scientists.
Scrutiny isn’t exactly the IPCC’s strong suit these days. The claim made by Mr. Rowell in a paper for the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was based on an article in Nature. The claim in question came from the paper by D. C. Nepstad; Large scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire.
Now I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to correlate logging with Global Warming…err Climate Change.
Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at Leeds University who specialises in tropical forest ecology, described the section of Rowell and Moore’s report predicting the potential destruction of large swathes of rainforest as “a mess”.
“The Nature paper is about the interactions of logging damage, fire and periodic droughts, all extremely important in understanding the vulnerability of Amazon forest to drought, but is not related to the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall,” he said.
“In my opinion the Rowell and Moore report should not have been cited; it contains no primary research data.”
Of course, I don’t think that makes the whole Chapter invalid or anything of the sort. It does call into question how the IPCC authors pick and chose the papers it cites. Combine that with the flap of the Himalayan Glaciers and you can see a pattern of putting a priori judgments over scientifically valid conclusions. It makes you really wonder what is going on in there.
Why is the IPCC citing papers from environmental lobby groups in their “peer-reviewed” reports? Environmental groups, just like “Big Oil”, have all the incentive in the world to “cherrypick” any and all data that supports their case. Groups like WWF are not scientists or scientific organizations. Do they have a quality assurance program or do they run with whatever will get them the most donations? Good intentions aside, they are still a group with an agenda.
This all adds to the case against the “consensus.” ClimateGate, GlacierGate, and AmazonGate all point to certain well positioned people putting ideology over science.
Chip Knappenberger over at MasterResource.org has a scathing essay on the whole affair. His criticism is on the procedures used by the IPCC to develop a scientifically valid case. He find the IPCC severly lacking, as do I. His takeaway:
“The findings of the IPCC reports were developed in advance and furthered by a careful selection from whatever material could be found to support them. In some cases, supporting material was developed or fabricated where none could otherwise be located. As such, these findings may not necessarily reflect the true state of scientific understanding. Use at your own risk.”
Unfortunately, that sounds like sage advice at the moment. I think 2010 will be the year of the skeptics. Only one month in and the IPCC case is almost in total collapse.