Home > Global Warming > More Bad News for the IPCC

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.

Categories: Global Warming
  1. February 1, 2010 at 03:02

    The methodology behind man made climate change is falling to bits. The degree of scrutiny it is under and the rate that problems are being found it is pretty much terminal. The Main Stream Media is smelling a hot story and picking up leads from the blog sphere; its just a matter of time before it is all over.

    What do I think? Well, having being involved in academia in a Sci Phd and postgrad roles, some of the things being done with the data that are coming to light is just beyond belief. Losing original data or being unable to reconstruct it is just wrong; we cannot time travel and go back and get the data again, the ‘experiment’ cannot be rerun. It would have been far better for all concerned if the role of ‘data collation, archival and distribution’ was kept distinct from those working on the data. To me the importance of the field got ahead of safe guards and procedures to ensure ‘fair play’. There is a lot of lessons the larger academic community could learn from this.

    • February 1, 2010 at 17:03

      It would have been far better for all concerned if the role of ‘data collation, archival and distribution’ was kept distinct from those working on the data.

      I agree. In any other profession that’s exactly how it’s done. Even though I’m not always in favor of Government intervention, but maybe we need a Scientific version of Sarbanes-Oaxley, or something to keep it honest. It’s obvious the peer-review process doesn’t work, especially on a political topic like AGW.

      The more and more scrutiny Climate Change gets, the more skeptical the public becomes. It’s no wonder why they never wanted to abide by FOIA requests. They knew this was going to happen.

  2. yttik
    February 1, 2010 at 11:49

    This kind of reminds me of the argument that forest fires are man made and evil. Well yes, they cause a lot of damage and endanger lives, but they’re also a vital part of nature. Some species need fires to grow, to reproduce, soil is renewed by fire, the ph is adjusted, nutrients are added. Even fires serve a purpose in nature and by design they’ve been happening long before man came along.

    I’ve gotten really cynical about people and their environmental discussions. Not far from where I live we banned logging on this piece of property, logging of course being presumed to be one of the greatest evils ever. Well lo and behold after a few years mother nature struck it with lightening and burned it all to the ground. So what made the fire so powerful? Nobody was allowed to harvest any firewood or log any trees, so all that stuff just became fuel for a hellacious fire, something we’ve avoided for many years by carefully logging and collecting firewood.

    People are also part of the ecosystem. We also play an important role in nature. When we forget to calculate the human force as a potential positive participant, disaster always ensues.

    • Woodhull
      February 1, 2010 at 12:00

      Both the Forest Service and the Dept of Interior changed its views of selective logging after some of the most horrific forest fires of the ’80s. I think this is one of the best examples of environmentalists and corporatists (Weyerhauser, Georgia Pacific, et at) having to meet in the middle over who’s “right” and who’s “wrong.” Mother Nature decided it for them. It’s shameful that the most vocal environmental extremists who cull through, often dodgy “data”, are the ones who set environmental policy via PAC money to politicians.

    • February 1, 2010 at 17:12

      People are also part of the ecosystem.

      What a novel concept! I think part of it comes down to how you view human beings, Lockean or Hobbean. Or Thomas Sowell’s in Vision of the Anointed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1OOSKBR9O8

  3. Woodhull
    February 1, 2010 at 11:54

    ZH: I didn’t see this post before I put my comment up on your 1/31 post.

    On another subject. Do you have an email account I can shoot you an email? I used to have it, but can no longer find it. thx

  4. rogerthesurf
    February 1, 2010 at 20:49

    There might be global warming or cooling but the important issue is whether we, as a human race, can do anything about it.

    There are a host of porkies and not very much truth barraging us everyday so its difficult to know what to believe.

    I think I have simplified the issue in an entertaining way on my blog which includes some issues connected with climategate and “embarrassing” evidence.

    In the pipeline is an analysis of the economic effects of the proposed emission reductions. Watch this space or should I say Blog


    Please feel welcome to visit and leave a comment.



    PS The term “porky” is listed in the Australian Dictionary of Slang.( So I’m told.)

  5. February 2, 2010 at 18:14

    No the main issue is whether we should do anything about it. Assuming AGW, should we do something? I mean the ecosystem is vastly complex, how are we supposed to know for certain that whatever we do, will do what we want it to do? There might be a feedback mechanism already to regulate CO2 (Water Vapour, the point of the Science article), we in our hubris, might fuck that up and cause an ice age. We don’t know squat about the inner workings. We might be pouring water on a fire, thinking that will make it hotter. We just don’t know.

    • rogerthesurf
      February 2, 2010 at 20:34

      “No the main issue is whether we should do anything about it.”

      Well first of all I don’t think we should assume AGW.

      Sure man can effect the weather by causing a nuclear winter or similar but as you imply, that dosnt mean man can CONTROL the climate. Control would imply that if we get it wrong then we can correct it. I dont think mankind is there yet, by a long shot. If man gets it wrong we will live or die with it.

      But as the current warming is within normal fluctuations, therefore there is no problem therefore the “solution” is to do nothing.



      • February 3, 2010 at 00:28

        I’m not saying AGW is real, I’m saying even if it was…we don’t know enough about the underlying physics of it to do anything to counteract it.
        Personally I think AGW is rubbish.

  1. February 6, 2010 at 07:43

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