Although this commentary does not mention palm oil, it questions the United Nations IPCC's credibility. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had, on many instances, relied heavily on "evidence" in reports by pressure groups like Greenpeace and WWF-Europe that blame oil palm planting for deforestation and global warming.
When it was awarded a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2007, IPCC may well have been one of the most respected organisations in the world. Well, that was in 2007. With the recent spate of "Climategate", "Glaciergate" and "Amazongate" exposé, many people are starting to think twice.
Today, Gene J. Koprowski of FoxNews.com reported that in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), issued in 2007 by the United Nations IPCC, scientists wrote that 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest in South America was endangered by global warming.
But that assertion was discredited this week when it emerged that the findings were based on numbers from a study by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) that had nothing to do with the issue of global warming -- and that was written by activists.
The IPCC report states that "up to 40 per cent of the Amazon forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation" -- highlighting the threat climate change poses to the Earth. The report goes on to say that "it is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems ... such as tropical savannas."
But it has now been revealed that the claim in AR4 was based on "a WWF study" by Rowell, A. and P.F. Moore, 2000: Global Review of Forest Fires. WWF/IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 66 pp. This paper, carried out in conjunction with the IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature, barely related to the Amazon rainforest that was written "to secure essential policy reform at national and international level to provide a legislative and economic base for controlling harmful anthropogenic forest fires."
Who are the authors of the WWF report?
Dr Peter Moore is the coordinator of the WWF and IUCN Project FireFight South-East, Asia, Bogor, Indonesia. He works for both organisations. His comments on the Amazon rainforests are interesting, as he is by no means an Amazon specialist – or even a climate specialist. Andrew Rowell, a freelance journalist who writes occasionally for The Guardian and The Independent, has worked for Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and anti-smoking organisations.
EUreferendum was the first to uncover that the IPCC made false predictions on the Amazon rainforests, referenced to a non peer-reviewed paper produced by an advocacy group working with the WWF.
The reference to the Amazon rainforest can be found in Chapter 13 of the IPCC Working Group II report, the same section of AR4 in which claims are made that the Himalayan glaciers are rapidly melting because of global warming.
How closely was the IPCC’s 2007 report verified? Why did it include such wild scare-claims, many based on unchecked statements by activist groups?
"If it is true that IPCC has indeed faked numbers regarding the Amazon, or used unsubstantiated facts, then it is the third nail in the IPCC coffin in less than three months," Andrew Wheeler, former staff director for the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, told FoxNews.com.
"For years, we have been told that the IPCC peer review process is the gold standard in scientific review. It now appears it is more of a fool's gold process."
Wheeler, who is now a senior vice president with B&D Consulting's Energy, Climate and Environment Practice in Washington, said the latest scandal calls into question the "entire underpinnings" of the IPCC's assessment and peer review process.
On 31st January, Jonathan Leake of the UK's TimesOnline in his article titled "UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim" reported that environmental pressure group WWF announced it will launch an internal inquiry into the year 2000 study.
The reporter interviewed Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at Leeds University who specialises in tropical forest ecology. Lewis 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,” Lewis said. “In my opinion the Rowell and Moore report should not have been cited; it contains no primary research data,” he added.
WWF said it prided itself on the accuracy of its reports and was investigating the latest concerns. “We have a team of people looking at this internationally,” said Keith Allott, its climate change campaigner.
Scientists such as Lewis are demanding that the IPCC ban the use of reports from pressure groups. They fear that environmental campaign groups are bound to cherry-pick the scientific literature that confirms their beliefs and ignore the rest. It was exactly this process that lay behind the bogus claim that the Himalayan glaciers were likely to melt by 2035 — a suggestion that got into another WWF report and was then used by the IPCC.
Georg Kaser, a glaciologist who was a lead author on the last IPCC report, said: “Groups like WWF are not scientists and they are not professionally trained to manage data. They may have good intentions but it opens the way to mistakes.”
By Li Xing of China Daily
While covering the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, I took a morning away from the main venue to attend a forum of "climate skeptics". The speakers presented political, economic, and scientific analyses to counter the series of assessments by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
A few of the skeptics went so far as to suggest that the current international drive to tackle global warming would eventually lead the world into some kind of "energy tyranny". One even showed a video clip of how "energy police" would invade private homes in the American suburbs, unplugging and removing the owners' microwave ovens, television sets, and other appliances.
I left the forum before the morning session ended. I felt that most of the speakers were too emotional and politically charged to be considered objective. But I was impressed by the presentation of Dr Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist and founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service, who challenged the IPCC findings with his research data.
In the next few days, I talked with several scientists, including IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri, and asked them about Singer's data.
All of these scientists brushed aside Singer's arguments, saying that the IPCC's primary finding is indisputable: "Warming in the climate system is unequivocal".
I believed the IPCC reports, which summarize the research of some 4,000 scientists, but I had some serious reservations. For one thing, the IPCC reports contained very little data from Chinese researchers. I was told the IPCC refused to consider Chinese data because the Chinese research was not peer-reviewed.
China is not a small country. Its landmass spans several climate zones and includes the roof of the world. I have to wonder how data from China would affect the IPCC's findings. Several Chinese scientists who have gone over the IPCC report believe that the IPCC may have overstated the link between global temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In a paper published in the December issue of the Chinese language Earth Science magazine, Ding Zhongli, an established environmental scientist, stated that the current temperatures on earth look normal if global climate changes over the past 10,000 years are considered.
Ding's paper highlighted the fact that in its policy suggestions, the IPCC offered solutions that would give people in rich countries the right to emit a much higher level of greenhouse gas per capita than people in developing countries. It in effect set limits on the economic growth of developing countries, which will result in furthering the gap between rich and poor countries."
A series of "climategate" scandals now add more reason to give the IPCC research closer scrutiny. In November 2009, hackers revealed that some scientists had favored data which supports the case for "global warming" in order to enhance their grant proposals.
Just last week, the IPCC announced that it "regrets the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures" in a claim that glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away by 2035. Instead of coming from a peer-reviewed scientific paper, the statement was sheer speculation, the IPCC conceded.
Then over the weekend, more newsreports revealed that the IPCC had misrepresented an unpublished report, which it said linked climate change with an increase in natural disasters.
However, the author of the report, Dr Robert Muir-Wood, clearly stated the opposite: "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe loss." Muir-Wood is not a climatologist, but a researcher in risk management.
I am particularly troubled by the fact that top IPCC officials do not seem to take these revelations seriously. Interviewed by the BBC, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chairman of the IPCC, dismissed the matter as a "human mistake".
Many Chinese consider three a breaking point. They could forgive two errors, but not a third. Now that the IPCC has admitted three "human" errors, isn't it time scientists gave its work a serious review?