First there where Glacier gate, then Catastrophe gate, then Amazon gate, then Netherland gate. And now Africa gate.
And now for Africagate
Posted by Richard Sunday, February 07, 2010
Following an investigation by this blog (and with the story also told in The Sunday Times), another major ”mistake” in the IPCC’s benchmark Fourth Assessment Report has emerged.
Similar in effect to the erroneous ”2035” claim – the year the IPCC claimed that Himalayan glaciers were going to melt – in this instance we find that the IPCC has wrongly claimed that in some African countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent by 2020.
At best, this is a wild exaggeration, unsupported by any scientific research, referenced only to a report produced by a Canadian advocacy group, written by an obscure Moroccan academic who specialises in carbon trading, citing references which do not support his claims.
Unlike the glacier claim, which was confined to a section of the technical Working Group II report, this ”50 percent by 2020” claim forms part of the key Synthesis Report, the production of which was the personal responsibility of the chair of the IPCC, Dr R K Pachauri. It has been repeated by him in many public fora. He, therefore, bears a personal responsibility for the error.
In this lengthy post, we examine the nature and background of this latest debacle, which is now under investigation by IPCC scientists and officials.
The tale unfolds
”Excellencies, members of the media, distinguished ladies and gentlemen! I speak to you in the voice of the world’s scientific community…”. So declared Dr R K Pachauri in his opening address to the climate summit in Potsdam last September.
In the name of that ”scientific community” which in November 2007 had completed the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) – ”the collective effort of almost four thousand of the world’s best specialists working tirelessly over five years” – Dr Pachauri larded his speech with examples of impending doom.
Thus he told the assembly that, by 2020, ”in some countries of Africa yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent”.
Crucially, this was not a random statement plucked from one of the working group reports but one highlighted in the ”gold standard” Synthesis Report (Section 3.3.2).
That report is based on the assessment carried out by the three Working Groups and provides ”an integrated view of climate change” as the final part of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). It represents the considered view of the IPCC as a corporate body and is the part of AR4 which Pachauri had personally supervised as leader of the core writing team.
The rest of this very long post at
From The Sunday Times February 7, 2010
Top British scientist says UN panel is losing credibility
Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor
A LEADING British government scientist has warned the United Nations’ climate panel to tackle its blunders or lose all credibility.
Robert Watson, chief scientist at Defra, the environment ministry, who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1997 to 2002, was speaking after more potential inaccuracies emerged in the IPCC’s 2007 benchmark report on global warming.
The most important is a claim that global warming could cut rain-fed north African crop production by up to 50% by 2020, a remarkably short time for such a dramatic change. The claim has been quoted in speeches by Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, and by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.
This weekend Professor Chris Field, the new lead author of the IPCC’s climate impacts team, told The Sunday Times that he could find nothing in the report to support the claim. The revelation follows the IPCC’s retraction of a claim that the Himalayan glaciers might all melt by 2035.
The African claims could be even more embarrassing for the IPCC because they appear not only in its report on climate change impacts but, unlike the glaciers claim, are also repeated in its Synthesis Report.
This report is the IPCC’s most politically sensitive publication, distilling its most important science into a form accessible to politicians and policy makers. Its lead authors include Pachauri himself.
In it he wrote: “By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised.” The same claims have since been cited in speeches to world leaders by Pachauri and Ban.
Speaking at the 2008 global climate talks in Poznan, Poland, Pachauri said: “In some countries of Africa, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by 50% by 2020.” In a speech last July, Ban said: “Yields from rain-fed agriculture could fall by half in some African countries over the next 10 years.”
Speaking this weekend, Field said: “I was not an author on the Synthesis Report but on reading it I cannot find support for the statement about African crop yield declines.”
Watson said such claims should be based on hard evidence. “Any such projection should be based on peer-reviewed literature from computer modelling of how agricultural yields would respond to climate change. I can see no such data supporting the IPCC report,” he said.
The claims in the Synthesis Report go back to the IPCC’s report on the global impacts of climate change. It warns that all Africa faces a long-term threat from farmland turning to desert and then says of north Africa, “additional risks that could be exacerbated by climate change include greater erosion, deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture of up to 50% during the 2000-20 period, and reductions in crop growth period (Agoumi, 2003)”.
“Agoumi” refers to a 2003 policy paper written for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian think tank. The paper was not peer-reviewed.
Its author was Professor Ali Agoumi, a Moroccan climate expert who looked at the potential impacts of climate change on Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. His report refers to the risk of “deficient yields from rain-based agriculture of up to 50% during the 2000–20 period”.
These claims refer to other reports prepared by civil servants in each of the three countries as submissions to the UN. These do not appear to have been peer-reviewed either.
The IPCC is also facing criticism over its reports on how sea level rise might affect Holland. Dutch ministers have demanded that it correct a claim that more than half of the Netherlands lies below sea level when, in reality, it is about a quarter.
The errors seem likely to bring about change at the IPCC. Field said: “The IPCC needs to investigate a more sophisticated approach for dealing with emerging errors.”
Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.
More on Netherlands sea levels:
Sea level blunder enrages Dutch minister
Published on : 4 February 2010 – 9:24am | By Rob Kievit
A United Nations report wrongly claimed that more than half of the Netherlands is currently below sea level.
In fact, just 20 percent of the country consists of polders that are pumped dry, and which are at risk of flooding if global warming causes rising sea levels. Dutch Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer has ordered a thorough investigation into the quality of the climate reports which she uses to base her policies on.
Climate-sceptic MPs were quick to react. Conservative MP Helma Neppérus and Richard de Mos from the right-wing Freedom Party want the minister to explain to parliament how these figures were used to decide on national climate policy. ”This may invalidate all claims that the last decades were the hottest ever,” Mr De Mos said.
The incorrect figures which date back to 2007 were revealed on Wednesday by the weekly Vrij Nederland. The Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency told reporters that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) added together two figures supplied by the agency: the area of the Netherlands which is below sea-level and the area which is susceptible to flooding. In fact, these areas overlap, so the figures should not have been combined to produce the 55 percent quoted by the IPCC.
The discovery comes just a week after a prediction about glaciers in the Himalayas proved wrong. Rather than disappearing by 2035, as IPCC reports claim, the original research underlying the report predicted the mountain ice would last until 2350.
Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/milj%F6” rel=”tag”>miljö</a>, <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/yttrandefrihet” rel=”tag”>yttrandefrihet</a>, <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/fri-+och+r%E4ttigheter” rel=”tag”>fri- och rättigheter</a>, Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/USA” rel=”tag”>USA</a>
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