Words on Weather & Climate—February 11, 2010

More IPCC goofs

by Craig James

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

First, a quick update on the Climategate article I wrote a couple of weeks ago. The Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England had many emails and documents either leaked or hacked that appeared to suggest ways of hiding data and avoiding freedom of information requests. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office just recently released a statement that said the University did break the law but no prosecution would occur because the requests were made beyond the six month statute of limitations.

However, the University has said it will now release the raw climate data requested, but oops… much of it has been destroyed. What? Isn’t that like saying we know we broke the law but you’ll just have to trust us that our conclusions are valid even though you can’t check them?

Last week I wrote about some of the charges recently made about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regarding conflict of interests with its chairman and the ignoring of peer reviewed data skeptical of human induced warming. I hadn’t planned on writing further about this but so many additional items have come to light that I just had to do a follow-up article. This story is beginning to sound like a soap opera.

The IPCC is a political organization charged with compiling peer-reviewed scientific research so that world governments can make policy regarding global warming. Not only has it come to light that much peer-reviewed information has been selectively ignored but many of the IPCC’s conclusions were drawn not from peer reviewed scientific research at all but from opinion papers from activist organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Here are a few examples:

1. A WWF report is cited twice as the only supporting proof of IPCC statements about coastal developments in Latin America.

2. When discussing mudflows and avalanches linked to melting glaciers, the IPCC relies on two sources, an unpublished paper and a WWF document.

3. When the IPCC advises world leaders that “climate change is very likely to produce significant impacts on selected marine fish and shellfish” it doesn’t call attention to the fact that the sole authority on which this statement rests is a WWF workshop project report.

4. The IPCC claim that “up to 40 percent of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation” was from a WWF article written by an anti-smoking and food safety campaigner and a journalist. The article itself was actually referring to logging, not climate change.

There are many other instances in the IPCC’s latest report of WWF and Greenpeace papers being used as authoritative sources. But the real eye opener is that articles found in Leisure, Climbing and Event Management magazines were used as scientific sources.

The IPCC’s claim that since 1900, “observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming”, came from two anecdotal sources. The first was interviews with mountain climbers in Climbing magazine and the second was from a dissertation written by a geography student at the University of Berne in Switzerland, where he interviewed climbers in the Alps. It turns out that in the actual dissertation itself, he never blamed global warming for the changes he observed.

And finally, in a strange departure from the staid subject of global warming, the beleaguered chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Rajenda Pachauri, has just released what has been described as a smutty romance novel, Return to Almora, laced with steamy sex, lots of sex. I guess it is no wonder he didn’t have time to make sure the IPCC statements were based on real science. It also turns out Dr. Pachauri is driven one mile each day to his office in a limo instead of taking public transportation as he tells the rest of the world to do.

Is this the kind of work that wins you a Nobel Prize? Is this the kind of work we should use to make political decisions that affect billions of people?

While the press in both the United Kingdom and India are having a field day with these issues, very little has been said in the mainstream media here in this country. But I did see stories about how Bin Laden blamed the United States for global warming. SIGH.

Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Felowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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