Sons of Climategate, Post #1

Since the Climategate document dump, a number of enterprising scientists have been following up the various inconsistences and questions those documents pose. More recently, a Freedom of Information Act request yielded many more documents from NASA’s climate group.  So many charges and countercharges have been made, I have held off posting about them until I could take the time summarize them in a cogent manner.

The first I will call the “Himalayan Glacier Melt Fiasco.” Turns out the IPCC, which holds itself out as the epitomy of peer-reviewed science, told us that the glaciers in the Himalayas were going to melt by the year 2035, just 25 years from now (found on page 49 of the IPCC synthesis report).  What does the IPCC say now?

It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.

So, what was the source of this “poorly substantiated estimate”?  For the answer, we turn to the Voice of America:

The IPCC apparently sourced its forecast on a 2005 publication by the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF itself had picked it up from a 1999 magazine article based on a phone interview with an Indian scientist.

In other words, it was hearsay from a political advocacy organization. 

Of course, this is an isolated error, a one time thing?  Not so fast.

Courtesy of Roger Pielke, Jr.'s blog is this guest posting by Ben Pile. In it, we learn that Oxfam's claim about drought in Africa due to 'global warming' that claims to be from the IPCC really isn't at all.

Most interestingly, the study was not simply produced by some academic working in some academic department, for publication in some peer-reviewed journal. Instead, it was published by The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Pile goes on to state:

Oxfam takes its authority from the IPCC. The IPCC report seemingly takes its authority from a bullet point in a paper published by an organisation with a declared political interest in the sustainability agenda that was the brainchild of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1988.

That the IPCC is citing non-peer-reviewed, non-scientific research from quasi governmental semi-independent sustainability advocacy organisations must say something about the dearth of scientific or empirical research. The paper in question barely provides any references for its own claims, yet by virtue of merely appearing in the IPCC’s 2007 AR4 report, a single study, put together by a single researcher, becomes “consensus science”.

In other words, it is from another political advocacy organization. 

I'll have more about what Roger calls "laundered [scientific] literature" tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


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