Sunday, February 7, 2010

The storm over climate change: Goldstein

... and why most Canadian media are ignoring it
One of the most common questions I get from readers these days is why are the Canadian media ignoring the growing global controversy over the credibility of climate change research and in particular, of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

For example, unless you read the international press, especially the mainstream U.K. newspapers such as The Times, Telegraph and Guardian, you probably haven’t heard much about any of the following controversies in recent days.
(1) John Sauven, director of Greenpeace U.K., until now one of the strongest allies of IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, has called for Pachauri’s resignation, saying his judgment is flawed and a new IPCC chairman — the most important climate change job in the world — is needed to restore public confidence in climatic science.
(2) That the reason for this is increasing controversy over the credibility of the IPCC and Pachauri himself, related to the contents of its last major report released in 2007, including, but by no means limited to, a bogus claim Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — as iconic an image of the potential consequences of man-made global warming in Europe and Asia, as was the (inaccurate) one of polar bears stranded, starving and drowning on melting ice floes in North America. Worse, when the Indian government pointed out the glacier prediction was nonsense, Pachauri accused it of peddling “voodoo science,” before being forced to admit the IPCC was wrong and had ignored repeated warnings it was wrong.
(3) In the wake of Climategate, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office concluded officials at the world-famous Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia — the most prominent academic institution on which the IPCC relies for its science on man-made global warming — broke the law when they refused requests for their raw data under the Freedom of Information Act. They can’t be prosecuted due to a technicality — the complaint occurred more than six months after the violations.
(4) What had been billed as “gold standard,” “robust” and “peer reviewed” scientific research in the IPCC’s 2007 report, released to massive media publicity at the time, has recently been revealed to have relied, in some cases, upon such things as an article in a mountain-climbing magazine, a student dissertation using anecdotal evidence from mountain guides, and the unvetted claims of environmental groups.
(5) The U.K. government’s chief scientific advisor, John Beddington, has acknowledged some climate scientists exaggerated the impact of global warming and called for more honesty in explaining to the public the inherent uncertainties of predictions based on computer climate models, adding: “I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper skepticism.”
(6) China’s senior climate official, Xie Zhenua, has called for “an open attitude” towards “the alternative view” to man-made global warming. That is, that climate change is mainly “caused by cyclical trends in nature itself.” Considering no global climate deal is possible without China — the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter — Xie’s statement that these views should be incorporated into the next major IPCC report in 2014, has huge implications for the future of climate science.
I’ve chosen half-a-dozen examples above of controversies now engulfing the IPCC and climate research. I could have mentioned others about the now-disputed basis for IPCC claims regarding the impact of global warming on the Amazon rain forest, hurricanes and floods, and new questions about the reliability of weather station data used to make some IPCC claims. Read more.

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