The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has acknowledged they made a mistake in their projection of 2035 as the year when Himalayan glaciers were said to melt. But the blunder is not a one-off mistake, and is the latest in the litany of errors that have dogged the panel over the past ten years.
In their 2001 report, they claimed that the 20th century was “unusual” and blamed it on human-released greenhouse gases. Their infamous temperature graph shown there, shaped like a hockey stick, did away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period (around 1000A.D.) and the following Little Ice Age (around 1400 to 1800A.D.). Two Canadians exposed the bad data used by the panel and the statistical errors in their analysis. In mid-August, after repeated requests for such data under the Freedom of Information Act, the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU), one of the three international agencies that calculate global temperatures, announced that it discarded the raw data used to calculate global surface temperatures. This action renders independent review and verification of the temperature trends published by it impossible — a clear violation of principles of science and the Act.
At the 2009 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Don Easterbrook presented graphs demonstrating how tree ring data from Russia showing a cooling after 1961 were truncated and disguised in IPCC publications. The deceit, so exposed, indicates that the IPCC Assessment Report 4 (AR4) contains deceptions rendering the document scientifically questionable.
In November, emails from the CRU were leaked and they reveal efforts to suppress independent studies that are contrary to IPCC conclusions that humans caused global warming. Thus, the IPCC’s scientific review process has a systematic bias of an unknowable magnitude in favour of human-induced warming.
In mid-December, the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis reported that the Hadley Center for Climate Change of the British Meteorological Office (Met Office) had probably tampered with Russian climate data and that the Russian meteorological station data do not support human-caused global warming. The Met Office collaborates with the CRU in reporting global temperatures. The reported global surface temperature trends are unreliable and probably have a strong warming bias of an unknown magnitude.
In January, Joe D’Aleo and E. Michael Smith reported that the National Climatic Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies dropped many meteorological stations from their data bases in recent years. The dropped stations are generally in colder climates. It seems the three major reporting international organisations probably have a warming bias of an unknown magnitude rendering their announced temperatures and temperature trends scientifically unreliable.
On January 23, 2010, the Sunday Times (London) reported that the AR4 wrongly linked natural disasters to global warming. Yet it reported the actual published report upon which this claim was based stated: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophic losses.
In January, Murari Lal, the coordinating lead author of the AR4’s chapter on Asia, stated that the report deliberately exaggerated the possible melt of the Himalayan glaciers. “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” This admission demonstrates that the AR4 is a political document and not a scientific one.
This past week, additional reports reveal that IPCC’s claims that warming will cause extensive adverse effects in the Amazon rainforests and on coral reefs came not from peer-reviewed science but from publications by environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. Thus, the IPCC pretence that it represents peer-reviewed science is false.
More scandalous even, the IPCC-based its predictions on anecdotal, non-peer-reviewed sources — not at all in accord with its solemnly announced principles and scientific standards. These events showed not only a general sloppiness of IPCC procedures but also an extreme ideological bias — quite inappropriate to a supposedly impartial scientific survey. By themselves, they do not invalidate the basic IPCC conclusion — that a warming in the latter half of the 20th century was human-caused, presumably by the rise of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Yet all of these missteps pale in comparison to ClimateGate, which calls into question the very temperature data used by the IPCC’s main policy result.
In my opinion, ClimateGate is a much more serious issue than simply sloppiness and ideological distortion; ClimateGate suggests conspiracy to commit fraud.
In this enterprise, the group was aided not only by environmental zealots, anti-technology Luddites, Utopian one-worlders, and population-control fanatics, but also by bureaucrats, businesses, brokers and bankers, who had learned how to game the system and profit from government grants and subsidies for exotic schemes to produce ‘carbon-free’ energy and from the trading of carbon permits. Hundreds of billions have already been wasted — most of this in transfers of tax revenues to a favoured few.
These sums pale, however, in comparison to the trillions that would have been spent in future if some of the mitigation schemes had come into effect. Fortunately for the world economy, these schemes collapsed at the Copenhagen conference. Clearly, developing nations did not want to take on the sacrifices and restrictions on growth. There was little concern expressed about climate; Copenhagen was mostly about transfer of money from rich to poor countries — or more precisely, from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor ones.
S. Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service.
The views expressed by the author are personal.