Intelligent Design

Yet Another IPCC Foul

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  This is looking more and more like a farce:

This is to be found in Chapter 13 of the Working Group II report, the same part of the IPCC fourth assessment report in which the “Glaciergate” claims are made. There, is the startling claim that:

“Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.”

At first sight, the reference looks kosher enough but, following it through, one sees:

Rowell, A. and P.F. Moore, 2000: Global Review of Forest Fires. WWF/IUCN,
Gland, Switzerland, 66 pp. http://www.iucn.org/themes/fcp/publications
/files/global_review_forest_fires.pdf.

This, then appears to be another WWF report, carried out in conjunction with the IUCN – The International Union for Conservation of Nature. The link given is no longer active, but the report is on the IUCN website here. Furthermore, the IUCN along with WWF is another advocacy group and the report is not peer-reviewed. According to IPCC rules, it should not have been used as a primary source.

HT:FT

17 Replies to “Yet Another IPCC Foul

  1. 1
    O'Leary says:

    What I don’t understand is, if ecology is that fragile, how come life has existed continuously on Earth for about four billion years?

  2. 2
    Lenoxus says:

    O’Leary:

    “Life” (as a continuous phenomenon) and “ecology” are simply not the same thing. There have been millions of “ecologies” on this planet, each ending with local or global extinctions.

    Human beings are “fragile” in the sense that we each die eventually — yet we’ve persisted to the present somehow. Should we never worry about epidemics, natural disasters, or genocides, because, hey, our species always bounces back?

    All that aside, yes, the WWF is probably exaggerating here. Certainly “The Day After Tomorrow” isn’t going to happen. But it is incorrect to argue that extinctions are nothing to worry about because “life”, in some form, will continue afterward.

  3. 3
    Borne says:

    Under Darwinism there is no reason for anything except survival for survival’s sake. How boring.
    Why should anything survive?
    Why should packs of neurons survive?
    Materialism utterly fails to provide any viable reasons or answers.
    Darwinism sucks.

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    Lenoxus, to my knowledge, there have been at least five major extinctions on this planet, yet life has existed continuously.

    That suggests that life adapts. It does not give anyone the right to heedlessly pollute the environment or destroy common goods or throw a pie in the face of the Canadian fisheries minister, as an animal rights activist has just done.

    It means that one should beware of hysterical people acting out their obsessions in public, and of science groups that play fast and loose with data on behalf of the cause.

    (The “pie surprise” people discredit their own cause more effectively than any opponent could do. If they must be the updated Three Stooges (or however many stooges the group can muster), why don’t they get themselves a low comedy TV show?)

  5. 5
    Muramasa says:

    Although life has existed continually, is there any evidence that any other species has had our ability to shape our environment? Dinosaurs reigned for a very long time, but I don’t think that they were capable of destroying habitat or hunting species to extinction.

  6. 6
    osteonectin says:

    Denyse O’Leary:

    That suggests that life adapts

    In all fairness, isn’t that exactly what evoution theorie has always been about?

  7. 7
    Prof. FX Gumby says:

    Given that tropical savannas dominate large areas to the north of the Amazonian rain forest on the Guyana Shield, is a transition from rainforest to savanna that hard to believe? I’ve not read the WWF report, but I would suspect their definition of “very rapidly” is over the period of 10s of years rather than 100s (I’d be happy to accept correction by anyone who has read the report), as has been observed as a result of hydrological changes in other forested ecosystems. Again, is this “hysterical”?

    Yes, life adapts (you might even say “evolves”) and ecosystems change at the local and global scales. On the one hand, this is no surprise. On the other hand, what sorts of ecosystems do we want? The ones that support human life? Denyse highlights major extinction events. How is this supposed to make me not worry about climate change?

  8. 8
    Lenoxus says:

    Lenoxus, to my knowledge, there have been at least five major extinctions on this planet, yet life has existed continuously.

    That suggests that life adapts.

    Um, what? “Extinction” is the opposite of “adapting”. For example, nearly every line of the thousands of dinosaurs species went extinct. A single strand survived in the form of birds (assuming that hypothesis is correct, which it almost certainly is).

    However, this does not mean “dinosaurs”, as a whole, “adapted” into birds. Birds are not descendants of stegosaurs or ceratopsians, but solely of therapods. If I was a triceratops debating whether or not to worry about asteroids, the argument “Even if we and most related species die, those birds over there will still exist” wouldn’t be very comforting.

    Again, none of this is to say that any given worst-case-scenario for environmental harm is true. But to say that some loss of biodiversity must be nothing to worry about because it won’t annihilate all life in existence is just… silly.

  9. 9
    O'Leary says:

    Lenoxus at 8:

    “If I was a triceratops debating whether or not to worry about asteroids, the argument “Even if we and most related species die, those birds over there will still exist” wouldn’t be very comforting.”

    I didn’t know that triceratops thought much at all, let alone about his impending death or extinction. Just as well if he didn’t, I suppose.

    Anyway, asteroid hit? It is comforting to realize that swank tax-funded conferences, fudged data, and pie-throwing ninnies can prevent an asteroid hit.

    I had thought it would be much harder but …

    It seems to me that just as all individuals die, all species die.

    Biodiversity seems to come back again and again, but with different species.

    The sabre-toothed tiger gives way, after the ice age, to the mountain lion.

    Obviously, human environment destruction is bad, but so is buffalo environment destruction. The difference, of course, is that humans can choose not to do it.

    After 4 billion years, there is probably more diversity than ever.

    Loss of biodiversity is a big problem, but it seems not to persist for very long in geological time.

  10. 10
    Lenoxus says:

    It seems to me that just as all individuals die, all species die.

    Biodiversity seems to come back again and again, but with different species.

    The sabre-toothed tiger gives way, after the ice age, to the mountain lion.

    It’s good to be philosophical about these things, but it’s not in itself an answer to the question of whether extinction/biodiversity loss is bad, and whether or how we can prevent it.

    I’m suddenly reminded of the end of the story of Job, when he gets a brand-new-and-improved wife and kids to replace the ones he lost.

    Is there ever such a thing as a natural disaster, or a pandemic? Or are those things merely transitory? Lots of people still live in Haiti, and its population level will undoubtedly return to what it was. Does this mean that earthquakes can’t be considered bad things? That if we could anticipate them in advance, we nonetheless shouldn’t bother about evacuating people?

    Again, not to say that the sky is going to fall — just that, in all likelihood, a few things will from from the sky, and we should do what we can to mitigate the damage and keep the sky largely intact. 🙂

  11. 11
    Lenoxus says:

    *will from from = will fall from

  12. 12
    Prof. FX Gumby says:

    After 4 billion years, there is probably more diversity than ever.

    Loss of biodiversity is a big problem, but it seems not to persist for very long in geological time.

    We may never know how many species existed in the recent past relative to older geological periods. However, what’s clear is that they are becoming extinct at an extremely rapid rate due to human disturbance.

    Honestly, your blase attitude about the current human-induced mass extinction event surprises me. Is it moral to destroy God’s creation?

  13. 13
    Prof. FX Gumby says:

    By the way, just did a bit of digging and found that although the IPCC report authors were lazy, their quoted statistic of 40% derives ultimately from peer-reviewed research. The Rowell and Moore (2000) report is a review. The review itself cites the source of the finding that 40% of the Amazon rainforest is susceptible to reductions in precipitation as:

    D.C. Nepstad, A. Veríssimo, A. Alencar, C. Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. Schlesinger, C. Potter, P. Mountinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, V. Brooks (1999) Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire. Nature 398: 505-508.

  14. 14
    DLH says:

    Prof. FX Gumby
    Thanks for the ref. Dr. Richard North follows up on AmazonGate and finds reality is even worse. See:
    Amazon flavor “gate du jour” leaves a bad taste

    The corruption of science

    Thus, from an assertion (IPCC) that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”, we see this relying on a statement (Rowell & Moore) that “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.” But that seems to rely solely on the assertion that: “Logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40% of the living biomass of forests through the harvest process.”

    Turning this round and starting at the Nature end, we have “Logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40% of the living biomass of forests through the harvest process,” turn into, “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall,” which then becomes “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”. . . .
    Three points emerge from this. Firstly, these combined areas relate to a total forest area of between 4-6 million square kilometres, and thus represent perhaps as little as ten percent of the total area. Secondly, the effects are observed in relation to severe drought effects arising from an unusually strong El Nino episode, unrelated to climate change. And thirdly, the drought effect is localised. In other areas of the forest, the El Nino brings increased rainfall.

    By any measure, and by any possible construction, the Nature paper cannot be taken to support the assertions made either by Rowell & Moore or the IPCC. As with the assertion on the Himalayan glaciers, the IPCC passage should be withdrawn.

    Indur M. Goklany writes: The IPCC: More Sins of Omission – Telling the Truth but Not the Whole Truth

    Exploring other IPCC doggy references is likely to uncover even more abuse of science in the name of saving the planet. See: The scandal deepens – IPCC AR4 riddled with non peer reviewed WWF papers

  15. 15
    DLH says:

    Richard North continues the expose at: The glacier show – a comedy in many parts January 28, 2010
    He notes:

    As the piece concludes, we get, in fine apocryphal style: “We are going to be doomed in the future,” Hasnain says. The “entire global community will be affected. It’s not only the region will be affected.” A year later, on 15 April 2009, he telling the New York Times that “Himalayan glaciers are expected to lose 75 percent of their ice by 2020.”

    Here is the real science – showing no evidence of massive glacier melt.
    Sagarmatha Snow and Glacier Aspects of Water Management Himalayas, Final Report Vol 2 (2004)

    Jan 27, 2010 Times of India headlined, “Himalayan glaciers here to stay”

    Glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma from Jawaharlal Nehru University says after studying 27 glaciers in Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, he has found that the melting taking place is normal. His conclusion is based on study of the behaviour of glaciers from 1975 to 2008.

    The Miyar glacier in Lahaul region covers an area of 27 square km. Since 1971, it has receded by just 150 meters. If it continues to melt at this pace, it would take around 3,000 years for it to melt completely, he added.

  16. 16
    Lenoxus says:

    DLH: “Here is the real science —”

    That sort of phrase always sets off my spidey-sense… the “real science” is to be found in meta-analysis, not just countering one study with another. And the meta-analysis says yes, glaciers are melting, and yes, this is because Earth is getting warmer. The “human activity” part of AGW is definitively harder to quantify, I’ll grant that.

  17. 17
    Prof. FX Gumby says:

    DLH @ 14

    Having looked at the Nature paper, I would have to agree that the IPCC report does go beyond the findings of the paper and stretches the conclusions unacceptably. This underlines the hazards of relying on review papers or other second-hand information.

    Having said that, the findings of Nepstad et al. are relevant to the discussion over potential effects of climate change. They found that a significant area of the Amazon (less than 40%) experiences soil moisture deficits during prolonged droughts. These droughts, which occurred during El Nino years in the Nature study, lead to increased incidence of forest fires which degrade intact rainforests. All this, according to the paper, is in addition to the damage caused by logging.

    Similar droughts, including exaggerated El Nino periods, are some of the predictions of what we could expect in the future under climate change. Therefore, it appears likely that significant areas of the Amazon are at risk. How much is uncertain, but it appears that the 40% in the IPCC report is an exaggeration.

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